Back in May, journalist and travel enthusiast Brittany Vickers spent a few weeks exploring Europe. She spent the bulk of her trip in Ireland. As a child, Vickers fell in love with Irish river dancing and always dreamed of staying overnight in a real, Irish castle. It was her own personal fairy tale and she was determined to bring it to life. 

Vickers’ two-week-long Irish excursion was a dream come true she’d fantasized about since childhood. Surrounded by a medieval castle in Kingscourt, Ireland, she lived a fairy tale each day as she explored the castle grounds, dined on traditional English breakfasts, and drank Guinness beer in local pubs. Just an hour away from Dublin, Vickers’ stay at Cabra Castle was a memorable experience that she’ll always remember. 

Another destination checked off of her travel bucket list, Vickers’ time in Ireland solidified that fairy tales do come true. Her most sought-after, childhood dream was just a plane ride away from becoming reality.

Her Very Own Fairy Tale

Irish Castle
Photo Courtesy of Brittany Vickers.

Growing up, Vickers was an avid reader. She was especially fond of the Dear America series, a collection of books telling the story of princesses and queens living in different countries around the world. Her love for Irish river dancing and stories of ancient royalty was the catalyst for her stay in an Irish castle. 

“I would read all of these books about princesses and queens and what their lives looked like and I’ve always wanted to stay in a castle,” Vickers said. “So I was just like this is the opportunity.”

Like all of her past vacations, Vickers planned out every detail of her solo trip on her own. She didn’t use a travel agent at all. Instead, she took time reading blog after blog about Irish castles until she narrowed down her search to the top two.

“I’m a journalist so I’m used to doing that,” she said. “I love to research. I love just hearing what people have to say about different places. So the planning is the fun part for me.”

With only three weeks until it was time to fly out, Vickers looked for places that had availability for the dates she’d be in the country. Most of all, she wanted to stay in a castle that felt like a true piece of medieval architecture.

Real Castles

Irish Castle
Photo Courtesy of Brittany Vickers.

When seeking out accommodations for her Irish stay, it was important to Vickers that she find a castle that stayed true to its original design. Europe was full of ancient castles that had lasted through the centuries. However, many of them had been converted into hotels. So the outside looked like a castle, but the interior had been transformed into modern, tourist wonders. The vibe of the Old World seemed lost. 

“That was very important to me to have that authentic feel and not someplace that was like ‘Oh, we used to be a castle but we’ve renovated’ and now looks just any other modern building,” she said. 

Vickers decided to stay at Cabra Castle in Kingscourt, Ireland. The castle was built in the 17th century and was surrounded by 100 acres of parkland and gardens. Although the ancient castle has been converted into a 4-star hotel, the interior still is reflective of medieval times. Satisfying her fairy tale dreams, Vickers booked her stay at 300 a night and spent 3 days on the castle grounds. 

Cabra Castle had over 100 rooms with large, towering archways and ancient architectural designs that teleported Vickers back in time. There weren’t many luxury or modern amenities aside from the restaurants and bar but Vickers found delight in simply being present in the archaic structure. 

“It was very traditional as far as the amenities,” she said. “It seemed like the amenity was more so the castle than anything else.”

An Authentic Irish Experience

Irish Castle
Photo Courtesy of Brittany Vickers.

Staying true to the historical fiction books she’d read as a kid and her love for ancient cultures, Vickers went to Ireland seeking out a truly authentic, Irish experience. From the castle she chose to stay at to intentionally staying in the countryside, she wanted to see what local life in the country outside of Dublin’s bright lights. 

“I wanted something that was sort of a midpoint that wasn’t too far out in the countryside but somewhere where I’d still got a very authentic Irish experience,” she said. “And that’s exactly what I got. It was perfect.”

Vickers made sure to try the local cuisine while in Ireland as soon as she arrived. On her first morning, she had a traditional English breakfast consisting of porridge, sausage in a tomato sauce, and hash browns. 

“I made sure I tried it and everything ended up being, I’m not going to say delicious, but I tried it,” she said. 

She made sure to venture through Kingscourt when she wasn’t exploring the hidden nooks and crannies of Cabra Castle. A friendly taxi driver drove her along the main road and took her into several pubs introducing her to the locals so she wouldn’t feel isolated or alone. He also pointed out which pubs could get a bit rowdy and which ones to avoid altogether. Vickers appreciated his hospitality and made a plethora of new friends in every place she visited. 

“I love when you go somewhere and you don’t feel like an outsider,” she said. 

Vickers described her time in Kingscourt as warm and welcoming. The locals seemed surprised to see a Black woman traveling alone. But they embraced her and were excited to hear about her travels. 

All the way on the other side of the world, Vickers was making connections and living out her fairy tale in the Irish countryside. She was able to visit the beautiful, breathtaking Cliffs of Moher and look over the waves rising out of the sea and crashing into the mountainside. She also explored a small town in northern Ireland where she shopped at a local market and dined on traditional Irish dishes with lots of potatoes. 

Full of life and excitement, Vickers left Kingscourt and headed to Dublin for the rest of her Irish adventure.

Dublin Nights

Irish Castle
Photo Courtesy of Brittany Vickers.

Vickers spent the rest of her stay under Dublin’s bright lights. Ireland’s capital and its largest city, Dublin was a hub for partying and fun Vickers was able to explore each night. She fell in love with the city’s nightlife and even made a new friend who she explored the hottest clubs and bars with. 

“I had the time of my life in Ireland between Kingscourt and Dublin,” she said.

Perhaps one of her favorite moments during her stay was attending a live river dancing show in Dublin. The epitome of decades spent being fascinated with the traditional Irish dance, Vickers was able to see it live in living color in its home country. Although she believes she was the youngest person in attendance, she had a ball watching the performers and was even invited on stage to dance with them. 

Before her Dublin adventure came to an end, Vickers visited Trinity College which houses the country’s largest library collection of ancient text and manuscripts. She also checked out the Guinness distillery and drank out of beer bottles with her face on them. Vickers met so many amazing people on her trip and the biggest thing she learned was to go with the flow.

“Don’t plan everything, you know,” she said. “Just let life bring things to you.”

Black Girls Deserve Fairy Tales Too

Irish Castle
Photo Courtesy of Brittany Vickers.

Vickers fantasized about staying in a castle since she was a small girl. Her trip to Ireland was a dream come true, but it was only the beginning of a multi-week European excursion that took her through Germany, Austria, Monaco, and France. It was a fairy tale getaway that spanned multiple countries and took her through the depths of European culture. 

The millennial journalist believes she is not the only woman who desires to have her fairy tale dreams manifested in real life. Many women only see their fairy tales coming to fruition in the form of a wedding but Vickers says women deserve fairy tales of their own making. 

“We grew up on fairy tales and I think we deserve those experiences, especially outside of just thinking of a wedding experience,” she said. “I think for most women, the fairy tale experience is fulfilled in their wedding but I think there are so many other opportunities to live out those fairy tales and have that experience.”

Vickers encourages women everywhere to live out their ultimate fantasies in whatever way works best for them. Whether that’s a luxury getaway in an Irish castle or a solo trip in a countryside cottage, Vickers says all women deserve to live out their fairy tale however they see fit. 

“Give yourself that experience,” she said. “Do that experience for yourself. Live your own fairy tale.”