A Potterhead’s Guide to Ireland

I am so excited about this guest post! It combines my two favorite things: travel and Harry Potter (#sorrynotsorry). Michelle Laury, gives us Potterheads a treat and a reason to visit Ireland (check out my own trip to Ireland last year). Find Michelle on Twitter and Facebook!

The thought of Ireland calls to mind a host of images: leprechauns, a pint of Guinness, green grass nurtured by plenty of rain, sheep standing on rolling hills, and potatoes served in every variation imaginable. Its reputation of magic and history, played out against a backdrop of rural beauty, has called out to many wandering souls over time.

Photo Credit: Pixabay.com

My own wish to experience those green hills and quaint pubs came from watching P.S. I Love You many years ago. This year, that wish came true.

The hills and pubs are just as beautiful as they were in the movie, but what made me fall in love with Ireland was the feeling that I had stepped into my favourite fantasy world: the world of Harry Potter.

If you are a Potterhead like me and you’re planning a visit to Ireland, here’s a list of things you’ll love.

The Cliffs of Moher – an Eerie Sight

These cliffs along the Wild Atlantic coast of County Clare are one of the most famous tourist attractions in Ireland. Seen on a sunny day, it’s not hard to understand why. The sheer drop-offs into the crashing waves below are both mesmerizing and awe-inspiring.

Potterheads might recognize them better as the cliffs from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. In the movie, Dumbledore and Harry apparate to a rock at the base of the imposing cliffs in their pursuit of a Horcrux. The rock itself is Lemon Rock in County Kerry, transported by the magic of video editing to appear the base of the cliffs.

The day I visited the cliffs was so foggy, cold, and rainy that I could easily picture Dumbledore and Harry standing on that imaginary rock out in the sea.

And although there aren’t any actual caves open to visitors under the cliffs themselves, I did get to visit a cave several kilometres away. Aillwee Cave is dark and wet enough to have the scary vibes of a place young Voldemort would hide a piece of his soul. Fortunately, visitors aren’t allowed to go through it alone and all the tours are guided.

Inside the cave, our tour guide asked us to turn off all our mobile devices while she turned off the lights. We were left in total darkness. I could almost hear Dumbledore saying, It is the unknown we fear when we look upon death and darkness, nothing more.

And while Harry Potter and Dumbledore were able to apparate to the cave in a matter of seconds, I had to take an hour-long bus ride from Galway along curvy Irish roads. Of course, I considered the resulting nausea as the payment I had to make in order to gain passage.

Hogwarts away from Hogwarts

Ireland’s landscape is dotted with castles and other old buildings, many of which reminded me of both Hogwarts and Hagrid’s cottage.

In the fall, the red ivy covering Galway College makes it look just like Hogwarts on the eve of Nearly Headless Nick’s deathday party.

Although Kilkenny Castle didn’t remind me of Hogwarts much in appearance, it is rumoured to be haunted by ghosts. When I visited, there were also kids playing hurling on the lawn and from a distance, I could imagine they were holding brooms instead of hurleys. The ball they hit is called a sliothar- certainly potterish in name – and resembles a quaffle in material, but is closer to a golden snitch in size.

If you’re looking for something even closer to the books, you can watch an actual Quidditch match. There’s even an Irish national team!

While I was sitting on the soft grass outside Kilkenny Castle sipping a coffee, a group of Irish boys attempted to sell me a branch for €2 reminding me of Fred and George’s antics. Even though this isn’t something I can promise everyone visiting Ireland will experience, I am almost certain that similar situations await all the tourists: the Irish are talkative, open, welcoming, and always willing to help with a smile on their face.

Photo Credit: Pixabay.com

Trinity College’s Old Library in Dublin looks like the Hogwarts’ library and, much like in the Restricted Section, you aren’t allowed to touch any of the books. Both spots are perfect for some Potter-inspired photos, though

Feel like a Wizard or a Witch

There are plenty of stores in Ireland that offer Harry Potter t-shirts, pajamas, mugs, and other Potterhead gear if you want to show your love, but aren’t confident enough wearing your cape in public. Every bookstore sells the most recent editions of the books, as well as Potter-inspired colouring books (not just for kids), stationery, and more.

If you are planning some interior re-designing and trying to find a suitable style – something that both reflects your personality and is timeless – Ireland is full of inspiration and themed decorations are sold all over the country. You can dedicate at least one room to the World of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Photo Credit: Pixabay.com

Candy stores in every city offer Butterscotch Beer and Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans for when you can’t make it to Honeydukes in Hogsmeade. The Hole in the Wall in Kilkenny will make you feel like you’ve stepped into the Hog’s Head, while the fireplace and stairwell at the King’s Head in Galway will remind you of the Three Broomstick’s Inn.

Instead of a Conclusion

Let us step into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure.

– Albus Dumbledore

From pubs to castles, you are sure to find a spot to remind you of the wizarding world. You can even enjoy a few this-world-pleasures while you’re there, like regular beer, great food, and cheerful music.

Your Irish Harry Potter adventure awaits.

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