Powerscourt Estate, Glendalough, Kilkenny, and Rock of Cashel
Our hope for these next few blog posts is to take you through our Ireland road trip one stop at a time. A lot of people told us we were crazy when they found out our plan of literally driving the entire way around Ireland (and with a baby) but we loved talking to these people and sharing our stories of our journey thus far. So here we are the beginning of our whirlwind trip.
We arrived in Dublin bright and early at 5:30am local time after nearly 15 hours of travel. Let's just say we were all pretty jet lagged so we didn't see much of the city our first day. We started and ended in Dublin so we weren't that sad knowing that we had a few days to explore at the end of our trip. After recovering with some sleep we grabbed some breakfast from East Village Cafe in Clonkadin and headed straight for Kilkenny. On our way we stopped at Powerscourt Estate and Gardens just outside of Dublin. The 68 room mansion was built in 1741 by a German architect for the 1st Viscount Powerscourt. This mansion was absolutely beautiful and the grounds were vast. Adorned with garden after garden, you could spend all day exploring this property. We took our time wandering around and quickly realized it was not as stroller friendly as they made it seem, but we made it work! Aspen loved crawling around in the dirt, rocks and grass trying to eat everything and anything off of the ground. We ended up eating lunch inside the mansion at a little cafe before we left.
We then headed to Glendalough in County Wicklow to explore the Monastic City. This is an early Christian monastic settlement founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century. There are remains of buildings from the 11th century which was so surreal to experience and see in real life. I had done a lot of research and this area of Ireland was a place that I had to see. It was so peaceful to walk through the graveyards, towers and remnants of churches with sheep grazing nearby. What was so beautiful about it all was that it was nestled in a valley between two lakes.
After a few hours we drove up a tiny road, got out of the car and stood in awe of the view of Glendalough below, Ireland was already blowing our minds and it was only day two!
Onwards we went to Kilkenny, arriving late in the evening we checked into our hotel and then headed into town for some good ol' Irish pub food. Where better else to experience an Irish pub than at Kyteler's Inn, the oldest pub in Ireland dating back to 1263. We were warmly welcomed with a highchair for Aspen and a table by a fireplace. We were surprised at the fact that Aspen was welcome even though it was after 10pm and I had read that most pubs do not let minors in after 9pm. We quickly discovered that is not true and the Irish LOVE children everywhere and at any time (phewf!). We enjoyed a delicious meal and Myles started his Irish beer drinking days off right with the sound of live music just a few feet away.
We went back to the hotel and Aspen's jet-lag sleep saga began. He did not sleep from 10pm until 5am for about four nights, poor guy had his days and nights mixed up. We strapped him in the stroller and paced the hotel halls for hours throughout the night just hoping he'd fall asleep. Anyways we survived and were off the next morning to explore Kilkenny.
We strolled down Medieval Mile through narrow streets with colourful old buildings and awed at St. Mary's and St. Canice's Cathedrals. We decided to be tourists and purchase tickets to go inside Kilkenny Castle and we are glad we did. Although almost all of the 12th century castle has been redone there were a few original pieces which was cool to see. We then walked to the Black Abbey and then stopped for lunch at the Pantry Cafe before wandering the streets a bit more. We ended the night off with dinner at Matt the Millers Pub across the river.
Another sleepless night later we woke up and drove straight to Rock of Cashel which was incredible. You could see it from a distance, this massive castle like (it's actually a church dating back to 1101) building up on a huge rock jetting out from sheep pastures below. We parked at the bottom and walked up to explore. I absolutely loved this stop of our trip, just watching Aspen in awe of everything around him made me so excited that we had him with us on this trip. He walked hanging onto walls older than we can even comprehend, he rolled around on the grass with an incredible view behind him. We tried so hard to capture exactly what we saw so that we can show our family and friends just what we experienced. We then drove a few minutes down the street and walked to Hore Abbey (est. 1540) which was remains of a church in the middle of this field below the Rock of Cashel. We had the entire place to ourselves and Aspen roamed free, eating grass and wild flowers. This is what we imagined Ireland to be, vast openness with castles and sheep everywhere we look (no but seriously it was actually like that!). We strolled back into Cashel and ate lunch at the cutest pub called J. Feehan's. After some good quality pub food we made our way to our next destination, Cork.