Back in August, right after I finished my dissertation, two great things happened: two friends visited from the States, and J and I flew over to Dublin to drive all over the Republic of Ireland. Needless to say, we had a blast! Since I had just finished up my huge paper, I didn’t really plan much for this trip (not that I *plan* the other trips that much either. Everything seems to happen fortuitously).
We flew into Dublin with Ryanair for really cheap! Small side note: if you’re going to rent a car in Dublin, try Sixt. They’re not paying me anything for this, btw. We had SUCH a great experience with them, especially because we booked direct. The rate was actually cheaper, and we could pick up our car right outside the terminal instead of having to take the shuttle to a pick up counter with REALLY bad reviews. Sidenote completed!!! We immediately took the car south into the Wicklow Mountains. This was a completely necessary stop, 1. because it was absolutely gorgeous and 2. it was used in filming PS I Love You. The heather was blooming and the views were great, even though we didn’t have much of a plan in mind! We stopped in Glendalough to eat at the Wicklow Heather restaurant. Inside it’s full of tons of amazing antiques and lit candles, but we ate outside with the bees. Unfortunately, Glendalough was full of tourist buses, so we didn’t stick around long. Our next stop was Kilkenny and the Kells Priory. We did some walking around the ruins as well as the river, where we saw a really neat cottage. We stayed the first night in Cobh, down on the southern coast, at Ardeen B&B. We arrived just in time to take some photos of the harbour and cathedral before it got dark! The area reminded me a bit of Oban, probably due to its layout next to the sea.
On day 2, which started out super rainy with horrible visibility, we left Cobh and drove to Killarney, the National Park area, and the Ring of Kerry! It’s an area full of magical overlooks, heathery mountains, a gorgeous, clear lake, and stony meadows. We saw the Torc Waterfall, which is impressive. Its setting is almost indistinguishable from a North Carolina waterfall (at least to an ordinary person like myself). I’ll say, we did get a little spoiled by travelling mostly in the off season, because the number of tourists in Sneem and Kenmare made us pass those adorable and picturesque towns completely by. A fun note is that we were able to see the Skellig Michael islands in the distance, the location of Luke’s hideout in the more recent Star Wars movies. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to ferry out to the islands, because that would have been an awesome addition! We made it as far as Bunratty for our night, staying at Courtyard Guesthouse. The owners are very kind, and there’s plenty of hot coffee. We ended up in an enormous family room-a hilarious story, that. Ask me another time if you’re interested…this post will be long enough without it! We had a really nice dinner at The Creamery Bar, including some local beer and whiskey!
We headed to the CLIFFS OF INSANITY on day 3. Ok, the Cliffs of Moher, but they were used in The Princess Bride. The wind and rain were pretty intense, but I was shocked how many people weren’t wearing appropriate footwear! In our boots, we were able to scoot past tons of people trying to skirt puddles, rocks, and other detritus. It was a super impressive sight: the sheer cliffs, the color of the ocean, and the geology of the rocks and cliffsides. We stopped in Corofin for lunch, at Nellie’s Kitchen. The food was good, and it was less crowded than Doolin! Next we headed to the Burren, a super interesting rocky landscape near Galway. It was remote and rugged, and we had such fun hopping around on the rocks. We wish we’d had time to do a much longer walk! Next we headed to Galway, where we stayed a little out of town centre on the Salthill Promenade. It was our first time seeing the Atlantic proper in over a year! We touched the water at a boat entry point 🙂 We headed into Galway for some touristy sightseeing and some dinner. We ended up at a busy pub called The Cellar, where I had some delicious Galway Gold ale. We opted to walk back to the B&B in what looked like some bad weather, and we found a full-out gale. We were soaked. The best part? The rugby players and coaches we passed didn’t seem to notice how bad it had gotten!
Our drive back to Dublin was amazing! We stopped in the Slieve Bloom mountains, one of the least touristy areas in Ireland, so that was peaceful. We also happened upon the Kinnity Castle Hotel for lunch. We simply followed signs that said “hotel” since we assumed they would have food. We ended up at a stunning castle home, where we ate lunch in the library. It was opulent and fun, and we were still in our technical hiking clothing! So funny.
Back when my family came to the UK in 2013, we flew into Dublin and traveled a bit. However, we were so jetlagged that I hardly remembered it! This time, I vowed to take a few more photos so that I could recall it better. I definitely succeeded 🙂 We stayed on campus in the Trinity College Dublin housing, a great choice for being right in the city. Especially because we wanted to see the Book of Kells and the Long Room, both of which are on campus as well! The illuminated pages of the Book of Kells are so gorgeous, and the Long Room was even more magical than last time. We saw a special exhibition on Samuel Beckett, including letters and manuscript pages. Another fortuitous occurrence was next: catching a musical performance at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. We weren’t allowed to take many photos in the cathedral, sadly. Lastly, we saw the Oscar Wilde statue before finishing up at a whiskey tasting at the Temple Bar. Somehow, we managed to be the only people in this small shop attached to the Bar, and the bartender was quite nice. He gave us a free extra tasting as a celebration for finishing my dissertation, and it was a super expensive drink as well. So kind!
Our sprint through Ireland couldn’t have been more fun. We had so many great experiences, and it was the perfect bookend to my stressful summer. The only thing we could’ve wished for was more time. (And maybe a shorter blog post…sorry about that!!)
Until next time, may you live a life well loved!