Ireland 2015 | Personal Travel Adventures

“Yes: I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.”

Oscar Wilde

Isn't it interesting how we connect and intertwine into the lives of others?  Its almost amusing sometimes to realize how we connect with the friends who end up being close and dear to our hearts. 

Case and point - my friend Melissa from Ireland.  She came to the US for a mutual friend's wedding.  My friend knew that there would be a couple nights where Melissa needed a place to stay so she asked me to host her, which I most gladly did.  In those few days we spent together, we immediately clicked and it was the start of an amazing friendship.  At the end of her trip, she invited me to Ireland.  I had never been to Europe, never been outside of North America - and without hesitation said Yes! 

May 2015 - I took 3 weeks off of work and traveled across the ocean to a beautiful emerald isle.  The first few days we spent hanging out, getting tea and scones, attending her circuit assembly and picking up the things I realized I left back in US. 

Say hello to the Sign Language group at the circuit assembly!

Of my 3 week vacation, Melissa only had to work a couple days so she left me safely in the care of these two tour guide... Her nephew Carter and niece Siobhán.  (Don't worry - their mom Claire came too!)

They took me to the gardens at Malahide Castle which is their family spent many happy days there as children.  The botanical gardens on the estate were insanely beautiful and we spent a happy beautiful day exploring. 

After exploring the gardens for a while, we decided to go to Malahide and explore.

Which naturally resulted with us exploring Malahide Beach and enjoying the beautiful Irish Sea.

Can we comment for a second about sweet Siobhán's gorgeous eyes???  Poor Jake and Claire...

Melissa finished working for the duration of my trip and the next we celebrated by visiting the smalling fishing village of Howth which has a beautiful lighthouse and lovely views.  It was a gray overcast day but that just added to the beauty in my eyes!

This uninhabited island is called Ireland's Eye.  It is a rocky sea-bird sanctuary with the ruins of a 6th-century monastery.  We viewed it from Howth Harbour. 

Hey everyone! This is Melissa - my amazing host, generous friend, and beautiful soul!

Naturally on our list of must sees - Dublin!!!  And a trip to Dublin would not be complete without the appearance of the Divine Name (in a restaurant called The Church since you know... It used to be a church...) and also public witnessing cart!!!!

After checking out many amazing places in Dublin and having lunch at the Beanhive, we made our way to Teelings for a whiskey tasting!

We went back to Malahide Castle - this time to explore the castle! (although we did kill some time in the gardens again because they were wonderful!)

But inside the castle...  It was amazing.  The Malahide estate began in the 1180s and was passed down generation to generation until the 1970s when it was sold to Ireland.  Because it was a residence for so long, it is in such beautiful condition.

Then we explored the remainder of the gardens on the property.

After this we took a flight to England and spent a week there.  I will share my England visit in another post. 

Has anyone seen the movie The Count of Monte Cristo?  It is one of my favorites.  Everytime I see it I think of seeing it in the cinema with my cousin.  Anyways there is a scene in the movie where Edmond as The Count of Monte Cristo arrives in a hot air balloon along a beautiful estate during a the party he threw - remember that? Well, that estate is in actuality Powerscourt Estate in Wicklow and it happens to look something like this...

Everything in Ireland is so green.  Greener than the greens I am used to.  It was stunning and totally gorgeous. 

Nearby the Powerscourt Estate is Powerscourt Waterfall - and anyone who knows me, knows I LOVE waterfalls!!!  Don't believe me?  Check out my Iceland trip here!

The next couple are just some moments from our drives.  I apparently like countries with lots of sheep...

After Powerscourt, we made our way up to Northern Ireland to see the infamously moody and beautiful Giant's Causeway. 

Why is it called Giant's Causeway?  Well here is the short version in case you are curious of the folk tale - Legend tells us that an Irish giant named Fionn mac Cumhaill (anglicized Finn MacCool) was challenged to a fight by a Scottish giant named Benandonner.  Fionn accepted and built the causeway so they could meet.  However, when Fionn saw Benandonner coming, he realized Benandonner was bigger and he would lose the fight.  So he ran home and his wife Oonagh disguised him as a baby and tucked him in a cradle.  When Benandonner came cross the causeway and to the home of Fionn, he sees the giant baby in the cradle and assumes that Fionn must be a giant among giants!  He flees back to Scotland, destroying the causeway behind him so that Fionn couldn't follow him back.

The basalt columns which causes the unique appearance of the causeway was created through volcanic activity and the molten basalt went through the chalk beds.  As lava cooled, the area contracted causing cracks down the area in pillar-like structures.  This same type of formation is found at Fingal's Cave in the Scottish isle of Staffa.  Perhaps the similar rock formation is what inspired the story of these rival giants.  Regardless this type of rock formation is gorgeous but not unique to Giant's Causeway.  In face, Reynisdranger in Iceland was another spot where I saw the same type of rock formation - Ok really, if you didn't click the last time, check out Iceland here!

Another amazing part of our trip to Northern Ireland - The enchanted Dark Hedges.  These almost mystical looking trees are found on a quiet avenue in Northern Ireland.  They were planted in the 18th century and were supposed to have been a magnificent entrance to the Gracehill House.  However, these ancient trees now create a beautiful tunnel that is one of the most photographed natural phenomena in the world.  These beautiful beeches can live for hundreds of years. 

Before I left there was naturally time with the friends who treated me like family.  I am so grateful for the hospitality and kindness of these dear people.

I even let my picture be taken as long as this sweet girl was with me.

One last stop before heading back home - Trim Castle.  This Norman castle is the largest Norman castle in Ireland.  It was built in the 12th century and fell into decline in the 16th century.  Currently, it lies in ruins.  It is famously the location where Braveheart was filmed. 

Man, going over these pictures makes me miss Ireland so much!!!  I know there is so much still to see there too so... perhaps I need a second trip!  I will post my pictures from England soon!

Hope you enjoyed this as much as I did!