The ultimate, and oftentimes only, accommodation option in Ireland is the B&B. Danny and I had one brief and awkward stay in a Bed and Breakfast in Asheville, NC during our honeymoon. The bed aspect was quaint and comfortable, but we were unprepared for the forced conversation with roaming retirees at breakfast. Six years later, we were willing to try again and we were not disappointed. Most B&Bs in Ireland have a large dining room with several tables where you are served individually. Upon check-in they ask what time you’ll be having breakfast, and sometimes, ask you to select from a menu.
And so upon setting out for the Cliffs of Moher, we were fortified with smoked salmon and eggs, heaping portions of brown bread, and french pressed coffee that held any remnants of jet lag at bay. After 15 winding, green minutes, we walked to the edge of the world and viewed one of the 7 Natural Wonders.
Thanks to Hollywood, many Americans idealize the beauty of Ireland. We know before we even set foot there how the constant, vibrant green will calm us and awaken something wild in us at the same instant. What I was unprepared for is the exotic element of the island. The stark and the lush crashing in together. This is a beauty that only God could design, and it’s no secret that he has a heart for Ireland.
From the Cliffs, we drove through Limerick and stopped briefly in Adare for lunch, as recommended by our host at Dubhlinn House. Our next destination: Killarney National Park.
I had this sense that as we drove south, the skies would clear and the greenery would become even more vibrant. Killarney didn’t let us down.
We hiked to Torc Waterfall, which had enchanted me months before on Pinterest and seemed to promise fairy sightings, if not some sign of elves.
The ferns, vines, moss and darling little wildflowers made us feel as though we were walking through a rainforest as we hiked back through the park.
Killarney National Park was once owned by just one family, who, like everyone with the means, ensconced his wealth and family in a castle. The Emerald Isle seems to awaken the wild in all of us, and therefore, was prone to violent bands of thieves. All the better for our sight-seeing.
Afterwards, we stopped into the city of Killarney for ice cream at Murphy’s. With flavors like sea salt and caramelized brown bread, you really couldn’t go wrong. Irish cows could clearly teach the California bovine a thing or two about happiness, and lucky for us, it rubbed off.
Since the majority of my research was focused on the park, we were unprepared for how amazing Killarney was. It certainly was the youngest and most lively city we visited in Ireland and we vowed to make it a home-base on our next visit to this wonderful country.
After a brief stop at the Gap of Dunloe, we checked into Dingle, ate a fantastic dinner and fell right to sleep. Upon our return to the States, many people asked us about the food in Ireland, often with a grimace that was surely derived from notions of all things boiled, fried and bland. We found, however, that the Irish are farmers, fisherman and gardeners and like their food fresh and local. The sincerity and kindness that we encountered here wove into our experience and left me saying, upon return, that Ireland was indeed my favorite country of those we visited (though that seems nearly a betrayal to France in my heart). After less than 24 hours in Europe, I was simply mesmerized.
Thursday morning we woke early to make a 2pm flight to London. When winding through the Dingle Peninsula, I watched storm clouds sail over the island from miles and miles away, the sun bursting through them and awakening the fields and sky. Just as my hazy mind put together what I very well may see in such circumstances, there it was:
With an aching heart we said goodbye, knowing that the island had stolen a piece of our soul and enchanted our minds to think of its beauties only in the sweetest of rhymes.