Ireland

Have you ever gone on vacation and it feel like you've never left home, but in a good way?  That's exactly what happened to me when I traveled to Ireland.  I'm not sure if the green rolling hills reminded me of the hills I drive through everyday in Tennessee or because I can trace my ancestry back to Ireland, but I have never felt so at home in a foreign country.  Earlier this year, my husband and I traveled there to celebrate his 50th birthday.  We have always talked about going to Ireland and we finally did.  At the advice of an amazing travel agent, we decided to visit Southern Ireland.   We started our trip in Dublin, then drove to Cork and finished out trip in Killarney.  Dublin was definitely the party city and it was no coincidence that we started off our time in the city by touring the Guinness Brewery.  We did something while we were there that we've never done and I would recommend to any traveler.  We hired a photographer to take photos of us.  I know what a crazy concept to do on vacation, but it was the best experience!  We shot around on Grafton Street and in the Temple Bar district.  It was truly a unique way to see the city and we had amazing mementos of our time. 

On day three, we left to what ended up being my favorite part of our trip, the city of Cork.  We arrived before lunch as it was a 3-hour drive through the beautiful countryside; however my husband would tell a different tale since he was having to drive under stressful conditions on the opposite side of the street on the opposite side of the car.  We checked into our picturesque hotel, the River Lee, and got directions to a great little pizzeria in a very trendy part of town.  We took our own walking tour, occasionally stopping for a drink in the local pubs in between walking around local churches and graveyards.  Day two in Cork, we ventured to Blarney Castle to a very rainy tour of the grounds.  We opted out of kissing the Blarney Stone for fear of getting soaked.  After that we drove to the Southern Irish coast to the quaint town of Cobh (pronounced Cove).  The Titanic fanatic in me was so geeked out to tour the White Star Line’s Titanic experience museum.  Cobh was formerly named Queenstown and was the last stop to pick up passengers before she left for her fateful voyage.  Standing on the dock where the passengers stood was very eerie.  We walked around the adorable town before heading back to Cork before sunset.  

 Our last stop was in Killarney.  I would refer to the area as the Gatlinburg of Ireland.  It was very touristy but in a charming way.  We took a horse buggy ride into the Killarney National Park where we saw the ruins of Ross castle.  When we returned, we shopped and had dinner at one of the many Irish pubs in the city.  The next day we ventured out on the scenic Ring of Kerry.  We were told it would take 2-4 hours depending on how often we stopped.  Well, we took about 8 hours to get through it.  If you do one thing in Ireland, drive the Ring of Kerry.  It was everything you could see in Ireland in a 100-mile radius.  We saw the (literally) breathtaking cliffs of Kerry, stopped in the beach town of Waterville, know for Charlie Chaplin’s vacation spot, and walked the beaches.  Towards the end, as the sun was starting to set, we finished up in the Killarney National Park where we saw some of the most amazing mountain scenes I’ve ever seen.  Should these photos inspire you to travel to Ireland, I’ll send you off with one wish…may the luck of the Irish be with you.