Ireland trip report

Dec 6th, 2003, 10:50 AM
Join Date: Nov 2003
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We are also planning a first time visit to Ireland in June your trip report has been thoroughly entertaining and informative! It reads like a good book and I will be disappointed for it to end when you finally post "we boarded our plane back to home".

Based on your post, I will check out The Castle at Thurles. Thank you again for sharing your trip!
DebD is offline  
Dec 6th, 2003, 11:33 AM
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How marvelous that you could get away with your sister. I find all the little things you are telling so true of what goes on when away with a sister or DH. Love all the little remarks about getting your washing done, cost etc.

From your writing I did not picture you as a mum with a 3 year old but that is wonderful.

Have not been to Ireland as yet. Keep the report and details coming I am enjoying it so much.


SandyBrit is offline  
Dec 9th, 2003, 02:32 PM
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You all are really sweet to encourage my rambling! I do hope this helps others though, as I found reports like this to be very helpful. Especially if you are planning to go with a sis... DON'T DO IT!.... naw, just kidding. Just don't go with mine!!

Seriously, Day 5. We were in Thurles and so we had the traditional breakfast; chatted up with another couple staying there and then Joah, our hostess came in and sat with us just chatting about everything and anything. Very friendly and really made the stay that much more personal. As you can see, I could have sat there all morning chatting but sis was ready to hit the road as it was our first "nice" day. We took our sunglasses out for the first time since our arrival (what does that tell you!) and headed south to Cashel. We got there fairly early, around 10a and pretty much had the place to ourselves for a while. When we arrived, they were just getting ready to show the video on the place so we sat down and watched. Very informative. Maybe lasted 20 minutes? Then we toured the area around the Rock, snapping pics which are not a fraction of the real thing. You can't put into a picture the feeling of being overwhelmed by a place. It's a shame, but it really is something you have to experience in person. I had the same feeling in several other places; the Cliffs, Conor Pass (that we did... oh, told you that already!!), the Ring, definitely the lakes in the National Park in Killarney. It really is a place that takes your breath away. My imagination was running rampant as we walked around the inside of the Castle picturing all the people who had walked these halls and then those that built it! Incredible. But still, the image of it lit up at night is what has stayed with me.

We were there maybe 1 1/2 hrs. then headed out of town. From the video (I believe) my sis caught mention of a "purported" piece of the original cross being nearby. This was now a "must-see" so we found it on the map, and made our way down this very meandering road. I was beginning to believe we were on the wrong road, when we saw an actual sign BEFORE the subject in question came into view! We saw 2 or 3 actually so I was starting to think this might be the real deal. The Abbey or church it was located in was nice and actually the first church we went into in Ireland. (Lots of pictures of others though!) There was a courtyard then a covered walkway with obvious references to the cross. We found what we thought was supposed to hold the piece of the cross (in another cross), but did not actually see it and it was in a glass case so holding it was out of the question. This was in the main part of the church just to the side of where the priest would normally stand during mass. I am Protestant, but this still felt like a special place and was very soothing. There were altars for candles and even though I'm not Catholic, I lit one for my lost daughter and thought if my heart was in the right place, noone would mind.
It was a really nice place and when I pull out my notes, will get the name and location of it. Not far from Cashel at all... 15 minutes?

From here we left ready to head to Kilkenny. We came upon a medium sized town and thought to have lunch first. While attempting to park, another fit broke out, and soon we were seperating for lunch. I returned immediately to the car as I really wanted to push on to Kilkenny, sis eventually returned to the car and we headed out again. Outside of town we decided on a way to try to avoid these fits (her have her way, me ignore and roll with it!) and hoped the rest of the trip could be salvaged. We made pretty good time to Kilkenny, but whereas the Rock is easily identifiable in Cashel, the Castle in Kilkenny was difficult for us to find. Initially. After we found it, we kept returning to it by mistake!! But it was another great castle. We caught the last tour of the day and really enjoyed the movie and the tour itself. Pictures were not allowed inside but we took several outside. Nice to hear so much detailed background about the place. That is the only thing I noticed that I would miss on being on a guided tour.

Will have to finish later; daycare closing soon and I have to run!
sjbisanz1 is offline  
Dec 9th, 2003, 04:15 PM
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Just wanted to say how much I love reading your posts! It makes me that much more excited to go on our trip next month, as we plan to do a very similar route. Please keep them coming!
FLSteph is offline  
Dec 9th, 2003, 05:28 PM
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I am enjoying your trip report so much! Can't wait to hear the rest!
edhodge is offline  
Dec 9th, 2003, 08:07 PM
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Thanks again for the kind remarks... I will have to take another trip just so I can do another report; this is fun!

Ok, still the 5th day and we are in Kilkenny. As I said before, we had difficulty finding the Castle upon entering the city, but I also had not requested directions from our B&B so that was my error. We really thought we would stumble on it. When we finally go around to asking someone directions, it turned out to be just down the road we were already on. Duh! But the castle was really something. Unless my memory is failing (which could be ooohhh sooo possible!), the Castle was held but the same family (Butler, I believe) for many generations. It wasn't until 1969 that it was sold to the govt. for some paltry sum (50 pounds?). I think this was due to the fact that the current head of the household did not have a male heir to pass the title on to. Of course, it could also be that it must cost a TON of money for the upkeep, and if it was my finance-challenged husband, he would be more than happy to hand the keys over to someone else to keep up. Drafty too I'll bet!
Seriously, it was a neat piece of history, but I found it interesting that this family had such a close alliance with the British crown, but was supposedly "well loved" and popular with the locals. Given the tumultuous (sp?) history between the 2 countries, that made me a little curious. But our guide was one of those who liked to hurry, hurry, hurry. (Last tour of the day and he's thinking "It's Guinness time". Hmmmm..... doesn't translate well does it?)

After leaving the castle, we went across the street to the shops which I had heard great things about. And they did have really nice stuff; but pricey (at least for moi; the self-proclaimed Queen of Cheap!). The pottery and linen there was comparable to everything else we had seen with prices either the same or marginally more. This was not the Woolen Mills, it was the Design Center. Afterward, we called the B&B, got directions and from the Castle, happened to be maybe a mile from the B&B. We stayed at the Shilogher House and it was pretty nice too. There was the main house which was right off the main street, then directly behind it was another building with 6 more rooms. This was nice because we could return late to the room without fear of waking the host/ess and family. The rooms were average hotel size but clean with a nice "power" shower (I can't print here what my sis thought that was before we got there!!!)
We checked in, cleaned up then went back out with recommendations from our host where to eat. We couldn't find a single road he mentioned, but we did pass the Castle about 4 times though! We finally got close to the center of town, spotted a few possible restaurants and parked the car. After checking out the menus, we decided to try the Zuni restaurant. We were seated at the bar and given menus. (This was very new to me, but it happened at several restaurants. Some places even took our orders from there. Just different I guess. Sis thought that what we ordered might depend on when we were seated. I told her to go ahead and order the most expensive items on the menu to test here theory. She didn't get the humor though.) Zuni's was a very interesting place... very modern and retro in its design and in the presentation of our meal. Sis ordered a caesar (sp?) salad that could easily have been her dinner. I helped her finish it, then she had seafood pasta and I had a dish that I still can't pronounce, but as I recall, it was a meat mousse (yeah, appetizing isn't it?!) and layers of other interesting items. I was feeling edgy so thought I would take the plunge. Neither of us is unfamiliar with a kitchen, but the menu really floored us. It was getting embarassing how many times we had to ask our server to explain a dish to us. I really think that is why I ended up with the meat mousse. It sounded the most logical, if that makes sense! It turned out to be really good with 2 sauces, one rasberry and the other a light cheese. We declined the dessert, barely made it out of there with our credit cards still with us and decided to... shop! (This is such a female thing to do, but honestly, it all comes from our mother, and it is bred into us, so there is nothing to do but follow the scent of the sale. At least that's what I tell my hubby. Doesn't work with him either, but you have to give a girl credit for trying!) Again, shops were open late (they knew we were in town) and after inquiring of a lady with a shopping bag that looked interesting from whence she came, we located several interesting places. As luck would have it, one such store was holding a raffle and they were giving gifts to everyone who came in along with a number. The gift turned out to be a really great Christmas decoration and sis won one of the raffles. Her gift for that was a really nice necklace set. I found some other Christmas decorations, they offered us wine, I shopped some more and finally pried myself away from the gay atmosphere. At this point, credit card is definitely moaning, but we decide to try one more place. We find a mini mall down one street that is open to the outdoors in its center and in a square around that are all the stores. In here I find a department store where I buy a great scarf and for my Angel, a Spiderman. (Before leaving, to distract him I asked what he would like Mommy to bring back. His response was a BIG truck. Trying to picture finding one then fitting it in the overhead, sis suggested phoning ahead to her husband and asking him to pick one up on the way to the airport. Very sweet; she did win back some points there. I say it's alright, he will love Spiderman. And he did. But he still asked about the truck. You can't win!)

We also saw a singing fish, only this one was on a stage, not the usual plaque. We decided we not the only weird ones! (If I only had a little more room in my carry on.....)

Credit cards gasping, we head back to the car. Sis decides with her uncanny sense of direction , that if we cut thru this alley, we will save a block of walking which is now appealing with the bags we are carrying, until we enter the dark, mysterious and really quiet alley. What appears to be a road on the other side is really the drive for another building. My old reactions to visiting NY at night are on high alert which is silly because we never felt uncomfortable anywhere, but it's just that old, dark alley complex! Too many horror movies. Anyway, after darting around some fences with 50 lbs of items we DONT need, we find a road that is familiar and realize we just did a complete circle. We decide that the longer walk isn't so bad after all, and take the well lit and fairly safe path. Very harried, we get back to the car, attempt to enter the wrong one, find ours, then collapse in it laughing and locking the doors at the same time! Silly girl moment. We head back to the B&B which is less than 3 minutes away and head to our room. I step outside to read (sis watches tv to unwind, I can't read with distraction and reading puts me to sleep). Some other guests arrive we met as we were leaving and we compare notes. They are taking 3 weeks in Ireland, 2 are brothers and according to the third member of their group, doing better than sis and I were! (Maybe because they had the 3rd person there as a buffer?) We talked for so long, I thought "Mom" was going to come tell me I had to go to bed. Went to bed, not too tired that night.

Next, our 6th and final "full" day in Ireland. But not now; tired and getting over cold which is why I didn't post previously. Sorry for the delay.
sjbisanz1 is offline  
Dec 9th, 2003, 08:37 PM
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The name of the restaurant we ate at in Killarney was Foley's. Would recommend it so long as they have full staff or you are not in a hurry. Which you shouldn't be anyway when you are on vacation! Just chat with the other customers.
sjbisanz1 is offline  
Dec 9th, 2003, 10:00 PM
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I'm enjoying the heck out of your report Shelly. I was trying to hold off on the cheers until the very end, but I'm flying out this weekend... hurry! I don't want to miss it.

Naw, on second thought, I don't want to rush you and miss any details. Now that's I've posted, I can find it when I get back if need be. Of course, you know now that you have to go back and see Slea Head. And Beara. And Kinsale. And. And. And. Hehe. Life is rough.

Clifton is offline  
Dec 9th, 2003, 10:03 PM
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Oh, and I meant to tell you that you were right. It was the Butler family that owned Kilkenny Castle. Same family, different era, also built Cahir Castle and the Swiss Cottage. My bit of trivia still lodged in an odd brain cell somewhere.
Clifton is offline  
Dec 10th, 2003, 08:09 AM
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Clifton, thank you SOOOO much for all your help beforehand. I cannot stress to anyone planning a trip how a little bit of knowledge beforehand is so valuable once you arrive. Next time I endeavor to plan such a trip, I will make sure my travel partner is just as knowledgeable. It makes for fewer disagreements and a much more enjoyable experience.

I don't know if anyone has read Scarlett, the sequel to Gone With The Wind (not the mini-series version; yuck!). If you have, that was the image in my mind of what Ireland might be like. I was hoping for a "market day" in some village but did not see one. (a town center bustling with vendors selling crafts, food, etc.) My parents traveled thru Europe years ago and mentioned a few instances where they came across these. It could be that because it was off-season these didn't occur or maybe they don't in Ireland at all. But I was hoping....!

Day 6, We had a great breakfast at Shillogher House, got directions from our host to Dublin with his warning that it would take 3 hours to get there. As it was, it took 2 hrs 15 min to get to the city limit. Now, at this point, I was warned to get rid of the car (airport or city drop off) by numerous people. As we had just this one day in Dublin and were not even arriving until noon, I hated to waste time going to the airport, taking care of the car, then getting a shuttle/taxi to the hotel. I honestly thought I could handle the traffic in town enough to get us to the hotel and just park the car. In hindsight, I wish I had done this. As it was, sis overrode my thoughts after hearing this from other sources so we had changed our dropoff to the Hertz location in town. After entering the city, we spent close to an hour trying to find this location. This was not due to the traffic, but due to the (again!) lack of signs designating street names. We found out on the way to the airport that all the signs are not posted on street corners as we know it but on the sides of buildings. Very confusing. If anyone was going to take a car in town, I would suggest detailed directions from their final destination (hotel, etc.) that included landmarks such as stores, gas stations, etc. from where you should make your turns and to guide you. Going just by the name of a street would be very confusing for someone not knowing what to look for. This frustration of course culminated in another disagreement and made it very tense. However this melted away when lo and behold, after getting directions from a car dealership, we found the Hertz office (it moved 2 or 3 times while we were looking for it! ) and happily deposited the mini with them. We were both a tad concerned that they were going to say something about the grumbling of the car and its vibrations which had NOT improved but were now part of our driving experience. At this point, I was really glad we had paid the extra 7 or 8 euro a day for the coverage that included no deductible. (note: the insurance covered everything on the car except the wheels, which we lucked out on. Did I mention previously that when we picked up the car the first day, there was a light on on the dash we couldn't figure out? About the time we reached the Cliffs, we determined the source... the emergency brake was on! Holy cow! SOOOOO glad we had the insurance! So besides the shot brakes, the questionable transmission and a few minor scrapes, we were in great shape with the wheels!) We unloaded the car and anxiously tried to summon a taxi before they would have to move the car. We were not that lucky. Just as the taxi pulled up, one of the attendants got in the car to have it cleaned out. We held our breath as he started the car and were practically shoving our suitcases at the taxi driver when the attendant put the car in reverse and.... nothing. Nada. Not a peep or rumble. We looked at each other in shock and wondered what the heck had happened. Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, we grabbed our paperwork and jumped in the taxi. This shared camaraderie greatly alleviated the mood between us and we were friends again sharing another close-call.

We stayed at the Hibernian which was pretty nice, in a good location just a few blocks away from Stephens Green and Grafton St. The rooms were nicely decorated, not huge but comfortable. The bathrooms were well stocked and even included this cord hanging from the wall. Now this is embarassing but since I probably won't be running into anyone here anytime soon, I will share it so you can learn from my mistake and not do it yourself. I thought the cord was for the fan as there was no other switch for it. After about 3 pulls on it and nothing happening, I gave up on it. However, about 5 seconds later the phone next to the toilet was ringing and the front desk is asking if I need assistance... it was the emergency bell. Duh! I was mortified as I had just (too graphic?) flushed and it could obviously be heard. I explained my confusion embarassing myself further and gratefully hung up the phone after assuring the obviously amused person on the other end I was fine, really. My face is burning now thinking about it. So the moral to this story is... don't pull on anything in the bathroom unless you are feeling in need of rescue... Now, if I hadn't been married and was assured a handsome burly Irishman firefighter was my hero; I would still be blushing, but for another reason!!

We were able to check into the hotel around 1:30 which was much later than I had intended. After dropping off our
luggage, we headed toward the bus stop where we could catch the hop on/hop off bus. As we had so little time in the city, we thought this would give us a good overview with the little time we had. After a quick stop for a sandwich and soup, we arrived at the bus stop and determined the next bus would be along in about 7 minutes. While waiting, a small crowd gathered and sis started talking to some other tourists. From them she gleaned that if would be fruitless to take the bus as it stopped running shortly after 4pm. I thought we could still see a large part of the city anyway, but of course, she won. We decided to walk to Trinity college to see the Book of Kells as it was fairly close at that point (we were across from St. Stephens Green, next to Grafton St.) We walked down Grafton, promising ourselves we would return, and quickly came upon Trinity. Dublin is very compact in that respect. Coming from Atlanta, you have to have a car to get around, or at the least rely heavily on local transportation. Everything is just so spread out here. This visit and another one several years ago in Amsterdam makes me wish for more of the same type of city-layout back home... but then if it was all the same, why would we want to visit other places!!

Trinity college was just incredible, having grown up near a major university ourselves, it was really a great visit in and of itself. The buildings all gave the impression of being incredibly old and very stately... obviously places of great learning. It would have been great to have a guided tour and to hear more about the place, but we had not planned that out ahead of time so we settled for just gazing around and then finally looking up the Book of Kells. We found it after several queries amongst amused and tolerant students. (They look just as young there as they do here!!) The visit to Book of Kells was a great one. There were some really interesting videos and notes describing it in the gallery. The books were actually located in a room just off the gallery and was luckily not busy. The hush amoungst everyone there reminded me of being in a church and reinforced the great feeling for these books. A really neat experience.

We left the college and decided to just walk around the city at this point. We were impressed with the signs that posted how many parking spots there were available on different streets (if you could find them of course!). Grafton was interesting and we stopped at Bewely's (sp?) for coffee and a light snack... ok, ok, it was chocolate!
The place was bustling as was the street outside, but it made me wonder if this wasn't the kind of place where mom might bring the kids to do holiday shopping and then pop in here for lunch and a sweet as part of a tradition. Guess it was just the feel of the place. Large as it was, it still felt cozy and warm and a fun place to be.

Well, of course from there we shopped, but not too too much. I had started to develop my first blister of the trip (not from swiping my credit card mind you!). I thought longingly of all the great things I had back in my luggage for just such an emergency (note to self and others; keep small medical items in purse at all times). I spotted a drugstore which of course did not have anything particularly helpful, but improvised with a makeup sponge to at cushion the back of the heel from the shoe. It worked great and we headed off again. (another note; I bought Lands End all weather mocs before departing as I read great things about them here and didn't want to shell out a ton of money on shoes. These were great; very comfortable, dried quickly and best of all, I picked them up from Sears for less than $30.)
I had brought 2 other pair of SAS shoes to interchange with the mocs, but the mocs proved to be so comfortable, I wore them almost every day.

After leaving Grafton surprisingly without any shopping bags (could we be burnt out?!) we came out across from St. Stephens Green. I thought it would be fun to splurge on a carriage ride. (I lived not far from NY years ago and after spending nearly every weekend in the city, always regretted I never took a carriage ride thru Central Park. Very touristy I know, but it always looked like fun.) Sis was not interested until I said it was my treat, then she was gung ho. We tracked down a driver and negotiated a fare. He started at 40 euro and I got him down to 25. It was supposed to be a shorter trip, but we ended up talking so much about the U.S. with him, I think it was longer than expected. He was very nice and very interested in our lifestyles. His family is visiting here next year so he was full of questions. At the end of the ride, I promised to send him some information and we left. We decided to head back to the hotel and rest awhile before going out again.

Will finish later; have to actually work now!
sjbisanz1 is offline  
Dec 10th, 2003, 11:18 AM
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Keep 'em coming! Your writing is informative, detailed and laugh out loud funny in a lot of places. You sure have me thinking of my first time in Ireland... while still enjoying yours.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

waffle18 is offline  
Dec 10th, 2003, 06:55 PM
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This is one of the most entertaining trip reports I've ever read, please keep them coming . . . you may have to keep traveling to keep us going, we gotta hear more.

I went to Ireland a couple of years ago with my dear but non-traveling hubby and our trip went a whole lot like yours.

You are a terrific writer!

sandy_b is offline  
Dec 10th, 2003, 08:01 PM
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Next time (and after you have been to Ireland one time, there is always a next time), dump your sister and go with us!
edhodge is offline  
Dec 11th, 2003, 07:59 AM
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Nice report Shelly. I traveled with my sister & brother-in-law this year also and had the opposite problem. Incapable of making any decisions. Every "What do you want to do?", was met with "Whatever you want to do" so I was the tour guide. I didn't mind really, but the ocassional, "let's do this" would have been a nice surprise.

I have a little trip report at if you want to see it. I'm afraid that too many visitors at once will cause it to become unavailable for a while, but give it a shot. The whole free geocities thing doesn't handle volume very well.

wojazz3 is offline  
Dec 12th, 2003, 07:56 AM
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I'm sorry for not getting back sooner.... this icky cold going around has had its grip on me; very difficult juggling job, toddler, X-mas shopping and home with a cold to boot! Not complaining though.... if I didn't have any of the above, then I would be in bad shape!! (Well, except for the cold!)

Give me a minute to look up the name of our restaurant and I will be right back!
(Your comments and encouragement are so sweet; thanks again!!) edhodge; I may take you up on that offer!
sjbisanz1 is offline  
Dec 13th, 2003, 07:28 AM
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yeah right... a minute (and a day) later...

Ok, to finsh this up, after cleaning up at the hotel, we tried to check out the hotel's menu, but as it wasn't ready yet (this at 6:30pm?) we thought to head back out again. The desk clerk had recommended a few restaurants as well as bars offering "traditional Irish" music. We went North toward Grafton and made it about halfway when we found several appealing restaurants. It was really busy (Friday night), and we left 2 places as they were already full. One smoky, jammed bar would seat us; at the bar; if we wanted to eat there. No thanks!
We ended up eating at Foley's. (I didn't realize until doing this trip report that this was the second one we ate at. I am assuming this is a chain there. Can anyone confirm this?) This was another one of the places where upon entering, you are taken to a "waiting room" prior to seating. (Ok, this always reminds me of a Doctor's office. Where you wait for an hour in the main waiting area, finally hear your name. You jump up, thrilled to be acknowledged, and are then led back to another area. There you have the indignity of having your weight checked then read aloud for everyones amusement, then told to sit and wait. Then you notice the people around you were considerably younger when you saw them in the waiting room an hour ago. All for 2 minutes with the very harried and impersonal Doctor. Oh...... sorry...... this has nothing to do with travel. Mmmmmm. You think I have some issues?!! )
Ok, back to travel.... We finally entered the "inner sanctuary", or the dining room, and after having already memorised the menu, we ordered quickly. Sis had mussels and I had pheasant. I also had an appetizer of fried brie with a berry sauce. This was really excellent except that halfway thru I started to feel a little sick. By the time the pheasant arrived, I literally took one bite, decided it wasn't worth taking a chance on being sick, and sat back and sipped my water. Sis loved her mussels (and most of my pheasant) and of course was concerned I was sick. I don't know if it was the brie, the earlier chicken sandwich, or sis , but I was definitely feeling delicate. At this point, sis became human again and did not remind me that we were going to listen to music our last night. We headed straight back to the hotel with a quick stop at an ATM for taxi money the next day. (FYI, never saw homeless people in Ireland until we were in Dublin. Then we saw quite a few... all hanging around ATM's. A little disconcerting. Sis watched my back while I used the machine in a well lit area.)
Back at the hotel, sis went upstairs and I stayed down for a few minutes, just taking in the fresh air and reliving a little of the trip. These thoughts were quickly interupted by a loud obnoxious alarm that seemed to come from across the street. There weren't any cars lights flashing, nor a fire station located on the block, so when I went inside, I inquired of the desk clerk what it was. She said many people had "house alarms" and these went off regularly. I thought of all the car alarms that went off back home and were routinely ignored as a nuisance and felt sympathy for Dublin natives. These can go off for days if someone is out of town she said and my sympathy increased. Until I got to our room and still heard it, then was just annoyed. However, I am a heavy sleeper so was soon asleep. Sis on the other hand is a light sleeper and did not do as well. (This was an issue for us thru the whole trip, surpise! If I was ever to take another trip with her... hahahha..... no seriously.... I would insist on seperate rooms. I snore... don't laugh... and she is about the lightest sleeper around. I purchased 2 different stop-snoring items before the trip; the clip that goes on the inside of your nose; oh so comfortable; and the breathing strips that go on top of your nose. They worked some, but apparently not enough for sis. She purchased a hand-held cassette player with headphones and soft music to mute me, but it was too uncomfortable for her. And just so you know... I am not THAT loud. Her dogs heavy breathing will awaken her. So word to the wise; compare sleeping habits with your future travel partners. They may vary greatly.)

Despite all that, we got up excited and ready to head home. I had a mantra; I'm almost home, I'm almost home... to play in my head when sis was acting out. This kept me going on all thru breakfast which was very good by the way. The front desk called us a taxi while we ate and soon we were on our way. There was a shuttle a block or so from the hotel, but with all our luggage, we decided to splurge on the taxi. It cost us about 30 euro and with 5 for tip, we had a quick, and amusing ride with a very talkative Dubliner who answered alot of our left-over questions. After being deposited at the airport, we checked in with Aer Lingus. We found our seats had been mixed up, but this was due to the fact that there was an equipment change and we would now have to change planes in Shannon. Not a big deal and it worked out great; we had a bulkhead seat on the return with the door in front of us; about 4 feet of legroom! Cool.

We did a little more shopping there at the airport and found better prices on the touristy type gifts (t-shirts, 3 for 15euro, 5 euro for a soccer) and it was all VAT free so less forms to fill out. We took our completed forms to the appropriate desk, went quickly thru the line and were processed there expediently. No complaints whatsoever.
We headed for the gate and conversed with several people heading to the U.S. for the first time, gave them some tourist suggestions and were soon called to board. The remainder is pretty trivial; changed planes in Shannon, got some pretty nice last views of Ireland as the sun peeked out and highlighted the varied and scenic landscape. Flight to Baltimore was normal (would recommend the seafood meal on Aer Lingus.... salmon with rice; pretty good for airline food). No problems with customs in Baltimore; sis was tagged by security but I was not and as we had arrived 40 minutes early; I took off for the AirTran desk to inquire of an earlier connecting flight. We lucked out; there were seats left in Business if we paid the $35 to upgrade. No problem there. The flight left in 45 minutes and I was confirming us both when sis showed up. The flight we were originally on was departing Baltimore for Atlanta about the time we were collecting our luggage.. in Atlanta. Nice relief. The last thing to do was find my hubby and oft-missed son and remind myself that while traveling is great; this is what I love most. They were both regaled with my stories (just skimming over sis's outbursts.. didn't want to give hubby any reason to prevent future trips!). And so I was home.

Thanks to all for allowing me to relive this and now, 3 weeks later, I am still talking to sis; those ugly memories are fading but Ireland still remains to me a beautiful and enchanting place with wonderful people. I am very grateful to all those who offered advice and shared their experiences so I could plan our trip. It was more than I hoped for in many ways. Would definitely do it again... maybe solo though!
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