Forget Paris and Venice, Ireland is the place to be for romance this St. Valentine’s Day. If you’re looking for last minute inspiration for a Valentine gift, or just love the idea of a romantic break in Ireland at any time of the year, check out www.discoverireland.ie/romance, but for now, here are some of our top romantic spots in Ireland for 2012…
Have your rings blessed in front of St. Valentine
Although not widely known, the Shrine to St. Valentine’s rests in Dublin. His relics were donated by Pope Gregory XVI to the Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church, near St. Stephen’s Green, in 1836. The church is especially popular on St. Valentine’s Day as there is a special “blessing of the rings” ceremony for couples intending to marry.
Valentine’s art tour
Afterwards, why not take the Valentine’s Day Tour at the National Gallery of Ireland on Merrion Square. The free tour starts at 2pm in the atrium and takes in the romance-themed paintings that form part of the gallery’s permanent collection.
Embark on a moon-lit adventure
Your kayaking adventure will take on a romantic twist with a night trip in one of the many magical locations in West Cork with Atlantic Sea Kayaking. Warmed by the Gulf Stream, West Cork’s coast is dotted with deserted islands, ancient castles, sea caves, hidden coves and an abundance of marine life. Plus there is always something to make you gasp on the starlight kayak trip, whether it’s the silhouette of the seabirds on the bank, the red sunset or the whole panoply of stars overhead.
Or why not take your other half on a full moon walk of Glendalough, Co. Wicklow with Hilltop Treks on the 10th February. The walk will take you on St. Kevin’s Way, along the Glendassan River and onto the side of Camaderry where you will follow a forest track down towards the Upper Lake, taking in the Reefert Church and Derry Bawn, before overlooking the monastic site and excellent views along the whole valley. What more romantic way to spend time with your Valentine this year?
Tantalise each other’s taste buds
Why not seduce your Valentine with the most romantic of treats - chocolate. Immerse yourself in chocolate at the delectable ‘Chocolate Making Day’ at the Fabulous Food Trials in Co. Dublin on February 4 where you will learn and perfect the art of making your very own chocolates.
Fall in love with Snowdrop Week at Altamount Gardens
For a real romantic treat direct from Mother Nature, take a trip to Co. Carlow from February 20 to February 26, to enjoy the beauty of Snowdrop Week at Altamont Gardens. The gardens house one of the finest collections of snowdrops in the country, as well as an enchanting blend of formal and informal gardens with riverside walks covering over 40 acres. Entry to the gardens is free and during Snowdrop Week you can also avail of a free daily guided tour with the head gardener at 2.00 pm daily.
Make your heart skip a beat at Glenveagh National Park
There is nothing more romantic than a visit to a castle, so this Valentines why not take your loved one to Glenveagh Castle, which is located in the stunning setting of Glenveagh National Park in Co. Donegal. The 19th century castellated mansion, constructed in this remote mountain setting, was inspired by the Victorian idyll of a romantic highland retreat, only with an Irish twist! The castle itself is deeply atmospheric, still furnished as it was in its heyday. However, the most romantic feature of all is the castle’s walks, where you can take in the sublime views of the National Park on the View Point Trail.
Take a trip to romantic Sligo & Yeats Country
Ben Bulben and the strikingly beautiful countryside around it were the inspiration for Ireland’s Nobel Laureate WB Yeats, a poet who’s famously linked with the romance of the Irish. While you’re there, the romantic Glencar Lake and Waterfall lies about 12 km north of Sligo town. With a drop of about 50 feet, it is a small but beautiful waterfall, and was cited by Yeats in his famous poem, “The Stolen Child”.
A Romantic Ramble in Kylemore
If a romantic ramble is your idea of bliss then head to Kylemore Abbey this Valentines, to a beautiful neo-Gothic Castle with a fairytale setting, which is steeped in both love and tragedy; Mitchell Henry built the Neo-Gothic Church as a memorial to his wife following her untimely death. The Gothic Church and Abbey itself are worth a visit, but the beautiful Victorian Walled Garden is the lure a romantic ramble. Set into the hills and run by an order of Benedictine nuns, this magnificent Victorian idyll seems to have been transported from another time into the middle of this remote Connemara scenery.
Take a jaunting car through Killarney National Park
If you’re looking for some old fashioned romance this Valentines, then take a jaunting car through one of the world’s most famous beauty spots, the Killarney National Park in Co. Kerry. You could not ask for a more idyllic backdrop than the panoramic Lakes of Killarney, the cascading Torc Waterfall, the lakeside Ross Castle and the beautiful Victorian Muckross House and Gardens.
Love Twists in the Lakelands!
If you’re looking for somewhere extra romantic, then visit the stunning Georgian parkland, woodland and lakes of the delightful Belvedere House and Gardens on the shores of Lough Ennell, near Mullingar. In saying that, the much-visited ‘Jealous Wall’, Ireland’s largest folly, actually tells of a love story gone horribly wrong. It was built by the first Earl of Belvedere, Robert Rochfort, to block out the view of the house of his brother, with whom he believed his once beloved wife Mary was having an affair.
For more information visit www.discoverireland.ie/romance
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