This trip to Ireland came by completely by chance. I was looking at tickets to New England for my birthday. I have always wanted to see the fall colors in the part of the country. Anyway, I stumbled across tickets for Ireland that were only $100 more. So, on a whim I changed my mind and my birthday travel became the Emerald Isle!
Thankfully Mark is use to driving on the opposite side of the road, or I may have spent my trip at the airport! Just kidding (mostly)
We flew into Dublin, got our rental, and hit the road. Our first stop was the Rock of Cashel, which was the traditional seat of the kings of Munster for several hundred years prior to the Norman invasion. In 1101, the King of Munster, Muirchertach Ua Briain, donated his fortress on the Rock to the Church. The picturesque complex has a character of its own and is one of the most remarkable collections of Celtic art and medieval architecture to be found anywhere in Europe. Few remnants of the early structures survive; the majority of buildings on the current site date from the 12th and 13th centuries. (wikipedia!) Anyway, it was really fascinating and our tour guide was great!
Next we headed down to Killarney. I really wanted to go because of the Bing Crosby Christmas song "Christmas in Killarney (great reason, I know) Anyway, that was by far one of my favourite places! They have a national park, and I wish we had had more time to explore!
Fun Facts: You can buy water bottles the size of your torso at any gas station. The gas stations also double as super markets. We rented the smallest car possible, and it was borderline to big for the roads. "Two lane roads" are really glorified single file lanes.
We left Killarney and headed towards the town of Dingle and the Dingle peninsula. We had heard great things about Dingle, but when we rolled into town, it was SWARMING with people. As it turns out, there was a food festival going on, and parking was non existent. So instead we continued on and drove the Ring of Kerry, and that did not disappoint. At one point we found a run down stone house with a cafe sign out front. We stopped and had the most glorious cup of French coffee while looking out over the coastline, watching the occassional storm roll through. It's the simple things like that which made that one of the highlights for both of us. We ended up in the town of Ballybunion and had a lovely evening playing in another castle, and capping off the night in a restaraunt/pub eating delicious seafood, drinking tasty beer, and listening to traditional Irish music.
Fun Facts : The signs in Ireland are in both Gaelic and English. The further from town you go, the smaller the english type gets. Bally=town of. So, we stayed in the Town of Bunion (jokes welcome.) Many of the locals will speak in old English, referring to you as "ye."
We then headed to the famous Cliffs of Moher. They rise 600 ft out of the ocean, and there are trails moving along the coast for miles. So we ended up hiking about 8 miles that day. Before we went on the trip, I had found this flowy dress that got me all googly eyed and envisioning 2005 Pride and Prejudice. you know the scene where Elizabeth is standing on the cliff line, her dress blowing in the wind? Well, check it out here. Anyway, this darn dress literally grabbed me and told me I had to re-create that scene ( I swear, you can as the store!) So, the next day we went back and that is exactly what we did! It was SO windy and a little rainy, but I did it!
That evening we dined in a beautiful castle built in 1520. We ended up meeting a couple from Virginia and had a lovely evening chatting with them while listening to more traditional Irish music!
Onto Dublin we went, and we rolled in around 6pm. We were both pretty tired and had to be up early to catch our flight, so we hit up a local shop down the road and called it a night. As it turns out, I booked a hotel across the street from all the nightclubs, so around 3 AM, I woke up feeling like I was back at college. People everywhere in the street, yelling, singing, fighting, cheering. Oy vei, I'm getting old! I felt like grabbing my stick and yelling at those youngsters to get off my lawn....or something like that.
We managed to grab a quick bite for breakfast before heading to the airport, concluding our whirlwind trip through Ireland. It was an amazing experience, and I have to give Mark mad props for putting up with my sometimes crazy antics and at times...difficult personality. You rock!
Fun Facts: Weather can and will turn on you quick, so pack for rain! Dublin's one way streets are the bane of my existence. Thank God that Mark kept his cool. Always rent the small car. Always