Ireland---Beginning of trip report

Old May 24th, 2011, 01:38 PM
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Ireland---Beginning of trip report

We so enjoyed Ireland in Sept. 2010 that we just had to return and see more.

Uneventful (just the way you like it) flight on Aer Lingus from Chicago to Dublin. This was one of our easiest and nicest flights to Europe. That said, we were still jet lagged after being up for so many hours.

We picked up our car at Dan Dooley---this is one efficient company. They make everything so easy for you. $475 for 11 days in a Renault Diesel. We were happy to have a car with more power---last time we had a small car that was very slow and harder to shift. This car was fantastic. We did about 950 miles in 11 days and spent about $175 for gas. I say about because of the kilometer and Euro conversion thing.

As per Fodorite suggestion we got a Dan Dooley rental quote from the Ireland site and then called their US office and got a better deal. We did this for both trips. They are extremely easy to work with and our rentals were flawless both times.

Off we went to Trim and Highfield House B & B for our first stop. It took about 45 min. and was quite an easy drive. I would certainly recommend Trim for a one night stop. There is a lovely castle and Highfield House is across the street. Great location so we could park and walk to the castle and dinner. HH is a grand Irish Manor house with beautiful antiques, 14 ft. ceilings with that stunning crown molding and ceiling details. Somewhat small bathrooms, but very modern with what turned out to be the best shower of our trip. The elegant dining room was comfortable for our breakfast. The service was up to par and at a total of 80 Euros a good deal.

We checked out the town---somewhat small, but the castle was nice and there were several restaurants. The grounds around the castle and river were picturesque and across from the B & B was a fenced in field with some adorable "chubby" donkeys---I think they get alot of treats from the tourists. We had an early, somewhat simple dinner at Franzini O'Briens right next to the castle. Then it was necessary to catch up on some sleep.
Me--ribs starter, then fish'n chips
MDH--veg soup, then a hamburger
Along with 2 glasses of wine---45 Euros

I hope my little details (like prices) are useful , and I'll try to include some photos as I go along.
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Old May 25th, 2011, 03:47 AM
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As always, TPAYT, I am enjoying your trip report. You seem to be able to include important details as well as personal detail.I am looking forward to reading more about your trip. Thanks for sharing.
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Old May 25th, 2011, 04:04 AM
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Thanks TPAYT! I love the details,makes me feel like i'm there.Did you take the guided tour of Trim castle?We thought it was the best guided castle tour of our all the ones we have done.

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Old May 26th, 2011, 06:30 AM
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For this part of my report I've added photos to the above Photobucket link.

After a hearty Irish breakfast, we drove to Kilglass (just north of Longford). This is an area where MDH's ancestors lived in 1805. Took some photos and moved on to Carrick-on-Shannon. Weather a bit cool, sun in and out, occasional light rain.

Arrived at Lough Key House B&B in the late afternoon. This was our favorite B&B of our trip. We were greeted warmly and served tea & biscuits in the stunning sitting room. The whole house is so beautiful with marvelous things from all over the world.

Each bedroom has it's own charm. The Red Room was the most lavish. It was already booked, so we had the Blue Room.

Our delightful Blue Room looked out on a field with horses and had a large bathroom with a separate shower and jacuzzi. A working fireplace was an added surprise. Nothing like the smell of peat and a crackling fire to make you sleep well.

Now Carrick-on-Shannon is a bit off the normal tourist route, but LKH is well worth going out of your way. We stayed 2 nights (total 180 Euros) and when we return to Ireland we will definitely add another at this superb property.

We went to Carrick for dinner. It was a Thurs. night and the restaurants were all so busy that we ended up with pub food at "The Oarsman" at 9:30.
Fish n' chips for both
Pistachio ice cream w/chocolate fondant
2 wines
41 Euros

Day 3 started with a leisurely breakfast chatting with the other guests. We then drove to Strokestown and the Roscommon Herritage Center to check if there was some way to go back before 1805 in Kilglass---no luck. We toured the Strokestown House & Garden including the Famine Musuem. What an "eye opener" that was. We learned so much about the time when MDH's relatives left Ireland for Canada. Stopped in the museum for some capuccino and muffins.

We didn't want to repeat last night's dinner search so we had asked Frances at LKH to help with reservations. She was able to get us into "The Oarsman" again, but in their "proper restaurant" upstairs only open Fri. & Sat. night. It was absolutely wonderful.
Me--goat cheese topped w/beet jelly(a real "wow" dish)
Orange Creme Brulee w/berries
MDH--Potato Leek soup
A beef dish
4 types of ice cream
2 wines and capuccino
77 Euros

To be continued soon.
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Old May 27th, 2011, 04:53 AM
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Hope it's really SOON!
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Old May 27th, 2011, 08:37 AM
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Day 4 was our longest drive of the trip. Carrick to Cobh. We had thought about stopping in Birr, etc. but the weather wasn't good so we just got on with it. Also, we had lingered over breakfast not wanting to leave Lough Key House.

Driving the main roads to Cobh the landscape looked very much like Wisconsin (our home).

From the directions we received, Knockeven House was easy to find. 5 min. from town, it was a convenient location with parking.

Pam & John have a lovely property with gigantic rooms. Just the foyer and staircase was larger than any we've seen. They only have a few rooms (and again, they are huge). All the rooms have tall, tall ceilings and windows. The window treatments must have cost a fortune. Our king size room was just that and the fresh yellow roses to greet us were just the right touch. The bathroom was very modern but extremely small. I know it's an old house and walls aren't easily moved, but it seemed odd to have so much wasted space in the bedrrom and then such a teeny bath.
90 Euros

We had emailed Pam ahead of time and asked her to make a dinner reservation for us. She chose "Farm Gate" in Middleton (about a 20 min. drive) and it was the best meal of our trip. It's a place they like to go and we were so glad she suggested it.

Me--Scallop and bacon salad
John Dorry with mussel & crab sauce
Rhubarb, strawberry tiramisu
MDH--Ck.liver pate w/raspberry sauce salad
T-bone steak, potatoes & carrots
Choc. cake w/ ice cream & hot fudge
3 wines & capuccino
107 Euros

The next morning we again had a leisurely breakfast chatting with the other guests. This is one reason we like the B&B way of travel---you meet such interesting people from all over the world.

Our next destination was Kinsale (a short drive) so we spent the day looking around Cobh before we got the ferry and made the drive into Kinsale. Parking is not difficult in Cobh, you just have to drive around a bit to find a spot.

The Huge Grand Princess was in port so the streets were packed with tourists. There were many food and craft tents set up (they must do this on ship days). We walked up the hill To St. Colman's Church. Beautiful construction with a wood ceiling that was stunning. We also looked at Fota Golf Course and they have a wild animal park there that kids would like.

On to Kinsale----
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Old May 27th, 2011, 09:34 AM
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I had friends on the Grand Princess!! I gave them Butler coach's number, they do a 20 euro trip to Blarney Castle for cruise people. Much cheaper than the cruise people charge and Butler's are the best in Cork. I love Kinsale. Did you eat there?
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Old May 27th, 2011, 09:42 AM
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flpab----yes we did have 3 dinners in Kinsale. I'll review them when I get this next part of the report finished.

Here's a hint:
I wishy, wishy that we had skipped Fishy, Fishy!!!
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Old May 27th, 2011, 01:24 PM
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So far it sounds like you had a great trip. Can't wait to hear more.
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Old May 27th, 2011, 03:52 PM
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We were only there for the day and ate at "The White House", was yummy. I love the pictures you take. Your rooms looked great. I have to have a bigger bed than a double so was nice to see a king.
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Old May 27th, 2011, 05:23 PM
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My stars! The size of the ship!
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Old May 27th, 2011, 08:33 PM
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I'm still not quite ready to post the Kinsale part of our trip, but I wanted to add something about Farm Gate restaurant. You will notice a piano in their photos. It seems that their piano player is quite old (80+) and is seriously ill. They have decided not to replace him until he has passed. What a lovely gesture.
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Old May 29th, 2011, 08:00 AM
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Arrived in Kinsale in the late afternoon at Desmond House, easy to find, good parking, and location excellent to walk everywhere. Michael greeted us warmly and took us up to the James Fort Suite. Huge room, beautifully appointed with a jacuzzi bath. I can see why it's #1 on Trip Advisor

Desmond Castle is across the street so we took a look through it--interesting, and then checked out the town and a craft market by the water.

We were to be at Desmond House for 3 nights and had asked Michael ahead of time to make dinner reservations for us at "Fishy, Fishy" (our choice) and 2 of his choice.

After reading such glowing reviews of "Fishy, Fishy" we were looking forward to our first dinner in Kinsale.

We arived on time and were led to the bar to wait. I must say that their wine list was impressive and they offered many by the glass. There were choices from different countries including a white from the Sancerre region of France which is hardly ever offered by the glass.

It definitely went downhill from there. We felt totally rushed from the moment we were seated. Menus, ordered a glass of wine, 2 minutes--"Are you ready to order?" The food came out so fast we thought it was cooked ahead of time. Also it was tasteless, but that's just our opinion, some may have liked it so plain.

Me--Monkfish w/citrus cream sauce that must have been put on with an eye dropper (don't waste, just give them a teeny bit.)

MDH--Haddock & chips. Fish OK, but really bad fries.

Presentation on both like that of a fast food chain restaurant---very uninspiring!

I would have had another glass of wine half way through dinner, but nobody ever came around to check on anything. We are both water drinkers and we did have a small carafe on the table which was quickly gone and never refilled. Maybe if the carafe was glass instead of silver, the staff could see that it was empty and refill it. Or maybe the staff could come around during your meal and check if you wanted anything like wine, water.

Capuccino was ordered (too late for another wine, but my 2 empty wine glasses stayed on the table until we left) and dessert menus given out, and finally we asked for more water. Oops! No sugar for the coffee. After waiting a while, MDH got up and went to the server stand where 2 girls were in a lengthy conversation. He asked for sugar, which they handed him and he carried to the table----hey, maybe they thought he worked there!

Again nobody showed up to take a dessert order for at least 15 minutes so we decided to get the check. Good luck! MDH was finally waving and sitting there with is credit card held up to his forehead for some time before anyone noticed. Normaly I'd be embarrassed by this, but it was just too funny.

From rush, rush to sit and wait. Somebody please help this staff!

I have to add that Elaine, the floor mgr. came when she saw MDH with the card on his head. She was professional and apologized profusely, but I'd have to say that this was our worst dinner in Ireland during 2 trips. 68 Euros

Now that I've carried on so long about the restaurant, I'll have to finish my Kinsale report later. We did alot in the next 2 days. I'll also add photos.
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Old May 29th, 2011, 10:36 AM
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After a delicious breakfast and good conversation with the other guests, we took a drive to Baltimore. Michael gave us some good suggestions on where to stop along the way.

First it was off to "Old Head" gold course. MDH is a golfer and he wanted to see it and buy a hat or something. He would have liked to play a round, just not enough time. We were warned ahead of time to wear dress pants because you can't get past the gate in jeans. This was old fashioned but very true as there were several cars with people in jeans trying to take photos from the road.

The Abby at Timoleague was just magnificent and there were many other places to spend a little time along the way.

Hiking up to The Beacon was a little difficult but worth the trip.

The next day was rather gray so we did some shopping for the grandkids and when it brightned up we went up to Charles Fort.


Jim Edwards---good, but not great
Me--Fried Brie w/berries, sirloin steak, tiramisu

MDH--Ck. liver pate, sirloin steak, apple pie ala mode
2 wines, capuccino
76 Euros

Jola's----one of the most impressive dining rooms we've ever
seen. Food good, but not great and certainly
not as good as you would expect from the
Me--Shrimp starter, sea bass, choc. cake
MDH--Soup, parma wrapped Chicken, apple fritter w/ice cream

Again, an absolutely gorgeous room, perfect service, good presentation on the food, but very bland in taste.

2 wines, capuccino 93 Euros

I really hated to be so hard on the restaurants in Kinsale, but after all the hype about the great food in that town, we were highly disappointed. We've had some fabulous dinners all over Ireland, but this town missed the mark on all 3 nights----Sorry Kinsale!

On to Kilkenny----
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