1. Wild Blackberries Grow Everywhere.
On the side of the road in Connemara, on Inis Mór, and in hedgerows all over the country, there are bushes of these beautiful, plump, juicy blackberries. As long as you’re not on private property, you’re welcome to help yourself. Just be mindful of the thorny branches.
Blackberry season usually falls around late August. I was there at the end of September and they were still flourishing.
2. You Learn So Much More than a Recipe When You Take a Cooking Class.
I have taken cooking classes in a number of different countries. It’s one of my favorite things to do when I travel to a new destination. On this trip, I learned to bake Irish soda bread and scones from The Irish Soda Bread Way, a baking class in Westport. This was one of the Choice Touring options on the Globus tour.
But I didn’t just learn to bake bread. In fact, that wasn’t even my favorite part of the class. Before the class started, Mary took us for a drive around town, pointing out areas of interest. And though the baked goods were delicious, the best part of the day was chatting with Mary and Carmel over tea and scones in Carmel’s home. They told us about their lives, their town, their business. We talked about books and films and world events, and, since there’s no getting around it anywhere, the impact of the pandemic.
It was so much more than just baking.
3. There Is No Shame in Drinking Your Whiskey in a Cocktail.
If you solo travel Ireland, you’ll want to try everything the country is known for. One of those things is definitely whiskey. On a previous trip to Ireland, I tasted whiskeys in multiple cities, from multiple distilleries and could not find the magic in it. Each time, I felt I was trying to force myself to enjoy it–because I really did want to love it–but it never worked.
On this trip, I attended a class at Roe & Co Distillery where we each made a cocktail custom-designed to our palate. Finally, I found the secret (for me) to loving whiskey! I just needed to add a little something to enhance it.
4. Rain Is Not a Problem in Ireland
When I checked the weather forecast prior to my trip, it predicted rain nearly every day. At home, this could have been reason enough to cancel any planned activities that required me to leave the house. In Ireland, you don’t even give it a second thought. On the rainiest day of the trip, I spent an hour meandering through the gardens at Kylemore Abbey, then went on a walking food tour in Galway. Every inch of me was wet, my hair was a frizzy, awful mess, my shoes were muddy–and I barely noticed.
Locals take it in stride, so travelers must as well. When in Rome…er, Ireland!
And you know what? When you look back on your trip, you don’t even remember the rain.
5. A Group Tour Can Be a Great Option for a Solo Traveler in Ireland
For starters, if you travel with a group, there will always be someone handy to take your photo, as I did here, in front of Ireland’s oldest pub. It also means that you can cover a lot more ground and incorporate smaller, more out-of-the-way places along with the big destinations. And with someone else taking care of the details, all of your time can be spent exploring and enjoying Ireland.
6. There Is a Right Way to Dress a Scone.
Yes, you read that right. There is a correct order in which clotted cream and jam should be applied to fresh-baked scones. Unfortunately, not everyone agrees on what that is. It may depend on where you grew up. Apparently, Queen Elizabeth was in the jam first, cream on top camp. Others insist on the opposite order. I dressed this scone before I was told what I should do, so I just got lucky.
7. MoLI Is More than Just a Museum.
The Museum of Literature Ireland (MoLI) is now one of my favorite museums anywhere. Not just for the fantastic exhibits or the gorgeous building, but for the fact that visitors are encouraged to actually sit and read.
There are multiple seating areas where you can settle in and read your own book or choose from a collection provided for you. If that’s not enough, there is a lovely cafe on the bottom floor that opens out onto a courtyard where you can enjoy your food and read. And if that’s not enough, beyond the patio you will find the Readers Gardens, with more spaces for reading and contemplation among the greenery. You can even sit near the tree where James Joyce had his graduation photo taken.
8. It’s Not Just the People Who Are Friendly When You Solo Travel in Ireland.
You’d be hard pressed to find a friendlier lot than the Irish. Locals gave me directions when I was confused, suggested things to see and do while I was visiting, and told me stories about their lives, everywhere I went. But I also made this little friend while sitting on a patio having a cup of tea and a scone. At home, it would have been quickly shooed away, but here, we happily shared the table for a few minutes, until it became clear that I was not sharing my delicious fresh-baked treat.
9. It May Be Famously Green, But the Blue!
There is no doubt that a dominant feature of the Irish landscape is the many shades of green. What I didn’t expect was to be bowled over by the shades of blue. Admittedly, this would only be possible on certain days and I only experienced one of them on this trip. But when the sun shines and the skies are clear, there is nothing like the Irish blues.
Thank you to Globus for sponsoring my trip on their Green with Envy: Ireland by Design tour. All experiences and impressions are my own, and Solo Traveler maintains complete editorial control over all content.
Last updated: 7th January, 2023