Living near the border between the North & South of Ireland is a real treat. An hour one way or the other and we are using different currency, the road signs are in both English and Irish languages, the accents change and we can explore different areas and feel like proper tourists. It's amazing how your brain can switch into holiday mode when these simple differences are evident. A couple of weekends ago, we decided to venture South and head to Carlingford. My best friend was over visiting from Canada (YAAAAAAAY) and hadn't been before so we thought it would be the perfect day trip to take together.
When we were figuring out where to go, I knew I wanted Crys to see quintessential Ireland - the kind of completely stereotypical place that American's would use as movie sets instead of a regular old dreary place like, say - Larne (no offense, Larne). Cobbled streets, beautiful scenery, old historic buildings, traditional pubs, brightly painted houses and incredible food - that was the threshold. Carlingford ticks all those boxes, not least with the spectacular landscape surrounding. It's a coastal town, right on the edge of Carlingford Lough with mountains in the background and medieval streets to meander up and down.
We started with Lunch at the incredible Fitzpatricks, just outside Dundalk - about 10/15 minutes from Carlingford town. Fitzpatricks is everything you need an Irish pub/restaurant to be. Friendly staff, roaring fires, old world memorabilia hanging from every nook and cranny and more food than you can shake a stick at. It's like going to your Nanny's house except your Nanny's house is on steroids. They also do an unbelievable Halloween display on their grounds. We're talking, full on Zombie ambulances, graveyards and bride and groom skeleton wedding displays. Levi had to be carried from the car into the restaurant with his eyes closed - he's not a fan of scary stuff. I can appreciate the effort, but I'm not a fan either. I am a fan of their food though. One big motherload of a roast dinner please!
With full bellies we headed into town and took a stroll. Even on a Sunday, Carlingford is well and truly thriving. We popped in to all the fabulous antique shops, listened to live Irish music wafting through the cobbled streets and admired all the painted buildings.
I should also note that Carlingford is really kid-friendly. So many little side streets, craft shops, giant maps on the walls and cafes to explore as well as the ever-friendly pub atmosphere where it's entirely expected that little ones will be running about. There's a great new greenway that you can walk or cycle along the coastline and there are also LOADS of places to nip in for a toilet run. I feel like that is one of the highest-priority amenities in my life these days; both for Levi and my increasingly squashed bladder. Levi had his scooter and was so happy and completely safe racing up and down the streets (which are mostly pedestrianised).
So - if you live in Ireland and need a day trip recommendation, I've got you - Carlingford is the spot. And if you're thinking of a visit to the Emerald Isle and are marking some places to see, get Carlingford on that list! What are you waiting for?!