Our 10 day Ireland adventure

Jun 26th, 2012, 08:16 PM
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Our 10 day Ireland adventure

Day 1 - Just returned from our 10 day vacation in Ireland. My husband and I are in our later 50's and our 27 year old son went along as well. Started out at Minneapolis airport and had a hassle to start off with - but am finding more and more that the airports are a huge hassle. We arrived in Chicago for our Aer Lingus flight to Dublin. Was an uneventful flight and arrived in Dublin on the morning of 6/24 to a rainy, cool morning. Rented our car from Dan Dooley and as everybody else has stated - they were great. We got a Ford Focus. Our son drove out of the parking lot and got us to our first B&B in Malahide without difficulty. We stayed at the Evergreen B&B. We were too early to check in to the B&B, but Olive was very kind and gave us good advice and let us leave our luggage in our room. She made us a cup of tea and then we drove to Howth. It was a short drive from Malahide, right on the sea. We took a walk along the fishing piers, saw some seals and got lunch. We ate at the Waterside Inn - a small pub. Had fish & chips for our first meal in Ireland. We then walked to St. Mary's Abbey and saw the old graveyard and abbey ruins. We stopped by a Tesco store and bought some meat and cheese and strawberries and returned to the B&B for a nap. When we woke up we ate supper in our room and went to bed.
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Jun 26th, 2012, 08:31 PM
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Day 2 - We woke up to rain after a good sleep. The B&B had very comfortable beds and it was quiet. We had a full Irish breakfast which was wonderful and cups of coffee and tea. Again, Olive was extremely kind and helpful. She is very knowledgeable about transportation and had good suggestions for us as we were spending the day in Dublin.

We took the train to Dublin as we didn't want to take in the car. We bought tickets for the hop on/ hop off bus. Our first stop was Trinity College as I wanted to see the Book of Kells. The line was already very long and the guys didn't want to wait, so we decided to come back later. We got back on the bus and went to Dublin Castle, Christchurch Cathedral - there was a choir singing as a service was going to start, but the acoustics were absolutely amazing! We enjoyed the crypt at this church. We then went to St. Patrick's Cathedral.

It was raining pretty heavily through most of this tour, but as the day progressed the rain let up a little bit. I was glad that I had dressed in layers as I peeled them off as the rain stopped and the temperature began to warm up a little bit. We then headed toward the Guinness Storehouse and took the tour. The glass top floor was amazing and the guys enjoyed their free Guinness! We wanted to take the tour at the Kilmainham gaol, but did not have time.

We got back to Trinity College at 4:30! The exhibit closed at 5:00 and there was still a short line. The lady tried to talk us out of getting tickets, even though they were now half price, because she said it was still very crowded inside. But I really wanted to see the Book of Kells! We got inside and there was a line waiting to go to the exhibit room and I had given up hope - but at 4:50, the line moved and we were able to go inside and we did get to briefly see the Book of Kells. And you know, it really was enough time. More than the Book of Kells, the long library was totally amazing! I was transported right into Hogwarts and Harry Potter land! I loved it!!

We walked back up to the Post office which was the site of the 1916 Easter uprising. We saw on the pillars where there is still evidence of gunshots.

We then went to the Temple Bar area for supper. We ate at Gallagher's Boxty House and I had the early bird special - sweet potato soup, chili boxty and Bailey's chocolate cheese cake. My son had dumplings, mushrooms in blu cheese sauce and hubby had the salmon. After dinner we wandered around the Temple Bar area, but jet lag began to set in so we returned to the train and back to the B&B for an early night, even though we discovered it doesn't get fully dark till after 11:00 p.m.
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Jun 26th, 2012, 10:09 PM
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Looking forward to more . . .
indy_dad is offline  
Jun 26th, 2012, 10:21 PM
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Good report, sounds like fun !
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Jun 27th, 2012, 06:05 AM
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Enjoying your report, but a bit curious; you said you arrived on 6/24. Not to be picky, but how did you squeeze ten days into the last three? Have I been in some me warp?

Glad you got to see the Book of Kells! It truly is a wonderful work of art and devotion.
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Jun 27th, 2012, 06:24 AM
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Sounds like a great start! We do the afternoon nap on arrival day, as well, and it usually works out fine. Glad you got to see the Book of Kells! And that library makes me drool
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Jun 27th, 2012, 03:11 PM
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Sorry - we arrived on June 14th! Typo.
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Jun 27th, 2012, 03:25 PM
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Day 3 - Had another great full Irish breakfast prepared by Olive. We left early heading south to the Wicklow mountains and Glendalough area.

We headed right down to Glendalough and the ruins there. It was wonderful! There was another poster that did not recommend Glendalough and I am so happy that I did not listen to him. I thought it was fantastic! I loved the ruins, I loved the lake, I loved the waterfalls. It was so very peaceful there. It was cloudy and rainy and perfect. We hiked the trails for a while and then headed to our next stop which was:

The Baltinglass Abbey ruins. This abbey dated back to something like 1189. The history that these buildings could tell us would be amazing! I loved all of the different angles and curves and arches and also the flowers growing out of the walls. Took a lot of photos, not only here, but all over Ireland! (I am going to try and post a link with some of our photos.)

After getting a good look at Baltinglass, we then stopped in Kilkenny. Had lunch at Lanigans: more fish and chips for hubby, I had a Caesar salad salad with chicken and bacon and son had roast beef and potatoes. We then took a look at Kilkenny castle. The grounds around this castle are absolutely beautiful. We went into a crafts area across the street, but with it being the weekend, there wasn't much activity going on.

It was cute as there were bunch of young boys near the castle. They were probably around 10 years of age or so. They all had hurling equipment so my husband starting asking them about the rules of hurling. The boys got excited as my husband asked more questions. I wish I would have taken a photo of these little boys. They love their hurling!

We stopped for groceries again and drove back to Evergreen B&B for our late supper. I had to pack as we were off for our next B&B the following day.
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Jun 27th, 2012, 05:03 PM
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Day 4 - Woke up to sun! Left Olive and Evergreen and headed north. Our first stop was Monasterboice to see a monastary tower and high crosses. I took so many photos of high crosses and Celtic crosses throughout our trip! I loved them. When I thought of Ireland, it was of Celtic crosses and green hills and sheep. I got my wish to see all of them.

After stopping briefly at Monasterboice we drove to Newgrange. And I might add that our son did a fabulous job of driving on the opposite side of the road. I did get thrown around a bit in the backseat as there are a lot of turns on the narrow roads, but he did very well.

And when people say the roads are narrow in Ireland - it is true! I mean not only are they narrow, there are no shoulders, at all!!

We reached Newgrange only to find that we were in the wrong spot. We had to detour back to the Boyne Valley Visitor Center. Once there we decided to go to Knowth to see the burial mounds and passage tombs. We had to go by tour bus. I guess this is a good way to control crowds. Enjoyed the tour at Knowth and again marveled at the history we were seeing.

We the moved on to Trim castle. (Started raining here) There was some kind of a hay making fair going on in the fields next to the castle, so it was quite loud with the loudspeakers, but we did take the castle tour and had a delightful guide. Learned some facts about delousing clothing that I never knew and could have lived the rest of my life without knowing!!

We stopped briefly at Kells and saw another monastery tower and more tall crosses.

Headed for our next stop which was Enniskillen. We were booked at Willowbank B&B. We could not find this B&B and had to stop twice to ask directions. It is kind of off the beaten track, but well worth the drive for the view.

Willowbank house overlooks a loch and the yard and grounds around the house were beautifully manicured. The host was very friendly and the house was neat and clean. Our rooms were lovely. I sent the guys off to a pub in town and I enjoyed some time by myself. I took more photos outside and sat in the garden swing and looked at the loch. A peaceful oasis is Willowbank house.
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Jun 28th, 2012, 06:00 PM
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Sounds very nice, waiting to hear the rest.
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Jun 28th, 2012, 06:20 PM
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Sorry about the rain but it sounds like you enjoyed the trip so far! More, please!
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Jun 28th, 2012, 06:49 PM
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You haven't mentioned "the driving." Did your son do it all? We spent two weeks there several years ago and swore we'd never drive in Ireland again! We just returned from 8 days there and relied on public transportation. Yes, it was a limiting trip, but much less fear and anguish!!
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Jun 28th, 2012, 07:30 PM
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I did briefly mention the driving. Our son did most of it. My husband drove a little bit. The roads are VERY narrow with no shoulders. After about day 2, son was driving around like he had done it all of his life. I drove in Scotland and even in the highlands, but the roads in Ireland are MORE narrow.
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Jun 28th, 2012, 07:38 PM
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Day 5 - Had a very restful sleep at Willowbank House. The breakfast provided there was outstanding. I had french toast and the guys had the full Irish breakfast. But the extras on the sideboard were plentiful and varied. Bravo to our hostess! On our way out we stopped on Boa Island at a small cemetery. There was a pre Christian pagan statue there. It had a face on both sides. I LOVED it. The carving on one side was clearer than the other side - made me feel pretty insignificant in this huge, old world.

We weren't going to stop at the Belleck Pottery factory, but since we were so close we did. We didn't take the tour, but of course I had to buy a few things in the storeroom. The pottery was lovely. In the Belleck tea room I had my first scone of the trip.

It didn't take long to get to our next B&B in Donnegal. It was Eas Dun Lodge and our base for the next two nights. Once again, it was off the beaten track, but with that came another beautiful view and quiet surroundings. We were a little tired this day, so took it kind of easy. We did go into Donegal town for a while and saw Donegal Castle and went into a pub for lunch - the Castle View. I had a baked potato with chili, Darryl had fish and chips (big surprise) and Andy had chicken.

We took a drive to Killybegs, but it was raining pretty hard we didn't stay very long. We did see the big fishing boats that were in port. I was surprised how large and modern they were.

We stopped at a Lidl for food for supper. We went back to the B&B and downloaded photos. I emailed some to the nursing home where I work and where my mother lives - so she could see the adventure we were having. The guys watched a movie and I had an early night.
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Jun 28th, 2012, 08:03 PM
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Day 6 - Believe it or not we awoke to sun! And what a great day to have the sun because we were planning to see Slieve League Cliffs by sea today. Our gracious hostess called the boat captain and made a reservation for us.

After another filling, well prepared breakfast, we headed to Teelin. It is just a tiny little spot in the road, but that was where we would get on the boat to see the cliffs by sea. While waiting for the boat to come in, my son and I climbed a steep hill and found a glorious view of the sea at the top!

We met up with another couple from Cornwall waiting for the boat. When it arrived, Paddy the boat owner, invited us to get on the boat. It was sunny and warm and just perfect weather to go on the ocean.

The sea was fairly calm, but once out of the cove, we still had some rock to the boat. Luckily none of us are sensitive to this and we all enjoyed the trip. Periodically Paddy would stop the boat and tell stories. Once we got to the cliffs, it was amazing! We could barley see people on the top viewing platforms and I couldn't help but wonder if they even get a fraction of the view that we were getting by sea. We took a ton of photo of course, but once home, the photos just do not capture the wonder and majesty of those cliffs.

Paddy stopped the boat at the base of the cliffs and asked if anybody wanted to go swimming. I told my son I would go in if he would. Paddy handed him a wetsuit and he started to change - I told him that I wasn't really going to go in and Paddy said that I had 4 witnesses that heard my bargain and that I WOULD be going in!! It was a lot of fun. My son did jump in, but luckily I didn't get thrown overboard. When he got out, we spotted a beautiful jellyfish next to the boat. An overall great experience and I would recommend Paddy's tour to one and all!!

After the boat trip we went to Ardara where we went through a weaving factory. Darryl bought a tweed scarf. Things were a little expensive there, so as much as I wanted some things, I didn't buy anything.

It started raining again so we headed back to Donegal and the B&B for a nap. We went back into town for supper and ate at Doms. Doms was very good - it was an actual restaurant vs a pub where we had been eating most of our meals. I had turkey and dressing and cranberry sauce. Reminded me a lot of our American dressing and turkey. Darryl had fish (again) and Andy had a nice beef dish.

Coming back to the B&B the GPS directed us down a 2 wheeld grassy track (The Bluestack Trail). This B&B is at the foot of the Bluestack mountains. We aren't hikers, but I can see how this would be a wonderful area for those that love to hike.

The owners of this B&B are also very kind and helpful people. We are impressed with the kindness of the Irish people and I have enjoyed turning off the cell phone and relaxing.
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Jun 30th, 2012, 10:32 AM
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Day 7 - We left Donegal and headed toward Galway. We went through Sligo, but didn't stop. Headed toward Westport to do the drive through Connemara. We stopped in Westport for coffee and tea. I had another good scone with clotted cream. Walked around the downtown area for a while and saw Matt Malloys pub. We briefly stopped at a sheep/yard factory and then went to Kylemore Abbey.

Enjoyed this stop very much. We had debated whether or not to stop here and are very glad we included it. The weather was fairly decent so we were able to walk around the grounds. We took the tour of the abbey and walked to the chapel. We took the bus to the Victorian gardens. They were brilliant! We had lunch in the cafe there and did some shopping in the gift shop.

The scenery in the Connemara area was fantastic. The 12 pins gave us some wonderful scenery. I was so glad to be a passenger in the car as I did not have to concentrate on driving and miss the beautiful scenery all around us.

We found Marless house in Salthill. It was a lovely older house with a very sweet hostess. Mary was talkative and made you feel as if you had been friends all of your life. She gave us tea and biscuits when we arrived which was very welcome.

Andy decided to stay at the B&B while hubby and I went on the bus to Galway. The bus stop was literally right around the corner from Marless House and right across the road from Galway Bay.

We wandered around the "Latin" area of Galway and had supper in The Kings Head. We were treated to some traditional Irish music and dancing which was another must see on my list. We had an enjoyable evening. Took a cab back to Marless house and had a good, quiet sleep.
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Jul 1st, 2012, 12:36 PM
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Day 8 - Andy's birthday - Woke to rain, although slept like a stone! We had a great breakfast once again. I had porridge with fresh honey and a scone. We decided out of all the B&B's that Marless House ranked No. 1 for breakfasts. We decided that on this day we would go out to the Burren area. First of all we went to the Connemara Stone Factory. What a selection of wonderful stone jewelry and other souvenirs.

We then drove to Dunguire Castle. This is the castle that is on the guidebook that we used all through Ireland. In this area I finally got photos of thatched cottages.

We then proceeded to get lost in the Burren - but what a lovely area to get lost in. We finally found the Poulnabrone Dolmen. The landscape around this area was unreal. What a beautiful, barren area. I loved it.

Hubby wanted to get back to Galway to tour the city so we headed back to town. Once in town we went to St. Nichols church and Galway cathedral. Galway is a fun town to wander around in.

We ate supper at Lohans in Salthill for the birthday celebration. We were able to walk there from our B&B along the promenade along Galway Bay.

After supper we walked back to the B&B as we were a little bit fatigued from all the rain and driving. A quiet evening was in order.
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Jul 1st, 2012, 12:42 PM
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Day 9 - Mary G. at Marless house is a great B&B owner. We had a very nice visita t breakfast about quilting and family. I enjoyed her very much. We said goodbye to Galway and headed east toward Malahide as the next day was out flight home.

Our first stop was Clonmacnoise - this is a monastic ruin. We watched a movie that explained the area - I found this very informative and brought the area to life. There are high Celtic crosses here, but they have brought them inside a museum to protect them from further damage from the elements.

We stopped by Cloncony Castle. This was weird. It is privately owned, but open to the public. Ann Bolyns two cousins are buried here. The owner of the castle is an eccentric American woman - she was very kind and polite - but it was strange to go into someones own private quarters. She knighted our son while we were there!

Then we had a stop for the Kilbeggen whiskey tour. The guys enjoyed the free whiskey at the end of the tour. We ate lunch at the cafe at Kilbeggens.

This was our last planned stop, so we headed back toward Malahide to find the SanJuan Guest House. This B&B, out of all of them was my least favorite. I'm glad we were only booked in there for one night. We did have a good breakfast there in the morning, but it did not compare to the other places.

Back to the airport for our flight home.
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Jul 1st, 2012, 01:08 PM
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Great report! Thanks for sharing. I stayed at Marless house for a couple of nights back in 1995. Glad to hear that it is still wonderful!

Will you be sharing your pictures? Please, please.....
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Jul 1st, 2012, 04:34 PM
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I really want to. But haven't figured out how to yet. Do you know a good site to use to put a link here? Thanks
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