The A Paris Travel Blog
My company, A Paris Travel specializes in arranging tours in France and Britain. I also arrange tours in the Republic of Ireland, Holland, Belgium, and Switzerland. My goal in these pages is to share my thoughts and ideas on traveling in France and Britain, and the other European countries where I arrange tours and other travel services.
My Ireland Vacation
Ireland! Ahhhhh! Fair Ireland! Where to begin with our trip. A picture is worth a thousand words, so I’ll include some pictures to show you some of the places we visited. My husband, Dave, earned a HUGE GOLD STAR for driving on the opposite side of the road (I won’t call it left or wrong, but just opposite!!!) and when we next return to Ireland, we’ll take trains and buses and more day tours or stay put longer in areas to do that, so that he won’t have to drive! He was awesome and “Lucille”, our GPS was infallible, but we just were rather overwhelmed at the very small roads and the speed of the drivers! I'm sure I was a distraction with my contortions as he drove (he's a very excellent driver, I must add!), but it was admittedly most disconcerting to have the hedges inches from the side of the car and behind those hedges were ancient stone walls!
Our weather was a mixture of everything (best weather was in Cobh at the beginning and as we departed Galway) during our holiday. However, we’re accustomed to this in the Northwest, so the weather didn’t dampen our spirits ever. Our one very rainy day was while we were staying in Galway City, so it was kinda nice to have a “down day” to sip warm tea, munch on warm scones, shop, and slow down a bit!
We loved the Bed and Breakfasts where we stayed along the way and we didn’t have a bad experience. Had I known the towns better, I would have selected places more “in town”, but generally we could walk in the evenings or else it meant only a short drive! The pubs were enchanting and we never had enough of the music…and only long for more. The best music was in the first place we had dinner in Kilkenny our first night in Ireland. I could have stayed all night listening to that pub music! Ahhh....Ireland!
The Rock of Cashel was really special and impressive! We were super cold and I got a cute hat and mittens , but we enjoyed our visit there and got the Heritage Card for Ireland that we used throughout the country for entrances to many of the national monuments and historic properties that we visited.
We really enjoyed Cobh so much and could almost feel my father's descendants (the Mahoneys) surrounding me there. They had come from County Cork. That I do know and I saw a realtor with that name on many buildings, so I might write him. In any case, the Titanic Trail walking tour there was splendid and Dave and I toured the Heritage Center that was very well done. It was fascinating and spooky to imagine what the folks experienced departing Ireland for places unknown and how it divided families to the extent that they actually gave them wakes when they left, since they knew they’d likely never return (if they even made it to America)! It also was interesting to learn of Cobh’s links to the Titanic (last stop was Cobh) and the Lusitania that sunk just off Ireland (I didn’t realize that!).
We didn’t kiss the Blarney Stone, but we climbed to the top (I just couldn’t get myself to lie down on those bars…I don’t like heights, but easily climbed up, so what the heck!). I’m just rambling so go with me and I know that I’ll forget things along the way, but hopefully you’ll get a feel for what we felt! Loved walking the castle park and glad we went there.
Oh I must say now and forever that the Irish people are the most wondrous group of friendly, loving, kind, helpful, beautiful individuals that I’ve ever met…from start to finish and what a claim to fame for a country to possess! Ireland is famous for this and it’s absolutely enchanting and special to experience. We couldn’t stop talking about how super each personal experience was and the people of Ireland are truly its greatest asset.
Okay…back to verbal rambling. Are ya with me? Killarney was lovely and we would really like to explore the National Park more. Lakes, serene landscape, and many trails await us! The Muckross House was very special and the tour extraordinarily well done. It is a treasure of a mansion with a lovely story and the property is beautiful!
Food! We really enjoyed the food, but had to tell the waitresses to hold off on the extra two potatoes that they’d often bring along with the shepherd’s pie, Irish stew, or lasagna! YIKES…I mean, we love to eat, but those were too much! The full Irish breakfasts surely filled our tummies and we didn’t get adventurous enough to try the black or white pudding! However, we sure ate well! Dave and I are NOT beer drinkers (sorry, but we are not!), but managed just fine and didn’t get strange looks. I liked the Bulmers Cider, so that was my drink of choice in the pubs!
We drove the Dingle Peninsula (well Sharon and I rode and Dave concentrated on getting us around it!). It was really fantastic and so happy that we didn’t have too much traffic en route. The vistas were breath-taking (literally, figuratively, emotionally, and drivingly!!!! I felt very secure when we were stuck tucked behind a bus since it felt like he was running interference for oncoming traffic).
We did try the easiest suggested walk in The Burren, but it was early in the day and not a living soul was around and we frankly were afraid that we’d get lost. The signage seemed poor and it was so spooky, desolate, empty, and stark that we thought it best to return while we all knew the way back to the car! The National Parks aren’t set up the same as over here and we needed to be equipped with better trail maps next time (or at least more knowledge!). In any case, we got a feel for the area and then we were off to on our next adventure.
The Cliffs of Mohrer were truly awesomely fantabulous!!!! Love, love, loved that area! Would like to return and do some hiking there and around that county!
We enjoyed our Medieval feast evening and Dungaire Castle. The entertainers were excellent and the food superb! Such fun to be there and I could only imagine the history and stories and lives of early inhabitants and that made it fun! I even bought shamrock earrings there as a souvenir!!!! I get compliments each time I wear them! Well worth a visit!
We had a lovely time in Galway City and our hosts in our B&B were so special! Our hosts, Mary and Martin couldn’t have been cuter. When Dave and I went out in the evening, Martin insisted on driving Dave and me into town (a place I should have booked more in the center of Galway City, though we wouldn’t have met this darling family!). They were delightful. I believe Dave’s favorite day was when we took a minivan tour from Galway City to Connemara National Park and Kylemore Abbey (oh my heavens…gorgeous or what!!). The weather was perfect and the tour was excellent from the sheep, to the Abbey, to the dreamy countryside, to John Wayne’s “Quiet Man” Cong, to leaving-the-driving-to-someone-else---twas a perfect day!!!!!
Then it was off to Dublin…really a delightful city of young people, vibrant spirit, lively pubs, and interesting history! We enjoyed our “Literary Pub Crawl” that was hosted by two very animated and well-read actors who really did a wonderful job. We did the Guinness tour (just because we “had” to, but as I mentioned, we’re not beer drinkers, so it didn’t enthrall us!), but Trinity College’s library and Book of Kells --- now that’s another matter! What a thrill to see that and the entire library was just amazing. I loved the atmosphere there and could once again only imagine the history in the walls…if they could talk! The tour of the Kilmainham Jail was really neat and since our return, we’ve been glued to Irish movies (including “In the Name of the Father” that was actually partly filmed in Kilmainham, “Waking Ned Devine” that we’d seen way back, “A Shine of Rainbows” that captured our hearts…and we’re going to watch “Commitments” tonight!!!).
Let us help you plan your tour to Ireland and help make it as memorable as ours.
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