ireland in spring

FALL IN LOVE WITH THE ISLAND OF IRELAND THIS SPRING

Tuesday 13th Feb 2024 |

Whether you’re loved up and looking for romantic spots, or single and debating whether to mingle, there are plenty of places on the island of Ireland to feel the love this spring.

Just a short ferry or flight away, you’ll find luxury hotels to fall in love with, as well as remote rural locations to get away from it all and appreciate the solitude. Here are the perfect places to enjoy time as a twosome or on a solo adventure.  

Put a ring on a Leap Year proposal 

Propose where the Lear Year legend was born and forge your own ring 

Nowadays the notion of women being ‘allowed’ to propose to their partners on a Leap Year seems somewhat old fashioned, but in 5th century Ireland it was seen as nothing short of progressive. Legend has it that St Brigid (Ireland’s only female patron saint) argued with St Patrick that women should be able to ask a man to marry them, he said it could happen every seven years and she haggled with him to make it every four. Visitors can learn more about the life and legacy of St Brigid and commemorate 1500 years since her death at the Brigid1500 celebrations in her birthplace of Kildare this month.  

If you do get an ‘I do’ this Leap Year, sign up for a four-hour workshop at Silver Works in Dublin where you can forge your own wedding rings in a choice of gold, silver or platinum. Choose a shape, a style and a finish, incorporate a twist or a curve in the precious metal and make the results uniquely yours. 

If you would rather buy a ring head west to County Galway, the birthplace of the Claddagh ring, the quintessential Irish symbol of love and friendship. The ring is styled with hands holding a heart that wears a crown: the heart signifies love, the crown loyalty and the hands friendship. Drop into Thomas Dillon’s, the original makers of the Claddagh ring since 1750 and the oldest jewellers in Ireland.  

Dublin for loved-up duos 

St Valentine’s shrine, Love Lane and Dublin’s newest hotel  

Cupid-hit couples can head to Dublin to visit the Shrine of St Valentine himself in Whitefriar Street Church. Ask him for a blessing, or learn more about the grisly history behind how his relics ended up here in Dublin. St Valentine was murdered by Roman Emperor Claudius II on February 14 270AD after the priest defied the emperor by continuing to perform marriages in secret during the reign of ‘Claudius the Cruel’. Valentine’s relics came to Ireland in the 1800s thanks to a famous Irish priest, Father John Spratt, whose preaching caught the attention of Pope Gregory XVI. They were forgotten about until the 1950s when the current shrine was built.  

Get back to the romance and stroll down Love Lane, in the buzzing Temple Bar, to see a small street filled with a pink and red artwork that celebrates love. Be inspired by romantic quotes from movies and the great playwrights and authors of the world written on hand-painted tiles.  

Stay overnight in Dublin’s newest five-star hotel, The Leinster , which opens in March on the edge of Merrion Square. With 55 bedrooms and suites, the innovative luxury lifestyle hotel, is offering a fresh approach to five-star hospitality and fine dining in Dublin with highly anticipated launch of Jean-Georges at The Leinster; a ground-breaking first for Ireland, proudly taking residence upon the hotel’s rooftop.  

Soak up Belfast’s culture with other singles 

Belfast’s 2024 year of culture and the city’s newest places to sleep  

Set out on a solo trip to Belfast to fall in love with the culture and art scene. Belfast 2024 starts in March, beginning the city’s biggest ever creative and cultural celebration will include a collaboration with the Cornwall based Eden Project, new public art installations across the city themed on nature and sustainability, events inspired by the city’s marine heritage, include a mass boat-building project, and a guerrilla gardening project aiming to rewild peace walls in west Belfast. 

Solo travellers can make the most of having a double bed to themselves, by staying in new hotels like low carbon Room2 hometel, which recently opened with a range of funky room options in the centre. In early 2024 voco™ Belfast will open in the city centre with 120 rooms. voco Belfast will be a brand debut into Northern Ireland and is set to be perfectly positioned for a break in the city, with quick access to Belfast’s historic landmarks, museums, shopping, and entertainment venues. 

Hang out with the Derry Girls for Galentine’s Day 

A Derry Girls exhibition and the city’s newest spa hotel 

Get the girls together for a trip to Derry-Londonderry for a spa weekend with a Derry Girls twist.  Explore the 400-year-old walled city, soak up history on a walking tour, enjoy a boat tour on the River Foyle (or try stand-up paddleboard if you’re feeling brave), enrol in gin school at the Wild Atlantic Distillery, or tuck into a foodie-themed spin on a cycle tour with Far and Wild. 

Join McCrossan Derry Tours’ weekly Derry Girls tour and look out for the giant Derry Girls Mural located on Orchard Street, on the side of Badgers Bar.  

Take part in the Derry Girls Experience at the Tower Museum and cosy up on the Quinn sofa, see memorabilia from the hit show like Erin’s diary, Aunt Sarah’s famous pyjamas and Ma Mary’s Woolworths sweater, plus the infamous Spice Girls costumes!  

Stay the night in the historic Ebrington Hotel & Spa, which opened in summer 2023, within a former Ministry of Defence building, as the city’s first spa hotel. The hotelhas sweeping views across the River Foyle and the Peace Bridge and The Spa is an oasis of relaxation and rejuvenation. 

Matchmaking the old-fashion way 

Join 40,000 singletons in search for love at the Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival 

If you’ve swiped left on dating apps, the 165-year-old  Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival, the largest matchmaking festival in Europe, might be a solution to being single. Each September around 40,000 singletons come to the spa town in Co. Clare in search of love.  

The tradition began in the 19th century when young ladies would come to take the spa waters in September, which coincided with the farmers finishing their harvest and looking for a wife. Today the great grandson of the original matchmaker Willie Daly (also his namesake) continues to keep the tradition alive with a month of music, dancing, and of course matchmaking in the rural town. Legend has it that if you touch Willie’s ‘Lucky Book’ of matches, you’ll be married within six months! 

Forget about love and enjoy solitude on Ireland’s west coast 

Cosy up in a remote cottage or harness creativity at a Connemara photography retreat  

Book a solo break to enjoy true solitude in a remote cottage such as an old stone bachelor cottage in Galway and take a drive along the Wild Atlantic Way to celebrate 10 years of the coastal adventure. Escape the romance with a boat trip to a remote island like the Skellig Islands, where you’ll see more birds than people on the incredible jagged rock formations near the Ring of Kerry. Solo travellers looking to connect with others and learn a new skill can join Cliodhna Prendergast’s upcoming three-night photography retreat in the wild wildness of Connemara. 

For more information on the island of Ireland, please visit ireland.com 

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