Ireland

I spent the last week on a road trip dotting across the southern half of cloudy Ireland.

Touring with longtime friends Michael Butler and James Spadola, I knocked off a couple items on my list. We drove more than 600 miles and roughly hit this map. Our itinerary here and expenses here.

See highlights of the tour below.

We started in Dublin (a city where nearly a quarter of the country’s population lives), went west to Galway, a few stops south through Limerick toward Cork and Blarney and then back north to Dublin.

In Dublin, we visited the Temple Bar area, the historic Dublin Castle surroundings, St. Stephen’s Green and other neighborhoods. Lots of walking, pubs and, yes, drinking to address necessary stereotypes, cultural norms and the Irish heritage we all shared.

Our first formal tourist stop, after a quiet neighborhood pub, we took to the home of Jameson. Not only did we take the standard Jameson Distillery tour, but I volunteered for a whiskey taste-testing and we had a couple whiskeys to kick the night off.

Music was a favorite of mine, including that which we found walking through famed St. Stephen’s Green, a public park in the city.

A couple people I met the night before recommended stopping at Leo Burdock’s, called Dublin’s oldest fish ‘n chips shop.

Of course, we took the Guiness Storehouse tour, which is certainly touristy but the overlook bar atop was a genuine experience.

After leaving Dublin’s reach, we visited Howth, one a small fishing village now a beautiful, water-driven suburb.

We took a little video.

And ate a delicious seafood meal of mussels, shrimp, crawfish and calimari.

Driving west, we passed by some smaller castles, for which we naturally stopped:

We had great joy in our travels in between our destinations.

We kicked off our visit to Galway by dropping in on a game of hurling as part of the annual Gaelic Games.

A second Irish breakfast at Fibber Magee’s on the square before leaving Galway.

We drove through the Burren National Park, making a few stops along the way.

Our quick tour of the famed Cliffs of Moher were one of the more incredible sights I’ve ever seen, standing more than 700 feet tall from the ocean below.

Before we got there, we had a traditional Irish snack.

Then the sights.

And banter

And cow feeding (in which James tries to feed Bessie dirt, because he thinks it’s grass)

Outside Cork is Blarney with its famed castle and, yes, the Blarney Stone, which you kiss for a chance at eloquence.

I had two favorite experiences, one being driving our manual Toyota Corolla on the left side of the road from the right side of the car:

The other favorite experience being trad singing, trying to catch up to the familiar Irish ballads in pubs, both touristy and not.

This is one song, Dirty Old Town, we heard quite a bit, being performed by the Pogues, an Irish band from the 1980s whose exported rock stylings I’ve dug.

Wild Rover is another classic we heard more than any other and Hand Me Down My Bible is one we heard a couple times, though this a particularly poppy-sounding one.


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