This October marked our 10 year relationship anniversary (4 years married!) and with COVID restrictions easing, we knew we wanted to go somewhere special. Both of us have been wanting to go to Ireland together for several years but life always got in the way. What better time than to go and celebrate our anniversary and the easing of travel restrictions! We booked a package deal with Great Value Vacations, which included the flights, rental car, and hotels. We packed our bags and took our red eye flight over to the Emerald Isle!
With minimal sleep, we braced ourselves for our road trip, adjusting to driving on the left side of the road. Sean kindly took the wheel the entire week, as driving in my own country gives me a lot of anxiety (never mind trying to adjust to the opposite side of the road in a foreign country). For any travelers who drive on the right side of the road, adjusting to the left, I highly recommend getting the VIP insurance for rental cars. I’ll just say it is well worth the money!
We spent our first day exploring the Guinness Storehouse and getting some well-needed food and sleep. And of course a pint to start off our vacation! The Guinness Storehouse was much larger than anticipated with at least seven floors, all about the history and making of the draught.
After catching up on some sleep, we were ready to see what Ireland had in store for us with the medieval town of Kilkenny! It was one of my favorite towns we visited in Ireland. We spent the morning exploring Kilkenny Castle, which was built in 1195 and used for over 800 years!
I love all things to do with witches and magic, so it was only natural that we got lunch at Kyteler’s Inn. Dame Alice Kyteler was the original owner of the inn and born in Kilkenny. She gained much notoriety in her life, acquiring four husbands who died mysteriously and gained a considerable fortune. Naturally, her enemies assumed and accused her of witchcraft and to have her burned at the stake. She was the first recorded person condemned for witchcraft in Ireland. Alice ended up escaping to England, where her fate was unknown, but her servant, Petronilla de Meath was flogged and burned to death at the stake in 1324.
After our adventures in Kilkenny, we hit the road towards our next “home base” in Limerick for the next two nights. Between Kilkenny and Limerick was quite the drive across the country and required some road trip snacks. On one of our pit stops, we discovered the rest stop plaza dedicated to former US president Barack Obama. Having a distant relative in the region and making an official trip to Ireland back in 2011, the plaza was born! I do have to say we had some delicious ice cream in the plaza’s food court.
We spoke to locals, who kindly referred to Limerick as the “Nebraska” of Ireland, or as they refer to as “Stab City” (we may have been slightly concerned at this point). Luckily our experience in Limerick was just fine and we even had our first Irish pub experience in Limerick! We had a cozy evening at The Locke Bar, experiencing traditional Irish music and step dancing! We spent the night there until closing, along with another family who also happened to be from New Hampshire! It’s not very often to run into other travelers from the Granite State in a foreign country.
Day 3 ended up being a long day spent on the road exploring southwest Ireland. Leaving the chaotic morning traffic of Limerick, we made it our bus tour exploring around the Ring of Kerry through Wild Kerry Day Tours. Our first stop was exploring The Kerry Bog Village, an open-air museum replicating what life was like in Ireland in the 18th and 19th century.
We spent the afternoon driving around The Iveragh Peninsula, home to The Ring of Kerry and its mountainous route. The coastal views were absolutely stunning!
Stay tuned for part two of our adventures in Ireland, exploring the Cliffs of Moher, Sligo area, Athlone, and Dublin!