Friday was a rainy day (which I guess you’d expect of Ireland) the windows fogged up and it was generally miserable. Our first stop was at Clonmacnoise which is the ruins of an old monastry and is littered with golden age celtic crosses marking graves. It was really beautiful and a bit spooky actually! We arrived into Galway at 3pm and had free time exploring the town. It was a cute town but we ended up in a coffee shop to keep warm and dry! That night the group went out to a pub for dinner – 3 other paddywagon tours were there at the same time so it was a massive group. We stayed for the live band and a few drinks, making our way back to the hostel before we were to turn into pumpkins.
Saturday our group of 14 (3 boys total!) took off at 9:30am – and you’ll be pleased to hear we had wonderful weather! We travelled to the Bog of Allen and passed by various castles stopping for many photo opportunities. The bog is made up of peat which if I understand correctly is formed by sediment on the swamp land that hardens into a black substance as it has nowhere to drain, and it is used as a fuel for fire etc. We saw small piles stacked by a farmer to dry and also larger areas which are “bog-farmed” by a factory. We then came across a flooded road and watched with amusement as a few brave cars made their way through but we heard that the local car place has towed 13 cars out in the last day! Our driver didn’t want to risk it as he had spent a few hours the previous day picking up a tour who’s bus’ engine had blown up by driving through a flood!
Later we passed through Burren which is home to an eerily haunting limestone landscape. It is so strange seeing miles of stone, some with massive cracks in it and even hills of stone in the distance as well. We stopped at Doolin for lunch and then continued on to the Cliffs of Moher. The cliffs stretch for 8km and rise 214 metres above the Atlantic ocean, they were breathtaking and we were so lucky to have good weather and really enjoyed a good 90 mins exploring. Niki was brave (or stupid) and went over the tourist site boundary (along with many many others) and got a snap of a crazy woman sitting with her feet over the edge. There were “Good Samaritan” signs everywhere… thankfully no one decided to throw themselves off while we were there! That afternoon we took a car ferry and then made our way to Killarney for the night where we were treated to some stunning views. Killarney is the start and end for people doing the Ring of Kerry and is just so gorgeous. We went out for a pub dinner and then on to a bar for bargain drink specials before heading to hear some live music by a 3 piece band. It wasn’t river dance or anything but super fun hearing some traditional stuff and watching the local drunken crowds doing their irish dancing (or trying to!). Our hostel was pretty crap this night – with 12 of us in the same room (Niki being the only boy again)! Next morning (Sunday, last day of tour) we were away at 9am and again lucky to have great weather. Very clear and crisp and a perfect morning to see the massive Killarney park by horsedrawn carriage! The park was so beautiful and peaceful and just how you imagine Irish landscape. We saw wild deer including a very large stag which was very special.
We did a drive through tour of Cork and then continued on to the Blarney Castle to kiss the Blarney stone. I had never heard of this before but kissing the stone is mean to give you the gift of the gab - Just what I need! The grounds and castle were really lovely and kissing the tone was an experience in itself as you have to lie upside down with your head hanging back and your get held there by an employee so you don’t fall – and it’s quite high off the ground!
After that we had a couple hours of solid driving (and passenger sleeping) before arriving at the ruins of Cahir Castle. Again a gorgeous setting and we had lots of fun exploring and taking photos. We arrived back into Dublin around 6pm and headed straight home to Debra’s for dinner, dvd and hairwashing!
Monday after our tour we had a much needed sleep-in before heading to town, my plan was to hit the shops! Niki spent the afternoon at the Guinness Factory (surprise surprise) while Debra and I shopped til we dropped. We each came away with a pair of boots and matching grey skinny jeans – my first pair ever! I feel so fashionable it’s hilarious. At 4ish we met back up with Niki in a café called “The Queen of Tarts”, this place wins many awards and I can see why. We each had a scrummy treat, mine being a slice of baileys and chocolate chip cheesecake = divine! What a perfect way to end such a great long weekend.
After many hugs and a nearly-tearful goodbye (who knows when we will see Debra again!) it was time to catch a bus and head to the airport for our 8pm flight back to London.