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18 September, 2012

When Irish Eyes are Smiling....

I have sat down so many times to start this post and to start the text for my photo book, but don't even know where to begin!

A few days before we left for Ireland, Eric, Evie and I went to a local (awesome) Chinese restaurant for dinner.  As I'm sure most people do, we took turns opening our fortunes, including one for little Evie.  Eric's couldn't have been more perfect.
...though I do think this is what began the three days of waterworks from this Mama about to leave her baby for almost 11 full days.

I am so thankful I spent two weeks packing.  Totally not my style, but not only did I need to fit 10 days of my cool / rainy weather clothing into a carry-on, but I had to pack Evie for staying with both sets of grandparents and a set of great-grandparents.  Thank God for Target sales and jumbo Rubbermaid bins, am I right?

We also had to create a will, which, of course, we intended to do before Evie was born, and then before we went to Asheville and the hot air ballon ride.  With no time to research a lawyer we settled with (it's real, people) and had it witnessed and notarized, along with a medical release form for our dear child.  Tears and fears from this Mama.  Eric was a saint and held me close.

Now let's *really* get started.  With no mention of the sobbing that came with dropping Evie off at my inlaws on the way to the airport.  Nope, not going to even rethink that evening.

Our flight departed at 10:50 pm from the new International Terminal of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.  Seriously, it's the best thing to happen to Atlanta air travel.  Well, if you live here that is.  The flight was easy-peasy and I even slept for a few hours.

We arrived in Dublin and immediately took a bus to Belfest, Northern Ireland.  My college roommate, Amanda, joined us for those few days.  She's been living in London so she took the long weekend to come visit us.

While in Belfast we saw a random parade, the dry dock where the Titanic was finished, and took a trip up to Giant's Causeway and Bushmills Distillery.

Monday morning we parted ways: Amanda back to London, and Eric and I started our treck south.

(Let's discuss: The UK takes their Bank Holidays seriously.  Since we refused to pay £12 for hotel breakfast we settled for the only thing open; take away from the Marks and Spencer basement. mmm.)

The trip from Belfast to Kilkenny was long and complicated.  We had to take a train that services N. Ireland down to Dublin.  And then switch train stations in Dublin to a station that services the Republic of Ireland.  From there we had a 2 hour train ride to Kilkenny.  It was a LONG day.

While in Kilkenny we saw most of the big sights there (Black Abbey, St. Canice's Cathedral, Kilkenny Castle) but didn't tour the Smithwick's Brewery.  By this point we were already tired of Irish food (there is only so many ways to eat a potato and over cooked meat), so we followed Trip Advisor to some excellent Indian and decent Italian food.

My favorite day in Kilkenny was our last day.  Eric and I decided to wander around the back roads.  We stumbled upon the Black Abbey, which was listed in the tour book. We had no idea what we were about to walk in on.  We noticed the sign in the parking lot said Mass was at 10:30.  It was 10:05 and we had a 10:30 train to catch across town.  There was a series of people walking into the church so we followed.  To our pleasant surprise there were six religious brothers in full habit, at least 80 years of age, sitting in the choir stalls chanting morning prayer.  I wanted to stay forever.  Their voices were so angelic.

Tuesday we took a day trip to the south coast to visit Waterford.  My parish's founding pastor was from Waterford so this was a little homage to him, but aslo, I was very curious to see the Waterford Crystal factory.  The tour did not disappoint.  Eric and I took a slow walk back to the train station and found some church ruins right in the middle of down town.  And at about 4:05 we discovered the brand new (as in, still had caution tape around it) Medieval History museum (happy seal clap!), that of course closed at 4:00. We couldn't kick ourselves too much because we didn't know it existed, as it wasn't in the tour books yet!

Wednesday we spent a long, full day in Kildare.  Most people looked at me weird when I told them we were going to / went to Kildare.  Why?  Well, the patroness of our parish was from Kildare.  So this day of the trip was a bit of a pilgrimage.  Must to our dismay, Saint Brigid Cathedral in Kildare is actually an Anglican Church.  Boo!  I mean, at some point it was Catholic, and the original church on the property was Catholic.  Nonetheless it was fabulous to visit.  We also took a short bus ride out to visit Saint Brigid's Well, and the oddly combined town claim-to-fame: the Irish National Stud (read: horse breeding barns) and Japanese Gardens.  I have NO earthly idea why the were on the same property.  We had no intention of visiting either but it was mere walking distance from The Well.

On Friday we finished up a few things in Kilkenny and made our way via train to Dublin where we met up with Katie and Sam, Mark and Jessica (Sam's friends), Tony and Linda (Sam's parents), Erin and Jeff (Sam's stepsister and husband). We stayed at a pretty seedy hotel, but the price was right for having 35,000 American tourists in Dublin on one weekend.

We didn't plan anything for Dublin because we knew the crowds, friends, and game would make it difficult to count on anything.  Luckily we got in to Guiness for a tour and tasting.  The rest was just pub crawls and game-day fun. Because the days and weather in Dublin were so crowded and unpredictable, we didn't take anything with us but a wallet and phone. So the last three days of our trip on via our phones.

Eric and I were the token old people and went to bed pretty early each night. Part of our vacation goal was to sleep since we were baby-free for 10 days, and I would have to hit the ground running with work the moment we landed back in Atlanta.  So, sadly, we didn't see much of the Dublin night life.  Oh, the responsibilities!

We had a fantastic trip.  So glad we packed the iPad, Kindle, cards, Nalgene and a few boxes of snacks. It was so helpful on our travel days.  The week was so special to Eric and I to spend time just the two of us, and to travel with family and friends to such a neat experience.  I still can't believe the trip has come and gone!

1 comment:

  1. sounds like such a fun trip! we spent a few days in ireland when we were studying abroad in france. i was also very disappointed that so many famous catholic churches are now anglican. and you have to pay to go in! and man, your pictures made me wish we had gotten to the waterford crystal factory!


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