DAY 1: Welcome to Ireland
My family spent the week in Ireland hosted by my aunt and uncle, starting with a stay at their beautiful rental apartment on West Parnell Square, in Dublin.
“Three coffees. Sleep is for the weak,” I messaged my boyfriend shortly after arriving off an 8-hour flight. Apparently my body took that to heart. Little sleep the first night, and less the next made for a rough few days, but still a wonderful experience.
I spent the first afternoon exploring the streets, photographing the people, and stumbling onto the Garden of Remembrance – my first introduction to Ireland’s fraught and still-present past.
The first night we took a “musical pub crawl” that introduced us to “trad,” or Irish traditional music. Quote of the night, via the lead musician: “This next song is about alcohol… (crowd cheers) … ism. It’s about alcoholism and lost love — you cheered too soon.”
Incidentally, the crawl also introduced us to Guinness, which really is worlds better in its homeland, although I’ve never liked it in the States.
DAY 2: HOP ON, HOP OFF
Day 2 mercifully meant a relaxing hop-on, hop-off bus tour that gave us the cliff’s notes version of Dublin’s biggest sites. We “hopped off” at the historic Kilmainham Gaol, a massive stone prison that housed famous dissidents against the crown, and later Ireland’s own people during the civil war that followed.
Naturally, the final stop was the Guinness factory tour…
DAY 3: ‘WELL, IF YER HEART’S SET ON DINGLE…’
Final day in Dublin started by touring the Trinity College campus early, then seeing the incomparable Book of Kells. However, the highlight for me was ‘The Long Room’ – the massive college library lined floor to ceiling with books.
I spent the afternoon out with my sister, then went to dinner at a pub with my family. There, we met a pushy waiter who asked us where we were going next.
“Dingle,” my dad replied, referring to the peninsula town we were taking a train to the next day. The waiter wracked his brains, then said he’d never heard of that bar, before pushing us to go to a hotel pub nearby. He even wrote the name down, glancing up uncertainly as he underlined it twice, before conceding, “Well, if yer heart’s set on Dingle…”
DAY 4: ’40 SHADES OF GREEN’
When our cabby first picked us up from the airport he asked, “Is that enough green for you girls?” He boasted, “40 shades of green in Ireland!” Not that we were disappointed, but the train-ride to Dublin didn’t really yield anything that spectacular.
The western peninsula was another story. White-knuckled in a rental car speeding down the wrong side of impossibly narrow roads, we saw 40 shades of green, and then some.
My aunt and uncle’s rental home outside Dingle Town was what can only be called a villa, and even had a name — ‘Seastone House.’
We settled in after the long day’s travel, then ate in town.
DAY 5: ‘EVERYWHERE YOU LOOK IS IRELAND’
Day two in Dingle (my final day) was incredible. We took the peninsula’s Sleahead Drive, traveling along the country’s western rim where stunning sights cropped up every few feet along the narrow, winding roads.
We detoured to visit the beach…
… then for an old fort and older cliffs.
Shortly after, we visited roadside beehive stone huts pieced together by monks long ago.
After that, we started winding up the mountainside. Those narrow roads I keep talking about? No joke. (that’s supposedly two-lane, by the way)
But it was well worth the drive. We could see the Blasket Islands from the roadside, and even a crucifix improbably tucked into a mountainside juncture.
Eventually, the drive opened up to reveal this:
And later, this:
And that was the last big thing. I got dinner with my family that night, and left for the eight-hour flight home about 6:30 a.m. the next morning.
Going to end by saying THANK YOU again to my Aunt Carolyn and Uncle Peter for hosting us, and to my parents for agreeing to drag my sister and I along. Final photo, of course, is the whole gang:
I took about 150 pictures total, and if you have nothing better to do, you can see them all here.