Ireland is often touted as a beautiful, romantic country filled with rolling green hills, dramatic cliffs, quaint seaside towns and quiet farmland. Of course, it’s all true! In fact this week the Lonely Planet listed it number five in the world for places to visit! Along with its fascinating history, friendly people, and laid back attitude, Ireland naturally becomes the perfect place to propose! If you’re planning to pop the question any time soon, here are some stunning places to do so.
Cliffs of Moher
For the ultimate romantic location, look no further than the Cliffs of Moher in county Clare. One of Ireland’s most popular attractions, these cliffs stretch for miles and are often shrouded in mist, giving them an even more ethereal look. Especially during the summer months, the cliffs see busloads full of tourists during the day, so it’s best to go as early or as late as possible – for sunrise or sunset, perhaps? You can get an even more spectacular view from the water on a cruise boat. Either way, the photos will be out of this world.
The Giant’s Causeway in county Antrim is another highly popular tourist destination, and another place where you’ll have to choose your timing carefully for a proposal. Nonetheless, the view is truly magical, with unusual hexagonal shapes pillars of rock rising and falling while the waves crash around them. According to legend it was built by the heroic Fionn MacCumhaill so he could meet a giant from Scotland and fight to the death. It may not be the best love story, but a bit of mythology always lends a place an air of romance!
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Hill of Howth
The hill of Howth sits at the northern end of Dublin Bay, and on a clear day you can not only see right across the bay to the Dublin and Wicklow mountains, but on the other side you can even spot the Mourne mountains of county Down. Howth is a buzzing fishing village packed with mouth watering seafood restaurants – the perfect place to go and celebrate your engagement. Howth hill was the location for a famous literary proposal too; namely, Leopold Bloom and the love of his life, Molly, in James Joyce’s masterpiece Ulysses.
Claddagh was once a tiny fishing community just across the river from Galway city. Although now more of a suburb of the city than a separate entity, its history is still fascinating. The people of Claddagh kept to their own traditional way of life, customs and beliefs during a time when the rest of Ireland was becoming more and more anglicised. Just one of these native traits was wearing a claddagh ring as a means of identification. You’ll have a hard job finding a better place to propose than Claddagh, the town where the famous symbol for love was born!
Lakes of Killarney
One of the most awe inspiring spots in all of Ireland, the lakes of Killarney are remote, unspoilt and absolutely dazzling.(I’m not just saying this because I’m from Kerry!) Ringed by the highest mountain range in the country, and with some centuries old stone structures dotted around the landscape, there are probably hundreds of picture perfect spots to pop the question. Try Ross Castle, Ross Island, or Ladies View for some particularly scenic views – or if you’re feeling fit (and brave), you can always do it from the top of Ireland’s highest peak, Carrauntoohil. The town of Killarney is also a lively place with all of the supplies you need to celebrate – or to build up the courage beforehand.
Another of Ireland’s famous mountains, Croagh Patrick in county Mayo sits a short distance from the thriving town of Westport. Legend has it that Saint Patrick fasted on its summit for forty days, and now it is a site of pilgrimage for Christians, especially during the summer solstice. There is a small chapel at the top and the views from its doors span across Clew Bay, it’s especially breathtaking on a sunny day when the water is deep blue and the islands scattered across the bay are emerald green. It’s the stuff romance is made of.
Just a short drive from Dublin, Glendalough in county Wicklow is arguably the most beautiful spot on the east coast, and makes the perfect getaway if you’re staying in the capital. There are a number of different walking trails varying in length and difficulty, and the scenery is spectacular from each one. As well as lakes, mountains, trees and wildlife, there’s also a medieval monastic city to add to the picturesque surroundings. All that’s left to arrange is some champagne!
Situated on the Clare coast, with a population of less than one thousand people and not much else apart from a nice church and few pubs scattered along the street, the small town of Lisdoonvarna doesn’t seem all that romantic at first glance. However, every September the town is mobbed by tens of thousands of singletons looking for love at the Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking festival. The month long event brings a great atmosphere to the town, and since love is definitely in the air, there’s no better place to pop the question.
The grounds of Trinity college are a peaceful oasis from the chaos, traffic and noise of the city that surrounds it, and the stately buildings and cobbled pavements lend it an air of old world sophistication – not to mention the 500 year old history and prestigious reputation the university has. If you’re planning a city break proposal, Trinity is a beautiful place to do so. Plan it during the summer months when most students are off campus and things are a little bit quieter – you never know, you may even have the whole place to yourself. The main square looks especially pretty around twilight, and is often deserted by then.
In keeping with the stately and sophisticated vein, another perfectly manicured destination within easy reach of Dublin is Powerscourt Estate. This palatial country estate occupies 47 acres of velvety green land in Enniskerry, county Wicklow, and includes the fairytale like Powerscourt House, picture perfect landscaped gardens, plenty of wild deer, and Ireland’s highest waterfall. If all goes well (and if you save up enough), you could even return here for the wedding – it’s a popular venue for many of Ireland’s couples tying the knot.
One of the most iconic landmarks of Dublin, if you’re planning on pulling out all the stops with your proposal, the Ha’penny bridge is the place to do it. Built in 1816, the bridge is a stalwart of the city, and is one of it’s most beautiful and central sights too, overlooking the Liffey and leading to Temple Bar on one side and the city’s busiest shopping district on the other. You may even be able to fit a string quartet on the bridge if you really want to!
For lovers of nature, horse riding, or, well, flowers and gardens, the Japanese Gardens located within the Irish National Stud is a dream proposal location. Situated in the heart of county Kildare, the stud has produced champion thoroughbreds for over 100 years. The Japanese gardens, the first of its kind in all of Europe, is a breathtaking and otherworldly spot to ask that big question. You can build up to it by taking in the Horse Museum and the newly opened St. Fiachra’s gardens, which are also located on the grounds.
There’s no better way to feel like a real princess than when your knight in shining armour gets down on one knee in front of a real life castle and asks for your hand in marriage – if that’s what you’re into, of course! If it is your kind of thing, then Castle Durrow is just what you need. A sprawling 18th century estate in county Laois, it is now one of Ireland’s premier hotels, and makes a lovely romantic getaway. Built between 1712 and 1716 by Colonel William Flower, the castle is one of the finest examples of Palladian architecture in Ireland, and was also a school for several decades before being put back in its original state.
Lough Key Forest
Lough Key Forest is a unique and definitely a memorable spot for a proposal – how about getting down on one knee at the top of a forest canopy? Or at the end of a zip line? Or from the back of a Segway? If your bride or husband to be is an active outdoorsy type, this is an excellent place to bring them. Just keep safety in mind above all else, and don’t give them the shock of their lives!
If you’ve never heard of Dursey Island before, don’t worry, you’re not supposed to know it. It’s Ireland’s best kept secret, a 6.5km long island off the coast of the Beara peninsula in county Cork and the ultimate unspoilt destination. With just 6 – yes, six – residents and no shops, pubs or restaurants, if you want your ‘big moment’ to be just about the two of you, you’ve come to the right place. The best part is, you can only reach the island using Ireland’s only cable car!
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Tips for Proposing in Ireland
1. Always have a plan B! Ireland is well known for having very unpredictable weather. If you’re planning to propose in a lovely outdoor location, have an indoor alternative just in case the rain clouds roll in to spoil the moment.
2. Prepare to be approached by complete strangers. This is especially true if you’re in a small town or rural area. News travels fast, and our sociable demeanour means that everyone will want to congratulate the soon-to-be bride and groom.
3. Scope out phone signals. Once the question has been popped, no doubt you’ll want to share your happy news with people you know as well as random strangers. Keep check on the nearest town or location with reception so you can head back there and tell the world!