Ireland Part 7: Guinness Storehouse, Killiney HIll Park, & Dalkey Castle

Last full day in Ireland! We started off the morning by walking to the Connolly Station for the Luas, so we could take it to the Guinness Storehouse. We booked a morning tour ticket, but it’s self-guided, so it really didn’t matter what time we showed up. I would highly recommend going in the morning, though, because it got more and more crowded the longer we were there.

The storehouse is awesome and well worth the money for the tour. Here are some of the fun facts:

  • Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000-year lease on St. James’s Gate Brewery
  • The brewery purchases 2/3 of the malting barley grown in Ireland each year
  • The water for Guinness comes from the Wicklow Mountains rather than the River Liffey
  • Arthur and Olivia Guinness had 21 (!!!) children. 10 of them survived to adulthood
  • Coopering (making or repairing casks) was a big part of the Guinness company. When an apprentice became a fully qualified cooper, he built a cask, got it in, and then all of his coworkers would fill it with whatever they had on hand and roll it down the street

We visited the tasting room where we got these adorable glasses of Guinness (just the right size for me) and learned the proper way to taste it (breathe in through your nose, sip it, hold it on your tongue, exhale through your nose and swallow). Then Josh attended “Guinness Academy” where you learn how to do the proper pour of Guinness, which should take exactly 119.5 seconds.

I was going to get my pour at the Gravity Bar on the 7th floor, which has a nice panoramic view of the city, but there were approximately 700 people up there, so we stayed just for a picture and then went back downstairs.

I got my pour at one of the restaurant bars on the 5th floor. There was a group of older women who had grabbed straws and put them in their beers, and the bartenders were in the process of taking the straws off the table to prevent more people from doing it. I thought it was hilarious.

We grabbed lunch at the Brewers Dining Hall where I had the bacon, potato, and leek soup, and Josh had the beef stew again. To echo my point about going in the morning, there was a line outside to get in as we were leaving.

We took the Luas back to Connolly (the tram was full of interesting characters) and then bought DART tickets down the coast to Dalkey. The train was relatively empty, and I loved the view as we went down the coast!

Even though we got off at Dalkey, we decided to walk to Killiney Hill Park first. We walked through what I would call the suburbs of Dublin to get there and then headed up the hill. Walking up that hill was the only time I was hot on the entire trip! For once, it was sunny without any wind.

The view from the top was spectacular! I became annoying again with my remarks of “it’s so pretty!” The water is bright turquoise with the only dark patches coming from the clouds overhead.

After hiking down we walked to Dalkey Castle. Even though we’ve already toured 2 other castles, I was drawn to Dalkey because they have period actors! We started off walking through a timeline room where we learned that the lowest class passengers had to help push the train to the station if it ran out of steam. Then we watched a 10-minute video and the tour guide took us around the Abbey.

Then we met the period actors! First there was an archer who took us up to the house where we met the cook. The cook took us on the roof of the house and then brought us back into the house where we met the lady who told us all about how Henry VIII combined the company of barbers with the guild of surgeons to make one profession – barber surgeon. Barber poles got their red and white stripes from barber surgeons hanging the bloody bandages out to dry on poles.

After the tour we took the DART back to Connolly and ordered a pizza on the train. Back at Connolly we walked to a bus stop and caught a bus to the pizza shop. It took a little while to get a bus because the drivers just wave you off and keep driving if the busses are full! Thankfully it wasn’t that long, and we grabbed our pizza and walked to our AirBnb to pack up to head home!

Final pictures:

[envira-gallery id=”819″]


Ireland Part 4: Torc Mountain, Ross Castle, & Downtown Killarney

This was probably my favorite day. After a breakfast of scrambled eggs and oatmeal and juice boxes, we drove to the “upper car park” for for the Torc Mountain hike. Although there is no visitor’s center for Killarney with a map of the trails, a local put together this website which was extremely helpful in finding the trail! There was a little bit of confusion on which way to start on the trail, but once we went over the first bridge, we were all set.

The trail started off on Old Kenmare Road and after a couple of inclines we were in a vast open area where I became extremely annoying to Josh by saying, “It’s so pretty!” incessantly.

Then we hit the right hand turn where we headed up the mountain. The trail was a mix of “sleepers” (railroad ties covered in wire mesh) and rocks. It was actually pretty tame for a hike up a mountain, and I enjoyed stopping to take in the view quite a few times. We got every version of Irish weather on the way up – sun, wind, and rain.

There were quite a few people at the top, and we sat on some rocks to enjoy our snacks and the view of all the lakes. It was the windiest at the top, so we (I) got cold after just a few minutes. We took some photos and then headed down.

The sleepers were easy to walk down, but I’m a bit slow on the rocky paths. At one point this older lady passed us and continue to bounce down the rocky path like a mountain goat. She was so balanced!

It was easy to get back to the car once we were on Old Kenmare Road again, and then we drove to Muckross House, so I could go for a run. I explored a trail near the entrance which led me to to an open field and then down to a lake! It was beautiful. I also got to see the Muckross House from the lakeside, where it looks much more impressive.

After changing back into warmer clothes, we headed to Ross Castle for the tour.

The castle tour was very informative. Here are some of the fun facts we learned:

  • The word loophole comes from the narrow windows that were called loops. They were designed to be easy to shoot arrows out of but difficult to shoot an arrow into
  • The word threshold comes from the stone they would keep in front of doorways to keep the thresh covering the stone floor (to make it softer for sleeping) in the room and not have it track into the stairwell.
  • Stairwells were spiraled up clockwise so defenders (going down the stairs) would be able to use their right hand and force the attackers (coming up the stairs) to use their left hand.
  • You didn’t have to pay taxes on your home if it didn’t have a roof. At one point, the family moved out of the castle and into the mansion they built for themselves. To avoid paying double taxes, they burned the roof off the castle!

After the castle tour, we headed back to glamping for showers before dinner. I still can’t believe how great those showers were. Then we went into downtown for dinner. We walked around, perusing menus posted outside of the various restaurants and settled on Tatler Jack. I got a burger, and Josh got the beef stew (again!).

We walked around the downtown shops including a sweater market. There was a lot of cool stuff in there, but the sweaters were €70-€100! Murphy’s Ice Cream was another stop downtown, and it was good but too expensive for me to fully recommend.

We spent the rest of the evening playing cards on the porch before heading to bed!

Some other photos from the hike:

[envira-gallery id=”738″]




Ireland Part 2: Cliffs of Moher and Doolin Cave

After a solid 11 hours of sleep, it was time to have our first full day in Ireland! Fueled by the delicious muesli and yogurt provided by our host, we headed out to the Cliffs of Moher via the narrow, curvy roads with a way too high speed limit.

There was quite a crowd to park, but I was confident the crowds wouldn’t be hiking as far as we were, and it wasn’t crowded at all once we got off the paved path and onto the full trail.

The cliffs are stunning.

Side note: The first 10ish photos I took with my DSLR were blue since I forgot to adjust the white balance from the newborn shoot I did a few weeks ago. A good reminder to always look at your pictures!

There is a lot of wind walking along the trail which at times stopped me in my tracks, more out of fear than it actually blowing me over. Thankfully the wind is never/rarely blowing you toward the edge, but it’s still a little scary to have a semi-unpredictable force working against you.

There are 2 directions you can choose from the visitor’s center, and we chose to hike toward Hag’s Head which was just over 3 miles away. On one side you have the cliffs and the ocean, and on the other side you have wide open fields and occasionally a town in the distance. I also saw the biggest cow ever.

It started raining on our way back to the Visitor’s Center, so we stopped in there to get a snack (plus hot chocolate for me because I was cold – this is a running theme). The forecast showed the rain wasn’t going to stop soon, so we decided to drive to Doolin and check out what was there. The trail along the cliffs extends to Doolin as well, so we knew we could always hike more if the weather cleared up.

The main attraction in Doolin is the cave, so we decided to do that tour. They also have a short nature trail where Josh made friends with this goat.

We took the cave tour with all Canadians, funny enough, 2 women and a family of 6 with 4 young girls. Our tour guide’s name was Fergus, and he was great!

The cave was pretty interesting, and the main talking point is that it has the 3rd largest stalactite in the world. You’re led into the cavern where the stalactite is in all dark, and then they turn on the lights as a big reveal. Pretty cool even if it’s weird looking.

After climbing the 125 steps to exit the cave we went into Doolin to find dinner and ate at Gus O’Connor’s Pub. The area we were in was known for its cattle, so I got a steak sandwich that was delicious, and Josh got the beef stew (the first of many times).

Satisfied with the day’s adventures, we went back to the AirBnb where I had better luck with getting the electric shower to give me a consistent temperature, and then ended the night by watching a movie in the chill out room.

Here are my favorite photos from the Cliffs:

[envira-gallery id=”678″]