This Malaysian was mesmerised by Ireland's charm and beauty

St Stephen's Green is a large park that's popular with locals. — EDNA LIM CHIN IMM

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The look of surprise and disbelief I got from my friends when I told them I was going to Ireland made me wonder if I had picked the right destination for my holiday. However, from the moment I landed in Dublin, I was completely taken by its beauty and charm.

Dublin is the capital of Ireland (officially, the Republic of Ireland) and is separated by the River Liffey. When my sister and I arrived, the first thing we did was to take a stroll along this river. Both sides of Dublin are connected by several bridges and one that really stood out was the Samuel Beckett Bridge, a cable-stayed swing bridge, designed after a harp.

The harp is a heraldic symbol in Ireland. It’s easy to come across a picture or illustration of a harp in almost every corner of the country.

We signed up for the Trinity College guided tour, which included a visit to the Book Of Kells library. Unfortunately, they had started their conservation efforts when we were there, so some of the more rare and fragile books were kept elsewhere. We did, however, see how meticulous they were in their work.

We also enjoyed some digital experiences in the Book Of Kells, like the virtual “discussion” among some of history’s greatest minds. Imagine Socrates, Ada Lovelace, Jonathan Swift and Isaac Newton coming back to life and having a debate right in front of you!

I loved the architecture and vibes at Trinity College. It made me wish I was a student again and studying there.

Dublin is indeed a very walkable city with signboards everywhere to guide you. You won’t be lost and in the event that you are, just ask the locals as they are ever willing to help.

Another must-visit place in Dublin is the Guinness Storehouse, an awesome place where you learn about Guinness stout (which we learnt is a kind of dark beer). Our tickets came with a free drink, and we were spoilt for choice. Don’t worry if beer is not your cup of tea as there are other drinks that you can choose. There is also a non-alcoholic version of the Guinness beer, though my sister and I were happy to try the original, and fresh ones too.

Of course visiting Ireland wouldn’t be complete without going to the outskirts; we visited the Cliffs Of Moher. The edges of these vertical cliffs are abrupt and pretty scary. And even if you have seen pictures or video clips of the cliff before, nothing beats seeing the real thing.

River Corrib in Galway, one of the counties near Dublin.River Corrib in Galway, one of the counties near Dublin.

The weather was so fine that day that we managed to catch a spectacular view of the cliffs. It’s quite a tough walk up to the viewpoint, so take your time and pace yourself well.

Besides the cliffs, we also went on a drive along the Ring Of Kerry. The rolling green hills, beautiful lakes and the soft waves in the Atlantic Ocean just took our breath away.

Our drive took us through the Killarney National Park, which is regarded as the “jewel” in Kerry’s crown. We understood why when we saw just how pretty it was. There was just so much greenery and wildlife along the way – we even spotted deer.

Funnily enough, some locals were hiking in their shorts, even though the weather was chilly.

During our drive we passed through many quaint villages and towns like Galway, Ennis, Adare and Kilkenny. We stopped by some of them to see the rivers, stone wall, cobble stone streets, and thatched rooftops of cute homes, as well as visit some castles, cathedrals, cafes, bakeries and shops.

We discovered that the pub food in Ireland was scrumptious and reasonably priced. Pubs are also the best place to try Irish coffee – coffee, whiskey, brown sugar and cream. The hot coffee is drunk “through” the cold cream so that you don’t burn your tongue. We were told that we couldn’t stir the coffee and instead, to slowly sip it.

I think that pubs are also the best place to try local Irish food like shepherd’s pie and Irish stew; order a full Irish breakfast if you’re really hungry. There’s also the traditional Irish soda bread, which goes perfectly with Irish butter. The creamy butter is one of the best I have ever tasted.

We were very blessed because the weather was perfect when we were there in February. There was a bit of rain but they were light and lasted for only a few minutes each time. The cold wasn’t extreme, too. In fact, I would say that the weather was perfect.

This was my first “winter” vacation in Europe. It was pretty quiet in most places, with only a handful of tourists around so it was great. We were able to really explore Ireland and took our sweet time doing it too. Not to forget, we managed to save quite a bit as prices had already dropped by then.

Never did I expect Ireland to be so beautiful. There are just so many things to see and experience. I definitely recommend it.

The views expressed are entirely the reader’s own.

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