Thursday, July 5, 2018

Ireland Highlights

It took me a while, but I finally finished up my post all about my trip to Ireland!  This was the second part of our trip to Scotland back in May (which we bought on Groupon), and unfortunately this leg of the trip was way too short.  I've heard so many great things about Ireland, so I definitely feel like I need to come back for a longer time to really experience the country!  It was extremely beautiful and amazing, but we were constantly rushing through things because we only had two full days.

Here is my very abbreviated trip summary!  I hope you enjoy, and make sure to give me recommendations on what I need to visit when I (eventually..hopefully...) make it back!

Green Acres Bed and Breakfast

One of the best aspects of our Groupon was being able to choose any Bed and Breakfast that we wanted.  Since we only had a few days in Ireland, we decided the best idea would be to pick a place that was near Dublin, so that we could easily get in to the city and surrounding areas, but not have to deal with all of that traffic.  We ended up settling on Green Acres, which is in County Dublin, but outside of the city limits in Rathcoole.


The place was beautiful, and had a pub right down the street (An Poitín Still- highly recommend...see pic above!).  Breakfast was hot every morning, and the owner, Mary, always made sure we had a full day of adventure ahead of us.  We would share our itinerary, and she would make recommendations or give us directions. 



Dublin

We spent one full day in Dublin, and definitely didn't even scratch the surface on this wonderful, bustling town!  Unfortunately we had to skip a lot of the popular tours (Book of Kells, Guinness Storefront) and set out on foot to see as much as possible.  A few of my favorite stops included-

St. Stephen's Green
I always like a good city park, and this one is beautiful.  One minute, you're on the loud and chaotic streets of Dublin, and the next you're in a serene park, surrounded by lush trees and walking around a crystal clear pond.  I think this would be a great place to relax and maybe even have a picnic.

Trinity College
While we didn't get to see the Book of Kells, we did get to walk around the campus.  The college is really beautiful, with old gray stone buildings and grassy lawns.  The campus is walled off from the rest of the town, with only a few entrances, so it felt like we were in another world!

Grafton Street
If you're looking for a good shopping area- check out this pedestrian street.   There were so many shops and restaurants and musicians all over the place!  Loved the atmosphere of this fun street.

The Hairy Lemon Pub
I read about this place in my Rick Steves guide, and really enjoyed it.  It was pretty touristy, but still a fun restaurant with character.  I had a great vegetable pie (yummy vegetarian alternative to their regular Irish pies that are cooked with lamb) and a pint of Heineken.   I was happy to see a Terrible Towel hanging up (and equally upset to see something from Philadelphia).

Dublin Castle
Once again, we didn't make it into the castle, but just walking around the grounds gave us a great view of the building.  There is also a park right outside which we enjoyed!

Christ Church Cathedral
One place that we did make it inside was the Christ Church Cathedral.  This is a beautiful church with a huge crypt (largest in the UK and Ireland), complete with a "cat and rat" on display.  Won't even explain that one...

Temple Bar
We of course had to stop in the lively Temple Bar area!  Fun fact- this river-front area in Dublin is called Temple Bar, but there is also an actual pub called Temple Bar, seen above.  Kind of confusing!  Even though it was daytime, there were already people ready to party.  We stopped in one for a pint of Guinness and explored all of the beautiful streets (and unfortunately couldn't get a picture without accidentally including a close-up of other people..sorry lady!)



Cashel

On our second (and sadly, last) full day in Ireland, we took a short trip down to the tiny town of Cashel.  There is pretty much just one attraction to visit there- the Rock of Cashel.

Rock of Cashel
There are a few different names for this historic site, including Cashel of the Kings and St Patrick's Rock.  While taking a tour, we were able to learn a lot of interesting history of this ruin, starting with its founding in the 12th Century.  There are lots of building to explore, including a round tower, High Cross, and chapel.

Heritage Trail
After our tour of the Rock was done, we ventured down a trail to find more ruins.  Turns out that this is part of the Tipperary Heritage Trail that extends down over 50 kilometers!  We definitely didn't make it that far, but enjoyed stopping at a few sights along the way. This picture is taken from Hore Abbey, which was a Cistercian monastery.  The views from here were spectacular, and you can see the Rock from one of the old "windows".



Kilkenny

When we were done exploring the town of Cashel, we made our way over to the town of Kilkenny.  Fun fact- George Clooney traces his lineage back to Kilkenny!  Sadly, he didn't seem to be visiting the homeland, but this was definitely my favorite town that we visited.

Smithick's Experience
While we decided not to do the Guinness Factory tour in Dublin, we did make it to the old Smithick's Factory!  Interestingly enough, the Guinness family now owns this brewery as well.  The tour itself was really interesting- we learned about the origins of beer, about the Smithicks family and religious oppression in Ireland, and finally got to sample the beer.  It was a great tour that I would recommend (plus the beer is delicious).

Medieval Mile
If you're looking for a way to see all the tourist stops in Kilkenny, look no further than following the Medieval Mile through town.  At one point, Kilkenny was the medieval capital of Ireland, and it really feels like you step back in time when you walk around.  There are so many places to stop along the route and you could definitely spend all day exploring.

Kyteler's Inn
After going to the brewery and walking around the town a bit, we decided to stop for some food and decided on an old pub- this place opened back in 1263!  There's a bit of interesting history about this place that's detailed on the menu...the original owner was a lady named Alice de Kyteler, who was married four times.  Rumors circulated around town because of her multiple marriages, and she was eventually accused of witchcraft and sentenced to be burned.  She ended up escaping the country, and the pub is now said to be haunted by her.  The food was great and it was a really cool place to be!

Kilkenny Castle
This is such a beautiful castle.  We were able to walk around the gardens and the huge park, but (again) didn't go inside.  The outside was stunning though, and we were able to read about the history on the signs all around the park.  



Glendalough

On our drive back to our Airbnb, we decided to take a scenic route back and stop in the town of Glendalough.  From the visitor's center, there's a great trail that you can take through streams and woods, and visit the Monastic City with some cool ruins and a cemetery, and a few lakes.  While the town is tiny, it was worth the stop, even if you just need a break during the gorgeous drive.



Sally Gap

If you've ever seen the movie PS I Love You, you might have seen this area!  This is a famous road that goes through the Wicklow Mountains, and has incredible views of the Irish countryside.  While the road is pretty challenging to drive up- with windy, skinny country lanes- it is well worth it!  We were lucky enough to hit the summit while it was drizzling slightly and saw the most incredible double rainbow.  


Have you ever been to Ireland?
What place would you like to re-visit?
Do you like trying out breweries?

4 comments:

  1. Ireland is so beautiful and definitely on my list!

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  2. I have been to Ireland twice, and would go back in a heartbeat. I've spent time in Dublin, Galway, Cork, Doolin, and Killarney, and have visited the Cliffs of Moher and Blarney... and would still return. I just found it such a pleasant/easy place, with no trouble getting around or stress. Everyone so kind. I think Galway is my fave out of all, lively but still quaint at the same time... though I stayed at A B&B between the Cliffs and Doolin that was absolutely gorgeous and does rival that as well.

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  3. My mom and dad are going to Ireland for a week and a half this September for her dream trip. She has literally been promised this trip since she turned 50. She is turning 65 this year (and it is their 40th anniversary). I am so excited for her to get to experience this!

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