After a long plane ride on Aer Lingus, we arrived in Dublin at 8:30 am ready for a full day. We stayed at Jury’s Inn Christchurch with a view of Christchurch Cathedral right in the center of Dublin. We spent a long day wandering around the streets of the city, trying to get acquainted with the area. We visited Trinity College, the Temple Bar area, and Grafton Street, which was Erin and Terry’s favorite. We also toured the Guinness factory where Erin and Colin had their first pints of Guinness. Later we walked through the beautiful grounds of St. Stephen’s Green. We had our first official Irish meal at a pub in Dublin. After a full day of sightseeing and little sleep we fell soundly asleep amazed that there were no screens on the windows of the hotel.
We got up early the second day to go pick up our rental car at the airport. After shoving our luggage in the trunk of the BMW, and getting a few driving pointers from a nice taxi driver, we took off for the Hill of Tara. Terry was at the wheel with Colin as the navigator, with Erin and Jody safely relegated to the backseat where they could do minimal damage. After a few trips around the round-a-bout at the airport we were on our way. We toured Tara, took pictures with the Stone of Destiny, saw our first real Irish shamrocks and had tea at the gift shop with some gypsies. Afterwards we headed south to Kilkenny. This was one of our favorite places. We stayed at the Butler House on the castle grounds, (a hotel we highly recommend). We shopped, listened to music, toured the castle and ate at a great restaurant called Pordylos. We also stopped for a drink at a pub called the “Paris Texas,” which may be one of the only establishments in Ireland to fly the Irish, American, and Texas flag. The next morning we were off to Adare.
On our way to Adare, we stopped at Cashel for lunch and a tour of the Rock of Cashel with the ruin of an old church. This may have been the most impressive historical ruin that we saw during our trip. In Adare we stayed at our only B&B, the Berkeley Lodge. We highly recommend this place. This is where we had the best cup of coffee of our entire trip. Jody and Terry kept trying every morning but Erin and Colin gave up on coffee early in the trip and asked for tea. Adare is also where we saw some of the thatched roofs that are so famous in Ireland. The next morning our fishing guide, Paddy Dunsworth, met us at the B&B and we headed off to Glasha Lake for a day of fly fishing lessons. Paddy is the consummate Ghillie, even being named Top Ghillie in Ireland in the September 2005 issue of Irish Angler magazine. He was very professional and helpful and even packed a lunch for us all. Paddy is an untapped resource for vacationers. You can find more information about Paddy on his website www.celticangling.com . This was one of our most peaceful days, just being in nature and enjoying the Irish countryside. Jody is the only one who actually caught a fish, but we all still had a really great time.
The plan was then to head south to Kinsale. By the time we got to Cork it was getting late and we were heading back to Blarney the next morning so we decided to stop in Cork. We found the Lexington Hotel after getting lost in the city and were very happy with the rooms.
Blarney was another of our favorites. Besides kissing the stone (which a couple of family members didn’t really need), we found the grounds beautiful. The weather was great and we spent a great deal of time in Blarney, both around the castle and walking the grounds.
That afternoon we headed to Cobh. This was an interesting place to stop, because it was actually the last place that the Titanic stopped before hitting the iceberg. We wandered around the town and decided to find some lunch. We had a little trouble, because it seemed that every pub we went into only served alcohol. Colin’s favorite part of the entire day was walking into a pub and seeing a 70 year old Irishman completely drunk, singing a popular Eminem song, and grabbing the backside of a young woman sitting next to him .We followed that trip with a drive to Waterford where we stayed in a hotel close to the city center. That night we walked into the downtown area for dinner at the Wine Vault which was excellent although Jody said he would probably not order octopus next time. We shopped afterward and ended up at T&H’s pub on the recommendation of one of the shop girls, where we listened to Irish/Blue Grass music. It is the custom of this pub to put foreign currency up on the walls with signatures.
Encouraged by a few glasses of wine, Terry and Erin signed their names to a dollar bill which is now hanging on the wall of T&H’s. Jody and Erin stayed out later than Terry and Colin, and on their walk back Jody was actually propositioned. It made his night. (By the way Jody objects to the word “actually” as it connotes that everyone should be surprised by this).
The next morning we toured the crystal factory. We’ve always thought Waterford crystal was beautiful, but we developed a better appreciation for what goes into making crystal after seeing the workers and hearing more about the process. We shopped a bit at the factory, before heading off to Enniscorthy and Vinegar Hill. Jody’s great, great, great grandfather fought at the Battle of Vinegar Hill and was one of the few to survive. It was awe inspiring for Jody, Erin and Colin to stand on the same hill where one of their ancestors stood.
The night was spent at Glen Art Castle Hotel outside Arklow. Erin and Colin loved the idea of staying in a castle, but Terry was less than pleased with the establishment. While the place has lots of potential, it left some to be desired. We perhaps lack the ability to recognize the quaintness of a 17th century castle decorated in oriental motif. Maybe it’s just us.
The next morning we headed back to Dublin for our last night. We walked around the City Centre once more, did some more shopping, saw St. Patrick’s cathedral and ate a wonderful meal at the Mermaid Cafe. No one was ready to board the plane the next day and we have all agreed that we need another Ireland vacation soon. Next time we’ll hit the west seeing Kerry and Mayo and maybe Antrim, since these are places where our ancestors lived.
In summary we had a great time although we were a bit shocked at the increased prices relative to the U.S, but as dutiful tourists we spent a lot and firmly believe that we are responsible for a portion of the economic boom that is currently occurring in Ireland.
Everyone told us that we should go to Ireland and they were right.
Terry Barnard, 11/30/2005