Ireland

Maike Cenci in Ireland
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I made a trip to Ireland to re-familiarize myself with one of my favorite destinations and the services of one of our preferred suppliers there! 

We began this spectacular trip in Dublin. Our first stop, the Fitzwilliam Hotel, is perfectly located in Dublin’s city center. The trams are conveniently right outside the hotel in case you want to make use of themthe get about the city.

Our first stop on our panoramic tour of Dublin city was the "Guinness Storehouse," where we participated in a unique tasting experience and learned the proper way to pour a Guinness. What an operation!

On our first full day, we went on a walking tour of Dublin city guided by a local food expert. This tour gave us the opportunity to be a local, allowing us to sample the best food and cultural experiences in Dublin typically hidden from the average tourist.

The "Fabulous Food Trails" tour mixes culture and delicious food in historic neighborhoods within a stones throw of the city center. You will also visit food halls, farmer’s markets, fruit and flower stands, cheese and fishmongers, butchers and bakers and so much more.

In the mood for afternoon tea? Look no further than The Westin Dublin Hotel. It is well worth a visit as they really do make an art out of the afternoon tea experience. With the rest of the day left to explore the city, we visited Trinity College and St. Patrick's Cathedral. A perfect afternoon with a little rain shower to keep us company.

Next day we left Dublin for Clare on Ireland's West coast, enjoying the beautiful country side as we traveled. Our first stop was Tullynally Castle, one of the largest country houses in Ireland to survive as a family house. It still boasts magnificent Victorian kitchens and laundries, complete with all the equipment. The castle gardens are a sight to behold and not to be missed.

In Galway we began with a short walking tour to acquaint ourselves with the area before heading into county Clare for our stay at Dromoland Castle - a true castle indeed.

From there we went on a tour of county Clare and the elements of the Wild Atlantic way. We checked out Rathbaun, a traditional working farm, complete with a thatched cottage home, and wide array of animals. We were especially treated to a lovely assortment of home baked and freshly prepared scones, soda breads and preserves.

We continued on to the world-famous Cliffs of Mohar. With the clear weather that day, our visit was extra special - it is truly an impressive sight.

We also visited Doonbeg on the coast which has one of Europe’s finest Golf courses and then went on to the Victorian Lighthouse at Loophead noted for being one of the filming locations of Star Wars Episode VIII. At the end of such an adventurous day, we returned  to Dromoland Castle to enjoy the grounds of the resort before heading to a Medieval banquet at Bunratty Castle.

The following day we traveled south towards Kerry. Stopping along the way at the Flying Boat Museum in Foynes. The site where the Irish Coffee was invented in 1943 to keep the transatlantic passengers warm. We continued on to Killarney in County Kerry which has some of the best surrounding scenery in Ireland featuring the Kerry Mountains and Lakes. We were treated to a traditional horse-and-trap ride to the nearby Killarney National Park - truly a highlight. Killarney is a beautiful walking city with its own charm and Killarney Park Hotel was our home for the night.

After departing Killarney, we made our way to the Ring of Kerry near the Coastal Scenery of Dingle Bay. It is a long winding road but with every turn, you’re offered a new unique vista. Driving through the Iveragh Peninsula, you get a view of the ancient monastic Skellig Rocks. We visited the heritage center dedicated to life on the Skellig islands. Skellig Michael was a monastic site occupied from the 6th to the 12th century. Near the heritage center is the Skellig Chocolate factory where we watched the chocolates being made. We continued driving through the Coodmakista Pass which offered us a breathtaking view over the peninsula, the Islands and the Atlantic Ocean.

Our home for the night was Sheen Falls Lodge on the outskirts of Kenmare.

Our last day of the trip was fast approaching. We departed Sheen Falls Lodge and traveled into West Cork at the beautiful southwest corner of Ireland. We drove through Haley pass, the narrowest, windiest road I have been on; it is not for the fainthearted. The road climbs up to 334m above sea level and does reward you with views of both Cork and Kerry in addition to Bantry and Kenmore Bays.

As we continued on, we made a stop at the 15th Century Blarney Castle, famous for its stone which is believed to have the power of eloquence bestowed on all who kiss it. Making your way to the top of the castle was nerve-wracking since it is very narrow and rocky. To kiss the stone, you must lean backwards while holding on to the railing with both hands until you reach it. I was very nervous, BUT, I did it!

Following that adventure, we enjoyed a lovely lunch at Hayfield Manor in Cork before heading to our last destination on our journey through Western Ireland.

Powers court Hotel and Spa is located on the famous Powerscourt Estates with breathtaking views of the Wicklow Mountains. You may be just an hour away from Dublin but it could be a million miles away.

Maike Cenci