Bunratty Folk Park: the waterfall, the lamb, & the fairy village

This is post #4 of a blog series I’m writing including pictures of the recent amazing trip I took with our precious, beautiful daughter Leah. Here are posts #1, My daughter Leah and I went to Ireland,  #2, Ireland: Dreams Come True, and #3, We visited Bunratty Castle in Ireland.

We took so many pictures with our phones that I need to break up the posts, to make it easier for you to read, as I know you live a busy, hectic life like mine and you don’t have lots of spare time!

I hope these blogs inspire and bless you. I thank my Lord Jesus Christ, who made this amazing opportunity and prayer possible.

“Ireland was a place for the renewal of hope and I still see it like that.”–Daniel Day-Lewis

Me at Cliffs of Moher, Ireland
Me at Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

My heart is aching to go back to Ireland! My and our daughter Leah’s vacation there was just too short! I believe I’ll go back again one day and am already praying about this!

Bunratty Folk Park tea shop
Bunratty Folk Park Tea Room

Before Leah and I visited Bunratty Castle in Ireland, we walked around Bunratty Folk Park, which is right by it. It’s a quaint little village filled with rural, primitive homes and shops, reminiscent of the 19th Century.

The first place we saw was the Tea Room, where visitors were drinking tea and enjoying scones. The scones in Ireland are delicious! They are light, fluffy, and sweet, reminding me of a combination between a biscuit and a little cake. They’re often served with butter and jams.

scones
scones

The houses and buildings in Bunratty Folk Park are recreated and furnished as they would have appeared at that time according to their social standing, from the poorest one-room house to Bunratty House, a Georgian residence of the last family who occupied Bunratty Castle. Leah seemed especially interested in the poor one-room house, which had a sign hanging on it outside that the servant worked for 80 days for the landlord on the land, renting the house, and after that he owned the house. Most of the houses were simple and plain, with a thatched roof. 

Leah reading sign at One-room house in village
Leah reading sign at one-room house in village

Several of the houses had chickens or other animals in the yard or nearby, such as goat, pigs, and chickens. Each family had to provide for their own needs in food, clothing, and supplies. I took a pic of the pig for our red-headed granddaughter Violet, who adores pigs!

Our beautiful red-headed granddaughter Violet
Our beautiful red-headed granddaughter Violet

I love sheep and was happy to get a pic of this one lone lamb grazing in a pasture. It reminded me of how Jesus is the Good Shepherd who loves His sheep and takes care of them, something God has been speaking to me much about the last several years. Jesus talked about the Good Shepherd leaving the 99 to go after the one lost lamb. (Matthew 18:12) My song for this year which has this theme is Reckless Love by Cory Asbury

Leah liked the two Irish wolfhounds, although they were sleeping when we looked at them. Historically, the wolfhound was a dog that only nobles could own and was taken up by the British during their rule in Ireland. It’s been adopted as a symbol by the national rugby league team and the Irish Rugby Football Union.

I took a pic of these pigs for Violet!
I took a pic of these pigs for Violet!

 

a lamb grazing in a pasture
a lamb grazing in a pasture

 

Irish wolfhounds
Irish wolfhounds

 

Black chicken and duck in village
Black chicken and duck in village

Although I couldn’t wait to drive to the Cliffs of Moher (one of the main reasons I wanted to see Ireland), I’m so happy that Leah and I walked around this village in the cool, peaceful outdoors. Leah loves nature like me, and I felt this time ministered to her soul.

Bunratty Folk Park
The path in the village at Bunratty Folk Park

The houses were quite primitive, decorated with old furniture like tables, beds, and hope chests and a few kitchen items.

bed & hope chest
bed & hope chest

 

kitchen cupboard with dishes
kitchen cupboard with dishes

 

house table & pitcher
house table & pitcher

I could hardly believe we were walking around in Ireland; it felt surreal! It is so green, just like you’ve heard and imagined. One of the first things we saw in the village was a small but beautiful waterfall. I love waterfalls, so this really blessed me!

village waterfall
village waterfall

 

me by village waterfall
me by village waterfall

Another cool thing we saw in the village was a water mill, which is a mill that uses hydropower. It is a structure that uses a water wheel or water turbine to drive a mechanical process such as milling (grinding), rolling, or hammering.

village windmill
village windmill

 

windmill wheel
windmill wheel

 

windmill water
windmill water

At one house, there was a marble scuplture that was so pretty of the Virgin Mary and child Jesus.

marble statue in village
marble statue in village

The village also had a pretty church. 

village church
village church

 

church in village
church in village

 

ornate wooden pews in church
ornate wooden pews in church

 

stone floor in church
stone floor in church

 

church door
church door

 

church baptismal
church baptismal

 

podium where the priest stands
podium where the priest stands

Bunratty Folk Park also had a quaint fairy village for children. Ireland is well known for “lucky” four-leaf clovers, a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, leprechauns, fairies, ghost stories, and other folklore. While I believe much of this is demonic in nature, Leah and I both thought the fairy door in a tree was cute.

At the big mushroom park, a mom was taking pics of her children. Afterward she said to them, “Fabulous pic! Wow!” Her little boy ran off saying like a parrot, “Oh wow, wow, wow!” Both Leah and I laughed.

sign for fairy village
sign for fairy village

 

fairy door in a tree

 

cute play area where little boy said, "Oh wow, wow, wow!"
cute play area where little boy said, “Oh wow, wow, wow!”

There was also a pretty flower garden in the village. This reminded me a little of The Secret Garden, a book and a movie that we read and watched when I homeschooled Leah when she was younger, that she enjoyed. Homeschooling our kids has given me some of my most precious, sweetest memories, especially when we went on fun field trips.

I’m so glad I was able to go on this trip to Ireland with Leah and make more good memories!

garden in the village
garden in the village

 

village garden flowers
village garden flowers

I don’t know what these red flowers are named, but Leah and I both thought they were unique and beautiful. The garden also had sunflowers, some of my favorite flowers. Each time I see flowers, I think of my beautiful daughter Heather. Heather’s name comes from a beautiful, purple-blue flower that covers hills and is found widely in Europe.

unique red flowers
unique red flowers

 

red flowers
red flowers

 

I love sunflowers!
I love sunflowers!

In my next post in this Ireland Blog Series, I’ll share about our visit to the Cliffs of Moher–the highlight of the trip for Leah and me both. Be sure to check out the beautiful pics!

Leah at the Cliffs of Moher, Ireland
Leah at the Cliffs of Moher, Ireland
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We visited Bunratty Castle in Ireland

This is post #3 of a blog series I’m writing including pictures of the recent amazing trip I took with our precious, beautiful daughter Leah. Here are posts #1, My daughter Leah and I went to Ireland, and #2, Ireland: Dreams Come True.

We took so many pictures with our phones that I need to break up the posts, to make it easier for you to read, as I know you live a busy, hectic life like mine and you don’t have lots of spare time!

I hope these blogs inspire and bless you. I thank my Lord Jesus Christ, who made this amazing opportunity and prayer possible.

“My heart is quite calm now. I will go back.”–James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

 

Bunratty Castle, Ireland
Bunratty Castle, Ireland

I booked my and Leah’s vacation through Great Value Vacations, and our first night’s lodging was at the beautiful Bunratty Castle Hotel, the only hotel we stayed at during our trip (the rest were B & B’s). It is located near Bunratty Castle. The staff was so friendly and welcoming; the hotel and the rooms are gorgeous and elegant; and the breakfast in the dining room serving a full Irish breakfast was delicious!

Bunratty Castle hotel hall to dining room
Bunratty Castle hotel hall to dining room

 

Bunratty Castle hotel room
Bunratty Castle hotel room

 

cute window in hotel room
cute window in hotel room

 

Leah at breakfast at Bunratty Castle hotel
Leah at breakfast at Bunratty Castle hotel

 

Full Irish breakfast--yum!
Full Irish breakfast–yum!

 

Pure and mineral water provided at hotel
Pure and mineral water provided at hotel

 

Pretty rose painting in our hotel room
Pretty rose painting in our hotel room

Leah really liked the coffee and tea makers in our hotel room and in our B & B’s. Each morning we’d enjoy our hot, creamy coffee with the full Irish breakfast, and in the afternoons we’d have hot tea with cookies or chocolate wafers. She especially liked the little packets of sugar and cups of cream provided for the guests. I told her we should continue this afternoon tea tradition after we went home. I’m having a cup of tea right now as I blog about this!

tea & coffee cabinet in hotel room
tea & coffee cabinet in hotel room

 

tea kettle
tea kettle

 

packets of sugar
packets of tea & sugar

Since we arrived at the Bunratty Castle hotel our first day a little early before check-in at 3 PM, the staff person suggested that Leah and I visit Bunratty Castle nearby and its wonderful gift shop, where I bought a few souvenirs–some postcards for my family and friends, and a beautiful sterling silver pocket watch with the Trinity knot for one of Ray’s gifts. He’s always wanted a pocket watch.

Irish postcards
Irish postcard

 

One of Ray's souvenirs: a sterling silver pocket watch
One of Ray’s souvenirs: a sterling silver pocket watch

After we browsed the gift shop, Leah and I decided to tour the castle the next morning after we’d eaten supper and gotten some sleep from our long international flight! This is a great pic of Leah below in front of the castle.

Leah by Bunratty Castle, Ireland
Leah by Bunratty Castle, Ireland

There are castles and castle ruins all over Ireland. The castle was interesting to visit. It is huge with many narrow, winding stairs and low door frames overhead. This castle is not for the faint of heart or anyone with bad knees or back problems. The stairs are very hard to climb!

Narrow, winding stairs
Narrow, winding stairs

But Leah and I did make it to the roof of the castle, which has a spectacular view! It made Leah happy to reach the top of the castle.

Leah on roof of Bunratty Castle
Leah on roof of Bunratty Castle

 

castle roof
castle roof

 

View of Ireland's green fields from castle roof
View of Ireland’s green fields from castle roof

Bunratty Castle is located in the village of Bunratty, Ireland, and was built in the 15th Century. It’s between Limerick and Ennis, near the Shannon airport where we flew into Ireland, which is why I booked our first night’s stay at Bunratty Castle Hotel.

If you aren’t interested in the history part of this blog, just scroll on down to see pics and other interesting things!

The Ratty river runs alongside the castle flows into the nearby Shannon estuary. The first settlers around this site were Vikings. 

Ratty River view from castle
Ratty River view from castle

Around 1250, King Henry III of England granted the district of Tradraighe (or Tradree) to Robert De Muscegros. These lands were later taken back by King Henry III and granted to Thomas De Clare, who built the first stone structure with lime white walls (the second castle).

Me by Bunratty Castle
Me by the 4th castle at Bunratty

It stood close to the river, on or near the site of the present Bunratty Castle. In the late 13th century, Bunrattty became a large town of about 1,000 inhabitants. The castle was attacked several times by the O’Briens (or O’Brians) and their allies. In 1284, while De Clare was away in England, the site was captured and destroyed.

It is awesome to think that at one time in history, people actually lived inside these castles and fought to defend them and the land. What and who are you and I willing to fight for today?

soldier's armor
soldier’s armor

In 1318 Richard De Clare, son of Thomas, was killed in a battle between the Irish and the Normans. His followers were routed and the castle and town were completely destroyed. The castle was restored for the King of England, but was laid waste in 1332 by the Irish Chieftains of Thomond under the O’Briens and MacNamaras.

It lay in ruins for 21 years until it was rebuilt by Sir Thomas Rokeby, but was once again attacked by the Irish and after that, the castle remained in Irish hands. What’s in ruins in your life? What needs rebuilding through Christ’s love?

cannon at Bunratty Castle
cannon at Bunratty Castle

Other battles and wars occurred at the site, with a third and finally a fourth (the present structure) being built  by the MacNamara family after around 1425. Around 1500, Bunratty Castle came into the hands of the O’Briens (or O’Brians), the most powerful clan in Munster and later Earls of Thomond.

Leah’s relatives on her dad Ray’s side were Irish, and I believe my father’s ancestors were Irish, too. I just know I have Irish blood somewhere–Ireland was calling me! Leah really wanted to go, too, and I’m so glad she did! We had a fun time!

Our beautiful, precious daughter Leah
Our beautiful, precious daughter Leah

The O’Briens eventually made it their chief seat, moving it there from Ennis. The castle was surrounded by beautiful gardens and they supposedly had a herd of about 3,000 deer. I have a feeling these guys didn’t want Bambi because they thought deer were cute. They were likely made into sausage and deer jerky!

helmet & gun
helmet & gun

 

Bunratty Castle door
Bunratty Castle door

 

Leah inside the castle
Leah inside the castle

One interesting bit of trivia is that the Studdert family who owned and moved into the castle in 1720 later moved out, from family arguments over the oldest son marrying his first cousin! (Resource: Wikipedia) Family dysfunction at its finest. 

In 1956 the castle was purchased and restored (re-roofed, and saved from ruin) and is now a major tourist attraction and a National Monument. The castle is famous for its medieval banquets with entertainers dressing up in the medieval clothing. My friend Pat who just visited there with her husband attended the banquet. 

castle entrance
castle entrance

At the door a pretty young woman in a purple gown greeted me and Leah. She told me her name was Brianna, which means “noble and virtuous,” very fitting for her role there. 

Brianna, who greeted us
Brianna, who greeted us

One of the first rooms you see as you enter is the Great Hall, where the soldiers spent a lot of time. One wall has an enormous decorative wall hanging. There’s also a king’s chair, soldiers’ helmets and guns, and a fire place in the middle of the room. The king’s chair was made of beautiful, ornate wood–but looked so uncomfortable! Did you know that there is only one true King–the Lord God?

The castle has furniture and works of art dating to the 1600’s. One was an enormous wardrobe. I teased Leah about this one and the huge one in our hotel room, that we could go inside them to visit the land of Narnia and see Aslan. (This remark comes from one of our family’s fave movies, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, based on the books by C. S. Lewis.)

wall hanging decor
wall hanging decor
castle wardrobe
castle wardrobe

 

painting in soldiers’ room

 

Great Hall and furniture

 

soldiers' room
Great Hall

 

the king's chair
the king’s chair

 

castle floor
castle floor

 

fire pit
fire place

 

Celtic Cross
Celtic Cross

I was curious about one little window which had a sign by it, “Buttery Hatch.” What on earth is a buttery, I asked Leah aloud. A room for making butter? Just kidding! After googling back home, I found out it was a service room in which large barrels, or butts, of alcohol (ale) were stored and from which they were served in the Great Hall. I thought it was a cute little window. It should be used for coffee instead!

buttery hatch
buttery hatch

I’m an extremely nosy person, so it was fun poking around in someone else’s (big!) house. Leah enjoyed it, too. I found bedrooms, one with a desk and writing quill in it (which blessed me, being a writer! I didn’t think that was an accident, since I paid for this trip to Ireland with money I made from one of my books, selling it to God’s Glory Box!)

One of the things I noticed was how dark some of the rooms of the castle were. I can’t imagine what it was like with no electricity and just being lit by candles. When it stormed, I’m sure it was a little scary!

desk & writer's quill
desk & writer’s quill

 

castle bed
castle bed

Then as we explored, Leah found the dungeon! We both went down the narrow, winding stairs to look at it. The dungeon had bars across it, so you can’t go in there. I didn’t want to, anyway. It’s dark and eerie!

the castle dungeon
the castle dungeon

There were also unique, pretty aspects to the castle, like narrow windows and stained glass windows.

castle's narrow window
castle’s narrow window

 

pretty window
pretty window

 

castle's stained glass windows
castle’s stained glass windows

The castle was intriguing. Next to it is Bunratty Folk Park, which is 26 acres of a “living village” reconstructed of the homes, shops, and environment of over a century ago. It has 30 buildings, including the school, doctor’s house, pub, grocery, pottery house, and post office reminiscent of 19th century Ireland.

They’re furnished as they would have appeared according to their social standing, from the poorest one room house to the gentry home built for the Studdarts, the last family to occupy Bunratty Castle. 

In the early 19th century the country people provided for most of their own needs in food, clothing and supplies and bought only luxuries like sugar, salt and tea. Fairs and markets at the Village gave the farmers and the rural craftsmen an opportunity of selling their products for cash, while shops provided for their needs.

Bunratty Folk Park village home
Bunratty Folk Park village home

On our second day there, I was eager to drive straight to the Cliffs of Moher (about 1 1/2 hours away), which is one of the main reasons that I wanted to visited Ireland. But I’m so glad we visited the Bunratty Folk Park first. Leah loves the outdoors like I do, as well as animals which the park had.

This was a very peaceful, relaxing, much-needed time for me and Leah, since we were tired from our long day of flying.

We walked around in the beautiful outdoors of Ireland (it felt surreal!), looking at the animals in the village, the little shops, the church, and I was so happy to see a small, beautiful waterfall. We also found a delightful, little fairy village.

I’ll share more about this and pics in my next blog post in this Ireland Blog Series. I invite you to come along with me for this exciting adventure in Ireland!

Bunratty Folk Park
Bunratty Folk Park
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Ireland: Dreams come true!

Ireland and heaven
Ireland and heaven

This is post #2 of a blog series I’m writing including pictures of the recent amazing trip I took with our precious, beautiful daughter Leah. Here is post #1. 

We took so many pictures with our phones that I need to break up the posts, to make it easier for you to read, as I know you live a busy, hectic life like mine and you don’t have lots of spare time!

I hope these blogs inspire and bless you. I thank my Lord Jesus Christ, who made this amazing opportunity and prayer possible.

“They say the clouds are lower in Ireland…I say Ireland is closer to Heaven.”–Michael Vatis

Tags for our luggage
Tags for our luggage

I’d been dreaming of and praying to go to Ireland for years. I was so excited that my youngest daughter Leah was going, too–thankful that her boss said yes to letting her get the time off work!

I found these cute purple tags, “Adventure Awaits,” to put on our black rollerboard luggage to help identify them on the plane. Since this was an international flight, I didn’t want to take a chance on checking our luggage and them getting lost! For the plane, you’re allowed one small piece of luggage and one personal item. I bought us the rollerboards and backpacks for our “personal item” for the plane. Leah was concerned that they wouldn’t allow us to take the backpacks on board (I packed light, but they were still stuffed!). But I used to be a flight attendant, so I knew how to push them under the seat good! They barely fit on a couple of flights, but they did!

our backpacks & rollerboards for plane
our backpacks & rollerboards for plane

There are some great videos on YouTube that teach you how to roll clothes for packing. You can choose to use the packing cubes or not. I learned as a flight attendant how to roll clothes and to pack “light and tight,” but I still packed too many clothes on this trip. You really don’t need as much as you think you do! And you might want to save room for souvenirs for family and friends!

When you’re going on a long, international trip like this, you really don’t want to be lugging around a bunch of suitcases with you wherever you go! We were staying at one hotel and various B & B’s (Bed and Breakfast places) throughout the southwestern part of Ireland, and renting a mid-size rental car with limited room, so I didn’t want to deal with heavy luggage for a week. As it was, our backpacks were heavy enough, straining our necks and backs a little. But I’d made the right decision to NOT check luggage.

 Best travel tip: pack light, take lots of pics, and have fun!

Pack light, take pics & have fun!
Pack light, take lots of pics & have fun!

I’m a very organized person. I researched a LOT for this trip, reading about traveling to Ireland on Trip Advisor, blogs, and articles. I printed out many things before the trip to be as prepared as possible:

  • vouchers for “Park, Ride and Fly” where we were parking Leah’s car while we were gone (a shuttle takes you to the airport nearby);
  • the Great Value Vacation itinerary for the week-long trip;
  • vouchers for our one hotel night at Bunratty Castle Hotel and each B & B where we’d be staying each night;
  • our plane flights’ schedule and e-tickets;
  • information about our car rental at Dan Dooley;
  • conversions of kilometers into miles for driving and Euros into American dollars;
  • the most common Ireland road signs’ meanings;
  • directions to some places;
  • and a list of suggested places to visit for each city.

I put everything that I printed out into this pretty floral folder. It was like my Ireland “Bible.”

my Ireland folder
my Ireland folder

I bought Leah and me the Kangaroo brand, waterproof, passport/money holders on Amazon. I loved them; they worked great and I highly recommend them. Just a warning, there’s lots of pickpockets and scam artists in Europe, so you have to be careful and alert. I highly recommend watching YouTube videos about pickpockets and crime in Ireland/Europe, as well as how to drive in Ireland. (There are so many round-abouts, and they can be scary with all the traffic!) I watched hours of these types of videos before traveling on our trip!

I didn’t wear any expensive jewelry traveling to Ireland, to avoid possibly being robbed. I bought a $1 ring and wore that as my fake “wedding band”!

fake wedding band
fake wedding band

The Kangaroo passport/money holders are a lot more secure because you wear them over your neck (and the length is adjustable). The RFID Blocking system will guard your personal data by protecting your cards and passport from unauthorized scanning. I loved all its pockets to keep different things inside. It also had a cute, little pouch to keep your phone earbuds in! Although flight attendants hand out sleeping masks and ear buds on the flights, you’ll want your own earbuds for the plane for your music, a podcast, or a movie to watch to pass the time when you’re not sleeping. 

passport-money holder
a great passport-money holder

Usually I fly Delta Airlines when I travel, but for this trip I had to fly both American and Delta. We had numerous flights going to Ireland and back. You can see how tired Leah was before we even got there in the last pic below!

One of my biggest concerns was her getting severe jet lag, as she had never been on an international flight before. Ours was six hours going there, plus all the other flights we took. While we both had jet lag, it wasn’t severe as I feared and we both adjusted to the six-hour time difference there pretty fast!

Travel tip: eat a light, good meal before flying, take snacks, and stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water or other liquids (try to avoid lots of caffeine, sodas, or alcohol, which can further dehydrate you!). Some tips for overcoming jet lag are to keep drinking lots of water, stay out in the daylight and active (like visiting the sites), stay on a regular meal schedule, and try not to take long naps, so you’re adjusting to the new time difference.

 

Leah Jones, her first international flight!
Leah Jones, her first international flight!

 

I'm so happy to be going to Ireland with Leah!
I’m so happy to be going to Ireland with Leah!

 

Leah & me before our international flight
Leah & me before our international flight

 

Leah exhausted after all the flights
Leah exhausted after all the flights

I felt so bad for Leah when she was so tired (in the pic below), before we went on the international flight. But I knew that after we arrived, drank some water and ate, and rested that she’d be okay and we’d have fun. And we did! I had prayed at home that she would sleep on the international flight and bought her a soft neck pillow, which really helped her.

I also bought her and me a warm hoodie (planes can get cold) and warm socks. Flight attendants no longer dole out blankets to keep passengers warm, as it’s unsanitary (germs spread). It’s important to get up and walk the aisles on long flights like this to avoid blot clots from sitting too long. I’m happy to say that Leah slept some on the international flight. (I did not!) I was just glad that Leah did.

But I love flying. During the flight, I prayed, thought about many things in my life, and journaled. As a flight attendant, it never ceased to amaze me when the plane took off or landed–the creativity and ingenuity of man, who is made in God’s creative image. Each time I fly and look out at the clouds, I can’t help but think of God who made the clouds, the sky, and everything.

I love flying
I love flying

When we arrived, the first thing I had to do was get more cash out of the ATM at the Shannon airport. I’d read that the ATM’s have a better conversion rate than the exchange place (also located in the airport). The Euro is stronger than the American Dollar (one Euro equals 1.16 American Dollars), but it’s pretty close. The Euros come in bills, such as 10’s, 20’s, and 50’s as well as in coins (1 Euro, 2 Euro, and there’s also cents like we have here). It reminds me a little of Monopoly money.

I did use my business Visa bank card a few times while there, but you will need to let your bank know about your travel plans before you leave. I had to fill out a short “Travel Advisory” form at the bank. You don’t want to take a ton of cash with you, any more than you would here in the States. Most business places take Visa bank cards and you see ATM’s frequently, but most places don’t traveler’s cheques.

Euros
Euros

Then I had to go to Dan Dooley’s car rental to pick up our rental car. This had all been taken care of for the most part by renting the car online, when I paid for the vacation package. Since most of Ireland has manual cars, I had to request an automatic car. You will need to ask if you want an automatic, or they give you a manual one!

This was my first time renting a car anywhere, so this made me very happy. It was a black, automatic, mid-size car that looked similar to the car I drive at home. At first, at the airport Leah and I thought it was a manual. It just looked different than American cars and it’s a little hard to get used to switching gears, especially to neutral or reverse. The rental car was almost brand-new and drove GREAT; Leah and I wished we could take it home! You can see it in the pic below with Leah on the ferry.

Our rental car and Leah on the ferry to Kerry
Our rental car and Leah on the ferry to Kerry

The car key was also a little odd-looking: like a small steak knife! It had a button to push for the key to come out, and two buttons to unlock or lock the door. It fit perfectly inside a small pocket in my passport/money holder!

Rental car key
Rental car key

I had to practice a little in the parking lot before driving, as in Ireland they drive on the left side of the road and in the right front seat. I was scared of driving on the left side and Leah was terrified of me driving, but I did it with God’s and Leah’s help and the GPS! It was weird, but I feel I did pretty good, having never done it before! I used an app called Waze on my iPhone, which I’d read about before going over there. It did great!

Leah wasn't too sure about me driving in Ireland!
Leah wasn’t too sure about me driving in Ireland!

I just decided to for it and drove out on the highway using Waze to get to Tesco, which is like Ireland’s Walmart. That was our first stop! But before that, we had our first coffee in Ireland at a restaurant in the airport, which Dooley’s staff recommended.

I wanted to get a pre-paid, basic cell phone at Tesco as a backup GPS, but the ones with Wifi were almost $90 (instead of $20 for the basic ones), so I decided not to do that, after all. Instead, I used my iPhone with the Waze app and it worked wonderfully the entire week! I’d read on Trip Advisor posts that this app does even better than Google Maps in Ireland.

After Tesco, we drove to Bunratty to the only hotel we stayed at during our week-long trip, Bunratty Castle Hotel. It is beautiful and the staff are so polite and welcoming. I loved the cute little, white window in our hotel room.

They served a full Irish breakfast the next morning in the dining room, and it was delicious. I’d been anticipating this from looking at videos of it on YouTube. It was a wonderful place to stay and I highly recommend. Five stars for me!

our first coffee in Shannon, Ireland!
our first coffee in Shannon, Ireland!

 

Tesco is like Ireland's Walmart--our first stop!
Tesco is like Ireland’s Walmart–our first stop!

 

Bunratty Castle hotel room
Bunratty Castle hotel room

 

Bunratty Castle hotel hall to dining room
Bunratty Castle hotel hall to dining room

 

cute window in hotel room
cute window in hotel room

 

Full Irish breakfast--yum!
Full Irish breakfast–yum!

 

yogurt with granola
yogurt with granola

 

hot, creamy coffee--oh, yes!
hot, creamy coffee–oh, yes!

Ireland has many castles and castle ruins. Bunratty Castle is right by Bunratty Castle hotel, where Leah and I stayed the first night in Ireland, and we toured that on our second day there. It isn’t for the faint of heart; there’s lots of steep, winding, narrow stairs! It was hard on my knees! But Leah and I made it to the top of the roof, which has an incredible view. In my next post in this Ireland Blog Series, I’ll share more about that!

Leah by Bunratty Castle
Leah by Bunratty Castle
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