🇮🇪 December 17, 2021 - A Month In Ireland - Part 1

Written By Amanda

After surviving a year of virtual schooling and managing to integrate some domestic travel during a pandemic, we felt it was time to take on the even greater challenge of traveling internationally. As COVID numbers decreased at the beginning of summer and we just returned from an amazing trip to Iceland, we decided on a month-long trip to Ireland at the start of the school year. We knew navigating time zone changes while balancing the everyday responsibilities of work and school would be difficult. Yet, our wanderlust runs strong and we were ready to take on the challenge for any opportunity we had to travel.

For the first week of our trip, discussed here in “Part 1 Dublin to Killarney”, Evelyn was still on summer break and Tommy took a week of vacation. We felt that this would give us a good head start on our Ireland bucket list and would also allow us to adjust to the time change before work and school demands started.

Orlando, FL → Dublin, Ireland → Kilkenny City → Rock of Cashel → Thomastown → Waterford City → Cork City → Blarney Castle → Kenmare → The Ring of Kerry & Skellig Ring.

Be on the look out for Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 for more tips, tricks, and inspiration for traveling to Ireland!

Day 1 - Flight out

I was admittedly very nervous about this trip as it began to approach. After successfully traveling to Iceland earlier in the summer, we were a little over confident when booking this trip. How many times have we all said to ourselves “COVID is over”!

With the sudden appearance of the Delta variant and the quick rise in case numbers, COVID was definitely proving it was not over! Two weeks prior to flying out, Ireland was placed on the CDC’s “Level 4 Alert” list and American’s were advised not to travel there due to quickly rising COVID numbers. After a momentary freak out, I took a look at the numbers and the precautions that Ireland had in place and determined that we were likely at less risk in Ireland than we would be in our own hometown. Even though I convinced myself it was okay to go, I still remained very nervous about being out of the country for so long. Things can change quickly during a pandemic and no one knows what the future holds. We were mentally prepared for our travels to be halted mid-trip and questioned how easily we could even get back. Yet again, our wanderlust runs strong and we decided to move forward and take the the chance.

Before leaving home we made a few purchases that we found very helpful for our trip to Ireland. A car mount for our phones and a new MagSafe cellphone case for Tommy and a more colorful MagSafe cellphone case for myself. We found these items so helpful when attempting to navigate our way around Ireland! When planning our trip we frequently referenced Rick Steves Ireland and Frommer’s 25 Great Drives in Ireland. We also picked up a few UK Travel Adapters.

We flew out of Orlando, Florida after spending a few days visiting with family. After being in the insanely crowded and hot Orlando, we were all ready for Ireland’s promised remoteness and cooler temperatures.

Tommy and I did have another little freak out the night before flying out. We had done our research and read that COVID tests were not required for vaccinated travelers entering into Ireland; however, we got a notification from Delta while doing the online check-in that since we had a layover in France testing may be required. We arrived at the airport early with a backup plan to attempt testing there if needed. Luckily, a Delta agent said that we were fine since we were just passing through France and not leaving the airport. This is what we anticipated but we were still a little nervous after getting the that notification.

We had a short layover in Detroit where we loaded up on a dinner full of veggies at PF Changs. We try our best to get fruits and vegetables when we can while traveling. We flew out at 5:00 pm, which in my opinion is the perfect time to fly to Europe. Dinner service was complete and everyone was settled and ready to attempt to sleep by 9:30pm.

Day 2 - Arrival into Dublin

We made no plans for our day of arrival into Dublin, Ireland. In reference to traveling during a pandemic, I like to say, “We don’t know we are going until we get there”.

To our surprise, we had very smooth travels with no delays or hiccups. We enjoyed a 4 hour layover in Paris at the Delta lounge. Evelyn chose to use her time enjoying the free Wifi while Tommy and I got in nice showers. I followed my shower up with a long nap!

As we flew into Dublin, we were greeted with pouring down rain. We were freezing having just come from central Florida. I figured this was a fitting welcome to Ireland and I was ready to embrace this weather over the next month.

Despite our smooth travels into Dublin Airport, locating our rental car was a bit tricky. We flew into Terminal 2 and were never able to locate the Avis car rental desk. So we walked into the parking garage where all the rental cars were parked and were still unsuccessful. Finally, Tommy decided to leave Evelyn and I in a safe spot with all the luggage so he could wander around some more until he found it.

Once we finally located and loaded the rental car, Tommy’s apprehension over driving set in. He has driven abroad several times before, becoming more and more confident with each trip; however, he had never driven on the left side of the road before. We enjoyed several nervous laughs as we both kept going to the wrong side of the car and as Tommy attempted to adjust the car settings while sitting on the right.

Before we drove out of the lot, we took a quick video of the car’s current condition. We had been warned that rental car companies are notorious for charging for damages in Ireland. Rightfully so, as car damage is easy to get on the very skinny roads closely lined with hedges. We purposely chose a little car (and packed light so our stuff would fit) so that Tommy would have an easier time navigating. We also counted ourselves lucky that the car was red in hopes that it could be seen better around the frequent tight curves.

I chose a hotel somewhat nearby the airport but also accessible to Dublin city center (if we decided to go in that evening) to allow Tommy some time to ease into the driving. Even though it was only a 20 minute drive, it was still a hair raising experience. Once arriving at the hotel, Tommy and I quickly exited and were ready to park the car for the evening. Right hand turns, traffic circles, and cyclists were the trickiest to navigate. Add in that a bit of rain and jet lag and we were done!

That evening we stayed at Clontarf Castle Hotel, which is a 12th century castle converted into a hotel. This was yet another perfect introduction to Ireland! Voted the “best decorated hotel in Ireland” it was full of beautiful castle decor.

We were lured into one of the hotel’s restaurants, The Knight’s Bar, with a coupon for a free drink. Tommy and I ordered a traditional Guinness of course! Then we ended up staying put for a wonderful traditional Irish meal. We usually don’t eat at our hotel in the United States, but we suspected hotels in Ireland took more pride in their restaurants.

Following the meal, we explored the castle grounds and walked along the Clontarf Promenade. Jet lagged, we all slept hard and well until our alarms went off at 7a the following morning.

Day 3 - Wicklow Mountains

Our schedule for the day was ambitious, making the 3 and a half hour drive from Dublin to outside of Kilkenny City with planned stops along the way. We went into the day knowing that we had to be flexible. Ultimately, everything depending on Tommy’s comfort level with driving. One of the first things we immediately cut out of our plans was a stop at the Powerscourt Estate and Waterfall. We figured we would not have enough time to do it justice for the expense and would see several similar places during our travels through Ireland. I would definitely recommend anyone traveling to Ireland and sticking around Dublin to check it out though!

On our way out of Dublin, we stopped at the Glasnevin Cemetery. I am a sucker for old graveyards. In a non-morbid way, if that is possible. This graveyard was old and slowly being reclaimed by nature. At the time I was in awe, but ultimately it became like many graveyards we would come across in Ireland. Unfortunately, my little detour ended up taking us right “through” Dublin city center instead of “around” as we had intended. Tommy definitely got thrown right into practicing his driving skills!

Once out of Dublin, we took the scenic route through the Wicklow Mountains National Park. I was originally nervous about Tommy driving this windy one lane route through the mountains but it ended up being nothing compared to the city driving we had just navigated our way through. It is nice how quickly you can get to the mountains and the wide open landscape just outside of Dublin City. This was our first view of Ireland’s beautiful countryside. We were amazed at how thick and green the grass was and the wide open mountain top views. I was excited to see blooming heather and so many beautiful wildflowers all along our drive. I have been to several places just to see wildflowers and yet I have never been more impressed by what I saw in Ireland.

As we made our way through the Wicklow Mountains, we stopped at Glendalough Village. Eventually, we were able to find parking at the Upper Lake lot. We collected a map and Evelyn was eager to navigate and lead the way. We did get a little disoriented as she insisted on being independent in her self-given responsibility, but eventually, we made our way from the Upper Lake down the green path to the Glendalough Monastic Ruins. This was our first time seeing one of Ireland’s many ruins. We were very impressed. It is a different perspective from all the restored historical buildings we typically see when visiting Europe. Here, there was yet another graveyard full of uniquely carved, eroding, and toppled tombstones.

We continued the green loop around the lower lake but ended up making a wrong turn and spent most of the walk back on the road. This seems to be a common mistake as we passed many tourists doing the same as we drove in.

Returning to the Upper Lake parking area, we took an ice cream/ lunch break and then hiked up to the Poulanass Waterfall. Following the hike, we allowed Evelyn some time to dip her feet in the crystal clear Upper Lake. She confirmed our suspicions that, yes, the water was very cold. Even in August. There were several other hikes around Glendalough Village and we really could have spent a full day in the area.

That night, we stayed outside the Kilkenny City center at the Avalon House Hotel. I wanted to avoid the noise, higher prices, and cost of parking the car in the middle of the city. This was such a cute hotel! I personally vote it the second best decorated hotel in Ireland! We enjoyed seeking out all the little mice doors in the lobby and making lots of Tom and Jerry references. After our success with the previous night’s hotel restaurant we decided to give this hotel’s restaurant a try. Again we were very pleased. Here we also discovered we had more of a taste for Smithwick’s, and Irish Red beer, over Guinness.

After our first full day, we felt like we were starting to settle in and enjoy Ireland. The people are exceptionally nice. Several of which will go beyond the usual pleasantries and actually start (and maintain) a conversation with you. I was shocked that bicyclists and pedestrians frequently apologized to me for walking in front of my pictures. This is not typically the case in other touristy places we have visited.

Day 4 - Kilkenny & Rock of Cashel

We headed into Kilkenny City early with hopes of beating the forecasted morning rain. We did not succeed. It poured as we tried to tour the sites. Evelyn begged to buy an umbrella, even out of her own money, but Tommy insisted that “only tourists use umbrellas”. I reminded him we were tourist, but that argument didn’t work.

We found easy parking in a garage downtown and walked along the Medieval Mile. We got quick glimpses of the old city wall, St. Canice’s Cathedral, and the Black Abbey as we headed towards Kilkenny Castle.

I hoped to spend more time touring the castle grounds but the rain did not make that possible. We had a timed ticket allowing our entry into the castle at 11:00am. Thankfully the staff seemed to feel sorry for us in the rain and let us in a bit early. Our visit, which typically requires an entrance fee, was free. We found out that all of the OPW heritage sites are free in 2021 and we definitely took advantage of this perk throughout our trip. The staff took our contact information (as a COVID precaution) at the entrance which we learned is common practice for all indoor settings in Ireland. We enjoyed our self-guided tour through the castle. It was much like other restored castles we had visited throughout Europe. One difference is that we are now touring with Evelyn, who is beginning to understand the small glimpse into history she is experiencing. Originally, we had planned to have lunch in Kilkenny City but decided to move on to our next stop in hopes that the rain would clear out.

By the time we made it to the town of Cashel, the sun was out in its full glory as if all the rain that occurred that morning never even happened. In the super cute little town below the Rock of Cashel, we found parking and sought out some lunch. Here we got our first traditional Irish Pub experience when we ate at John J. Feehan. It was not as crowded as it typically would be because of occupancy limitations. This made it possible to explore all the dining nooks and crannies and take in all the decor. This was also our first experience with having to show our proof of vaccination to dine indoors (another commonplace COVID precaution in Ireland).

From town, we were able to walk up to the Rock of Cashel. Again, we had to get tickets in advance but our visit was free thanks to the OPW. The Rock of Cashel is a “hill” believed to be the result of when St. Patrick banished Satan from a nearby cave. It was the seat of many kings and was later donated to the church. The remaining ruins seen today date back to the 12th and 13th centuries. I loved exploring the ruins and imagining how it may have looked in its heyday. The sunlight shining through the glassless windows and skeletal remains of the structure made the setting feel almost magical.

Following our tour we headed to the small town of Thomastown. The back roads driving between the two towns was the most challenging we had experienced yet! The twisty turning roads, random roundabouts, and frequent blind turns every few kilometers kept us on edge for the whole hour. Here we learned the big difference between “M” roads (more highway) and “R” roads (like back roads).

Once arriving into Thomastown, Tommy had his first very comical (although not at the time) experience with parallel parking with the steering wheel on the right.

Following check-in at our hotel, The Tower House B&B, the owner immediately set us up for dinner reservations at Tim’s Bar. We weren’t even sure we were hungry but she insisted we give it a try. Once there we were greeted by Tim and escorted back to a large garden area with several tables set up. It was a beautiful evening and the perfect setting to dine outside. The place was very busy and you could tell it was popular. As we left they locked the door behind us because they were no longer taking diners for the evening. We were so thankful for the suggestion and the last minute reservation our B&B host got for us. Following dinner, we took a brief walk around the cute little town before turning in for the night.

Day 5 - Waterford

For anyone looking to plan a trip to Ireland on a tighter itinerary, we probably could have skipped or condensed the sights on the next two days. Ultimately, these days being a slower pace allowed us to catch our breath a bit during our busy tour schedule.

We started out the day with our first full Irish breakfast, which was delicious! I gave the traditional black pudding my one and only try and Tommy skipped it all together.

Our first stop was the very close by Jerpoint Abbey. Another OPW site we were able to tour for free. The Abbey ruins date back to the 12th century. During our time there we had the whole place to ourselves to explore. This gave our visit an otherworldly/ haunted feel. The staff provided Evelyn with a fun scavenger hunt. She searched for different stone carvings remaining throughout the monastery. I have to admit both Tommy and I enjoyed the activity as well!

From the Abbey, we made our way into Waterford City. The oldest city in Ireland. We parked our car at the hotel we were staying at that night and we were able to complete a walking tour of the city pretty quickly. Waterford is not a huge touristy city but we did enjoy walking around downtown and seeing all the beautiful street art.

We were able to complete all of the above activities before lunch. Since we were in Waterford and time was on our side, we decided to do the tour at the House of Waterford Crystal. We loved watching the artisans at work handcrafting each individual piece. The tour of course ends at the gift shop where we couldn’t resist getting a souvenir that could be all too conveniently shipped home.

Following our tour, we had small lunch at The Reg. We were unaware of its popularity until we did an internet search for a place to eat dinner that evening. Here I discovered my love for Irish seafood chowder. After lunch, with not much left to do, we checked into our hotel and took a quick nap.

We planned to walk back into the city that evening for dinner and some traditional Irish music. We were surprised we had not come across any live music yet! We were disappointed to discover that live music had been banned due to COVID. We couldn’t believe we were in Ireland without the music! Disappointed and realizing how full we still were from lunch, we just picked up some lunch meat and rolls and had a light dinner in the park square.

Day 6 - Lismore Castle, Cobh & Cork

I am still not sure how it happened but we unintentionally ended up having a full breakfast at The Granary Cafe before leaving Waterford City. We had all intentions of just popping in for a coffee but before we knew it we were ordering an Irish breakfast and a breakfast sandwich. All very delicious though. I guess you “eat when you can, not when you want” while traveling, as a family saying goes. Over breakfast, we discussed that we were enjoying seeing more of the countryside in Ireland versus the cities. We decided to change up the plans for the day a bit to include a few stops we had not originally intended to make in the countryside.

On our way to Cork City we made a brief stop in Dungarvan to see Dungarvan Castle. Not too much to see here in this small town but we did enjoy walking along the harbour.

From here we made an unplanned side trip to Lismore Castle Gardens. I am so glad we made this detour! The large gardens surrounding the still occupied castle were absolutely beautiful! I loved the sections with wildflowers. The gardens seemed very natural and not overly groomed. We allowed ourselves to freely explore with limited use of the map. I truly felt like I was in my own Secret Garden. At one point we surprisingly stumbled upon two pieces of the Berlin Wall hidden within the gardens. As an added bonus, the weather was just perfect!

We made our next stop in the small town of Cobh, the last port of call for the Titanic. We found street parking in front of the St. Colman’s Cathedral and walked down the steep hill into town. Well, technically we ran as Evelyn was having a bathroom emergency. We made a quick stop at a local pub and grabbed a drink so we could use their bathroom. We then made our way over to the remains of “Heartbreak Prier”, the last stop for the Titanic. Here 123 additional passengers boarded and a lucky 8 passengers disembarked. The town of Cobh itself was really cute with all of its colorfully painted buildings.

From Cobh, we made our way into Cork City. Cork was much bigger than the previous cities we had visited but it was nothing compared to the size of Dublin. We checked into The Metropole Hotel Cork. Evelyn was very excited to receive a gift bag for kids to use while exploring the city. We had a wonderful early dinner at Gallagher’s Gastro Pub. We were glad we came early because the place seemed popular and quickly became crowded. The food was great and I was beyond impressed with how hard the staff worked and how well they combined their efforts. Following dinner we explored some of the downtown, stopping to see St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral, St. Peter’s Church, St. Patrick’s Street, and Oliver Plunkett Street.

Day 7 - Cork & Blarney Castle

We finished up our tour of Cork City first thing in the morning. Ultimately, an evening and a morning were just the right amount of time we needed to see the city.

We walked over to the English Market for a pastry and coffee. When traveling, we love to visit the local markets, when given the chance. Here you can observe all the activity of the locals and take in all the traditional delicious sights and smells. Along the way we stopped at Silverwood Jewellery where we enjoyed talking with the shopkeeper and Evelyn and I picked up a souvenir.

Our last stop in Cork was at The Butter Museum. Prior to our visit, we were already loyal consumers of Irish butter. I am not going to lie, this may have been a strong motivator to travel to Ireland. Given our love for Irish butter, a quick visit to this quaint little museum was necessary. Our tour only reaffirmed what we already knew, Irish butter is the best!

Heading out of Cork, we then made our way to Blarney Castle and Gardens. I am not sure what I was expecting but I was so impressed with our visit! There is definitely more to do here than just kissing the Blarney Stone. We spent about 3 hours on site and that was with periods of heavy rain and without any wait to kiss the stone. I hate that our visit was tainted by the weather but we still thoroughly enjoyed our time anyway. We were also lucky that this was the last we saw of rain for the remainder of the trip. Maybe kissing the Blarney Stone does more than give you “the gift of gab”!

The Blarney Castle itself is a very well maintained castle ruin. As you make your way through the castle on a fixed route (this is also where you line up to kiss the stone in busy times) there are several descriptive plaques to let you know what room you were seeing and what typically happened there. Evelyn was obsessed with seeing the Murder Hole. Once you climb to the top of the castle, two staff members are there to assist you in laying on your back to kiss the stone. They also sanitize the stone between guests and take your picture. I am not sure if the cleaning process is a new thing with COVID or not. I was actually surprised how hard kissing the stone was. It required a lot of core work and the staff held a lot of my weight while kissing the stone. Evelyn went through the motions but had to kiss her hand and reach out to the stone because her torso simply was not long enough to reach. My mommy instincts were a little thankful for that.

After successfully completing this Ireland “tourist must”, we took the Woodland Walk around the property. We saw the actual Blarney House, the unique Poison and Carnivorous Garden, The Stable Yard, and the Rock Close. My favorite spot on the whole grounds was the Western Red Cedar tree. It was perfect for climbing and relaxing. I was amazed to learn that even though the tree is so large it is not actually that old. Apparently, there is so much rain in Ireland trees get big fast! Had the weather been better I could have taken a nap here!

Driving west from Blarney to Kenmare, the scenery started to look more like what we had expected to see in Ireland. Endless views of the countryside, windy roads, small villages, the smell of peat fire, and lots of sheep! We stayed the night at a B&B outside of Kenmare (where they only accepted cash!) and went into the city for dinner. Kenmare was just voted one of the cutest small towns in Europe as I am writing this. And that it was! We had a wonderful dinner O Donnabhain’s Traditional Irish Gastro Bar. Here I got a cottage pie and finally found a locally crafted blonde beer! Following dinner, we walked around the town, saw Cromwell’s Bridge, and shopped for our Irish wool sweaters at Quill’s Woollen Market.

That night, we fell asleep to sheep bleating in the fields and the smell of peat fire.

Day 8 - The Ring of Kerry

We ended the “vacation” portion of our trip with a very full and busy day of touring. Of course, a day like this couldn’t start without yet another full Irish breakfast! We had very light misty rain throughout the day but we’re so thankful it was not like the downpour from the day prior.

Our goal for the day was to make the drive around a large portion of the famed Ring of Kerry and Skellig Ring. The official Ring of Kerry route is 111 miles long and begins and ends in Killarney. We started the loop in Kenmare and ended in Killarney, saving the sights around Killarney for later in the week.

When researching for our trip, it appeared that most visitors spend about one day making this trek. I thought we were allowing ourselves a more relaxed tour by omitting Killarney and Killarney National Park. Even with this large omission, we still had a very full and rushed day. I personally feel that travelers should spend at least two days in this area to fully experience all of the sights.

Our first stop for the day was to Bonane Heritage Park. While not officially on the Ring of Kerry, it is just 10 minutes outside of Kenmare and well worth a visit. This was not a part of our original plans, but it was right next to our B&B and the road signs marketing “Over 5,000 years of history” drew us in. We paid our 5 euro per person and explored the private land housing several multi-period archeological sites. It was truly amazing to see remains from the stone, bronze, iron ages to the pre-famine times all in one location! Seeing artifacts this old outside of a museum is a new experience for us, especially coming from the United States. We were able to see and learn about a Crannog, a Famine Ruin, a Stone Circle, a Bullaun Stone, a Ring Fort, and a Standing Stone all in one location. It was also nice to walk the grounds and take in some of Ireland’s large open fields dotted with boulders (and history).This is a tour stop that everyone should make when visiting this part of Ireland, especially if you are not able to make your way to the archeological sites in the Sligo area.

From here, we headed onto the Ring of Kerry and for the first time drove along the Wild Atlantic Way. We popped off the route just west of Sneem to visit Staigue Stone Fort. Just when we thought the roads could not get worse, we were proven wrong. We made the steep challenging drive uphill to the fort frequently passing fields of grazing sheep and pulling over into hedges to allow oncoming traffic to pass. Once there we left some euros in the donation box as we entered. Of the whole trip this was my favorite stone fort. It was completely unearthed and fully standing. This allowed you to see how it originally looked during use somewhere between 300 and 400 AD. The belief that these stone forts are inhibited by fairies that will do bad things to you if you harm their home has helped keep several of them intact throughout Ireland. We were also able to climb on top and walk around the rim of the fort taking in the beautiful surrounding views. I made Evelyn take a few pictures in the surrounding lush grass but she could not resist her southern instincts to fear snakes and was walked cautiously the whole time.

Our next stop along the Ring of Kerry was to Derrynane House and Beach. You can tour this beautiful seaside home of Daniel O’Connell but we missed the window to get timed tickets beforehand. Even without tickets, we enjoyed a walk out to Derrynane Beach and through the wooded gardens. From Derrynane Beach, we were able to look out to the Atlantic and watch some brave surfers in action. We then allowed ourselves to get a little lost on the wooded paths behind the house as we hunted for hidden fairy houses. Searching for the fairy houses gave the woods a magical feel and it was an activity we all enjoyed. We truly could have spent more time here exploring the trails and heading out to Derrynane Abbey but we were starting to feel the pressure of time as lunch approached.

From here, we deviated on to what would officially be considered the Skellig Ring to Ballinskelligs Beach, Castle, and Abbey. We were shocked to actually see some brave locals swimming! Not even Evelyn dared to dip a toe in the water. We took a nice walk along the beach, around tidal pools, towards the castle ruins. The wind was really blowing and that gave us a glimpse into how harsh the environment could get, especially in colder temperatures. We skipped walking all the way to the castle ruins because there didn’t seem to be much remaining of it, at least from afar. We opted to explore the Abbey ruins instead. The Abbey and graveyard had stunning views out to the wide open sea. I am not surprised why many chose this as their final resting place.

We continued to make our way along the Skellig Ring towards the Cliffs of Kerry. The windy coastal drive along cliff sides with views out to the historical Skellig Islands was absolutely breathtaking. If we ever return to Ireland I would love to make the boat ride out to the uninhabited islands to see the monastery ruins and nesting puffins.

I had very low expectations when arriving at the Cliffs of Kerry. In my mind, nothing could be more beautiful than what we had already seen on the drive over. Also, this was not the famed Cliffs of Moher all tourists go to Ireland to see. To my splendid surprise, I was very wrong! We ended up enjoying our time and our views from the Cliffs of Kerry even more than we did the Cliffs of Moher. From the parking lot, we paid 4 euro per person and hiked out to the cliffs. Along the hike up we saw samples of Beehive Huts (early medieval stone-built round houses) which are typical of this area in Ireland. Once closer to the edge of the cliffs you could really feel the wind whipping around you. Signs all around caution you to hold on to the railing in high winds. We did not anticipate our visit turning into so much of an adventure.

We completed our drive around the Skellig Ring and attempted a stop at Ballycarbery Castle. Unfortunately, it was closed but the ride over was pretty amazing. You can definitely tell this is a wealthy area of the peninsula with all the large estates and golf courses we passed. There was even a helicopter parked in someone’s front yard!

As evening approached we were getting tired and running short on time. We drove straight to Killarney for dinner bypassing our planned stop at The Kerry Bog Museum. Yet again, we attempted to go to a place that was known to have live Irish music but were disappointed that music was also banned in this county. We opted to skip pub food for the night and gave a highly rated Southeast Asian restaurant, Toba, a try. Evelyn and Tommy were in heaven but to my disappointment there was no pho on the menu which would be perfect in the chilly Irish weather.

From there, we headed just outside the city center to check into our Airbnb for the week. It felt good to unpack and settle into a place we could call “home” at least for a short while. We had a wonderful host that provided us with the basics so it wasn’t necessary to go to the grocery store right away. She also provided detailed and welcomed education on how to work the boiler and electric showers which is something we had never experienced before.

We ended the day (and our week) feeling tired but accomplished. We did have to cut a lot from the day’s plan but we really enjoyed the things that we did get to do. We were also feeling the weight of all we had accomplished in just 7 days in Ireland. I was impressed with how well Tommy’s driving skills and confidence were improving which allowed us to do so much. That night, we all looked forward to Tommy getting back to work the following day. This meant the trip would slow down a bit and maybe we could get a little rest and relaxation in the weeks to follow.