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Exploring leap year romance in Ireland

Explore the amorous origins in some of magical Ireland’s most romantic places this Leap Year.

2016 is a Leap Year, which can mean only one thing. Many eager women are given the perfect excuse to take control of the situation and pop the question to their significant other, in a ceremonial opportunity that comes but once every four years.

When it comes to traditions around the occasional 29th day of February, nowhere else in the world quite observes Leap Year romance like the Emerald Isle of Europe. If you’re planning to follow ancient role reversal practises this year, a low cost holiday weekend in stunning Ireland is just the thing for you. We spoke to experts in affairs of the heart and loved up bloggers The Proposers and WeddingDates to get the low down on how the Irish do romance.


Courtship customs

Steeped in Celtic heritage and legendary folklore, Ireland is known for its mystical past and the traditions of their ancient ancestors are still enjoyed today. 

The customs surrounding Leap Year are perhaps the most widely recognised, with women around the world considering a marriage proposal to their man.

The Proposers explain: “In 5th Century Ireland St Brigid of Kildare, an Irish nun, asked St Patrick to give women a day where they were allowed to propose to their boyfriends as she received so many complaints from women who had waited too long for their boyfriends to propose. St Patrick allowed them to propose once every four years, on a Leap Day.”

The story goes that single women could propose in a Leap Year for good luck, but doing so at any other time of the year could prove detrimental to the marriage. Irish monks carried this tradition over to Scotland and it persisted even in England, where February 29th was not legally bound (it was ‘leapt over’ and ignored) and held no status in the law books.

While today, attitudes are more progressive when it comes to proposing, the legend has lived on throughout time. WeddingDates adds: “Ireland is rich in folklore and historical tales that are truly fascinating. Although the truth behind this is conflicting, it has remained throughout Irish culture through the years. While it would not be common practice in recent years, there are still some women who decide to pop the question on a Leap Year.”

claddagh rings on flowers


Why is Ireland great for a couple’s break?

“Ireland is a magical destination for a romantic escape - and it's right on the UK's doorstep! Boasting some of the most stunning scenery and rugged landscape in the world, there is a huge range of cheap accommodation to choose from. More budget-friendly, traditional guest houses to hotels, Ireland has a lot to offer couples looking for a relaxing retreat. Whether it's historical sight-seeing, adventure activities, nightlife or good food and a bit of culture, there's something for everyone,” says WeddingDates.

As far as setting the scene for romance, The Proposers suggests “The scenery in Ireland is just beautiful. A lot of locations have that 'fairy tale' feel about them, which make them the perfect backdrop for a proposal or another romantic event.

“It's not a coincidence that the Cliffs of Moher were used as the proposal spot in the film Leap Year. You need to propose in a place that has the WOW factor and that one certainly does.”

Ireland, of course, is well known as a picturesque getaway for couples boasting dramatic landscapes, historic castles and enough blustery gales to make anyone look windswept and interesting.

Cliffs of Moher in Ireland


Where to experience romantic Ireland

In Ireland there are numerous beauty spots ideal for popping that all important question.

Countryside frolics

Heading on a road trip along the Wild Atlantic Way is a great way to explore some of the country’s best scenic treasures including the rugged beaches of County Donegal. Inver Beach, for example, is the perfect place for a pit stop, offering fantastic views out over the water. Alternatively, visitors can take a magical midnight trip to Lough Hyne, where WeddingDates suggests love birds should make the most of the lake at night with a moonlight kayak session.

Lough Hyne in Ireland


As fans of the hit TV show Game of Thrones will know, much of the series was filmed in Ireland including the hauntingly beautiful Dark Hedges. A drive down this whimsical lover’s lane is sure to be memorable as the trees that frame this path are like nothing you’ve ever seen before.

Dark hedges in Ireland


City date

Heading into Dublin, couples can make the most of Ireland’s vibrant capital savouring some of the country’s top restaurants including the authentic Italian Pacinos. Serving up a tantalising mix of dishes inspired by the old European country, head Chef Luca Mazza’s delicious menu is sure to set anyone’s heart on fire. The rustic brick work, wooden floors and atmospheric lighting make it perfect for a date out on the town, so cosy up together in Pacinos.

Pacinos restaurant in Dublin


Once you’ve warmed into the evening, The Proposers suggest heading to Dublin’s pretty Ha’penny Bridge, if you’re not afraid of asking the big question in public that is. They have the following advice for sealing the deal: “You could hand your partner a lock with the words, 'Will You Marry Me,' written on to hang onto the bridge. As they are putting it on you can get down on one knee behind them. When they notice what is written on the lock they will turn around and see you there holding up a beautiful ring towards them. It's so romantic.”

Ha'penny Bridge in Dublin


However you decide to explore Ireland, the Emerald Isle with its breath taking scenery and native charm is hard not to fall in love with. Who knows, if all goes off well on the 29th you might just decide to plan a destination wedding there.


Image Credit: Michael Osmenda, edward982 (, horslip5 (

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