Ireland – Castles, Hikes, Pubs, Sheep and Leprechauns! (May 2016)

(Day 0) Travel Day – Flight from St. Louis to Philly and boarded red eye to Dublin – extremely successful traveling with kiddos besides night terrors mid-flight!  Ready for 10 different hotel stays in 18 days?  About to find out…

Austin and I excited to be finished with our 14 hours of flights and layovers enjoying Phoenix Park!
Excited to be finished with our 14 hours of flights and layovers enjoying Phoenix Park

(Day 1) Arrived in Dublin, Ireland – Spent the afternoon in Phoenix Park, one of Europe’s largest city parks, and also spotted home to the White House in miniature: Áras an Uachtaráin (House of the President). We all enjoyed the beautiful park grounds, eating ice cream cones and watching cricket.  Experienced Grafton Street via pub crawl and walking amongst the bustling city streets.

IMG_3487
Boys began navigating our hiking route (only after all puddles nearby had been splashed in!)

(Days 2 & 3): From Dublin to Kilkenny – We knew we were out of the city when spotting cows venturing across animal overpass!

Second full day in Ireland included beautiful scenic drive and first hike in Wicklow National Park. Boys loved the hiking packs and enjoyed being carried up the terrain – enhancing their ability to see more animals and use their imaginations for storytelling!

Beautiful mountain views along the water!
Beautiful mountain views along the water
Wicklow National Park - First Family Hike in Ireland..the Adventure Begins!
Wicklow National Park – First Family Hike in Ireland..the Adventure Begins!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fantastic town area - Austin ready to grab a bar stool with his pint of milk and Samuel checking in with his 'boss!'
Fantastic town area – Austin ready to grab a bar stool with his pint of milk and Samuel on the phone checking in with his ‘boss!’

Kilkenny visit included seeing the Black Abbey and Kilkenny Castle –

Stormtroopers ready to guard the castle walls!
Stormtroopers ready to guard the castle walls!

 

 

 

 

 

Boys loved learning about moats, the draw bridge, seeing cannons and hideouts and identifying where the princess might be hiding!  Also, stormtroopers – when in doubt, becoming a family of stormtroopers to get out of an elevator, to protect a castle, or mid-mountain ad hoc makes any moment even more exciting!

Enjoying getting a sense of the culture, visiting older churches, long hikes & walks, scenic drives and partaking in the Irish pub experience!

Each enjoying our favorite pint at Kyteler's Inn!
Each enjoying our favorite pint! @Kyteler’s Inn

 

 

 

 

 

(Day 4) From Kilkenny to Waterford –

Loving hiking adventures and introduction of Samuel's hiking bear!
Hiking adventures and introduction of Samuel’s hiking buddy!

Went to the Rock of Cashel, along the Comeragh Drive and on a big hike.  We chased sheep while hiking up a mountain and spotted beautiful waterfall in the distance then found a trail to reach the top of it.

 

Sheep and baby lamb - spotted all over the country-side. Why are they painted?! To depict ownership and sometimes mating status.
Sheep and lamb – spotted all over the country-side. Why are they painted?! To depict ownership and sometimes mating status.

With the craziness of work and family events & activities, we really treasured the hours of 1 on 1 time with each child while strapped to our backs meanwhile climbing slippery rocks, stepping thru bogs to reach the top of the mountain and reaching the waterfall…loved answering random inquiries (see quotes at the bottom) – amazing day full of adventure, accomplishment and imagination!

 

 

Exploring Cahir Castle
Exploring Rock of Cashel

Next we stopped at Cahir Castle, one of our favorites -very well maintained and tranquil surrounding grounds.

Leisurely stroll after rainfalls near castle grounds
Leisurely stroll after rainfalls near castle grounds

 

Nothing like big brother teaching little brother how to load a cannon!
Cahir Castle – Nothing like big brother teaching little brother how to load a cannon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks buddy - I've got this!
Thanks buddy – I’ve got this!

 

 

Upon arrival in Waterford we visited the Viking triangle.  Boys loved hearing stories about Vikings. Also visited Dungarvan Castle which dated back to the 12th Century.

 

(Day 5) From Waterford to Cork – Checked out the Medieval Museum before driving the scenic coast road from Waterford to Cork.

Great views along scenic route
Great views along scenic route
Unbelievable amount of farm acreage covering the countryside
Unbelievable amount of farm acreage covering the countryside

(Days 6, 7 & 8) From Cork to Killarney

Driving on the left side of the road in the right side of the car and cruising thru rotaries now seems like second nature while continuing coastal travels! Beautiful cliff views and taking time to jump out and touch the cold water on the rocky beaches was exciting for the boys. Farm adventure unfolded as we were challenged to climb over and around cow electric fences in efforts to reach the coastal hiking paths. We were excited to arrive in Killarney; great town area with lots of pubs and restaurants and delicious ice cream!

Samuel captured a leprechaun!
Samuel captured a leprechaun!
Austin hard at work climbing that mountain!
Austin hard at work climbing that mountain!

Killarney National Park showcased beautiful Gap of Dunloe.  We trekked on a 6.5 mile hike, mostly with boys on backs – fantastic visibility with stunning views of mountains, rivers, and lakes with sheep abundant.

 

Journey up the mountain continues - amazing views in all directions
Journey up the mountain continues – amazing views in all directions

 

 

The wondrous tales shared remain between Samuel, me and that sneaky leprechaun!
The wondrous tales shared will remain between Samuel, me and that sneaky leprechaun!
Both look excited for hours of father-son time climbing the Gap of Dunloe!
Both look excited for hours of father-son time climbing the Gap of Dunloe!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After reaching the top, enjoyed an hour boat ride journeying down through three lakes, and two rivers, passing under the oldest bridge in Ireland – The Old Weir Bridge. Broad and narrow winding rivers led us through beautiful scenery and clear skies aided view of meeting of the waters, beautiful bridges, and large mountains (i.e., Torc, Mangerton, Tomies and Purple) prior to reaching destination of Ross Castle.

Ross Castle

Then off to Killarney Town for pints and dinner – amazing duck, finishing the night with “double decker ice cream!”

 

Arrival at Muckross Park
Arrival at Muckross Park

Started next day with visit to Muckross House & Gardens – beautiful home from the mid-1800’s surrounded with magnificent gardens including great climbing trees, blooming flowers, and streams.  With boys in packs we hiked for miles including up Torc Mountain to the stunning Torc Waterfall.

 

Great views throughout the park
Great views throughout the park
I think we wore this little guy out!
I think we wore this little guy out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Late evening walked to Muckross Abbey which with Aaron’s scary stories the boys were jumping in our arms and running from cheetahs and hyena’s which allegedly come out of the woods once the sun goes down!

(Day 9) From Killarney to Kenmere – Leaving Killarney, but first after many requests we headed on a fishing trip for salmon and trout.  After huge success (please see below!) we called it early to head along the Ring of Kerry to Kenmare for the evening.

Aaron caught the first fish - visual shown for size
Aaron caught the first fish – visual shown for size
Samuel's fish was "this big!" we just missed it somehow!
Samuel’s fish was “this big!” we just missed it somehow!

 

 

 

 

Have to watch out for all those Leprechaun
Have to watch out for all those Leprechauns!

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Day 10 & 11) From Kenmere to Dingle – Left Kenmare to continue along the Ring of Kerry – through great coastal towns we saw beautiful cliffs and beaches alongside rolling green meadows with sheep and cows.

Took a walk through the woods and ventured onto beaches. Reached destination Dingle.

Taking a look over the cliffs edge
Taking a look over the cliffs edge
Great coastal views
Great coastal views

Dingle – Took off in the car to begin the Wild Atlantic Way and Slea Head Drive on the Dingle Peninsula and stopped at the first set of large cliffs with breaking water from ocean waves crashing against the short and large boulders to start on our hike up the mountain with boys on our backs.

Colder and winder than it looks on the edge of that cliff!
Colder and winder than it looks on the edge of that cliff!

Beautiful scenic hike took us from the beach to cliff side to mountaintops….moments of hesitation and true adventure when nothing stood between us with squirmy toddlers on our backs and the edge of cliffs!   Amazing views on and off the trails, unique combinations of water, wind, and elevation made each view more picturesque than the one before and the 10 miles on foot worth every step.

Loved those crashing waves!
Loved those crashing waves!

 

Petting 2 day old lamb
Petting 2 day old lamb

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once we were back in our car to head back to our place, we started along our route and were stopped by a flock of sheep heading toward us in the middle of the street!  Fantastic day at one of our favorite places followed by typical town evening at pubs with pints!

Looks like sheep are heading for us!
Are there really that many sheep on the street?
We are surrounded by sheep!
We are surrounded!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Austin excited to watch Aaron's first shot off the tee
Austin excited to watch Aaron’s first shot off the tee

 

 

 

(Day 12 & 13) From Dingle to Doonbeg – Prior to leaving Dingle, visited Oceanworld where boys loved seeing the many sea animals and petting the stingrays but were most fascinated by the Sand Tiger Sharks.  Then it was off to Trump International in Doonbeg.  To get there we took Shannon Ferry, boys first ferry ride. Weather was very challenging as Aaron headed out for his first of two golf days into the bustling wind and pouring rain.  Next day was clear for golf and the boys and I toured the grounds and spent some time at the range.

Aaron golfing at Trump International - Doonbeg
Aaron golfing at Trump International – Doonbeg

 

 

We can golf like dad too!
We can golf like dad too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Day 14, 15 & 16) From Doonbeg to Galway

Amazing Cliffs of Moher
Amazing Cliffs of Moher

On our way to Galway visited the Cliffs of Moher – most visited attraction in Ireland and easy to see why….breath-taking views of cliffs and the oceans edge.

 

Dad, "Whatever you do - don't look down!" Samuel, "Okay, whatever you do - look down!!"
Dad, “Whatever you do – don’t look down!”
Samuel, “Okay, whatever you do – look down!!”

 

 

 

Traveled to Conemmera National Park to view Kylemore Estate – the beautiful castle was constructed in the late 1800’s, thus the best maintained and most recently built castle we visited and amazing grounds included Abbey and wide range of lakes, trees and gardens.

Kylemore Estate
Kylemore Estate

 

 

 

 

 

(Day 17) Travel day back to St. Louis

In summary, absolutely loved our experience in Ireland – enjoyed the beautiful views (yes – it really is ‘that green!’), amazing amounts of roaming animals, inviting pubs, coastal towns and most importantly spending time with our young lads! Cheers!!

Favorite Trip Kid Quotes:

  • “Do you think there is a killer whale in there?!” (pointing to any river, lake or ocean throughout the trip)
  • “I need to sleep in that bed, because it’s closest to the phone and I need to be able to call my boss during the night.” (recurring quote in every place we stayed, we like to think Samuel has an imaginary boss because he has learned strong work ethic…not because we tend to work too often late in the evening!)
  • “Why didn’t that park have swings? Why would you take us to a park without swings?”
  • “Guess what?!  We can go back to these places to swim whenever we want to!!” (innocent child holding 3 different hotel plastic room keys from prior stops!)
  • “What happened to the top of that building? Do you think a T-Rex ate it?”
  • “Do you know what leprechaun’s favorite kind of weather is? Rainy and foggy like this morning – careful…there are a bunch of them in the tall grass over there ready to get you!” (as a little stuffed leprechaun jumps on my shoulder mid-hike!)
  • My request – “Please be extremely careful and stay balanced…we are on the side of dangerous cliffs – it’s important you stay centered on my back and hold on tight. Are you holding on tight?” “Yes – to my fruit snacks!”

 

Thank you so much for sharing in our journey.  Wishing you a wonderful day filled with moments of appreciation and/or adventure!

 

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2 thoughts on “Ireland – Castles, Hikes, Pubs, Sheep and Leprechauns! (May 2016)

  1. I could never be more Thankful for the Blessings you have been given, the opportunities you have taken & the privilege to be sharing this adventure with you. I know you will forever hold these memories in your heart. I Love You All ” SO MUCH” & wish you Safe travels wherever the road or paths lead. But, Please remember to come back home & check in. So Proud of you! Thanks Aaron for keeping your promise…..Giant Heartfelt hugs. XOXOXO

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  2. So awesome to re-visit Ireland while reading your posts. Loved every bit of our trip to Ireland as well, and yes, it is true, it is really that green!!

    Like

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