“I stood by your Atlantic sea and I sang a song for Ireland”
Our Ireland adventure last fall, took us west to the Wild Atlantic Way and the Dingle Peninsula. Castles, textiles, pubs, charming towns and driving the narrow, winding roads were the highlights of our visit.
A warm welcome and stay at the Bunratty Castle is where our adventure began. Although chilly and raining, we toured the castle grounds and then feasted at a local pub. Lively Irish music, a whiskey and a Guinness with a Bailey’s for dessert. Can’t beat that!
By morning the sky cleared and we were off to the Dingle peninsula in County Kerry…a drive over Conor Pass and along Slea Head Drive! A beautiful warm fall day to experience the lush, lovely and very dramatic landscape! Mike was in driver’s heaven…single lane, hilly, cliff edge bends, at times impassable. As we crested the pass…the Atlantic in its wild beautiful splendor…rugged and worn…yet strong against nature’s fury, was a breathtaking sight. On our drive from Dublin to Shannon, Mike got a few tips from our driver, Morgan. Then in modified rally mode, he embraced the challenge making it fun and maybe at times a bit too exciting (for me anyway)!
Lucky for us it was a clear day. In the distance, we could see the Skellig Islands…about 7 miles off the southwest coast of Ireland. Rising from the sea, two tall peaks formed of sandstone are a spectacular view. These have remained relatively isolated due to the difficulty getting there and then not easy to move about once there. The islands are special with a unique history and mystery about them…once a monastic outpost of the early Christian period. We took a long look for Luke Skywalker…the force is strong on these islands!
After the long and winding Slea Head Drive, we were ready for Dingle! Absolutely fell in love with this charming, colorful, walkable, town by the sea! Linens, pub music, tea and sandwiches, another Guinness, and the Dingle Surf Shop drew us in! Didn’t want to leave…but alas…this was a drive by visit…so off to sunset and a walk on Inch Beach. Surfers at sunset…rainbows…and maybe, just maybe…a pot of gold? Lovely…lovely place…left a piece of our hearts there.
Did I mention castles? So glad we didn’t take Rick Steve’s advice to avoid the Blarney Castle! I was totally on a mission to shop at the Blarney Woolen Mills…and when we arrived it was relatively quiet…no big tourist busses…so we decided kissing the Blarney Stone was a good idea! Until I found that you have to lean off the top of the castle while laying on your back to kiss it! I let Mike do that! According to legend, kissing the stone endows the kisser with the gift of great eloquence. The stone was set into a tower of the castle in 1446. Millions have kissed it…hmmmm…another reason to let Mike do it! He kissed it twice…enough “eloquence” for both of us! What a lovely place…fabulous grounds, stunning views, kissing the Blarney Stone, shopping for fabulous wool blankets and sweaters and a lunch of soup and scones…all this made for a perfect stop!
Our return to Dublin was bittersweet…leaving behind our new-found love of the west of Ireland…but looking forward to Dublin with its own charm! From the quilt patterned floors and rich history of Christ Church, to the street musicians and endless party on Temple Bar, Dublin is brimming with culture, fun and history. Shopping on Grafton Street, fabulous food, a pint of Guinness for Mike and a Midleton for me, some lively pub music and a late-night walk along the Liffey…Dublin in our hearts…fond memories to last a lifetime.