Tips for an Amazing Ireland Family Vacation
Having a pre-teen championship Irish dancer for a daughter, a teenage son enamored by all things British, and a mom who was wildly curious about the Emerald Isle, an Ireland family vacation was clearly in order.
Ireland graced us…it was visually stimulating, bursting with history, and filled with warm and gracious natives. The rain was wetter than we’d ever imagined, but looking back a wonderful part of the adventure.
- Glendalough & Wicklow
- Drinaugh & Killiane Castle
- Kinsale, Drombeg Circle & Schull
- Mizen Head & Killarney
- Lakes of Killarney, Gap of Dunloe & Dingle
- Irish House Party in Dublin
DAY 1—A DAY IN DOWNTOWN SAN DIEGO
Being an exhausted mom, I relished this day…even if it was only 10 minutes from home. It was a day with the singular goal of relaxing, one without schedules or time constraints, one that would serve to replenish me a bit before embarking on a a 15-hour journey to Ireland with two headstrong kids. Thanks to Priceline, this gift of a day was spent in affordable 4-star luxury at San Diego’s Omni Hotel on the fringe of the city’s historic Gaslamp Quarter.
While my husband put in one last day at the office, the kids and I started our day eating gourmet diner food on purple vinyl seats at the Hard Rock Hotel’s funky Mary Jane’s Coffee Shop. A quick errand to Borders was in order to buy two weeks of peace in the form of the next two books in the Twilight series for my boy (with the fourth to be purchased as soon as it was released at midnight), then back to lounge by the pool. Days just don’t get more perfect than this.
It’s a rare occurrence any more to experience a smooth flight without any glitches…Aer Lingus gave the Irish an extra good name on this day we traveled to their homeland.
We left San Diego at 11:30 a.m. and arrived in Dublin just 14 hours later…2:00 a.m. our time, 10:15 a.m. Dublin time. I was a wee bit concerned with the reaction I got from Dubliners upon telling them that we were staying in a dorm room at Trinity University. It took a little extra effort to find it: an extra long taxi ride on account of a confused cabbie, a meandering walk through the campus in search of the Accommodations Office, a short walk to Building 15, and a hike up three flights of creaky wooden stairs to the last door in the hallway. I let out my breath when we walked through the door…into a three-room dorm suite with a typical Euro-style bathroom [i.e., the size of an American close with mini stall shower and no outlets] and a sparse, but clean, IKEA-esque kitchen and sitting room. It was perfect for this casual family of four for the next three nights. It was also a steal at $400 a night [yes, the rumors are true…Dublin is incredibly expensive, especially because many hotels charge per person]. There was also the added benefit of having our kids get a little taste of their future university experience.
TIP: Accommodations in Dublin are extremely pricey, with many places charging by the person. Try Airbnb or other unique options like Trinity University’s dorm rooms.
It was asking a lot to keep the kids—and both adults—awake until at least 7:00 p.m., but it’s the only way to conquer jet lag. Fresh air and food were the best distractions. Lonely Planet steered us toward a local eatery called Gruel (now closed) where we had a “budget” lunch consisting of roasted vegetable soup, dollar fries [which kick American fry butt!], a goat cheese and zucchini frittata, and homemade vanilla ice cream.
TIP: The absolute best way to conquer jet lag is to push hard to acclimate to the new time zone immediately. For more tips, read my jet lag post.
We slowly made our way back to campus, taking time to window shop on Grafton Street, pass through the Temple Bar district, and explore Trinity’s Old Library, where over 200,000 antiquary books are kept, including the ancient Book of Kells. With no clue as to our good fortune, we walked right up to the ticket seller and went through the museum in kid-time, with several unhurried minutes studying two pages out of the Book of Kells.
As we walked out, we ran smack into a queue winding around the building that was non-existent just minutes before. That was a gift for our two jet-lagged kids and their parents. In their state, they would have passed on the most exciting roller coaster on Earth. Some boring old 1,000+ year old book didn’t hold a candle.
I surrendered and allowed us to take a little cat nap before dinner. Two hours later, I had to literally myself, then them, off the beds and tantalize everyone with food yet again. I could only muster up enough motivation to grab sandwiches and fruit to be eaten in the room. Not long after, I passed out Benadryl and we all surrendered to exhaustion.
I wish it was as easy to get up this morning as it was at 2:00 a.m. Breakfast was to be had in the campus mess hall – known as The Buttery. I give them credit for staying true to university life.
Today was about seeing some of Dublin’s main sites…on foot: Christ Church and St. Patrick’s Cathedrals, Dublinia (a kitschy medieval museum), Dublin Castle, Ha’Penny Bridge, St. Stephen’s Green [a mini lusher Central Park], more of the Temple Bar district and Grafton Street, and Brazen Head Pub (the oldest pub in Ireland, established in 1158). I was grateful to the Irish Rain Gods for only several minutes of light drizzle. Today, Dublin was friendly, clean, walkable, and safe…once we got used to looking in the right direction for cars.
My family and I have reached a deal. They tolerate my jam-packed travel itineraries and I allow for some down time each day. This afternoon we had plenty of time to rest in our suite and rejuvenated enough to venture back out for dinner at Foley’s Bar. Fish and chips, ham and cheese paninis, and coddle [an Irish comfort food made from broth, potatoes, pork sausage and “back rashers,” the Irish name for bacon]. YUM!
DAY 4—GLENDALOUGH & THE WICKLOW MOUNTAINS
My kids looked at me with utter disdain when I mentioned that we would be taking a [dreaded] tour today. I assured him that I researched hard to find a “cool” one. At 9:00 a.m., we met Martin with Wicklow Tours Unplugged and set off with about 20 other tourists (thankfully most being well under 40) to explore the mountain lake of Glendalough, an adjacent monastery, and the Wicklow Mountains. Bonus: a spot of tea and lunch in two quaint villages. By the time we boarded the bus, we were two umbrellas richer and more than damp.
TIP: When going on your Ireland family vacation, make sure the ratio of umbrellas to humans is at least 1:1.
The crumbling monastery was surrounded by a cemetery peppered with moss covered Celtic crosses. As we wandered amongst the tilting headstones, a light mist fell and fog crept over the surrounding hills. It couldn’t have been staged more perfectly. The walk to the Lower and Upper Lakes was a colder, more ancient and mystical, version of the Costa Rican rain forest and the California Redwoods. The kids I were convinced that elves and faeries were peeking at us from the dark spaces amongst the trees. The Upper Lake was like seeing serenity in physical form. With its mirrored surface surrounded by lush vegetation, it was clear why the monks set up shop.
On the final leg of the tour, we saw our first peat bogs. They couldn’t have been more beautiful, speckled with purple heather, sheep and deer sliced in half by a waterfall the color of Guinness Beer. Martin shared just the right amount of Irish history and quirky trivia. (Who would have guessed that the second most spoken language in Ireland is Polish?)
DAY 5—DRINAGH & KILLIANE CASTLE
Soaked…sopped…waterlogged…soggy…drenched. I’m sure the Gaelic language has a gazillion more creative synonyms to accurately describe the varying degrees of wet their homeland our condition today. We awoke this morning to more precipitation…this one a steady rain. We packed everything, but the umbrellas, and went in search of breakfast.
A restaurant named Lemon hailed us. It had the ingredients for a perfect eatery for this family: a casual modern vibe, bench seating, and sweet and savory crepes. I briefly fantasized about opening one in our home town…then, I woke ourselves up. (Clearly, I needed a part-time job to distract me from such insane moments.)
Today we leave Dublin and venture south, then west, in a Renault…on the other side of the road…in the rain. Yep, I was nervous and manifesting long lives for all of us.
First stop: Wicklow gaol (I say “gay-ol”, they say “jail”), an English prison for Irish “disturbers” that opened in the 1700’s and remained in royal service until 1924, when Ireland said “Enough!” and won their independence. The first prisoner was incarcerated for saying mass and hundreds more followed for such transgressions as stealing food—or selling themselves—to feed their children, being drunk in public, or for any action hinting toward Irish independence.
Next stop: A castle in Drinagh where we would be sleep for a night. Built in the early 1400’s, Killiane Castle is now a haunting ruin with somewhat updated rooms surrounded by a working farm complete with cows, chickens, horses, a dog, and, of course, a driving range. Lots to explore, including a disintegrating turret with a killer view.
Third stop: The quaint seaside town of Kilmore Quay (I say “kway”, they say “KEY”) for some fresh seafood and postcard scenery. The village seagull welcomed my husband with a shit on the shoulder, dramatically brightening the rest of our dampened moods. It was a two restaurant town and since we weren’t craving fried fish, we bypassed the pub and dined at The Silver Fox. The kids had zero appreciation for the massive platter piled with sautéed lobster, scallops, tiger prawns and mussels that was set down before us a few moments after we sat down. They went to explore the beach and gawk at the wind surfers flying over the icy waters at 8:00 p.m. on a cold, wet Irish night.
I unknowingly violated my itinerary agreement and overbooked us the following day. We all agreed—me begrudgingly—to nix the Irish National Heritage Park and Dunbrody Famine Ship and give us more time in our next destination: Kilkenny.
So far, I hadn’t been able to wear 90% of the contents of my suitcase. No dresses, shorts, or sandals had seen the light of an Irish day. As I peeked out the window this morning, I held out hope that I wouldn’t be yanking up one of same two pairs of jeans I’d been wearing for five solid days and my waterlogged loafers would have a chance to dry out. I dared to put on a dress and suede shoes, taunting the Rain Gods. It worked!
We were welcomed to Butler Court by a friendly dog and his even friendlier owner. The kids tentatively approved a guided tour of Kilkenny Castle, so we got to see the inside of the Butler family home that has been meticulously restored to its original 18th century splendor.
Along the way to St. Canice’s Cathedral, we were intrigued by all the signs with “Dore” on them. Why a French name showing up so often? A local informed us that they were most likely descendants of Norman families from Normandy, France who invaded Ireland in 1170. The cathedral was dreary and imposing, encircled with more crumbling moss-covered Celtic crosses and gravestones. Thank you to the friendly Irishman guarding the tower for taking my 10 year old’s 2 Euros and letting her slide on the 12 and over rule.
We opted for atmosphere and lunched at Kyteler’s Inn, a pub that has been in business since 1324 [nearly 700 years…under new management, of course]. The original owner, the four-time widow Dame Kyteler, was accused of witchcraft by insecure men who envied her financial success. Although the roast beef and Irish stew were average, the honeycomb ice cream was definitely not.
TIP: One day in Kilkenny is not enough.
After the consummate (and delicious) Irish breakfast at the quaint Pennefeather Café, which included bacon, sausage, fried egg and homemade relish in a bap [AKA bun] – we became vagabonds once again and set out in the direction of Blarney Castle and Cork.
If the Americans had gotten hold of Blarney Castle, I’m fairly certain it would be an embarrassing hyper-touristic trap. Somehow the Irish manage to keep it quite pleasant. The lush grounds were iced with weeping willows, babbling brooks with tiny waterfalls, mystical rock formations, and winding pathways. On this day, the crowds were sparse…although we heard later this is not usually the case. We climbed right up the claustrophobically narrow staircases to the top of the castle and puckered up in front of the Blarney Stone. First Spencer, then Sophie, then me laid down on our backs and tilted upside down to smooch the magical stone, hopefully bringing years of good luck to our family. Apparently you have to kiss it in the “right” spot, so my daughter immediately demanded to verify her success in the photo I snapped.
Getting into Cork and finding our bed & breakfast was trying, to say the least. But, we managed not to mess it up too bad. The outskirts of Cork were unimpressive…too busy, too industrial, and too loud. (Would this be the first disappointing piece of advice from Lonely Planet?).
Our arrival at Garnish House was relieving. It was just past the ugly part of town and we were warmly welcomed with hot tea and scones [Lonely Planet is redeemed]. The kids saw the comfortable room and television and permanently plopped. We gave them money for pizza and kabobs from the fast food place across the street and set off to explore adult-style. Within minutes, we walked smack into city center and found St. Patrick and Paul Streets crammed with colorful old buildings occupied by a variety of shops, pubs and restaurants. We’d have to return tomorrow with the kids to see the Old English Market, which was closed. A glorious gourmet dinner of smoked tomato and Thai coconut pumpkin soup, mussels with leek cream, and duck breast with ginger and scallions was savored at Hardwood (now closed).
TIP: If you’re looking for quaint on your Ireland family vacation, you can bypass Cork.
DAY 8—KINSALE, DROMBEG CIRCLE & SCHULL
So, Garnish House kept me awake last night. Between the rush of traffic, sirens, and carousing groups of drunkards outside our window to our door slamming inn-mates, I was groggy and disgruntled. Breakfast and the Old English Market did the trick. Why, oh why, can’t San Diego have something like this??? Butchers specializing in poultry or beef, bakers nailing bread and pastries, a fresh fish seller, and the crème de la crème…a chocolatier. “Fresh” and “the specialty” are culinary concepts that have become foreign to Americans.
Today we ate fish & chips and I snuck in a little shopping in the quaint village of Kinsale. When we pulled into town, I had buyer’s remorse…too bad we hadn’t stayed here instead of Cork. Quaint is a gross understatement. There were boats bobbing in the harbor, gourmet eateries in rows, and an abundance of quality shops.
Right after a fresh batch of fish & chips on the harbor at Dino’s, I sniffed out a tiny ceramics art gallery called Keane on Ceramics. I left with a lighter wallet and a promise of quick shipment of our only Irish souvenir. (Unfortunately, Mr. Francis Keane was less than honest. I will never set foot in his gallery again…and not only because I live in the U.S. I have only Amex to thank for the return of my cash.) I buzzed through every shop I could until the family revolted.
TIP: If buying an expensive souvenir that will be shipped to you, charge it on a credit card with full Purchase Protection.
On the way to our next village, we stopped to see the ancient Drombeg Stone Circle. This mini version of Stonehenge is a small circle of large stones erected around the cremated remains of…a teenager. Purportedly a great leader from the 5th century. What a difference 600 years makes…once great leaders, now striving only to master the Wii.
We searched and re-searched [a total of four times] for the turnoff for Drombeg…until we realized we were on the wrong side of the loop. Apparently Cork too all we had. We walked on the bog toward the ruins that were shrouded in mist. It was hauntingly beautiful…and damp, so we were quick.
TIP: The idyllic villages of Kinsale, Roscaberry and Glandore are excellent options if you’re desiring peace and quiet on your Ireland family vacation.
Our slightly late arrival in Schull had our hostess tsking, but we were nevertheless excited by what we saw. A village almost as quaint as Kinsale, perched above the water with a harbor full of colorful boats. The Stanley House overlooked it all from a hill above the skeletal remains of a medieval chapel and graveyard.
Schull didn’t have the gastronomic talent we left behind in Kinsale and, despite being overrun by loads of tourists in town for the next day’s sailing regatta, most of them didn’t feel the need to stay open past 7:00 p.m. The rest were so crammed with hungry visitors that we decided dinner was going to be from the local market. Fresh baguettes, gourmet salami, local cheddar cheese, Club Orange sodas, and bubbly mint chocolate bars for dessert…eaten on the winter porch overlooking the sea. Nobody suffering here.
Karma gifted me with a French woman who saved my parental soul by informing us that I had completely overestimated our ability to conquer my next day’s itinerary. I had originally planned to take the coastal road to the Mizen Head lighthouse at the tip of Schull’s peninsula, then drive north toward Killarney, circling the Ring of Kerry on the way. When I heard her estimate of 6-7 hours in the car, I nixed the Ring of Kerry [giving us even more reason to return to Ireland).
DAY 9—MIZEN HEAD & KILLARNEY
Good thing Mizen Head didn’t get nixed…just the ride there was worth the trip. From Schull, you wind along a picturesque coastal road dotted with livestock grazing in vibrant green pastures bordered by hand-built stone walls. The tiny coastal villages of Goleen and Crookhaven were an added bonus.
The Mizen Head—the last bit of Ireland an immigrant would see as they left their homeland—was just as dramatic as I had hoped. The jagged coastline was pounded by vibrant blue waves creating thick white foam that extended far out into the sea. Being a Californian, the wind was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. At the very tip of the peninsula, the kids and I literally let go – and were held up completely by the wind. Inside the old station, we read about the construction of the lighthouse on a small rocky outcropping way out at sea and the numerous ships that were destroyed approaching this perilous Irish shoreline, the latest casualty being a yacht sailed by a previously cocky, now humble, wealthy man trying to dock in 1985.
Our shortened drive to Killarney was much picturesque than I expected. The Irish paint their homes the same color as that which they yearn for…the sun. We stopped for a spot of tea at Molly’s Old Tea House—smack in the middle of the nowhere. More deliciousness in the form of a small stone thatched roof cottage and quality shopping (for me), pettable farm animals [for the kids], a seat without a steering wheel [for my husband], and excellent quality hot tea (for all of us). The scenery on the rest of the drive was straight out of a fairy tale…green valleys, cows, sheep, lakes of various sizes at every turn, and Killarney National Forest.
I was worried that Killarney was going to be a repeat of Cork, but when we pulled into town I let out my breath. It’s a a charming mid-sized town without too much traffic congestion. The larger hotels look like country manors and the streets are dotted with horses pulling jaunting carriages. The mystical aura of the surrounding national forest seeps into the town.
Our hotel for the next two nights was the Killarney Lodge Hotel…only one street away from the center of town. It was a large bed & breakfast with sitting rooms where tea may be sipped, internet access, and a spacious room with a bed for each of us.
The kids quickly plopped themselves down making it clear they were done for the day. The Olympics and Britain’s X Factor were much more intriguing than exploring Killarney with their parents. No problem. The Irish love paninis as much as my kids, so a promise was made to return with two in a couple hours. After consulting the Lonely Planet yet again, we strolled to Treyvaud’s for our next adult dinner. Best…seafood…chowder…ever, as well as filet of ostrich and meatballs.
I confirmed that the Puck Fair was still going on in Killorglin, a small village about 15 minutes from Killarney. This is Ireland’s oldest festival—ongoing for more than 400 years—and I planned on us all experiencing some of history tomorrow. The innkeeper took one look at my flimsy loafers and suggested I make a stop at the shoe store first. Again, no problem.
TIP: Things I shouldn’t have bothered to pack for our Ireland family vacation—shorts, dresses, a curling iron, sunscreen, a swimsuit, any shoes I cared about, especially those with open toes. What I should have brought instead: four umbrellas, sweaters, a truly waterproof and very warm jacket, a hat, at least one pair of practical close toed non-suede shoes.
DAY 10—PUCK FAIR & KILLARNEY
After another delicious Irish breakfast, this one including porridge with cream and sugar, my girl decided to join me on my shoe shopping excursion. It was raining again…still.
Today I learned that the Irish don’t do everything right. Today’s Puck Fair is a glorified flea market with gypsies hawking junk and teenage punks messing with disgruntled entertainers. I’m not sure how I feel about the herds of agitated cows crammed into small pens on the narrow village streets, the crowned King Puck [a real horned goat] lounging at the top of a tiny and very tall tower, and the little gypsy babies with ginormous hoop earrings. My visions of traditional Irish music, Irish jigs, artisans selling their creations, and a variety of more relaxed animals were remained fantasies. We were all happy to get back to Killarney, where I suspected I’d get a friendly “I told you so” glance from our innkeeper.
One doesn’t put pizza together with Ireland, so it was quite a shocker for all of us to wholeheartedly agree that we ate the best pizza since Lombardi’s in New York City in the town of Killarney! More angels sung at Murphy’s Ice Cream. My boy and I agreed that the BEST ice cream anywhere is Murphy’s own honeycomb crunch…a lightly flavored caramel ice cream with crunchy bits of caramel-covered honeycomb. It was thrilling to find out their original store is in Dingle, our next stop!
TIP: When in Ireland, eat Murphy’s Ice Cream!
DAY 11—LAKES OF KILLARNEY, GAP OF DUNLOE & DINGLE
Today we nearly drowned in the Gap of Dunloe.
We began our waterlogged adventure at Ross Castle. There were 11 of us huddled in a small boat on Lough Leane (Lower Lake) when the Irish skies demonstrated their true power. The kids blamed me from underneath a tarp offered up by the captain. Thankfully, by the time we arrived at Muckross Lake (Middle Lake), the rain stopped and we were able to deeply appreciate the beauty surrounding us.
At Upper Lake, the sun reflected off the mirror-like water removing any breath we had left. About 1-1/2 hours after floating away from shore, we were let off at a tiny café where we warmed up our bodies (and moods) with piping hot chicken soup, steaming hot tea, and warm rhubarb tarts topped with fresh cream.
A short walk up the path toward an arched stone bridge, we met our very authentic red-haired Irish guide named Gerry. His thigh-high waders should have served as a warning to us. Gerry would be leading us through the Gap of Dunloe the way it used to be done…in a horse-pulled jaunty. His family has been running these tours for the past 200 years. Yes, it appears we were in capable hands.
The kids’ excitement for this adventurous outing was fully renewed the moment they spied the jaunty and the two extra ponies behind it. You couldn’t wipe the smile off their faces as each of them took turns learning how to post to keep their “bums” from bruising. The smiles vanished they realized this was actual work. The scowls arrived when the rain returned and there was nowhere to hide. It was clearly time for the parents to step up to martyrdom. We relinquished our coveted spots in the jaunty to our offspring and began to post.
We turned the corner and arrived at the Gap—a breathtaking valley cut through two mountains. And, the skies opened up. The amount of rain that plummeted us in the next 30 minutes was enough to end the Southern California drought. The precipitation we had experienced since arriving were mere sprinkles in comparison. And, the kids, huddling safely under the tarp, were thoroughly enjoying the sweet taste of karma. Within minutes, my husband and I were drenched down to our underwear. Waterproof jacket, my ass. When hail started pounding us and the kids began fighting for prime tarp space, all I could do was laugh. This moment was just like childbirth…some day, it would be a precious memory.
At the end our five hour aquatic excursion, we sat across from Kate Kearney’s Cottage and gulped hot tea and cappuccinos and fantasized about hot baths. But, first we had to get to Dingle.
Heaton’s Guesthouse sat right on the edge of the quaint seaside town of Dingle. As soon the exchange of pleasantries was finished, we rushed to search for tubs…and felt excitement like never before over white porcelain.
Heaton’s wins our prestigious award for the most outstanding breakfast in all of Ireland. Baskets of homemade breads, plates filled with local sausages and cheeses, salty kippers and scrambled eggs, bowls of porridge and stacks of Irish-style pancakes piled with fresh berries.
After only one of the Heavenly Irish breakfasts, we were off to Bunratty to visit the Irish Folk Park and feast at a medieval banquet in Bunratty Castle. Three hours later, we checked in to the salmon pink and stone Park House Bed & Breakfast. Much to my daughter’s delight, the hostess welcomed us warmly along with her two shitzus. It wasn’t quite enough to distract me from the missing details – like tea bags, soap, and shampoo.
TIP: It’s a gamble, but I say pick your Bunratty accommodations in person. Arrive no later than noon and choose your favorite inn from the several located around the castle.
We arrived at the folk park a little more than an hour before closing time, so they took pity and let us in free. We actually managed to see most of the “exhibits” before they herded us out the gates. Despite the fact that most of the staff were already gone, including all of the ones dressed in period costumes, it was a fabulous display of how the Irish once lived.
The thatched roof stone cottages with dirt floors—called byres—housed entire families and their animals. The “bedrooms” are the size of modern American closets and the central room quadrupled as a kitchen, dining room, sitting room and barn. The center of the home was the hearth where peat logs slowly burned filling the home with a delicious earthy smell. Sheeps, pigs, Shetland ponies, even elk were scattered throughout the park.
At 8:30 p.m., we walked up creaky wooden steps and stepped back in time inside Bunratty Castle, the most complete and authentic medieval castle in Ireland. The cast, which included a butler who nailed medieval and several musicians who doubled as servers, welcomed the adults with mead [and the kids with fruit juice] and music. Dinner was served in four courses – potato soup and bread, spareribs, chicken with vegetables and potatoes, and a berry tart. The kids especially appreciated the lack of utensils. The cherry on top was authentic Irish music played well.
DAY 13—IRISH HOUSE PARTY IN DUBLIN
It’s the last day of our Ireland family vacation…sniff. And, it’s sunny…good one, Ireland.
On our way out of Bunratty, we stopped at the Bunratty Mead & Liqueur Company to taste [and buy] some mead and potcheen. Mead, which is one of the oldest fermented beverages in Europe, is a sweet table wine made from honey, fruit and herbs; potcheen, a previously illegal alcohol that became legal again in the late 1980’s, is a strong distilled Irish whiskey. A cool experience…especially for dads.
Three hours later, we survived our brief time on the streets of the big city and found the Lansdowne Hotel in the Ballsbridge neighborhood of Dublin. This is where the historic literary crowd gathered to live (and drink in pubs). We picked this hotel specifically for its Irish House Party hosted in the basement. Being a massively proud and only slightly obnoxious dance mom, I had my sights set on my championship Irish dancing daughter up on stage. Dinner was a delicious Irish stew followed by a faux pas. While we big spenders who bought dinner wiped our faces and turned to watch the show, the house let in the dinner-less folks and sat them smack in front of us, blocking our views entirely. Not cool.
TIP: Good seats are crucial for the Irish House Party show at the Lansdowne Hotel. If you arrive early for dinner, be prepared to assertively make your way up toward the front after your last bite or come in after dinner and sit where you’re told.
What was the coolest is that my little American girl danced…once at the “request” of mom, a second time by invitation from a Riverdancer. She danced a helluva reel and shocked every local in the room. Their cheers were the highlight of my trip. I adore the Irish. The rumors are true…they fill the room with laughter, song, dancing, and a friendliness that cannot be faked.
Tomorrow we leave Ireland, much better for having come here. Despite (possibly in part because of) the weather, this was an awesome wander. It will be a long time before the lilt of the Irish accent leaves my brain…
“One, two, tree,” “the terd one on the left,” or that special way they say pub (“poub”). If we’d have had a much longer Ireland family vacation, I’m sure I’d be talking just like them.
“Slainte mhor agus a h-uile beannachd duibh!” — “Good health and every good blessing to you!”