Ireland: Castles & Pubs
Dates Visited : April 16, 17 and 18th, 2023
Cities Visited: Dublin, Tipperary, Port Rush, lots of others passing through.
Accommodations: On the first night, we stayed at Ballykisteen. The total cost of this hotel for 2 rooms for 1 night was $272. On the second night, we stayed at Kilronin Castle in two rooms for one night; the total cost here was also $274. On the third night, we stayed at Skylon Hotel in Dublin, also in two rooms for one night and the total was $359.89. Total accommodations for 3 nights in Ireland was $905.
Car Rental: We rented two cars for 3 days and the total for the car rental was $316. For transportation and accommodation, we paid a total of $1221.
Sites Visited: Rock of Cashel , Cliffs of Moher , Dunluce Castle
Ireland was a dream of Alight’s for a long time. She dreamed of medieval castles, soaring cliffs facing the oceans, feeling a sense of belonging with more redheads around and, generally, soaking up the friendly Irish culture. She’d listed three places she really wanted to see the most: Rock of Cashel, Cliffs of Moher and Dunluce Castle. Dunluce Castle is famous for being in several movies; Harry Potter had a scene filmed at the Cliffs and, in general, it was to be an itinerary of castles, castles and more castles. The three sites are nowhere near each other, so we rented two cars to divide the six of us up in and planned an epic road trip. The map below shows the incredible route we took, which amount to 606 miles in 3 days.
First, we landed at Dublin airport, and drove 2.5 hours to the first destination: Rock of Cashel. The pictures taken at the Rock ended up being some of our favorites. When we first got there, the weather was perfect. Rain had been predicted all day, every day, but we didn’t see a drop. Instead, it was cloudy and cool. This gave us the perfect chance to soak in how green the landscape was (we commented on how green things were at least once an hour) and enjoy the ruins. To get to the Rock required a trek up a fairly steep hill. We took breaks to look out over the ledge at the many sheep. Once at the top, though, we were among only a handful of visitors, giving us the chance to really enjoy the ruins.
Alissia, at seven, had a lot of fun at the Rock of Cashel, mainly running up to different places and telling us she she picture poses ideas.
The Rock of Cashel is rumored to be the site of the conversion of King Munster by Saint Patrick and the story behind that has humorous parts. When Patrick brought down the sword he held up after baptizing the King, he reportedly struck the king’s hand. The king remained silent. When Patrick found out later about the injury, he asked the king why he hadn’t said something at the time. The king replied, “I thought it was part of the ceremony!”
We explored the Rock of Cashel for nearly an hour before deciding to find breakfast. That wasn’t as easy as it could have been, but we did find a super helpful couple at a local pharmacy who printed out Google directions to our next stop, the Cliffs of Moher, for us. Instead of going in a restaurant, we decided to get going since it was going to take several hours to reach the Cliffs and stop along the way.
The cars we rented were both manual transmissions, which neither of us had driven in twenty years or so. I love manual cars, but they do take some getting used to — also, driving in Ireland means driving on the wrong side of the car. After several days of driving, I opened the car door, slid in on the left side and sat there for several seconds thinking, “Where’s the steering wheel?” because I’d gotten in on the passenger’s side in Ireland. Every time I saw a car coming towards me, butterflies swarmed in my stomach.
Our next stop in Irish road trip was the Cliffs of Moher. This ended up being one of everyone’s favorite sites of the entire European trip. Pictures quite simply don’t do the place justice.
It did not rain here, either, although it was supposed to. It was quite chilly, though, and windy. The parking lot is far from the cliffs and requires a hike up a serious hill. Luckily, they have golf carts that can transport people from the parking area to the cliffs. Our driver was hilarious and really made the trip even more of a memorable journey.
Because the weather was chilly, we only stayed at the Cliffs of Moher for about forty-five minutes, but the entire time was like walking in a masterpiece. We loved seeing the caves and the girls got some really awesome footage of the waves crashing against the caves and of them in slow motion. Throughout the entire planning of the trip, and during it, I truly felt as though God were trying to show us more of Himself through the things we saw. If that’s true, the Cliffs of Moher definitely displayed His artistry, creativity and power. It’s been several weeks since we were there, and I am still in awe of getting to see the majestic site.
After the Cliffs, we had a long drive ahead of us to reach Dunluce Castle. Located in Northern Ireland, seeing Dunluce meant that we’d cross international borders. This castle is used in the movie Game of Thrones as Castle Greyjoy and was one of the more anticipated stops of the Irish journey.
Along the way, we were tickled to find Papa John’s pizza and stopped at a gas station that sold full-on dinners.
Initially, driving up to Dunluce, we couldn’t see the castle. It’s actually situated below the parking area and the hill is steep. But the views of this castle were some of my favorites.
This was a bigger ruins site than the Rock of Cashel, with plenty of nooks and crannies and spiral staircases to travel up. The Atlantic Ocean here is sky blue and it is easy to see how this site, set on cliffs overlooking the Atlantic, inspires stories and movies.
After an hour’s worth of exploring Dunluce, onward we traveled! We made the loop full circle when we arrived back in Dublin for the night. We stopped at an Irish Pub, which was lively. The parking was awful and we drove in circles for a long time before finding parking a couple of blocks away from the pub, but the food, the people, the atmosphere was great. Breathe thought it funny that our table was beneath an American flag and posters of John F. Kennedy.
Ireland was, in some ways, what we expected and, in other ways, completely unexpected. We were charmed by the scenic landscape and the kindness of the people. The Irish food was also surprisingly good –at the pub, I had the seafood chowder and was taken aback by it’s fresh flavor. Our favorite accommodation was by far and away the Kilronin Castle, which Alight described as a “princess castle.” It had an indoor pool, kind people and authentic castle decor including knight’s armor, shield, the dusty smell of an old castle and more. Breakfast was also included here, which was a great start to our next day of travel!
The greatest part of Ireland, for me, was seeing Alight in the place she’d dreamed about for so long. Helping their dreams come true is important for me because I want them to believe in dreams. Dreams help us when we are hurting by giving us motivation and inspiration. They remind us that tomorrow could always be different and, if they see big dreams coming true when they are young, I hope it will make chasing bigger dreams easier as they grow.