Ireland Part 2
Day 2 Cont.
Killarney…ahhh this place was absolutely amazing and 3 days just wasn’t enough time here.
We got to Killarney around late afternoon and decided the kids had had enough so we decided to check into our AirBnB and rest a little before it was time for dinner. Our BnB was in the most perfect location right off the main street in downtown Killarney. We didn’t need to use our van to get to any of the attractions in Killarney. I try and exclusively stay in AirBnb’s when traveling since there’s 5 of us and it usually ends up being cheaper or the same price as staying in a hotel and now we get to stay up later then the kids and not try and tiptoe around while they’re trying to sleep.
The first night we actually just relaxed and ordered takeout (very uneventful but much needed rest). I wanted to be sure everyone was ready for our full day the following day.
The next morning I had reserved a jaunting car ride to Ross castle and a tour through Killarney National Park. We were able to walk to the hotel where the carriage was waiting for us and there was enough room to store our stroller in the carriage in case we needed it. I love that each cart is rented per family or group so you really get to enjoy a personalized experience. It was the most beautiful day and our tour guide was so informative and knew so much history about the town and park and Ireland in general. The kids loved being in a horse drawn carriage and wanted to spend the whole day trotting around. We went through the park and took a short break at Ross castle and we were able to walk the ground and enjoy the beautiful views of the lake. Once we were done we continued through the park and returned back in the center of town where each of the kids were able to feed the horse-highlight of their day!
Side story- The evening we left for Ireland our 5 yr old daughter lost her first tooth so we decided to go visit the tooth fairies house while in Ireland. So, after we were done with the carriage ride we drove down to the coast to a Fairy trail where the tooth fairy lives. My kids were beyond excited for this. There’s about 10-12 fairy houses hidden amongst the trail and it was so magical for their little hearts. It’s a nice short trail along a lake that around every corner you’ll find a couple houses hiding in the forest. If you have little kids then it’s a great way to spend the afternoon.
That night we ate at Danny Mann’s, a pub around the corner from our apartment. It was probably our best meal we had so far in Ireland. My husband got the braised lamp shank and I, of course, got more stew and it was so so good! If you love hearty meals then you will never be disappointed going out to eat in Ireland.
The following day we rented bikes with trailers for the kids because way too far for kids to be riding bikes and decided we would ride to Muckross House. It was supposed to 3.5 miles one way but what fun would it be if you didn’t take a wrong turn and have to ride an extra 2 miles to get back on track? It was the most stunning day out and I mistakingly didn’t pack any shorts because I figured were going to Ireland and we’ll need pants, rain boots and jackets…ummm no. We ended up trying to buy everyone shorts while we were in Killarney because we were so hot. Ok, done with my rant. Anyways, we rode through Killarney National Park to get there and with the mountains and lakes it reminded us so much of the valley floor in Yosemite. It was absolutely AMAZING ! I had to stop so many times so I could get pictures of the beautiful scenery. The nice part about this park is it’s mostly trails so no worries about car traffic. You occasionally had to move for a horse and carriage but I’ll take that over cars. On our way to Muckross House we stopped at Muckross Abbey, which the kids loved exploring all the rooms and up and down all the stairs and there is just a maze of grave stones on the grounds. Once we were done exploring we continued a short way down to the House. You can actually drive to the house and park if you’re not up to walking or riding a bike here. The house has a great guided tour throughout the house and then once you’re done they also have a local art and gift shop and a café with beautiful seating in a lushish garden.
We tried to do the farm after we were done with our house tour and lunch and exploring more gardens but the kids had hit their limit and we were in meltdown city, so it was time to go ! We packed up and rode a little further to Torc waterfall and that put the kids over the top so, I got a quick picture and we were out. They didn’t realize how good they had it being able to just ride in a trailer and eat food the whole time. Life is tough as a toddler. Thankfully all 3 fell asleep riding back so we got back to much happier kids. And for mom and dad it was a good workout pulling kids for a 12 mile bike ride so now it was time for us to have a rest.
That night we ate at Quinlan’s Seafood Bar and it was worth the wait. I love a good fish and chips and this one wasn’t to be missed! The line was out the door but we only had to wait for maybe 30ish minutes…that I can handle with 3 hungry kids. And love that every pub in Europe has malt vinegar. I can’t eat fries or fried fish without it first being doused in malt vinegar…that you can thank my Grandma who was born and raised in England and taught me well. After dinner we got some ice cream at another well know restaurant, Murphys. An ice cream shop that makes fresh ice cream sourced locally. Nothing can beat fresh ice cream.
The next morning we did the scenic drive on Dingle Peninsula. We took most of the day to do this as we wanted to make as many stops as we could along the drive. We spent some time at Inch beach and enjoyed the views and the kids were entertained climbing all over the rocks. We used this guide for the drive because it’s so detailed and you can preplan where you want to stop along the way. We did the sheep feeding, which was a big hit for both the adults and kids and I think it was only 1 or 2 dollars for each bag of food. We also did the beehive hut, stopped a million times to take pictures and went inside Gallarus Oratory, which is a tiny church thought to have been built in the 11th or 12th century and looks like an upside down boat. You can spend as little or as much time on this drive. And if you don’t want to stop anywhere you can enjoy the expansive views from every direction.
That night we stayed in Limerick and went out to dinner to Butter while we were there. This was the only place on our entire trip that gave us the stink eye because we had kids and was the worst service possible. Food was very good but service is the other half and that was lacking.
The next morning we went to Bunratty Castle and Folk Park. This was so much fun and we all enjoyed it. It has a castle to tour and they have about 15 or so houses rebuilt to represent traditional Irish life. Half of the houses were also interactive and in the middle was a couple houses with a café and traditional Irish desserts and bread being made for an afternoon snack. The other half has a “main st” with a great little restaurant on it. Behind main st was a beautiful fairy garden with tunnels and hidden paths sitting next to beautiful pond and on the other side was a huge playground for the kids to run around in. This place was amazing whether you have kids or not.
After we were done at the park we drove on to Lahinch, it’s a small town but known for its great surfing. We were surprised at how many people were actually in the water. It was a busy beach but very clean and nice to walk along and they had nice playground right next to it.
The next day we went to the Cliffs of Moher and it was what I was most looking forward to. My favorite move is The Princess Bride and so I was so excited to go the “Cliffs of Insanity”. It was so much more than I expected. The views were absolutely breathtaking! It was a gorgeous sunny day and even with lots of people there you could still get a good view from every angle. And there’s even a tower you can climb up to get a perfect 360* view. I could’ve stayed here all day but we had a 2.5 hr drive to Dublin and a surprise waiting for my husband.
Back story -about 4 months before we were leaving to go to Ireland I sent a message to one of my husbands friends who lives in Germany and asked if him and his gf could come to Dublin for a couple days and surprise my husband. They were totally on board and we couldn’t wait to surprise my husband. Keeping a secret for four months is so hard !
We showed up in Dublin and checked into our AirBnB and on the bottom floor there was a bakery that I told my husband and kids we were going to go pick out a cake for my daughter’s birthday, which was that day. We got there and our friends back was to us and so we moved around the dessert case and then he popped up and turned around to my husband and he was completely SHOCKED ! It was the best surprise EVER!! We got our dessert and sat down and caught up for the past few years. The rest of the evening we spent walking around ST. Stephens Green. It has ponds, a playground, beautiful fountains and courtyards and so much green space to run around and play.
The next morning we enjoyed a delicious breakfast at a local café and then I did a little shopping. Each place we go on vacation we always grab a Christmas ornament and if there is something that the country or town is known for we try and buy something. Ireland is known for Waterford crystal, Whiskey, Guinness and Avoca. So, I decided to splurge on an Avoca Throw. It seriously is the softest blanket ever and no kids are allowed to use it. It’s just for me…and if you have kids you know there are very FEW things you get to claim as a don’t touch item. The rest of the day was spent going to see The Book of Kells at Trinity College. Very crowded even for a Tuesday afternoon but if you like history then it’s worth the trip. Next, I had heard there was a hotel that was known for cronuts a couple miles away so we decided we’d walk there to try one out. We joked on the way there how funny it would be if they were out and we ended up jinxing ourselves. The detail I missed was you need to order in advance and the chef will make them for the following day…whomp whomp. Thankfully across the courtyard was a nice park and a grocery store that had a specialty donut shop inside, YAY! and so we got our donut afterall.
We only had 24 hrs with our friends but we definitely made the most of it! They had to leave that evening but we still had a few more days in Ireland and more to see.
That evening we ate at an Italian restaurant, Toscana, around the corner from our apartment and it was by the far the best food I’ve ever had! The ingredients are always fresh and locally sourced from their family farm. And oh my gosh so good! It was very reasonably priced and I’ll be dreaming about this place for a long time!
The next morning we got up and walked to the Guinness Storehouse for a tour. I was pleasantly surprised at how kid friendly the factory was. I think we were here for a good 3 or so hours but you could definitely be here for most of the day. It has lights and waterfalls and so many sensory items. It was unbelievably well done. And to top it off you get drink tickets (kids too!) for a drink at the top in the 360* view bar. In the bar each pane of glass in the bar had the buildings labeled and a short history about it as you looked out each window. Very well done, Guinness.
That afternoon my cousin and his wife came over from England to spend a couple days with us. We enjoyed catching up and doing some site seeing around town with them. The first evening we spent catching up and going out for a long nice dinner (always nice to have extra helpers at meal time).
The following day we drove out to Powerscourt Estate. It was listed as number 3 of the most beautiful gardens by national geographic. It was modeled after an Italian villa and my kid self would hate me for wanting to go see gardens but it was so beautiful. The day we went it was the most obnoxiously windy day and sand, dirt and water from the fountain was blowing in our eyes and the only relief we got was going to the Japanese Sunken Gardens. We spent a good majority of our time in there as it was calm and quite peaceful. When we were ready to brave the wind we walked back to the main house as quickly as possible and did a tour upstairs of old dollhouses. I know it sounds strange but it was quite nice and had some famous peoples doll houses and the lady there knew so much history. Bonus, they had a kids room where the kids could color and play and not be bored by all the adult talk.
You can’t actually tour the estate, womp womp, but they have some shops, an ice cream shop and a café with a variety of lunch and dessert items. And when it’s not blowing you away outside you can sit out on the terrace and overlook the grounds.
That evening was our last night in Dublin so we went and got dinner at a local pub and enjoyed the rest of our evening spending time with family.
We flew out the next day and the best part about flying out of Dublin is you get to do US customs in Dublin. It was amazing ! We only had an hour layover in Chicago and thought no way could we do customs w 3 kids and make our flight in time but you don’t have to worry about that. It was quick and painless and so much easier than trying to get your luggage at your layover and waiting in line forever and then rechecking them. Now just need more European cities to adopt this.
This trip was absolutely amazing. Ireland by far has been one the most beautiful countries with all its rolling hills, mountains, ocean…it has it all. As a bonus for going in June is that it doesn’t get dark til about 1030 at night and we were able to stay out and play for so long at all the parks around the country. It was fantastic! On the flip side…the sun rises at around 430 or 5 so make sure you’re staying somewhere with black out shades
I think the only negative if I had to find one is Ireland has the tiniest country roads ever created and next to those tiny roads are bushes that have hidden rock walls inside of them. There were lots of gasps and WATCH OUTs! yelled at my husband. As you can imagine he loved driving on the opposite side of the road and have me scaring him at every turn. Hunny, you’re welcome.
Without question I would go back to Ireland in a heart beat. Our kids did great with the time change and I made sure to plan plenty of downtime as to not wear all of us out and it turned out to be quite enjoyable. Now to start searching for more cheap European flights.