With its picture-perfect landscapes, fairytale castles and breathtaking buildings steeped in history, Ireland offers an abundance of romantic places to propose. This article sets out five of the best spots that will not only make your heart soar but ensure your proposal is memorable enough to last a lifetime.
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Slieve League Cliffs
For a magnificent backdrop, consider Slieve League, a gem of a location in the heart of County Donegal, an area famed for its wild, rugged beauty. At just under 2,000 feet tall in places, Slieve League is among the highest sea cliffs in Ireland – nearly three times higher than Ireland’s famous Cliffs of Moher.
Slieve League offers plenty of incredible views, where you can gaze out over the sparkling North Atlantic waters and see some of the coastlines on the Wild Atlantic Way.
Getting to the highest point of Slieve League isn’t for the faint-hearted. It involves a hike over One Man’s Pass, a narrow ledge with a sheer drop onto rugged land either side – something only experienced hikers should attempt. Thankfully, you don’t need to ascend too high to witness Slieve League’s stunning views and feel like you’re on the edge of the world.
Though a popular tourist attraction along the Wild Atlantic Way, you’ll find Slieve League a peaceful place, not too crowded with visitors. If you envisage proposing with just Mother Nature as your witness, Slieve League is an epic location that truly sums up the beauty of Ireland.
Located in Connemara, County Galway, Kylemore Abbey has a fascinating and romantic history, spanning 150 years. It was initially built as a castle in 1868 by Mitchell Henry, a pathologist and eye surgeon who later became a prominent figure in Irish politics.
Mitchell constructed the castle as an elaborate token of love for his wife, Margaret Henry, and as a nesting place for their expanding family. Though Margaret died soon after the castle was built, Mitchell lived there for many years afterwards.
In 1878, Mitchell arranged for a neo-Gothic church to be built in the gardens as a lasting testament to his love for Margaret. After Mitchell’s death (at age 84) he was laid to rest with Margaret’s remains in a mausoleum in the nearby woods.
Kylemore Castle was sold to the 9th Duke of Manchester in 1902, before becoming home and Abbey to the Benedictine nuns in 1920. The Benedictine community still own and run Kylemore Abbey today.
Kylemore Abbey, with its romantic history and picturesque Victorian walled garden, not to mention lakeside walks and nature trails, make it a place well worthy of a romantic proposal.
The Abbey itself is set in a prime position next to the lake. If you pop the question in the right place, there are plenty of photo opportunities where you can take a “happy couple” selfie with the spectacular Abbey in the background.
In Ireland, there’s no shortage of fairytale castles – and there are many that you can stay in overnight. If budget isn’t an issue, consider Ashford Castle, an 800-year-old castle hotel in Cong, County Mayo. It’s been voted a winner of the Travellers’ Choice award in 2019 on Trip Advisor.
With its storybook setting, beautiful rooms, delicious cuisine and outstanding service, your every need will be catered for. From the moment you arrive, you’ll be treated like royalty. While staying in luxury 5-star accommodation, you can take part in various estate activities, such as horse riding, archery, fishing, falconry, golf or tennis. For very active couples, there’s paddleboarding on the lake, tree climbing and zip-lining too!
If a little R&R is more up your street, Ashford Castle boasts excellent spa facilities. In fact, its spa has been voted ‘Ireland’s Best Hotel Spa’ for the last four years by the World Spa Awards. So, if you want to make a grand gesture with your proposal, Ashford Castle is undoubtedly the place to do it!
Silver Strand Beach
Ireland boasts many extraordinary beaches and Silver Strand Beach in Malin Beg, County Donegal, is one of them. It’s a secluded sandy bay, surrounded by tall, horseshoe-shaped cliffs. It’s accessible by many steep and sloping steps, which may have something to do with its peacefulness!
Once you’ve made it down the steps, you and your partner can enjoy walking along the soft, golden sands and looking out across the crystal clear, sparkling waters. You may even find that you have the beach to yourselves, depending on the time of year you visit.
Choose a sunny day so that both of you can fully appreciate just how beautiful Silver Strand Beach is. Take a picnic, and when the moment is right, ask the big question! You could spell it out in the sand. Or write it down as a message inside a bottle and let your loved one discover it along the shoreline.
Kerry International Dark-Sky Reserve
What could be more romantic than proposing against a magical backdrop of a starry night? At the Kerry International Dark-Sky Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site covering 700 square km along the Wild Atlantic Way in County Kerry, you can do just that.
It’s one of only four ‘gold tier’ dark sky reserves in the world and was the first one to achieve gold tier status in the Northern Hemisphere.
The lack of light pollution in this special place means you’ll get to see thousands of stars and some incredible constellations, all clearly visible to the naked eye. You may even witness a shooting star or two!
If you want to brush up on your astrological knowledge while you’re there, you can take advantage of a guided tour and get the full stargazing experience through telescopes or high powered binoculars. You can even book a private stargazing experience too – perfect for an intimate proposal.
The Shrine of St Valentine
Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love and romance, so it’s no surprise that it’s also one of the most popular days of the year for proposals. However, for a Valentine’s proposal that isn’t specifically required to happen on 14th February, consider proposing at the shrine of St Valentine instead!
St Valentine was a Roman priest in the 3rd century, at a time when Christian marriage between young people was prohibited. He was martyred for his role in helping couples to marry in secret, and later became known as the patron saint of love.
In 1835, some relics of St Valentine were sent to Dublin, where they were, and still are, housed in Whitefriar Street Church. A shrine to St Valentine was constructed within the church in the 1950s, and this is where many couples throughout the year come to pray and to ask for their lives together to be blessed.
Romantic Ireland offers endless opportunities for the perfect proposal
Ultimately, the place in which you choose to propose should reflect both you and your partner’s personality and also hold a sentimental meaning too. Ireland has plenty of romantic locations to choose from, and hopefully, this list will provide you with food for thought.
While the location of your proposal is an important decision to make, another one is the engagement ring itself. Will you go for a timeless classic like the solitaire? A vintage-style halo ring? Or a multi-stone showstopper? You’ll find plenty of styles to inspire you here.