Wow, I am so far behind! When traveling just us we tend to have the kids in bed by nine or ten, and then a quiet time to blog on our day. When traveling with others, that “quiet time” is much better spent together (not always quiet), and so blogging goes out the window. My thought was I would catch up once we got home, but with so little time before moving back, and only one computer to share, there hasn’t been the time. But I do want to share a few pictures and just some random thoughts of this beautiful country…
The main difference between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland for me (talking views from the car window) was that the fences between the many small pastures changed from hedges to dry stacked stone, although the rolling hills and greens remained. It seemed the more southwest we went, the more dramatic the landscape became. And no matter where we were, whenever we saw a glimpse of the coastline, it was majestic!
I was super excited that we saw a field were they were cutting turf (logs for fires) and stacking them to dry. And we got to see them (and smell their fire, a very unique smell) in use at the Bunratty Folk Park.
The Cliff’s of Moher were as spectacular as we were told. I’ll always wonder how different our experience of them were, as we didn’t go to the official visitor centre and viewpoint because they didn’t have a place we could park. My feeling is I liked where we ended up more as it had not so many people, which I find distracts from my enjoyment of a place.
We saw 2 or 3 beautiful rainbows during our stay, and they were exquisite.
The kids had their Irish ice cream at Murphy’s in Dingle, where everything was made from scratch. The even had a Sea Salt flavour, and told us they made the salt themselves from the sea! My combination was a scoop of “brown bread” and a scoop of “black current sorbet”. Which they suggested, and I loved.
There are almost as many abandoned ruins (Castles, towers, small stone cottages, barns, and churches of varying sizes) as there are sheep dotting the landscape. It made such a romantic picture as we drove along. I wanted to capture the feeling I had when seeing these buildings covered in moss and Ivy, still standing looking both proud and forlorn at the same time, however the pictures were almost always fuzzy.
The hydrangeas were amazing, and everywhere. Almost every house had a hydrangea bush or 3 and they were massive (often taller than me), with varying colours of white, pink, blue, and purple. As well as those, there were many orange and yellow wild flowers by the roadside, and what I thought looked like purple and pink heather. So very pretty.
The night we stayed in Portmagee, on the Ring of Kerry, was one of my favourite nights out. The town was very small and had 2 places to eat. We ate at O’Keeffe’s Restaurant (as you must when you are traveling with your friends the O’Keefes’), which was right on the water. I had the seafood special which consisted of half a lobster, crab claws, prawns, and mussels. When we ordered we were told it might be a bit as they may have to wait for it to come out of water. While we waited I watched out the window, imagining that every boat that came in might have my dinner on it!
After supper, we went to the other bar in town which boasted live entertainment. Well, everyone went because I was so excited to check out the Irish entertainment. It was everything I was hoping it would be, and I will remember enjoying it for a long time. It was traditional Irish music, and dance. But what I loved was it was simple and from the heart. The dancers were girls about Brandon’s age. They were dressed in jeans, and had on no make-up or wigs. A young boy came up and sang a solo. And when the band played on their own, half the bar joined in the singing, and the small dance floor was packed with people of all ages enjoying themselves. I could have stayed until closing!
We spent time at 2 different beaches, and that was a highlight for many of us (not just the kids). It was so fun to watch the kids building forts, finding shells and fish and crabs, and skipping stones. We definitely could have spent a lot more time at the seashore!
I thought a fourteen day trip would seem like forever, and was actually a little worried about how the two families would get on, as we have never spent any extended time together. It went by in a flash, and we never had one problem with the kids (with the exception of the usual sibling stuff that never goes away). They were as happy together on our last day, as on our first. And the good-bye’s were made so much easier when it was followed up with “see you in one week!”
Thank you for a wonderful last trip Shawn, Melissa, Sofia, Chiara, and Gemma! Definitely a great way to end our year abroad.