Happy Saint Patrick’s Day Everyone

Everyone is Irish on Saint Patrick’s Day!  As you partake in your Guinness I hope you enjoy a conglomeration of some of my favorite photos from Ireland!

I never travel without my diary.

One should always have something sensational to read on the train.

Oscar Wilde (The Importance of being Earnest)

I leave you with the song Ride on by Christy Moore…one of the most beautiful voices ever created.  Close your eyes and be transported back to Ireland.

For more of journey through Ireland please click here.

Quin Town and Abbey / Knappogue Castle and Walled Gardens – Ireland

For part of our trip to Ireland in July we stayed at a lovely little B&B in County Clare.  We took many day trips in all directions from a village called Tulla.  On one of our trips back to our base we passed through the town of Quin and came across the Abbey there.  It was a charming quiet and peaceful scene with locals walking their dogs.  We had to pull over and have a look.

We continued down the road following a sign that said Knappogue Castle and Walled Gardens.  This led us to a lovely restored castle and gardens used for events.  One could certainly imagine weddings, parties, or work events in this lovely venue surrounded by rolling green hills, cattle, and horses.

This is the real and rural and lovely Ireland that you will not find in your guidebooks.  You must drive or walk or explore and you will be rewarded every time in this magnificent country.



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Saint Kevin’s Monastery

Saint Kevin’s Monastery in Glendalough holds a special place in my heart.  It was one of the first places I visited outside of Dublin on my first trip to Ireland.  I visited here with a group of people from the college class I was taking and was really moved by the place.  I have taken my brother here, my husband here, and my parents here all on separate trips. It is charming and beautiful set in the hills of the Wicklow Mountains.  The monastery sits on a peaceful lake said to have medicinal properties that visitors can have a nice walk around. Saint Kevin lived much of his time in a cave above the lake in contemplation.  As is the case with most monasteries I can certainly see why.  (Remember Kylemore Abbey?) The site also boasts many lovely buildings to explore along with several tall crosses and the iconic tower.

It is a beautiful drive here from Dublin whether you drive up over the bog-filled mountains or via Avoca and Powerscourt through the more direct route.  If you are traveling the countryside I highly recommend staying the night in the area at one of the many lovely bed and breakfasts and enjoy some food in the quaint town of Laragh.


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Ross Errilly Friary, County Galway

I hope you aren’t tired of Ireland posts yet!  I still have a few more up my sleeve.  I am sure as soon as I finish writing about it I will be itching to go back so I keep saving a few…

Ross Errilly Friary is a fine example of one of my favorite things to do when traveling.  I love to find the random unplanned locations that come up between Point A and Point B.  After spending the day driving in and around Kylemore Abbey we were headed back to Clare and decided to follow one of the brown historic markers that dot the roadways throughout Ireland.  I looked at them and asked if they had one more stop in them.  My parents are good sports about going anywhere and doing pretty much anything so they were game.  The sun was setting, no one was around, and we had a blast checking out the interesting angles of the remaining architecture.

Ross Errily Medieval Franciscan Friary can be located in County Galway near the village of Headford.  You can see it from the main road and can follow the well signed roads.  It is worth a few minute visit for sure.



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Adare, Tidy Irish Town

Ireland has this great competition called the “Tidy Towns” competition. Visitors know that if a town is listed as a current or past “Tidy Town” winner there is a good possibility that they will enjoy a visit or a pass through that town.  Adare is on Ireland’s list of tidy towns.  I could look up the parameters of making it on this list.  But, I can tell you right now that it is because of historical buildings, lots of flowers, little traffic, and brightly painted exteriors among other things.

This is a little tip when planning your Ireland trip.  Focus on tidy towns to eat in, visit, or stay in.  Click here for a list of the current and past winners. For now enjoy some photos of past Tidy Town winner, Adare in County Limerick.


Maps versus Navigation when traveling

All right.  Be honest?  Do you still have paper maps?  Or do you use a GPS device or navigation on your phone?  No judgement here…

I am a die hard cell phone navigator at home.  But, I adore paper maps when I am traveling.  I find them more reliable and interesting than device navigation.  I can follow along the map as we drive noting everything I am passing along the way.

Numerous times I have used the map to determine where our next unplanned stop with be.  My brothers and husband can attest to my forcing them to stop at every archaeological place of interest in the whole of Ireland “just to see what’s there.”

I brought along what was later coined “the Super Map” to Ireland the first time I went in 1999.  This map has traveled with me every time I have gone there marking every road I have driven or walked on.  It has helped enrich my trips and reference where I have been to and where I have yet to journey.  It is now as much of a souvenir as anything else I brought home with me.

In France I brought another paper map which helped guide us in driving through the entire country.  The map is a little worse for the wear being torn and folded and even used as a napkin from time to time.

How do you get around when traveling locally or internationally?



Cliffs of Moher, County Clare

The Cliffs of Moher are iconic and wild.  They are windswept and amazing with a sense of fear and magnificence that reminds us that Mother Nature if greater than us.  Ireland and the sea are deeply connected.  Her history with the sea both brings life and so often has taken it away. If you sit quietly, among the crowds here at the Cliffs, you can listen to the ocean tell Ireland’s story. It helps make me understand why the Irish have such a way with words and music.  So many places like this serve as artistic inspiration.D80_9834.jpg



My nephew really enjoyed running around up and down the stairs while the rest of us caught our breath.  😉


A view of O’Brien Castle.  The first time I was here it was a gift shop.  Now they make you pay a small amount to walk to the top for a superb view.  I wouldn’t recommend it though because it is hard to see over the large bricks.  Also, my brother and I were able to go out on that platform you can see below in this photo and dangle our feet at one time.  Now a fence prevents you from doing so probably keeping people far safer than when I first visited.


Puffins roost here but one needs binoculars to see them.


The amazing new visitor’s center beautifully tucked in to the mountain.  I was relieved to see that it doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb and is more like a hobbit visitor’s center.


Has been playing music for visitor’s for some time.


Impressive wood work worthy of a snap.

Kinsale and Southern Ireland Sunshine

Bob Ross used to speak of “happy accidents”.  When planning a trip to Ireland a few years back my brother suggested visiting Kinsale because a co-worker of his thought it was the best part of Ireland.  The idea of trying a new city appealed to me so we set off.  Kinsale is located in far Southern Ireland due south of Cork City.  It is nestled in a beautiful bay with the tiny village built directly on the water.  Kinsale is an idyllic Irish village full of energy, food, bars, music, and life.  I enjoyed the city so much I made sure to take my parents to the city on our recent trip.  When we arrived we joined a local Farmers market, visited some antique stores, walked to the castle, enjoyed some ice cream, and walked around the marina.  All things that are done on a perfect day in the perfect place…

Nearby Charles Fort is a lovely way to soak up the Southern Ireland sun with a view of the Old Head and Kinsale Village.  Guides are helpful in describing the history of the Fort and even Titanic history as this was its last stop before meeting the famed Iceberg.

Kinsale is a splendid place to spend several days and make day trips around the region.  The roads in and around Kinsale are not for the faint of heart but are arguably some of the most beautiful vistas and scenery in all of Ireland.  Take the southern road both East and West or head north to Cork and Blarney.  I would highly recommend visiting Drombeg Circle and even a day trip to Clonikilty.

I am grateful to my brother’s un-named friend for introducing me to a region of Ireland that has proven to be one of my favorites.  Has anyone else gotten a random tip that turned out to be a really happy accident?



Would you paint your house this color?


The harbor is so breathtaking on a clear bright day like this


The photo does not even remotely do justice to how beautiful this village is.

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Clonmacnoise Monastery – County Offaly, Ireland


Located near Athlone in County Offaly, Clonmacnoise Monastary sits in a pristine location on the River Shannon.  Founded in 544 it was a center for learning with ties to the Kings of Ireland many of which are said to be buried on site.  The monastery continued to grow over time becoming quite powerful until around the 12th century.  With great power and a strong location came Viking and Norman attacks.

Highlights of the ruins at the monastery are the tower overlooking the Shannon, the Cross of the Scriptures including its magnificent religious detail, the North Cross with its hunting and fertility symbols, King’s Church which sits atop the graves of generations of Irish Kings, the Cathedral and its whispering arch, and the Fairy’s Stone.

The interpretive center is well worth a short visit as it houses the original high crosses and other important information.   It details relics found on site including the magnificent Clonmacnoise Crozier which is on display at the Irish National Museum in Dublin.  The Center even has information on the Papal visit to the ruins in 1979 by Pope John Paul II.

Clonmacnoise is a wonderful stop if you are traveling between Galway and Dublin as it is off the main highway.  It is well worth a visit with its stunning views and superb history.



My mother wanted to see a high cross in Ireland and boy is this the mother of high crosses.


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Postcards from London(Derry), Northern Ireland

Depending on where you stand in Irish Politics you refer to the city as Londonderry or Derry.  In fact, as one drives towards the city, one will see spray paint riddled signs blocking out the word London to display only Derry.  It seems Londonderry has similar issues as portions of Belfast.  (See my Tour of a Lifetime post about the Belfast Troubles.)  Murals depict the troubles front and center which I found beautiful and unsettling all at the same time.  I can’t help but send light and good thoughts to the beautiful Irish people to find peace in their hearts for future generations.





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