Travel Insider: In search of Ireland's most romantic place...
Romantic Ireland is alive and well. You just need to know where to look, says Travel Editor Pól Ó Conghaile.
'Romantic Ireland's dead and gone," Yeats once wrote.
In a world of petrol station flowers, lovey-dovey press releases and petals on hotel beds, it's hard to disagree.
The cloying commercialism of Valentine's Day is old news, but with shop windows and social media now forcing it down our throats, it feels like we've hit an especially irritating peak.
But here's the thing. Look past the Hallmark holiday, and travel can still throw up some spine-tingling shared moments.
On this week's Travel TV, we went in search of Ireland's most romantic settings, and were surprised at just how many we found (watch the video above).
Ireland has its Black Stuff and Blarney Stone, but there are also lesser-known spots like Mussenden Temple, based on Tivoli's Temple of Vesta, overlooking Northern Ireland's Causeway Coast, or the gorgeous stained glass room in Dublin's Hugh Lane gallery.
Did you know the relics of St Valentine himself also lie in Dublin's Whitefriar Street Church? There's a spiral-bound notebook in the shrine, where visitors have scribbled raw thoughts that would blow V-Day cards off the shelves ("I'm never going to let her go. I love her forever and ever").
The more you look, the more you see.
This is Snowdrop Week at Altamont Gardens in Carlow, where the estate is carpeted in over 100 species of these hardy February flowers.
In Leitrim, Yeats was less stinging when he namechecked the enchanting Glencar waterfall in The Stolen Child.
Romantic Ireland is alive and well. You just have to know where to look.
The Irish-owned Doyle Collection now has eight hotels in five cities, and I think Cork's River Lee (doylecollection.com) is most underrated.
Its slick finishes, riverside terrace, 20m pool and superfast Wi-Fi crack the 'bleisure' market perfectly, and breakfast exceeds 4-star expectations too (check out the honeycomb). Request a room overlooking the river - a Slice of the City package bundles two nights' B&B, a 'Taste of Cork' sharing platter, and a pint of Franciscan Well craft beer from €145pp.
Ireland's most romantic place?
That'll be Galway, according to a survey last year by none other than Swizzels' Love Hearts - it saw the City of the Tribes pip Dublin, Kilkenny, Cork and Kerry to the post.
For a decadent dance with romance, try the g Hotel (theghotel.ie). The full-on, Philip Treacy designs won't be to everyone's taste, but I think it has aged superbly, retaining its wow factor and sense of opulent fun years after Celtic Tiger competitors hit the fashion scrap heap.
A Feelgood Friday special pairs dinner and B&B from €125pps.
NB: All prices subject to availability.