Thursday, June 9, 2011

Cooley Whiskey

Our last full day in Ireland began with a beautiful, chilly sunrise on the Cooley Peninsula.

Truth be told, I was cuddled up in bed while Austin ventured out into the cold for this photograph.

That morning, we had another fantastic breakfast.  I had crepes, and Austin had the same 'ole Irish breakfast.  (Apparently he never tires of sausage, bacon, eggs and toast.)  After eating, we packed up our bags and set out for the Cooley Whiskey Distillery.

I love me some whiskey!  After our own special tour of the distillery, the manager sent us down to Martin's pub on the end of the street for some samples.

We spent a couple of hours sipping whiskey, snacking on Irish cheese, and chatting with the bartender.  It was one of my favorite activities of the entire trip!

My favorite whiskey was the Connemara.  We didn't purchase it, though - we got a bottle of the Killbegan and a sampler pack of all the Cooley Whiskeys for my parents.  I'm hoping to find a bottle of Connemara sometime to try it again.  The flavor was very unique to Ireland, as it is a peated single malt whiskey.

After our whiskey-tasting fun, we stopped by the Proleek Dolmen, another portal tomb.

We enjoyed walking around and seeing the sights, amazed at how such a historical artifact is hidden behind a hotel in the middle of nowhere.

Isn't it mind boggling to think of how they lifted that huge rock, weighing 40 tons, back in the 3000-2000 BC era, when there was no such thing as a crane?

After lunch, we drove towards Dublin.  We stayed at Rathview House, a cute B&B just minutes from the Dublin airport.  This was key to our selection of a hotel, as we had to be at the airport extremely early for our flights.  (Of course, the flight was delayed and we ended up being there an extra 5 hours early, but anywhoo...gotta love international flights)

We walked around Swords for a while, and discovered one last castle to admire.

 We walked around town before deciding on where we would eat dinner, and finally selected Masterson's Steakhouse.  We shared a delicious appetizer, sweet beef stirfry.  For our entrees, we both had the sea bass fillet fried in lemon butter and drizzled with a citrus Beurre Blanc.

For dessert, we had a hot fudge chocolate cake.  And when we got back to our room, our hostess served us a glass of white wine.  Perfection.  Sweet dreams!

The next day we arrived at the airport at 7 am for a hellacious 24-hours of airports, planes, and delayed flights.  We were happy to be home.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Hill of Tara

Monday was a lazy day of rest and relaxation. We arrived in Galway, checked into Summerville House, stopped at an ATM for cash, and went to lunch at a nearby Italian restaurant.  I had lasagna, Austin had a goat cheese pizza.  It was a fantastic meal.

After lunch, we found a shopping mall but were disappointed to have to park in a parking garage.  Since we were paying for parking, we didn't shop very long.  The mall was very similar to malls in the states, and the tourist shops had identical items to what we'd already seen.  So shopping was a bust, which is something I would personally never admit!  We headed back to the B&B - Austin watched a game of rugby while I took a nap.  Then we watched a few Friends episodes together and sipped on wine.  Finally at 8pm we realized we had better go find something for dinner.  Austin ordered an entree, and I ate a few bites, but saved my room for dessert.  We ordered two desserts: a chocolate eclair and berries and ice cream!

On Tuesday, we accidentally slept in past our breakfast time, but fortunately our host was kind enough to serve us still.  I finally had the opportunity to order something other than the typical Irish breakfast, so I asked for french toast (yum), and Austin stuck with his Irish breakfast.

We had a pretty long drive from Galway to Dundalk, so we planned a stop to see the Hill of Tara.

Mound of Hostages

The Hill of Tara is a beautiful, serene area with many ancient monuments, a sacral site associated with kingship rituals.

 The Lia Fáil, Stone of Destiny

We were intrigued by the Mound of Hostages, an ancient passage tomb.  There are hundreds of bodies, mostly cremated, buried in 1600-1700 BC, organized in layers beneath the passage.


The doorway faces directly east, and inside there were stones with inscriptions we were unable to read.

That afternoon, we arrived in Dundalk and found the Greengates B&B.  We took a drive out towards the Cooley Peninsula.

 For dinner, we went to a local pub and shared a bowl of soup and chicken strips with chili dipping sauce.  I had a Jameson and Austin had a couple pints of Carlsberg.  For dessert we had a slice of chocolate cake with ice cream.

Next up: our tour of the Cooley Whiskey Distillery...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Easter Sunday

To catch up on the rest of our honeymoon recaps, go here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

On Easter Sunday, we took a leisurely drive around the Burren.  With no set itinerary for the day, we were able to explore at our own pace.

The karst hills of the Burren
The Burren is comprised of a limestone pavement landscape, and is studded with historical and archaelogical sites such as portal tombs and stone forts.

We took a drive to Ailwee Cave, where we stretched our legs and looked around a bit.  Austin spied the ice cream from a mile away, so we shared a cone.

After our snack, we found the Poulnabrone portal tomb.  The gorgeous purple orchids immediately caught my attention!

The Poulnabrone portal tomb was constructed during the Neolithic, or New Stone Age.  Over ninety megalithic tombs are known to survive in the Burren; the earliest of these are the portal tombs built in the fourteenth millenium BC.  The Poulnabrone is one of two portal tombs constructed in the Burren.

We were impressed by the Burren fences that extended for miles across the land.  The fences were made of stacked stone with no mortar to reinforce them.

After some more exploring, we found the other portal tomb.

Across the street, there was a giant boulder.  We decided to take a few pictures with it, too.

For lunch, we had roast lamb with potatoes, a delicious Sunday lunch special at a local restaurant we passed while we were driving around.  Later that afternoon, we took a small walk around the coast.

We ate dinner in Liscannor, and I recall having a caesar salad and a delicious chocolate brownie for dessert.  It was a happy Easter, indeed.