My ancestry includes the Irish, so my childhood was filled with tales of mischievous leprechauns, Irish pub songs, and photos of the glorious cliffs and green hills. When my daughter, London, decided to spend a semester in England, we planned a short excursion in the form of a road trip through the Irish countryside. We flew to Dublin, picked up our rental car, and made the roundtrip journey through Galway, Killarney, and The Ring of Kerry.
Galway had plenty of “Galway Girls” with piercing blue eyes and dark black hair. It’s a look we rarely see in the USA. We stayed at the The G Hotel, a very modern hotel that features purple as the theme color. It was a short walk into the city center, where we dined on innovative Irish cuisine at Artisan, such as wild Connemara risotto with sugar kelp, wild pea, purselane, dilisk, woodsorrel & monk beard all foraged from the shores & mountains of Connemara.
We also took a boat tour down the Corrib river, and, lucky us, we had the “National Irish Coffee-Making Champion” as a waitress on our cruise. She gave us a demonstration (it’s all in the way one pours the cream down the back of the hot spoon), and a sample. London even tried her first Guinness onboard. We had a beautiful sunny day, and we were ready to immigrate to Ireland.
Then we drove the following day to the famous Cliffs of Moher, the hills which drop straight down about 400 feet into the pounding surf of the Atlantic Ocean. (Harry Potter fans will recognize them from the Half-Blood Prince film.) The road signs that day said that the top section of the cliff walk had to be closed because of wind. What they didn’t say was that the bottom section was so treacherous that Scott had to literally hold on to me at times, or I might have blown off the cliff! We did manage to take a few photographs in-between laughing hysterically at how hard it was to try and walk against the wind. Did I mention it was bitter cold as well?
After that excursion, it was time for some rest, relaxation, and whiskey tasting. We checked into the Aghadoe Heights Hotel and Spa, booked our spa time for the following day, and started our whiskey tasting class. We were given Irish Whiskey (Jamison), Scottish Whiskey (Johnnie Walker), and American Whiskey (Jack Daniels). Being the true Americans that we are, we both preferred the JD. (For more info on the Jack Daniels tasting experience, check out Noshing in Nashville. ) Our room at the hotel had the most incredible view of the mountains and Lough Leane Aghadoe. Our two rainy nights spent here were cozy and full of pampering. The spa treatments began with a snack and some tea or juice. The award winning therapists were top notch and the spa was selected as best hotel spa in Ireland for both 2013 and 2014. I didn’t want to leave.
On we went, however, to explore the Ring of Kerry and Dunguaire Castle. a sixteenth century tower house, on our way back to Dublin and our well anticipated pub crawl. We made a short stop to tour the Dublin Gaol (Jail), and check into The Fitzwilliam Hotel, whose main color accent was, purple!
We had picked our pub crawl by reading reviews online (first mistake). We prepaid (second mistake.) It turned out that our pub crawl was actually two musicians who pocketed the money, then dragged a bunch of us from pub to pub (nothing historical or cool), and just kept singing for us in each pub they dragged us to. Apparently they had deals with each pub owner that they would deliver a group of gullible tourists at a particular time, and guarantee that we would all order drinks. They must have had their buddies write the online reviews. After the 3rd pub, same scam, we bolted.
All in, I had a glorious time in Ireland, land of some of my ancestors. Just like me, they love their green hills, their lakes and rivers, their Irish coffee, jiggy music, and time with their friends. For me, however, I think their whiskey and beer might have to be an acquired taste.