Forget Paris and Venice, Ireland is the place to be for romance this St. Valentine's Day, as it's one of the last fortresses of the true romantic!
If you’re looking for inspiration for Valentine’s breaks in Ireland, check out www.discoverireland.ie/romance(need to check this link). But for now, here are 10 of our chosen romantic spots for 2012:
1. Glenveagh National Park
This Valentine’s,why not whisk your other half away to Glenveagh Castle, which is situated in the stunning setting of Glenveagh National Park in Co. Donegal. The 19th century castellated mansion, builtin this remote mountain backdrop, was inspired by the Victorian idyll of a romantic highland getaway, except with an Irish twist! The romantic highlight is the castle’s walks, where you can absorb the awe-inspiring views of the National Park on the View Point Trail. If that doesn’t work only the most stubborn heart could resist the alluring ambience of the Victorian Pleasure Gardens and the Walled Garden, whose original design remains today.
Ireland’s very own Romeo and Juliet, Diarmuid and Grainne’s epic journey ended at the top of Ben Bulben, the magnificent table mountain that overlooks Sligo’s landscape, where the couple were charged by a wild boar. Ben Bulben and its superb surrounding landscapewas also the muse for Ireland’s Nobel Laureate W.B. Yeats, a poet who is famously linked with the romance of the Irish. While you’re there, the romantic GlencarLake and Waterfall lies about 8 miles north of Sligo town. With a drop of about 50 feet, it is a small but beautiful waterfall, and was cited by Yeats in his famous poem, “The Stolen Child”. The waterfall is particularly picturesque after a rainfall and is one of the most enchanting waterfalls of the north-west region, along with the tranquility of its nearby silver lough.
3. Killarney National Park
If you’re looking to experience something a little different this Valentine’s, then take an old-fashioned jaunting car through one of the world’s most well-known beauty spots, the Killarney National Park in Co. Kerry. You could not witness anything more serene than the panoramic Lakes of Killarney, the cascading Torc Waterfall, the water-front Ross Castle and the picturesque Victorian Muckross House and Gardens.
4. The Lakelands
If you’re looking for somewhere with added sentiment, then stop over at the beautiful Georgian park-land, woodland and lakes of the delightful Belvedere House and Gardens on the shores of Lough Ennell, by Mullingar. In saying that, the much-visited ‘Jealous Wall’, Ireland’s largest folly, in fact tells of a love story gone horribly wrong. It was built by the first Earl of Belvedere, Robert Rochfort, to block the view of the house of his brother, with whom he believed his once adored wife Mary was having an affair.
5. Kylemore Abbey
If a leisurely wander is your idea of bliss then head to Kylemore Abbey in Connemara, a beautiful neo-Gothic Castle with a fairy-tale back-drop, which is steeped in both love and loss; Mitchell Henry built the Neo-Gothic Church as a memorial to his wife following her untimely death. The Gothic Church and Abbey alone are worth the visit, but it is the striking Victorian Walled Garden is the lure a romantic ramble. Situated in the hills and run by an order of Benedictine nuns, this astounding Victorian arcadia seems to have been lifted from another time into the centre of this secluded Connemara setting.
This year why not seduce your Valentine with the most romantic of treats - chocolate. Immerse yourself in chocolate at the delectable ‘Chocolate Making Day’ at the Fabulous Food Trials in Co. Dublin on 4th February where you will learn and perfect the art of making your very own chocolates. Famous French chocolatier, Benoit Lorge, will guide you step-by-step through the complexities of cocoa from dark to milk to white, and share his special recipes for truffles, pralines and other delicious delights. The day ends with a glass of Prosecco and lots of chocolate tasting! Just the thing to dazzle your Valentine with!
7. Night kayak in Lough Hyne, Cork
Surrounded by lavish forestry, your kayaking escapade will take on a romantic glow as the florescence comes to life in the water beneath you. Warmed by the Gulf Stream, West Cork’s coast is dotted with deserted islands, ancient castles, sea caves, hidden coves and an abundance of marine life. Atlantic Sea Kayaking offers the opportunity to explore this wild and colourful landscape in a romantic way. Join them for a night trip in one of the many magical locations in West Cork. Complete the evening with a walk through the forest to the top of the hill overlooking the lake before retreating to the West Cork Hotel. It is well the extensive view of the rocky West Cork shore. Lough Hyne offers an exciting trip you’ll never forget.
Get lost in the romance of Solis Lough Eske Castle. This beautifully refurbished five star Gaelic castle dates back to the 17thcentury and is the ultimate location to unwind with your Valentine. Located at the water's edge, near the famous Blue Stack Mountains, Lough Eske Castle's luxury spa is indeed an invigorating destination for romantic break. This is more than a traditional spa break with manicures, facials and massages, but rather, a complete wellness experience. Spa Solis is the perfect escape to a world of well-earned indulging for you and your loved one.
A perfect Valentines gift for your other half, and a wonderful opportunity to rekindle your flames of love! Why not stay sign up for a residential weekend course withKinsale Pottery and Arts centre? Choose from pottery, mosaic-making, jewellery-making, stained glass, or glass fusing. The pottery course introduces you to all the basic techniques: you will learn to coil, slab and throw pots, and to sculpt in clay, which will surely cement your relationship for another decade!
10. Landmark Trust Properties
Whether you are choosing Valentine’s Day to ask that all important question, or you just want to use the excuse to indulge that someone special in luxury, Ireland’s Landmark Trust Properties will help you create a scene straight out of a fairy-tale. From miniature medieval castles, to live-in light-houses and romantic rambling cottages, the trust has a remit to save interesting and unusual 'landmark' properties throughout the whole of Ireland and to re-use them, as self catering holiday accommodation with a difference.