Sunday, November 29, 2015

Six Days in Ireland

I bet you were wondering where I have been.  Did you miss me? 

My husband does quite a bit of traveling as part of his job.  Most of this is to conferences and meetings here in the US.  From time to time, he does some international travel.  I tagged along last week on his trip to Ireland.  He left a few days ahead of me, on Saturday 11/14, to fulfill his business commitments, and I joined him five days later to extend his trip to do fun stuff.  What made the trip even better is that our friends Kim and Andy came along with me.

It was a whirlwind adventure, put together almost last minute.  I'm going to share it with you in this one long, long post ... 86 photos, so settle in and enjoy the journey.


As we waited at Dulles Airport for our flight, the rainy sky parted and it looked as if the end of the rainbow was squarely on our plane.  I took this as a good omen, considering we were jetting off to the land of Leprechauns.

Great big plane from Dulles (DC) ...

... overnight to London (Heathrow), then onward to Dublin, Ireland.

Hello, Ireland!  It was Friday when we landed in Dublin ...

... picked up our rental car, and drove to Cork.  This was the view from our hotel room.

Our dinner destination.

A war memorial in Cork.

Christmas decorations.

St. Finbarre's Cathedral.

I made a mental note to go back here when it was open.

Finished the first evening at a pub across the street from our hotel ...

... with a pint of local beer.

Does this look like the face of someone who hadn't been to bed in close to 36 hours?  Yes, yes it does.

After a full night's sleep, the four of us ate breakfast at the hotel then hopped into the rental car to head west.  Kim was our designated driver, since she has the easiest time switching her brain to think on the opposite side of the road.

Delicious hotel breakfast buffet.

First stop.

Kerry Woollen Mills.

Yarn!  I wanted it all, but I only bought one skein.

Sweaters, and scarves, and hats!  It was a wonderland.

Grey sky and green Irish countryside, on the left side of the road.

Church in Dingle.  The tree is a Cordyline, native to New Zealand and common along the UK coast.

Interesting building in Dingle.

One can get Chinese carry-out anywhere in the world.

Dingle Crystal.  Founded by a former master artist from Waterford, and it's the only company left in Ireland that produces their product IN Ireland.

Sheep and cottages... so VERY Irish.

Cliffs and coastline along the Slea Head Road, which loops around the Dingle peninsula.

Roadside sheep.

We spent the entire day at Blarney Castle near Cork.

View of the castle itself as we approached.

Stone gate posts at Blarney Castle.

The Blarney Stone is at the top of the castle.

The climb to the top begins with gentle, wide staircase with a substantial handrail ...

... and soon turns into narrow spiral stairs with a rope to hold onto.

View from one level of the tower into a lower room.

Here we are, at the top.  I did not feel the need to kiss the Blarney Stone.  Those who do are said to receive the gift of eloquence.  I have enough of that, thank you very much.

The castle grounds are gorgeous.  This is The Poison Garden, planted with poisonous plants with descriptive plaques.

A tropical border.

Stone gateway.

Herbaceous border.  The wooden arches are planted with rambler roses ... alternating 'Francois Juranville' and 'City of York'.

'Francois Juranville'

'City of York'

Photo of my husband a much-more-rested me, under the roses.

The most photographed tree at Blarney Castle, an ancient Thuja plicata.

The Fern Garden.  The tree ferns in this garden make it feel as if a dinosaur could wander by at any moment.

Blarney Woollen Mills, billed as the largest Irish shop in the world.

Our dinner destination, at the suggestion of our hotel desk clerk.  I had smoked haddock, and it was superb!

Sight-seeing around town in Cork.

Climbing the hill to St. Anne's Church.

Let's see the sanctuary.

Beautiful stained glass window!

Let's climb the tower!

The first level of the tower had a display of figures that were once on the outside of the tower.

Visitors are encouraged to use the song book and play a tune on the church's bells ... not too much, though, out of courtesy to the neighbors.

About the church.

Hearing protection is provided.  Look how narrow that staircase is ...

... and it has the familiar rope handrail for safety.

Next level, and we can see the bells themselves.

We had a wonderful 360-degree view of Cork from the top of the tower.

Singer sewing center in Cork, with all-over floral design on the building.

I couldn't resist photographing this building.

An Aran sweater tea cozy in the window of a yarn shop.

The much-anticipated return to the book store!

There was a small selection of rose books ... nothing that I was tempted to buy, though.

The four of us hit the road in the rental car again and headed half-an-hour south of Cork to Cobh ... which was the last stop of the Titanic to pick up passengers before it headed for open ocean.  Our destination was the Titanic Experience museum.

First stop was lunch at the Titanic Bar and Grill.

The museum recreated examples of passenger cabins.  In third class, I was surprised to see that these were luxurious (by the standards of the passengers) with running water and meals.

As expected, First Class cabins were well decorated and comfortable.

Cobh Cathedral.

Memorial to the Titanic.

Fishing boats in Cobh, tied up for the night.

Time to leave Cork, and head 2 1/2 hours back to Dublin.

It was a grey day, as I took that last look at Cork from the glass elevator in our hotel.



We stopped in Johnstown to fuel the car.  This little lady and her friends were across the street from the petrol station.

Quick snapshot of the cemetery in Johnstown, taken from the moving car.  We didn't have time to spare for me to wander around there.  (I'm okay with that.)

Hello, Dublin!  

We had only the afternoon to walk the town and see a few sights. 

Our main objective was to go to Trinity College to see The Book of Kells.  The exhibit was super, and the book itself was a beautiful thing, with perfect lettering and detailed illuminated drawings, gilt work, and borders, all produced around the year 800.  (No photography permitted, though, dang it.)

Included in admission to the Book of Kells is a walk through The Long Room, part of the library of Trinity College.

The Long Room is an awe-inspiring space!

To finish the day, we wandered through Dublin's city center.


Colorful store front.

Christ Church.

Guinness Storehouse and Factory.  It was late, and we were hungry, and we just wanted to visit their gift shop.  Access to it was only included in the tour price (20 Euros), so we declined.

Dinner was chosen on a recommendation from our cab driver.  I ordered fish and chips, billed as the best in Dublin ... it was delicious!  Ordered peas as my side dish.  Server said, "They're mushy peas, is that alright?"  I replied, "That's perfect!"

Travel Day.  We returned our rental car, and caught the shuttle bus to the airport.

The place was full of big green airplanes.

Our trip to Ireland ended as it began, with a rainbow.

Bye bye, Ireland ...

... and hello, Virginia!

Back at Dulles.

Ireland has always been one of those places that I really wanted to see.  When my husband floated the idea of tagging along on the end of his business trip there, all of the necessary details fell into place perfectly.  We found super affordable air fare, my parents were available to keep the dogs for us, and our daughter looked after the cats at home.  It was an unforgettable adventure.


  1. Oh i'm so glad you got to go!!! That would be a trip of a lifetime for me too!! I'm just a little green with envy but green thats irish too right?! LOL ! All the way to Ireland and you didn't kiss the Blarney Stone!!! Connie!!! When i read that i found myself talking outloud to the computer screen...' How could she not kiss the Blarney Stone!!?; LOL! Thanks so much for taking us along ! I know what pain it must have been to load all those pictures... Hugs! deb

    1. I'm glad, too! If you'd been there, you'd see that kissing the Blarney Stone isn't that big a deal (at least to me, that is.) Stand in line, lie on your back with your torso over a big space in the tower wall, bend backward while some Irish guy gives you instructions, kiss the stone, next. Not for me. I'm not a joiner ... but you already knew that.

      It took a couple of mornings to gather and format the photos. Not too bad, really.

  2. What fun!!!! I'm so envious!!!!!!!! What I wouldn't give to visit Ireland - those shops look amazing (oh the wool shop and that bookstore!!!!!!!!)

    Thanks for sharing your photos - for now, I'll live vicariously! :)

    1. Oh, the shops! It was so tempting to load up on all the great stuff that we saw. The Euro/Dollar exchange rate is decent, and Irish prices are very reasonable.

  3. Wow! Incredible! I've always longed to visit Ireland, too. I love that you did this all in one post. I think travel posts lose a little something when they're broken up. I just love all the pops of red! It looks so beautiful in that light. And how sweet is the aran cozie?! I want an Aran sweater in that color! I love them so much. Even if they make me look like a beached, but cozy, whale.

    1. I briefly thought about breaking this into multiple posts, then decided against it. As long as it wasn't grueling to get through, I wanted to leave it as a whirlwind, activity-filled post ... just like the week had been. Besides, I'm not sure that I have the concentration to stick with multiple posts on a timely schedule.

      Realized that Ireland is so green BECAUSE of the grey skies and frequent rain. Temps were comfortable for our visit, with my trusty Eddie Bauer jacket and blanket scarf. It was wonderful to just wander and soak up all the sights.

      I totally get it about the Aran sweater. There are so many more styles available in the stores there than we get over here. Using the cozy as inspiration, I am totally gonna knit an Aran sweater for Winnie!

  4. WONDERFUL!!! I was in Ireland for four days back in 2005, and have always wanted to go again. I was in Ennis and the western areas, but didn't get to see Dublin or any of the places you went, so this was a fantastic post for me!!! Thank you SO much for posting all the pictures and giving us such a wonderful tour. Of course, this makes me want to go back even more! ;-)

    1. Our friends Kim and Andy were in western Ireland in 2005, too. They were the ones that suggested the day in Dingle and on the Slea Head Road, since they had enjoyed it so much when they were there. We had lunch in Dingle, at a restaurant owned by a local seafood company ... probably the best oysters that I have EVER eaten! Tasted just like the sea.

      Dublin is crowded and hectic, but has wonderful things to see and do. I liked Cork a lot more. Big city stuff, with a small city feel.

  5. What an amazing trip! I loved all the photos and it looks like a wonderful place to visit!

    1. I loved this trip so much! Six days was the perfect amount of time to be away from home, and we packed SO much into our time in Ireland. I'm glad you enjoyed coming along with us. :)

  6. "...tagged along to Ireland..." you POOR, POOR thing! lol Loved the travelogue; it was perfect and so very much a reminder of my 2013 trip to Ireland. I went to all the same places, save for Cork...bypassed Cork...and loved, loved, loved Dingle. I think I could live in Dingle. If I'd seen the little Aran knit tea cozy it would now be home with me. I missed Queen of Tarts tea room,,, wish I'd gone but wasn't time for everything.
    THANKS for your travelogue; loved every word, every photo!

    1. It's been a lot of years since I went along with him on a business trip. This one was perfect.

      Cork is a great small city. It was easy to get around, and there was a lot to do there and in the vicinity. I agree with you about Dingle. Everyone there, and everywhere else that we traveled, was really chatty and friendly ... my kind of people.

  7. Oh- How fun! Ireland is just magical. Do you know my oldest daughter almost married the son of the CEO of Guinness Beer in Dublin? He was a looker-looked like Tom Cruise. Sadly, he did not want to come stateside and she did not want to spend her life in Ireland.
    Those are all just great pictures, Connie. Memories to last a lifetime! xo Diana

    1. I did a lot of "pinch me, 'cause I can't really be in Ireland" while I was there.

      Just wasn't meant to be with you daughter, I guess. Cool story.

  8. Connie, how nice for you to tag along to Ireland! How marvelous---I do want to visit Ireland one day. I used to tag along with my husband when he was on travel, but never to Ireland. ♥

    1. Makes the trip a whole lot more economical when we travel along with his business commitments. :)

      You would love Ireland a LOT!

  9. What a wonderful adventure. I thoroughly enjoyed your pictures and narrative.... almost like a mini vacation. Thanks for sharing with us here!

    1. I'm glad that you enjoyed it, as much loved putting this together for you!

  10. OH.WOW! Only one thing didn't appeal to me, those super narrow stairs. I doubt my legs could handle them, but the claustrophobia probably would have gotten the best of me.

    1. Steep narrow stairs and hills to climb seem to be the norm where we were. Stairs would start out relatively gentle and would get narrower with each flight. You could wait for us to come back down.

  11. Hurray for you how this all worked out, complete with a rainbow coming and going. WOW. Pictures are wonderful.

    Thank you for sharing your adventure ~ FlowerLady

    1. You are VERY welcome! I hadn't seen the rainbow as we left, till I turned to take that photo out the window of the plane. Was really appropriate, since it truly felt like this trip was a treasure.

  12. Fun trip, glad you posted pictures along the way, both Bob and I really enjoyed it! Sending him the blog right now. I probably would have been unable to resist buying more yard... ;)

    1. Posting daily, like I did on FB, is my way to let friends and family in on what we are doing. My mom especially likes it. It also helps me remember what we did each day, before it blurred into the frenzy of activities on successive days.

      I wanted more yarn, but I couldn't justify adding it to my already enormous stash. It was really hard to do.

  13. OH MY! So very happy for you. (And just a wee bit jealous for myself).
    But I now have another place to add to the bucket list, so I thank you.
    Beginning and ending the trip with a rainbow was magical. Everything in between just delightful.

    1. There is so much to do in Ireland, and the prices there are very reasonable. People are friendly, chatty, and helpful. We had a wonderful time.

  14. One of my favorite spots on all the earth!
    So pleased you were able to make the journey.

    1. I can see why you love it there so much. We had a really, really great trip.

  15. Oh how wonderful! Thanks so much for sharing your trip with us, Connie. I loved seeing it all through your eyes! Ireland is on our "to do" list for sure. :-)


    1. I loved Ireland, and I know that you will, too, if you get to go.

  16. How exciting! How do you remember all the plant names? Your pictures are wonderful! Thank you for sharing them here. :)

    1. Here's my secret to remembering the plant names ... I take a photo of the tag after I finish photographing the plant. At Blarney Castle, almost all of the plants were labeled. In the case of the tree in Dingle, our friend did a quick Google search. Something like "palm tree Ireland" and Cordyline came up.

  17. I'm so jealous! Looks like a fabulous trip!

    1. It was fabulous! My husband and I had a great time, and Winnie and Ruby were spoiled beyond rotten at Grandmother's house while we were gone. Everyone wins!

  18. I am glad the stars (and rainbows) aligned and you were able to take this trip. I am also glad you shared the photos.

    1. Everything did work out perfectly. Hotel was reasonable, we caught a great deal on airfare, and schedules lined up without too much hassle.

      The rainbow thing was really freaky.

  19. What an awesome trip! Thank you for sharing, I so enjoyed this post. And I LOVE Dingle!!... escpecially the stone building, love it.

    1. Everywhere I turned throughout our trip, there were interesting buildings begging to be photographed. Stone seems to be the primary material ... there are a LOT of rocks available and little timber, especially on the western coast.

  20. Wonderful, wonderful pictures! My mother is from the UK, so I really enjoyed seeing all that green again. Such a beautiful part of the world. Glad you had such a good time!

    1. Thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed it. It feels a bit like Ireland today here in Virginia ... chilly, grey, and rainy.

  21. So very glad you were able to go. The entire trip looks like a fairy tale, especially Cork. Thanks for sharing your adventure with us.

    1. I'm really glad that I went, too! Cork is a great little 'big' city. It's where the part of my husband's company is located. He has been there before, so he knows his way around ... which always helps when one is on vacation.

  22. I'm so envious! I'd love to see Ireland some day. Mushy peas - yum! And how did you manage to walk out of there with only one skein? I'm in awe of your restraint. LOL

    1. We had o much fun.

      I had been warned about mushy peas before I went to England last year. Figured that they couldn't possibly be what was described, so I tried them at my first opportunity. When in Rome, or The British Isles ... you know the rest. Discovered that I really like them.

      If I had any idea of what to do with more yarn, I would have stocked up. The emotional weight of my yarn and fabric stash was insisting that I be a bit more practical. I'm okay with it.

  23. Wow, that was truly amazing!!!
    Thank you for taking me on this virtual trip.
    I loved seeing EVERYTHING!
    So envious! LOL!
    I would have had to kiss the Blarney Stone tho.
    Too funny.
    Such a great trip. I'm so glad it fell together like that.
    Obviously meant to happen.
    Thanks again!

    1. So many moving parts had to come together to make this trip possible. It truly is a miracle that it worked out.

      I'm not sorry one bit that I didn't kiss that Blarney Stone. I am, however, really glad that I got to see what all the fuss is about.


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