Skip to content

7 (Not So) Quick Takes Friday (vol. 23)

Three weeks ago I went on one of the best vacations I’ve ever had. My husband and I traveled to Ireland for 9 days with my sister and brother-in-law. I was beyond excited to explore the country and to spend time with my sister and her husband.

I completely fell in love with Ireland on this trip, and it was really hard to pick just 7 highlights so each one is long.

— 1 —

Driving. 

Our first rental car was hilariously small for four adults and three full-size suitcases. In the back seat, my sister and I were squished together so tightly our hip bones were touching.

tiny car
The very tiny car

Once we realized this was never going to work, we upgraded to a larger vehicle. I call it the bigger tiny car. It was very compact, but the perfect size for all of our luggage and gave us plenty of room in the back seat. This was critical because we spent a lot of time in the car driving from one town to the next.

bigger, tiny car
The bigger tiny car

We traveled from Dublin to Doolin, Doolin to Dingle, Dingle to Wexford, and then Wexford back to Dublin. Each of us took turns driving one leg of the trip. It was an experience driving on the left side of those tiny roads!

Cassie driving on Connor's Pass in Dingle. Yes, that is a two-way road with a huge cliff drop off that you can barely see on the right. It was barely wide enough to be a bike trail and you couldn't see around the corner. I know it was stressful for her, but the view to the right was breathtaking.
Driving on Connor’s Pass in Dingle. Yes, that is a two-way road with a huge cliff drop off that you can barely see on the right. It was hardly wide enough to be a bike trail and you couldn’t see around the corner. I know it was stressful for my sis because she was driving, but the view to the right was breathtaking.
Oh, did I not mention the road was also covered in livestock?
Oh, did I not mention the road was also covered in livestock?
Or that there were falling rocks?
Or that there were falling rocks?
Or other cars going in the opposite direction?
Or other cars going in the opposite direction?

We had several maps, and even stopped and looked at some additional maps in information centers and gas stations. None of them had the minor roads labeled, so it would look like we were supposed to take the next left, and yet there were actually four roads before the left turn we needed to take.

Mark consulting his GPS and comparing it to the maps.
Mark consulting his GPS and comparing it to the maps.

Add that to the lack of addresses (yes, there were no addresses for any of the places we were staying except in Dublin) and the cryptic directions we would receive when we stopped to ask the locals (“Just up the road over the bridge”) and you can imagine how many times we got lost.

Here are some pictures I took at an old cemetery, one of the places we stopped when we were very, very lost. We were looking for a historical site and wound up there instead.

Kerry County Burial Ground
Kerry County Burial Ground

Kerry County Burial Ground, Grave Site

Also, much like other places we’ve visited in Europe, parking on the sidewalk is a-ok.

Hulking out. I'm pretty sure he could pick that car up and move it.
I’m pretty sure he could pick that car up and move it.

Driving was definitely an adventure.

— 2 —

Historical sites.

The first historical site we made it to was the Gallarus Oratory. It is an early Christian church built sometime between the 6th and 9th century, made exclusively of sandstone.

The entrance to Gallarus Oratory.
My sis standing in the entrance to Gallarus Oratory. Of course it was raining because Ireland.

 

My husband and bro-in-law in front of the Gallarus Oratory.
My husband and bro-in-law in front of the Gallarus Oratory.

 

A grave stone next to the church.
A grave stone next to the church.
A widow inside the church.
A window inside the church, carved out of sandstone.
The ceiling inside the church, where the stones come to a point.
The ceiling inside, where the stones come to a point. We stood inside for a while to escape the downpour, and it was barely leaking. I was impressed!

Seeing this structure, knowing it was built without the benefit of heavy machinery and tools, made me appreciate the intelligence and ingenuity of our ancestors.

We joked amongst ourselves that something like this would be roped off to view from a distance in the United States. We were allowed to explore, go inside, and even touch this structure unsupervised, which made it seem a lot less like a tourist attraction and more like a piece of history we were immersed in.

Dunbeg Fort was a little more touristy, meaning some parts were fenced in and off limits, but the view was incredible.

Prehistoric Dunbeg Fort

The fort
The fort
Facing the ocean at Dunbeg Fort (Fort directly behind)
Facing the ocean at Dunbeg Fort (Fort directly behind). I think he’s taking video of the water hitting the cliffs.

The View at Dunbeg Fort

Waterfall view

View to the right

My new friend
My new friend

— 3 —

The beach.

We stumbled across this beach as we were driving from one destination to the next, and I’m so glad we stopped. We had a blast exploring it.

The Beach

That husband of mine, making me nervous by climbing on the slippery rocks. ;-)
That husband of mine, climbing on the slippery rocks while I hold my breath and bite my tongue. 😉
Beautiful turquoise color in the rock formations.
Beautiful turquoise color in the rock formations.
The rocks closer to the water were covered in mussels, which coincidentally tried for the first time at dinner the night before.
The rocks closer to the water were covered in mussels, which I tried for the first time at dinner the night before.

— 4 —

The churches.

We visited two more churches while we were in Ireland. The first one, and probably my favorite of the two, is St. Mary’s in Dingle. We went to Mass there on Sunday and it was beautiful. It felt very homey with lots of history.

IMG_4200

St. Mary's in Dingle

IMG_4198

It was dimly lit, so my phone didn’t capture great pictures inside.

The second day we were in Dublin, we toured St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It was very ornate and there was more to see than we could possibly take in during one visit.

St. Patricks' Cathedral in Dublin
St. Patricks’ Cathedral in Dublin

The Vicarage

One thing I wasn’t a big fan of was the gift shop. They had a gift shop set up in the entryway of the church, and it was so touristy. I was hoping to get holy water or Saint Patrick medals for some family and friends back home, but they didn’t have any. They did, however, have a surplus of shamrock coffee mugs. 😉
St. Patrick's Cathedral - The Altar

Chairs and kneelers in the cathedral
Chairs and kneelers in the cathedral

— 5 —

Hike to Cliffs of Moher.

One of the best parts of the trip was the 2 hour hike from Doolin to the Cliffs of Moher.

The start of our journey to the cliffs. We are nearly level with the ocean.
The start of our journey to the cliffs. We are nearly level with the ocean. Notice the fence is to keep us out of the farm, not to protect us from falling off the edge of the cliff. My bro-in-law kindly pointed out that 7 people die each year falling off the cliffs.

The trail

The scenery kept getting more and more beautiful as the hike progressed.
The scenery kept getting more and more beautiful as the hike progressed. Getting a bit higher up.
This is where the trail was washed away due to heavy rains the night before, leaving us to cross a stream that dropped off to the cliffs on one side. We attempted some of our own workarounds and it did not go well. Then a trail guide and tour group caught up to us and the guide fixed the trail and helped everyone across.
This is where the trail was washed away due to heavy rains the night before, leaving us to cross a stream that dropped off to the cliffs on one side. We attempted some of our own workarounds and it did not go well. Then a trail guide and tour group caught up to us and the guide fixed the trail and helped everyone across.
Hiking in Ireland
The town we came from, looking pretty tiny in the distance.

Cliffs of Moher

Near the top of the cliffs
Near the top of the cliffs
I'm so glad we hiked to the top rather than driving or taking a tour bus. The view was that much more rewarding and beautiful.
I’m so glad we hiked to the top rather than driving or taking a tour bus. The view was that much more rewarding and beautiful. I can’t recommend the hike enough.
Standing by the edge because why not
Standing by the edge because why not

— 6 —

Rathaspeck Manor.

We went back and forth about staying at this B&B before we left because the location was kind of out of the way, but I’m so happy we took the detour to visit Wexford. Not only did we have the best meal we had in Ireland at The Yard, but we got to stay at the charming Rathaspeck Manor.

Rathaspeck Manor

Sitting area
Sitting area between our two rooms
Our key
The key to our room

Our room

Where I got ready in the morning, as slowly as possible because I never wanted to leave ;-)
Where I got ready in the morning, as slowly as possible because I never wanted to leave 😉
Fireplace in the dining room
Fireplace in the dining room
My omelet
My omelet
Everyone else drank coffee, so I had this adorable teapot all to myself.
Everyone else drank coffee, so I had this adorable teapot all to myself.

Of all the hotels and B&B’s I’ve visited, this was by far my favorite. Think Downton Abbey meets a castle.

— 7 —

The company.

My favorite part of our vacation was the quality time I got to spend with my husband, sister, and brother-in-law.

At a pub in Dingle, where we tried our first ever "baby Guinness" which was delicious.
At a pub in Dingle, where we tried our first ever “baby Guinness” which was delicious.

We were trying to remember the last time we spent 9 days together, and I think it was when she was a sophomore and I was a senior in high school. I won’t share how long ago that was. Let’s just say we were long overdue. 😉

Sisters <3
Sisters <3
Listening to Misty Mountain from LOTR on a misty mountain (Mount Brandon)
Listening to Misty Mountain from LOTR on a misty mountain (Mount Brandon) while recording a video of the experience. I’m pretty sure Mark is singing along here, too.
All of us on Mount Brandon
All of us on Mount Brandon. Disappointed we couldn’t go to the top due to weather, but it was still a fun hike.
Lunch at the most adorable cafe overlooking the ocean
Lunch at the most adorable cafe overlooking the ocean. The owner told us during the summer they saw lots of whales from where we sat.
At the top of the Blarney Castle
At the top of the Blarney Castle

So thankful we got to go on such an amazing trip with family!

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t The Lyceum.

 

2 Comments

  1. Amazing pictures, what an amazing trip!!!! Loved the beautiful scenery. I want to go back!!! 🙂 I have definitely had scary experiences driving in Ireland…lol. So glad you go to spend so much time with family.

    • Adri Adri

      Thanks, Mary Beth! It was incredible. Glad to be back home, too. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Tweet
Pin
Share
Share
%d bloggers like this: