I’ve sadly come to the end of my eight-day trip to Ireland with my cute mama. Before I move on to London, though, I’d love to share a few more photos and memories that I just don’t want to forget, along with a few tips for traveling through Ireland.

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On our drive between the Rock of Cashel and Kinsale, we stopped in Cork for brief period to wander the city and eat dinner at Market Lane, a restaurant that was recommended to me before my trip and that I will continue to recommend after it. We didn’t love Cork — after Dublin it just seemed like any other city and it was the most confusing place to drive and find parking (everyone in Dublin and Kilkenny warned us!). Even so, I enjoyed exploring a city from which my family might have originated. Our dinner might have been the best meal in Ireland — vegetarian french onion soup; bleu cheese and spinach soup; goat cheese, pumpkin seed, beet, and arugula tart; thick brown bread; and crisp white wine. Our stopover in Cork was worth it just for that meal. (Also check out the English Market if you ever get the chance!)

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Renting a car and driving the island was the best decision we could have made. We loved our tiny European car, and I loved driving on the left side of the road. The best part was pulling over and exploring the countryside on a whim and having the freedom to rearrange plans without consulting tickets or train/bus times. I would highly recommend driving for at least some of the trip, particularly the west coast near Dingle. Side note — you have to be 25 technically to rent the car and drive, and they won’t even let you pay an extra fee to do it. My poor mother was terrified when she realized she would have to drive us out of Dublin, but we quickly said fuck this and I took over the rest of the trip.

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Galway was a gorgeous and fun city. I wish I had more time there as it is a younger crowd due to the university in the city. We stayed in an adorable b&b, Asgard Guest House, where we had homemade breakfast in the most gorgeous glass-ceilinged breakfast nook. We also did all of our souvenir shopping for our family in Galway — I got the most beautiful Irish wool scarf and of course some shamrock socks for my grandpa.

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My mom experienced her first ferry on the way to the Cliffs of Moher. We took the recommended route by our b&b host in Limerick the night before, which included a cheap and fun ferry ride. We loaded our car onto the ferry and walked around in the mist for a few minutes before continuing our journey to the Cliffs. Finding these little moments made driving across the country that much better.

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Ireland really is a must-see travel location. I can’t stress enough how friendly and kind the people are. Every person I spoke to was quick to stop whatever they were doing for a chat, for recommendations, for questions about our trip, for help and guidance to make our time in their country the best it could be. I’ll never forget some of those moments with strangers, b&b hosts, gas station attendants, and shop keepers, and how everyone seemed like one big family that is proud of their country, their history, and what they have to offer the world.

On our flight from Dublin to London, the next leg of my trip, I was tired and honestly a bit grumpy to be leaving this country that I had fallen so deeply in love with. There are beautiful and miraculous things about each place in this world and each traveling experience we have, but there was just something about Ireland that spoke to me on a whole new level. Maybe it was the people, maybe it was the gorgeous countryside, maybe it was the music and history and culture — likely it was all three, or quite possibly it was the Guinness — but I didn’t want to leave. And I can’t wait to return.