Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Third Time's a Charm!

Yeah!  The fam finally made it to Ireland!  After their two other attempts to come out here were cancelled due to Iceland's volcanic eruption and then with my mom injuring her back, I couldn't believe they made it this time!  We had a fantastic, full trip. 

We started out the first day by enjoying the beautiful small town that we live in, Dun Laoghaire.  As it was a gorgeous day, we walked the shops, ate on the patio at Hen House while listening to a live Elvis impersonator, then enjoyed a Teddy's ice cream while walking the pier.   

The next morning we headed into town to enjoy the sights and sounds of Dublin.  With a ton to do and see in the city centre, we did a whirlwind tour of Trinity College (showing them where all the magic happens for Ross' research, the Book of Kells, and the Long Room), Christ Church, St. Patrick's Cathedral, Chester Beatty Library, Temple Bar, O'Connell and Grafton Street... while of course feeding our bellies with some of our favorite restaurants, Avoca Cafe and Port House.

Trinity College

St. Patrick's Cathedral

Taking a rest

The courtyard where I do Healing on the Streets. We're spelling HOTS if you couldn't tell :)

The iconic Temple Bar pub

The next morning we headed off to Dublin Vineyard church so that our fam could meet our family away from home, the place where Ross and I have been fed and encouraged the last three years.  It meant so much to have everyone meet!  After church we headed to People's Park with all our friends to enjoy the variety of food... but let's be honest, it's the Thai Green Curry that keeps us coming back!
People's Park

Royal Marine Hotel, Dun Laoghaire

After the park, we left Dublin behind for the week and headed into the country to discover the beauty of Ireland.  That night we drove the short distance to the Wicklow mountains (where Braveheart and P.S. I Love You were filmed) to Glendalough.  

Dad trying to capture a moment with me and Meesh, but it just wasn't happening

Two love birds :)

The Howlands strike a pose

The next morning, we headed off for a really full day!  We started in Kilkenny with the amazing castle and charming town, then headed off to the well preserved Kells Priory with its massive walls and grazing sheep, then to Rock of Cashel which overlooks a mysterious monastery, and ended the day with a late night drive into Killarney.  

Kilkenny Castle

Kilkenny Town- Love this place!

Rock of Cashel- Walking down to the monastery below

Monastery below Rock of Cashel

Taking a pause for a little smooch

Kells Priory

The next day we enjoyed Killarney, in particular Muckross House!  Located on the banks of the surrounding lakes and dense forests, this house is a beauty!  

Muckross house

Side view

Cuties :)

Michelle soaking in the rays and ambience of Muckross' gardens... hot stuff!

Trail walk from Muckross House to Muckross Abbey

The next morning we headed to my favorite part of Ireland, the Dingle Peninsula.  The green hills slopping into the ocean couldn't get more scenic!  We stayed at the best b&b in Ireland, First Cottage by the Sea, in Dingle.  Thank you Julie for showing us the hospitality and incredible breakfast that Ireland is known for!
Dad sporting his Irish track suit at Connor Pass... he fit in so well!

The horse we were able to feed as we walked up to the Potato Famine houses

This is a keeper!

A bit wet, but you couldn't come to Ireland and expect to stay dry :)

Making every drop of rain worth it

Turning the corner to absolute beauty!

My favorite view of Ireland

It doesn't get any more stunning

Sisters at Dunquin, Dingle


The next morning we drove to the ferry crossing which led us to County Clare.  We enjoyed amazing scenery all the way to Cliffs of Moher and then spent the night at my favorite place EVER... Dromoland Castle!    It is worth every euro of its pricey tag.  We had a yummy dinner in the drawing room which was empty except for our large round table directly in front of the fire place.  Demetri, the server kept stoking the fire (in our minds we're thinking, "Is this for real?!") as we enjoyed the serene ambience over dinner, coffee, and a mean card game of 7's which mom dominated 4 hands in a row!  The luck of the Irish was certainly with her that night!

Ferry crossing

Mom and Dad at Cliffs of Moher

Great pickie!

Mom was a bit hesitant to be this close to the edge, but we got the shot!

4 iphone videos going as we drove around the bend toward Dromoland Castle... no doubting we were in a car filled with Howlands!  I swear we weren't excited!

Dinner in the Drawing Room

Classy fish and chips with, of course, a perfectly drawn Guinness

Dromoland's card shark is in the middle... she looks innocent, but looks in this case are very deceiving!

Dining room in Dromoland

Dromoland from the main entrance

Beautiful gardens

Riding bikes around the castle's 400 acres

Dromoland's walled gardens

Love these two!

My sweet sister!  

He's a keeper!

Walled gardens

A little healthy competition....

Dad taking it to a whole new level

Could I fancy you for a cuppa?

Parting goodbyes
Upon saying our goodbyes to our favorite stay of the trip, we made one last stop at Trim Castle before making it back to Dublin.  This is the castle used in many Braveheart scenes.
Trim Castle

Too bad we had to release him and let him leave this land :(

That captures it all!  Wild Bill at his best!

Such an amazing trip!  We were so blessed and thankful to have made such wonderful memories together.  Thanks mom and dad for making it possible and stopping in the middle of your crazy, busy lives right now to come for a visit.  We love you bunches and often think fondly of all the fun laughs & heart to hearts we shared.