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A Holiday Worth Talking About

Though I may not strictly be Irish by birth, my mother’s ancestors were Irish. Apart from having traits of the fun, spontaneous Irish character, we were proud to have an Irish surname. We always felt a kind of connection with this Isle and of course, dreamed of paying it a visit one day.

Preparing For Ireland

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Up until December 2002, the only knowledge I had of Ireland was from the countless photos and stories provided by others who had visited it. Finally, I decided it was time to pay it a visit myself. Apart from having never visited this country before I had also never attempted a driving holiday. Well, there is always a first — and now looking back, there are only happy, beautiful memories, ones which I do intend to relive once again in the future!

Being a very organised person, I made the decision in October, which gave me a couple of months to get all the preparations done. I wanted to make the most out of these days and had no intention of wasting any time while I was there (the adventure would last a total of 15 days and my boyfriend would be my companion 24/7). Thank God for Internet, which provided us with all the information we needed — in fact before even getting there it was as though I had been there before!

Our departure date was the 28th December, and our first stop was Dublin where we spent 4 nights. This obviously included New Year’s Eve, a night we spent in the company of a mixture of nationalities in one of the pubs, bang in the centre of Temple Bar, whilst enjoying a couple of pints of their famous Guinness. Temple Bar is loaded with typical Irish pubs, which serve as meeting places for people wanting to socialise, eat (the pub food was amazingly delicious, I definitely don’t hesitate to recommend it and it’s well worth it, money-wise) and drink. After our 4 days in this amazing city, which apart from being a shopping and entertainment delight is also packed with sights and history, we embarked on the next part of our adventure.

Off on Holiday!

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Day 5: We collected our car (which was pre-booked via internet, a 6-month-old Peugeot 307) from Dublin airport and proceeded to our next stop, in the south of Ireland — Kinsale, which would be our resting place for the next 2 nights. Oh, can’t help but mention that my boyfriend did all the driving, which sometimes even meant a whole day behind the wheel in order to reach our destinations, while my job was that of navigating – we made a great team.

Kinsale is a characteristically lovely village, full of colour, flowers and friendly locals. I loved this village and although I wanted to stay on, our time was short and we had to pack up and move on to our next village, Killarney. Before reaching this village we toured the Beara Peninsula — an amazing array of greenery, silence, ice, which covered stretches of ground, and a background drop of mountains — it was a live Christmas card! Forgot to mention that although we chose to travel in probably the coldest of months we were lucky to have the sun for a good 10 days out of 12, although the temperatures did go down to below 0 degrees at times.

Day 8: We reached Killarney, settled down in our guesthouse “Fairview Lodge”, a warm, high quality, family-run bed & breakfast, right in the centre of the village, and went to explore the rest of our surroundings. Although small, as most villages in Ireland are, it had quite a few shops and one was spoilt for choice when choosing a good lively pub for the evening. I don’t want to repeat myself but the pub food, once again, was delicious and our favourite was obviously fresh salmon.

 

We had 2 nights booked in Killarney and our plan for the next day was to drive through the famous Ring of Kerry. Although very similar to the Beara Peninsula, we just couldn’t get enough of the breathtaking views. We went through no less than 5 films during our entire holiday, although I have to say that photos just don’t pay justice to the beauty of the actual product.

We left Killarney and drove towards Dingle, a very small fishing village,home to Fungi, the infamous bottlenose dolphin who has been its resident since 1984. Unfortunately, the sea was too rough on the day we were there, so we could not take the boat trip and make his acquaintance. Pity!

We were now up west and our next stop was Galway. Having spent the last few days in the quaint picturesque villages, it was quite a shock to find ourselves back in the city. Although we enjoyed being there, we missed the rural countryside, the sheep (which are abundant and rather friendly) and the lovely thatched roof country houses, though we got to see the amazing gargantuan Cliffs of Moher — a breathtaking gift of nature.

Unfortunately our holiday was passing quickly and so did our 2 nights in Galway. So on the 8th January, off we went again. Luckily while in Dingle we made friends with an elderly gentleman who although being American had been living in Ireland for the past 30 years. He was a fountain of information and strongly advised us not to leave Ireland without paying a visit to Newgrange. Since our final destination would once again be Dublin and we had one night to spare, we made a stop in Drogheda, which was very close to Newgrange and also a few hours away from Dublin.

Newgrange is a megalithic passage tomb, which was built about 3200BC. It has a passage and chamber, which are illuminated by the Winter solstice sunrise. A shaft of sunlight shines through the roof box over the entrance and penetrates the passage — a truly amazing dramatic event that lasts for 17 minutes at dawn from the 19th to the 23rd December. Although not lucky enough to experience this, Newgrange was nonetheless an experience in itself.

Day 13: we were back in Dublin for our last 2 nights. We were now familiar with this city and we took advantage of this to go round the well known pubs and shops and spend some time catching up: getting some souvenirs, taking a walk in the park, and relaxing with a pint in the pub and a chat with the locals. Saturday 11th January, we boarded our plane and waved goodbye to an amazing 15 days.

 

A year has almost passed since that wonderful experience, but the memories of this holiday are as vivid as though it were yesterday. It took me a while to pay the green isle a visit but it was a visit well worth it…..in fact we’re already planning our next one!

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