It’s about time I share some photos and travel notes from my excursion to Ireland with Tim which marked our last hurrah of his holiday visit. Tim and I both have Irish roots and because he had never been we added it to our itinerary after Paris.
Ireland is one of my favorite destinations for a few reasons:
- Guinness really does taste better locally.
- Irish gift of gab – the Irish are so talkative and welcoming to tourists.
- Irish Rovers anyone? Irish music in a pub is a must-have experience.
- The landscape is so green and speckled with sheep, castles, and ancient ruins.
- They speak English, and Gaelic (the official language still), but mostly English!
We booked our flights to arrive in Dublin and depart from Cork to accommodate an easy road trip between the two cities and stay in Kilkenny for one night. I wanted Tim to experience the smaller towns and green landscapes that make up the majority of the country beyond the bustling capital of Dublin. If you have a few more days, I’d recommend adding Galway, the Ring of Kerry, and the Cliffs of Moher to your itinerary, since I still have fond memories of those places from my visit in 2005. For our short four day visit, I was thankful to see as much as we did.
We spent most of our first day traveling. Ironic since it’s a short one hour flight from London to Dublin, but it took us almost half a day to travel by train then bus to the airport in London because of nasty rain and flooding. Needless to say, by the time we landed in Dublin and took our third bus ride of the day, we were ready for a drink. Fortunately, this was Ireland and we were staying in drinker’s paradise known as Temple Bar. Temple Bar is a famous pub and also an area of town with lots of other pubs. We found good (albeit expensive) drinks and live music at the Temple Bar pub.
After a good night’s sleep we awoke to sunny skies, an anomaly in Ireland. First stop was Trinity College to see the Book of Kells, an ancient religious manuscript dating back to 800 A.D. and on display at the college. No pictures allowed of the book but you leave the small museum and walk right into the library called the Long Room with hundreds of ancient books and musical compositions.
We also wandered around Merrion Square which is famous for it’s Georgian doors.
We continued our walking tour to St. Patrick’s Cathedral and capped off the day with the Jameson Distillery Tour. My drink of choice for the remainder of the trip was a Jameson with Ginger Ale and lime.
We ended day two with the best Irish dinner I’ve ever eaten at Ireland’s oldest pub, The Brazen Head. Don’t miss this place for food and drink.
After giving ourselves a pep talk about our phenomenal driving and navigational skills we headed off to pick up our rental car for the short drive to the medieval city of Kilkenny. In spite of the lack of street signs and driving on the “wrong side” of the road for us Americans, we arrived safely in Kilkenny only to find that our B&B was overbooked. Not to worry, the friendly owner found us a room closer to the center of town for the same price. Curveball: it was above a pub. At first, the old lady in me was like, “I won’t get any sleep above a noisy pub!” Luckily my adventurous travel side took over and I was like, “You’re so lame! When else will you get to stay in a B&B above a pub in Ireland?” To clarify, that conversation took place in my head while Tim, AKA my chauffeur, stood by.
For €70 per night we had a comfy room in the center of town and a huge breakfast included the next morning (and it wasn’t even noisy since pubs close at midnight). Highly recommend The Rafter Dempsey’s when in Kilkenny.
Kilkenny is known for it’s castle which was built in 1195, almost three hundred years before Columbus discovered America. It’s old as dirt but much more fascinating.
Kilkenny’s main street is bustling with shops, restaurants, tourists, and locals.
Kyteler’s Inn is another popular pub established in 1324. I mean, this stuff is so old I’m impressed it still stands, let alone serves delicious food.
St. Canice’s Church and Cathedral boasts a tower which is the oldest standing structure in the city. Take that, castle and Kyteler’s Inn! We were there at dusk which felt like the setting of a horror movie since the graveyard is just steps from the entrance of the cathedral.
The Dylan Whiskey Bar was a good place to visit after our whiskey initiation at the Jameson Distillery. Tim hated it, as evidenced by this photo.
Our last day in Ireland we made impromptu plans to see the Rock of Cashel en route to Cork (thanks Mom for the travel advice). It’s an easy stop right off the highway and can be experienced in about an hour’s time or less. The Rock of Cashel dates back to the 12th and 13th centuries and was home to several kings before being gifted to the Church.
Ireland did not disappoint. As they say, “If you’re lucky enough to be Irish, you’re lucky enough.”
Know Before You Go:
- In Dublin – the Temple Bar area is fun and touristy. We chose to stay there purposefully, but just know that you’ll be near lots of hostels and tourists and a fair share of noise at night. Totally worth it for our 2 nights to be so close to the heart of the city.
- You can walk everywhere you need to go in Dublin after taking a short bus ride or taxi from the airport to the center of the city.
- Don’t rent from Enterprise Rent-a-Car if your final destination is the Cork airport, it’s a mess of a situation. Choose Hertz or Avis instead. Also, pre-book your rental car online and take the confirmation price to the office so there’s no confusion.
- Arrive early to see the Book of Kells at Trinity College or go during lunchtime to avoid the long lines.
- Find a local pub to listen to Irish music and chat with the locals while having a pint. It will make your trip so memorable.