week one on the emerald isle

Helllloooooo! It’s been three and half months since Chris and I got back from our two-week long road trip through southern Ireland. I believe I owe you all an update on our whirlwind adventure, so here goes!

DAY ONE

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We arrived in Dublin at 4:45 a.m. local time. After a mini-freak out over the ATM machine not working, we got in a cab and made our way into town. Of course, our room was not ready at 5:30 in the morning, so we spent the next several hours exploring Dublin. It wasn’t pretty in the wee hours on a Sunday, but by noon the trash and broken glass was cleaned and the Saturday night revelers made it home.

We went to mass at a quiet little church not far from the hotel. It was a lovely way to start the trip.

Then we ate a real, proper breakfast at Taste Food Company. I had the best tea I’ve ever tasted. Then we did a little shopping, took a nap, grabbed a drink at Temple Bar and went out to meet my aunt, uncle and cousins for dinner at The Storehouse. They happened to be in Dublin at the same time as us!

DAY TWO

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We slept in a bit and grabbed breakfast at a beautiful shop next door called Dollard and Co. on our way to the Guinness Storehouse. For me, the Guinness tour was the highlight of Dublin. I enjoyed it much more than I expected. The exhibits were interactive, engaging and informative. We’re even certified Guinness pourers now!

On our way back to “our side” of town, we stopped in The Brazen Head for a pint. It’s the oldest pub in Dublin. We walked past St. Patrick’s Cathedral unintentionally but tours had already ended so we didn’t go inside.

Later that night, we got a drink at the Stag’s Head and ate dinner at a nearby Italian place. I knew there would be plenty of fish and chips for the next week and a half.

DAY THREE

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Time to hit the road! We picked up our rental car and headed to Newgrange. Driving on the left side felt really weird and wrong. It took us a few days to get used to it and the car. Chris drove everywhere since I don’t know how to drive a stick shift. We made it to Newgrange alive, though, to tour the famed Neolithic passage tomb.

It was eerie standing in a stone structure that was older than the pyramids. The graffiti on the rocks are older than most of America!

After that, we drove to another historic site, the Hill of Tara. It’s said that the “Stone of Destiny” would scream if the rightful king of Ireland touched it. This was also where the high kinds of Ireland were crowned. The Hill of Tara has a complex and interesting history, which is worth a read.

Back in Dublin, we saw the Book of Kells at Trinity College, strolled through St. Stephen’s Green and ate ramen at Kokoro Bento’s The Ramen Bar. After dinner, we had drinks at a hip underground cocktail bar adjacent to our hotel.

DAY FOUR

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We headed out of Dublin for Wicklow National Park in Glendalough, about 30 minutes south of Dublin. The pictures of Wicklow don’t do it justice. My jaw dropped when we arrived at the lake. It had been raining nonstop for the entire ride and, no joke, as soon as we got out of the car and walked into the park, the rain stopped. We wanted to do a longer hike but, for the sake of time, only hiked for about an hour.

Next stop: Kilkenny. This was one of our favorite towns. Our hotel was situated perfectly, right on the water with a view of Kilkenny castle. We ate at Matt the Miller’s and got drinks at a Medieval inn called Kyteler’s. They had live music and a really cozy atmosphere. After that, we got dessert and a glass of wine at a tapas bar because, #vacation. It was funny because the waitress knew nothing about wine. There’s a reason the Irish are famous for their beer and whiskey, not vino. 😜

DAY FIVE

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After a good night’s sleep and a robust breakfast buffet, we wandered out to explore Kilkenny. Our first stop was the Kilkenny castle, the one we gazed at out of our hotel room the night before.

This castle blew me away. The expansive grounds were stunning (complete with a rose garden!) and seemingly endless front lawn. Inside, almost everything was restored to perfection. I was especially fond of the Asian-inspired wallpaper.

We shopped a little at a gallery across the street that carried local and regional artisan goods. Then, it was off to Waterford.

We only spent about three hours here, but I wish we could’ve stayed longer. Waterford sat right on the River Suir and it’s beautiful. Although the weather was dreary when we stopped, we enjoyed walking along the river. Of course, we stopped in the Waterford Crystal store, too. Unfortunately, that’s about all we did there. Chris fit in a tiny history lesson with a photo op in front of a Medieval Viking tower. On to Cork!

We arrived in Cork around dinner time, and, after getting settled in our Airbnb, headed out to find a pub. The Oliver Plunkett looked inviting enough, so we went in, ordered a Guinness and clam chowder and then headed back to get some shut-eye.

DAY SIX

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A bright new day in Cork! Our Airbnb host left bread, jam, butter and coffee for breakfast. Let me tell you, the Irish LOVE their bread and butter.

It was a day full of shopping, walking and exploring. We spent most of our time inside the English Market and popping in and out of stores and pubs in the city’s main hub. Tired of heavy, creamy Irish food, we cooked fish and broccoli that we picked up at the Market for dinner. It was rainy the whole time we were in Cork, so we took a break and stayed in this night.

DAY SEVEN

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On our last day in Cork, we did a bit more shopping and unexpectedly found two of our favorite bars in Ireland, The Oval Bar and the Franciscan Well Brewery & Brewpub (which had ah-mazing pizza straight from a brick pizza oven.) Where the Oval Bar felt like a truly authentic old Irish pub, the Franciscan Well felt more hip, like a cool beer garden you’d visit here in the States.

Next stop: Blarney, to start week two!

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