Leah’s Leaping over the Pond

Leah’s Leaping over the Pond

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Brace yourself, Ireland, Texas is coming. That’s right, at the beginning of April, I’m taking my best friend, Karlin, to the Emerald Isle. It’s a girls’ trip, y’all! You might remember Karlin from our road trip to New Orleans. She’s been my side kick for a quazillion {made-up word} adventures. I can’t wait to cross the pond with her and knock numbers 29 and 47 off my bucket list.

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Here’s how the trip came about:

Me: {reading email} I can’t believe the awesome deal on flights from Houston to Dublin! I’m going. {calls Karlin}

Karlin: Hello?

Me: Hey. I’m going to Ireland in April. You wanna go?

Karlin: Yeah. Ok.

Karlin and I quickly decided on the dates and bought our tickets. The itinerary took a little longer to hammer out, but with the help of Ireland expert and travel agent extraordinaire, Ginger Aarons, we were able to come up with a plan of action.

Since Ginger, owner of Time Travel Tours, only focuses on Ireland and the British Isles, I knew we were in good hands. Not only has she lined out attractions, hotels, restaurants, and shopping along our route, she’s also given me driving directions and varied itineraries in case of rain. And guess what? All of this came about from a simple dialogue on Twitter. Y’all know how I love my Twitter! {Ahem…TexasTweetUp…Ahem}

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We’ve got a lot of living to do in six full days! If it can be done, Karlin and I can do it. Here’s what we have in store:

 

DAY 1, DUBLIN

First and foremost, we’re going to want to wash the plane off of us, so we’ll check into the fantabulous {yeah, that’s not a real word} Westbury Hotel on Grafton Street. The hotel looks totally modern and simply spectacular.

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Once settled, we’ll hit the Dublin streets. A Guinness Brewery Tour, a walking history tour of the city, visiting Trinity College and the Book of Kells, and shopping on Grafton Street are all high on our priority list. Whew! I’m kind of exhausted just typing all of that. They sell Red Bull in Ireland, right? No matter. If we don’t get to everything, we’ll have more time in Dublin the day before we head home.

 

Day 2, Waterford:

Thanks to my three-week road trip in New Zealand, I’m an EXPERT at driving on the left. Therefore, I’ll be the captain of our rental car with Karlin as my navigator. She and I are hitting the road early for our second day in Ireland. We’ll head south out of Dublin to Wicklow. If the weather’s nice we’ll visit Powerscourt or Mt. Usher Gardens. Then it’s on to Glendalough, where we’ll see a monastery that dates to the sixth century. We’ll cross the Wicklow Mountains to Kilkenny. A stop at Jerpoint Abbey and Kilkenney Castle is planned. The last detour before we get to Waterford is the Dunbrody Ship.

It’s a lot to see and do for one day, so we’ll be very eager to get to the Granville Hotel and its water-front view.

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Day 3: Cork

After our morning crystal shopping and tour, Karlin and I are headed to Cork. Along the way we’re going to make several stops, first and foremost in Youghai, a quaint seaside town. I have a feeling this will be my favorite place in all of Ireland, if only for the name.  It’s pronounced “y’all” and everyone knows that’s my favorite word!

Who would dream of going to Ireland and not visiting a whiskey distillery? Not I! Midleton, home of the Jameson Distillery, is our next destination. After all that whiskey, we’re going to need food. Perhaps lunch at Farmgate Cafe? From there, we’re off to Cobh. You may know the name because it was the last place the Titanic set sail before heading to America.

And last, but definitely not least, Karlin and I are off to the Blarney Castle. Everyone knows that kissing the Blarney Stone is suppose to grant the kisser eloquent speech. I’ll admit, that’s about the extent of my knowledge. Fortunately for me, Karlin was a world history teacher for fifteen years or so. She’s already spouted off tons of dates and names that went way over my head. In fact, she got goosebumps telling me about the castle. So, I’m pretty excited for the field trip by Teacher Karlin.

Waiting for us in Cork will be the folks at Hayfield Manor. After a long day on the road, who wouldn’t want to be greeted by an Irishman in a top hat and tails? One look at the beautiful gardens, unbelievable antiques, and the luxurious rooms, I knew the Hayfield would be our home while in Cork.

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In the morning before leaving Cork, we’ll grab some snacks for the road at the English Market. It’s been in operation since 1788. Wowzer!

 

Day 4, Shannon

This will be one our longest days on the road, but we’re Texans! We’re used to driving forever to get where we want to go. Out of Cork, we’re off towards Killarney where we’ll pass through Moll’s Gap and stop at Ladies View and a fabulous photo op. A jumping picture perhaps? Me thinks YES!

From Killarney, we’ll drive towards the Dingle Peninsula and around Slea Head. There’s so much to see along the way, including the Dunbeg Fort, Beehive Huts, Gallarus Oratory, Reasc Monastery, and Kilmalkedar.

When Karlin and I came together with our Ireland to-do lists, number one for me was to stay in a castle. This was a non-negotiable. So when I found Dromoland Castle online, I was smitten. After all, Dromoland isn’t some drafty, run-down castle. It’s a five-star luxury accommodation overlooking a lake. We can even play golf, try my hand at falconry {yes, please!}, or fish if we wanted.

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Day 5, Galway:

This day is dedicated to the  superbulous  {that one should be a real word}, Cliffs of Moher. We’ll leave out of Shannon towards Ennis. Perhaps we’ll visit Dysert O’Dea Castle near Corrofin before arriving to the Cliffs. Our plan is to not only see the cliffs from the top, but also take a ferry from Doolin to see them from the ocean. Ginger’s told me that it’s the best way to capture and appreciate their true beauty.

After we get our legs back under us from the ferry ride, we’ll travel on to Lisdoonvarna, home of the famous matchmaking festival. I’d imagine we’d do a little Celtic dancing {and jumping, of course} before heading off to the Burren and the Poulnabrone Dolmen Megalithic Portal Tomb.

A day filled with nature’s beauty deserves an equally beautiful evening. Thanks to Glenlo Abbey, we’ll have that covered. This historic estate dates back to the 1740s and was lovingly restored by the Bourke family in 1984. Perhaps dinner at Glenlo’s Pullman Restaurant is in order. I think it would be so cool to eat in this converted train carriage!

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Day 6, Dublin:

I foresee a leisurely morning at Glenlo before making the trip back to Dublin. Ginger’s offered several suggestions and routes for stops on the way back including, Clonmacnoise, Newgrange, Strokestown House and Gardens, and Ardgillan Demense Castle. Or we can skip all that and just go straight to Dublin and see the things we didn’t have time for on our first day in Ireland.

 

Day 7, Leave Ireland:

It’s a fast and furious trip, and we’ll only be exploring the southern part of Ireland. I’ll just have to come back and visit the north! I can’t wait to spend time with Karlin as we explore the Emerald Isle. I’m imagining lots of girl talk over pints of Guinness and a flajillion {I really think I made that word up} history lessons and jumping pictures with an Irish backdrop. Who says that trips with your girlfriends have to stop after getting married? Not us!

Do you have any suggestions about Ireland? Leave a comment. We’d love to know! Tag along with us at the beginning of April on Twitter and Facebook!

Erin go bragh, y’all!

Photos by the respective hotels and featured photo can be found here.

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Sit back and stay awhile