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…
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…
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?