Monday, March 14:
My sister planned a full day “out” on Monday, just us, my parents, her youngest and her (while my nieces went to school and brother-in-law worked). She had mapped out a scenic driving route, with several stops along the way.
The drive for the first hour or so was just beautiful!!!
We drove through some little towns:
But it was mostly all rural, hilly terrain with water and rivers and/or ocean views mixed in in many places.
We passed many, MANY sheep!! It’s funny how they are just out along the side of the road. Sometimes they cut it a little close, in my opinion. 😬
In some regions of Ireland there are more stone walls than others. These are very old and kinda cool to see. 🙂
My favorite spot along the route is this spot where the hills kind of converge and there is a big lake in front of them. It’s just so beautiful- I’m not sure the pictures do it justice.
Here, we pulled over and got out of the car for some better pictures (and to just enjoy the view up close).
I was riding in my sister’s car, but I snapped a pic of my parents in the rental car. My dad has successfully been driving on the opposite side of the road, even driving manual (which he normally doesn’t, anymore) and shifting with the “wrong” hand. Haha. It is different!!! I *think* I could do it (in an automatic), but I would definitely be nervous for a while. Even crossing the streets, I have to keep thinking about which way the cars will be coming from. Old habits die hard! Our brains are just soooo hard- wired for right sided driving.
The boys have gotten into taking lots of their own pictures, and have been texting some to their friends or making notes in their phones to remember things about what we are doing.
A little more driving… and then we stopped off briefly at this pretty little waterfall:
Before too much longer, we made it to our main destination.
This place is gorgeous. It’s one of Ireland’s most iconic sights. The castle is beautiful, but the whole setting is incredible, and I just love how it’s nestled down into the bottom of the hillside.
Without getting too into the history, basically it’s a huge home that was built in the 1800’s by a wealthy Englishman (but born to Irish parents) and his Irish wife. The couple had honeymooned in the region, the wife loved it and said she wanted a home there! So, I guess when the wife said “jump”, the man said “how high?” and built this massively impressive home. Maybe I should try asking Ivan for more things and see what I get! 😁
The grounds have winding trails and paths along the water, and there’s a Victorian garden too (which we didn’t see- it was rather chilly out, plus not really the best garden season quite yet).
The couple actually didn’t even live in the home for too many years, because the wife tragically died at the age of only 45. Since the 1920’s, the residence and grounds have been turned into a monastery for Benedictine nuns (to this day! Nuns still actively live and work here).
If you’re interested, here is the timeline of events:
We paid to get inside (can only tour the lower level, unfortunately) and walked through the various (beautiful) rooms. The views from the big windows were stunning!! They definitely picked an amazing location for their castle.
I would have liked to have an audio guide or something to learn more! They did have placards and info but I felt I could have used even more. Oh well.
After touring the house, we walked down the path to the Chapel.
Mitchell Henry, the owner, had the chapel built after his wife died, in her honor.
Down the path a little further we came to the mausoleum where both the husband and wife’s remains are buried.
Just behind this, there is a big stone that, per legend, is called the Giant’s Wishing Stone. I don’t recall the whole story, but basically if you stand with your back against the stone and throw three stones up over your head (clearing the top of the stone) and make a wish, it will come true.
We had lunch at the adjacent cafe (a pretty basic “tourist location cafeteria”), but it got the job done and was perfectly tasty.
A few more pics of this beautiful place, and then we continued on our drive!
More driving with random stops along the way:
The next destination was supposed to be the ruins of an old castle.
We parked and walked the winding path to the front….
(A random dog from the neighboring farm jumped the stone fence and joined us…. I kept joking that he was saying, “And on your left, we have the entrance to the castle…” as our little tour guide. 😉
But then, bad news. The castle was closed!! We drove out of our way to get here (and according to the internet, it was open…), but turns out they are doing some renovations and it wasn’t planning to re-open until Thursday (St. Patrick’s Day). Boooo.
The farm next door:
We got into a long conversation with the owner, who told us all about the very pregnant white horse. (Said she’d likely deliver that evening or the next day). My 2 year old nephew decided to have a massive tantrum right then over the fact that he couldn’t go IN the castle. hehe.
We just stretched our legs and chatted with the Irish horse owner while my nephew waited out his time out in the car. 😄
By this time it was getting later in the afternoon and we had quite a long drive back. We took a very “off the beaten path” route home over a mountain- which had amazing views the whole way! The road was very, very remote and desolate most of the time. Definitely not a road most other tourists would ever travel!! I didn’t get the best photos, but in some spots you could see the whole ocean out behind us (hard to get pics out rear window though).
It was quite windy and curvy and Ethan ended up falling asleep- as did my little nephew. Thank goodness, because the kids were getting a little queasy I think from all the bumpy, curvy country roads.
Finally- we made it back to Westport, where we needed to stop for a couple of grocery items.
The kids came inside too too check out an Irish store. This was a Lidl, so basically like an Aldi.
Then we just had a little drive (15 minutes or so) back to my sister’s house, where my brother-in-law made burgers on the grill.
The rest of the evening we all just relaxed at home… I think I read to the girls again, the boys played around on their phones a little and we just hung out and talked. The boys have been playing a lot of chess too with their uncle. 🙂
It was a full, busy day, so I think we all felt a little sleepy/lazy by night time. 🙂