Ireland 2012 – Part 1

Posted 7 January, 2013 by Trish in Life, Road Trip, Travel / 39 Comments

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In October of last year, Scott and I took a trip to Ireland as a part of a package deal that I found via Travelzoo–they send out weekly emails with deal all over the world and while I was looking for a cruise, I couldn’t pass up this particular deal as part of SceptreTours. We flew to Dublin on a Saturday from Dallas (via Orlando) and arrived Sunday morning. The package included hotels in four cities, a rental car, air, breakfast each morning, and four excursions–one of which we skipped. For us it was the perfect trip because we were able to see a lot and our agenda was pretty flexible other than the night reservations. We drove at least 1,200 km in seven days and were quite exhausted by the time we got home!

Destinations – We stayed the night in Kilkenny, Cork/Blarney, Limmerick, and Dublin. My only regret is that we didn’t make it up into the Connemarra area and that our day trip to Belfast was so short. That’s OK–we’ll just have to go back. We used Rick Steves’ Ireland as our tourbook – I highly recommend (it’s what we used when we backpacked in Europe several years ago).  (I’m an Amazon Affiliate, so the link to the Rick Steves’ Ireland is an Affiliate link. If you purchase it or any book through my linky, I’ll receive a tiny kickback. And I mean tiny)

I’m breaking this post into two parts–the first with some of the sights we saw and the second will be more scenery based (including Dingle Peninsula and Cliffs of Moher). Even still they’ll be picture heavy posts…sorry! I’ll try to keep my babbling to a minimum.

You should be able to enlarge all pictures/collages by click on them…

Killkenny/Killkenny Castle

Charming little town–sadly we didn’t discover just how big it was until we were driving to Cork. We only spent one night in Killkenny (least of all our stays), so there wasn’t much time for discovery. We were able to tour the Killkenny Castle, but no photography on the inside.

Rock of Cashel

Rick Steves gave The Rock of Cashel a whopping three pyramids (the best), and since it was between Kilkenny and Cork we decided to stop quickly. Rock of Cashel is a shell of a castle on a (ahem) rock. It was very neat to tour and we sneaked up to the free guide to get a glimpse into what might have been. Parts of the cathedral are currently being restored.

Blarney Castle/Blarney Stone

On the other hand, Rick Steves only gave the Blarney Castle zero pyramids but this ended up being one of the highlights of our trip! Shame on you Rick Steves!  Blarney Castle is just a shell of a castle as well, but you are able to make your way up the spiral stone steps all the way to the top of the castle. The grounds of the castle are absolutely gorgeous and while there is quite a bit of kitsch related to kissing the Blarney Stone and receiving the “gift of gab,” it was a fun stop and we are both glad we included it.

And yes–we BOTH kissed the Blarney Stone! Though someone failed to photograph me kissing…

Kissing the stone is free–getting the picture is not (though obviously you can take your own…). I had this on my bucket list and it was an easy cross-off—though you can see to the left of Scott’s elbow that it’s quite a drop down below. Scroll back up to see the whole castle–yup, we’re at the top. This was kind of nerve-wracking but mostly just fun.

In between Blarney and Dublin we saw a lot a lot a lot but it’s all included in the Scenery post…

Titanic Museum in Belfast, Northern Ireland

The highlight of driving up to Belfast for the day (about a two hour drive roundtrip) was the scenery. The little that we saw of Northern Ireland was absolutely stunning. In fact, I think it was probably the prettiest countryside that we saw during our trip…but we were driving and so I didn’t snap any shots. It was dark by the time we were driving back so no pictures.

When we go to the Titanic Museum (which just opened this year for the 100th anniversary), tickets were sold out. Luckily they had one slot at the very end of the day for lameos and we were able to still take a tour on a very limited time budget (but tickets were also discounted so yay). Because we were rushed, we only experienced about a third of the museum. Was still cool…

Top right picture is where ship was built–steel beams show berth of ship during construction

Dublin

And Dublin. By this point we were burned out on museums, didn’t really want to do anything artsy, and it was cold and rainy. Oh, and neither of us likes to shop. So…we ignored Rick Steves again and walked from our hotel to the Guinness Brewery alllllll the wayyyyyyy acrosssssss Dublin. But we made it! And drank our beer (which was actually really tasty) at the top of the Guinness Tour overlooking Dublin. On the way back we stopped at a pub near the hotel and had too many beers. It was good fun had by all.

So there you have it! Well, half of it anyway.

Have you been to Ireland? What was the highlight for you?

39 Responses to “Ireland 2012 – Part 1”

  1. oh the memories! I went there last year, and seeing the pictures reminded me of all the places I had visited as well! I really appreciated the Titanic museum in N. Ireland and as for Dublin, well everything is just amazing! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Absolutely LOVELY pictures – and your descriptions sound so inviting! I have never been to Ireland, but it is on the bucket list.

    I have just recently discovered Travel-Zoo. I hope we can take advantage of such amazing bargains. Have you heard of Sniqueaway? It seems to offer some good values as well.

    • Diane – I don’t think either of us lost weight but I definitely wasn’t a fan of the food. Scott LOVED it though. Go figure. ;)

  3. Wonderful photographs! Reading about that stone… I was expecting something easier! I went to Ireland when I was a child, too young to remember much. We didn’t get to Dublin, but visited Cork and, I think, Limerick. The scenery was gorgeous.

  4. Great pictures! My husband and I are going to Ireland for the first time this March (and to some of the same places you went!), so your post makes me really excited for our trip.

  5. Dublin looks like a lot of fun! It reminds me of one of the small French towns I stayed in back in 1999. Love all the pictures!

  6. Oh gosh, I’ve never been but looking at this and reading through your adventures makes me want to go all the more!!! Awesome stuff, Trish! Thank you SO much for sharing. The Titanic museum is stunning, as are all the ruins. Gorgeous!

  7. Yay, Ireland!! You must go back and go to Connemara, I’d happily meet you there, it’s lovely. Kilkenny, Cork etc will hopefully be on our next trip over, I haven’t done those yet. Love the photos!

  8. I was in Northern Ireland in 2011 and absolutely adored the people and scenery there. They were building the Titanic museum so I didn’t get to go inside. Have you heard that violence has erupted there over a dispute about flying the British flag year round? It makes me so sad. I bought a memoir when I was there written by someone who grew up during “The Troubles” that I really need to make time to read.

  9. Oh my goodness–looks like such a great trip! (at least the first half :) ) Love the castles! I also love your red coat!

  10. Oh wow. can you even imagine just living near a real castle like that? Just having it be part of your everyday? I’m going to go back and look at your pictures again.

    • Irene – Elle was with my dad and stepmom for the week. It was hard to be away from her but she had a blast with her Ama and Poppop!

  11. I’m dying to go to Ireland and your pictures are gorgeous, Trish. I’d say Ireland is next up on my wish list of places to visit – time to get in touch with my ancestors! Can’t wait to see your scenery pics.

  12. We actually honeymooned in Ireland in 2005 and visited many of the places you have pictured. I *did* get my picture taken hanging upside down to kiss the Blarney Stone. It almost didn’t happen because I am not a fan of heights and that spot is high…and open…and HIGH! And then to lean backwards!?! I was terrified, but so glad I did it :)

  13. I SO want to go to Ireland. Our neighbor is from there and her parents keep coming to visit from Belfast and it’s such fun to talk with them. Hopefully we’ll finally make it in the next year or two!

  14. We went last Spring and I fell in love with Ireland!! We visited Dublin and Belfast as well…I too had a Guinness at the top of the factory…with my oldest daughter, which was kindof weird :p She’s not old enough to drink in the U.S. but is old enough to drink in Ireland. In Belfast we saw the Titanic building site but toured Windsor Park, the soccer stadium (I was with the women’s soccer team) and all the girls signed the Peace Wall…fantastic!! Can’t wait to see more of your trip!!!

  15. FINALLY! I’ve been waiting and waiting! I have wanted to go to Ireland for ages.

    Travelzoo is actually how I went to Prague. I was having a really rough time a few years ago. An email arrived in my inbox, and two weeks later I was on my way to the Czech Republic. :)

    These photos are gorgeous! And that Titanic museum looks awesome. Can’t wait to see more…

  16. Oh, how fun to see your post today! I was in Ireland with my family in April 2011 — we did a great big UK trip through England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland (also, learned Ireland is actually two countries… educational). I have a photo of us in front of Kilkenny Castle, too! What a charming city. We didn’t have as long as I would have liked to explore, but it was definitely really fun.

    I loved Dublin, but my favorite part of our Irish tour was seeing the Irish Sea near Woodstown. I’ve never been able to find information on the pub we visited there, but it was awesome! The scenery was spectacular, and we had our Guinness (or three…) by the water. I was a Smithwick’s girl myself :)

  17. Love your pictures! I went in March ’11 and absolutely adored it. We stayed in Dublin, Belfast, Cong (Connemara) and Dingle. I need to go back and see more. :)

  18. *sigh* I love castles, and the crumblier the better. I spent a week in Ireland during the quarter I spent studying in London in college. Unfortunately, it was Easter week and a lot of things were closed. And I can’t remember squat. I have dreams of returning someday.

  19. What fun to see the places you tweeted about. I’d love to go to Ireland someday. Don’t know that if I ever get to Europe we’ll get to go, although if our tour is of the places our ancestors are from, Jeff does have Irish ancestory so maybe!

  20. I love Ireland. We’ve been there several times. The first time we stayed in a cottage in a teeny town called Mayo Abbey and made such nice friends there that my son and his wife returned on their honeymoon. I love the Cliffs of Mohr and the Ring of Kerry and the tour of the Waterford Crystal factory was on of the best tours…ever. We’ve never been to Northern Ireland and I would love to go there. My husband’s mother had a cousin living on the outskirts of Dublin and we often stayed with her, but she died last year, so next time we will be on our own. I always feel like I’ve “come home” whenever we land in Ireland.

  21. Hey–no apologizing for lots of pictures or lots of chatting!!! I loved every second of it, and can’t wait for installment 2!

  22. This trip just looks incredible!!! I took a really similar one in 2005 and loved every second of it. I went to the Rock of Cashel, Blarney, Dublin, Dingle, etc. and couldn’t get over how peaceful the countryside was. Wasn’t it a bit scary to kiss the Blarney stone! I was so surprised how high up it was, but it was fun. Can’t wait to see your next post. The Cliffs of Moher were one of my favorite places I saw.

  23. Loved seeing your pictures. We did none of the things you pictured. Which goes to show that there’s a lot to see in Ireland! We were on Dingle Peninsula and Cliffs of Moher, so I’m looking forward to those as well.

  24. Ireland is on my bucket list so I am totally jealous! Yay for too many beers :) Totally deserved for parents out of the country without their baby!

  25. Les

    I love that you guys decided to ignore Rick Steves and hit the Guiness Brewery. Sounds like something Rod & I would enjoy. And the Titanic Museum looks amazing. I’m not obsessed with the whole Titanic thing, but it’d be interesting to spend some time in that museum. Speaking of which, when Amy and I were in England (many years ago!), we got so burned out on castles and museums! But she loves to shop, so we spent quite a bit of time in Harrods. ;)

    Off to check out Travelzoo. Never heard of it!

  26. Didn’t I leave a comment here already? Love the photos, love that you shared your trip! We were in the UK last summer.. England (mostly London) and Scotland. SO beautiful. I’d love to go back and include Ireland in that trip!