The journey began in not the most orderly of fashions, which any normal vacation rarely does, with a complicated car rental discrepancy. After hours of waiting and negotiating with shady car rental agents, we found ourselves deliriously driving a standard transmission golf-cart-sized vehicle on the wrong side of the road in the middle of Dublin’s rush hour.
From that point on, it was a lot of yelling “Stay Left”, “Look Right”, etc. at each other and when we finally made it to our first destination alive we were all exhausted and grateful. The next weeks were spent on narrow winding switchback style “roads” lined with stone walls. We received many honks and glares as we stayed well below the posted 100 km/hr speed limit.
With a fairly aggressive itinerary in hand we were lucky enough to get the chance to see a glimpse into the vast amount of culture and landmarks that line the island of Ireland. Some of my personal highlights included, the Clifs of Mohar, the Giant’s Causeway, Aran Islands and the coastline views from the Dingle Peninsula, pictured below.
(Clifs of Mohar)
(View From the Rock of Cashel)
(The Giant's Causeway)
We also travelled up through Northern Ireland and learned a lot about the conflict that shaped their nation. Although the situation between the Catholic and Protestant communities is currently less hostile than history has shown, it is still very prevalent. There were moments that we could feel the tension in the air around us, especially when we saw an armoured vehicle roaming the streets of Londonderry. It was here that we visited the walls of Derry and saw the Bogside murals depicting Bloody Sunday. A view from the walls pictured below.
(Bogside Views from the Walls of Derry)
While we travelled we generally chose to stay at Bed and Breakfasts. This was a great way to find hidden gems amongst the particular areas we were visiting at the time. For the most part they were fabulous and boasted some of the best food we tasted while in Ireland, but there were definitely a few moments where I wished there was a Pomeroy Inn & Suites around the corner. My parents still keep in touch with a few of our hosts, and we hope that we can someday repay the hospitality they showed us, should they choose to come explore Canada.
Another highlight of the trip was the music. In every small town we visited, there was always at least one pub with live band playing. These talented musicians amazed me with their skill and their genuine love for traditional Irish music. It’s amazing to me that this style of music is still so popular, even today.
Although I keep with me so many amazing memories - I think the biggest highlight for me was, surprisingly, the food. I wasn’t sure what to expect from Irish food prior to the trip. I was pleasantly surprised with the absolutely delicious fresh seafood that we indulged in, almost daily. Although there are always a few exceptions that we learned we only needed to try once, namely white & blood pudding – it was not pudding at all and really would be better suited for the family dog in my opinion. Enough Said. And, of course we had to have fish and chips one or five times a week, but that just goes without saying.
(Irish Brunch ... Irish Coffee, Roasted Veggie Soup + Irish Soda Bread)
When our trip finally came full circle and we found ourselves back at the car dealership in Dublin, we were all sad to say good bye to such an amazing few weeks, but I know we were all relieved we got the car back in one piece and that we could go back to driving on the “Right” side of the road.
(Our Little Boot Car!!)