Ireland, Part I

Erin and I are one week in to our two weeks in Ireland, and it’s been amazing.  I’ve enjoyed seeing this beautiful country, and being a part of this special trip for my friend.  Ireland has waited a long time for her, and it’s just so great to be part of the discovery.  To add to the magic, we’ve had sunshine just about every day since we’ve been here, and it looks like that’s going to continue.  The luck of the Irish is indeed with us.

We landed in Dublin and met up at the airport, getting our rental car and having a quick lunch before our drive to Kilkenny.  This was my introduction to the driver’s seat on the right side of the car, and driving on the left side of the road, and holy hell, people.  So far, so good, and I’m getting used to it, with the exception of the super narrow backroads where cars pass each other going 100 kilometers per hour, with side mirrors passing by inches.

Our first stop was Kilkenny, which is the area from where Erin’s paternal family lived several generations back.  This would be the start of what has become Erin’s addiction to Irish scones, specifically the raisin variety.  Fortunately, we’ve been able to find them most places we’ve gone, otherwise she might go through withdrawls.  We visited St. Canice’s Cathedral, and went to the top of the round tower for a view over the town, and where we learned that one of the bishop’s of the area was President Obama’s great, great, great uncle, so Erin and I got a kick out of that.  We visited other sites in town, and then made the trek to go find her the family farm of her great, great, great grandfather.  This was literally going to a town close by, and asking around in the local pubs to find someone who could tell us where it would be.  Yes, really.  And the amazing thing, is after two pubs, finding one Martin John, and then by complete chance, his father out on the side of the road when we got lost, we found the property.   Complete with a renovated old house and dilapidated barn, in some incredible lush green countyside.  The holy grail, in a way.

After Kilkenny, we drove west to Cashel, to visit the Rock of Cashel, and neither one of us expected how amazing that turned out to be.  We took the guided tour, which was fascinating, where we got another piece of the tapestry that makes up the history of this country.   From there, we drove first to Cobn, and visited the Titanic museum, which was so interesting to see in person, particularly since the same building and dock are in place where the final passengers left to board the ship. We then made our way to Kinsale, which is this charming town on a harbor, with a beautiful marina, and postcard perfect little streets and alleys, full of shops, cafes, and pubs.  The entry to the harbor from the ocean has two old forts on either side, and we visited Charles Fort, which is huge and fairly well presevered.  We opted to take the recommended guided tour, and this was a huge highlight of the trip thus far, as Barry just made it so interesting and lively.

Two days in Kinsale passed all too quickly, and it was on to Killarney, where we’ve spent three nights at the beautiful Lake Hotel, right on a gorgeous lake with mountains across the water, and resident deer and swans to paint the perfect picture of tranquility.  We made two day trips, one around the Ring of Kerry, and the other around the Dingle Pennisula, both with stunning views and so many places to get glimpses of the history of this place.

Today we leave for Shannon, where we’ll spend two nights in a country B&B, and after that’s it’s up to Galway for four nights, including a stay in a castle, before heading to Dublin for our last two nights.

It’s been an incredible trip thus far, and may the magic continue!

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