week two on the emerald isle

Read about week one here.

DAY EIGHT

 

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From Cork, we traveled to Blarney. Initially, we didn’t plan to stop in Blarney,  but it was only a 20 minute drive from Cork, so, why not?

I’m so glad we visited Blarney. It was our second favorite city on our trip! Blarney is a perfect representation of an idyllic, small Irish town. Except it draws some of the largest crowds due to the famous Blarney stone and castle.

We shopped at Blarney Woolen Mills first, picking out Christmas gifts and souvenirs. Don’t even bother with any other store in Ireland, just go straight to Blarney Mills for the best quality and best selection of Irish goods.

Then we explored Blarney Castle and its grounds. A tour bus pulled in right after us, so we let them go ahead to the castle while we walked around the grounds. There was a poisonous plant garden, a private estate, a fern garden, witchy/pagan folklore sites and gorgeous scenery. Seriously, do not skip Blarney.

We DID kiss the stone after chickening out the first time up to the top. You can’t go all the way to Ireland and NOT kiss the stone. From Blarney, we drove into Killarney where we stayed the night.

Dinner was underwhelming. We found a cozy pub, but that was the extent of our luck in Killarney.

We did not enjoy Killarney. This might be because we stayed overnight on a Friday, so the bar scene was very lively (and LOUD.) We got no sleep because our room was stifling hot, so we had to open a window which let in street noise. Our hotel was across the street from a bar called The Shire. On top of that, the fire alarm went off, so, not a great night.

DAY NINE

 

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Killarney redeemed itself this morning. We went to a lovely mass at a friary next-door to the hotel. Then we discovered Killarney National Park, which, if you’re gonna go to Killarney, just skip the city and go straight to the park because it is gorgeous. I really wish we had more time to spend in the park.

Chris was on the hunt for pottery at the Muckross House, which led us to the national park. While we didn’t buy any pottery, we did enjoy walking around the park a bit and seeing wild red stag.

On our way into Dingle, we stopped at Ross Castle. It was the only castle we visited that was refurbished and furnished with period-style pieces. Very cool.

We drove through Connor’s Pass into Dingle which was a pretty drive but very eerie. Unbeknownst to us, a hurricane was about to hit Ireland and we were driving on one of the narrowest, most dangerous roads on Ireland’s west coast. Fun! But it was worth it because Dingle is an amazing, charming little town that absolutely stole our hearts. We would’ve stayed in Dingle all week if we could. Even in a hurricane, it was beautiful.

Our bed and breakfast had homemade chocolate cake with homemade whipped cream and hot coffee waiting for us. Then we went out for dinner and a pint.

Everything in Dingle was better: the food, the people, the beer, the pubs, the shops, the scenery. Every bar had live trad and we even saw an impromptu Irish step dance!

DAY TEN

 

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Y’all. The breakfast at Heaton’s Guesthouse might be the best in all of Ireland. It was definitely the best I had on our trip. Just look at that bagel!

The hurricane hit pretty early. Luckily, we made it to the store in time to stock up on some snacks and drinks. The entire town shut down until about 6 o’clock at night when, thank God, two pubs opened up again. We walked over to Murphy’s and for the first and only time on our trip, waited for a seat at the bar. A pretty uneventful day, but a nice excuse to relax and catch up on sleep after a busy nine days.

DAY ELEVEN

 

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This day was bea.u.ti.ful. You’d never know a hurricane hit the night before. Perfect for our rescheduled horse ride, which was my favorite thing we did in Ireland.

We drove 10 minutes down the road to Ventry for a horseback ride through the countryside and on the beach. The sun was shining brightly; it was a mild 50 degrees; and our hosts were incredibly cheerful. It felt like a dream riding our horses along the beach. That was a bucket list item for me. ✔️

Back in town, we ate seafood at a nearby pub and, again, listened to some Trad. Dingle is just lovely.

DAY TWELVE

 

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Sadly, our last day in Dingle. However, it was another gorgeous day so we hung out a bit longer to do some shopping and really explore the town. We found some great little shops like Dingle Candle Co. and Original Kerry Craft.

Then we headed off to Limerick. This drive was a doozy, but we put on a podcast (thanks Joe Rogan for always being entertaining) and tried to enjoy the scenery.

Once we checked into the hotel in Limerick (so swanky! we had our own balcony!), we headed out for dinner and a drink. We found the best little pub a block from our hotel with Irish step dancing and live music.

DAY THIRTEEN

 

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Since we just spent one night in Limerick, we did most of our sightseeing today. First stop: King John’s castle. The exhibit was really impressive, as was the castle. It was a Viking port and the sight of volatile history between the Vikings and Irish. We were amazed at the castle’s size and condition.

We ventured on to see St. Munchin’s church and then grabbed a bite to eat at our favorite little pub, The Locke Bar. The fisherman’s pie was incredible. With full stomachs, we walked around the heart of the city a bit more, but had to get going since we were meeting our Airbnb hosts in Galway that evening AND we wanted to see the Cliffs of Moher on our way.

After getting settled in our apartment in Galway, we walked 20 minutes into the bustling city center for tapas. While we waited to be seated, we got a beer at a nearby pub that had a roaring fire. 🙌🏼 I don’t think I’ve mentioned this, but it was very chilly during our whole trip. The tapas restaurant was dark and cozy and so, so good.

DAY FOURTEEN

 

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Our first full day in Galway was indeed a full day. We walked in circles about five times trying to get our bearings but once we did, we really like the city. My favorite store was this quirky shop called My Granny Likes It. We also found some good vintage stores and a neat little Tex-Mex place. Every street was lined with cobblestones and felt very old world yet modern at the same time. I really liked the mix of old and new in Galway.

We went back to our apartment to drop off bags and chill, then headed out for pizza and some pints. The atmosphere felt more laid back than Killarney but the party scene was definitely present on a Thursday night. We really enjoyed The King’s Head pub for its size and, of course, the live Trad.

DAY FIFTEEN

 

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Back to Dublin we go. We made a quick stop in Tullamore to check out the distillery, but with a three hour drive ahead, we pretty much just chugged along. In Dublin, we departed with dear Patsy, our trusty car who took us around and through and over many roundabouts in southern Ireland.

We splurged for our last night and stayed in the very hip Dean hotel. Our room had a record player and Netflix. Score! We hit up some stores and sights we didn’t fit in the first time, then got dinner at a Thai place nearby. We were pretty burnt out on fried fish and fries, er, chips.

Our last night in Dublin turned out to be one of the most meaningful. We started chatting with a couple next to us at the hotel bar and ended up talking to them for three more hours! They lived in County Kerry and were super friendly and interesting and warm. A wonderful way to end the trip. Not so wonderful was the noise from the club next-door that filtered into our room, but it was nothing compared to Killarney. 😜

At the end of two weeks, we were definitely ready to come home. We missed the dogs, and light switches that made sense, and salads and our bed. But I do wish we could’ve brought Patsy to the States with us. He was such a good travel companion.😉

Please leave any questions or comments below! Thanks for following our journey!

I also wrote about our Irish road trip for TravelChannel.com.

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