We’ve just come back to England after our house sitting Ireland assignment through TrustedHousesitters – what an experience! So far on this house sitting and pet sitting adventure we’ve met the loveliest people. From London to Northampton and then Balbriggan just outside of Dublin. It’s been refreshing, rediscovering the best in humanity.
Not to mention, we’re learning so much about places we’d never have even known to go to. Funnily enough, Northampton is known for its shoe industry. We then went to Balbriggan to house sit in Ireland, and this town’s famous for making hosiery! So famous, in fact, that this gorg seaside spot used to serve all the royals in Europe, including the Empress of Austria, the Czarina of Russia and Queen Victoria herself. A little on the history here.
Out and about: house sitting Ireland
In Ireland we house sat for Harley the Tibetan terrier, and his parents. We crossed with Harley’s humans right before they went on a two week trip to France (the reason we were house sitting in Ireland) and for a night when they came back. We had such a great time with them, leaving as friends. When they came back, we had gone to some effort to ensure the house was sparkling clean and that we had a meal ready for them. Part of showing gratitude.
Find out more about those tips:
Harley himself was a super quirky, cool, unique dog. We’re discovering a whole new world of personalities doing this.
Our love of dogs and experience with different breeds has been coming in handy, we apply it to a new situation everywhere we land. New things we’re discovering, especially with older dogs, is separation anxiety and also a stubbornness when they’re independently minded. Me and them get along famously [jokes]
Get yourself to Ireland
Ireland is famous the world over for being beautiful and the people are well-known for being funny, hospitable and kind. We can absolutely vouch for all of this.
It’s pretty easy to get started – sign up for a site like TrustedHousesitters. Get your profile and reference checks sorted, and then the fun begins.
If you’re looking for house sitting Ireland opportunities, set up alerts for the country, and keep an eye out for new listings every day. We’ve found that the sites can be competitive, so you want to be within the first few people to apply.
House sitting Ireland: top tips
Ireland is not a huge country, so it’s possible to be able to plan seeing a bit of it around your house sitting assignments. There’s internal flights to main cities, and trains too. But once you get into the heart of Ireland you’ll probably need a car.
That said, we’ve not hired one yet. In Dublin the transport is quite good and you can walk a lot of places. We caught local buses to our pet sit/ house sit in Balbriggan which is an hour outside of Dublin. Our sit home owners got all the details on this to us prior to us confirming the sit – important, to make sure you’re right to commit. We needed to make sure we wouldn’t be so remote so as not to be able to get groceries and living essentials.
Leave time to explore
There’s so many beautiful places to go in Ireland. We’ve been lucky enough to explore Dublin, and further south around Killarney. Have a read of our guides (linked) and watch our videos for more information.
Ireland is brimming with experiences though. You can drive along the coast and discover all the little towns and ports, and go inland to meet more of the country’s characters. It’s possible to do it within two or three weeks. But we love spending time somewhere if we’ve got it.
It’s important to check the dates you’re due to arrive (does your house sit need you a day earlier than advertised?). And what’s your plan on the other side? How will you get to your next destination? Do you need an extra night’s accommodation?
We’ve found home owners to be so lovely and helpful, which we really appreciate. At the moment we’re travelling and transport-less. Keep the lines of communication open and make your plans ahead of time.
Enjoy house sitting in Ireland!
Let us know in the comments if you have any other tips or questions. We’ve also got a whole series of videos on YouTube with advice on house and pet sitting. Subscribe and find them here.
Attending my fifth TBEX Future of Travel Media conference, I had the chance to also travel in Killarney and Kenmare in Ireland.
I produced a vlog on the experience to share so you can see highlights like seals, donkeys, history, nightlife, traditional dancing and much more.
Ireland is amazing! If you want to know more about TBEX and why you should go, press play, or search TBEX on this blog for learnings and adventures from over the past few years in Costa Brava, Athens, Stockholm and Dublin.
If you’ve been to TBEX or have questions drop us a line and say hi in the comments.
Last week I ended up in Northern Ireland on a Belfast city break.
I was there for work but because this presented a chance to explore somewhere new, Cooper popped up for the weekend from London. Our Aussie mate Deb who is travelling in the area came along too!
Best things to do on a Belfast city break
Here (below) we are in a quaint alley in what’s known as the ‘cathedral quarter’, at the Duke of York pub. This lovely area is recommended for a relaxed stop on your Belfast city break. The lively banter amongst locals on either side of the alley had us all in stitches and got us in a good mood for the rest of our trip…
We were all aware that we should be a bit culturally sensitive in Belfast.
You see, Northern Ireland is not the same country as the Republic of Ireland where Dublin is the capital, contrary to what we might understand growing up very far away in Australia.
These are two separate places.
Northern Ireland was set up in 1921 as part of the United Kingdom (UK), pounds sterling are spent and it has its own parliament at Stormont in Belfast (its impressive headquarters pictured at the top of this page).
The Republic of Ireland (or Ireland) on the other hand, is part of Europe where you need Euros to go shopping.
Belfast is renowned for religious and political ‘troubles’ and the initial development of ‘Northern Ireland’ was hoped to solve some of the deep-rooted problems held between Catholics and Protestants.
Unfortunately this was not to be, because many Catholics in the north wanted to be united with the Irish Free State in the south and worried about being a minority group compared with the 65 per cent of Protestants making up the region.
2021 update: Belfast the Movie
If you happen across this post well after it’s original publishing date, you might appreciate this update. A lovely movie by Kenneth Branagh was released in 2021. Highly recommended if you’re interested in Belfast.
Over time, divisions between the two sides in Northern Ireland continued to escalate, and by the late 1960s had reached crisis levels including rioting, bombings and a serious threat of civil war.
The streets were brimming with British police and soldiers, as well as a new provisional IRA (Irish Republican Army) intent on using violence to gain a united Ireland.
Years of fighting between Catholics and Protestants left over 3,000 dead.
Fast forward to the 1990s – the people of Northern Ireland had had enough and wanted change.
Eventually the main Nationalist (Catholic) and Unionist (Protestant) political parties agreed to share power fairly in the famous Good Friday Agreement of 1998.
Although things were not perfect and it took a long time for the paramilitaries to get rid of their weapons, a new acceptance of peaceful ways has ensued.
As a child of the 1980s, I remember news stories about IRA terrorist bombings and many a shooting or uprising in Belfast.
The city isn’t like that now, although its recent tumultuous history makes for a very interesting ride through the suburbs. This includes along the infamous, now mural-lined Falls Road (centre of ‘The Troubles’); and alongside the 45-year-old, nearly 8m high ‘peace wall’ in west Belfast (akin to the Berlin Wall**).
The wall was originally built to separate Catholic and Protestant neighbourhoods and runs through these parts for up to about 5km.
Belfast, best things to do on a short break
We literally only had a weekend for our Belfast city break, to explore properly.
If you’re only in town for a short Belfast city break, we highly recommend the City Sightseeing hop-on-hop-off tour.
It is great value for a 48-hour pass and the live commentary was most informative and entertaining.
There’s also a more private cab tour that I heard about. Feedback was that the stories told on that tour were also unbiased and interesting.
Some parts of Belfast are ten years into a 25-year planned regeneration period. This includes the Titanic Quarter across the Queen’s bridge from the city centre.
Belfast’s shipyards (founded in the 1860s) are where the legend of the world’s most famous ship began. Over in this part of the city you can visit the uniquely designed Titanic Belfast museum (opened in 2012). You can also see the historic Titanic dock and pump-house. You may want to see Titanic Studios too, home of Game of Thrones.
The city centre is where I spent most of my time, and I loved its contrast of contemporary and historical.
The former included a large conference centre and lovely waterfront. Don’t miss the salmon of knowledge (pictured above) that you should kiss to improve intelligence (or so the story goes).
On the older side is the beautiful baroque-revival architecture of the city hall (as above). Adding to the city’s allure, is Queen’s University’s front Gothic façade, and charming cathedral quarter including St Anne’s Cathedral.
It’s easy to navigate the city on foot. There’s plenty of nice high street stores to spend your money at as you wander along.
For the fun of it
As you can imagine, there’s plenty of fun to be had up here.
Colleagues were kind enough to share tips, including The Perch rooftop bar (highly recommended). The Duke of York pub in the cathedral quarter and St George’s Market are also great!
Here’s a map and some more information on where to eat and drink in Belfast:
Wish list (next time)
I would absolutely visit Belfast again, because there’s loads we didn’t get to explore both in the city and beyond.
Easy (day) trips include to the Mountains of Mourne where you’ll experience sweeping views out to the sea. The dramatic Giant’s Causeway and idyllic Fermanagh lakelands are also highly desirable and easy to access from Belfast.
I’m presently hanging out at Dublin airport reflecting on my first travel blog conference experience. Appropriately the view outside of the floor to ceiling glass windows is all green: grass, trees and a fleet of Aer Lingus planes. The land of Guinness, leprechauns and lucky four-leaf clovers has really turned on the charm for me this October.
It’s not all about beer and mischievous little green men though; Dublin is a charismatic European city, brimming with stories, interesting old buildings and arts-based culture: poetry, writing, dance and song.
A refreshing difference from other sport-obsessed regions of the world. In fact, Dublin is one of only a few dubbed a UNESCO City of Literature.
Also, surely there must be an accolade for this being one of the happiest places in the world; or at least something that recognises the Irish as hysterically funny? Everything is a joke here − but in a good, laugh-your-ar$e-off kind of way. The people are what have made this trip for me, and honestly, I’m sad to leave.
I was here for the huge international TBEX travel blogging and media conference, and met an array of people from all around the world (although had the most fun with the Irish locals).
The flight from London set the tone of the trip, as I made one new friend – an English expat living in South Africa – a really interesting, enlightened woman named Patti.
She thought she might be boring me by discussing her psychic abilities, international flair, and understanding of the ‘Universe’, but no, I assured her we were obviously meant to be in seats next to each other.
She was excited to be meeting up with a new love – an Irish friend who after many years had turned into something more. She said he’s the funniest person she knows, which as I discovered seems to be a trait the Irish are born with.
The moment I walked out of the airport I was greeted with good humour. As I sought the correct coach line to wait in for a transfer to the city, I presented one driver with my e-ticket:
“Hi, I’m AirCoach,” I smiled, enquiring whether he was indeed with the company I’d booked with. He replied without a beat, “Hi I’m Graham, give me a hug!” It only worked because of his Irish charm and ‘favourite uncle’ persona, and it was indeed funny, so I thanked him for the kind welcome to Dublin.
He directed me to the correct line and as I wandered off, called out, “Miss you already.” How could I not feel welcome?
The opening night of TBEX was a blast.
Awesome drummers set the mood as we entered the famous Guinness Storehouse for a tour, food and of course, beverage sampling. My drink of the night was called a Black Velvet – a delectable mix of Extra Stout and Prosecco.
The days of TBEX learning and networking flew by, and it was a dream for this nerd girl from Australia to have the opportunity to meet and talk to the world’s most innovative travel and tech editors, journalists, bloggers, entrepreneurs and innovators.
The best part of the experience for me was to be able to meet and mingle with people I aspire to work with and/or be like. It’s a real buzz, and I’d encourage all of you to take an opportunity to attend an international conference covering topics of interest to you.
There’s nothing like stepping out of your comfort zone and experiencing something like this. I’m a little shy but decided before I attended that I’d make the most of it, so I took a chance, introduced myself to new people, chatted, swapped business cards; I think I may even have scored a couple of friends and work leads. Trust me, if I can do it, you can too!
The TBEX team along with the Irish sponsors have to be congratulated on the outstanding job they did hosting, educating and inspiring all of us.
Most inspiring from the TBEX event (aside from Dublin itself) was probably Dan and Audrey from Uncornered Market speaking about their passion for travel and how they have turned it into a business. They ran a beautiful exercise with us as a group.
Close your eyes. Think of the first travel experience that meant something to you. Think about it, savour it, remember it; what was it that you loved? How did it make you feel?
I was 19 or so, when my brother and I made the big (for us, anyway) journey across the pond on our own from Australia to America and Canada. It was to be five challenging, scary, amazing, beautiful weeks. In fact, the best of my life to that point.
I kept a diary of the experience, and to this day it remains the one article I’d save in a fire.
I’d not considered it before, but it’s not even the contents of the diary that I’d want to retain, more the memento of how I felt on and after that trip. I discovered a passion for travel and adventure. I finally got to realise the big world my parents always talked about; I felt enlightened, empowered, inspired.
As much as that was the single most important venture of my younger life, I didn’t have an opportunity to embark on another real life-changing travel adventure for ten years.
Things happen for a reason though, and travel later in life is where ‘life’ has really begun for me.
Dan and Audrey’s #closeyoureyes exercise actually brought a tear to my eye. What do you think of when you consider your first travel experience?
They described the “transformational power of travel” – how it changes us, but also has the capacity to change lives for the people in places we visit.
I love this description because there’s so much truth in it.
Travel Ireland – add to your bucket-list
Take a look at the video above to see where our Dublin Bus tour took us on a beautiful sunny day out in Ireland (hint: castles, mountains and coast)!
During TBEX we were introduced to the new must-do Ireland attraction: The Wild Atlantic Way, 2500km of coastline dotted with beaches, harbours, headlands and stunning viewing points – an exhilarating drive along the absolute edge of Western Europe. Need more encouragement? Check out ireland.com/wildatlanticway.
Welcome! We are Sarah + Cooper, Aussie expats living in the UK with our Westie dog, London. We like to inspire on how to travel for longer and to live and work from anywhere. Our most popular content here is about seeing the world with your pet, remote working & digital nomadism, and house + pet sitting. Create a global life of your dreams at any age! Subscribe to find out more :)
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