The winner of the trip for two to the Emerald Isle as part of our #IrelandStory sweepstake in partnership with Tourism Ireland has been picked!
A huge thank you to all our readers who took the time to take part in our giveaway and shared their #IrelandStory with us. We were blown away by the response with over 2,000 entries being submitted!
From family reunions, road trips, engagements and bucket list adventures, it's easy to see why so many of you hold Ireland close to your heart. It’s stories like these that make visiting the island of Ireland so special and exciting for new and returning visitors. Stories that are passed down through generations, and stories that are waiting to be told. What will your next story be on the island of Ireland?
The winner of the #IrelandStory sweepstake was chosen at random and we are delighted to announce that Felicia Barmettler was chosen and claimed the incredible prize of a trip for two to Ireland that covers flights, car rental, six nights' accommodation plus a one-night stay in a medieval Irish castle.
Read the winner's story here:
"My family went to the Wild Atlantic Way in Connemara and experienced the most amazing time. We visited old and new friends and decided to dig into our own Irish roots when we returned home. We found strong ties we didn’t know we had! We fall in love with Ireland every time we set foot on the Irish sod. We simply must get back to Ireland. The Gaeltacht regions are our favorite. I left my heart in Galway…and I must go back to retrieve it. I hope to live where there are more sheep than people one day."
Here are some of the other incredible stories we received:
"My family and I went back to celebrate my 75th birthday. My parents are from Leitrim and Mayo and we went to see many relatives. We all had a wonderful time and love the country that my parents left in 1929."
- Kathlenn Connor
"I went to Ireland with my husband and baby girl last autumn, and it was spectacular! We traveled from Sligo to Dublin, seeing the sites and reuniting with family after years.
We climbed Knocknarea, visited Strandhill Beach, and enjoyed a meal at Hargadon's, where my husband had the best seafood chowder of his life. We spent time in Tubbercurry, the town my grandfather was from, visiting cousins and family, and we were able to visit the house where my grandmother was born not too far from there.
We spent a day in Mayo taking in the Museum of Country Life and the Jackie Clarke Collection, both striking and thoughtful in their own unique experiences. We drove to Dublin where we saw the Book of Kells at Trinity College, shopped around George's Street Arcade and Powerscourt Centre. We ate and drank at a number of outstanding, new and trendy restaurants and on our last day, one of my relatives drove us up the coast to see the Howth Cliffwalk and view the city from the north! It was magic.
If we get the opportunity to go back, I would bring my daughter and show her the Wild Atlantic Way. From Cork to Donegal, we would visit museums, nature preserves, pubs, and beautiful spots for tea and rest."
- Patricia Resio
"Our dad passed away at the age of 93 and his wish was to have his ashes spread in Ireland. Fifteen of us flew to Ireland and traveled to Killarney. Dad had been to Ireland several times to research his genealogy and found a cousin in Cork and made several friends in Killarney over the years.
We visited some of his favorite places and enjoyed hearing stories from his friends. His cousin and family met us in Cork and we all went to one of dads favorite castles. It was an experience that his grandchildren and great-grandchildren will never forget."
- Jon Collins
"I took my girlfriend to Ireland.
It was our first time there.
It was the most amazing trip we ever had.
We stayed at a different bed and breakfast every night.
On our 6th night, I surprised her with a night at the Adare Manor.
Unbeknownst to her, I was carrying an engagement ring in a pair of rolled up socks in my luggage. Right before dinner we went for a walk and underneath that giant tree be a stream I asked her to marry me…..it was an unforgettable trip!!!
While we were checking out of the Manor, she saw a book by the author Maeve Binchy….
She told me that if we ever have a girl that we would use that name.
Maeve just turned 16 last month.
My memories of my only trip to Ireland will stay with me forever."
- James Gillespie
"For the last 20 years, I’ve been singing traditional Irish songs in an a cappella group with four Irish-American friends—all who have been to Ireland. I had never traveled to the Emerald Isle, so last fall we arranged to make a coach tour of the Ring of Kerry together, including several of our spouses. In addition, I decided to go to Ireland one week ahead of my bandmates to see the cities of Dublin and Belfast.
I drove north to Belfast, through scenic Carnlough and several other beautiful towns along the Antrim coast. Many a bright rainbow reached down to kiss the ground as I worked my way north along the coast. In Belfast that evening I connected with Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, former Lord Mayor of the City. He drove me up Black Mountain see the panorama of Belfast below. We are both outspoken advocates for climate mitigation and Máirtín proudly showed me a bog meadow that he had helped to preserve within the city.
My self-tour of the city of Belfast included Queen’s University, the Botanic Gardens, the Crown Saloon, City Hall, and of course, the Titanic Quarter. Dining in the former White Star engineers Drawing Offices, now the restaurant of the Titanic Hotel was an experience not to be forgotten."
- Mark Lohbauer
"One of my fondest memories of visiting the island of Ireland came a decade ago when I was learning so much about how the farm-to-fork movement was taking root in Ireland and Northern Ireland, and how the creativity of the cuisine and the chefs was going through the roof.
I had to experience it. I embarked on a “foodies” tour and visited some of the greatest restaurants I’ve ever been to in my life. The highlight of that trip, though, even in the face of all that excellence, was visiting the Ballymaloe Cookery School, in Shamagarry, Co. Cork, and seeing a live cooking demonstration, and tasting, presented by Rachel Allen. The preparation of food can be as magical and important as the taste and I learned a lot. [I was] inspired to bring this growing sense of the Irish culinary excellence back into my own life in the Washington, DC area, which I have enjoyed exploring ever since."
- Donald Tighe
Thank you again to everyone who took the time to enter our #IrelandStory giveaway. If you're thinking of pressing the Green Button and heading to Ireland this year, we hope that these stories have inspired you!
This article is presented proudly in partnership with Tourism Ireland. To learn more about Tourism Ireland and get inspired for your next visit to Ireland, check out their website.
Note: some of these stories have been modified for the purpose of the article.