Ireland

Ever buy a Groupon for a trip?? Well, I did and it wasn’t bad. I would definitely research the company the Groupon is for though. It’s basically like buying a discount through a travel agency. The one I found was with Great Value Vacations. The reviews were decent, the trip came with a website to book our own 3 or 4 star B&B anywhere in the country, the flight, and a rental car. We paid the upgrade to have an automatic car–driving on the opposite side of the road would be enough of a challenge!

So the planning began after we purchased the groupon. Once we knew where we wanted to go and what we wanted to see we booked our B&B through http://bandbireland.com

The flight was direct from JFK to Dublin on Aer Lingus, which ended up being a nice way to go. We arrived in Dublin at 7 am, got our car and headed out. The company had booked a hotel for us in Dublin (just that one night) so we went there and took the train into the city. We were there on a Friday and by 11 am people were out drinking and ready to start their weekends. We were dragging, but only had the one day in Dublin so we pushed on. We did our own walking tour seeing the Dublin Castle, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, The Spire, and Trinity College Library. Once we finished walking around we ventured over to the famous Temple Bar, got some food, and then enjoyed some Guinness and Jameson. Actually, neither of these are my type of drinks, but when in Rome …. We stayed there for a bit and then did our own pub crawl…which wasn’t hard since every other place there was a pub. We definitely enjoyed ourselves and then it was back to our hotel to catch up on some sleep.

We started off the next morning and headed to our next stop which was Kilkenny, about 2 hours from Dublin. We walked around and got to see Kilkenny castle (great place to picnic or relax on the grass), Black Abbey, and St. Canice’s Cathedral.

Kilkenny Castle
Outside St. Canine’s Cathedral
Inside St Canice’s Cathedral

At St. Canice’s Cathedral we climbed the round tower, which happens to be is the oldest standing structure in Kilkenny City. At the top we got great views of the city. St Canice’s Round Tower is one of only two Round Towers that people can climb in Ireland, but if you have a problem with claustrophobia, I would advice against it. It was definitely a small space until you got to the top.

View from the Round Tower
The climb up the Tower

And then of course we finished up our Kilkenny tour by doing a pub crawl of our own, including stopping at the Hole in the Wall bar, which lived up to it’s name! This time we opted for some lighter Irish beer and had Smithwicks Ale. Again, I’m more of a vodka person, but when in Rome. We then went to our first B&B which was a lovely experience. We stayed at The Heron’s Cover (Goleen, Cork, P81, FT51). Now, don’t get there hungry because the only close restaurant closes for dinner around 5 pm. And they tried to accommodate us when we asked for some sort of sandwich…but it wasn’t pleasant. The actual B&B was great! Amazing views and very hospitable owners. See below

The next morning we started off and headed to the Jameson Distillery Experience in Midleton, Cork. It was a guided tour, a film, and a glass of Jameson https://www.jamesonwhiskey.com/en-US/visit-us/jameson-distillery-midleton/jdm-our-experiences/jameson-experience

It was a fun experience, and after that it was off for a quick bite in the town of Cork and then off to the Ring of Kerry.

Cork

We did a bunch of hiking at the Ring of Kerry and then we went to Dingle where we spent the night. I don’t remember the B&B we stayed at, but I think we were only there for about 5 hours to sleep and out the door. That night we discovered the local pub. Apparently in Ireland, laws are grey. So if a pub closes at 11 pm but isn’t causing any problems it’s open until whenever. I believe this was also the night we discovered Dingle Vodka. We were told about this pub ‘The Mighty Session’ which was packed with everyone from the neighborhood it seemed! They played live music until around 4 am, with everyone singing along, even arm in arm and swaying. It was the ultimate Ireland experience and everyone we met was so nice.

It was rough heading out that next morning but there was much to explore at this coastal town. There was a lot of driving around and getting out to take photos, but driving here was kind of scary. These roads were two way roads and 40 mph!! See below

From Dingle we took a ferry (that you can transport cars on) to avoid a 3 and 1/2 hour drive to the Cliffs of Moher. This is a can’t miss in Ireland and when you look at the photos below you’ll see why:

You should probably listen to the signs and NOT do this and give your mother a heart attack!! Sorry mom!

We stayed at a B&B (also non memorable) right by the Cliffs which was nice because we were exhausted!

On our last day we headed over to Galway and explored there. We didn’t have a lot of time because we eventually had to get back to Dublin (3 hour drive) for our flight that evening, but it was definitely a cute little town that needed more exploring. We didn’t get to see Kylemore Abbey and the Aran Islands, which I would have loved to judging by photos I’ve seen. Additionally, I would recommend spending more time at each town I stopped in and allotting time to go to Northern Ireland. I’ve heard amazing things about it’s beauty.