We are just returning from a wonderful six day trip to Ireland! I have been wanting to go to Europe for almost 20 years now and I FINALLY made it happen! With opening an Irish Pub this summer and Andrew's descendants being from Galway, Ireland; there was a little push to GO!
I was worried the weather would be rainy and cold the entire time. It actually was not bad at all. A little rain here and there that only lasted a half hour tops and we sunshine every day at some point. The temperature ranged in the 40s. It was nice not worrying about getting sunburned and wearing sunglasses too!
We flew from Detroit to Boston then to Dublin. It was an easy flight and flying Delta international is very comfortable! Our flight left Boston at 10pm so I slept the entire five hour flight. They gave us a meal right upon departure, a blanket, pillow and travel kit which had a tooth brush, tooth paste and sleep mask. Very nice!
We rented a car through Enterprise and the staff was extra friendly and helpful. Jilly checked us in. How cute is her name. :) We drove a hybrid Toyota car - first time driving a hybrid - which was really nice on gas. Andrew was 'the driver'. You drive on the opposite side of the road and the steering wheel is on the opposite side. This tested our marriage a few times! LOL! Thanks be to God we made it safely back to the airport when we returned the car.
We drove straight to Galway on our first night. We arrived in Dublin at 8:30am so (5 hour change time) we were very groggy Wednesday. We managed to make the most of it and walk around Galway when we arrived and had a nice dinner out. The pubs and shops were so charming. We stayed at The Dean Hotel. It was lovely. My favorite hotel of the trip.
Thursday we drove to Ballynahinch Castle which is over 200,000 acres of land that a castle sits on with hiking trails, a lake, scenic views, gardens, river, and a restaurant. I believe you can go fishing and do other activities when the weather is warmer. We enjoyed the cozy castle which felt like a Victorian bed and breakfast. Our dinner was inside the castle and it was very nice. A little too nice for us, but the food was delicious.
Friday we drove to Westport which is further north on the west coast. It was a beautiful drive and a little scary! Andrew was on pins and needles as the road was very narrow and sheep would stroll along the sides of the road. Every house is made from cement blocks. The cottages/houses were so charming to see through the miles of farmland. We drove through tiny towns and even grabbed a latte and homemade croissant in one town. Westport is where the Murray and Chamber families came from that are on Mackinac Island. It was another cute town lined with several shops and pubs. We stayed at the Plaza Hotel. Very central in the town and great staff.
Saturday we drove to Clare County to the town of Ennis. We were first planning to go to Limerick, but heard we would like Ennis better. I'm glad we made the change. Ennis was one of my top towns we visited. We stayed at The Old Ground Stone hotel. The shopping was the best here! I managed to find two cute sweaters at a really good price. I was surprised at the cost of hotels in Ireland. Our most expensive stay was at the castle at $300 a night, but everything else was around $150. Tipping in Europe is different too...they do not expect to tip as much as America. It's only 10%, but the waiters make more an hour than waiters in the US.
We never did change our money to Euros ...we tried at a few banks but they would not let us unless we had an account with them. We just used our credit card and they worked out fine. They do not accept American Express in Ireland because of the higher rates.
Sunday we traveled to the Cliffs of Moher and found a beautiful waterfall! The views were stunning! Then we traveled back to Dublin to stay two nights in the big city. We loved our hotel. It was called Stauntons on the Green. Great location, good price and great breakfast. I preferred the smaller towns than the city, but the history that is in Dublin is definitely worth seeing and learning about. We went to the Book of Kells, Trinity College library, walked by the Guiness Storehouse (it was booked to go inside for a tour), visited the Emigrant Museum, St. Patrick's Cathedral and lots of walking and going into more pubs and meeting up with my childhood priest who is from Dublin. That was very special to be able to see him again! It has been over ten years since I have seen Fr. Eoin.
Did I mention Guiness is better than I thought!? I am not a beer drinker, but it actually tasted good. Creamy and a little sweetness. It is filled with fiber from the barley and a healthier beer than more.
I hope you will consider visiting Ireland sometime in your life. The culture and people are friendly and fun. The history is amazing. If you have any questions I might be able to help too!