Travel Diaries: Ireland - Part 1 ~ Diane's Vintage Zest!

Travel Diaries: Ireland - Part 1

Last I left you, I was in the Brussels airport headed to Ireland.

This was a long trip with a lot of driving, so here's the first part!

*Update: See the whole trip here!*

Day 1 (Friday, 4/19)

  • Sights: Dunmore Caves, Killarney Castle
  • Eats: Cafe la Coco
  • Drinks: Left Bank

We arrived in Dublin and got to the rental car office.  At first, we thought that we might get a GPS, but the man at the counter actually talked us out of it, since getting lost is part of the fun.  I have good map reading skills, but I was definitely NOT prepared for the tiny Ireland roads and its lack of street signs.  :)

This was a sample of the beautiful scenery we had as we headed south!

By the way, we're obviously on the left side of the road, so I had to provide lots of reminders to "Stay left!  Stay left!"  But I was happy to be the navigator/reminder, considering that we got a stick-shift car. This is one of the large highways, which was easy to drive on, but sometimes they ran through cities like this one.

It's not really common in California to have highways turn into regular streets, so it slowed some of our driving time.  Luckily, the cities weren't too big usually, and we got right back to driving through super green fields!

Our first stop was in the Dunmore Caves.  We needed a flashlight in some areas, but it was pretty cool down there!

One of the rock formations that they call the buffalo.

See it on the left?

Then, we got to our accommodations for the day in Killarney and settled in a bit.

Next stop was Killarney Castle.  No picture inside, but the outside grounds were beautiful.

I was hungry, so I had us stop at Cafe la Coco just up the street.  Everything was closed, but luckily we squeezed in just before this place closed up.

I ordered a mushroom soup, which was decent and welcome in the cold weather.

I also ordered a turkey, brie, and cranberry panini, which I didn't think looked good at first.  I was definitely wrong!  My guy only ordered a cappuccino, but when I started rave about how good it was, he ended up eating half of my sandwich.  :)

Also, the chips were amazing!  Not something I ever eat at home, but he also agreed that they were awesome.

To take home for later, we got a plum tart.  Yum!

Since it was closing time, the owner gave us each a scone to go!  The other customers were also lucky.  :)

They were perfect as a snack, and the second best scone I've ever had (after Fortnum and Mason's fresh ones, of course).

We went home, relaxed after our day of travel and went out later that night to a bar right across from Killarney Castle, Left Bank.

We had gone in earlier, and it was really interesting looking, since it was converted from an old bank.

A really good band was playing, but I was sooo tired.>

I hit the hay immediately, and we got up bright and early for more driving!

Day 2 (Saturday, 4/20)

  • Sights: Rock of Cashel, Blarney Castle, Kinsale, Charles Fort
  • Eats: Blue Haven restaurant
  • Drinks: The Spaniard

Next day on the road, and it was more rural and therefore smaller roads for us to drive on...

Of course, that meant more sheep, cows, and horses along the road.  Cute!

And we continued onward to Cork!

On the way, we stopped at the Rock of Cashel.

The scaffolding is temporary to keep moisture from seeping into the frescoes on the ceilings.

Notice the clouds that collected in this shot and the lack of clouds below, taken from the other side of the structure less than an hour before.  It's crazy how much it drizzles on and off in this country!

Afterwards, we headed to the monastery ruins located just down the hill from the Rock of Cashel.

That meant taking a road which ran through a field of sheep!

Next, we drove to the Blarney Castle, which is the most photographed site in all of Ireland.  Here's another picture for you.  :)

I saw some people taking pictures of the castle with their travel mascots too.  :)

Here's a view of the castle through a window and all of the gardens that we walked through later in the day.  And yes, I gave a kiss (via my hand) to the Blarney Stone.

Next stop was to Kinsale, the gourmet capital of Ireland.  What a lovely little seaside town!

We walked around town amongst the cute little streets and through the harbor.

This is one of the reasons I was getting lost.  On a map, this came up as a street.  Obviously whenever I was reading it, I was misled by the fact that there is no way a car is supposed to make it through here!

For dinner, we wanted to eat Blue Haven, so when we found out that it was closed for a function, but could still eat in the bistro later, we made a reservation.  In the meantime, we walked to a pub, called The Spaniard, which was filled with locals.  And finally it was time for dinner!

We both had the tasting menu, and I started with a veggie soup, which was pretty good, despite its pureed appearance.

Next, I had a fish pie, which was scrumptious!

It was creamy and delicious, filled with three different kinds of fish.

Even the peas were good!

For dessert, we were stuffed, but luckily our dessert stomachs were still empty!  I got the sticky toffee pudding.  Sooo light, airy, and sweet!

He had a mixed berry cobbler.  Good, but I preferred mine.  :)

On the way back home, we stopped at Charles Fort.  Incredible views, and the monument itself is interesting.

Then, we started back to Cork where we were staying for the night.

Day 3 (Sunday, 4/21)

  • Sights: Muckross House
  • Eats: Irish breakfast

Leaving Cork, we had yet another traditional Irish breakfast.  We stayed at Bed & Breakfasts nearly the whole time on our drive, so were provided full breakfasts.  Now for someone who can't eat pork, it means I would have a version of the breakfast below, sometimes with potatoes, without mushrooms, with toast, etc.

This breakfast was especially good because they had an incredibly delicious spice cake, much like the one I had on St. Patrick's Day this year.

Another reason I was excited?  Fruit and yogurt!  I hadn't had any fruit for what seemed like ages...

An onward we went with full bellies!  Check out this sign for turns ahead, and no there isn't someone named Cora Romhat ahead.  :)  We knew that we'd be in for a bit of fun when we saw these!

Then we headed to Muckross house, which was preceded by this lovely road through the trees.

The grounds were beautiful, with a lake just on the other side.

Muckross House

And on we headed towards the Slea Head drive and our longest drive of the trip...

*Update: Continue the journey with me here!*


  1. Oh what a fabulous post, I've so enjoyed revisiting all these places with you, it's been too long since I've been back and now my journeys back home are all to England and Scotland to see my children and for now Ireland doesn't get a look in. Thanks so much for sharing :D

  2. Loved seeing Ireland through your blog:) Love to visit there! Pinning:)

  3. But it's so close! Maybe you should meet the family in Ireland for your next trip. :) Also, make sure you see my Part 2 & 3 of my time in Ireland: &

  4. Thanks! Like I just said to Chrissie, make sure to see Parts 2 & 3 of my time in Ireland. It was amazing! :)

  5. Dianne,thank you for bringing back the memories of our wonderful holiday in Ireland. It is our very favourite place to go overseas,even though I am originally from England and hubby from Scotland. The scenery looks amazing,and aren't the people so friendly. So pleased you are having a great time.:)

  6. My husband is Irish and Ireland is on our wish list for our next vacation. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Found you through the link party BTW-

  8. You're welcome! You will have so much fun! :)

  9. Pretty!! I relived some old memories while reading through this...I lived in Ireland for a few years and once in a while still miss it! I love the peeks at what you ate too!

  10. Thanks! I have two more Ireland posts that you might want to take a peek at too! :)

  11. ahh, I love it! I miss Ireland and can't wait to go back. We did get a GPS in France and Germany, it's pretty funny. The difference in verbiage even though it's english. "Go straight for a very long time." Hahaa! love it , thanks for sharing!

  12. My daughter Joy & I spent a week exploring and experiencing Ireland based out of Dublin...wonderful trip!!! Lots of memories! 2006!!

  13. That is so funny! I love that kind of "lost in translation" story. :)

  14. How nice to have a mother-daughter trip! I'm sure it was amazing. :)

  15. What an amazing trip! I hope to go to Ireland some day and figure out where all of my relatives came from. :) Thank you so much for sharing with us at Best of the Weekend. Pinned to our party board.

  16. That would be so much fun! I wish I had Irish roots, but they make you feel like family nonetheless. :)


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