ROMANCE ON THE ISLAND OF IRELAND
Flowers, chocolates, gifts and a fancy restaurant are classics for Valentine's Day. But did you know the irish have traditions across the island that'll sweep your other half off their feet?
Ancient tales, a matchmaking festival and the final resting place of St Valentine:
Get set for some island of Ireland romance ...
THE CLADDAGH RING
The Claddagh ring's evocative design - with two hands clasping a heart - is thought to have originated in the fishing village of Claddagh on Galway Bay.
The villagers used this design as a wedding ring for over 400 years.
According to Thomas Dillon's in Galway City, the original makers of the Claddagh ring and the oldest jewellers in Ireland - the ring's motif can be explained in the phrase: "Let Love and Friendship Reign."
Step into their William Street shop, and they'll tell you the secret to wearing this precious symbol of love: wear the crown pointing trowards your fingernail and your heart is taken; wear it out and you're yet to fall in love.
Simple. I've not removed mine, since my sweetie put it on me. My heart's in good hands.
Photo: Thomas Dillon's in Galway City
Haven't found true love yet? Then Willie Daly is the man to meet!
One of Ireland's last true matchmakers. Since Willie started out 45 years ago, he's set up an incredible 3,000 marriages.
Part of Daly's secret to success is his 160-year old matchmaking book, which has been passed down through his family for generations. (even though he doesn't look a day over 79!)
Touch it and you'll fall in love, apparently!
Human interaction is at the heart of Daly's matchmaking philosophy.
At the annual Matchmaking Festival in Lisdoonvarna, County Clare (drop by on your way to the Cliffs of Moher!), you can visit Daly at his matchmaking bar.
This festival's Europe's biggest singles event and has given rise to an LGBT + offshoot called The Outing. This latest addition takes place at The Inn at Dromoland.
With dances, festivities and fun every day and night, even if you don't find love, you'll have one helluva time looking for it!
Photo: Lisdoonvarna, County Clare - home to the Matchmaking Festival
FOR THE LOVE OF A WOMAN CALLED FLORENCE
Romance runs through the watery veins of County Fermanagh's idyllic lakelands, where the beauty of the landscape alone'll have you swooning.
But for an extra special dose of love, head to Florence Court.
Sir John Cole first built a mansion on this site in the 18th Century. He named it after the woman he adored, his wife Florence.
Today, the vast Palladian house oozes romance and is naturally a very popular wedding venue.
Even if you're not tying the knot here, the beautiful Rococo plasterwork, mountain backdrops and 19th century walled gardens are sure to make your heart flutter.
Photo: Florence Court, County Fermanagh
LET ST VALENTINE BLESS YOUR RINGS
How about a little romance from the man himself?
Inside Dublin's Whitefriar Street Church, lie the remains of the patron saint of love, St. Valentine. I'll always remember going down into the catacombs of the church, to visit the ole boy.
A symbol of love across the globe, the Shrine to St Valentine is the spot where those getting married, can ask St Valentine to watch over their marriage.
Blessed by St Valentine in one of Ireland's most romantic cities?
Now there's a love story that'll go down in history ....
Photo: St Valentine, in the catacombs of Whitefriar Street Church, Dublin
Which one of these Irish traditions, is on your list? A small but vast island, Ireland has so much to offer.
It'd be the perfect place to spark that flame, renew those vows or as we did, the perfect Family Reunion trip!
But here's a movie playlist to get you all Riley'd up for a trip to Ireland: P.S. I Love You / Leap Year / Brooklyn / Sing Street / and Once.
I'll bet you''ll be contacting me in no time soon to book your next ireland vacay!
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