Sunday, June 3, 2012

Ireland


 We were so blessed to get to celebrate our 8th wedding anniversary in Ireland a couple of weekends ago. It really was a dream come true for me as that is where my mother's side of the family is from. I grew up constantly hearing about all things Irish and eating Irish dishes, etc. and even as a young child had a couple Irish outfits that at the time felt awfully itchy against my skin (wool), but i just thought they were so beautiful. We had originally planned on going to Germany and Austria but realized there was a huge soccer tournament that Munich was playing in and since we couldn't get a hotel room for under 500 euros we realized it would actually be cheaper to go to Ireland.

We took an Aer Lingus flight into Dublin. Due to some bad weather it was a little late leaving and then the car rental company took awhile to get us a car so we ended up losing about 2 hours just getting to our hotel.  A guy that David works with had lived in Dublin for awhile and recommended that we stay at The Shelbourne. The hotel was beautiful and had a lot of history behind it. It even had it's own mini museum so you could learn all about it's history.  A lot of famous people have stayed there over the years from Elizabeth Taylor to Julia Roberts.


After we dropped our stuff off we were starving and decided to get a recommendation for lunch. One of the most exciting things about being in Ireland is that we could understand everyone and while some signs were written in Gaelic they usually have the English translation right underneath of it.  Anyway, the concierge was the only person we had a very hard time understanding..of course, so after a few "what did you say?" he got out a map and pointed us in the right direction. He led us to The Hairy Lemon. 
You are probably thinking what we were thinking at the time...that it doesn't sound very appetizing but it was really good. They had all of the traditional Irish foods and a cute atmosphere and the staff was amazing!! David had the shepherd's pie and I had chicken with bacon and veggies ...so good. They told us we couldn't leave until we tried their famous bread and butter pudding. Unfortunately i can't eat this but David said it was AMAZING...one of the best desserts he has ever had.

By the time we got finished  it was already late. In the states this is no big deal because everything stays open late...in Europe..usually it is a problem. In Ireland, things close, except the pubs of course, at around 5:30. When I say everything closes...I mean EVERYTHING!! All of our touristy sites were closed. So we hopped aboard a double decker bus tour and thought we would at least take a tour of the city. After awhile it started to rain so we jumped off the bus and did see that one of their tourist shops was open, so we picked up our magnets that we collect and some other goodies and headed back to the hotel and got situated. Late that night we got hungry and walked down the street and saw a TGI Friday's.  I think it's funny that we do this, but it always makes us excited. Usually on trips we always try to eat the food that that country or state is known for but since we live in Europe and NEVER get American food whenever we see an American restaurant we can't help but eat at it. Even funnier these are restaurants that we usually hardly ever frequent while we are at home.

The Next morning we got up early and got in the car and drove to Galway.
We just loved all the colorful shops!!
 
 

Our main reason to go to Galway was to pick up one of their famous Irish Claddagh rings which originated in this area.  If you've ever seen the movie Leap Year they talk about this ring in the movie. From what we understand, around 400 years ago in a fishing community called Claddagh that overlooked Galway Bay these rings were the traditional betrothal rings of the community. "The Claddagh"represents love, friendship, and loyalty and is usually passed down from mother to daughter.  The design of the ring is two hands that surround a heart that has a crown on top of the heart. If the ring is worn on the left hand and if it is turned outward it means your heart is already spoken for. If you wear it on the right hand with the crown turned inward it means your heart is not yet spoken for. If it is turned outward it means that it means that love is being considered. We thought this would be a fun souvenir to have and so we wanted to go to the original shop and pick one up.

 


 They even had a little museum in the shop letting you see the history behind the ring.

 Thankfully they were able to size one down for me without us having to buy a child's size ring since I wear a freakishly odd size for a grown woman at 3.25.  It's usually impossible for me to buy rings unless we have them specially designed. So after everyone teased me a little we were thrilled that they were able to accommodate me. In Galway they also had a restaurant called Busker Browns that was amazing and even had a gluten free menu which was pretty awesome.

After Galway we headed towards Connemara and stopped off at the beach to put our hands in the Atlantic Ocean in Ireland.


One of the hardest things to get used to while we were there was driving on the opposite side of the road. David did great but it was so weird seeing him on the wrong side of the car.

Connemara was beautiful and that's where you see lot's of traditional thatched roof cottages,

the famous Connemara ponies,
 and plenty of sheep in the middle of the road.
 
Funny little side note about this picture. While taking this picture, I got out of the car and looked over my right shoulder to make sure there wasn't a car coming. I should have been looking over my left shoulder since they drive on the left side of the road, so when i stepped back I stepped right in front of a car. Thank goodness they saw me because I never saw them coming until David screamed at me. They were so nice and started laughing as did we, but that could have made for a totally different blog post.

Then it was off to Dromoland Castle for the night!!  There are many castles to choose from in Ireland. Even though we called way in advance we had a really hard time finding any with an opening. After calling four other castles we were lucky to have gotten the very last room here at Dromoland. Although there have been several buildings on this site called Dromoland, the current Dromoland Castle was built sometime in the 16th century. The grounds were absolutely beautiful. We were only able to stay here for a night since we had to get back to Dublin to catch our flight but we really enjoyed our stay and loved walking around the estate. There are several restaurants, golf courses, ponds, a gazebo, and a huge garden.





The next morning we got up early and headed to the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare.  I believe this turned out to be one of our favorite memories from the trip. The weather cleared up and the sun came out and the views were breath taking. We walked to the end of both sides of the cliffs. Some areas have walls to protect you from falling off  but most of the time there was nothing protecting you from falling off the narrow paths.
 

The rest of the day we spent driving towards Donegal in Northern Ireland.  
Donegal is the area where a lot of my mom's side of the family is from. My great, great grandfather owned a pub in town and we were excited to try and find the location of where it was. We have two different areas that it could have been in and my grandparents have the exact location so we are hoping that when we get back to the states we will be able to get together with them and figure out which are was the exact location. 


 The above or below areas are where we think the pub might have been.

 
Then we headed back to Dublin. 
When we got back to Dublin we took a double decker bus tour, saw St. Patrick's Cathedral, Christ's Church and did a little shopping!!

 
 If you want to see more scenery pictures or more of the castle you can view our smilebox. We took so many pictures because the countryside was so beautiful and there is no way i could have fit everything into this blog. It's a little long but you can fast forward through the pictures.Click to play this Smilebox slideshow

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3 comments:

  1. Wonderful pics! You'll have to talk to D. Riley because I think his trip took him by the Cliffs as well. I remember him saying how beautiful it was.

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  2. words cannot describe my jealousy right now. :) This looks beautiful!!! I am so thankful that you are blogging all of your adventures.

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    1. Awww..thanks Kristy!! I'm so glad you are enjoying reading it!

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