Nothing says I love you like a Valentine in the ‘land of the heart’s desire’. On everyone’s favorite day of love, here are five tips on how to celebrate romance in a uniquely Irish setting.
Bless your rings at St Valentine’s Shrine
Tip number one is to go straight-to-the-heart – visiting the shrine of man himself, St Valentine. How many brownie points could you score by taking your someone special to visit the patron saint of lovers? St Valentine’s Shrine is in Dublin’s Whitefriar Church on Aungier Street, a few minutes’ walk from the centre of gravity for shopping, culture and craic in Grafton Street, St Stephen’s Green and Temple Bar. If you can, visit the shrine on 14 February itself, the Saint’s actual feast day and the origin of the annual celebration of love, as there is a special “Blessing of the Rings” ceremony for those about to marry, although it’s still a place of pilgrimage for those celebrating love at any time. With its winding streets, cute cafés and cosy hotels Dublin can rival anywhere for romantic encounters.
Never let go with Kate and Leo
Everybody knows the scene at the prow of the Titanic, the iconic moment when Leonardo Di Caprio shows Kate Winslet how to fly. That photo opportunity awaits all over Titanic Belfast, the world’s largest visitor experience dedicated to the world’s most famous ship. On Valentine’s Day there’s a special after hours Friday night experience organised. Guests can spend a night to remember with their loved one in the opulent surroundings of this amazing attraction, taking in the stunning surroundings of the banqueting suites with views of Belfast Lough and Cavehill. Then have your photograph taken on the world famous grand staircase. Kate and Leo would be proud.
Splash out in Claddagh country
The Claddagh ring is popular the world over as a friendship, engagement and wedding ring. A quintessential Irish symbol, it is worn by millions, including by the likes of U2 front man Bono. According to legend it originated in Claddagh in Galway in the 17th century. No romantic soul could miss the symbolism of a stroll through Claddagh, which was once an old thatched-cottage fishing village area at the mouth of the River Corrib flowing into Galway Bay. Taking your loved one to the place that gave the ring its name is a pretty romantic touch. Then wander over to Quay Street to Thomas Dillons jewellers, the original makers of the ring. At its gift shop and Claddagh museum you might find a special ring made for you.
Propose at the Cliffs of Moher
Love is in the air at the Cliffs of Moher – the outstanding beauty of this natural wonder makes it one of world’s most romantic attractions outdoors. Offering stunning views over the wild Atlantic Ocean, the cliffs are an ideal way to woo your loved one on Valentine’s Day. They provide the perfect setting to pop the question. The area around O’Brien’s Tower is the most popular for wedding blessings and proposals. Just make sure to check the weather before you plan your proposal. It might be high winds that sweep your intended off their feet!
Say I love you at Ireland’s most romantic castle
Looking for a love nest? Kylemore Abbey in Connemara is the original fairy-tale destination. Built in 1867, this stunning building in an equally spectacular setting was built as a lover’s gift and is known as Ireland’s most romantic castle. A vast inheritance funded the construction of the magical castle, which Mitchell Henry intended as a testament to his wife Margaret. They had visited Connemara on honeymoon and were enchanted by the beauty of the landscape. However Margaret died suddenly in 1874, never seeing her castle fully complete. At first a heartbroken Mitchell couldn’t bear to spend much time in Kylemore and avoided it when possible. His broken heart, however, finally couldn’t stop him from building his wife one of the most elegant final resting places money can buy. Today, couples fall for the gothic romance of the magnificent castle, walled Victorian gardens and lush woodland walkways, all steeped in love, legend and history. If you stand with your back against the wishing stone in the grounds and are successful in throwing a small pebble over the stone three consecutive times, your wish will be granted.