We flew into Dublin, arriving around 8:30 am local time (2:30 am Dallas time and my body’s time). I’d hardly slept a wink on the plane but I was feeling pretty good and the cold weather was definitely refreshing after 14 hours on airplanes and in airports. The refreshed feeling didn’t last very long, though. By 2 pm, we were walking around in St. Patrick’s Cathedral and I was starting to feel the jet lag + lack of sleep big time. I told C that I felt like I was walking on a trampoline. We headed back to the hotel and slept until 7 pm and had dinner in a pub near the hotel [I had a chicken and mushroom pie, which, like almost every single meal in Ireland, was served with chips [french fries)].
Dublin was my least favorite part of the trip. The perfect word to describe it is bleak. Everything is gray and dreary, and there is hardly a stretch of grass or a tree in site. Our second day we took a train north of the city to a village called Malahide, where we saw our first Irish castle.
They didn’t allow photography inside the castle, which just killed me because the textiles and paint colors were amazing. There was an entire room filled with cameos and silhouette art – both recent obsessions of mine.
After the two days in Dublin, we flew to Rome for 4 days, but that is for another post because I’m nowhere near finished going through our photos. I’m going to skip forward to Galway, which is where we went after coming back from Rome. We took a train from Dublin and met an adorable Irish couple (probably in their 70s) who were so incredibly friendly. The husband told us a story about a TV show he’d seen called Mit Butters (at least that’s what we heard) and it wasn’t until he was halfway through the story that I realized he was talking about Myth Busters. I think between C and me, we understood only 70% of what they said, but it was still an entertaining conversation.
Unfortunately, by the time we arrived in Galway we didn’t have much time to explore. We had a hotel and dinner reservation about an hour’s drive away. We went to the Budget car rental office in town, and I had to rent the car in my name because C didn’t bring his driver’s license. This meant that I actually had to drive it. On the wrong side of the road. Let me tell you, driving on the wrong side of the car, on the wrong side of the road, is not for me. I made it about 20 minutes out of town and let C take over. I would have let him take over sooner, but I was too nervous to turn off the road.
We’d heard that navigating the roads of Ireland could be tricky, and the rental car agent gave us a good tip. He said to always look for the next town you’re traveling through, not the road name or your final destination because you probably won’t find it. We followed his advice and ended up safely at our final destination for the night, Dromoland Castle.
There is only one word to describe this hotel: luxury. The room was beautiful and perfectly decorated, and we ate like kings. I have a deep love of luxury hotels – My favorite thing to do is put on the hotel robe and slippers and order room service. This was definitely the most relaxing part of our trip (which I needed after driving on the wrong side of the road).
After Dromoland, we got back in the car of doom, and headed south, driving along the coastal road. We stopped in a lot of small towns and saw half a dozen castles. C and I both agreed that we like the ruins better than the intact castles.
We did get lost for a bit near Ardfert, and when we stopped to look at the map, a herd of cows wandered over to moo at us. I think it must have been dinner time and their farmer was late.
In the tiny village of Ardfert, we went in search of dinner but everything but one pub was closed for a funeral. We had a few beers and started chatting with a local couple at the bar. They actually invited us over for dinner. We had fish pie, brown bread, salad with smoked salmon, and a berry tart for dessert – all homemade in true Irish tradition. They had even caught the fish and grown the potatoes that went into the pie. It was the kind of Irish friendliness you always hear about, but don’t truly believe exists until you experience it.
After our night in Ardfert, we headed out on the Dingle peninsula, which is the kind of place most people probably imagine when they picture Ireland. It’s a rough landscape on the sea with hillsides dotted with cows, sheep, and centuries-old stone walls.
All of the road signs are in Irish, which makes navigating a bit tricky and we ended up missing one town we wanted to see. Dingle is the place that made C decide that he was done with driving. In many places, the roads are only wide enough to allow one car to pass. It was raining lightly that day so we also had to deal with the mist and fog.
After Dingle, we spent two days in Killarney, which is a touristy town known for Irish music. We’d planned to do a day hike through the lakes and hills known as the the Ring of Kerry, but of course it was the only day of our trip that we had rain. We ended up doing a bit of shopping and pub crawling instead, which turned out to be exactly what we needed to relax before catching our flight back home.
[more Ireland photos here]