Ireland, You Were Grand

October 21, 2015

I mentioned in yesterday’s post that we had just gotten back from vacation. It was wonderful. Bill and I have talked about going to Ireland for years, and we decided to do it. Life is short so let’s make some memories. We went for 9 days, traveling around the southern part of the country. We really could have used one more day to have made it absolutely perfect, but now we know better for planning future trips.

We flew into Dublin on Saturday and had a day and a half to explore the city. Saturday, we explored by foot and on Sunday we took one of the Hop On, Hop Off buses. We got a lot of information from the guides, and got to get off and explore for as long as we wanted. A new bus came by every ten minutes which made it very convenient. One of those stops was at the Guinness Storehouse, the high point of the day for Bill.


Monday we picked up our car and started our drive to Killarney. It was our longest drive of the trip at 4.5 hours, but we stopped for lunch, stopped at Lough Gur, had a potty break so that meant we got to Kilkenny just in time for dinner. We stayed at a B&B about a kilometer from town and we were able to walk to dinner every night. I think you can enjoy your pint of Guinness (or cider, in my case) a bit more when you don’t have to worry about getting behind the wheel. Woodlawn House was our home base for three nights. The next day we drove the Dingle Peninsula. It was a glorious sunny day and the scenery was spectacular. We were essentially cone from 9:30 to 5:30 and most of that time was spent in the car. We stopped at Inch Beach and ran and played in the sand. Our next big stop was the town of Dingle. We walked through town, and then picked up some groceries at the supermarket and had a delightful picnic. We bought a loaf of french bread, some pesto and Irish cheddar cheese and found a pretty spot by the harbor to sit. It was delicious.  We walked around some more and then got back in the car. We made a bunch of stops at scenic pullouts and cut across the mountains to head back to Kilkenny.  It was a shortcut but I think it may have taken a few months off of Bill’s life expectancy as there were some super narrow, curvy roads where you were praying there were no oncoming cars.



Wednesday was our day to drive the Ring of Kerry. Another day in the car. Ugh. It was tough for all of us and this is where we really needed another day. One where we went for a hike, found a park and limited our time in the vehicle. But it was our last day in Kilkenny and we couldn’t miss the Ring of Kerry. In hindsight, I think we could have. It was pretty, but not our most fun day.



Thursday we departed for Cork. We had a 90 minute drive to Blarney Castle which is just outside of Cork. It was beautiful! It’s probably one of the most visited castles in Ireland, but for good reason. Aside from the Blarney stone, the gardens and grounds are lovely. We walked and explored and were there for over 2 hours. By the time we checked into our hotel around 5:30, we were too tired to find a pub for dinner so we ate in the hotel. Then we explored a little. It was dusk so we didn’t go too far, but walked to a church that didn’t look to far away. It was closed by we enjoyed the opportunity to stretch our legs.



The next morning we walked to the English Market to check it out and get our breakfast. There was a park across the street where we had a picnic, a “proper picnic” at that as we were told by a local who walked past us. We ended up walking back to the church from the previous night and this time it was open so we paid to go inside. It was beautiful. Joshua enjoyed the stained glass very much. We saw very little of Cork, which was ok with us. We were anxious to get to our next B&B in Kilkenny. First we had to stop at the home of Hedgehog Fibers, a hand dyed yarn and fiber studio in Cork. They gave us a tour and we saw the behind the scenes stuff. This was a highlight for me, and of course I left with some new acquisitions. They were lovely people and if you’re ever in the neighborhood, I recommend you pop in for a visit.



It was about 2 hours to Lawcus Farm Guest House, which was about 25 minutes outside of Kilkenny town. It was off the beaten path, and gorgeous. We arrived around 3 and settled into our room and then explored the priory which was a kilometer from the B&B. It was a pretty walk to the ruins and around some other local sights. Then we drove to Kilkenny for dinner. We didn’t explore the town except to find the pub that had been recommended for dinner.  Then it was back to the B&B for the night.



Saturday we had a wonderful breakfast. The kitchen was open to the dining room, and we were able to chat with the owner and 3 other guests while breakfast was made and eaten. It felt like we were having breakfast with family. The we were given a tour of the main house and the grounds, and Joshua got to help collect the eggs from the chickens. In the afternoon, we drove down to Hook Lighthouse, the oldest operating lighthouse in the world. It is 800 years old. We had a pleasant hour drive back to the B&B and we ate dinner at the pub in town.



And alas, the next day was Sunday and we were up early for breakfast and to head to the airport. So that’s our trip in a nutshell. It might not seem like it, but it was very chill. There were a few things we really wanted to do/see (Guinness Storehouse, Dingle Peninsula, Ring of Kerry, Blarney Castle, Hedgehog Fibers) but most of the trip we stopped for hot chocolate or lunch or photos when we felt like it, and went where the wind blew us. We had never heard of the lighthouse until it was recommended by the folks at Lawcus Farm Guesthouse and it ended up being a highlight of the trip. I’ve glossed over how friendly and nice the people were, and how beautiful a country it is, how delicious the food, how amazing the cheese… We’re already talking about going back. It was a really wonderful family vacation and we did make some wonderful memories together.


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A few tidbits about me: I met my husband in college, flirting over tuba letters in the Penn Band. Our dog, CJ, and our cat, Sabrina, round out our family. I'm a sewist, knitter and needlepointer, and an occasional scrapbooker. I love organizing, reading, making jewelry, and hiking. A Chicago girl at heart, I am an avid follower the Cubs, Bears, and Blackhawks.

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