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The Best Valentine's Day Activities in Ireland

How to Say "Be my Irish Valentine"


Let's face it - anybody can buy a box of chocolates, a few roses, a card and thus create that instant Valentine's Day feeling. Throw in a dinner for two and you're set. But is this really what she (or he) wants? Ireland offers much better ways to say "Be my Valentine" and maybe to pop the question. Here are some suggestions for that special Valentine's Day in Ireland - for lovers outside the Emerald Isle Susan Breslow, About.com Guide to Honeymoons and Romantic Getaways, has collected many more suggestions.

1. Visit the Man Himself in Dublin - Saint Valentine

Saint Valentine's Shrine, Carmelite Church Dublin
Not too many people know it, but Saint Valentine actually is a "Dub". Well, sort of ... a church in Whitefriar Street (Aungier Street), built in the 19th century, became his home. In 1835 Pope Gregory XVI gave the relics of Saint Valentine to the Carmelite Church there, to boost Catholicism. So what better place to celebrate Valentine's Day? Proposing here should be a guarantee for success. Unless you join the ranks of a few Doubting Thomases claiming that the saint's relics were actually mixed up with the relics of another, lesser known St. Valentine. But could book-keeping really have been so sloppy in the Vatican?

2. Get Medieval in an Irish Castle

Medieval banquets are available in several Irish castles, Bunratty being the best known. You are treated as guests at a medieval (or, most of the time, renaissance) court and food as well as entertainment is provided. Phone the organizers and inform them of your intention to propose - they may well accommodate you and arrange for a minstrel serenading your lady while you offer a ring or other token of love to her. Rest assured that you will not be challenged to a quick joust to win her favor.

3. Hire a Jaunting Car for a Special Day in Killarney

This is gonna cost you and takes some preparation - but it will be worth it! Travel to Killarney and talk to a few "jarveys", the men hanging around town with their horse-drawn carts. If you make it worth his while he will pick you up on Valentine's Day morning, complete with a fully-stocked picnic basket. And be your personal guide (and coach-driver) for a unique day. Providing the changeable Irish weather is holding up it should be a perfect "old Irish experience". Riding around the National Park in an open cab, stopping for game pie and champagne on the way ...

4. Walk into Dublin Bay and Make like Leonardo and Kate in "Titanic"

Everybody knows the scene at the prow of the Titanic , the iconic view of Leo showing Kate to fly. Though the doomed ship was built and last seen in Ireland (Belfast and Cobh respectively), a re-enactment of that scene might not be so easy with modern safety regulations on passenger ships. But an alternative would be to walk out into Dublin Bay on the South Wall. Once you reach the lighthouse you are virtually at sea. Have your romantic "Titanic" moment here. Maybe bring a fitting snack. Taking along a CD player loaded with Celine Dion is strictly optional!

5. Go to the Ends of the World at Dunmore Head (County Kerry)

Lovers tend to promise the silliest things, like "I'll go to the ends of the world for you!" The more literal-minded might point out that the world is round and thus has no ends. But in Ireland you can at least go to the end of the European world. Just head for Dunmore Head, Europe's western-most point (excluding off-shore islands). Catch the sun setting in the Atlantic Ocean and romance blooms. On stormy days it might seem like "The End Is Nigh", though - better prepare for an Irish coffee in front of a blazing fire instead then.

6. Fly Below the Towering Cliffs of Moher

Another special event that will set you back by a few Euros but provide a true bird's eye view. From below. Because the Cliffs of Moher are normally only seen from above, or maybe from a boat, by humans not involved in the cliff rescue service. Hiring a helicopter will bring you on par with the seabirds that make the cliffs their home. Why not take in the Aran Islands as well? Let the chopper drop you off there and spend the rest of Valentine's Day walking, enjoying seafood and finally snuggling up in a cosy B&B. Contact Executive Helicopters ... they offer tours.

7. Follow in Finn's Infatuated Footsteps on the Giant's Causeway

Whatever geologists say, the Giant's Causeway was really built by Finn MacCool to head over to Scotland. To meet his great love, a Scottish giantess. What better place to swear that you would cross the stormiest seas for your true love? Provided the proverbial Irish weather plays along you will see the Scottish coastline on the horizon. At a pinch you might organize to do exactly that, starting at Ireland's Giant's Causeway in the morning and ending up at Staffa in Scotland in the evening. Trains, planes, helicopters, automobiles, planning, determination and some cash will be necessary for such an extravaganza!

8. Snuggle up in Haunted Ross Castle on the Banks of Lough Sheelin

Though the love story between Sabrina Nugent and her lover did not have a happy ending (he drowned when trying to pick her up to elope), it is a symbol of undying love and eternal hope. Sabrina never ceased waiting for her lover, never gave up hope and was even buried standing up, overlooking Lough Sheelin. Take the positive bits from the story and check into Ross Castle, one of Ireland's haunted hotels. Maybe the ghost of Sabrina will bless your relationship with better luck when she passes through your room at night ...

9. Visit Dublin's Most Famous Lovers in St. Patrick's Cathedral

Dublin is not generally known for its romantic couples throughout history - James Joyce's books tend to describe flawed relationships, Molly Malone died of a fever and Oscar Wilde got jailed for his love. But remember that Dean Jonathan Swift of "Gulliver" fame composed some of his best prose for his beloved Stella. Both are long dead, but their love is kept alive in people's memories by Swift's writings. And their burial places next to each other in St. Patrick's, the National Cathedral of Ireland, is a dignified setting for any proclamation of undying love.

10. Bare Your Innermost Feelings in the Inner Chamber of Newgrange

This might be the corniest or most romantic suggestion here. But just imagine proposing in one of the oldest buildings on earth ... at the grand finale of the guided tour the inner chamber of Newgrange is plunged into total darkness, then the rising sun on the Winter solstice is simulated. Just imagine the look on your beloved's face when her eyes adapt and she discovers you, kneeling and holding out a ring. Drop a hint to the guide beforehand regarding your intentions. And be aware that the darkness is utter and complete for a few seconds - make 100% sure you are kneeling in front of the right person!
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