An Old Irish Blessing...

Dec 31, 2014

may the road rise up to meet you
may the wind be always at your back
may the sun shine warm upon your face
and the rains fall soft upon your fields
and until we meet again, 
may God hold you in the palm of his hand

-------------------------------

When your soon-to-be new family plans a family trip, then invites you along, you pack.

Quickly. 

This, is the tale of our adventures.


With our trusty please-never-move-no-really-don't-ever dog/house sitter in place, we drove up to Mark's hometown the night before our travels began. 

In addition to seeing his family, I got to tire out my legs (training for these races) before the long flight along the back roads.

Bonus -- I didn't get lost. 


After slight delay (an inopportune time for the tub to leak into another room), Mark, his two younger brothers, his parents and I set off for O'Hare. 

Traffic stunk.

Thankfully, we made it just in time for our flight to get (semi) delayed, and for our gate to change -- three times. 

I could give no effs.

Why? 

Because there are no cares on VACATION.  

Nope.

Our destination?

IRELAND.

No complaints, zero.

(via Instagram)

Connected through Toronto like we did on our trip to France

This time, we got to explore. 


They have lounges, replete with tvs, ipads, and charging stations at various seating options -- high tables, low couches, cushy chairs. 

For. FREE.


Hungry/thirsty?

Don't tax yourself and get out of your comfy chair, just order from the ipads, while reading the news, playing games, and ensuring you don't miss your flight. On FREE wifi. 

Pro tip:  we figured out the luggage issue -- you have to take your bags through customs in the first city you travel to outside of your country of origin, if you connect/travel within said country. So, when on our France trip went connected through Toronto AND Montreal, that meant getting your bags for customs.  Since we were only connecting through Toronto on our way to Dublin, our bags went straight to Dublin.  Got it.

Boarded our flight and upon clicking my seatbelt I realized I hadn't downloaded the airlines app (this plane didn't have tvs). Thank goodness I had a good book.


Before we knew it, we were in Dublin! 

Tempting as sizzling off my hair with that "hair styler" sounded, I abstained. 

Went to claim our luggage and realized due to all the gate changes at O'hare, Kyle's (brother #3) luggage was in Newark. New Jersey.  Which, is not in, nor near Ireland.  Problem solver/hot head that I am, go over to help when my betrothed heads me off -- "please don't cause a scene in the airport."  Someone's luggage was missing, a "scene" was warranted. Once they got that straightened out -- they'd made plans to bring it to him once it arrived and told him how to claim the loss when he went to buy clothes in the meantime -- we headed to the car rental desk where his oldest brother, Eric (brother #1), and his family were waiting for us. 


Jet lagged, yet can't sleep because that will definitely eff up your sleep cycle (its best to acclimate once you land to whatever time it is there -- rally the first day, and you will sleep  with nary a time change issue)?

Never to fear, just drink coffee. Lots, and lots of coffee. 

Turns out Ireland has some seriously gnarly one lane (in the US) two lanes (in Ireland) roads that, obviously make for more car accidents, so they thoughtfully (insert sarcasm) tack on an extra fee ($$$ per vehicle/per driver) to cover the added liability coverage. Not a massive deal, except no one told us till, then, and they want, cash/credit card. 

Turns out your credit card can fax a waiver for you (for free), but that has to be done prior to your arrival in said country.

 Awesome.

By this time Mark's mom, Deb, began expressing how this was the Griswold Family Vacation and we hadn't even left the airport. But, when you travel with 11 people (one of which is a toddler) things are bound to happen outside your control. 

It was all in good -- everyone, despite jet lag and exhaustion rallied and made light of the snafu, which was paramount. Go us!

Pro tip: while driving in a foreign country is the easiest way to control your trip/destinations and immerse yourself in said culture, be sure to check into the insurance (this article is helpful in hindsight) before you go.


Once the car situation was sorted, we choose our vehicles -- and headed out of the city to our first stop -- Kilkenny, about an hour and a half' outside of Dublin.

Driving (ok, riding, I didn't drive) on the opposite side of the road was weird, but we all arrived relatively unscathed.


San Antonio Guest House -- our b and b for the night. We unloaded the cars, got settled, and met our hosts who were super accommodating.


This, is the view from our room -- so. green.


After freshening up, we headed out to find the final two people in our journey, Mark's aunt Robyn and her husband Jay (you may remember them from the St. Tropez leg of our France trip).




After we found them we headed off on foot to explore the city.

Kilkenny. A sleepy, picturesque town with wonderfully colorful buildings.


And, of course, Kilkenny Castle (it was closed so we just walked the grounds)



Stopped for a pint (and fries with poutine!) at The Field.

(via Instagram)

Then had a lovely Italian dinner at La Trattoria

So. Much. Food.


The next morning (after a fantastic nights rest and a hot shower) we all had breakfast (it was included) at the guesthouse while chatting with the other guests and planning our day -- finish seeing Kilkenny, then on to the Rock of Cashel, and from there, on to Dingle.

This, was the "small breakfast" -- which also included yummy french press coffee, breads/muffins, fruit and yogurt.  No one would go hungry here.

I did, in my jet lagged haze, gobble up everything thing on my plate in addition to a divine kiwi yogurt, then realized -- I had no idea what those circles were.  

Blood sausage. 

I ate blood sausage y'all.  And it was actually delicious.  It tasted like sausage (I just assumed they burned one -- not that it was two different types of said sausage).

When in, Ireland.






Once we, ok Mark and his dad (Rex), got directions (on a real paper map no less) all figured out, we were off!

Sun streaked selfie, included.







Live music against the backdrop of the tiny city made for quite an idyllic setting.



The tour, so I'm told, was very interesting. I was too busy playing with this gal to focus.









Meet Cora, my niece.

This little video I captured of her sums up her personality perfectly.

I shall spoil her rotten...




After that, we had lunch at  Fahy's before hitting the road -- next stop, Dingle!!





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