8 Days in Ireland

Mar 26

Robert and I always joke about the soundtracks to our trips. When we were in Italy, it was “God’s Plan” and “Him and I” by Halsey & G-Eazy. Without a doubt, the soundtrack to our 8 days in Ireland was news about the Coronavirus. As we road tripped across the country, we listened to Irish radio hosts trying to navigate between reporting what’s going on, encouraging people to wash their hands, and finding other things to talk about.

It’s hard to believe now, but while we were in Ireland (March 2 – 12), social distancing was not a phrase anyone was using. When we left, the virus was mostly in China, but it was spreading quickly in Italy. I’m in a few different travel Facebook groups, and there were a lot of people starting to talk about cancelling trips to Asia and Italy. Ireland had zero cases, so we committed to going ahead with our plans. I mean, we had bought the tickets in June and made ALL the plans. About two days before our flight, Ireland reported their first case of COVID-19 in Belfast.

Italy went on full lockdown on our fourth day abroad. The Irish radio stations started talking out cancelling St. Patrick’s Day gatherings and the Green Party wanted to start closing pubs and restaurants at 6:00PM. We had been full on Grey’s Anatomy scrubbing our hands and wiping everything down with Clorox wipes, so I didn’t feel scared. Scared would come when we got home!

Aside from all of the talk and toilet paper shortage, our trip was completely normal. Well, to be fair, our flight from Dulles to Heathrow was super empty. I felt very spoiled — every person on the AirBus could have their own row, and there were still empty rows. I doubt we’ll ever have another flight like that!

So, since I haven’t been able to see my family since our return (Robert and I are in full quarantine from his mom and my sister with the babies), I’m sharing all the photos and stories here so my mom can see them!

Day 1

Arriving in Dublin

We got to Dublin after a nice overnight flight through Heathrow on Wednesday morning. We managed to get on a bus, find our hotel, and stash our bags there. I think we nearly sleep walked over to Grafton Street and St. Stephen’s Green to take in the sights and find some food. After walking around the park, we had lunch in St. Stephen’s Market. It felt a little odd to have lunch in a mall, but . . . this was not just any mall!

8 days in Ireland
8 days in Ireland
St. Stephen's Green

Once we got the email that our room was ready at about 1:00, we practically ran back for a nap. That nap lasted about 6 hours. You gotta do what ya gotta do.

It was later in the evening when we headed to dinner, so I expected Temple Bar to be hoppin’. It was nowhere near as busy as I expected! I mean, it was a Wednesday night during the shoulder season AND the start of a serious virus spreading. So . . . that was probably a good thing!

8 days in Ireland
Temple Bar
8 days in Ireland
Temple Bar

Day 2

Exploring Dublin

The number one thing I wanted to see in Dublin was, of course, the Long Room at Trinity College. Luckily, a lovely woman in the Ireland Tips for Travelers Facebook group sent her travel tips to me. She recommended getting tickets for the earliest entry, then going straight up the stairs to the library instead of through the Book of Kells exhibit. So that’s exactly what I did, and we were treated to an absolutely empty library for about 5 minutes. It was MAGICAL.

8 days in Ireland
long room trinity college
8 days in Ireland
long room trinity college
8 days in Ireland
long room trinity college
8 days in Ireland
long room trinity college

After ogling the books, we had a late breakfast at La Pain Quotidien because it was just so darn beautiful inside. Everything was very fresh and organic, and I had the best waffle ever.

We booked a tour of Dublin Castle at 2:00, so we walked over to St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Christ Church Cathedral. I actually heard some British guys talking about how “Dublin looks more like ‘Cranesville.'” They weren’t wrong — there seemed to be cranes all over the skyline!

8 days in Ireland
St. Patrick's Cathedral

I did notice that a LOT of places in Ireland are very kid friendly with these really cool play parks. Even the little restroom and snack bar area at a waterfall we visited had a huge playground next to it! This was the playground at St. Patrick’s.

8 days in Ireland
St. Patrick's Cathedral

It feels a little odd to have a keg in a cathedral, but the Guinness family actually funded major, lifesaving restorations to St. Patrick’s in the 19th century.

The story of the Door of Restoration was really interesting. These two families were fighting, so one guy ran into the church for safety during a duel. They apparently negotiated through the door for hours before they needed to finally trust each other to come to an agreement. One guy hacked a hole in the door so he could stick his arm through and prove that he trusted the other guy not to hack it off. He “chanced his arm,” so that’s where the saying comes from.

Here’s the struggle of photographing Robert when he hasn’t had lunch:

It may look like this is a beautiful marble or stone church, but it’s actually all WOOD! Since they built Dublin Castle over an underground river, the construction had to be light. Aside from the floors I believe, everything is wood!

The pipes of this organ were removed to keep things light, but the beautiful face got to stay.

8 days in Ireland
dublin castle
8 days in Ireland
dublin castle

Day 3

Glendalough, Powerscourt House & Gardens, and Wicklow Way

On our third day, we got our rental car early and headed out of the city! Robert was pretty nervous about driving on the wrong side of the road and the wrong side of the car, but I had all the faith. He did an amazing job!

Robert was a great driver, but I made some mistakes navigating. I mentioned in the shorter itinerary post that I should have taken us to Powerscourt House & Gardens THEN Glendalough because it was on the way. It cost us some time, but I’m glad we got to take our time in Glendalough. It’s a beautiful place! Plus, we got to scoot in on a sheepdog demonstration that a guy was doing for a tour group. We needed something to be free! haha

We saw SO many rainbows on this trip!

8 days in Ireland
glendalough upper lake
8 days in Ireland
glendalough upper lake
8 days in Ireland
glendalough upper lake

Powerscourt House and Gardens was really beautiful. I wish we had more time to do the audio tour! The house had some really cool stories that we looked up later. If you ever go, I highly recommend doing the audio tour! And it would be even more stunning later in the Spring when the gardens are in bloom.

8 days in Ireland
Powerscourt House
8 days in Ireland
powerscourt house
8 days in Ireland
powerscourt house

We were in a bit of a rush at Powerscourt House because we wanted to get to the famous Powerscourt Waterfall before sunset! It is MASSIVE! And once again, we were almost the only people in sight. We saw two other couples while we were there.

8 days in Ireland
powerscourt waterfall
8 days in Ireland
powerscourt waterfall

Day 4

Kilkenny Castle and The Rock of Cashel

After closing down the Powerscourt Waterfall, we drove on to Kilkenny and stayed at the Pembroke Kilkenny Hotel. Our room had a view of our next adventure, Kilkenny Castle!

8 days in Ireland
kilkenny castle
8 days in Ireland
kilkenny castle

When we finished our tour, we had to rush back to the hotel to grab our bags and get to Enterprise to switch out our rental car. Our original Toyota Corolla Hybrid had a pretty bad vibration to it. Luckily, Enterprise happened to have ONE automatic car come back in that morning. Our new Opel Corsa didn’t QUITE have the same get up and go as our Toyota, but we were glad to be on the motorways without the crazy shake! Enterprise and My Irish Cousin handled the whole thing beyond well for us, so we would happily recommend them to anyone!

Once that was all sorted, we were on the road again to the Rock of Cashel. It was something I probably would have skipped, but it was right off the road on our way to next stop, so we figured, why not? As soon as we saw it from the road, I was SO glad we were stopping! It looked so cool!

8 days in Ireland
rock of cashel
8 days in Ireland
rock of cashel

It was SO windy and cold on the hill, so we walked through the rain to this cute little restaurant in Cashel, Ladyswell for a break. Everyone who came in was a regular, and they were all greeted and served by name. It was perfect and delicious. We also complimented them on their playlist — it was a fascinating mix of American hip hop, country, and a little Aaron Lewis.

That night we made the mistake (well, I made the mistake — I pick all of the hotels!) of staying at this bed and breakfast. It’s known for the award-winning restaurant inside. If you know me though, you know I’m entirely too weird about food, so having this very expensive, very fancy four course dinner wasn’t really my thing. Robert wasn’t into it either, so we ventured down into the little town to see what we could find.

Guys, there was nothing. We passed two pubs, both had small groups of really cranky looking dudes inside watching football. It was not inviting. Then there was a Spar, which is like Sheetz with way more stuff. We went in there to grab some water and snacks. Then there was a Fry Mac’s, which was a take out kebob shop. Robert said it was delicious, but I think he was trying to make me feel better for picking the weirdest place to stay! I’ve never felt more out of place!

When we called down to the front desk later that night to ask about breakfast, the guy answered and said, “The fire is on, come down for a drink.” Then he hung up. It was the friendliest demand we’ve ever heard, so we went. Sitting by the fire was really nice, but again, we felt so out of place!

I’ve always wanted to stay at a quirky bed and breakfast a la Gilmore Girls and Stars Hollow, but this was not the vibe I expected! We made the best of it just laughing it off and entertaining each other. That was actually the night we watched the farewell to Alex episode of Grey’s. HAHA

Also to be fair, we probably messed up by not experiencing the famous restaurant because our complimentary breakfast was divine. Everything was fresh — they actually grow a lot of their herbs and produce in the back garden. In the end, it was affordable, funny, and definitely memorable.

Day 5

Stay at Dromoland Castle

Staying at the little bed and breakfast outside of Limerick was a mere stop along the way to the main event of the trip: staying at Dromoland Castle.

While I researching for this trip, staying at a castle eased its way into my top three priorities. At first I was like, “No, that’s a bit too fancy, it’s too much.” Then I read about falconry schools, and I just knew we had to try it. Robert has always thought falcons were so cool, so I knew he would LOVE this. And since I’m a little obsessed with architecture and castles, I decided . . . TREAT YO SELF.

As soon as we stepped into the lobby of Dromoland Castle, we were royalty. A spry gentleman named Aidan rushed out to grab all of our things and park the car for us. I explained to the front desk lady that we assumed our room wouldn’t be ready, but we were happy to leave our luggage in the car until after our hawk walk at 11:00AM. She was like, “Oh no, no. We’ll give you a complimentary upgrade to a deluxe room that’s ready now so you have a moment to freshen up first.” So Aidan escorted to our deluxe room.

I didn’t notice until later, but the lobby had loads of Barbour Wellington boots out that you could borrow. We definitely should have done that because our hawk walk was a bit muddy! But I mean . . . how thoughtful?!

Our hawk walk started by meeting Michael, the man, and Brian, the hawk!

8 days in Ireland
dromoland castle
hawk walk

Michael gave us gloves, and for the next hour, we learned so much about falconry and the “raptors,” as they call them. We learned that when they were filming Jurassic Park, the used the way hawks walk to emulate how the CGI raptors walk. We also learned that Michael’s brother was a falconer at Dromoland, and he took Laura Dern on a hawk walk!

8 days in Ireland
dromoland castle
hawk walk

After walking the grounds with Brian, we took him back to the mews where the raptors and owls live. We got to meet the Peregrin falcons that Robert has always loved! And here is where Ashley Jacobs may want to stop reading because . . . we also met owls. 😉

This lil’ looker is PICKLES! Pickles looks a little sketch here, but we got to hold him, and he immediately loved Robert. He wanted to peck him and sit on his head, which is apparently a good thing. We wanted to take Pickles home, and Michael said he hears that a lot. He’s ADORABLE.

8 days in Ireland
dromoland castle hawk walk
8 days in Ireland
dromoland castle hawk walk

My favorite story from talking to Michael was about his brother. So Michael picked up falconry because his brother was already doing hawk walks at Dromoland. He mentioned that his brother lives in Florida now, so we were like “Why Florida, of all the places??” And he said that was where his wife is from. I said, “Oh, wow. How did they meet?” He smiled and said, “Well, she came on a hawk walk.”

Of course, I thought that was the cutest thing I’ve heard in my lifetime. We explained that we work in weddings, so we’re always super into those stories. He said, “Yeah so they got married here at the castle, and one of the falcons flew in with the rings.” When you get married at Dromoland, you get the option to have a hawk fly to someone with your rings! I see a vow renewal in our future. haha

This is the little pergola where they have outdoor ceremonies.

8 days in Ireland
dromoland castle

After some lunch in the Gallery, we went down to the clubhouse to borrow bicycles. There are paths all around the golf course, so we went on a little adventure. I may have taken the adventure off road a bit because you know, I have to see everything. 🙂

That evening, while Robert took a nap, I read my book by a massive fireplace while it poured outside. I also crept around the nearly empty castle and found their wedding reception hall, of course. I only ran into one person, a chef. He was coming out of a door while I came around a corner. I fully believe we scared the hell out of each other, but he still recovered with a very polite, “How are you this evening?”

After dinner, we had drinks in the old library turned cocktail lounge while a guitarist played and sang in the background. Some French couples agonized over choosing the right whiskey (from the very, very top shelf) while a group of British ladies made dirty jokes. It was absolutely perfect.

Day 6

A Rainy Arrival in Galway

After a marvelous breakfast in the formal dining room of our castle, it was time to say goodbye! The weather was supposed to be really bad for the next few days because of some annoying storm front coming through, but we thought we could handle it. We had planned to see the Cliffs of Moher on our way to Galway on this day. Even though it was rainy from the start, we figured we would give it a try.

It’s important to note that I did call the Cliffs of Moher visitor’s center that morning. A nice lady told me that the weather was abysmal. It was super foggy, rainy, and windy, and she didn’t recommend visiting. We probably should have listened! haha

Fueling up our little Corsa was quite the experience . . . for Robert’s wallet. In Ireland, they sell fuel by the liter, not the gallon. It cost more to fuel up this little car than it costs to fuel up Robert’s big trucks at home.

8 days in Ireland
driving in ireland

So, in the wind and rain, we drove into Doolin. It’s a very cute little town with a pub and hotels and a visitor’s center. Along with a couple of tour bus groups, we had hot drinks and food at Fitzpatrick’s Pub.

When we got out of the car here, I couldn’t even get a breath in for the wind in my face. If you opened the car door too quickly, it would blow back right out of your hand. We drove up to Doolin’s Pier to get nice and close to the ocean to see how bad it really was. You couldn’t see a THING! It was freezing, and there was more wind than I’d ever experienced before.

I have a really hard time making decisions on the fly and changing plans. However, that was the whole point of renting a car: we could change plans in whatever way we needed! We decided to head into Galway, explore the city, then see if the weather looked better for our last two days in Ireland.

The road to Galway is something else, even if you don’t take the Wild Atlantic Way! Here is Corkscrew Hill. It’s shaped like a paper clip.

The weather in Galway was not much better than it was on the Cliffs, but there WAS shelter! I had a few things on my list I wanted to see, so we braved the wind and very cold rain. Our first stop was Dough Bros Pizza, this place I had read about online. They have a great story and a really cool atmosphere. I thought it was delicious, and I loved the whole vibe!

Our next stop was Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop AKA my version of heaven. This shop is MASSIVE, and there are booked crammed into every imaginable surface in the most haphazard but organized way. It was the absolute best shelter from the storm I could have imagined!

8 days in Ireland
charlie byrnes bookshop
galway

That night, we checked into our AirBnB in Oranmore. I thought it was cool to stay in this house right on the ocean, but I do regret that we didn’t stay in the center of Galway. Oranmore is about 20 – 30 minutes from the center of Galway because the traffic is a little heavy. It’s beautiful, but because of the bad weather, we never got to enjoy sitting out by the sea.

However, Brenda, our AirBnB host, was just such a breath of fresh air. We rain into her right as we pulled in because she brings a breakfast tray in every evening so you have it in the morning. She was just so bright and positive. After spending the whole day wet and cold, she had all the warmth we needed. And our very private room was so nice and perfect for us.

Day 7

Kylemore Abbey & Connemara National Park

This day was a big highlight for both of us. I think it’s where we really figured out our travel style. We like a mix of cities and exploring in the evening, but in the daylight hours, we want to be out on a trail somewhere!

Since the weather looked better the more north we went, it was the perfect day to stick to the plan and head to Kylemore Abbey and Connemara National Park. We did a lot of reading the night before, so we knew we could check out Diamond Hill Trail. More on that later!

First, the drive to Connemara was EVERYTHING. This is where we saw some of the most beautiful scenery and accomplished one of my ultimate Ireland goals: seeing sheep in the road. haha

8 days in Ireland
connemara national park

Our (second) adventure mobile!

Robert was like, “YOUR SHEEP! IN THE STREET!” Don’t worry guys, we literally saw like two other cars on our entire drive here.

8 days in Ireland
driving in ireland

Kylemore Abbey is nestled so perfectly into the hills here. It’s stunning to see it from the road because there’s all this nature and beauty and then BAM — gorgeous castle tucked right in there.

8 days in Ireland
kylemore abbey

This castle has a pretty sad story. Mitchell Henry brought his new wife, Margaret, to Connemara on their honeymoon because he loved to hunt there. She thought it was beautiful too, so he promised to build a castle for her there.

Mitchell kept his promise. While he did, he brought a lot of jobs and a school and economic growth to an area that had been ravished by famine and hard times. But Mitchell was kind, smart, and hardworking, and he made Connemara thrive again. To this day, it seems like he is beloved.

Just a few years after finishing the castle though, Margaret passed away while they were on a family trip to Cairo. That broke my heart.

Mitchell built this chapel to honor Margaret after her death. It’s very light and feminine, which was unusual for that time, but Mitchell wanted it to reflect how kind and beautiful Margaret was. I AM CRYING.

This is the Giant’s Wishing Stone or the Ironing Stone (because it’s shaped like an iron). It’s said that two giants were fighting, and one threw this stone at the other. If you throw a little pebble over three times, your wish will come true.

After touring the house and staying for a really great history talk, we took the bus to the gardens. Mitchell used the newest technology for all kinds of things. He used the power of water coming down the mountain for electricity, and he used some of the first greenhouses to bring fruits and flowers to Kylemore. There are six acres of walled gardens, which is pretty wild.

This was the head gardener’s cabin. I couldn’t believe how nice it was, especially after you see the fairly primitive (but great for the time) apartments for the other gardeners. Since they grew so much produce for the family and their guests, they wanted to have the best gardener around on staff.

My Instagram husband out here killing it.

Our next adventure is my favorite. We went back and forth about hiking Diamond Hill because there are two trail options. The lower trail is easy and quick while the upper trail is listed as . . . I think the word was grueling? It is 7km total and takes about 3 hours. I don’t think we got started until about 3:00. We were nervous about being up on a mountain in the dark, but we decided what the hell. The views were only so-so when we got to the end of the lower trail, so we kept going.

8 days in Ireland
diamond hill
connemara national park
8 days in Ireland
diamond hill
connemara national park

This was the end of the lower trail. Great views, but we figured the higher the better, right?

8 days in Ireland
diamond hill
connemara national park

Seems easy enough, yeah? Nice path, straight forward, not too steep.

Then things got a little steeper, a little more narrow.

8 days in Ireland
diamond hill
connemara national park

Then things started to get . . . dark. We were basically on rock scrambles at this point. One side was a cliff, the other side was cliff, and you were hoofing it up the very slippery, steep, rock steps. It WAS grueling . . . and then the wind came. It was black behind us. We could see the rain clouds. And we also couldn’t see . . . anyone else. There were a lot of people behind us when we got to the lower trail, but none of them followed us onto the upper trail. We saw a few people coming down, but no one was behind us.

We tried to keep climbing, but the wind was so strong, you had to stay low. Eventually, we stopped and just tried to wait out the wind for a minute. To be totally honest, I felt pretty scared in that moment! In the mountains of Connemara, there is no shelter. No trees, no little caves. It was just rock, straight up ahead of you, and then a long drop on either side. There was nowhere to hide, so we just prepared ourselves to get REAL wet.

Luckily, a couple came into view. They were looking at us, then behind them, but we couldn’t hear what they were trying to say. When they caught up, they were Americans from Michigan, and they were basically like, “Oh SHIT guys!” haha I think the girl was pretty scared like me, but the guy was feigning confidence for both of our sakes, so we trudged on together.

Finally, we could see what we THOUGHT was the top. Robert had gone ahead a little bit while I stopped to duck out of a big wind gust with the Michigan couple. When Robert’s head popped up, he was like, “We’re almost there!” And we were like, “WHAT! That’s not the end up there?!”

The storm passed pretty quickly, and we were able to walk upright again. The couple moved on while we were taking photos, and we didn’t see them again. But I’m really grateful that they appeared because just having some other people in that situation made me feel a lot braver!

8 days in Ireland
diamond hill
connemara national park

And of course, like every day in Ireland, it was dark and scary one minute, then all blue skies the next!

8 days in Ireland
diamond hill
connemara national park

I had a little freak out here. I was turned around taking a picture when Robert yells “Oh SHIT” with genuine fear in his voice and this little gasp. It’s hard to explain, but he basically EXCLAIMED and I knew in that instant that he had slipped off the cliff. My heart was in my ACTUAL NOSTRILS when I spun around, and he’s freaking LAUGHING. I was like, “Robert, I swear to God, my heart is in MY MOUTH I thought you went over the edge can you not be so dramatic WHAT IS IT.” (You know how 7 days of jet lag and hiking and hunger really brings out the patient wife side of you, right? hahaha)

TURNS OUT. Robert had turned the corner and right there on the path is this big ass sheep looking him dead in the face. My heart had finally moved back into its correct position, so I was able to take some very up close photos of these guys. And then I gave my husband a lecture about not screaming OH SHIT when we’re frolicking on the edge of a cliff.

8 days in Ireland
diamond hill
connemara national park
8 days in Ireland
diamond hill
connemara national park

But yeah, it was worth it, and it gave us some really good stories to tell.

We were wondering where our Michigan friends went so fast. We assumed we’d catch up to them at the top while they were enjoying the views. Robert looked down and saw them as specks. They were more than halfway down the mountain already. We realized then that the sky was getting pretty dark again, so we started speed walking down, too. Ireland weather is really something else!

8 days in Ireland
diamond hill
connemara national park

I wanted to frolick toward this rainbow like a real Instagram model, but it’s so wet and marshy I just . . . sank.

8 days in Ireland
diamond hill
connemara national park

More sheep!

8 days in Ireland
diamond hill
connemara national park
8 days in Ireland
diamond hill
connemara national park

Confession: I was a little scared of the sheep when we were so close to them. They really stare you down! I kept telling Robert not to make eye contact in case that means we wanted to fight them. Their horns are no joke up close!

That night, we had dinner in Galway and made our plan for the next day. Instead of spending the day in the city, we decided to give the Cliffs another try. The weather looked better, and we had arranged to get our car back later than originally planned so we could check out the Cliffs, then drive back to Dublin.

Day 8

Last Chance at the Cliffs of Moher

We drove the Wild Atlantic Way to the Cliffs of Moher, which was gorgeous. I think we took the less curvy route going south, so it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be! I was definitely grateful to be on the other side of the road than the cliff! It’s quite a drop.

8 days in Ireland
wild atlantic way

We pulled over at this stop in the road because the rocks and the water were just stunning!

8 days in Ireland
wild atlantic way
8 days in Ireland
wild atlantic way

We did pay to park at the visitor’s center just because 1) the parking lot we’d read about with free parking was all fenced off and 2) we both had to pee anyway! It does seem annoying to pay 8 euro each to go see a natural site, but I do get it. Because of all the tourism, the paths on the cliffs are pretty eroded. When we were there, the paths from the visitor’s center to Doolin was closed because of recent landslides. It made me wonder how much longer it can last. How long will it be safe and still enjoyable? You’ll see why soon!

8 days in Ireland
cliffs of moher
8 days in Ireland
cliffs of moher

In this photo, you can kind of see the daredevil path on the right, then you have the safe path on the left. This is considered the “official” trail that they want you to use for safety. On the far left is a private field, so that’s fenced off. The line of fence closest to the open field is electrified. So that’s what makes me wonder — as this daredevil path erodes from so many tourists, will the safer path be next? How long will it be safe?

8 days in Ireland
cliffs of moher

We actually alternated between using the “official” path and the daredevil path. At some points, the official path was covered in water from all the rain. On the other hand, some of the daredevil paths were SO FREAKING close to edge that I didn’t dare walk them. It is a STRAIGHT DROP guys. Straight drop to rocks.

8 days in Ireland
cliffs of moher
8 days in Ireland
cliffs of moher
8 days in Ireland
cliffs of moher
8 days in Ireland
cliffs of moher

Here’s a real life progression of getting a picture in the wind:

You can see in this one that it’s getting a littleeeeee dark, yes? Well we walked all the way to that tower you see in the distance, then we turned around and saw the sky on our walk back was completely dark. The sea looked furious, and the wind had picked up so much that I it knock a girl fully off balance. And once again, there’s nowhere to hide. No trees. The field toward town is protected with an electric fence. We had no choice but to just walk on back and see what happened!

There is supposedly a bus that will pick you up at the end here and take you back to the visitor center, but we were there out of season so . . . no such luck! We should have tried to call a cab — I think we could have gotten one.

On our way back, this stray doggo was leading the way. He never let us catch up to him, but he pranced along ahead of us all the way back to the parking lot. While we followed him, I could not have been more grateful for the official path with tall-ish rock walls. The wind was so strong, and if I was scared on Diamond Hill, I was DAMN SCARED here!

Robert asked if I was ok to jog. I was like, “What’s the point?” We were more than an hour from the visitor center at LEAST. And then it started hailing. Full on HAIL! I had to just laugh. Here we were on some cliffs in the wind and rain fearing for our lives AGAIN. Robert made a plan that we would find a spot where we could hop the fence and run through the field toward town if shit got real. I don’t know what we thought would happen — a hurricane!? It was ugly. And really slippery (that’s why I’m very thankful for the safe, official trail. If it wasn’t there, your ass would be waiting until the wind died down. It could EASILY blow you off balance enough to cause a problem). But we knew from experience that if you just wait long enough, it will pass.

This rain didn’t let up though. The wind got less scary, but it rained until . . . the next day? I don’t know. We were so soaked through that we had to change clothes in the visitor center before we took the 3 hour drive back to Dublin. By then, we were just happy to be out of the rain!

8 days in Ireland
cliffs of moher

That night, we dropped off our car at the airport (in the rain) and took the shuttle to our hotel, the Clayton. It was really chic! Much more stylish than I expected. Oddly, we were in a room with 3 twin beds, but it had a blow dryer and little fan to help us dry our soaking wet clothes!

Day 9

Getting Home

We had a 9:10AM flight back to Dulles by way of London, so we got up nice and early to get to the airport. As soon as I woke up (about 5:00AM because of insomnia lol), I had so many messages from people about Trump announcing the travel ban that night at home. I started reading everything I could, and luckily, he had made an exception for UK and Ireland. And of course, if you were a US citizen abroad, you would be allowed to get home. Still though, it sent some panic through my body! When Robert got up, he started reading all the same things and we were like, “Yeah, let’s get out of here before we can’t anymore!”

Oddly enough, we had the easiest, most normal experience at the airport. The only thing out of the ordinary was that Dublin Airport had clearly brought in extra staff to constantly sanitize things. If you got up from a chair, it was sanitized. The rails of the escalators? Sanitized. Tables? Sanitized. Door handles? Sanitized. So that was comforting.

Our run through Heathrow was quite literally a run, but only because our connection was about 50 minutes. Our plane was basically fully boarded when we got on, but by fully boarded I mean that everyone could have their own row! Just like on the way to Dublin, our AirBus was nearly empty. However, we were short one crew member apparently, so we were about an hour late because of that. Not because of Coronavirus! So you know, small miracles.

A lot of people who were traveling or just curious were asking how our arrival home went. Again, it was 100% normal. Other than that they weren’t using the touch screen customs check in that asks the questions, takes your photo, and prints your little paper. The agents were asking the questions in person and taking the photo by hand. Again, all normal questions. Of course, they asked if we had been to China. They did not ask about Italy.

We both realize how lucky we are that we were scheduled to come home when we did. The very next day, everything in Ireland was shut down. The Cliffs closed, any government-run things (museums, castles) closed, restaurants and pubs are encouraged to close early, it’s wild. We got home just in time, and luckily, we had plenty of toilet paper.

That’s the end of our 8 days in Ireland! If you want more details on where we stayed with links to all the things we did and places we ate, check out the itinerary post here! This is where I’ve gone more into the planning side to help people plan their own trips.

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  1. […] So, that’s our 8 day Ireland itinerary! It was pretty detailed, but I wanted to give you all the tips and advice in case you’re planning your own trip! If you want to see more photos and the stories attached to them, check out the full blog post. […]

  2. […] you can have ONE or NONE of the symptoms and still be positive. I spent the entire night working on our Ireland blog post to distract myself. It worked, so I vowed to write more, and so here we […]

  3. Erin Schrad says:

    So we were on our flight from Dulles TO Dublin when Trump announced his travel ban! After figuring out that we would still be allowed to return home, we continued on with our trip. But by our scheduled return flight on Friday, March 20, we really had pushed it. Our flight from Dublin to Dulles actually got canceled and we had to get rebooked Thursday night on a flight from Dublin to Boston. We later heard it was the last flight from Dublin to the US. From Boston, we had a Jet Blue flight to Reagan… that had EIGHT people on it. We had a great time, but did deal with a lot of things being closed. Fortunately we were on an organized trip and we had an Executive Coach and driver that took care of us for 3 days of touring. The rest was spent hanging at our castle home or driving around on our own. Unfortunately our designated time for being in Dublin was at the end of our trip before flying home, at which time everything but some shops were closed. We could only walk around the city and see things outside. So I guess I’ll just have to go back!

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