Welcome to the Emerald Isle
by Taylor Deer
“Like the warmth of the sun and the light of the day, may the luck of the Irish shine bright on your way.”
After having fun in the capital city of Dublin, I was ready to see the land of rolling green hills, rainbows and beautiful Irish farm life. In this blog post, dance with me along the yellow brick road to Ireland’s “Land of Oz”.
We left Dublin early in the morning and drove 3 hours southwest to County Cork. We had a lot of fun adventures planned for us that day, so we unfortunately didn’t’ get a chance to kiss the famous Blarney Stone. I was a little bummed out about that until I was told by the locals that it is a huge tourist trap and millions of people kiss that rock every single day. (Talk about germs!)
When we finally reached the County Cork area, we stopped in downtown Midleton for lunch. This small city was lined with colorful buildings, ivy-filled stonewalls, friendly faces and overall charm. Since it was lunchtime when we arrived in Midleton, we went to Sage, a farm-to-table restaurant located in a beautifully remote spot off of the main street.
When we walked inside, the restaurant was filled with sunshine and offered a welcoming ambiance. There were flowers and candles located throughout the main dining room and the menu looked absolutely delicious! One of the cool things with farm-to-table restaurants like Sage is that the menu always reflects the season. This allows the restaurant to work with local producers and growers. (I love the support of local businesses!) Check out the menu from our great lunch below.
After our delicious lunch, we walked down the main street of Midleton to the world-famous Jameson Distillery. When we first arrived at Jameson, it seriously felt like I was walking into the Wonka factory. The Distillery has a huge campus that features beautiful bluestone buildings with clay shutters and an Industrial-era vibe. Unlike most tourism places, the souvenir shop is the first thing you enter when you do the Jameson Experience. They even have a cute Jameson cruiser that I wanted to buy for when I am down the shore!
The actual Jameson Experience is a guided tour, which brings the stories of Jameson’s rich heritage to life. In addition, we learned about the hard working individuals and field-to-glass processes that are responsible for the high quality whiskey that bears in John Jameson’s name. As we learned about the history, we also got to go into the old distillery buildings. I loved the architecture to these buildings. It was so pretty!
When the tour ended, we went into the tasting room where we tried five different whiskeys. Like I have said in my previous blog posts from Dublin and Nashville, I am not the biggest whiskey drinker, but I do like to participate in the tastings and Jameson is known to be one of the world’s best whiskey.
When we finished our whiskey tasting and tour, we hopped back on the bus and started our adventure towards Killarney. The ride from Cork to Killarney was close to 2 hours, so it was nice to relax and enjoy the beautiful green views out the window. Our bus driver put on traditional Irish music that went perfectly with our drive. The music was so relaxing and it even started to rain a little bit, so it was the perfect time to take a small nap.
After we arrived in Killarney, we went straight to our hotel located in the downtown area called Killarney Park Hotel. When we first entered, we were greeted with champagne and the doorman took our luggage up to our rooms for us. As we made our way up to our room, my cousin and I almost fainted when we saw the size of our suite. One of the cool things about staying at a hotel in Europe is that you could be staying in places that make you feel like you are staying in a palace. The suite at Killarney Park Hotel was the biggest room we stayed in and it even had a fireplace!
Once we were settled in, we headed downstairs to enjoy a cocktail hour and since the weather wasn’t all that great to walk around, we ate dinner at the hotel’s restaurant. My cousins and I enjoyed a nice lobster dinner with French fries and veggies on the side. It was one of my top favorite meals in Ireland.
When we were finished with dinner, Alexie and I wanted to explore the downtown Killarney scene. The city of Killarney is small and quaint, so it is easy to walk around. One of the gentlemen working at the hotel recommended a great bar with live music for Alexie and I to enjoy the night at. The bar was called The Grand and it was the perfect place to get the true Irish pub experience. Since Killarney is a small city, there were a ton of locals hanging out and having fun. A little after we arrived, an AWESOME cover band started to play on the little stage they had there. They were playing current and classic rock as well as fun Irish music that we all had a great time dancing to.
In the back of the pub is a hidden nightclub/lounge, but we just hung out in the pub area where we got to see some of the locals break out their Irish step moves. It was such an awesome night!
Our next day in Killarney was nothing but magical. We hopped on the bus early in the morning that took us into beautiful Irish country. We were hungry for breakfast, so we stopped in the town of Kerry called Bog Village for an Irish or Bailey’s coffee and croissant. After we fueled up, we went into the cute little village that provided us a fascinating insight into how people lived and worked in Ireland during the 18th century. As I was walking around the adorable Bog Village, all of the little cottages gave me a déjà vu as if I was living during that time period. You can go into each cottage and learn about the bog (a wetland that accumulates a deposit of dead plant materials such as moss), wildlife and equipment used to extract the turf. It was really interesting!
As the morning went on, we made our way into the greenest part of Ireland – Ring of Kerry. One thing I realized about driving in Ireland is that it is similar to Iceland where the weather can be sunny in one area and then two minutes later, it is torrential rain. As we drove to our next adventure, it started to rain. As it transitioned back to sunny, the grass was glistening and a few rainbows showed up in the valleys. It was a dream and everything I pictured Ireland to be!
We finally made it to our next stop, which was Kells Sheepdog Display in Ring of Kerry. The owner of Kells trains Border Collies to herd sheep. He uses a special kind of whistle and a few words and sounds for the dogs to hear to swiftly round up the herd. The dogs did a great job directing the sheep and vice versa. A dog is a “predator” to a sheep, so the direction the dogs move plays a huge role in where the sheep go.
At the end of the demonstration, the trainer got both the sheep and dogs close to us so we can pet them. Watching this demonstration along the beautiful bright green hills of Kerry was truly a once in a lifetime experience and I recommend it to everyone who travels to Ireland.
After the sheepdog demonstration, we walked through a wool shop where we could purchase warm sweaters, jackets, blankets and more! When we were finished, we went across the street where we took in the beautiful scenery of the Atlantic Ocean from the cliffs. It was magnificent!
Before we knew it, we were back on the road heading to our next adventure in the Killarney area. We drove through more wonderful backcountry roads, passed over the highest mountains in Ireland and saw more rainbows in the valleys.
When we finally reached the picturesque village of Portmagee, we were ready for a nice hearty lunch. This colorful area is known for it’s spectacular scenery, lively music, fresh seafood and the iconic Disney animal – the puffin! I was REALLY hoping to have seen a puffin while I was in Ireland, since I unfortunately didn’t see them in Iceland. (I know, I went in the winter and they come out in the warmer months, but you never know right?)
It was very windy in Portmagee, but the views of the Atlantic Way made up for it. I enjoyed walking around the little town before we headed inside of The Moorings & Bridge Bar for lunch. When we got inside, we not only warmed up from the nautical ambiance of the pub, but the owners were just as welcoming. Since Portmagee is known for its seafood, I enjoyed a SUPER delicious seafood chowder that had mussels, lobster meat, salmon and other fresh herbs in it. It was delicious! Of course, I enjoyed delicious soda bread and sourdough with it. (If only I can have Irish bread right now…)
Our next adventure brought us to the top of a mountain that featured an overlook of the famous Skellig Rock. A fun fact about Skellig Rock is that in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Luke Skywalker had his hideout there, where the Jedis built one of their temples. How cool! On the other side of the overlook featured more beautiful hills and valleys, cute sheep and beautiful blue water from the distance. It was so awesome!
In addition, the roads were very windy and there were overwhelming cliffs and great ruins. My cousin and I had a great time running through the streets and taking candid shots! (Life is short, have fun!)
After our “Star Wars” adventure (as I like to call it), we were back on the road and headed into Killarney National Park. Let me tell you that this drive was absolutely amazing! The views in Ireland are some of the best I’ve ever seen. No wonder why they say “The Luck of the Irish” because everywhere we went, we saw rainbows!
When we reached the national park, we saw beautiful trees that reminded me of the pictures I’ve seen of the Dark Hedges in Northern Ireland. They were beautiful beech trees in a shape similar to the hedges that led us into the park. It started to rain a little bit, but it made for even prettier views. When we got to our second overlook, we saw more rainbows and a beautiful valley of peace and nature! The sun started to even peak out and it made it even more breathtaking!
After our day adventure exploring the nature in Killarney, we headed back to our hotel where we rested up and got ready for dinner. Cocktail hour was taken place at the super chic Pink Lounge in the Ross Hotel. This fun bar is a gin & champagne lounge that has every girl dreaming to be there. There is even a restaurant downstairs that offers crafted meals that everyone will enjoy. Our clients LOVED it!
Since we had a thrilling time adventuring through the Killarney area throughout the day, we were exhausted and decided to enjoy our lovely hotel room before we headed out to the Galway area the next day.
I hope you all enjoyed my second blog post on Killarney. This mini blog tour has been so fun for me since it is bringing me back to Ireland as I write them. Stay tuned for next week’s blog on my ultimate fairytale experience at Ashford Castle.
Adventure awaits in Ireland for you and your partner, family, friends, corporate group, retreat and more! Email me at Taylor@sitinmyseats.com or call us to experience the fairytale I did by booking your next trip to Ireland. Click here to explore this season’s featured trip to Ireland!
Sláinte and Happy Travels!
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