When a friend of Patrick’s reached out over the summer to tell us he was getting married in Ireland, and would we like to attend… we only took a slight pause before jumping in to confirm we would make it!
Patrick’s grandparents immigrated from Ireland to the United States, and his great-grandparents are buried in a small town called Moyglass, which I will show you later in this post.
I am also more than half Irish, so we Murphys have quite the connection with this beautiful country… and an adventure here was always on our bucket list!
We touched down in Dublin Friday afternoon, to attend the wedding on Saturday.
We took a red eye from Los Angeles Thursday night.
I have to say that the red eye worked wonders. We didn’t feel the jet lag as badly as we thought we would (although the kiddos crashed out early the next evening at the party, as evidenced above).
But it was nothing a little late night Murphy’s ice cream couldn’t fix 😉 .
I picked a well located, modern hotel (The Fitzwilliam), situated right on St. Stephen’s Green and within walking distance of shops, restaurants, cafes and historical sights.
It was the perfect place to get our feet wet and to park our rental car, which we would need post-Dublin. We rented the car from the airport, because as I was researching companies… many of the independent stations were closed on Sunday (which is when we needed to return our vehicle the following weekend).
The return was pretty painless. You just need to figure in a bit of extra time to take the shuttle from the lot to your terminal.
There is a tram just outside of the hotel to make commuting easier, but we were able to walk to every spot we wanted to see, like the Dublin Castle, and The Trinity College Library and Book of Kells, in twenty minutes or less.
You can easily buy tickets for the castle, and stroll through the beautiful state rooms and get your history lessons on…
… and recreate austere oil paintings as we do.
The Trinity College Library was a highlight for me. Make sure you buy your tickets beforehand and pick your timed entry.
Photos really don’t do this space justice. It is very Harry Potter-esque, and because I was an English Literature major at UCLA, I wanted my grubby mitts all over these old tomes.
We walked everywhere, each day, throughout the city, and loved every minute.
If we had a bit more time (and we weren’t hungover from the wedding), we would have done the Guinness tour (I hear it’s great… and yes, kids can join in, excluding the drinks).
Metro Cafe was our favorite corner bistro (if you find yourself in Dublin looking for pancakes, eggs, soup and sandwiches)…
… and Fallon & Byrne is where we picked up groceries for our next adventure (it is a beautifully curated market, restaurant and event hall).
We spent two and half days in Dublin, and I felt pretty satisfied. There is always more to do and see in such a large city, but we were ready to get into some beautiful countryside and walk through more “really old stuff” as the kiddos began to call the ruins and castles that we visited.
When creating our itinerary, I made sure to plan out stops along our drives (two to three hour drives from each stay), to tour any interesting sites.
I also mixed up our hotels/airbnb to include something modern (Dublin), something REALLY old and remote (below), a country house (Cork), and something grand (County Mayo).
I believe this provides a more intimate experience overall.
We were never “roughing” it, but we did head off the beaten path a few times.
I really wanted to fit in a camping/glamping excursion (as well as a few other stays that I will leave at the end of my Part 2 post), but we just couldn’t carve out enough time. I needed one more week!
From Dublin, we drove to towards Kilkenny, where I had booked a 15th century medieval tower house (WOW), but on the way took a detour at the Rock of Cashel.
This heritage site, we learned, can sometimes get really crowded, but it was pouring rain and incredibly blustery (adding to the very dramatic atmosphere), and we almost had the place to ourselves (check out my Instagram Ireland Story Highlight to get the full cinematic effect).
If you know anything about Irish history… Brian Boru was crowned High King here in 978, and St. Patrick came through to convert an early king to Christianity.
The chapel has the oldest spiral staircase in Ireland (and that’s saying something).
Always plan on taking a guided tour (like we did in San Miguel De Allende) if offered, because only then do you get to the real nitty gritty history and tall tales that really entertain.
We find that our kiddos enjoy the tours more when they can connect with a story, especially something gross, which the guides were always willing to throw their way (Medieval history is pretty filthy) .
Down from this windswept hilltop, we made a personal journey to Moyglass where Patrick’s grandmother Mary O’Donnell was born….
… and his great-grandparents are buried.
It was the tiniest town, with several buildings at most, and I am so happy it was within only a few miles of Tubbrid Castle… our ridiculously magical airbnb!
When I did a deep dive into researching for this trip, I somehow stumbled upon this space, and couldn’t even believe it existed!
After reading a few reviews and reaching out to John, the owner, I was SOLD. I mean, who doesn’t want to stay in a castle, all by yourself?!
Surrounded by pastures and cows, the property takes your breath away the minute you pull up the driveway (the sheer height of the structure is so imposing upon first glance).
As I mentioned before, we bought groceries on our way out of Dublin to make dinner, and for breakfast and lunch the next day.
It was nice to make a few home-cooked meals, and to spend time completely alone and somewhat isolated.
We put on some medieval tunes and played hide and seek as it rained and the wind shook the ancient wooden doors. Again… the Irish weather was giving us full on theatre.
I have more videos of this one-of-a-kind space than I have photos, but I hope you can get the feel of it (and please check the online gallery for additional beautiful imagery).
The kiddos were OBSESSED, although too scared to sleep in their own room (it might have been different if it weren’t so stormy).
There are three bedrooms, two with king sized beds, and the top bedroom with two full size beds.
There are hiking trails that surround the area, and Kilkenny (the CUTEST medieval town) is just a short drive away.
We popped into ANOTHER castle (Kilkenny), and posed more (Avery really nails the ennui of the aristocracy).
I was able to drool over some original block print wallpaper and paint colours (that green is PERFECTION), and then we dined at Rinuccini, a five-star Italian Ristorante that I swear I can still taste (it was divine).
Our host John made the reservation for us (when I had trouble calling myself), and he was available every time I texted or emailed, so even though the property was remote, we felt very taken care of and safe.
I would consider returning here in the springtime to take advantage of the outdoors and clear skies. I also missed the National Design and Craft Gallery because it was closed on the day we went to town (I really wanted to check out the local wool mill and pottery), but I have a feeling we will be back 🙂 .
For those of you keeping count, we are five and half days into our travels (three nights in Dublin and two nights at Tubbrid, with gorgeous scenery along the way).
I made Patrick drive the entire time. If you want to test your marriage… ask your partner to drive with the steering wheel on the other side of the car, on the opposite side of the road, in the pouring rain. I haven’t clenched the side of a vehicle that hard since I was in labor.
Cork and County Mayo are up next… stay tuned for more castles, a cooking school, falconry and more “gripping” adventures!View Next in Series: Deesign Does Ireland Part 2: Cork and County Mayo