"Ireland, sir, for good or evil, is like no other place under heaven, and no man can touch its sod or breathe its air without becoming better or worse." ~ George Bernard Shaw

We traveled to Ireland in March 2010 with friends almost on whim. Someone mentioned they wanted to go there, a travel deal showed up in an email, and maybe two days later, the trip was booked. It was our first big adventure abroad.

Our travel package provided us with a rental car and accommodations in Adare, a pretty Heritage Town located about 10 miles (16 kilometers) outside Limerick City. We spent the next week driving out from Adare each day to a different area of the country and packing in as many tourist attractions in that area as possible. Since Dublin was 3 hours away from Adare and on the top of our list of places to visit, we also booked a hotel room there for one night to give us a bit more time to explore the capital city.

Accommodation: Adare Manor Villas


Day 1: Arrival, Adare
Day 2: Cork and Midleton {Blarney Castle}
Day 3: Dublin
Day 4: Glendalough
Day 5: Doolin and Limerick {Cliffs of Moher}
Day 6: Killarney, Ring of Kerry
Day 7: Departure

^^Adare Manor^^

Adventures: Adare; Adare Manor Castle; Blarney Castle and Grounds; The Jameson Experience; Dublin; Guinness Storehouse, Temple Bar District; Wicklow Mountains; Glendalough Monastic Site; Cliffs of Moher; O’Brien’s Tower; Burren National Park; Bunratty Castle; The Ring of Kerry; Killarney National Park; Ross Castle

Takeaways: 1) When driving, “Stay left, look right.” 2) Roundabouts are much more efficient in Europe. 3) Guinness tastes better in Ireland than in the States. 4) Kissing the Blarney Stone challenges that fear of heights. 5) One of us is not a fan of whiskey. 6) Dublin deserves more than one day. 7) Factor in topography when judging distances on a map. 8) The Burren is overrated. 9) Bunratty Castle is a great place to bring kids. 10) Sheep are everywhere. 11) The coastal landscapes are breathtaking.

Memorable Moments: 1) Learning to drive on the left-hand side of the road. 2) Kissing the Blarney Stone for the Gift of Gab.  3) Viewing the Cliffs of Moher in the rain. 4) Exploring castles. 5) Drinking Guinness in Dublin.

 ^^Blarney Castle^^

^^The Jameson Experience^^
^^Somewhere along the R115 before the snow forced us to turn around.^^
^^Glendalough Monastic Site^^
^^Cliffs of Moher^^

^^The Burren^^

^^Somewhere along the Ring of Kerry^^

Foodstuff: We were told one doesn't go to Ireland for the food, but we discovered a few favorite eats during our journey: Guinness (again, it tastes better in Ireland!), Bulmers cider, fish and chips, and Irish bacon.

Irish pubs tend to have similar menus. Standard dishes include fish and chips, bangers (sausage) and mash, Irish stew, and seafood chowder. Chips (french fries) seem to be served with every meal. Malt vinegar, brown sauce, tartar sauce, mayonnaise, tomato ketchup and English mustard are standard condiments on every pub table. Black pepper is not so common.

We loved the traditional Irish breakfast, which includes sausages, rashers (bacon), black pudding, white pudding, beans (sometimes), fried eggs, hash brown (sometimes), fried tomato, toast, and tea or coffee. Please note that "pudding" is not a dessert. Also, breakfast was difficult to find before 9:00am.

^^full Irish breakfast!^^

Lessons Learned at the Grocery Store: 1) Eggs do not require refrigeration in Europe. 2) There is a small fee for plastic grocery bags should you need them. 3) Don’t expect American brands to be available in other countries. 4) You can actually buy canned mushy peas. 5) The yellow mustard we use here in the States is known as “mild American mustard”; the spicy English version is standard.

Restaurant Picks:

Der O'Sullivan {full Irish breakfast}
Main St, Killarney, Co. Kerry


Aunty Lena's Bar
Main St, Adare, Co. Limerick

Hideout Pub

Main St, Kilcullen, Co. Kildare

Recommendations: 1) Rent a car! 2) GPS is a must when driving. 3) Have cash on you at all times. Credit cards were not accepted everywhere. 4) Pack casual clothes, hiking shoes, and rain gear. 5) Don’t let the rain hold you back from exploring.

Next Time: 1) Return to Dublin. 2) Tour the Skellig Islands. 3) Check out Dingle. 4) Visit the Cliffs of Moher again, hopefully with better weather.


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