ireland | personal

We started our summer holidays off in Ireland for a vacation with extended family members.  We organized a driver through Butlers to take us around the country for a week and then after, the four of us rented a car and made our way to Dublin for the remainder of our holiday.  As soon as we got off the red-eye in Shannon our driver Mike met us and took us right away to the Blarney Stone.  We could have all done with a bit of shut eye and a shower but when in Ireland you must kiss the Blarney Stone and that is just what we did!

Our itinerary was packed full of stops each day but luckily we had the luxury of taking our time in each area if we wanted it.   That was something we all really appreciated.  The cities we ended up spending time in were:  Cork, Kenmare, Killarney, Dingle, Co Clare, Galway, Connemara, Bunratty, Athlone,  and Dublin

We did not stay overnight in Kinsale but we stopped and explored for a couple of hours.  It is a lovely historic port and fishing town full of color and charm.

The surrounding areas around Dingle were full of majestic views.

Stunning scenery and beaches at Inch Beach County Kerry.

The Cliffs of Moher are one of those sites that leaves you in awe.  Molly was excited when she realized that a scene from Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince was filmed here.  Plan to spend a couple of hours walking around and don't forget to pick up a 99 ice cream when you are done.

And of course I tried to make friends with a few 'Cliffs of Moher' cows.  This one gave me "the stink eye" and didn't really appreciate me shooting him.

We made our way to the gorgeous Kylemore Abbey.  The story of how this castle and abbey came about was pretty incredible.  A London doctor by the name of Mitchell Henry bought the land for his new bride Margaret Vaughan after visiting it on their honeymoon and falling in love with it.  Margaret was so charmed by Connemara that Mitchell returned and purchased the 15,000 acre estate as a romantic gift for her.  The Henrys went onto having nine children and enjoyed a happy and carefree life at Kylemore, but tragically Margaret only enjoyed it for a short time.  In 1874, as the family was holidaying in Egypt, she fell ill with dysentery and died at the age of 45 .  Mitchell Henry had her body brought to Kylemore and laid to rest in the mausoleum on the grounds.  He then built the Neo-Gothic Church to the east of the castle as a memorial chapel to to his wife.  The church was built as a "cathedral in miniature" and is pretty spectacular.    

In 1920 a community of nuns of the Benedictine Order settled in Kylemore and started a renowned boarding school for girls until they closed it in 2010.  Visitors now can enjoy the grounds and learn all about the history of the Abbey. 

We came across a long lost relative in Clifden who is the owner of Lavelle Art Gallery.  Great meeting you Gavin!

Two nights were spent in Galway which was a lovely city to explore.

We spent a night in Bunratty and took part in the Bunratty Medieval Castle Banquet.   Luckily it wasn't exactly like Medieval Times -- a little more authentic ;-)

Eventually we made our way to Dublin for the remainder of our trip.