Thursday, April 23, 2009

'Ireland' 2009


My husband and I just recently returned from a wonderful trip to Ireland. It was our first time there, and definitely not the last!
Our journey began in the fun city of Dublin. We spent two nights at the historic Shelbourne Hotel, 5 star accommodations in an excellent location, across the street from St. Stephen's Green and within walking distance to everything. Highly recommend it!
On Grafton St., only a couple of blocks from our hotel, you'll find a large selection of retail stores and a couple of department stores, including the very upscale retailer Brown Thomas. Restaurants and pubs, also all near by.
The must visit Temple Bar area was only a short walk from our hotel, (less than 10 min.), lots of pubs, music, restaurants, street musicians, did I mention pubs?
If short on time, like we were, one of the recommended things to do is to buy an all day Dublin bus, hop-on and hop-off tour ticket. It's a great way to see all the major sights in the city for about 15€ per person. Some of the stops along the way, St. Stephen's Green, Trinity College, Dublin Castle, St. Patrick's Cathedral, Temple Bar, Dublin Zoo, Guinness Storehouse and a lot more. It might seem corny, but you have to look beyond that, because this way you do get to see a lot of this wonderful, small city.
We had dinner at two terrific restaurants, the first night was at "The Eden" in the Temple Bar area, contemporary menu, very chic setting! We later read that it's Bono's favorite restaurant in Dublin.
The last night, we ate at "The Mermaid Cafe", very simple and minimalist decor, contemporary menu with a great emphasis on seafood.




Dublin Castle
Dublin Castle


Liffey River, Dublin


Ha'penny Bridge, Dublin


"Flower Lady"


"Queen of Tarts", the best little pastry shop in Dublin. Sweet and savory treats, soft drinks, coffee & tea.


Old Guinness bottles at The Guinness Storehouse, Dublin.


"Pub Musicians"


The Temple Bar


"Callas and rain boots" at The Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin.



On day three we rented a car and drove down to the small town of Kinsale, in County Cork. It was a hairy ride to say the least, driving on the other side of the road on very, very narrow roads, was a bit scary! My husband was the designated driver, I was the designated co-pilot/navigator. It took us about 5 hours to get there.



"Not our fault"


Mooooo

We saw lots of cows and lots and lots of sheep, the Irish country side is truly beautiful!


Kinsale is known as the gourmet capital of Ireland. Very quaint village with shops, B&B's, pubs and of course lots of restaurants. Since we were there early in the season, it was still pretty quiet for such a popular destination, but, we still enjoyed our stay, we did not have a problem getting a reservation for dinner and managed to do a little shopping.




Kinsale


Kinsale


Kinsale



The Vintage Restaurant, Kinsale



"Sunset", Kinsale

In Kinsale, we stayed at a B&B, it was my biggest disappointment yet as far as accommodations. The innkeeper, on the other hand, was very friendly, she gave us very good advice as to where to go and what to see, and she made the best porridge!! Yum


The best porridge!


County Cork


County Cork


County Cork


County Cork


County Cork


We had two wonderful dinners in Kinsale, the first night was at "The Vintage Restaurant". Very romantic and quite delicious. The second night was at the "Fishy, Fishy Cafe", where I had the best fish and chips. Contemporary, minimalist decor, seafood is their specialty.
The next morning after breakfast, prepared with maps and advise from our new friends in Kinsale, we headed up towards County Galway. We were told it will be a very long and ambitious trip, they were not kidding.





County Cork


"Love the sheep"

What a spectacular drive along the northern end of the Ring of Kerry, between the sheep and the breath-taking views. I was like a kid in a candy store, I didn't want it to end! My camera was getting quite the work-out.



Ring of Kerry


Ring of Kerry


Ring of Kerry

Ring of Kerry


"Abandoned", County Kerry


Ferry to County Clare


We were now on our away to the Cliffs of Moher, one of the most spectacular scenery on the west coast of Ireland. One of our new friends from Kinsale recommended we take the ferry across to County Clare, this way we would avoid having to drive through Limerick and all it's traffic. Once across, we still had a long drive ahead of us, and the day was getting shorter, we got a little lost, but finally made it!! WOW, how beautiful....


Cliffs of Moher


Cliffs of Moher


Cliffs of Moher


I wanted to stay and wait for the sunset, but that was still a good hour away and we still had to get to Galway. The last thing we wanted to do was have to drive at night, in an unfamiliar place, while tired and hungry. We'll be back!!


11 hours later, we arrived in Galway. We were tired, hungry and very thirsty, "how about a pint mate"? The G Hotel was our home for the next two nights, it is one of the coolest hotels I have ever stayed at. It was designed by Philip Treacy, a hat designer from County Galway. Bold colors, fun furnishings, comfortable large rooms and top notch service, with a smile! Since we got in so late, we decided to just enjoy the hotel, have a bite to eat and some well deserved libations. Our stay in this amazing place included breakfast, which by the way, was delicious.




Steve and I at The G Hotel, Galway


The G Hotel, Galway


The G Hotel


Our room at The G Hotel



The next day rained, but that did not stop us from doing a day trip to an area called Connemara, in the western part of County Galway. Our destination was a small town called Clifden, it had been recommended to us by a gentleman we met in Dublin.


"Closed for the Season", County Galway


"No Trespassing"


"Thatched"


Connemara, County Galway


"Wet sheep"

Abbeyglen Castle, Clifden


Abbeyglen Castle, Clifden


View from Sky Top Rd., Clifden


"Moooooo, hungry!"


Connemara, County Galway

"Thatched"

Connemara, County Galway


On our last night in Galway, we decided to eat at the restaurant in our hotel. We had been driving most of the day, and really did not feel like going any where. It was a good choice! Our dinner was wonderful.
The next morning after breakfast we departed to our final destination, Dromoland Castle in Newmarket on Fergus in County Clare. I wanted our last night in Ireland to be a special one, so that's why I chose Dromoland. As their history states, built in the 15th century, Dromoland was the ancestral home of the O'Briens, Barons of Inchiquin, who are one of the few native Gaelic families of royal blood and direct descendants of Brian Boroimhe (Boru) High King of Ireland, in the eleventh century. It was family owned until 1962 when it was sold to an American industrialist. It underwent major renovations and transformed into a luxury hotel, while preserving it's stately, baronial country house atmosphere.


Dromoland Castle, County Clare


Dromoland Castle


Dromoland Castle


Dromoland Castle


"Room with a view", Dromoland Castle


Horse and buggy ride


"Just a couple of tourists"


We basically didn't do much once we got to Dromoland. It was our last day and we wanted to just relax and enjoy the place. We did the horse and buggy ride on the property, then walked the grounds. There's a walled garden on the property, which I'm sure it's absolutely beautiful in the summer months, some things were blooming but for the most part not.


Walled garden


Chapel at Dromoland


"Duck Season", Dromoland


The bar room


The dining room


We had dinner at the castle that evening, very fancy, white glove service, harpist playing....
very $$$$, well you get the picture, but, it was our last night!


Ireland is a beautiful country and we met the nicest, friendliest people we've ever met in our travels. There was a lot we did not get to see this time, but I know we'll be back again!!

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