Forget Paris and Venice, Ireland is the place to be for romance this St. Valentine's Day.
If you’re looking for last minute inspiration for a Valentine gift, or just love the idea of a romantic break in Ireland at any time of the year, check out www.discoverireland.ie/romance, but for now, here are some of our top romantic spots in Ireland for 2012…
Have your rings blessed in front of St. Valentine
Although not widely known, the Shrine to St. Valentine’s rests in Dublin. His relics were donated by Pope Gregory XVI to the Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church, near St. Stephen’s Green, in 1836. The church is especially popular on St. Valentine’s Day as there is a special "blessing of the rings" ceremony for couples intending to marry.
Afterwards, why not take the Valentine’s Day Tour at the National Gallery of Ireland on Merrion Square. The free tour starts at 2pm in the atrium and takes in the romance-themed paintings that form part of the gallery’s permanent collection.
Embark on a moon-lit adventure
Your kayaking adventure will take on a romantic twist with a night trip in one of the many magical locations in West Cork with Atlantic Sea Kayaking. 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.
Take the Right Turn in Limerick
Step into the scene of a James Bond movie with Heritage Sports Cars and drive into the sunset in a classic sports car with that special someone this Valentine’s Day. Ladies let your hair down and be whisked away for a romantic drive around Ireland’s picturesque countryside. Based in Adare, Co. Limierick, you can choose from a classic Jaguar E-Type, MGB Roadster, Porsche 911, or even a Ferrari to embark on your romantic adventure.
Tantalise each other’s taste buds
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 Dublin on 4th February where you will learn the art of making your very own chocolates with Famous French chocolatier, Benoit Lorge.
Stay at a Landmark Trust Property
Whether you are choosing Valentine’s Day to ask that all important question, or you just want to really treat that someone special, 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.
Fall in love with Snowdrop Week at Altamount Gardens
For a real romantic treat direct from Mother Nature, take a trip to Co. Carlow from the 20th – 26th February, to enjoy the beauty of Snowdrop Week at Altamont Gardens. The gardens house one of the finest collections of snowdrops in the country, as well as an enchanting blend of formal and informal gardens with riverside walks covering over 40 acres.
Make your heart skip a beat at Glenveagh National Park
There is nothing more romantic than a visit to a castle, so this Valentines why not take your loved one to Glenveagh Castle, which is located in the stunning setting of Glenveagh National Park in Co. Donegal. The 19th century castellated mansion, constructed in this remote mountain setting, was inspired by the Victorian idyll of a romantic highland retreat, only with an Irish twist!
Take a trip to romantic Sligo & Yeats Country
Ben Bulben and the strikingly beautiful countryside around it were the inspiration for Ireland’s Nobel Laureate WB Yeats, a poet who’s famously linked with the romance of the Irish. While you’re there, the romantic Glencar Lake and Waterfall lies about 12 km 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”.
A Romantic Ramble in Kylemore
If a romantic ramble is your idea of bliss then head to Kylemore Abbey this Valentines, to a beautiful neo-Gothic Castle with a fairytale setting, which is steeped in both love and tragedy; Mitchell Henry built the Neo-Gothic Church as a memorial to his wife following her untimely death.
Love Twists in the Lakelands!
If you’re looking for somewhere extra romantic, then visit the stunning Georgian parkland, woodland and lakes of Belvedere House and Gardens on the shores of Lough Ennell, near Mullingar. In saying that, the much-visited ‘Jealous Wall’, Ireland’s largest folly, actually tells of a love story gone horribly wrong. It was built by the first Earl of Belvedere, Robert Rochfort, to block out the view of the house of his brother, with whom he believed his once beloved wife Mary was having an affair.
For more ideas and information visit www.discoverireland.ie/romance