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Lived My Dream

Hello Michele and forum friends!

I hardly know where to begin telling of the magical journey I arrived home from Sat. night!  So I guess I'll start at the beginning!  I'll probably do this in a couple of differant chapters so I can cover most of it.

The way the trip started didn't really indicate that it was going to be magical, me misplacing my boarding pass and panicking, the turbulent flight, my friend getting sick and the one and a half hour wait at Dublin before landing in Shannon.  I must admit I was quite grouchy by the time we got to the Thrifty desk to pick up our car.  We were going to have to pay an extra 8euros per day for me to be able to drive as well as my friend.  The desk fellow wondered if we wanted the extra insurance as well.  I kind of rolled my eyes and he offered to include the daily price for me to drive as well.  So we took it to be on the safe side and have peace of mind.  It was quite nerve wracking driving through our first roundabout in our tiny Hyandai Atos(which later on I'm proud to say we mastered quite nicely).  Arrived at Bunratty Lodge, where our sweet hostess insisted on us having a nap before we ventured out anywhere.  Good advice!  We didn't have nerve yet to drive very far so we went down the road to Durty Nelly's for a bite to eat(where I had my first taste of Irish soil in my salad!) and gazed upon Bunratty Castle(the first of many!).  It was relaxing and we could start to feel the magic!  Mary's breakfast the next day was marvelous.  We wrote down her recipe for  soda bread which was the best I had on our whole trip!  We got our bearings and headed off to view Knappogue Castle which we loved seeing and then headed on to Quin Abbey.  On the way there, some cows were in front of us on the road and it looked like they were dancing as they sped up.  It was a very funny sight indeed!  Off to Bunratty Folk Park next, where we enjoyed the sunny day and some Guiness in Mac's Pub.  Magic occured for me when I looked down at my drink and saw the imprint of a shamrock in the head of my Guiness!  Another sweet moment was when I heard some children singing "Baa Baa Black Sheep", turned around and saw four young boys clinging to a fence looking over the sheep and there really was one black sheep they were singing to!  I quickly whipped out my digital and captured the moment.  We did the banquet that evening and were not disappointed.  The entertainment and the food were very good.

Said "goodbye" to Mary the next morning and started the next leg of our trip.  Drove through Ennis and found it very confusing.  I liked Ennistimon much better.  When we got to the Cliffs of Moher it had started raining, but that did not dampen our enthusiasm(pun intended!).  They were simply amazing! You feel so insignificant compared to such a majestic sight.  The rain continued on so we did not see much of the Burren.  We still had to drive through Galway to get to our B&B in Spiddal.  That was kind of confusing for us as we still were not used to their road signs(or lack of) yet!  Our B&B in Spiddal was Tuar Beag, which was very nice but we were disappointed that we didn't get to meet the owners.  I think they mostly had hired help serving the breakfast and an unfriendly daughter that showed us the way to our room.  I did really like the sights in Spiddal though and struck up some conversation with a couple of locals in one of the charming pubs.  The next day we toured through the Connemara which I absolutely loved.  I felt like I had come home!  Perhaps  some genetic memory from the Monahans or O'Flaherty's on my mother's side!  Oh the beautiful sight of Kylemore Abbey against the misty mountain!  Absolutely breathtaking!  This was definitely one of my favourite sights in the two glorious weeks.  We were getting a little frightened at the sight of our declining gas gage.  My friend didn't want to stop for gas in Clifden as I had suggested.  Mountain driving does take a lot too!  We didn't see any gas stations until we arrived in Cong. 

The moment had arrived for our Ashford Castle stay!  It was definitely a highlight of the trip.  Never before have I been treated so royally!  Someone to park your car and carry your luggage to your room, oh my!  I live a fairly simple life, so all of this was the ultimate to me!  And our room!  Oh our room!  Fluffy bathrobes, slippers, champagne and sherry!  The views of the Cong river from our many windows were spectacular(I'm running out of adjectives!) They had upgraded our room for some reason which didn't hurt our feelings at all!  Although it was still rainy, it did not diminish our enthusiam.  After wallowing in luxury for a couple of hours we decided to head into town for a bite to eat as we could not afford the castle dinner.  Much to our dismay there was little to be had!  However a trip down to the Dungeon Bar in the castle saved the evening.  There was a lovely harpist/guitarist named Annette Griffin to entertain us with her very beautiful voice.  She encouraged us all to sing along and a few people got up to sing their favourites with her.  Imagine my surprise when she asked me to come up and sing.  I said"how did you know I'm a singer?"  She replied"I can just tell".  So I sang "The Rose" and "Wind Beneath My Wings" with her.  By this point I had to pinch myself, realizing I had just sang in a castle!!!  Not just one of the highlights of the trip, but of my life!

The next morning we toured the castle grounds when the rain let up and wished we could of had more time to spend there.  As it was we had to start our fairly long, uneventful journey down to Killarney.  Another beautiful part of the country.  We stayed in "Kingdom View" B&B which we loved.  Our hostess Eileen was ever so accommodating, arranging for our Gap of Dunloe trip and guiding us to free parking in the town.  My only wish was that the B&B was closer to town so we could have enjoyed some trad music without worrying about the distance.  But the view was a tradeoff.  The moon was full as we sat outside enjoying the view and our Bailey's each night we were there! 

The Gap of Dunloe tour was awesome.  Some drawbacks though were the horrible, dirty washrooms across from Kate Kearney's cottage and the pushiness of the trap drivers.  We didn't like our trap driver at all.  He didn't talk to us, just kept on urging his poor, overworked old horse up the hills, "Come on Jack, Jack, Jack, come on lad" the whole ride!  Thankfully for the horses sake we got out and walked up the biggest hills!  My palms got instantly sweaty as we made our way down the big hill...all I could think of was"I hope Jack doesn't want to commit suicide" as I looked upon the rocks down below where surely my head would land when the cart went over!He was slipping quite a bit and us four passengers were getting quite concerned!  Honestly, I can laugh about it now!!!!  But the scenery was worth it!  The boat trip was very enjoyable, the tour guide actually had a good sense of humour and was knowledgeable about the area.  On our way home we found Torc Waterfall and reveled in the beauty of it. We walked up part of the "stairway to heaven" but got too tired and turned back.  Does anyone know what's at the top of them?

The next day we did the Ring of Kerry.  I had wanted to do the Beara Peninsula, but my friend wanted ROK and I had to remind myself that this was her vacation too!  There were a few spectacular sights along the way, but not as many as I had imagined there would be.  We almost had a conniption driving through Moll's Gap.  It was very beautiful, but scary when you're afraid of heights!  We thought Kenmare a very charming town.

Well, I guess I'll continue the rest of this a little later, I'm getting rather long winded and will give you a break now! 

Deborah Vindasius

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Yikes! I thought I responded to this yearlier today, but I must have forgotten to hit Submit.

Welcome home! And thank you for taking the time to report. I'm so glad you liked the Connemara region. We spent time there on our first trip and were quite taken with the beauty of the area. That endless walk from Torc waterfall does seem close to endless. We met up with some one else halfway who said it was too long a walk and simply not worth it. We continued up anyway. We were beat, but the view was just gorgeous. I can't seem to find my pictures of it, but at some point I will and I'll try to post. That being said, there are so many stunning views in the area that I'm sure you simply substituted some other incredible experience for the Torc hike experience. I'm sorry to hear that you didn't get to Beara, but perhaps for another trip...




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Welcome back! Thanks for starting on your trip report. It sounds marvelous so far. So many fun things, especially your room upgrade and singing in Ashford Castle.

Like oopsy said, there are good views from near the top of Torc Waterfall. Personally, I think the view from Aghadoe is the best of Killarney and the area.

Keep the narrative coming. We can't wait for the rest.



"Ireland Expert"  Michele Erdvig

Click links for Michele's Book or Custom Ireland Itinerary

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I can't wait for the next installment. Glad to hear your trip was a dream come true.

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