101 places to go – romantic Ireland

When people talk about Europe’s most romantic destinations they’ll often band about the usual suspects: Paris, Venice, Rome, Blackpool (or is that just us?). There’s nothing wrong with any of those destinations – they have, after all, earned their romantic stripes over the years! But if you were to ask us our favourite romantic destinations, we’d have to say our hearts lay a little closer to home (we’re excluding Blackpool here).

Ireland is packed with enough romantic locations to melt the heart of all but the most dyed-in-the-wool cynic and offers more tales of romance than a Mills and Boon omnibus. After all, St Valentine himself lies in state in Dublin.

So, to get the pulse racing for Valentine’s Day we’re going to suggest a few of our favourite romantic destinations in Ireland. As always, we’d love to hear your recommendations too. Please leave your suggestion in the comments section below.

• If Ross Castle’s stunning 15th century façade and dramatic lakeside location weren’t enough to make it one of Ireland’s premier romantic destinations then its history almost certainly is. Legend has it that the castle is haunted by the ghost of Sabina, who fell in love with Orwin, the son of her father’s rival. When trying to elope across Lough Sheelin their boat capsized and Orwin drowned. Sabina then condemned herself to the castle’s tower, eventually dying of a broken heart. OK, so it may not be the cheeriest story but it’s a touching tale and perfectly complements the stunning surrounds of Ross Castle and the romantic nature of Valentine’s Day.

•  Those who’ve received sweaters from their loved ones over the years may be forgiven for missing the romantic relevance – beyond the fact they’ve received a comfortable and highly practical gift. Receive a sweater on the Aran Islands, however, and it can be a public display of affection. Rumour has it that so called ‘bridal shirts’ were knitted by the Islands’ women and presented to the men to display their skills and suitability to be a wife and mother. While we can’t really see the practice flying these days, the islands of the story’s origin are undeniably romantic and well worth a visit for those seeking a romantic break in one of Ireland’s most stunning and solitary locations.

•  Dublin is a site of pilgrimage for thousands of holidaymakers in Ireland. While there are a host of activities, one of the most popular is a pilgrimage to Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church in Dublin. It’s at this location that St Valentine himself is interred and the saint is supposed to bless the relationship of any couple stopping-off to pay their respects at his shrine. Incidentally, locations in Glasgow, Birmingham, France, Vienna and Malta also lay claim to hosting St Valentine, so you may want to make a round trip to ensure complete success for your future relationship!

Search our featured romantic cottages in Ireland.

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