Tuesday, March 29, 2011


WOW--This is my last post regarding the Ireland portion of our trip! I can't believe I actually am finishing it in the month of March (which was my goal).

So Kinsale was our last stop on the trip around the Emerald Isle.

Pretty buildings in Kinsale

As far as pretty towns go that have shops, art galleries, good restaurants, sights to see, and things to do...this one is pretty much a 10. It is a gorgeous little port town in County Cork. We spent 2 nights here and had some great food, did a little shopping, and enjoyed the sights. I will break down this post into those categories.

First off, where we stayed:

We actually stayed about 10 minutes out of town at a little B&B that overlooked the River Brandon. It was a very nice, clean, modern B&B with a gorgeous river view. The owners were very nice, also. It was called The Rivermount House. Although I would recommend this place, if I ever go to Kinsale again, I would prefer to stay in the town itself. It is just nice to not have to get in a car and drive.

The gorgeous sunset over the River Brandon

Where to eat:
Being in Kinsale 2 nights, did not allow me to try all the options and we left wanting to try several places. The places that we had heard about that were good, but did not try were: Jim Edwards Bar, The Spinnaker Restuarant and Bar,and The Spaniard. However, we did eat at 2 places that were both good. One was better.
The White House was the one that we ate at the first night and it was just OK. We had the mussels to start (which we did almost everywhere we went), and they were good, but not the best. Charlie and I got an Italian dish and a Bailey's cheesecake for dessert, and again good, but not memorable. I only remember what I had because I wrote down everything!
The next night we ate at an OUTSTANDING place! It was called The Fishy Fishy Cafe! Now, I don't know if I enjoyed this meal more because it was sans kids (they stayed back at the B&B with Linda), or because I had lobster, or both! I am guessing both! Don't let the word cafe in the name fool you. This is not a casual walk in type place (at least not for dinner). It is very much fine dining, and I suggest you make reservations a day or two at least before you plan to eat there. We made ours for a group of 14 the day before and we lucked out. We had to sit split up at 2 tables and we had a late time, but worth it!

So what did we eat at Fishy Fishy...I mentioned I got the lobster. Here, as with most all other places in Ireland we ate at, they go to the tank and get the lobster fresh. So our waiter came back with a live lobster to get my approval. When he did, his shirt was soaked! It was so funny. We asked him what happened and he explained to us that he had sat the lobster down on the scale and he jumped into the oyster tank. Poor lobster....I wouldn't want to be eaten either, but you sure were good. Lobster alone is reason enough for me never to go vegetarian for good. We started with the mussels (again) and they were sooo good. Some of the best we had on the trip. We had to order several extra orders of bread to soak up all the wonderful sauce they were cooked in. Charlie got the crab claws and they were outstanding, too! For dessert, the special was a Strawberry Pavlova. I highly recommend that. The strawberries were in season and so good. It was so nice to see desserts on the menu that were not your typical brownie with ice cream, cheesecake, creme brulee, wall of chocolate cake, etc... Places in Ireland had pavlovas, trifles, tarts, etc....Very refreshing for a change!
My lobster

Charlie's crab claws
This was an appetizer. Forget exactly what it was, but what a cool presentation!

As for shopping, the main thing we shopped for was a painting. Charlie and I started a "tradition" or "hobby", not sure what to call it, on our honeymoon. We bought a gorgeous painting in Positano and decided that we would try to buy a painting from each trip we take as a memento. We are not much into buying T-shirts and gift shops knick knacks, but we love looking at the beauty of painting, painted by a local artist, to remember a place by. So far we have not been able to collect one from every country or trip, but we have the one from Positano, one from Venice, one from Paris, a Van Gogh reproduction from Amsterdam, 2 small paintings from Brussels, and some small drawings from Sitges, Spain and Rome. We add to our collection, this painting:

It is called Kerry Cottages. It was painted by an artist from Cork, very near Kinsale. In fact, we were informed when we bought the painting that we had just missed meeting the artist by about a half hour. She had been in the gallery. Coincidentally, many of her paintings were hanging at the Fishy Fishy Cafe when we went there that night for dinner. Her name is Dee Peiters. I love her paintings so much, that I would love to have another.
Lauren running around the art gallery.

The gallery we bought the painting at.

As a tourist, Kinsale is a great town because it has all the great places to stay, eat, and shop, but it also has some history. There are 2 forts that sit at the mouth of the river, Charles Fort and James Fort. Charles Fort dates back to the 1670's. It is a star fort, meant that it is in the shape of a star. It was designed this way to be able to resist attack by cannon. There used to be a large chain that connected to both James and Charles fort that was raised across the harbour to prevent enemies from invading. Since 1971, Charles Fort has become a National Monument. We decided that we would go out and have a picnic at the fort and then get a tour. We had such a lovely day sitting on the hillside with our ham and baguettes and wine. It was so interesting to tour the fort and walk the expansive grounds. It was such a pretty place and overlooked the town Kinsale.
Picnic at Charles Fort

Our group of weary travellers!

View out to sea from Charles Fort.

Sarah & Lauren with Papa

The last morning in Kinsale we headed out to Rosslare to take the overnight ferry across the English Channel to Cherbourg, France.

SO there ends the blog posts about Ireland. I might have a few more from time to time as we had some fun adventures and laughs along the way. I took so many pictures and each one of them tells its own story.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Gift of the Gab

This I do not have, or at least no thanks to the Blarney Stone.

Of all the places we went, this was the sight that was the least like I expected it to be. First off, the grounds of the Blarney Castle are pretty expansive and just gorgeous! I seriously thought we would walk up a short flight of stairs, kiss the stone, and be on our merry way. It was so not like that. The stone you kiss is not only sort of in the middle of the grounds, but it is also on top of the castle, oh..and it is also perched about a foot out from the side of the castle. Not to mention, in case you are not aware, you lie on your back and hang upside down to kiss it. You would think the idea of millions of visitors kissing the same spot every year would gross me out enough that I would not want to kiss the stone, but that was not my reason for not doing it. I couldn't get past the fact that I was several stories up on top of what seemed to me a crumbling castle, shoulder to shoulder with hundreds of visitors in a line that went on forever. I had never felt more claustrophobic, and more stressed about my 2 year old slipping and falling off the top of the castle (yes the thought did cross my mind, it probably never happens). Everyone was so excited to do this and all I wanted was DOWN!

Charlie kissing the Blarney Stone

Since we had a full day on our plate (driving from Milltown to Kinsale with stops at Blarney Castle and Cobh), we did not spend anytime visiting the rest of the grounds. It was raining a bit and that day we had what one Irishman described as a whole year of weather in one day. It went from freezing cold and rainy, to sunshine and fairly warm in the matter of an hour or 2. Reminded me a bit of TX. So, I would like to go back one day, visit the grounds and take photos of all the beautiful sights. The stone, I will probably take a pass on that again!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Killarney, Ring of Kerry, and McDonald Castle

Our last day in the area was a busy one! Not only were we going to tour some sights on the Ring of Kerry, but we were traveling about an hour the opposite direction to pick up our nanny at the train station in Killarney! I never thought we would be one of those families that traveled with a nanny, but let me tell you, it was worth the money. We basically worked out a deal to pay for travel expenses, lodging and most meals, and in return we got free babysitting when needed! She got a mini-vacation and got to see Europe and we had an extra set of hands so we could experience pub life and an adult dinner every now and then!

So meet Linda.

(Photo taken at Point du Hoc, Normandy)

She started out with us back in 2007 when Lauren was born. I was struggling with having 2 kids, a husband that traveled a ton, and a little bit of postpartum. We found her and she was a God send. She came over on weekends and evenings to help out with the baby or play with Sarah while I tended to Lauren. She even would stay over 1 night a week to help with feedings so I could get some rest. (Mind you this was a few months after Lauren was born and she was not yet sleeping at night on a regular pattern.) In fact it hasn't been till recently she has become a decent sleeper and at that she wakes up crying at least once most nights. But I digress... Anyway, just a little background about Linda and why she was chosen to come help us out. The girls had known her for years, I knew she was reliable and responsible, and it was great to have her on the trip!

So we started our day traveling out to the Ring of Kerry. Basically this peninsula that is full of beautiful coastlines, awesome views, old castles, etc... We first stopped at some old ruins of an ancient fort. It was Cahergal Stone Fort. Dating back to about the 8th or 9th century. It was pretty awesome to walk around it. It was amazing to think how they built something like that so long ago and that it is still standing. My girls loved running around and playing. Go HERE to see a video of the fort. I do not know who made the video, I just found it on a google search. If you are the person that made it, I would love to give you credit. The first 2 minutes are of Cahergal Fort.

The last minute or so of the video is of BallyCarberry Castle, also known in our family as McDonald Castle. It doesn't really have anything to do with our family, we have just enjoyed it so much (Charlie's parents have been many times to see it) that we have sort of claimed it. As you can see, my girls loved it too! It is mentioned in the movie Leap Year with Amy Adams, however, the castle shown is not the right one. It is also known as the 10th wonder of Ireland.

We then continued on the road to find a spot for a picnic. Charlie's parents had a place in mind on Valentia Island that was beautiful, however it was perched on the edge of a cliff and it was quite cold and breezy that day. Not my idea of fun with 2 small children. So we ate our food in the car as we traveled back towards Killareny to get Linda. I would love to go back one day and finish the journey around the Ring. We just did not have time this trip.

Picnic spot on Valentia Island

Killarney was also a nice little town. Well, it was actually a much bigger town than I expected. It has a great city center with lots of shops (high end ones too) and restaurants. I would definitely go back and spend a day or 2 in and around Killareny. It looks to be a very wealthy town and lots of pretty areas to explore. It will be on the to do list the next time we go back.

That night we had dinner at a great little place called Nick's. It was located in the nearby town of Killorglin. It was a very nice seafood restaurant and had live piano music. I will never forget the piano man played the song "Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen. I have been crazy about this song since K.D. Lang mesmerized the world with it during the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. The food was great here. Linda and I split the scampi and monk fish plate and the sole with lemon. There was even some chicken tenders for the kids! Very nice evening.

The next day we left the Kilburn House, kissed Baily good-bye and headed toward Blarney castle.

Me and my sweet Bailey dog!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Kilburn House, Inch Beach, and Dingle

It is hard to believe, but by this point we had only been in Ireland a week and a day. If you have been reading my posts it probably felt like a lot longer, but alas, we were flying through Ireland. Our entire trip was 3 weeks long, I still have a lot of posting to do! It has taken me this long and we are only a week in!!

So the next stop on our trip was the area around the Ring of Kerry. The night before we tackled that, we decided to head out to the town of Dingle. We had heard that they had great lobster there, so I was all for that. I love my lobster.

So we first pulled into our B&B where we were going to be staying for a couple of nights. It was called the Kilburn House B&B. This was such a nice little place to stay. Our family room was quite cramped, but all in all, it was a lovely little place. It had a wonderful breakfast room and the owners put out an amazing spread. For breakfast they would also make the most wonderful omelets. The owners also have 2 kids so there was a slide for Sarah and Lauren to play on and the sweetest little dog for us to play with. His name was Bailey he was such a highlight of the trip. Especially for the girls. He was so fun to come home to every night and he loved to play. So sweet. We really wished we could have taken him with us. This hotel was a great location as far as it being so central to get to the Ring of Kerry, Dingle, and Killarney.

Bailey dog :)

Once we had checked in it was time to head out to Dingle. On the way there you pass Inch beach. This is such a beautiful beach and it was so nice to get out and walk around. The girls loved checking out the small shells and little crabs. It was a bit chilly, but really a pretty spot. It is nestled in Dingle Bay between Dingle Peninsula and the northern coast of the Ring of Kerry. It is known to be in the movies "Ryan's Daughter" and "The Playboy of the Western World". (Neither of which I have seen). If you plan to visit, I found this place that looks like it might be a great place to stay: Inch Beach - Beach House and Cottages

So once we left the beach we headed on to Dingle. What a gorgeous drive this was. It was later in the day and it was sort of cloudy, but the sun was peeking through, it was just heavenly. Dingle was a charming little sea town. Lots of pretty boats, tons of cute shops, lots of pubs, and great restaurants. The one we ate was called Fenton's. I highly recommend this place.

This is what I had for dinner:

Starter: Mussels- To die for, could drink the sauce they were in like it was a soup!
Main Course: Lobster- this was my 2nd lobster of the trip and it required a bit more work to get to the meat. So yummy!

Dessert: Bourbon marinated blackberries served over ice cream...enough said.

We only spent one evening in Dingle, but I would go back and stay at least a full day. Such a great little town!

Gorgeous flowers and homes

Cute as can be dresses in little dress shop!

Shhh...don't tell Bailey, but we were loving this dog too!

Sunset at Inch Beach on our drive back from Dingle

Related Posts with Thumbnails