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Ireland, eh. It's a beautiful place. If anything, it's us ourselves who notice this the least, what with it being everywhere all the time and all, and the ungodly rain. Turns out that rain makes everything really green and pretty, the sort of green and pretty that Americans with a great-granda called Seamus get really excited about in between playing golf and calling it Patty's Day like literally nobody in Ireland has ever done. Those of us who live here, we're on the next flight to Santa Ponsa, thank you very much.
This year, in case you've been living under a rock, is shaping up to be a little different. There'll be no shite foreign Guinness for little Sean, no Ocean Beach for little Aoife. Don't let that get you down though: we already live in pretty much the most beautiful spot on Earth, and Ireland is tiny, too, so you can get basically anywhere. 2020 is the summer of the staycation, and here's our top tips for where you can head off for your hollyers without having to spend two weeks locked at home when you get back.First up, we're going to have to discount Dublin here. Sure, it's grand and we love paying the GDP of a small country a month to live there, but the pubs are shut and so is everything else, so this is going to delve deep into our natural heritage. Luckily, we've got plenty of it.
There's the beaches. Obviously LOLs we're the people who go to the beach in the rain, but August is about the only time when the sea is vaguely palatable without a wetsuit and that means we should all be piling into the car and heading for the West. You could do worse than the beaches in Donegal - Killybegs and Carrickfinn are just two of the best in the North West, both for beauty and for the potential to embarrass yourself by attempting to use your Junior Cert Irish on old people.
Usually, we might consider that our beaches face the Atlantic as a negative point: a casual dip in something that was an iceberg not that long ago is rarely a good idea. The Wild Atlantic is, however, wild, and that makes it perfect for surfing. St Finian's Bay in Co. Kerry or Fanore in Co. Clare are two of the best beaches around to wipe yourself out and pretend that you're the sort of person who says "cowabunga" on the regular.
Where there's beaches there's sea, and where there's a sea in Ireland there's probably a quaint island floating off it. The Aran Islands, which are usually swamped with people enjoying unseasonable woolly jumpers, are currently crying out for your tourist euro to help keep their economy afloat. Americans, who make up a decent wedge of the regular tourists, haven't exactly covered themselves in glory during COVID and as such aren't able to travel to the islands, but for the rest of us, they're more than open for business. Poll na bPéist, on Inishmore, is a swimming pool carved out of the shoreline and well worth a trip (and a dip). There's plenty of accommodation options too, from top-notch hotels on the mainland to simple B&Bs and campsites on the islands, so you can really get the most out of your trip.
While we're on the subject, Ireland is something of a paradise for unusual AirBnBs. There's Tubbrid Castle in Kilkenny, an actual castle, or a cottage on Great Blasket Island. You know when you said that you wanted to get away from it all...well, Great Blasket Island is about as far away from it all as you can get without being in the sea or America. Peig Sayers might not have sold it to you, but trust us: it's absolutely gorgeous.
Our nature is spectacular inland, too. In the North, you could do much worse than the Mourne Mountains, so pretty that they wrote that song about it that your uncle sings about tearily when he's locked at a wedding. We're blessed in the mountain department, in fact, because ours are both beautiful and accessible: sure, Everest is nice, but your Ma would struggle to climb it in an afternoon and be home for her tea. Our tallest mountain is Carrauntoohil in Kerry and it takes the best part of a day to walk up and back down again. Ireland, land of achievable goals, might not make the tourist poster (if it does, Bord Fáilte, the invoice is in the post) but it means that basically all of us can enjoy our natural wonders without too much hassle.
Don't forget about Croagh Patrick too, the patron saint of walkable mountains. If you can't make it up and down then there's something wrong with you, as literally thousands of grannies manage to do it every year without their shoes on. Sure, they might have the righteous power of the Lord behind them, but you've got some Club Orange and a pair of knackered runners. Go for it.
Closer east, there's the magnificent Djouce - no, not a terrible magician, but one of the Wicklow Mountains. It's about an hour away from Dublin, so perfect for a day trip, and your walk up it can also take in the spectacular Powerscourt waterfall. Who knew? Powerscourt, not just a posh shopping centre, also a waterfall.
All that's missing, really, is the creamy pint at the end of it all. That might yet happen soon too, but if it doesn't, just remember. Cans. Always cans. Big bags of cans.
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