Everyone loves romance. Especially on St Valentine’s Day. In honour of love, travel writer Marina Baldry has collected six of Ireland’s most romantic locations with accommodation to match.
We ♥ Cushendun Village, County Antrim
You know Cushendun is a gem. You know that its tiny harbour, its immaculately whitewashed houses and its views of Scotland’s Isle of Aran make it so. But did you know it was built for love? As it turns out, when Ronald John McNeil (aka Baron Cushendun) commissioned the design of the village, he ordered it to be built in Cornish appearance to please his Cornwall-born wife, Maud. Upon her death, and in her memory, the Baron designed and had built a row of whitewashed cottages. They remain today as craft shops and tearooms.
Your local love nest: Barbican Gatelodge, Glenarm, County Antrim
We ♥ Reginald’s Tower, County Waterford
The exiled Irish King of Leinster, Dermot McMurrough, is in dire need of military support to regain his lands. In his predicament, he turns to the Norman mercenary Strongbow (Richard de Claire, 2nd Earl of Pembroke) for help. Strongbow, with King Richard’s blessing, accepts, and is offered both McMurrough’s lands when he dies and the hand of his daughter in marriage. And so, in Reginald’s Tower, Waterford city, takes place arguably the most famous marriage in Irish history.
Your local love nest: The Cliff House Hotel, Ardmore, County Waterford
We ♥ Roundstone, County Galway
Before Leap Year and P.S. I Love You we had The Matchmaker. A surly presidential hopeful’s aide (Marcy) is sent to the rugged west of Ireland in order to find her boss’s ancestors and win the ‘Irish’ vote. Instead, Marcy arrives in the town of Ballynagra slap bang in the middle of matchmaking season. Cue laughs, loves, losses and Connemara’s Roundstone village looking prettier than ever. Should you be after a match made in heaven yourself, allow us to suggest County Clare’s Lidsoonvarna matchmaking festival (August-October).
Your local love nest: Ballynahinch Castle, Connemara, County Galway
We ♥ The Relics of St Valentine, Whitefriar Church, Dublin city
There’s no more appropriate way to celebrate 14 February than by paying a visit to St Valentine himself. A small vessel tinged with his blood and housing other relics lies beneath a statue of the great Saint at Whitefriar Street Church in Dublin city. Many visit to pray to Valentine, asking him to guard their love and lives with one another. On the special day, there is also a Blessing of Rings for those about to be married.
Your local love nest: Merrion Mews, Dublin 2
We ♥ Carrickfergus Castle, County Antrim
A spooky contrast to the lovey-dovey lies in the history of Carrickfergus Castle. As legend would have it, a young soldier was executed here after news broke of his affair with the wife of his Captain’s brother. Look for his ghost, known as ‘Buttoncap’, near the well, and listen carefully for his cries of lost passion.
Your local love nest: Marlagh Lodge, Ballymena County Antrim
We ♥ Castle Leslie, County Monaghan
Fancy yourself a fairytale featuring a night in shining armour (well, almost)? Bartholomew Leslie, the first Leslie of Castle Leslie, became a hero on horseback when, while fleeing from her enemies, Queen Margaret of Scotland fell off the horse into a river. Leslie, the Queen's chamberlain, saved the Queen’s life by throwing her the end of his belt and telling her to grip fast the buckle. She did, she was saved, and today the motto of the Leslie family remains "Grip Fast".
Your local love nest: Castle Leslie, Glaslough, County Monaghan