A Wee bit o’ Arlen

Arlen, that’s what the natives say. That’s how it sounded to this visitor, anyway.
Pronunciation aside, wow, what a fabulous country!

We were in Ireland for nine very full days. Overwhelming–hundreds of photos! I’ve had a few weeks to consider how best to present the awesome trip without causing your eyes to glaze over. Who remembers the “vacation slide shows” of the 60’s?! I don’t, lol, but I’m familiar with the reference.

I want to keep this simple. Keep you wanting MORE.
Nine days.
Nine quick entries…
AND LOTS OF PHOTOS.
(but not all, trust me, not nearly close to all)

Day 1 – Dublin
We flew in at 4:45 am. Ahead of our scheduled arrival. If it hadn’t been pre-dawn, those extra forty minutes would have been really nice. *Yawn* We did the Hop On/Hop Off bus route…limited by the Pope‘s visit. We rode the bus, up top for better viewing, and hopped off for tours of the Kilmainham Gaol and the Guinness Storehouse.

Day 2 – Dublin
We walked to Merrion Square and picked up the HO/HO bus again.  Hopped off and took the DART, Dublin Area Rapid Transit (train) to Howth, pronounced hoe, like the garden tool, ends with, t. It poured on us. We stepped into a restaurant called O’Connell’s and ordered dessert first.

Day 3 – Dublin to Connemara
We joined up with our Vagabond small group tour. Met our guide, Aiden–an Irish history savant! and thirteen other American tourists. We saw Kylemore Abbey, got to visit a working sheep farm and saw a herding demo (and there were puppies!). We stayed the night in Abbeyglen Castle.

Day 4 – Connemara to Clare
We visited Aughnanure Castle, shopped in Galway, and stopped in the Burren region.

Day 5 – Clare to Dingle
This is the one day that repeated events of my first tour of Ireland. The Cliffs of Moher are amazing. And Dingle was my favorite part of the first trip, so I didn’t mind visiting again. (Plus, the weather was MUCH better, lol.) We watched a master craftsman hand-cut glass at Dingle Crystal. Wow.

Day 6 – Dingle
We stayed at the most adorable Bed & Breakfast called Emlaugh House. We walked around town, along the bay–and took one of the boat tours out to see Fungie the dolphin and some gorgeous cliffs. Also rode along the Slea Head drive and witnessed breathtaking vistas and saw the Skellig Islands where scenes from Star Wars:The Last Jedi were filmed.

Day 7 – Dingle to Glengarriff
We visited Killarney National Park, one of the highest highlights for me on this visit. Loved it! They have forests in Ireland! We took a jaunty ride through the Muckross House and Gardens.

Day 8 – Glengarriff to Gougane Barra
Drove up Healy Pass, took a boat trip to Garnish Island, visited Bantry House (whose originals owners share my maiden name, so I’m claiming relation),  stayed overnight at the Gougane Barra hotel and had a sumptuous last tour meal.

Day 9 – Gougane Barra to Dublin
We visited Blarney Castle and Gardens (I did not kiss the stone) and shopped at the Blarney Woolen Mills. AWESOME. Appreciated that this was a last stop with free shipping since my bag was getting mighty heavy. We stopped at the Rock of Cashel, another of my faves from trip one, on our way back to Dublin.

We parted ways with our week long travel companions at the Grand Canal Hotel, dropping off where we had picked up. They were a great group! Thank you to the “short bus” travelers, you certainly made our experiences special. And we could’ve totally taken on that other Vagabond group. Just sayin’.

Trust me, there are a million details I’m leaving out. The seafood chowder, the pink gin, the stoneground cocoa beans, the live music, the sheep! But I promised not to monopolize your Monday and I hope I’ve left you wanting more.

Ireland is awesome. If you haven’t been, you should. If you have, let’s make plans to visit again*. (I am so serious.)

Thank you to Stephanie at Travel Designed for putting together a wonderful trip and memorable experience.

(If you click on a photo, you should be able to go through them all like a slideshow. Totally random order. Sorry for any duplicates, lol. Enjoy!)

*I plan on having book 3 of The Pandoran Legacy take place in Ireland. Hoping to write off the next trip for research, 😉

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About Mary Fran Says

I am an artist, crafter, designer and writer. I enjoy working with mixed media-- applying visual and tactile manipulations to telling a story. Not a lot of market for that, though, :), so I'm focusing on short story submissions and novel completions. Yes, plural. Lots of beginnings, too many ideas, not enough focus.
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