Over the Christmas and New Year break, Matt and I flew to Dublin to spend time with my Mum who lives there. My younger brother Joe flew over from New Zealand as did one of his oldest friends Pavel, who currently lives in Paris. We spent a lovely, relaxed Christmas together eating far too much food and drinking far too much mulled wine.
On Dec 27th, Matt and I headed off on our mini-road trip for 3 nights. Our first stop was Kilkenny and since we were a little late getting away, we arrived just before dusk. Our BnB was situated really close to town and the castle so we went off for a walk to get our bearings before finding a pub for dinner. The BnB owner had recommended we try Kyteler’s Inn as it’s the oldest pub in Kilkenny and it was nice, but I have to say that the meals were very overpriced for what they were! But it’s no matter, we made up for it the next night with a amazing meal.
The following day, we went downstairs for breakfast and I couldn’t get over what amazing service and food the BnB served. It was a full table service and you could get a Irish cooked breakfast, pancakes, porridge etc. Some BnB’s we’ve been to in other countries you just get museli or a pastry if you are lucky!
With satisfied bellies, off we trotted up the road to Kilkenny Castle. We spent a hour or so wandering around and were really impressed with what we saw. The furnishings aren’t the ones originally used but it was all done very much in keeping with the time period. There were so many amazing rooms, staircases and the great hall was particularly wonderful. It almost had a slight ‘Game of Thrones’ feel to it!
The Castle has a tea-room with a incredible array of cakes and slices on offer so after a pot of tea and something sweet, we headed off in search of the next thing. Churches are always beautiful to see so we visited Saint Mary’s Cathedral before walking further through town towards Saint Candice’s Cathedral. Our timing didn’t work out too well there as just as we arrived, they were closing for a hour for lunch! We planned on going back especially since there’s a 9th Century Tower you can climb but we didn’t end up making it back.
We walked back to our BnB, jumped in the car and made our way to the Nicholas Mosse pottery shop which is about 15 mins outside of Kilkenny. It’s in a old 16th century mill on the river and it’s a multi-level shop and experience. There’s a place where you can watch the potter’s at work (although there was no-one there that day), a cafe and of course lots of Pottery for purchase. Their designs were really beautiful and I particularly loved the Christmas range- definitely keeping it in mind for later this year!
Once we left Nicholas Mosse, we decided to just do some aimless driving around the countryside and spent the next 45 minutes exploring the nearby areas and towns.
That night, we went to dinner at a lovely looking restaurant that we’d spotted in the old bank building. The decor was opulent and decadent with lots of moody red lights. The meal was so delicious, Matt in particular was absolutely in love with his dish and we all know that a way to a mans heart is through food!
Bunratty Castle, Cliffs of Moher & Galway
The next day we had another lovely breakfast downstairs and then we set off for our next destination! Our first stop was Bunratty Castle which is about 2 hours from Kilkenny and not too far from Limerick. The current castle was built in the 1400’s but there were earlier structures as far back as the 1200’s. As well as the castle, there’s also a folk park which features houses, shops and streets modelled after the 19th century time period. It was fun to get to walk around (they even had some New Zealand Kune Kune pigs!) but I can imagine it would be bustling in the summer!
The castle itself was really interesting, not quite as grand as Kilkenny and much different layout. You could walk down a tiny set of stairs into the dungeon which was literally a small space with a gate and then a big drop down. I couldn’t help but imagine how awful it would have been stuck down there with no light, the rats and probably there were plenty who faced it for small crimes like stealing food.
Bunratty Castle definitley had more of a medieval fortress vibe over a castle – bedrooms were tiny and there wasn’t there same level of opulence I’ve seen in others. But it was a great place to get to explore and have a break from driving!
Back on the road again, heading towards the Cliffs of Moher, we saw a sign for a Antique Shop not far from Bunratty and stopped to check it out. It was 3 levels with a lot of amazing funiture and a small range of vintage jewellery. I spied this violet necklace and after some initial umming and ahhhhing, I decided it would be one of those things I’d regret not buying so that’s what I did! It’s really delicate and beautiful and I think it will go really well with one of my planned Viva Las Vegas outfits!
A hour or so later, we arrived at the Cliffs of Moher. This one of Ireland’s most visited tourist destinations and is situated on the West Coast. They’ve been used in lots of movies included The Princess Bride and Harry Potter and we were so lucky with the weather! The sun was out and although it was a bit hazy, there was minimal wind so we had great conditions for walking along the cliff-tops.
Next, we made our way to Galway which was our stop for the night. I’d got a text from Mum saying that she, Joe and Pavel had made a last minute decision to also come to Galway that night so after checking into our BnB, we met up with them and ended up having a bit of a messy night at one of the local pubs!
The next day we were back in Dublin. We had a quiet couple of days, heading out on New Years Eve to meet up with our friends Jaimee and Logan at a Dublin Pub and catching a movie on New Years Day.
On January 2nd, our second to last day before heading home, Jaimee, Logan, Matt and I set off on a day trip into Country Wicklow. It’s always nice to get out and about and we were lucky to have access to a car.
Our first stop was Glendalough which is a monastry ruin nestled in the Wicklow Mountains. It was freezing and so icy but we managed to walk around without anyone falling over (although I just about did!). The old buildings are dotted amongst gravestones and surrounded by sunny hills so it was very picturesque.
We carried on to Wicklow town where after a bit of walking around, we found a pub for a hot lunch which really hit the spot! After lunch, it was time to hunt down the farm that Matt’s great-great-grandfather was born at before immigrating to New Zealand. Matt’s father had given us the address and it was a short drive away from the township.
Finally, we thought we would call into Powerscourt House and Gardens which is halfway on the way back to Dublin. The car’s GPS led us astray and so after about 30 minutes of driving around, we finally found it! By then, the sun was setting and we only had about 30 minutes of light left so there wasn’t any point in going in and paying for admission but the building was beautiful.
All in all, it was a really lovely 12 days in Ireland – a wonderful mix of exploring and relaxing with the family. We are very lucky to have my Mum living so close since everyone else is back home in New Zealand and it was a great first winter Christmas!
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Categories: Miss VV Around The World