The Best of (my) Ireland

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day weekend, everyone!

Conveniently enough, last week I told you I would tell you all about the wonderful things that I loved in Ireland- how better to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day than by sharing my favorite experiences?

A couple of things stand out to me when I think back to my week in Ireland: The Blarney Castle, the booze, and the food. Oh, the food. Be still, my stomach…

Blarney Castle

To be honest, this was one of the things I adamantly didn’t want to see. When I think of Blarney Castle, I think of the epitome of Irish tourist traps. Some ancient castle with a fancy stone? Yea right.

This goes to show how wrong I can be. I loved it.

One of the benefits of visiting Ireland a week before tourism season really starts is that there aren’t a ton of tourists around. Other than my family, there were maybe 8 other tourists on the entire grounds of the Blarney Castle in the two hours we were there. One of the workers told us that during tourist season, there can be a 2-hour line of people just waiting to get into the castle. Sure, the weather was a little gray while we were there and the stones were slick from the snowfall and rain, but it was beautiful nonetheless.

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If you’ve ever been to the Biltmore, or are familiar with my blog post about it, Blarney Castle was similar to it in the respect that we paid for our ticket which allowed us access to the castle and the sprawling grounds. I wish we had more time to explore just the grounds. We could have spent a whole day there and I would have been happy as a clam.

After climbing tons and tons of narrow winding stairs, we reached the top and kissed the Blarney Stone. Legend has it that kissing the stone will give you the gift of the gab. Whether it did or not, Thomas very eloquently summed up his experience with the stone by saying “we’ve just transitively kissed millions of people.” And I suppose he’s not wrong. Though, there is something about the history there of all those people that make it cool, rather than gross.

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The gardens and grounds were really cool too. There was an entire garden dedicated to poison which was so neat, and we visited the horse graveyard, where the estate inhabitants buried their beloved steeds when it was time for them to pass on.  The river walk that ran along the grounds was beautiful as well and I can guarantee that water was ice cold. I got chills just thinking about swimming or bathing in it.

If you get a chance, go to the Blarney Castle. Also – right outside the gates is a cute little shop that sells sweaters and other touristy things and the lady who owns the shop is the nicest sweetest thing ever. Go visit, both her and the castle.

The Booze

Can you go to Ireland and not visit the Guinness Storehouse and Jameson distillery in Dublin? I don’t think so. The history at these two places was cool, but unlike a lot of other distillery and brewery tours I’ve been on, these were a lot more commercialized and more like a museum than a brewery/distillery tour. It was sort of a letdown, but still really historically neat.

While in Cork, we picked up one of Tyler’s friends Nick, who also happened to be in Ireland, and went out for some food and drinking.  Our waiter at dinner pointed us to this little hole-in-the-wall bar named The Castle Inn owned by Mrs. Mary and her son.  I was in love as soon as I caught sight of the little blue door. It was so cute and small and Mary was lovely.  The Murphy’s we had was better than any of the Guinness that I had the whole trip. (It had something to do with how far the beer travels between the tap and the keg, which was less than two feet, which made it better and fresher or something. Science. I don’t know.)  It was absolutely delicious and the bar was so cute and small. Definitely something a bit off the beaten path. We never would have made it there had our waiter not recommended it, and I’m so glad he did.

FOOD

Oh. My. The food.

I ate so many different versions of meat pies and I could not have been happier.  My favorites were any of the ones that had Guinness and steak in them. And the puff pastry part was always exquisite. The chicken and mushroom meat pies were also absolutely incredible.

And they had mushy peas! I love peas. My mother doesn’t get it because she hates peas and didn’t serve them when I was little, but I love them.

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We also ate some fish and chips. The first time I had them in a little pub outside of Cork was the best fish and chips I’ve ever had. (Did it have something to do with the fact that it came with mushy peas? Maybe.)

Really, you couldn’t go wrong. Just look at the pictures, everything was so good.

I hope you had a happy St. Patrick’s Day! If you get the chance, I thoroughly encourage you to go to Ireland, if only for the food. Yum.

Until next week,

x-bex-1

 

PS- I just realized I didn’t mention the Cliffs of Moher so clearly, I’ll have to write another blog post about them eventually…

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