Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Dublin, Ireland

Having learned a few lessons from our previous experiences, we checked out of our AirBnB early and arrived for our flight to Ireland with plenty of time to spare. So much, in fact, that they hadn’t yet assigned which gate it was departing from by the time we cleared security. On the way to Ireland, we also flew over the Isle of Mann. After picking up our rental car and grabbing a few things for lunch at Lidl, we began our adventure across the country of Ireland.

As we started to make it into the western half of the country, I was surprised by the sheer number of sheep, stone fences, and ruined castles. This raised many questions. Why so many sheep? Where did all those rocks come from? What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?

Kilmacduagh ruins

On a whim, we stopped at the Kilmacduagh Monastery ruins in Burren National Park while driving through the Irish countryside. The ruins of this monastery date back to the 13th or 14th century, and this was one of my favorite random stops. I mean, just look at these pictures (and yes, the grass really is that green).

Seagulls for scale

The main objective for this day was visiting the Cliffs of Moher, which are on the opposite side of Ireland from Dublin. After driving for more than three and a half hours on some pretty narrow back roads, we arrived at the cliffs. The cliffs soar 200 meter above the Atlantic Ocean, and, as we discussed, pictures absolutely do not do them justice.

Cliffs of Moher

After enjoying our time at the cliffs, we headed back towards the eastern side of Ireland to check into our AirBnB. Considering we were meeting our host, we were trying to make it back before 9:30 PM. We stopped for groceries along the way and executed a coordinated strike on Aldi to minimize our shopping time. Everyone was assigned two items to grab and bring back to the front of the store. Between that and Joe’s driving skills, we arrived at our AirBnB (a converted Bed and Breakfast) just in time. This was a more laid back evening where we hung out around the wood stove and discussed the advance of technology and Sam proposed we should begin teaching epistemology to children in kindergarten.

Aughrim, Wicklow, Ireland

The next day, we set out to explore the beautiful countryside of Wicklow, Ireland. We stopped for coffee along the way at the Granite City Cafe in Aughrim, one of the few places we went that didn’t seem to be catering to tourists. Adam enjoyed talking to an elderly woman in one corner (who, judging by his accent, thought he was Australian), and Sam observed that in the length of time we were in the shop, they played both “Kids of America” and “Surfing the USA.”

St. Kevin's Church

St. Peter and St. Pauls' Cathedral
Our first stop of the day was the monastic settlement of Glendalough Valley. We took a hike up towards the twin lakes and the Poulanass waterfall, seeing lots of sheep along the way. Next, we stopped at Avoca, the oldest continually operational wool mill in Ireland, and also hit a small local craft shop called Plain Pearl for Keren to get some Irish wool for knitting. After that, we did some castle hopping on the way into Dublin, exploring three ruined castles (Kindlestown, Oldcourt, and Monkstown), which all happened to be located in residential neighborhoods.

Monkstown Castle

In Dublin, we stopped for dinner before our flight back to England. Unfortunately, the first restaurant we were planning to go to, Jack O’Rourke’s, was full. At the second one, Keren walked into the glass door and, after looking at the “tasting menu,” Gabby decided it didn’t fit our group’s vibe. We ended up going to a place called Kelly and Cooper’s instead. Joe, John, and I parked the van and found Sam sitting outside the restaurant waiting for us. Joe asked if he was the bouncer and he replied, “No, they just don’t allow smoking inside.” As he said this, a helpful pedestrian happened to be walking by, stopped, and directed Sam to the closest smoking location. We enjoyed our dinner, and when the proprietor (presumably Kelly) came with the check, she handed the terminal to me for some reason.

Glendalough Valley

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