Saturday, June 22, 2013

Ireland for St. Patrick's Day. . . really?!?

soooo. . . kinda crazy that I can do this now . . . but back in March a co-worker and I were talking and she mentioned that St. Patrick's day was coming up next week. . . it was then that I realized I had that whole weekend off!!  After a few small adjustments to the calendar I managed to have 6 days off in a row without taking a vacation day.  I promptly called up my husband.  "Would you like to be in Ireland for St. Patrick's day?"  Two hours later we had a plane ticket, rental car and BnB set up.  That easy!!  Talk about a dream come true! . . (and relatively inexpensive I might add)!

We set out on RyanAir (cheap fares but be wary of extra hidden costs, luggage size and weight and having something peddled to you throughout your flight) and reserved a rental car for the entire 6 days.  Little did we know that the rental car would be a stick shift.  Not only did Clayton sit on the right side of the car but now he had to operate the stick shift with his left hand.  He was a tad nervous but drove impeccably throughout the week :-) 

After landing in Kerry airport we set off immediately to Glin where we spent the night in the Old Castle Bed and Breakfast.  This is a BnB close to my heart as my mother and I stayed here on my first journey to Ireland back in 2008 and loved it!!  I was not disappointed the second time!

The second day we started off on a journey to the opposite side of the Island. . . we just HAD to be in Dublin for the parade you see.  Our first stop was the Rock of Cashel where the kings of old had ruled Ireland.  It is here that the original St. Patrick's Cross is held.  Ahhh. . . what had they done to the Rock of Cashel!!!  It had none of the awe that I had remembered as one whole side of it was covered in scaffolding and tarps!  I was utterly disappointed.  This had been one of the highlights of my first visit and I was shocked, dismayed, let down and appalled that I would not have the same experience with it this time.  We decided to picture it from afar and not pay the 12 euro a person to enter. 

We did, however, get to enjoy Hore Abbey right at the base of the famous Rock. . . it, at least, was not defiled.


Onward, we went, to Cahir Castle.  This Castle was a pretty as a picture (complete with swans!).  We basically had it all to ourselves and enjoyed it thoroughly . . . until the rain set in.  Built in 1142, Cahir castle is one the largest castles in Ireland.  It was built on an island in the river Suir (thus the swans) and it's dark history includes wars, murder, sieges and treason. . . . sigh. . . .
We ended our day in a small BnB on the outskirts of Dublin city center . . tired  . . but excited for March 17th 2013!


St. Patrick's found us cold and wet . . . waiting for 15 minutes under a little roof for the bus to take us into the city center, walking and additional 20 minutes to get to the parade site as the roads were closed off, getting there 2 hours early and walking through the cobblestone streets . . . all in the rain!  When it came time for the parade we were able to wiggle our way, strategically I might add, to the very front line of the parade.  <more rain> What was I expecting from the Dublin St. Patrick's Day parade you might ask. . . definitely not what I received, that's for sure!  I guess the experience was worth it. . . but really??!!  Could they have possibly found more adults to be in the Parade??  And maybe a few local bands instead of all U.S. high school and junior college performers? <more rain> We decided not to stay in town after the parade was finished a few hours later. . . we were cold, soaked, and surrounded by 14 year olds all talking about how they were going to get smashed that night.  Clayton was able to snap some rather funny pictures, however, of some of the O'Heede relatives (at least that's what he called them).


The next day we drove south, south, south. . . through beautiful Co. Wexford (where have you been all my life) down to Johnstown Castle (cannot stress how absolutely beautiful this castle was . . especially the grounds surrounding it. . .perfectly situated) then further down to Kilmore Quay Harbor.  Such beauty met us in this small harbor town. . . the slight, salted ocean wind . . . a stroll (hand in hand) down to the harbor where seagulls were soaring overhead . . . we could have stayed there all day had it not started to get dark . . lovely!

We ended the day in Lismore where we were granted an amazing experience with Lismore Castle at night.  As we walked across a quaint bridge lit by Victorian street lights the castle was shinning like an elaborate star. 

 (Co. Wexford)

(Johnstown Castle and grounds)

(Kilmore Quay Harbor)

Lismore Castle by day was just as enchanting! Unfortunately we were not allowed inside the castle (we tried to sneak in) as it is a private residence and only opened during certain times of the year. Fine! . . we will go to Blarney then!

(Lismore Castle)

Blarney Castle was packed with people :-(  As Clayton did not feel the need to stand in a 2 hour long line to kiss the Blarney Stone and I have already experienced pressing my lips to said stone, we decided to enjoy the beauty of the castle grounds.  Our day ended with the drive down to Cobh.  Cobh is a small little harbor town on the southern coastline of Ireland famous for being the last port stop of the Titanic before it's fateful journey.  It was a cute town with colorful buildings.  We enjoyed a cup o'coffee, sandwiches, tea and a stroll through town and harbor before heading off again to a small town at the base of the Ring of Kerry (our next day's adventure).  We enjoyed great food at the pub as well as traditional Irish live music.  We went to bed early . . . we had a plane to catch the next day and decided to rise before the sun in order to drive the Ring of Kerry before heading back to Germany.

(Blarney Castle grounds)

(cute, colorful, fated city of Cobh)


5 o'clock am. . . . ugh. . . why did I agree to this.  The car is empty of gas. . . the gas station doesn't open until 7 o'clock. . . sigh . . .

It was worth it . . . the sun rising over the vast beauty of that rugged country had this California girl in awe . . almost in tears.  Some of my favorite shots of the whole weekend were taken here . . . a monolithic grave sight. . . a lone sheep on a rocky crest . .  (there were four to begin with. . . I was trying to pet at least one, climbed up the face of the crest, scared three off)  . . . Ireland, Oh Ireland. . . how I love thee . .

(Monolithic Burial site)

 (lone sheep on a rocky crest)

Ballycarberry Castle was the perfect ending to our trip. . . a deserted castle with no entrance fees (just a small fence and a "private property" sign we had to bypass).  It as like and adult playground with half crumbled staircases, no railings, hidden rooms and a beautiful view of the countryside. Clayton had himself a very happy traveler this day.

After much thought I have decided what my next dream in life should be . . I would like to own a cottage in Co. Kerry and would like to spend at least one month a year there.  It would do wonders for my mind . . body. . spirit. 

Until then, it was back to Germany and LRMC . . .