By: Connie, Brian, Tara and Al
Day 5 – Ring of Kerry Excursion: “Ghastly Black Stuff…Yuck!”
The optional tour of Muckross House was fantastic. It is an 18th century house on 20,000 acres of park. Mountains provide a beautiful backdrop to the house, which is surrounded by equally beautiful gardens. It is absolutely gorgeous! I highly recommend this optional and am so glad we went!
Next up was a trip around the Ring of Kerry. Unfortunately it was a foggy day with some drizzly rain but the beauty of the cliffs, mountains and rugged coastlines was fully visible. The rain served to create an abundance of spectacular, cascading waterfalls such as Torc Falls in Killarney National Park, normally just a trickle of a waterfall. What an amazing site! A must see!
Our Be My Guest dinner was at the farmhouse of an Irish family at Muckross Traditional Farms. This experience was a true gem and a highlight of the trip! We were taken back to a time before electricity was used to work the farm. All work is done by traditional methods using traditional farm machinery and animals. The farm also has a couple of Irish wolfhounds, so cute! We enjoyed fresh bread and butter, traditional Irish stew, potatoes, veggies, bread pudding and Irish coffee. We were entertained with traditional Irish music, with harp and penny-whistle. The entire group joined the musicians in a fun Irish sing-along! What a fabulous evening! It doesn’t get any more “traditionally Irish” than this!
Day 6 – Killarney-Limerick: “You may all rise!”
On to Limerick, with stops in a very pretty town called Adare and King John’s Castle along the Shannon River. We visited Bunratty Castle and Folk Park. We loved the beautiful view of the gorgeous green landscape and rivers from top of Castle. Many went on an optional excursion to Shannon Castle for a medieval feast. We met the rest of our group later at the hotel bar. They had a great time and enjoyed their medieval dinner experience!
Day 7 – Limerick-Cliffs of Moher & the Burren-Connemara-Knock-Sligo: “Coffee only, no doughnuts!”
Off to the Cliffs of Moher! The Cliffs are simply magnificent. Galway Bay and the Arran Islands are lovely! Next we were off to busy, bustling Galway. Before heading to Sligo we stopped in at the Cathedral, decorated with Connemara Marble and Canadian wood. Along the way we had a quick stop at the village of Knock, where the Virgin Mary allegedly appeared to locals in the 19th century. Upon arrival at the Sligo Park Hotel we enjoyed a Guinness in the hotel bar. We had dinner in our hotel with the entire group tonight. After a lovely dinner we headed to the hotel bar to enjoy some Irish music.
Day 8 – Sligo-Drumcliff-Donegal: “Do you want to hear a story?”
Next we were off to beautiful Donegal, with a stop in Ardara on the way. We saw a Local Specialty demonstration at Triona Designs, a family business working loom. All handmade quality products in vibrant colours. We just had to buy a few things here! We went to Donegal for lunch and after a quick walk through the Abbey graveyard it was back to Sligo. That evening was our Dining & Driving optional excursion. We were so glad we didn’t miss this one! It was unbelievable! We stopped at Mullaghmore and Classie Bown fishing villages on the way to dinner. I have no words to describe the beauty of these places! We dined at Harrison’s Bar & Restaurant. The staff were very sweet and our meal was incredible! Sligo beef with mashed potatoes and whiskey mushroom sauce. Wonderful!
Day 9 – Heading back to Dublin: “The Whole Shebang!”
Heading back to Dublin means that we’re nearing the end of our trip. We’re already feeling sad; we don’t want to leave this wonderful country with its stunning landscape, Hidden Treasures and incredible people!
There were several lovely stops along the road to Dublin including a Hidden Treasure at Tobernalt (a holy well) a wonderful, peaceful and spiritual place. We saw a Chieftain Warrior sculpture, the Boyle Abbey Ruins and Carrick-on-Shannon.
We wandered the streets of this lovely wee town and enjoyed tea and scones with the locals in a teahouse. Back in Dublin we head to Grafton Street for some last minute shopping (it’s Sunday and Grafton St. is bustling and alive with people, shoppers, street musicians and entertainers!) On our way, we stopped for a pint of Guinness at Dawson’s Lounge! Remember? A tiny Hidden Treasure….don’t miss it!
Our last supper in Ireland was our Farewell Dinner at O’Connell’s in Donnybrook. Back at the hotel most of the group headed straight to the hotel bar, not ready to say goodbye or goodnight yet! There was an impromptu jam session by a group of musicians from Norway; also hotel guests. We discovered a true Hidden Treasure when one of our own suddenly gets up to sing with them! What a way to end the holiday!
This was Ireland! And we loved it!
Day 10 – Heading home…: “The Long Good-bye”
We said our goodbyes to our friends Bernard and Michael and the rest of the gang. We can’t thank Trafalgar enough! So many great stories and wonderful memories! We had an amazing time in Ireland…..we will be back!
Connie, Brian, Tara and Al