My parents arrived the Saturday after Saint Patrick’s day. I took the bus into the airport, but ran into problems because a water charges protest was taking place. There were parades of people flooding the streets. People were chanting and holding protest signs. It seemed almost crazier than Saint Patrick’s day! My bus couldn’t continue on it’s normal route, so the bus driver got on the intercom and said that the bus would be re-routing. I got off to try and catch my next bus at another stop, but buses all over were not running! I finally made it to a stop I needed, and even managed to end up with a protestor sign in hand.
I waited at the arrivals gate for my family who never came out. After an extensive miscommunication, we were reunited. My dad, who may be slightly crazy, decided to rent a car. Not only did he not know the roads, he also had to add driving on the left side of the road. We made it back to my apartment alive. I showed them around what little there is to show at my apartment, and then we sat and talked to Kelly and Ali before hitting the road again.
We headed to county Tipperary, where we stayed in Rockville Hose Bed and Breakfast. After getting settled in, we ate at Bailey’s hotel, where we discovered our love of Camembert cheese and red pepper relish. After a night’s sleep filled with plenty of snoring by my dad, we went to Rock of Cashel, which could be seen from our B&B.
After Rock of Cashel, we stopped in Cobh and went to the Titanic Experience. Cobh was the last stop of the Titanic before it left on it’s infamous final journey. The museum was in the White Starline Ticket Office, which is where some of the passengers would have passed through before boarding.
After lunch at Jacob’s Ladder, we headed on to Blarney. Our Bed and Breakfast for the night was called The White House. The Woolen Mills and Blarney Castle were just a short walk away; however, they had just closed for the night, so we headed back. The next morning, I had to go back to Dublin by train to turn in a paper for class, and then later that night trained back to Killarney where my parents had traveled to after visiting Blarney Castle.
The roads were super narrow and windy. It was pretty scary, yet exhilarating considering how dark out it was. The road was only wide enough for one car, yet there was two way traffic. We didn’t meet many people on the way there, but when we did, whoever reached a pull-off point first would get to the side. The scary part was the rocks and drop-offs on both sides. Our Bed and Breakfast for the night was on a sheep farm called Hillcrest Farmhouse. In the morning, we got to feed the sheep! They were really friendly, which may have been in part due to the toast we had in hand. A few of them kept trying to get right up in my face– I was not about to complain because I love sheep.
In the morning, I was able to see the roads we had driven the night before, which is in a region called the Black Valley.
Afterwards, we headed over Lady’s View, where we saw a complete rainbow stretching across the valley, and then traveled down to Lough Leane. It was all so beautiful! Ellen and my dad both fell multiple times as we were climbing around the rocks and such by the lake. The Stuckwisch family likes to pretend to be outdoorsy– we just aren’t always very good at it. We also got caught in a random hailstorm. However, Irish weather is bipolar within the day, so it cleared up within a few minutes and went back to being beautiful outside.
Afterwards, we headed over to Killarney National park. We hiked a little bit, saw Torc waterfall, and found bright green, shag trees that looked like they were carpeted in the 80’s.
We were going to spend time in Muckross farms, but it was still closed for another weekend. Instead, we went into Muckross House, a huge 1800s mansion. It had 25 bedrooms and 22 bathrooms. We couldn’t take any pictures, but you can take my word that it was very ornate.
From here, we went through Limerick and ended in our Bed and Breakfast in Ennis, which was called Railway View House. The next morning, I went back by train to Dublin because I had an exam to take. By the time I got off the bus at campus, it was 1:51 and my exam started at 2. I power walked across campus and made it just in time for a pretty difficult short answer equine nutrition exam.
My parents came back and met up with me the next day, so Thursday I showed them around Dublin. We went to the Chester Beatty Library, which has a bunch of religious documents, including old Bible excerpts on Papyrus paper. We also walked through the Temple Bar area, ate donuts at my favourite shop on O’Connell Street, and grabbed some food from my favourite burrito place.
That night, we flew out to England, and stayed in Faringdon for two nights with Sarah, who had been hosted by my dad’s family 35 years ago on an exchange program. The first morning there, we explored the Cotswold region, Lower Slaughter, Bibury, and the Uffington White Horse.
Day two, we went to Folley Tower. It was pretty much built just because the guy could. Then we walked through the Great Coxwell Barn, previously a storage place for crop tithes to the abbey. To end our England excursion, we spent some time in a coffee shop in Faringdon before heading back to collect our belongings and return to Ireland.
We had a lot of good food while in England– hot cross buns, lardy cake, and a nice home cooked dinner.
We did what any family would do after a nice church service, and visited the Guinness Storehouse. None of us who were legal could get our whole pint down. Ellen didn’t get a chance to try because she isn’t at the drinking age for Ireland. I have since learned that we weren’t drinking it correctly. You don’t sip Guinness. You take six, big gulps and it should be gone.
After the Guinness Storehouse, we hurried over to Dun Laoghaire to try and catch the last of the farmer’s market. Fortunately there were still vendors out, and we ate lots of delicious, warm bread. From there, we went on a walk along the water, but a storm started rolling in. So, we headed back to the airport and had dinner there before we parted ways. My parents had a hard time saying good-bye, and even I had a little bit of a sad feeling as I took the bus back alone.
- We had a full Irish Breakfast at pretty much every B&B. It was a lot of food! I wasn’t so much a fan of the black sausage. It may have been a mental thing knowing that it had blood in it. However, brown bread is delicious. My mom tried taking special flour home to make some, and kept getting stopped by security. To my knowledge, the flour made it home.
- I was exhausted by the end of the week from about three straight weeks of running around. I took the next week or so catching up on energy.