May 23, 2015 will be forever celebrated as the day that Ireland showed the world that it is a country inhabited by “a generous, compassionate, bold and joyful people who say yes to inclusion, yes to generosity, yes to love, yes to gay marriage.” Taoiseach Enda Kenny spoke for 62 percent of the Irish Republic’s electorate who voted to legalize same-sex marriage – the first country in the world to earn this distinction!
What better place to plan your once-in-a-lifetime destination wedding than on this LGBT-welcoming, enchanted island? Whether it’s just the two of you celebrating a low-key day, or renting a castle and bringing along a whole boatload of friends and family, here are five unforgettable experiences to add to your Ireland To-Do List:
Lush, emerald green, rain-soaked dreamy Dingle lies on the westernmost corner of Ireland. The peninsula is just 30 miles around — the perfect size for a cycling tour back into medieval history. Pedal by 1,300-year-old stone churches and lonely, beehive-like monastic stone huts. Come nightfall, get your Riverdance on and follow the hypnotic strains of traditional Irish music drifting from the quaint town of Dingle. Toast each other and your amazing fortune with a pint of Guinness paired with hearty lamb and potato stew. With 52 pubs for 1,300 residents, quenching your thirst is not difficult in Dingle. When people ask how you spent your honeymoon, you can honestly say, “We rode Dingle.”
The Chester Beatty Library in Dublin
Get your high culture fix at this mind-boggling art museum and library on the grounds of Dublin Castle, a massive collection of humanity’s creative endeavors. Poke through over 20,000 manuscripts, rare books, costumes, and artistic treasures from multiple continents. View early Christian gospels dating from AD150–200, beautifully illuminated copies of the Qur’an, and ancient Egyptian papyrus texts. Serenade your beloved with an Egyptian love poem from 1100 BC. How many couples can say they’ve done that?
If you bend over backwards and kiss the Blarney Stone, and then bend forward and kiss your spouse, legend has it you’re sure to win every argument for the rest of your married lives thanks to the stone-granting powers of verbal persuasion. This iconic stone with dubious debating juju is just one of the many fascinating features begging to be explored at the historic 600 year-old Blarney Castle. Peek into The Witch’s Kitchen, slink into The Dungeon, or bring a picnic and just flop down in the grass at the opulent estate, gazing into the misty lakes silently wondering why your gardens don’t look like theirs. Be sure to find your way onto the Wishing Steps. Locals swear that if you close your eyes and descend the steps backwards, concentrating only on your heart’s deepest yearning, your wish will come true within a year. (Five times more likely to come true if you wear your ruby slippers for this Emerald Isle ritual!)
Literary Dublin Pub Crawl
Meet a group of fresh-faced, animated actors at the Duke Pub and set off on a guided walking tour of some of Dublin’s most treasured pubs. The actors recite verses from the best Irish literature and regale you with humorous anecdotes from the lives of James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, and W.B. Yeats. As the actors bring these literary legends to life, you soak up the Irish pub culture vibes, sink a few pints, and return home with some amazing photos and memories.
Kylemore Castle and Abbey
Your fairy tale wedding demands a fairy tale castle, so let it be Kylemore. This Connemara estate is home to a community of Benedictine nuns who run a farm, craft artisan products sold in the gift shop, and provide the spiritual heart and soulful peacefulness of the grounds. Tour the Abbey’s restored rooms, offer a prayer of thanks for your legal marriage in the Gothic Church, and romance each other in the 6-acre Victorian Walled Garden. Be sure to visit the gift shop and grab a few pieces of the nuns’ individually handcrafted and painted “Deóra De” (“Tears of God”) wild Fuchsia pottery. Decree that it shall be your wedding china for a delicious twist of irony!