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Post Info TOPIC: 13 night Trip Report, May 2008 - with pictures


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13 night Trip Report, May 2008 - with pictures


Hi Michele and Everyone!  I typed up a trip report to post on *another travel site*, and to send to friends, but I also wanted to post it here, as I enjoy reading everyone's trip reports and found Michele's site to be helpfull (and fun) while planning our trip.

There might be a few references to others in my reports that don't make sense - sorry for that! :)

Report #1: Arriving, Hill of Tara, Kells, Strokestown Park

Ok, first installation of my trip report. We are - husband (Neal) and wife (me), mid (ahem) 30's, my second trip to Ireland (first was on a CIE tour with my mother), his first trip to Ireland.
May 17 - Arrived at Dublin airport on time, went thru customs and baggage claim without problem. Picked up our car at Hertz, we reserved a Nissan Micra or similar, they gave us a Ford Focus - which seemed HUGE!! We loaded up and headed out right away, over on the M50 up the N3 towards Kells. One scary moment with driving when we got onto the yellow roads (OSI Atlas) and we saw a car coming towards us, Neal's first reaction was to dive right, I screamed "STAY LEFT!!!", the car honked, we swerved and drove WIDE EYED for the rest of the day! :) BIG thank you to you locals who have to deal with us and your quick reaction time.

We found the Hill of Tara, seemed like less than an hour from the airport. It was a great first stop/sight. We got out of the car and ran up there like little kids (pretty common for us). The sun was out, the wind was strong and we could see forever. We kept pinching ourselves, trying to get it to sink in that we were finally in Ireland.

After a while, we hopped back in the car, took a slight detour around Navan, but ended up on the right track to Kells. We stayed at the Headfort Arms Hotel, Neal parked out front while I ran in and asked where to park, they directed me to a parking lot in the back, they buzz you in the gate. We were able to check in upon arrival, lots of hallways, stairways and a quick elevator ride to get to our room, but it was very nice. Everything was newly remodeled. We had a delicious lunch in the hotel's cafe, had our first Guinness and set out for a walk around town. I found a vodafone store and bought a SIM card. We took a look around the round tower and high crosses and started to get tired, so went back to the hotel for a nap. Woke up and went in search of dinner, Neal wanted fish and chips. We wandered into a bar and right away were branded as Americans. :) They didn't serve food, but directed us to a restaurant down the street called The Round Tower. We walked in, again the stares came and the question from the bartender "What part of the states are you from?" - apparently Kells doesn't get many tourists actually staying there overnight. This was confirmed again later. We had a nice meal, I had my first Bulmers, a few more pints another walk around town and we were ready for sleep.

Up the next day, breakfast was included in our room rate, Neal's first taste of the great brown bread - he was hooked. We headed out for Westport with a stop at Strokestown along the way. We drove through Granard and Longford along the way. Probably safe to say these are not tourist towns either, but they looked like a post card to us. We arrived at Strokestown about 45 minutes before the next tour, enough time to go through the museum first. We also looked in the bookshop and I found a book I'd wanted to buy on my last trip, this time I bought it and we started the tour of the house. I know the house isn't restored to it's impressive original condition, but I still find the tour interesting and informative. I like how you can imagine the house being a grand and impressive place and then realize the hardship and deterioration that fell upon it over the years, reflective of the country. After the tour we wandered through the gardens, had some soup in the cafe and headed off for Westport, still pinching ourselves that we were in Ireland - and seeing GREEN - we are from Phoenix, so we are very used to various shades of brown. :)


PIctures from this report: https://s288.photobucket.com/albums/ll178/ASTROKelli/Ireland/1%20Kells%20and%20Strokestown%20House/

Next up - Westport and drive to Achill Island



-- Edited by KelliJo at 18:49, 2008-06-11

-- Edited by KelliJo at 21:01, 2008-06-11

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RE: 13 night Trip Report, May 2008


#2 Westport, Achill Island

We left Strokestown and headed for Westport, I had a rough map for the location of the B&B (Boulevard Guesthouse), we drove the main drag, found the Octagon and were able to find the b&b w/o problem. Parking was available on the street right in front of the b&b, lucky us. We checked in, carried the suitcases up and set out to walk around. First stop was a bar on the main street for a drink. We continued on our walk, looking in shop windows, we just missed closing time by about an hour. We started to get hungry so we asked a few guys where to eat, this is when Neal made the mistake of saying he wanted traditional Irish stew, or fish n chips and the guys said what part of America are you from?. :) Neal says how do they know Im American? Then they proceeded to tell him that if he wanted a good Irish stew, he should put me in the kitchen to make it for him, ha ha, I laughed, but when they continued to press the issue that a woman belonged in the kitchen, I put them in their place and walked away, one of their wives obviously made a great stew and he had no problem eating more than his fair share. Guys will be guys. :)

We asked someone else and they wanted to send us down to the waterfront, but we didnt want to drive and didnt feel like walking, so we continued to search on our own and came across JJ OMalleys. We walked upstairs, which was packed, there were two women at the desk who were debating putting their names in for an 8:30 opening, they declined and we said wed take it. This gave us time to go downstairs to the bar for a drink. Went back up for dinner, Neal had chowder appetizer, I had breaded mushrooms, we both had burgers which were HUGE and absolutely delicious, and we enjoyed the atmosphere as well. This is when Neal fell in love with the Irish butter. He had some on his bread and I asked him if he thought it was better than ours, and he said its butter, so I told him to try some by himself BAM it was love. After that, I often caught him just eating butter right out of the packet. They sell Kerrygold here and I bought a slab of it on Saturday, its already half gone. :) The other thing he loved was getting a fresh lemon wedge with his seafood chowder. Weve never seen that before.

Walked around a little more, looking for a pub to hang in for the night, peeked into Molloys but there didnt seem to be much going on and it was packed. We headed up a hill and found what seemed to be a more locals (?) place called Tobys Bar. Had a nice drink there and enjoyed just listening to the conversations and cozy atmosphere.

The next day we woke up to sunshine and decided it was a great day to drive to Achill Island. After a yummy porridge breakfast, we headed out. We took the coast road the entire way, stopping at any photo op or anywhere really that deserved a wow moment. I dont have the map in front of me, but that part just before you come around Achill Sound where its just the road then the cliffs then the water and the view is of Clare Island (we guessed?)amazing. Again, we got out and ran around like little kids there, then went around the big bend, down the hill, over the little bridge and stopped to watch the big coach behind us make the curve, then we chased sheep a little and got back in the car. We spent quite a while at Keel (not Keem, which came later) what a HUGE beach. The sand was gorgeous, Neal took off his shoes and walked in the water which was crystal clear. I dont know why, but I didnt expect that. There were a few surfers in the water and about 3 or 4 other couples/families on the beach and that was it. We had a snack, saw some dolphins jumping in the distance and decided to keep going. We drove out to the very end and were rewarded with a beach that looked like it belonged somewhere in South America. I just kept saying I cant believe this is Ireland. It was a great drive. Headed back, stopped for lunch at The Last Drop. Then we went to the Deserted Village to climb around for a while. On my OSI map it showed a megalithic tomb, which we wanted to find. What we found was a sign and a little trail in between to fenced private properties, so we decided to climb, and climb and climb. Did I mention it was warm and sunny? And we climbed, and we thought we missed it, but we kept climbing and found it. We were about ½ way up the mountain, or so it felt, and the views out to the beach were rewarding, so I guess it was worth the climb. Plus the tomb was cool to see, if you like big piles of big rocks, which I do.

We returned to Westport and it started to rain slightly. We went to the Wyatt Hotel for a set dinner for two, an incredible deal an appetizer, a dinner and a dessert each, plus a bottle of wine, all for 50 euro. The food was delicious, cant remember the appetizers, but dinner was chicken stir fry for me and salmon for Neal. Because of the set menu, I expected smaller portions, but they were definitely full portions, and dessert was as well, chocolate fudge cake with ice creammmmmm. Went back to Toby's Bar for a drink.

Up the next morning for another yummy breakfast (Neal was now literally eating the butter off of his knife) and we set out for a drive through Connemara.

Pictures from this report (also with Doo Lough Pass added in by mistake!): https://s288.photobucket.com/albums/ll178/ASTROKelli/Ireland/2%20Westport%20Achill%20Island%20and%20Doo%20Lough%20Pass/



-- Edited by KelliJo at 18:52, 2008-06-11

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#3: Connemara, Galway

Leaving Westport, we drove down by the waterfront area and decided we were glad we stayed up in town. So my husband is driving along the road to Louisburgh and all the time I'm just staring at Croagh Patrick saying over and over "it's so big". We live with a view of the mountains in Phoenix, so he didn't think he'd be impressed, but finally I must have gotten annoying enough for him to pull over and look for himself - "HOLY something-rather..." I believe was how he described it. Again, just one of those sights we didn't expect to see in Ireland...not sure why. I know in the back of his mind he was thinking he'd like to climb it. I would too, except I know it's a religious sight and, well, I'd probably be turned away. :) That and all the lovely adjectives I'd be muttering on my way up probably wouldn't be appreciated either. Oh well, maybe in my next life. haha.

So, down the Doo Lough Pass, where we stopped at the famine walk memorial(s). The way the wind came through the mountains whipping your thoughts right away from you was such an eerie feeling. That is a very special place, indeed. We were the only car in sight the entire drive.

We stopped and played in the water at Aasleagh Falls, thought about a tour of Kylemore Abbey but decided to keep on moving. Made it to Clifden to find a place for lunch, somehow we missed the Sky Road and when we asked and got directions, we somehow missed it again when I realized we were on the road to Ballyconneely, so we decided it wasn't meant to be and kept going around to Roundstone. Somewhere along this route we fell in love with a white cottage with a red door, and it just happened to be for sale (edit: oops, got this wrong, the cottage is actually in Newport, we saw it the day before!). We are hopeless. The realtor should be expecting an email from us soon. ANYWAY, carried on back toward Maam Cross somehow and got back on the N59.

I recognized the scenery when we got to Moycullen and made a stop at the Connemara Marble factory for some shopping. I picked out a ring and some other trinkets and we headed down to Barna, through Salthill and found our B&B for the night, Hightide B&B, right across the street from the bay.

Oooh wait, forgot to mention the green Mini Cooper that was for sale up in Moycullen. I want it. I have a new Cooper at home but want the old style, so if anyone knows the owner of this one, please see if they'd be willing to split shipping charges (it's only 6000 miles, over an ocean) and I'll take it. Thanks. :)

Ok, arrived in Galway around 5:00, we had tickets (it's good to know people) for the sold out Trad on the Prom show that they put on in the Salthill Hotel that night. So we had a few hours to walk to town, of course McDonagh's was our destination. My only regret of the trip. It was awful. I know it's world famous and was recommended by everyone we asked, but it wasn't for us. It was really horrible, the food the service, ick. There was a boy who was obviously sick, coughing constantly, sneezing, blowing his nose, dipping his chips DIRECTLY into the little ketchup dish they put on your table, and when they FINALLY left, the waitress picked up the ketchup dish and tried to give it to the guys sitting next to us for their dinner. The entire restaurant had been watching this boy cough all over everything and when she tried to pass his community ketchup onto the next customer, we all spoke up. Disgusting. Ick. If the fish and chips were amazing, maybe this could be overlooked, but they were a big, greasy, mushy, extremely fishy tasting mess. Whew. Ok, enough about that. The good thing is next time in Galway, we won't feel bad about skipping this "legend" to try other eateries. 

We had fun wandering around the old streets of Galway, then we headed back to change for the show. Hightide B&B is only about a 10 minute walk from High/Quay Street area. Very convenient. We walked from there to the Salthill Hotel, which was a nice, but longer than they said walk. We got to the desk with the sign that said "SOLD OUT" and gave the girl our name and said Chris was going to have tickets for us. All my friend told me was he knew Chris at the hotel and could get us into the show. We had 1/2 hour, so we had a drink at the bar, the doors opened and they showed us to our seats, which just happened to be the first two seats, right there, right at the stage. The guy comes out to welcome everyone and gives a shout out to the people from France, Australia, Canada, etc. and a special welcome to the Joneses from Arizona (that's us). We got a kick out of that...so they start the show, which was AMAZING. Mairin Fahy (I've watched her on TV on Riverdance, now here I was watching her live 2 feet away), the Keaney Brothers, the music and dancing was fantastic. I was so close I could have been kicked in the head. I told my husband I should have worn a helmet. At the end, they introduced everyone and the guitar player, they said, "Chris Kelly"...Neal looked at me and said "is that the Chris??". My friend didn't tell me his friend Chris at the hotel was actually in the show and was actually the producer/creator of the whole thing! Surprise. Anyway, we met all of the performers after, bought some CDs which they signed for us, very very very gracious people. It was an awesome show, I would highly recommend to anyone staying in the Galway area. www.tradontheprom.com

Ok, so a stop in a Salthill bar for a whiskey on the walk home to warm up and ok, another glass of whiskey (it was really cold outside) and off we went, singing and dancing our way down the Prom back to the b&b.

Breakfast in the morning was very good, Neal had irish and I had french toast with bacon. It was perfect, oh, except it decided to rain. Hard. And this was the day we were going to the Cliffs. Sigh...off we went.


Next - The burren, Cliffs, and a great find that earned me extra bonus points!



-- Edited by KelliJo at 18:55, 2008-06-11

-- Edited by KelliJo at 18:57, 2008-06-11

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#4 The Burren, Co. Clare, Loop Head Peninsula

Left Galway in the rain, headed for a day in the burren. Somehow missed the first road I wanted to take, luckily there were options, and after we chose one option, there were more options. At some point this day (dont remember if it was before or after lunch) we came upon a very very curvy uphill climbing road, that I felt Id been to before (Corkscrew Hill??) EXCEPT there was evidence of some construction or roadworks or something that required a large sign and large pile of gravel. But still, you just need to turn your back to the gravel and enjoy the view in the other direction, even through the gray rain. Eventually, we found our way to The Burren Perfumery, watched the short film which showcases the various flowers that grow in the region. Had a look around the gift shop, bought a few items, toured their gardens and when the downpour came, we ran for the car. Im so glad we went to the Perfumery, it really is a beautiful location and they have great products. http://www.burrenperfumery.com/

I wanted to go to the Michael Cusack Centre, which we did find, but hubby wasnt too excited about it because he has no idea who this Michael guy is :), so we skipped it and headed on. We did stop at the Caherconnell Stone Fort, paid admission, watched the film and explored the fort. At the time, it was interesting, but it was trumped later in the trip by other finds. We headed up to Poulabrane Megalithic Tomb and arrived just as a bus tour was leaving, so we only had to share it with about 5 other people. Amazing sight. We walked all over, hopping from stone to stone. Wed just come from the Perfumery, so of course were paying attention to all the tiny little flowers, took about 80 pictures of flowers. Why do we do these things?? The rain picked up again, so we headed up to Ballyvaughan for lunch. And there was Monks and a friendly dog out front to greet us. This is when we did our first big tourist move in ordering Irish coffees. Hey, its a delicious way to warm up! Soup and the scallops for me, a smoked salmon platter for Neal. We were cold and soaking wet, the view was of rain, so we decided we'll go back again next time with sunshine. :)

We decided to skip the Black Head drive and head towards Lisdoonvarna, somehow we missed the smokehouse and the next stop was the Cliffs. I was there before the new visitors center, so I could compare. Neal, however, hadnt seen it before and he was actually impressed. So theres one opinion. The Cliffs themselves werent busy at all but the Visitors Center was. Could be the driving wind and rain outside. We stayed about a half hour and headed down towards Lahinch where Neal promised wed come back for a golf trip. I HAVE to play that course, I just HAVE to. We did see two brave golfers, but that was it. We found our way down to Berry Lodge, where we were greeted by Rita and hot tea and scones. www.berrylodge.com
Right away we knew this was going to be a favorite stop. Her home is beautiful, warm, very very welcoming. We were the only guests at the moment so I peeked into other guestrooms. I would be happy in any of them. We got settled in and dried off (what was the point though?), took a little nap and headed back out to find a Megalithic Tomb noted on my map that didnt seem too far away. We went back to a beach wed seen on the way in, got thoroughly soaked again, then set out on the yellow roads to find this tomb. Drove past it w/o realizing it, after about ½ mile, we turned around and saw it on the way back. It was just sitting up there, on a small hill in a field off the road, not a fence or gate or any markers at all, we parked the car and climbed through the tall grass to have this mini Poulabrane look a like all to ourselves (although we shared it with hundreds of leeches? Slugs? What are those things??). It was very cool. I got extra bonus points for finding it.

Now absolutely thoroughly soaked, we went to dinner. Rita directed us to Bellbridge House Hotel, http://www.bellbridgehotelclare.com/food.htm because she wasn't cooking dinner that night, and she said there wasn't much going on in town. I felt awful walking into this establishment in the shape we were in, but they were gracious and treated us well. We both ordered from the set menu, appetizers, entrees and dessert with tea or coffee for 35 euro each. Beef for me (delicious) and Salmon for him. Their potatoes were mixed with mustard seeds, another new flavor for us, we ended up buying a few bottles of the mustard and Im going to try this at home. Various ice cream desserts for each of us, and the most delicious mint chip ice cream ever, was crowned (not by me, I dont like mint). A great meal, I would like to go back sometime when I dont look like a drowned rat.

Back to Ritas, I should be calling it Berry Lodge, to watch the soccer match and go to sleep.

Despite the rain, and nixing half our plans, I really enjoyed this day. The Burren is a unique area, I have a feeling you could drive the same road once a week and see a new sight each time. There are views in every direction (if you happen to like looking at rocks, which we do). Then to the coast where you have the Cliffs and the views, and a sort of welcome home feeling that seems to be in this part of the west.

Breakfast the next morning, was fantastic as expected. We lingered a bit after the other guests were finished and chatted with Rita in her kitchen. We could have stayed there all day. Her kitchen is HUGE, its the only time on the whole trip that I wanted to do some cooking.

Such a beautiful day, we decided to seize the opportunity and drive the Loop Head Peninsula. Stopped in Kilkee for gas, but couldnt find a gas station. We asked at the Tourist Info Center and she said there isnt a gas station in Kilkee? Hmm. But there is one on Loop Head, its also a farm co-op store where they sold farm bits. I wonder is that like meadow muffins? Hmm. So we took off and found the gas station. From there we headed for the coast roads, stopped at Kilbaha Bay to climb around on the rocks and take pictures, it was a perfect day. Calm, sunshine, warm. Made our way out to the lighthouse with no idea what we were about to see. Ferdia, youre very clever when you advertise Loop Head. We parked along with about 3 other cars and got out to see the cliffs. I think we were there for about 2 hours at least. Unbelievable. We walked all the way around, out to the very point, to the tip of the world, it seemed. There was absolutely no wind. It was bright and sunny, crystal blue water, the grass was full of those little purple flower things that smell like springtime. Amazing. Reluctantly, and one of us with a tear in *his* eye, we got back to the car and headed towards Kilimer to catch the ferry.


Pictures from Galway and Co. Clare reports: https://s288.photobucket.com/albums/ll178/ASTROKelli/Ireland/3%20Galway%20and%20County%20Clare%20%20Cliffs%20of%20Moher/
NextDingle, music, good fish and chips and the sneaky little weasel at Galarus Oratory.



-- Edited by KelliJo at 18:58, 2008-06-11

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Report #5: Dingle

Now, where was I? I dont have my map or notes in front of me when I write this so I hope I remember correctly.

Docked the ferry on the Tarbert side and took off for Dingle, via the Connor Pass. Somehow we made it through Tralee and it was NOT because of great signage, all of our turns were based on a hunch. We passed the big windmill thing and wondered what the heck the story is with that. Strange. We got out of town a little and decided we were hungry, not knowing how long the Connor Pass would take (some people told us TWO hours, we later learned they are insane), we decided we'd stop at the next place we drove by that said Hot food served all day, it was after 2:30 by now. We found a place within 5 minutes. Keanes of Curralieen. Chowder for him, a steak sandwich for me and a half pint each. Happily filled up, we took off. Stopped a few places along the road to just get out and take in the view.

Then we got to the Connor Pass. The person in front of us was being WAY too cautious, I mean, WAY too cautious to the point where we were feeling road rage set in, so we decided to pull over for a while and let them get ahead. Good decision, we stopped at the small pull off spot, not the big parking area we later drove by, but the smaller one on the way up. We climbed up the rocks and found the little lake/pond. I guess its called Peddlers Lake?? Anyway, it was beautiful.

After about 30 minutes, we got back in the car, next stop Emlagh Lodge in Dingle. I dug out Maggie's directions and we found the house. I got 150 bonus points from Neal for finding this place, the location was perfect. Maggie was there to meet us and show us our room. We were just blown away with the location, and the house was beautiful as well. Maggie gave us a few recommendations of things to do and we walked into town to check things out. Again, just a few minutes late for the shops. A few shops were open and as I was browsing in one, I recognized a man's voice saying "thank you" at the cash register, I looked up and there was my husband, eating a chocolate bar he'd just purchased! I think he was trying to eat the whole thing before I noticed. Sneaky! :) So now he's hooked on the butter, the black pudding and the chocolate. Oh' and the brown bread. We stopped in The Small Bridge for a few pints, walked down by the fishing boats and watched them unload their catches and load up with ice for the next trip. Thats a big ice machine! We could use that here in Phoenix. At some point we ended up in John Benny Moriarty for dinner. Fish and chips (!!) for Neal and a mushroom festival for me, the mushroom appetizer and mushroom soup, and a couple more pints. Cozy atmosphere, but music wasn't going to start for another hour, so we made our way out to wander some more.

We ended up back at The Small Bridge and got a great spot at the bar just before the music started. We enjoyed the bar, talking with the bartenders, and the music. What was a little annoying was listening to all the other Americans there going on and on about what they do for a living, what kind of car they drive, how big their house is, etc, etc, we really can be annoying, can't we? After an hour of music there, we went to Murphy's where I scored a seat right when a family was leaving so we had a few drinks there and enjoyed the music until they were finished. We headed back to Emlagh Lodge, using our pocket flashlight to light the way. There are a few tricky steps along the path so we were glad to have the flashlight as was another lady staying at Emlagh who was walking back with us.

Breakfast the next morning was delicious, I had bacon and tomato with cheese on a bagel, Neal had poached egg with bacon on toast. Really delicious. Oh! And the yogurt with berries was fantastic as well. Great breakfast. The sun was shining as we got in the car ready for the Slea Head drive. Here's where I might mess up the order of things sorry. I know we stopped at the Stone fort thing help me out here, starts with a D? That one, you pay the man in the shed something like 2 euro each and walk down the hill to the cliff. That was very fun and interesting to us. Now to do the American thing and talk about what we do for a living Neal is an architect and Im a contractor, so we are fascinated with structures, how they are built, methods and materials, etc. So for us to look at these rock structures, we see more than a pile of rocks, although sometimes that's still how I describe them. :) We took a few fun pictures here before the bus herd came down the hill and we climbed back up the hill to the car and next stopped at the beehive huts. I think these were my favorite. Again, pay the man in the shed 2 or 3 euro each, this time you climbed UP the hill to the huts. At this point we saw a dark cloud coming across the water, headed right for us, sure enough the rain came, I was happy just to hang out inside the hut as it passed. I would have been happy to set up camp there, who thought living inside a rock hut could be cozy? Back down the hill to the car, somewhere we came around a corner (oh, did I mention this entire time the scenery is stunning??) to see a road that led to a beach, we drove down the drive as far as we dared, parked and walked the rest of the way down. It was a combo of rain and sun and the water was like the Caribbean, we hung out down there for quite a while climbing on everything, of course. We saw one guy fishing, standing way out on the rocks, I have no idea how he got there or how he was going to get out of there, a helicopter maybe?

Next, we headed to the Blasket Center. Really a nice stop, interesting to hear about the lives of the people who lived on the Island. A boat trip has been added to the to do list on a future visit. I'm sorry I cant remember admission price, but it was worth it. The Center also has a café and small bookshop.

We stopped to see the Galarus Oratory, where I'd read about driving past the visitor center for a small parking area and no admission charge. Unsure where to go, we first pulled into the visitor center, didn't get out of the car, but looked around to see if we could find the secret entrance, no luck, so we turned around to go back out to the road where you would make a left to go up further. They have very cleverly placed a no left turn sign at the exit, we turned left anyway and found what we thought might be the small parking area and gate, which was open. We parked, got out and started to walk down the path, only to come around a bend behind the visitor center gate and have a SNEAKY LITTLE WEASEL of a man ambush, yes, ambush us demanding tickets! I said we didnt have tickets, he said tickets were 3 euro each and everyone needed a ticket to get in. I said I read that there wasnt an admission charge and he said 3 euro per ticket, everyone needs a ticket. There were other people walking by with tickets and after a few minutes of getting nowhere with the weasel who jumped at us from nowhere, we paid him, he gave us our tickets and we walked up the path to see the structure where, of course, there was no one there to take tickets. And we found the secret path. Ooooooh I was frustrated with myself for not continuing up the road further and I wanted to go back and let the weasel have it, but Neal wouldnt let me. Ok, so the oratory is very cool, very impressive but I was so mad that I didnt get away with parking in the correct spot I let it ruin my attitude and decided for 3 euro I liked the beehive huts much better. We walked back down the secret path and found not only a (very empty) real parking area, but also a sign, which confirms to me that the sneaky weasel knows very well there is no formal admission to see the structure, they just take advantage of us by putting up a bigger sign in front of the little sign and suck people in that way. So, when you go to visit this sight, KEEP driving, even when you think you shouldn't, KEEP driving up the road and youll see the parking on the left and the little brown sign, a little gate you can hop over and walk right up to the structure. WATCH out for weasels!!

I don't think there were any other stops for us on the drive, but as we were getting back in to Dingle we saw a parking lot full of MINI coopers, and being a MINI owner and lover, we stopped to look at the cars (some old, some new). It was the mini club of Ireland, they were having a rally weekend, or club weekend or whatever you want to call it. We talked with them for quite a while, took pictures, they gave me some trinkets to take home for my car. There's just something about MINI owners. If any of you are reading this, hi!

Back into town to pick up our laundry, oh yeah, at breakfast we asked Maggie if there was a laundry service in town, we were a week into the trip so we had a load. She directed us to the service which is connected to a gas station, I think on the N67??? Just after the roundabout heading out of town. We dropped our laundry off in the morning and for 24 euro (1 white load and 1 dark load) they had it clean, folded and ready for us to pick up that afternoon. Great service.

We dropped the laundry off and parked the car at the b&b and walked back into town for some Murphys Ice Cream, and some shopping. Maggie had also told us about a folk concert that was happening that night at a church, so we purchased tickets in advance. Concert was at 7:30, so we wanted an early dinner. We decided on the Marina Inn, this time I had fish and chips and Neal had stew. These were the best fish and chips of the entire trip, really delicious, nice and crispy, very fresh tasting. Fantastic. They also had banoffi pie, which wed tried to order somewhere else, but they were out, so we ordered it here and it was the best thing I have ever tasted. If we had three more nights in Dingle I would have returned here every night for the same exact meal. Lost in the delicious food, we realized we had 5 minutes to make the concert, so we downed our pints, gobbled the last bites of pie and took off running. If you were in Dingle that day and we trampled over you, Im sorry! We found the church and sat up in the balcony (best view). It was really more of a concert put on for tourists (there was a Rick Steves group there), but it was nice. One guy was one we saw playing the Irish pipes (I'll say Irish pipes instead of their proper name, which I will butcher) at the Small Bridge the night before. There was a singer and two sisters, one on the fiddle and one on the harp. A great almost 2 hours of music. After, we headed back to the Small Bridge for some drinks and to catch the music, one of the sisters from the concert came in and joined the two accordion players.

Another delicious breakfast the next morning, we talked with Maggie about the fishing boats and she told us they were mostly Spanish boats and because of some trade agreement, something rather they were allowed to fish in Irish waters and yet they did nothing for the local economy because they basically live, eat, sleep on the boats, they just come in, take the fish and leave. Got the feeling the Dingle locals arent too thrilled with this.

We were headed for Killarney today (change in plans, were going to Bantry, but a friend from Dublin was going to be in Killarney and that was the closest we'd come to crossing paths, so we'd arranged to switch lodging around so we could meet up with him). We stopped at Inch beach for a couple of hours. It was nice to have a short distance to drive that day. Beautiful day, nice and warm, we climbed around in the sand dunes, drove out on the beach, heard some older lady mutter as we drove by how people who drove on the beach were so inconsiderate, so we felt bad for all of 2 or 3 minutes. Neal, again, took off his shoes and waded in the water way out to a sandbar, I hunted for shells. It was a Saturday but it was not crowded at all.

We made it to Killarney and had lunch at Hannigans. Neal ordered a baguette, thinking he'd ordered a chicken club, but they brought steak and mushroom, so I ate that (which was yummy) and he ate my pasta. We were getting the itch to shop, and we were in the right place. Killarney has loads of shops. A few things here, a few things there. My friend called and said he'd be in town around 5:30, but the Munster/Touloose match was on at 5:00 and to find a bar, sit down, and watch it. I asked if Munster was all the red flags wed been seeing everywhere? He said yes, that's the team we root for, so I bought a Munster shirt and we found a bar and sat down to watch. A pint here, a pint there, who's keeping track? Friend made it to town, watched the end of the match (YEA MUNSTER!) and left all our new friends in the bar to head to dinner. Late, late, late night (saw the sun coming up) lots of fun, good to see old friends and we headed out in the morning after breakfast.and a nap. Ha ha. Drove to Molls Gap and got out to climb around a little and take in some fresh air. I'd been to this area before and am still stunned at the natural beauty. Because of our late start, we skipped over the Beara Peninsula (shame, shame, shame!!!) and made a more direct route to Kinsale.

Dingle report pictures: https://s288.photobucket.com/albums/ll178/ASTROKelli/Ireland/4%20Dingle/

Next it's always cold and rainy in Kinsale, I'm convinced.



-- Edited by KelliJo at 19:04, 2008-06-11

-- Edited by KelliJo at 20:59, 2008-06-11

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Report #6: Kinsale, Cobh Heritage Center and Jameson Distillery in Midleton

Oh, the drive from Killarney (out to Moll's Gap, then down to Kenmare, etc) was beautiful. AND we had a beautiful day, at least for the first part. As mentioned earlier, we had a later than usual start, so we skipped the Beara Peninsula, which is ok because I know we would have never made it to Kinsale, we would have wanted more time in Beara. Again, no map in front of me, but I think we drove through Glengariff, Bantry (definitely planning on 3-4 days in this area next trip), it was just stunning, the sunshine helped, too. We got out a few times to stand on top of rocks and dare the wind to blow us away. We saw some of the MINI group we'd met in Dingle, they were on their way home from Sneem. We drove through a few more very postcard perfect towns and made our way to Castletownshend for lunch at Mary Ann's.




The sign said they stopped serving at 2:30, it was 2:45 and they said we'd just made it. I'd been wanting to try John Dory, but they were out, so I had Hake, Neal had their version of fish and chips which was a new take, it was more baked than fried and it had a sort of...corn flake coating. Very delicious. My fish was perfect, as were the potatoes and the sticky toffee pudding we shared! Fantastic lunch which cost more than some of our dinners so far, but we knew it would. My boss is from Dublin and he used to spend his "summer holidays" in Castletownshend, eating at Mary Ann's often, so if I didn't stop in for a meal, I'd be fired. :) Not much else to do in that town, though, from what we could see. The main street is interesting, with the steep hill and the tree in the middle of the road. We came out from lunch to gray sky, stronger wind and the smell of rain coming.




Sure enough, the closer we got to Kinsale, the worse the weather became, canceling the stop at Old Head and the walk to Charlesfort. A lot of construction happeneing in Kinsale right now, traffic was the slowest we'd experienced. Even though we entered town the opposite way of directions to Desmond House B&B, we managed to find it on our own, we even found parking in the closest lot, free of charge. Lucky us. We checked in, chatted with Michael for a while about the origins of the house, went out for a quick walk, but the rain and cold and late night before got the best of us and drove us back to our room for a nap. We headed back out for dinner, it was after 8:30 by this time and the town seemed completely empty. Michael had made some suggestions, but we were looking for casual. I know Kinsale is the "gourmet capital", but we weren't in the mood to get all done up. We ALMOST settled for either Chinese takeaway or pizza and we stumbled across The Shack, which was packed. They had one table open, we took it. This was the best thing we'd stumbled on the entire trip.




I had fish - can't remember what kind!! - and Neal had a pasta special with shrimp, fish, ginger and tomato sauce. The sauce was so good, I stole his spoon and started to eat it like soup. Dinners came with side of potatoes and fresh veggies. We also had a half bottle of wine and chocolate ice cream for dessert. Total was around 50 euro? It felt like a steal! Absolutely delicious. As we were eating (window table) we saw a large group of people all walk by at once, later walking around, we saw them a the Tap Room ? Tavern, and realized that was the ghost tour, we decided we'd take it the following night. As it was pouring rain and freezing cold, we headed back to the Desmond House for the night. This is where we discovered Coronation Street - I'm hooked! Someone please fill me in on what's happened in the last week, ha ha!




Next day we headed to Cobh and Midleton. Outside it was...you guessed it, raining and cold. As we drove to get the ferry to Cobh, the weather cleared. Quite an easy drive, simple ferry ride and we were there. Found the Cogh Heritage Center (Queenstown Story, Titanic Exhibit, etc) and parked on the street, went in to buy our parking display/disc/ticket for the car and enjoyed 2 hours in the Center. We thought it was a great museum. You start out walking through a very dark room with the noises and stories of the coffin ship, life size displays and images. It's basically a self guided tour, a lot to read along the way so take your glasses. A lot of history on emigration, deportation of prisoners, the role Cobh played as a port, then they have a section dedicated to the Titanic and also the Lusitania. We knew the Lusitania sank close to the shore, but didn't realize it was only 3 miles offshore. I can't imagine. We finished the exhibits and shopped a little in the shops, they also have a cafe which was packed with a bus group, the food looked and smelled good, but we didn't eat there.




We got back in the car and drove around Cobh a bit, stopping to take pictures, but we were unsure of the parking situation, so we didn't leave the car for too long anywhere. Neal snapped a great picture from the cathedral looking out to the water, with the White Star Line offices below. Looks like something from the early 1900's. So, back in the car and up to Midleton we went. Ready for some whiskey.




We made our way into Midleton looking for the Jameson Distillery, I've been on the Dublin tour, but never this tour. I had no directions, and we saw one sign, but that was it. We drove down the main street and asked for directions, realizing there was a large sign 10 feet in front of us, so we found it without a problem after that. :) We had just missed the 1:00 tour by about 5 minutes, so we bought tickets for the 2:00 and she told us we'd have time for lunch, we were seated in the cafe and completely ignored for 10 minutes. We flagged someone down to put our order in, chowder and a salad - simple, right? Then we sat and sat and sat, as did others, it was like the entire wait staff vanished for 35 minutes. Realizing we'd miss our 2:00 tour, the lady at the desk said we could join the 2:30 tour. Fine. Our food arrived at 2:00 - at least it was delicious. We ate, paid and made it to the lobby to join the 2:30 tour, which we were VERY rudely told was for the ... group only (can't remember the name), even though we pointed at the exact lady who told us we could join that tour, they pretty much just BARKED at us, "NO, this is ... ONLY". And so we had to wait for the 3:00 tour. Pretty upset at this point, we almost left. We used this time to buy our souvenirs and buy a sample of a few different whiskeys at the bar, since we'd been browsing for a good 2 hours already. Joined up with the 3:00 tour. The tour guide was great and we tried to enjoy it even though were were not happy altogether with the whole operation. Neal volunteered to be a whiskey taster happily. To my surprise, he liked the scotch, so because of his bad judgement, I drank his Jack Daniels (my second love next to Jameson). We finished our "complimentary" samples and booked it out of there around 5:00, two hours later than planned. Looking back, I wish we did the tour in Dublin. Overall, the Midleton facility was just a bad experience. The staff needs some help, manners and organization. It was cloudy but not rainy when we left and we thought we'd be able to do the Charlesfort walk and tour when we got back to Kinsale, but of course as we came out of the Lynch Tunnel...guess what?? R-a-i-n. Yes, it always rains in Kinsale.




Back to the rain, we decided instead of hunting for another restaurant for dinner, we'd return to The Shack. Good decision. We sat at the same table, had an appetizer this time, a full bottle of wine, I had a chicken with pasta dish and Neal had another pasta with seafood dish. It was like comfort food, we also had dessert and enjoyed a leisurely 2 hour dinner. Francis (our server and later we found out owner along with her husband) talked with us for a while and offered us two more glasses of wine on the house. How could we refuse? Total for this night was still only around 65 euro. People back at our B&B sort of did a tsk tsk at us because we didn't opt for a "fine dining" restaurant, as if we were losing out. As far as I'm concerned, it was their loss. Our dinners were excellent. We ended that night deciding against the ghost tour (partly because of the weather again, and because of our long dinner) and went to The Lord Kingsale (?) for a drink and to listen to the horrible one man keyboard/band who was pitiful, yet entertaining enough.




The next day was Tuesday and we were in no rush, so we walked down to the Farmer's Market (in the rain), oh if I only had a traveling kitchen with me, the things I could have cooked up with what they were selling!! We browsed around a little, looked in some shops, walked down to see the marina, back to the farmers market to buy some strawberries (which were soft and tender and juicy and actually tasted like strawberries!! something we can't find here), and we took off for Kilkenny, via Cahir Castle.




I switched routes last minute at the advice of a friend. I wasn't too hip on going to the Rock of Cashel (shame on me, I know), so he suggested Cahir Castle instead. We found it w/o problem and in a much shorter drive time than we'd been told. At first sight, Neal's age dropped by 30 years and here we go again, like little kids. What I love about the sights (most, anyway) in Ireland is you can basically go anywhere, it's not all roped off like it would be here. We'd just missed a guided tour but joined up with them a few minutes late. I think admission was less than 3 euro each. A steal! What a great castle to climb around in, interesting history and a great display model in one room showing the events of an attack that took place over a weekend. We ate lunch at a cafe directly across from the Castle on the corer. Castle View? Soup and a sandwich and a piece of cake. Fresh and delicious and less than 15 euro, we though it was a mistake, but it wasn't, just a good deal.




We cut across to Kilkenny, where we parked and walked. I had done zero research on the town, so I didn't know what to do or see, we didn't want to do the castle tour and really I wasn't impressed with the town at all, not sure why. I wanted to leave but it was still pretty early and we were only 1/2 hour away from our stop for the night in Portlaoise, which I knew had nothing to offer, so we just kept walking around Kilkenny, stopped in a bar or two for a drink. After stalling as long as we could, we hopped in the car and found our B&B for the night in Stradbally, just outside of Portlaoise.




Tall Trees B&B, which I found through the County's tourism site. Kathleen, the owner, met us at the door of her beautiful home. Showed us our room and had hot tea ready for us, along with cheesecake, ice cream and cookies (biscuits)!!!! Still a couple of hours until we'd want dinner, we took advantage of this time to unpack/repack our bags in preparation of dropping off the car at Dublin Airport the next day and taking the bus into the city.




Wow, this is a long report without proof-reading, I hope it's ok. And not exciting, I think. Blame it on Kinsale, I really really wanted to love Kinsale but I think the weather just defeated me. It was rainy and "unseasonably cold" as everyone kept saying, and when I'm cold, I'm grumpy no matter what. Also, the town seemed empty, no activity, no buzz, the b&b was empty, the bars were empty. It was more upscale (I could use the word snobby) than relaxed, I felt out of place. There's a way of being upscale and still comfortable and welcoming and I just didn't get that vibe in Kinsale. Not sure why. But never say never, we'll probably give it another try in the future.




Ok, next, and possibly final (!) Kelli's rock fort discovery and Dublin!



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Report #7: Rock of Dunamase

After organizing/repacking/consolidating our luggage, we left our B&B in Stradbally, just outside of Portlaoise, in search of dinner. Kathleen, the owner of Tall Trees B&B, suggested we head into Portlaoise, instead of Stradbally, as it was larger and only about 10 minutes away by car.




Our map showed Rock of Dunamase located just off the road we were on, so we made a detour to check it out, unsure of what it was. Are we ever glad we made the 1 minute detourThis is what we saw!




photobucket.com/albums/DSC01488.jpg

Totally unexpected. There is a little parking area on the road, no admission, no gate, not a person in sight! I think my husband gave me 1500 bonus points instantly! We ran up the path in awe of the entire hill. This was the view: photobucket.com/albums/DSC01496.jpg

Amazing. We climbed around for quite a while, imagining what life was like here centuries ago, one thing is for sure, the view was always and remains spectacular. The stonework was so detailed in places, archways, etc, again, great for us construction junkies to see the methods used and how they have held up over time. Somewhere in a description I was reading about this place, I saw the word fort. I dont know about all of you, but my forts were usually made of sofa cushions and blankets, in the winter we built snow forts, but that was it. I never had a stone fort, and out of pure jealousy, I claimed the Rock of Dunamase as my own and renamed it Kellis Fort. Please change it on your maps. :)




After well over an hour, with numb ears due to the wind, we climbed back down to the car, still in awe of this place just sitting atop a hill along an everyday road, and headed to town in search of dinner. We were thinking we wanted pizza or a burger. Kathleen had told us of a pizza place, which we found, but it was a Papa Johns which we have here, so we decided to search for something else. Heres how any review of Portlaoise should start out: there are no restaurants in this town. We parked at the end of the main drag and decided to walk the strip to see what we could find. One (take away) place advertised pizza, but upon entering, couldnt find mention of pizza anywhere on the menu, so we walked on, we saw one pizza place with ingredients all on display, but the guy was asleep behind the counter, so we walked on, we walked the entire length of the street and found only an Indian restaurant and another more fine dining restaurant. That was it. It was only about 6:30-7:30 and everything was closed. Whats the deal? Do people in Portlaoise not eat? Again, the streets were empty so we couldnt even ask anyone. Starving at this point, we decided to go back and wake up the sleeping guy, but we found him awake and with a customer. We ordered our pizza and went into the bar next door for a drink while the pizza was baking.




Oh I forgot to mention earlier in Kilkenny, I tried Beamish for the first time. I gotta tell you, I liked it. Guinness is good for drinking, Beamish is good for a change of pace, and Murphys is good for pouring down the drain. :) hehehe.




Anyway, finished the drink in this bar in Portlaoise, had the same feeling as Kells, must not have many overnight American tourists, as I was followed to and from the ladies room by a couple of local guys that just kept saying "hello" over and over again. I reminded them they should probably be watching the Ireland soccer match which had just started on the tv. We went next door to pick up our pizza and headed back to our B&B to eat and watch the game. On the way back, we had a great view of the Rock of Dunamaseerrrrrather Kellis Fort, which was now getting sprinkled with rain.




Up the next morning and packed up the car for the last time. Kathleen prepared us the most delicious Traditional Irish breakfast wed had the entire trip. Neal is a coffee drinker and he was very impressed with her coffee as well. We chatted with Kathleen and her husband for a little while and set out for the airport, everyone told us it was a 2 hour drive, I thought itd be more like an hour. Guess who was right? Me. ha ha. :) Ok, so it was about an hour and twenty minutes, be we did have to stop and fill up the tank. We made it to the Hertz return lot and happily handed over the keys, grabbed all our luggage and took the shuttle to the airport to hop on the aircoach. Very simple process. We bought the one way, I think it was 7 euro each, as we had a friend picking us up in Dublin to take us to the airport when we left. Neal was so happy to be finished driving. The coach dropped us off just around the corner from our hotel for our two nights in Dublin, The Davenport Hotel.




Pictures for this report (57 pictures): photobucket.com/albums/

Next and final report..Dublin.



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Report #8: Dublin

Hopped off the aircoach just around the corner from The Davenport Hotel, where wed be staying for our last two nights (boohoo). We were able to check in, and were directed to our room on the 6th floor. Now that I look back, we didnt spend any time at all exploring the hotel, using their restaurants, bars, etc, so I cant comment on all that. I can comment on the front desk staff and our room, all fantastic. The hotel itself is in a unique building, I think I remember reading somewhere it used to be an opera hall? In any case, a beautiful building, seemed like newly refurbished rooms and furnishings. The location was great as well, borders Trinity College and is next to government buildings, Merrion Square, etc. Its close enough to walk to Grafton Street, Temple Bar, OConnell Street, if you want to +/- 10 minute walk, we walked everywhere.


A big problem we ran into on our trip was wed somehow over-budgeted certain things, so we had extra money (we exchanged $ ahead of time and went over with euros in hand, understand many prefer to use ATM or Visa in Ireland, but this scenario worked best for us, we planned to use Visa as back up but never needed to). We needed to unload our cash and had extra room in the suitcases after reorganizing (using those vacuum seal bags, wow those things are great), so we decided wed just shop. About 10 shirts, lots of little trinkets and 3 pairs of new shoes later (and maybe a few chocolate bars)!!!!! We were thirsty, so we headed to Temple Bar for a drink and a look around. First we had a pint in Gogartys, where the musicians had started at 2:30, but just stopped for a break. We waited for them to start up again and listened for a bit, then we headed over to check out The Auld Dubliner, not sure why, but I liked this place better. Looking out the window, I spotted Gallaghers Boxty House across the street (I didnt realize it was in Temple Bar) and have seen enough coverage on Food Network, Travel Channel, etc. that I knew I wanted to eat there. We finished our pints and walked over to check the menu and make a reservation for 8:30.


I dont recall exactly the events of that afternoon/evening. I know we wandered around a bit. We stopped in the Dublin Tourism Office to ask about the Hop on/Hop off tour for the following day, Neal found a hat (and some chocolate!) there that hed had his eye on and finally decided to purchase. TIP: If youre looking for a good place to buy the same old souvenirs (t-shirts, hats, etc) youve seen everywhere, we found their prices to be some of the lowest not only in Dublin, but also in Galway. Prices were lower on most things by 1 to 2 euro. At some point we walked over the river and down Henry Street, but of course, just as the shops were closing! Money still burning a whole in our pockets, we dove into more tourist shops and added a few more items to our bagdecks of cards, a Dublin shot glass, a fridge magnet. We hung out by the river for a while to rest and do some people watching. I know sometimes Dublin doesnt get the best review, but I love it. As much as I loved the west and the countryside, I still need a little city in my vacation, and Dublin was perfect. Oh, we also stopped in to The Arlington Hotel and had a drink at the bar, just because.


We wandered back over to Gallaghers for our reservation and were seated. If you want a private, romantic dinner, this isnt the place, as you are seated at long tables next to other diners. Luckily, after 2 weeks of traveling together, we werent in need of privacy or romance, so it worked out for us. This was the first time Ive seen coddle on a menu (or paid any attention to it, at least) and Ive heard about it, so we ordered the starter size to share, a bottle of wine, corned beef boxty for him and beef for me with a side of potatoes, we also ordered sticky toffee pudding for dessert. Holy cow, we were SO FULL! But so happy. Everything was delicious. I thought for sure the coddle would be just so-so, but I am now hooked and will order it every time I visit Dublin! The pudding was more like bread pudding with a load of raisins, not really sticky, not really toffee, but wed finished our bottle of wine by this point, so it was all good to us! Heres a picture of our dinners: photobucket.com/albums/DSC01595.jpg

Yum! I would go back for sure. After dinner, I think we wandered over to The Auld Dubliner for drinks, I seem to remember a rugby match?? Ireland vs.Columbia maybe? Hmm. Ireland won, whatever it was. Hooray! Without a map, we found our way back to the hotel on foot. Lucky lucky.


Up the next morning and grabbed a quick breakfast sandwich at a Café del Sol (?) down the street, and we waited for the Hop On/Hop Off (HOHO) Bus, 15 euro each, I believe. The sun was out, so we rode upstairs all day. First stop was The Guinness Storehouse. It was nice to ride up so high and be able to see over the people on the streets. The guide, of course, sang the Molly Malone song and pointed out sights along the way. But we were on a mission. Hopped off at Guinness, purchased our tickets (we were 2nd in line, no crowd at all) and started our tour. I wasnt expecting much, I knew it was a self guided tour, and was actually very impressed with it compared to my expectations. Combine that with Neal reminding me that we were on a shopping spree, and I was going to enjoy it no matter what! Honestly though, Im a big Guinness drinker, surprise, and I enjoyed the tour very much, Im so glad we didnt skip over it. We both elected to pull our own pints, so we were given a certificate and took our pints up to the gravity bar to enjoy them. It was a clear day so we had a great view of Dublin.


Back on the HOHO bus, out to Kilmainham Gaol. Another great tour, very somber though. That is not a happy place. Also glad we elected to see it. We had a sandwich in the little tea room before the tour and had a few minutes to wander around the museum. Ben, our tour guide was great, keeping the mood right, and answering all the questions we could throw at him. Back on the HOHO bus (we never waited for more than 3-4 minutes for it) and we hopped off at the stop for Jameson/Bow Street. Wed already been on the Midleton tour, but we wanted to check in their shop for items we wished we bought in Midleton, so we stopped in and decided to have lunch while we were there, we split some sort of chili pita which was delicious and went down to their shop, which was much smaller with less selection than Midleton. Still bought a bottle of whiskey though, they have plenty of that to go around.


We caught the HOHO bus back to the stop right by our hotel and dropped our bags (lots and lots of Guinness stuff, we actually bought a Guinness duffle bag to carry everything in), we went back out to catch the last bus and hopped off at Temple Bar, where we walked around, enjoyed the buzz, it was the middle of the week, so it was pretty calm. Ate dinner that night at The Auld Dubliner where I had coddle again, and it was just as good as I wanted it to be, Neals last meal in Dublin was fish n chips with mushy peas (ick) he said it was the best fish second to Marina Inn in Dingle. We pretty much just hung out there with a few drinks, going back over our trip and how much wed seen and experienced. We wouldnt have changed a thing about this trip, it was a great overview. We wandered sadly back to the hotel for our final night.

The next morning our friend came and picked us up at the hotel and dropped us at the airport, where we STILL had money leftover, and got even more money at the VAT refund counter, where the girl was incredibly rude, holy cow. In any case, we had a lot of time, so we decided to eat in the rerestaurant, be warned that the service here is VERY S-L-O-W. We asked three times for coffee, menus, our food, etc, as did a majority of the tables around useventually our food was delivered and it was good, considering. We shopped around the duty free shops, bought some more whiskey (oops, I think we went over our 1 litre each limit, oh well, most of it is gone already), and we ended up with about 16 cents left. Not bad! Our flights home were uneventful, except for the stupid little tears that found their way down my cheek as I looked out the window seeing the west coast of Ireland pass below






Darn it, its enough to make the tears well up as I sit and type this. Obviously I have a great love for Ireland, and Im not even Irish! As far as I know, although several of our B&B owners were quizzing me on family history and names, and 2 generations ago my family name was Harrington, so for sure thats got to be Irish, right? Right?? Ahh, anyway, thanks everyone, for your help and for letting me post my memories here. Its such a beautiful place, Neal doesnt know how to describe it to people when they ask how he liked it. I think the only answer isyou have to go for yourself, then youll understand.




Cheers



-- Edited by KelliJo at 16:04, 2008-06-11

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Oh my goodness, that makes for a long post!!  I apologize, but there it is all in one place.  Also, I  moved some of the pictures around online, so my original links no longer work - I will try to edit the posts and replace them, but in the meantime, this link will take you to the first album (Kells), and you can click on the left side of the screen 'back to Ireland' and view the rest of the albums in order, I broke the pictures up into albums because we had so many!!  They are best viewed in the slideshow option, this way the descriptions show on the screen.

https://s288.photobucket.com/albums/ll178/ASTROKelli/Ireland/1%20Kells%20and%20Strokestown%20House/

I'll be happy to answer any questions or talk more about our trip!
Thanks.

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Kelli,

What a marvelous trip the two of you had! Thank you for sharing the adventure with all of us.

I am sorry to hear that you had a bad time at McDonagh's. I have never had a bad meal there or bad service.

Rock of Dunamase, umm I mean Kelli's Fort, is an absolute gem. I am not sure if it is a pity or a godsend that most drive right past without even a glance.

So, when is the next trip?  biggrinbiggrinbiggrinbiggrinbiggrin

Slan Beo,  Bit

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Hi Bit,

McDonagh's just didn't work for us, maybe we went on an off night. But if we hadn't gone, we'd be kicking ourselves wondering what we missed. Next time we'll get to try another place.

Next trip is in the works for next year, but of course that just doesn't seem soon enough. It never does, does it?

KJ

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RE: 13 night Trip Report, May 2008 - with pictures


KelliJo,

Welcome back from your wonderful trip to Ireland! We here on the forum enjoy long trip reports with lots of details. Yours is just perfect.

I know what you mean about the hype of certain places. I had lunch at Fishy Fishy in Kinsale last time and didn't think it lived up to the publicity. Do give Kinsale and Kilkenny another try if you get back to Ireland. The weather can have a lot to do with impressions. Take a walking tour of Kilkenny (or download Corey's free one from my Discounts Page). There is also lots to do around Kilkenny. Kells Priory is one of my favorites that is hidden away in the countryside. Kinsale can be glorious in the sunshine. But the town center is torn up at the moment and all that construction doesn't give a good impression either.

I enjoyed your photos. You and your husband are so young and cute. I liked the Poopy Pants photo. I never wear light pants in Ireland. They are dirty after an hour. The caption for Loop Head "At the end of the world" really is true. It is exactly what it feels like there. You hit some of my favorite spots like Achill Island and the Rock of Dunamase. And ate my favorite...banoffee.

Lovely report!

Michele

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Michele, thanks for letting me share!

And - I warned him about the light pants....and the sheep poo! :)

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Thanks for such a great trip report ! The pictures are wonderful! 
You folks visited many of the same places my wife and I did back in 2004. Your report and photos brought back fond memories!
Sorry you had a bad experience at McDonaghs. Our meal was very, very good.
Maybe we visited during the off season, less crowded. Stayed at the Wyatt Hotel. Loved it !
Wesport and Galway are my favorites. Also sorry that Matt Molloys was a dud.
I had a great time, actually met Matt himself!
Cheers!
Mark D.

-- Edited by Mark D at 14:46, 2008-06-13

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Dear Kelli Jo,

I love reading your trip report, I feel I'm there. I so enjoyed reading about places I haven't been and remembering places I have been. I stayed a few nights in Bellbridge Hotel in county Clare and enjoyed it. We only had one dinner in the dining room the other meals were in the pub. You are the first person that feels the same about Kinsale as I do. I was there in sunny weather, stayed at Blue Haven and for some reason I didn't feel it was an Irish town more of a place I'd find in England which is fine if you are in England. Yes, it is very pretty and the accommodations were fine, it was later in the season and could be they were tired of tourist.

Again thank you so much for taking the time to write a great report.

Sincerely, Joan

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Hi Joan and Mark.

Yes, I don't know what it was about Kinsale...I would like to say I'll give it another try in the future, but I won't be expecting an "Irish Experience". But because of the weather I know we missed out on some great treasures there like Charlesfort and Old Head.

Westport/Achill area and Galway and Co. Clare are probably my favorite areas if I was forced to choose. BUT, I also love Dublin, on a previous trip I visited Donegal and loved it as well. In the quick drive through Bantry and Glengariff, I know that is an area which requires visiting next time.

Next trip (planning for next year!!), we are thinking of B&B for 3 nights in Bantry area, week in self catering in Clare (Lahinch area) and 3 -4 nights of B&Bs in Westport/Sligo/Donegal. We'll probably start planning in more detail later this year.

Funny thing just happened at work today, my Dublin-born-and-raised boss is in the office today, he was looking for a Coke, I had just put some in the frig so they weren't yet cold. He said, "that doesn't bother me, I'm from Ireland." Gotta love it. :)

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KelliJo,

I'm glad to hear you are planning yet another trip to Ireland. Let us know if you need any suggestions. I always tell my husband not to take light pants but does he listen to me? No! It must be a "husband" thing.

West Cork is fantastic. You will enjoy exploring it next time.

Michele

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Hi Kelli Jo !  idea

I'm the wife of Irishjack, brand new to this site and looking for HELP ! When I saw your report I started to read and stopped when I saw you took a CIE tour! That's exactly what we're thinking of doing because our travel agent said it was the cheapest and best value than others like Globus, Cosmos and GCT (which we've done as Europe River cruise. Agent wants us to confirm in a few days to get early booking discounts for April or June 2009. April because it's cheaper and we'd like to visit Britain also since we're over there ( if$ possible).

I'd appreciate so much if you would give me your opinion of CIE and your self-drive tour a soon as possible.

Thanks SO much, 

Jan  

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Hi Jan aka Irishjack's wife!

I'm afraid I actually can't be of help regarding CIE's self drive tours. In 2005, I actually went on a CIE escorted coach tour. We didn't drive ourselves. It was a FANTASTIC trip, however! If you're interested in an escorted coach tour, I would recommend CIE very highly.

As for our recent trip in May, we did drive ourselves, but did not use any tour or 'booking' company. I planned and booked everything on my own using suggestions found on sites like this. As for your travel agent saying a CIE self guided (voucher) tour would be the best value...hmmm....I'm not 100% convinced. Over the other companies, maybe, but over booking everything yourself, that could be debated. The ease of the whole thing sounds very tempting, though, doesn't it? It's actually through these tour company trips that I get ideas for putting together an itinerary (routes, attractions, etc), I just don't go as far as actually booking with them.

On the money issue - NO trip to Europe would ever be considered inexpensive or "a good value" would it? :) HOWEVER, you can make yourself feel better right off the bat for choosing to stay in B&Bs instead of (most) hotels, because B&Bs do offer a great value, not to mention a great experience. So.....you'd already be spending your money wisely, if you want to look at it that way.

Sorry I can't answer your specific question!

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Kelli Jo,
Thanks for the FAST respons and info. Airfare IS scaring us! First, you can't get a price that far ahead and ones I see now *&(#@*$$$$$$
Seems like the CIE self drive includes air but haven't checked. Would Michele's book help US to plan the complete trip? Besides air, food, shows etc?

This would be 2008 book, need another one next year?
Sent a message to Michele, haven't heard back yet.

Please excuse ramblings, this is SO difficult.

Thanks again,

Jan  weirdface

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Jan,

I have emailed you. Also answered your other questions here on the forum. Yes, my book would help you plan the trip and put all the pieces together. Actually I wrote it to make planning easy!

Michele

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Thanks Michele,

 I'm feeling more confident after all the encouraging emails from you, Bit, Kelli JO and Meridith! My husband may be Irish handsome but detail oriented he's not! So I'll need all the help I can get from you gals. Isn't that the usual? HOW would we get along in this world without US? So I need some preliminary help please.

SO FAR, I've found airfares May 5-26 through Delta for $2008.30. Would June be MUCH better if air is more?       MORE Questions:

Is that a good price for that time?
Is that a good time of year for seeing things (festivals etc) ?
Is that enough/too much time?

Where/how do I choose car? What kind is best? SIZE  for roads, luggage, fuel efficiency, etc. I think automatic would be best for my husband's Irish temper !
Best to pay ahead?

Is it best to book B&B's/castle ahead?

YES, I'm ordering Michele's book !

But if any of you want to give me an idea of your Favorite ,Must see, Special places I would be so grateful.

I know I have a lot of `fun' work ahead of me so thanks for the support!

Arizona Jan  aww




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Jan,

That airfare sounds high to me. I suggest signing up for newsletters at the various airlines that fly to Ireland. You will then be notified of any deals. During the winter they run some good specials. The more off-season you can go, generally the better the airfares. so May might be lower than June (unless they have some specials going).

May is my favorite time of year for visiting Ireland. Favorite small town: Kenmare. Favorite city: Kilkenny.

Three weeks is a wonderful amount of time for Ireland. You will get to do and see a lot. Most people don't get that much time.

Get the smallest car that will fit you and your luggage. Please read my Car page. There is a lot of info you need to know to make yourself an informed consumer. This is one of the toughest parts of planning the whole trip. But you have time to get all your ducks in a row.

Most accommodations won't take bookings for next year till 2009. When you have your itinerary firmly in place, then is the time to make your bookings. If you are interested in a particular castle hotel sign up for their newsletter to be informed of specials.

You might want to post your questions back on the "Ask Michele" section of the forum. Then it will be easy to find all the Q&As for your trip under one post instead of scattered around the forum.

Michele


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Chiming in on what Michele said, I also sense that airfare you mention is much too high. You need to check some of the major travel search sites and compare a few of the results. You can certainly do better than what you initially mention.

Happy hunting!

-- Edited by Sidz at 10:16, 2008-07-28

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Give Vayama, Booking Buddy, and Sidestep a try to compare rates. I've found these sites cross check fares much better than the overhyped Travelocity or Expedia sites.




-- Edited by Sidz at 12:29, 2008-07-28

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Thanks Sidz,

Good advice for Jan.

Michele

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Yes, Thank you Sidz, wink

Followed your advice & entered into my notes. Also followed Michele and other's advice and signed up for airline newsletters. Now all I have to do is wait for the deluge of low price airfare for next year! I hope. Having to set up a notebook to sort things out.After reading all the wonderful travel reports of great places, I said yes, must go there, and there, etc. When I looked at the map of Ireland I realized it's going to take some planning and help to plot the right routes as you already know! Oh well, May is a way off.

Thanks all,

irishjack biggrin

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Have a basic idea on your routes, but don't over analyze that aspect of the trip. Getting lost a few times along the way is often the highlight of the travel experience. biggrin

-- Edited by Sidz at 09:39, 2008-07-29

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