Our Irish Adventure

Old May 29th, 2014, 07:35 PM
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Our Irish Adventure

Our Irish Adventure


Everyone has a dream. My dream was when the kids are grown-we travel. This year we decided to travel to Ireland. I had started reading the forums to see what questions were being asked and asked some of my own . I had booked our flights last November and I made reservations for B&B's and our car rental after we decided what areas we wanted to see.

I never sleep well the night before a trip. It seems like there are a million things to do. Making the list for our dog sitters, packing and I always like to leave the house clean before we leave.

Our flight was departing at 8am on. May 15th. That means an early wake up as we live far from the airport. We flew from Sacramento to D.C. flight was on time and no problems. Our flight from D.C. to London was delayed due to weather so we sat at the gate for two hours. Good thing we had a long layover in London. We got into London and then to Shannon, Ireland at 11am on the 16th.

We made our way to the Dan Dooley counter and then a shuttle took us to their office to pick up our car. Really easy and the staff were very nice. Our car was a small Nissan Micro. Loaded up and ready to go! Unfortunately the car had a very loud rear end noise and after about 15 minutes of driving, we returned to the airport to trade cars. Oh well...good practice driving and the rental people switched our car in a jiffy. We were ready to go again.

Next up Blarney.
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Old May 30th, 2014, 12:00 AM
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Looking forward to your report. We are leaving at the end of August for our own adventure.
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Old May 30th, 2014, 05:32 PM
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Waiting for me!
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Old May 30th, 2014, 05:57 PM
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Why did you fly to London before Shannon? I have never flown into Shannon always Dublin so am curious if this is what you have to do or was it a huge savings.
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Old May 30th, 2014, 09:07 PM
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Flpab- it was a savings for us to fly through London.

May 16th-

Driving after such a long flight is difficult. So, we stopped at Bunratty Castle in order to give our rear ends a rest. Bunratty Castle is a large 15th century tower house in County Clare, Ireland. It is close to the airport and right off of the interstate so it was convenient. This was the first castle that we have seen and it was quite impressive. We did not stay for too long because the drive to Blarney was supposed to take two hours.

It took us more than two hours which did not surprise me because we did not go the posted speed. I don't know how anyone can go the posted speed in Ireland unless you live there and know the roads. I think being the passenger is worse than being the driver.

Tony2phones had suggested a Collins Map which we bought before leaving so between the map and the road signs and our ipad, navigating was not an issue.

We arrived at The White House B&B and met the owners, Pat and Regina. Regina gave us our choice of rooms and we picked one at the back of the house. A lovely room with a nice bathroom. The bedroom had a view of the back garden. After traveling for more than 17 hours it was nice relax.

We decided to walk into the downtown area of Blarney and see the Woolen Mills and have a Guiness. The Woolen Mills was built in the 1800's and was turned into a store in the 1970's that sells to tourists. This store includes a variety of woven items, lace, linens and in fact one could get lost in this store. We had dinner at a Pub named Muskerry Arms. Dinner was good and the guiness was tasty. We walked the long way back to our B&B and called it a night.
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Old May 30th, 2014, 11:39 PM
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Living here and knowing the roads even I don't reach maximum speeds on many roads.. one reason why I just don't get the military timing applied to some proposed itineraries. I do like Blarney outside tour bus times
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Old Jun 1st, 2014, 09:12 AM
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I love that pub in Blarney. Met the nicest people there and they took us on a tour I will always remember in 2000. I just mentioned wanting to see where Michael Collins was killed and they did the whole tour for us. Best apple pie, have gone back to Blarney just for it. Love the Woolen mill. Great little gifts to take home from there.
So glad you made it safe. The driving around the curves is scary for pax! I hated being so close to the stone walls and then a big lorry would be on coming at you taking their half out of the middle of the road. It is a nice little town after the tour buses leave and glad we spent two nights there to explore.
Waiting for more adventures.
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Old Jun 1st, 2014, 05:46 PM
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Rickmav- You will love Ireland. The people are great and the country beautiful.

Tony2phones- You are right regarding the timing for itineraries, We had no timeline or must sees. We took our time driving and loved it.

Flpab- We had a great time in Blarney and you are so right about the walls and cars.

May 17th

We woke up to no rain and a beautiful blue sky. We decided to try to get to the Blarney Castle early. We had a great breakfast- my husband had the full Irish and I had pancakes with fresh fruit. Checking out was easy, and Pat provided some good advice for driving to our next destination.

We ended up getting to the castle around 9:30. The entrance for the castle and grounds was 12 euro and included the opportunity to kiss the stone. One benefit to arriving to the castle early was that there were not too many crowds. I had heard that the castle is a tourist trap but I really wanted to see the grounds. I am so glad that we went. The grounds were beautiful with rhododendrons blooming in a rainbow of colors and a big variety of plants. If you have an interest in gardening I would highly recommend exploring the grounds, and if not, it is still a great place to stroll and relax. We did go up a narrow, steep stairway to the top and were the 3rd and 4th people to kiss the stone. We were told that sometimes people wait for hours to kiss the stone but maybe that is a bunch of blarney. We ended up exploring the grounds for about 3 hours.

We had reservations at a B&B in Bantry so we needed to get going. We drove through Cork to Kinsale. Kinsale was a cute town full of colorful buildings with boats bobbing in the Harbor. We got out to explore a bit and discovered some interesting stores. I did not know that the bookmaker was not a book store. . We still had a way to go to get to Bantry so we got back on the road. Along the way we passed dogs playing on the beach and we stopped at a small antique shop. Being in the passenger seat enabled me to see the beautiful homes across the bay in Courtmacsherry. The coastline had impressive rolling hills with cows and sheep and beautiful colorful homes. This drive was our first glimpse of the Irish coast. Green rolling hills down to a sparkling sea.

Driving into Bantry we stopped at a camera store so I could ask for directions to the B&B. We were staying at the Atlantic Shore and all I had was the street name. The girls in the store were great and they called to get the directions. Just past the playground and Tyre store up a small road was our stay for the night. The owner, Maggie, was there to greet us and showed us to our room. Our room was cheery and bright with a view of Bantry bay.

After unpacking we drove to the town centre and walked over to The Fish Kitchen. I had heard about this restaurant and wanted to have dinner there. The restaurant is located above their fish market. We went up a flight of stairs and asked the server if we could get a reservation. They would be able to seat us in a half hour so. we walked through town and saw old churches and colorful buildings.

Dinner was ... Amazing.

I had cod with herbed crust and my husband had the salmon with lemon ver blanc sauce. They brought out a mixture of potatoes, green beans, carrots, puréed parsnips and a green salad for us to share. For dessert, we shared a chocolate orange tart...oh my. Our total for dinner including a Guinness and a hard cider was 61euro.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2014, 08:05 AM
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Great trip report - I'm looking forward to more. I stayed at Atlantic Shores a few years ago - it WAS tricky to find. I had to have Maggie "talk me in" while on my cell phone. But it was worth it! Lovely B&B in a lovely town.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2014, 06:50 PM
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MaPic- Thanks for the kind words. The Atlantic Shore was a lovely place in cute town.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2014, 07:52 PM
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May 18th-

Maggie knows how to cook. The whole table was set with homemade jams, scones, muesli, soda bread and she made a hot breakfast to order. We shared a scone with homemade black currant jam, tried the homemade muesli and had some eggs and bacon. Delish! We met a couple riding their bikes that were from Holland and a couple from France.

We packed up and headed over to The Bantry House entry fee is 4euro and walked around their gardens enjoying the beautiful views of Bantry Bay. The house was built in the early 1700's. The house has seven terraces of gardens with the home being on the third terrace. Behind the house we found a beautiful fountain and the wisteria surrounding it in full bloom. There are a 100 stairs that will take you to the different terraces. We chose to walk another way to the top and then come down. The old stables were interesting and the gardens pretty. The fee included a self tour of parts of the house. A beautiful old home that is being restored. They do have a B&B and a tea room.

Leaving Bantry we stopped at Manning's Emporium in Ballylickey. This place was a great place to pick up picnic supplies. We bought a local cheese, Milleen's, another cheese and some salami. The staff was great and the emporium had some great choices.

We decided to drive the Beara peninsula on our way to Kenmare. We stopped along the way and took our time enjoying the scenery and historical landmarks. We did get to visit with a very friendly donkey and some new sheep that were poking their heads around their moms. The sun was glistening off of the bay and it was a beautiful day. We got about half way done and realized that we would have to come back in the next couple of days to see the 2nd half. This peninsula called our name.

The rain started falling around four and had let up by the time we. Made our way to our next B&B. Pulling into the drive of the Shelburne Lodge caught my breath. The gravel drive took us past beautiful old trees and a well cared for lawn. The home sits well off the road and dates back to the mid 18th century. Lord Shelburne was commissioned to design the town of Kenmare. The town is an old beautiful town that is not huge, can be walked easily and has a great atmosphere. Tom and Maura we our hosts for the next 3 nights. We ended up in Lord Shelburnes room. It was a large room with a comfortable bed and two chairs that overlooked the gardens and a beautiful Copper Beech tree.

We unpacked, freshened up and walked into town to explore and get a bite to eat. The town was my favorite of the trip. There were two main streets, a town square, colorful buildings and had a great atmosphere. We found a small fish and chips place and ate there. The fish was good as were the chips. It was an easy dinner and reasonable at only 10euro a person. We walked around some more then went back to the lodge to relax and sleep.
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Old Jun 4th, 2014, 10:55 AM
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Loving your report. Thanks for the details, which are so helpful to those of us who have a trip to Ireland in our future. I hope to visit when flowers are blooming and the lambs are young, so your timing seems to be just right. I will be watching to see how much rain you experienced though I know this can vary from year to year.
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Old Jun 4th, 2014, 12:24 PM
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Lovely trip report - am enjoying it very much.
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Old Jun 4th, 2014, 09:31 PM
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Glad you are enjoying. More to come.

drchris- I think that we were very fortunate regarding the weather. We had some occasional rain durning the day but mostly the rain would come at night. I only used my rain coat one time! We did get some wind but that you will here about soon,
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Old Jun 5th, 2014, 07:35 PM
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May 19th-


We woke up to a soft rain that had stopped before we went downstairs for breakfast. Maura is a cook who cooks with love. The menu choices were many and I am sure all delish. This morning my husband had a smoked salmon omelet and I choose a poached pear with ginger and some small pancakes.

Deciding what to do today was a dilemma do we drive the Ring of Kerry or go back to the Beara? We decided the Ring of Kerry. We stopped at a store in Kenmare called The Truffle Pig to get some picnic supplies for the day. Organic goat cheese and some salami. Oh, and a brownie to share. We drove along the Ring of Kerry stopping to take pictures of the coastline. I love how the beautiful green hills are dotted with sheep or cattle. One of my favorite things though has to be the beautiful colored homes and the stone work.

We eventually made our way to Portmagee and went to Valentia Island. We decided to go to the top of a mountain and we shared the view with some sheep that were very intent on eating. We went to the summit of Geokaun Mountain. It is a privately owned mountain, and a fee is required to access the mountain via the main track to the summit. The views were amazing we could see the Blasket Islands off of the coast and the light house in the valley below. We then made our way to the grotto. It is a huge carved out cavern with a waterfall.

After the grotto, the tetrapods track way was our next stop. It had started raining but that did not detour us from seeing the tracks. We drove down a very narrow and deserted road. It was interesting to read about the discovery and to see the tracks that are on the rocks. My husband climbed down to take pictures of the track way. After this we wanted to see the lighthouse. The roads that we saw in Ireland have all been great except this one. The road is not a great road and parts of it were falling into the coast. We did make it but I would not want to do it again. Hopefully the road will be repaired. Unfortunately, we did not get to go in because they had just closed.

The main reason we went to the island was to see where the first transatlantic cable was sent. The connection made the time go from 10 days to a few minutes for communication between North America and Europe.


By the time we made it to the car ferry in Knightstown it was late in the day. We drove the rest of the Ring and made it into Killarney. From there we were lost. I think we should have turned right at a traffic circle but instead went straight. . Oh well we had our trusty Collins map book and we were able to get back to Kenmare on R569. Have you ever gotten lost but were so happy? We went through a beautiful valley and saw some picturesque places. The road even took us to the driveway of our B&B. Arriving at 8 we decided it was a pub night and after changing walked to downtown Kenmare. The pub we went into had someone playing the guitar and singing Irish ballads. A hot dinner of Shepherd's pie and a pizza plus a hard cider and a Guinness. Just what was called for after a long day. The music was great and we enjoyed hearing the song, Tim Finnegan's Wake. There was no rush to leave and we enjoyed the musician so we ended up staying late.
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Old Jun 5th, 2014, 07:51 PM
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Excellent report

We also enjoyed a lovely stay at Shelburne Lodge and considered it the best B&B of 2 trips.
Instead of a commercial property, we felt like we were staying with relatives in their country house.
Tom & Maura were quite gracious and really know their business well.
The frosting on the cake was the smell of the peat fire in the sitting room when we returned after dinner.

Looking forward to more of your adventure.
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Old Jun 6th, 2014, 06:02 AM
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I am now craving Shepherd's Pie.
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Old Jun 6th, 2014, 08:52 PM
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TPAYT- Thanks. The peat fires in the sitting room were great .
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Old Jun 7th, 2014, 06:26 PM
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May 20th-

We started the day with another great breakfast. Our hosts were great and Tom was a wealth of information. We really enjoyed talking to him. Over tea and coffee we discussed what we wanted to do. I really enjoyed the fact that we did not have every moment planned. We had started the trip with some ideas but nothing was set in stone.

The Beara really made an impression on us and so we decided to drive to Allihies and then take our time coming back. Off of the main roads there are some smaller loops that take you along the coast. We did go on some along the way and got to see beautiful vistas, coves, and beautiful homes.

My husband loves to drive down tiny roads to see where it will take us. It was down one of the roads that we saw "The Couple". An elderly couple walking hand and hand down the middle of the road. I told my husband that I did not think that they could hear us so we sat in the car and waited until they noticed. I did not want to scare them so we stayed a ways back. Mrs. Couple turned around and saw us so they moved to the side and let us pass. We decided to roll down our window and chat with them.

This is something that I will always remember from the trip. We probably talked for 15-20 minutes and they asked questions about where we lived but more important we learned about them. Both were born, raised, married and had their family in the same small town in Ireland. Mr. Couple even told us about how you did not want to ride on the cable car if the cow went first. . He had such a good sense of humor! After we left them we headed to the end of the road to look at a cove. We got out and explored a bit. Glancing up we saw Mr. Couple striding around the corner to talk some more. He told us about some places he thought would interest us and told us how get to them.

As we were making our way to Eyeries, we came upon a farmer and his dog, a Spot herding some sheep. We had a ringside view of how well the dog worked with the farmer. The farmer got into his car and continued on but pulled over a few miles later for some more herding. We got out of our car and watched Spot do his job. We got to talk to the farmer and learned that spot did not really like humans but relished his job and a adored the farmer. The farmer was really kind to tell us about his dog and how the dog herded.

Getting back into the car, we finished our drive on the loop and made our way to Eyeries. We saw signs in a lot of towns and Eyeries was no different. It has a Tidy Town award. Continuing along the road to Allihies and the copper mine museum. The museum is in an old church and had a cafe attached so I sat in the cafe and had a cup of tea while my husband explored the mine museum.
The cost was €5. The museum was really informative and explained a lot about the history of the town and the mining.

We turned back to Kenmare as it was late in the day and also because we wanted to find the Ogham Stone on our way back. We had an idea of the location but did not see it the first time. It has started raining when we found the stone. Unfortunately, it was in the middle of a farmers field. The Ballycrovane Ogham Stone is a 17ft stone and faces a small harbour close to the town of Ballycrovane. You can pay a small fee with the owners to go on their land but it was late in our day and raining so we decided just to take pictures of it from the road.

We made it back to Kenmare and the B&B. I had heard that the restaurant No.35 was good so we decided to eat there instead of a pub. The restaurant was cozy and had a fire crackling in the fire place. We sat downstairs and enjoyed atmosphere. Our server was great and we ordered an appetizer of Bruchetta with goat cheese and grilled vegetables. Yum. The creaminess of the goat cheese with the vegetables and crunchy bread was a great way to start dinner. My husband ordered the Pan fried Fillet of Salmon with Horseradish & Garden Herb Crumb, Spring Onion & Rooster Mashed Potato, Mini Caper & Lemon Cream Sauce. I ordered a Spaghetti with pan fried Tiger Prawns, fresh Salmon, Cherry Tomato, flavoured with Lemongrass, Ginger & Garlic. We both enjoyed our dinner and were to full to try dessert. Total bill including a Guinness and Hard Cider was around €60. Great food and spending time with my husband was a great way to spend our last evening in Kenmare.
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Old Jun 8th, 2014, 06:05 AM
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Sounds like you found the very BEST part of Ireland -- her PEOPLE!
This is why we keep going back and why the best advice is to slow down and interact with the Locals.
That's something that rarely happens on the 'Big Bus' Tours or the 'Move On Every Night / If This Is Tuesday, This Must Be Killarney' type of trip.
Enjoying your report.
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