The last week in February, Devin and I packed our bags, set-up care for Leisl, dropped Cora off at my parents home and took a trip to Ireland. 🙂 Devin visited there years ago and loved it and it has always been a dream of mine to go, so we figured, there was no better time than the present! Many people asked us, “Won’t it be cold and miserable there this time of year?” and honestly we had no idea. Summer vacations are not possible for us because of weddings, so it had to be Winter. 🙂 Lucky for us, it was just beautiful! Very Spring-like and mild. The daffodils and crocuses were blooming and we had a nice jaunt of sunny weather. Most days we traveled about in sweaters and light jackets. 🙂 Enjoy some images below of our adventures and yes, this is Part 1. Part 2 will be up next week for the 2nd half of our 10 days there. 🙂 Happy Monday! Kathleen
We did not do much research before heading to Ireland. We booked a travel package through Sceptre Tours (fantastic to work with!) that included our flight, lodging, and car rental, so I did not feel like I had to plan a whole ton or research much. Some friends were kind enough to give us tips beforehand about money exchanging and some cools places to check out, but for the most part, we were roaming free! One nice surprise when we arrived was breakfast. The first thing we were served when we sat down was tea and toast. I was in heaven! Especially after having been awake for nearly 24 hours due to the time change and our flight. (And my excitement and inability to sleep on the flight due to said excitement!!)
Another surprise when we arrived in Dublin bright and early Sunday morning was the snow. SNOW! I was a little shocked. All this time I had expected Ireland to be green and instead we arrive and it is white. 😛 Devin made fun of me because I said more than once, “I thought Ireland was supposed to be green…” I was really tired. 🙂
Found some green!
Ireland is full of old ruins. This site was on the side of a rocky mountain near St. Kevin’s Monastic Site in Glendalough. It was so neat wondering what it looked like when someone lived there.
Our itty bitty zipper car!
Devin rocked it driving on the opposite side of the road and car. It was funny how many times our initial response was to enter the car on the wrong side or reach for a steering wheel that was not there. 🙂
Still Sunday, but we came down to a lower elevation and GREEN grass!! This is in Hollywood.
Our first night we stayed in Kilkenny and found this neat church during a walk around town.
Just in case you get a man-sized cold. 🙂
My one bit of research was on places to eat and Moran’s Oyster Cottage came up at the top of the list. It has been run by the same family for over 500 years!! Our server was the current owners nephew. 🙂 Really great atmosphere and food. I totally recommend it to anyone! It was just South of Galway, where we spent nights 2 and 3.
Pardon the terrible photo. Our trip was documented by a mix of technology: my work camera, my point and shoot, the iPad, and Devin’s cell phone. It just depended on what we were carrying with us at the time. 😛 This was a Tig Coili Pub in Galway though. Our first local music experience! The two fellas in the right portion of the picture (chatting) were so friendly! They invited us to sit with them before the musicians arrived and chatted us up. At one point the fella in the stripes beckoned to the bartender, “Angus! Turn down the music!”, which Angus did, and then the fella started to sing and song and before long had the whole bar singing along with him! It was fabulous. 🙂
While heading to Moran’s for dinner the night before we saw this ruined building in the distance and decided to go exploring the next day to find it. It was Tyrone House, a formerly British owned mansion that was vacated during the uprisings and burned by the IRA. It was amazing to see it up close. 🙂
I made my fair share of Irish friends. 🙂
Dungaire Castle, near Kinvara. We could only walk around the outside and it was locked up for the season. That was the only problem we encountered going to Ireland “off-season”: many tourist attractions were closed, BUT we had the benefit of not being surrounded by a thousand other people. 🙂
A lot of ruins are just on the side of the road or in fields. It was fun to explore. It is hard to tell in the photo on the right, but in the center is a shell that was mixed in with the mortar when the castle was originally built. So cool!! Devin and I love history, so stuff like this really makes us go, “Wow”. 🙂
Devin loved the castles and while I loved them too, my favorite places to visit were the old cemeteries. Many had old ruined churches near them still and many times people were buried inside the old walls of the church. Some locations had a historical plaque available, while others you had to guess the story.
An old town well with protection from the Virgin Mary. 🙂
While we saw a lot of sheep, we never actually were able to pet them. 🙂 They were skittish enough to stay just out of arms reach. 😛
Devin gave it his best shot though. 🙂
One thing that was very different for us was how narrow the roads always were! Buses and big trucks would still fit side by side though. We were happy to have our little car so we didn’t have to worry about fitting places. 🙂
This incident was probably a highlight of the trip for me just because it was so funny! We came around the corner to this sight. We pulled off to the side to wait and I hopped out to take a photo.
Just as I did one of them broke off and came trotting down the road towards me. He apparently wanted to enter the field at the gate near us, NOT where the farmers wanted him to go. 🙂 He stood there mooing and stomping his foot. 🙂
Then two more broke free and ran towards the car. Our car was smaller than these guys! I said to Devin, “I’m glad we go the car insurance…”. They didn’t do any harm. Just came up to the windows and licked the mirrors a bit. I was in stitches though with the situation because then the farmer came trotting down the road waving and smiling at us as he chased down the cows.
While in a little store I overheard the owner speaking with a patron abut a graveyard up the road and the location of a specific grave. We were curious so we went along and found the grave they were talking about. I didn’t recognize the name, so when the women from the store arrived I asked them whose grave this was. It was John O’Donahue’s, a famous and well loved poet. 🙂 The women were so kind and told us all about him and then asked if I would take their picture in front of the grave.
See, a tight fit!
Our goal for this day had been to go visit the Cliffs of Moher or better yet, The Cliffs of Insanity for all the Princess Bride fans. 😉 It was high noon when we go there and a little foggy, so an AMAZING picture was hard to get with such flat light, but luckily I was on vacation, so a snapshot for the scrapbook and blog was all I needed. 😉
The Poulnabrone Portal Tomb was a drive -by find. The site dates back to 2500 BC.
Our next stop was Killarney for two days where we had afternoon tea at The Killarney Park Hotel. I could live like this forever! Even if my waistline would suffer. 🙂
Castle doors were quite short. 🙂
Ross Castle in Killarney.
As mentioned above, a lot of attractions were closed. 🙁
But the places that were open made up for it! A beautiful church in Killarney.
Thank you for looking! 🙂 In Part 2 I’ll share our trip to Blarney Castle, some more cute Irish furry friends, the poison garden, and our night at a medieval banquet! Check back soon. 🙂