Tralee & County Kerry

Let me just say that I have been fortunate to be in some beautiful places in my life. I even live near a few, but little prepared me for the tug on my heart strings of County Kerry and the town of Tralee. It wasn’t just the sights—even the beautiful pictures can’t exactly do justice to it; the entire vibe and atmosphere just felt like home to me. There are very few places I feel connected to in the way I felt connected to County Kerry, I tend to be more connected with people rather than places; however I could have just stayed there and become an expat—at least until winter.

Tralee is a fairly small coastal city/town? with one of the most beautiful parks I’ve ever visited. The playground was also just fantastic and I wish we had something half as nice near our home. We just so happened to be fortunate enough to be there when the 200th festival was going on and the day after we arrived so did festival stalls, music, and giant semi-scary puppets for the kids.

Down the road a bit further from the park is a museum which was definitely worth a visit. The adults enjoyed the history and scenes set up while the kids enjoyed the dress-up and mini-excavation pits set up inside the museum. Because of the festival, the museum was free I believe but we gave a donation and had the OPK card from Dublin.

We stayed at an absolutely BEAUTIFUL bed and breakfast, The Park Georgian Guest House, owned by a lovely and accommodating couple, Joe being the one who primarly took care of us. Breakfast was insanely delicious and freshly prepared every morning. The few mornings we left early Joe got up early to cook for us. He and my husband bonded over StarWars filming stories and Joe and his wife also own an inn in Dingle which is where a good bit of the crew and cast stayed when filming in Dingle and on Skellig Michael. We also went to Great Blasket Island which is deserving of its own post later and we could see Skellig Michael on the boat trip. Very steep. Not for small children. Joe had recommended for our leisure day (a.k.a. Explore town day/take it easy day) to try Mucross House.

It was worth it. The estate itself is so postcard-perfect but there were more than enough activities to keep my little one entertained who is happy so long as she can roam around outside. We did the “farm tour” and were VERY glad to have brought rain gear and to have worn comfortable hiking style shoes. Some of the pathway was fairly steep but as you can see, totally worth it…

The farm tour was lovely and we would have enjoyed it more had my sister and I not been separated from the Moose and Lil Bit. Apparently they had gone into the first little house which was off to the side of the road which we thought might be a place we weren’t supposed to go. Turns out we missed out on fresh, hand-churns butter and stone ground wheat bread hot out of the wood-burning stove. I also had no idea how large Irish Wolfhounds were, wow!
Overall the getting separated bit was one of the few stressful downsides to the whole trip. Rain in Ireland was far less torrential than what we were expecting as even when it was “heavy” per the locals it was mild compared to GA/FL summer downpours we are accustomed to here. (Sometimes I feel we need an arc)

We ended the beautiful day by driving partially around the Ring. It really is worth it folks although I’d hate to be on a tour bus and the drive seems somewhat treacherous because of them. We saw beautiful Irish Countryside, met some sheep (my Lil Bits happy place), loved the free-spirited Irish cows (they were running y’all, running–no wonder all of the beef there was to die for) and saw some ancient architecture along the way.
If I hadn’t already been in love that day sealed it for me. And we hadn’t even gotten to probably my favorite/soul-moving experience yet…

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Dublin Part 2

It is sooo incredibly difficult to narrow down our adventures to a few photos for you guys but I’m trying to limit it to things you don’t typically see in the travel magazines or on travel sites.

After we left Trinity we headed towards Guinness but stopped by a very hole-in-the-wall pub where we had some amazing food and beer.

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Mmm..brown bread and Guinness beef stew….

I saw some awesome historic buildings along the way (I’m a sucker for the old school architecture and the modern lines just don’t work for me)

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We also found this place hilariously (and aptly named) as it was super tiny on the inside.

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We became side-tracked by passing alongside the Dublin Castle and were intrigued so we stopped and did the tour. Of note, if you are looking at doing several historic sites while there, it may be worthwhile to consider the OPW card for 25 Euros that includes many of the sites we visited and you don’t have to worry about paying each place you go and is good for 1 year. The castle was interesting and the manor area was also worth seeing once but I really loved the cathedral best.

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As you can see, little bit was less than excited about the dank underground castle wall. The view from the courtyard, inside the manor and then the beautiful church and some of its intricate detailing is shown next. None of the people are us or related so nevermind them. 🙂

The Guinness tour followed and by then we were both excited but tired. It had been a long day and because it was staying light so long compared to where we live, we lost track of time and it was getting late.

If you are quirky and have a good sense of humor you will enjoy some of the exhibits (yes, that is a whistling clam and a fish riding a bike), if not you will probably still enjoy the 360 bar with your free pint at the top. The best view in Dublin by far. We stayed up there until last call and when everyone started migrating back down the stairs. It was just lovely. (For those of you like me who don’t really do dark beer, they did have Stella Artois Cidre there and it was yummy!)

The next day was a little less fun as we were driving across country to Tralee and before we could even make it out of Dublin we got in a fender-bender. Everyone was ok (and thank God for rental car insurance) but we had to wait forever on another car at the rental car agency and the family was tired and cranky as we made it out of Dublin until we hit the countryside. Another post for another day though! *Suspenseful music plays in the background*

 

 

Exploring Dublin

We’ve officially spent our first full day in Ireland and Dublin. We arrived to the airport and then went to pick up our rental car which took quite awhile. Little Bit did AMAZING on the flight there and slept most of it (unlike the 3 adults). This was our first peak out the airplane window!

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We don’t plan on using it much through Dublin but will be using it to drive to Tralee in 2 days. My first impression once we got to our hotel was that the food was way better than anticipated. We drove to find a hair dryer and straightener from the pharmacy and it took 3 tries before we ended up all the way in St Stevens Green shopping centre where we then met a nice merchant who suggested we get out of Dublin ASAP and head towards the countryside, lol. We told him our plans and he made a few recommendations and suggested we avoid Kilarenny and go ahead towards CO Kerry that there was some beautiful places to visit and see “although the roads aren’t brilliant” and the drive might take closer to 5 hrs than the 4 we thought.


We left there and swung by the mall at St Stevens Green which is another beautiful piece of architecture. We found it especially humorous that TJ Max is TK Max over there. Not sure why they feel the need for the letter change but there you have it.

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On the way out we stopped by Butler’s Chocolate Cafe where I bought one of the best cups of hot chocolate I’ve had in my entire life for €3.50. They also gave me a free chocolate to go with it and I got the Butter Praline which was good as well. The next day however when we stopped by and ALL got a cup (The Princess, my sister, got a white chocolate and Moose a Mocha which they use the hot chocolate with the coffee)we tried the shaved white that was phenomenal.
We were exhausted by the time we got back to our lovely, rather nicer than expected room with a Queen bed and two singles. We didn’t really eat dinner and all of us proceeded to sleep 11-13 hours each.

We woke up the next morning and were at it again bright and early to try to get both breakfast and to make it to Trinity College and Guinness to play true-to-form tourists for the day.

I loved Trinity College but then again I’m a nerd. Here you can enjoy the back of my head along with views of the courtyard facing those gorgeous 200+year OREGON oaks. Lol.

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It was beautiful, the tour was fun, interesting and I got to go to the library…the only thing I cared about why we were in Dublin.

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Incidentally, we have discovered a new challenge. Apparently this gold snitch-like sculpture has brothers/sisters around the world.

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My family and I hope to have our pictures taken with them all at some point or another. At least we like the idea of it. We very much enjoyed the tour and left to explore some more of downtown Dublin and head towards Guinness.

To Be Continued….