Since I was a kid and watched movies like First Knight and Sword and the Stone, I have always thought about how awesome it would be to live in a castle. Naturally, when I started planning this trip out, I knew we just had to stay in a castle: to live like Kings!
I found Lough Eske after browsing through many castle booking websites. Side note… there are a ton of castles to stay in. Give it a whirl. This castle was fitted to add enough guest rooms, but it is still a castle. We arrived very late, so we did not see the grounds before bed. The rooms were very comfortable, and the staff was “brilliant.” Breakfast in the morning was one of the better on the trips. I got a chance to wander the grounds after eating, and I was impressed.
We piled back into Becky and headed to Sligo to pick up the WAW. As it turns out, the whole island is beautiful, so limited the beautiful countryside to just the coastline and the WAW seemed silly. We also discovered that in order to truly take in the wild Atlantic Way, you need more than a couple days. It seems to be something for hiking or biking. We took a break in Westport, so we could have our daily spot of whiskey
We proceeded from there to head to Galway. The Loughs (lakes) on each side were beyond words. The colour green gained a new definition on this trip for me. The Coastline is absolutely spectacular.
Finally we made it to Galway. Our hotel, The Park House, was right smack in the middle of the city, next to Eyre Square. Once we got parking squared away and the whole “double rooms are for one person” issue that kept recurring fixed, I was ready to check the city out. The guys sacked out for a nap, and I ventured out. I picked up a Claddagh Ring, since they originated in Galway it just felt right. I was able to catch sunset over the Galway Cathedral the headed along the river.
From there I hit up The Salt House. This is a pub that is run by The Galway Bay Brewery. If you know me, then you know I am going to sniff out local brews anywhere I go. This place hit the spot. After going through a paddle of GBB brews, I looked up on the shelf and saw a bottle of Brewdog Sink the Bismarck. I had heard mixed reviews, but with the limited availability and high price tag, this is certainly a whale. After Stephen pulled it off the shelf, I saw the distinct penguin behind it. Yep… Tactical Nuclear Penguin. Two whales in one stop, and that doesn’t happen every day.
It was time to head back, wake the guys up, and try one of these. We decided to crack open the 41% IPA, Sink the Bismarck. This is not a beer; it is an experience. I could feel it stripping my teeth.
We were now ready for the night. We headed up to Shop Street to catch the walking streets. If you have ever seen PS I Love You, then you should recall a song called Galway Girl. I was trying to find myself a girl in Galway. We stopped in a little pub off Quay Street to listen to some Gaelic music. Of course along the way, we were enjoying some pints. Finally we made it back to The Salt House. I was determined to try all the rest of the GBB beers. So we ordered up 4 more paddles to split. It was then when two blondes walked in the bar. Elke and Kylie, as we came to learn, were in town from California to celebrate their birthday.
We struck up conversations and shared some delicious beers. We headed out and went over to Blue Note and a few other places. It turned out that Galway had a few jumping spots even for a Tuesday. We headed over to Roisin Dubh, and the night pushed on. I thought the glasses were slippery up in Belfast. Well Mit decided to prove to us just how slippery they were in Galway. I think it was good, because the floor was looking pretty dry before he grabbed his first pint.
It was an amazing night, we finished it up with some burgers across the street at Vinnies. Then we headed back to the hotel. My friend at work, Mary, strongly recommended Galway, and I will forever listen to her recommendations. Galway was great.
The Cliffs of Moher should be on your list to visit. I don’t care where you are staying in Ireland…. GO HERE. They live up to the hype. Everyone talks about how beautiful they are and that looking out over the rocks and seeing the Atlantic is inspiring. In my mind, I thought, “pish posh, I have seen a coastline before.” But I hadn’t seen a coast like this.
We went up O’Brien’s Tower to get the full view. I will warn you big guys out there: the stairwell is very VERY narrow. I also recommend a sweater. And probably a scarf. It is very chilly and windy out there on the Cliffs.
After that we piled back in Becky and headed south.
We had been warned not to stop in Limerick, and I can see why. It seems to be almost stuck in Medieval times. It was beautiful, but it was very industrial and dark. Almost like a haze followed us while we were there.
We finally made it to Cork. Sadly we missed the window to visit Castle Blarney and Jameson in Middleton. But we got into our hotel and got settled. Once again, of course, the rooms had one bed in them. I guess at least we are consistent, right?
The River Lee was nice, but to be honest it was probably the lowest hotel in our whole trip. But anyhow, we headed out and went to Franciscan Well Brewery. They had a lovely little pizza over out back. We were told from there that we needed to check out the Oliver Plunkett area. Turns out there is a pub called The Oliver Plunkett in the Oliver Plunkett Street area. We learned that this is a normal thing to do in Ireland. There was some awesome live music
Then we wandered down Stab Alley…. Yeah… real comforting, right? We hit Crane Lane and Hi-B, but neither of them grabbed our attention. So back to the hotel. In the hotel lounge we relaxed and met some Americans who were in town for holiday. Sure enough the waitress came over and Antoine dropped to one knee. I thought he was going to propose. Turns out he just wanted to properly enjoy his cold Smirnoff Ice. #PlayLikeAChampion
The Road to Dublin
The next day we were heading to Dublin. We still had a couple stops. Of course we had to hit Waterford to get some crystal.
The city was very grey and hazy, but it was vibrant. I guess it could be that it was the day before St Patrick’s, but who knows.
The last stop was Kilkenny, to check out Smithwick’s.
The beer was lackluster compared to the other, but it was cool to check it out.
The Atlantic and Southern part of Ireland, did not disappoint at all. They whet my appetite for some real time in Dublin. Between high quality whiskey and beer, beautiful picturesque scenery, had made crystal, and ages of history, I was very impressed with Ireland so far.
Only one last part left in the saga of Ireland.