After a (five hour) train ride from London to Holyhead, a boat ride across the Irish Sea and an eventful bus ride into Dublin, my father and I spent a week driving around on a trip through Ireland, and the Emerald Isle quickly became one of my favorite places in the world.
Yes, Ireland is just as blustery, green and drunk as you think it is. It is also infinitely more beautiful. Truly, this is a place that is just as beautiful when it’s sunny as it is when it is cloudy; just as beautiful when skies are clear as it is when you’re driving on rainy roads dotted with sheep.
After Guinness-ing and eating heartier food than I deserved in Dublin, we drove down to Cork to pop by the Ballymaloe Cookery School to learn how to make green soup even a little bit palatable. We played mini-golf (in hiking boots and a rain coat, no less) and drank a lot of wine and whiskey in the sunshine. We also giggled at a particularly loquacious dinner server, and you can imagine how hilarious it was to watch my dad giggle.
Before leaving County Cork, we made our way up to the Jameson Distillery (wouldn’t it be amazing to live near that many barrels of whisky?!) and to the Blarney Stone. That stone looked a little too smooth and worn, so we just took a picture. It was still a beautiful day, and Springsteen still provided the soundtrack. Day: still perfect.
We stayed in Moy House in Lahinch, County Clare. Moy House was my favorite spot of the entire trip: a house on a hill with a view of the sea with incredible food and some of the nicest whiskey imaginable. I remember every breakfast and every dinner service I was lucky enough to experience there.
Yes, Irish breakfasts are just as perfect as you think they are. Poached eggs, grilled potatoes and tomatoes were the stuff of my dreams for weeks to come. Unfortunately, the only breakfast tradition I’ve been able to keep up is the milk in my tea.
Before leaving Lahinch, we tried out the famous course–at least, my dad did. I happily occupied the 19th hole and befriended a man named Paddy O’Brien who taught me about Irish football and Munster rugby. (This story is 100 percent real and I wish Paddy and I had swapped numbers because he was a gem.)
This was also the town where my father and I met a rather eccentric Irishwoman named Ann who was in town to celebrate her uncle’s 80th birthday. She’d just popped down to the pub to pick up some chips, but she ended up getting drunk and eating dinner with us instead. We got a fair bit of her life story before the bartender called her a cab.
Then we made our way up to Connemara where, after an afternoon of avoiding rogue road-sheep in the pouring rain, we stayed at Ballynahinch Castle. This castle was one of the most picturesque places I’ve ever stayed, even if the interior decoration choices were a bit… eclectic. It didn’t matter. I got to stay in a castle and I walked around a magical lake and I got to be a princess, so it was great.
This trip was magical. Ireland is magical.