Ah. It feels good to be back on the blog. After three weeks out of country and away from my desk, I’ve finally had a moment to brew a cup of tea and begin to share the stories and photos of all that we have seen.
But where to start? How to even begin to do justice to all that we witnessed? Some beauty and some complexities are so deep that my heart is still wrestling to make sense of it all.
But I will try. And I will start at the beginning.
Travelling internationally with a baby seems to be something parents just don’t do. I was VERY nervous for Chayton’s first international flight. He’s done really well on short flights within Canada but 20+hrs of travel, half way across the world AND a red-eye flight, I was very nervous. Thankfully he slept the whole way!
This kid is a travel champ. And I actually prefer travelling with him now, rather than the days I travelled solo. There’s just so much joy that little people bring to everything they do!
Our first night in Dublin we stayed at Clontarf Castle, a Norman castle built in 1172. We only spent one night there but I did enjoy the cast iron, claw foot, deep soaker bath tub and Chayton loved the knight suits of armour that were on display all around the hotel! I would definitely go back.
Naturally, the first place that we wanted to see in Dublin was Guinness. #priorities
For health code reasons, tours take place in the Storehouse, rather than the actual Brewery. Together the Guinness Brewery and Storehouse basically creates its own district in Dublin, spanning multiple city blocks! It’s huge! Each floor of the Guinness storehouse is dedicated to telling a different part of the Guinness story, from the raw materials that make up each ingredient in Guinness, the brewing process, the visionary leadership and the legend of Guinness as it has been known throughout the ages and today. You can even witness the 9,000 year lease that Arthur Guinness signed securing the land for his brewery.
This man was a real forward thinker.
Naturally, you can’t visit the Guinness Storehouse without having one (or more) pint of the black stuff. We took it one step further and enrolled in the “Guinness Academy”, officially learning the perfect pour of a Guinness. Angle is everything. 45 degrees, lining up with the harp and a time of 199.50 seconds. No other way to do it.
We took our perfectly pulled Guinness pints up to the top floor of the Storehouse with a stunning 360 degree view of Dublin! It really was amazing!
In a city that rains as much as Vancouver, we lucked out with a perfectly clear day.
And in case you’re wondering, children and infants are totally welcome at the Guinness Storehouse and pretty much anywhere else adult drinks are consumed. The only stipulation was anyone under the legal age was not allowed to be behind the bar, and drinking, obviously! Otherwise it’s far game.
Chayton really enjoyed the aromas in the tasting room and all the animals in the advertising exhibit.
The next stop on our Dublin trip was Trinity College. Established in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I, this amazing place of history, intellect and literature was definitely on my list!
Of course, being a history nerd and a lover of words and wisdom, we had to visit the Book of Kells and the Old Library at Trinity College.
For those who don’t know, The Book of Kells dates back to 800 AD and is a medieval manuscript of the four gospels from the New Testament of the Bible that was beautifully crafted by monks. Its beautiful calligraphy and ornate pages depict illustrations of humans, animals, early Christian symbolism all tied together with lavish celtic knots. It is considered one of the most important manuscripts in western history and it truly was stunning to witness such a piece of art and history with my own eyes.
Unfortunately photos of the Book of Kells and its exhibit are strictly forbidden so you’ll just have to travel to Dublin to see it for yourself!
After the Book of Kells, we walked through the Long Hall of the Old Library and truly it is something of amazement. While I completely understand the importance of protecting this national treasure, I just wanted to step over the velvet ropes and open up the precious books on the shelves! Can you imagine all the goodness that they contain?!
While there was still so much more to see in Dublin, we didn’t have much time on this trip. So we hit the road (on the left-hand side!) and were on our way to the next stop!
The Rock of Cashel
It took almost two hours driving from Trinity College to reach the small town surrounding the Rock of Cashel. Legend has it that when St. Patrick banished Satan to a cave the rocky outcrop in Cashel landed there from the impact. Not sure I completely believe this to be true, but regardless this is the story.
Our B&B viewed both the Rock of Cashel and Hore Abbey from its window. We visited the ruins of the abbey during golden hour on our first night there, had the whole place to ourselves and revelled in the majesty of the place! We don’t have the remains of gorgeous buildings like this just left to explore in open fields back home.
After we woke from our very comfortable and delicious Bed & Breakfast, we left to see the Rock of Cashel itself. But first, of course, we had to stop and say hello to the little lambs in the B&B backyard.
Thanks to our B&B, we received free passes to the Rock of Cashel, a castle dating all the way back to 1100 AD. In addition to housing St. Patrick’s rock, the Rock of Cashel was once the castle that seated the high kings of the area.
As we approached the impressive castle, there was a local boy playing the uilleann pipes on the pathway to the top of the hill. It really did add to the ambience! Rolling hills, medieval stone castles, celtic crosses and the haunting melody of the uilleann pipes…these are the things Irish dreams are made of!
Within the walls of The Rock of Cashel, there are some very impressive churches, towers, stone carvings and the faint remains of beautiful fresco that are still holding on, even after over 800 years of neglect. Currently there is a bit of scaffolding from a renovation that is going on to preserve and protect the frescos from microorganisms that are slowly disintegrating the once majestic beauty of the sanctuary. But thankfully the renovations don’t take away from the general experience of the place.
When you witness such incredible architecture standing the test of time, it really is moving to know how deeply people’s faith moved them throughout the ages.
I wish we had more castles in the backyards of our neighbourhoods here at home. But we don’t. And I suppose that’s one of the things that makes Ireland so special.
Stay tuned for part two of our Ireland Adventure…The Cliffs of Moher, The Skellig Coast and the Wild Atlantic Way!
*Wearing She is Clothing.