Katie and I had a lovely trip to Ireland with her family! After a week and a half, we are positively enchanted by the Emerald Isle and will hope to return soon.
Our trip actually began in Paris for the annual Jimmy Buffett concert. Because we would only be in Paris for 24 hours, we chose to walk around and enjoy the great city rather than queue up for a prime spot at the Saturday show. This was just fine, though, as there isn’t a bad seat in the house for these small concerts and we still had ample opportunity to catch up with our Parrothead friends after the show.
Sunday we took a flight to Dublin, where we were greeted at the airport by ads for Guinness – a refreshing change from the luxury watch ads that usually greet us at European airports! Katie’s parents, sister, and brother-in-law picked us up at the airport (They had already been in Dublin for a couple of days.) and we were off to Galway. I hadn’t realized how small Ireland is geographically but it only took two hours to drive from Dublin (East coast) to Galway (West coast).
Upon arrival in Galway we headed immediately for the Galway Oyster Festival! It was a big tent with, wait for it, oysters! And beer! Specifically Guinness! My first Guinness in Ireland was really lovely. People claim that Irish Guinness tastes better and it may well do but I would need a side-by-side blind tasting to test that claim. Taking it on faith, though, I just drank every Guinness I could get my hands on throughout the trip! I love Guinness on its own but it goes very well with seafood as well, including the Kelly(!) Oysters (from just a few km away), the mussels and clams, and the fish n’ chips there at the festival.
That evening we went to The Quays, a local pub/bar/music venue/restaurant for dinner. The food (fish n’ chips and beef and Guinness stew – which we ordered every chance we could on this trip) wasn’t great but they let you add four oysters alongside any Guinness for a small additional fee so we liked that deal. The music was pretty nice too so it was a good start to the evening.
After dinner we attended Trad on the Prom, a show of traditional Irish music and dance. It featured unique Irish singing, instruments, and Riverdance-style dancing. It was sort of hilarious in that, every time the emcee would introduce a performer, he would remark that that performer had won X number of world championships. I’m not sure exactly how many competitors there are in the “world” championships of traditional Irish dancing but it would seem that the majority of them were there performing that night! This became a running joke of ours for the rest of the trip; with every performance we saw we wanted to know how many world championships had been won by the performers!
Our Monday began with a run along Galway’s Prom[enade]. It was cool, foggy, and oh so green – exactly as I imagined Ireland would be! We followed this up with recovery nutrition at Dungeons & Donuts, a hybrid donut shop and tabletop RPG parlor. The donuts weren’t amazing but the flavors were creative and the atmosphere was unique!
After a visit to Katie’s Chocolate Shop (Both Barrett sisters’ names were well represented by Galway food service companies!), we drove around Galway Bay to our next destination. En route we stopped for tours of Hazel Mountain Chocolate, a local artisanal chocolatier, and Dunguaire Castle, a 16th-century tower house located on a huge bog that feeds into the bay.
First impressions of Ireland were enormously positive. The people were – as they would say – lovely, the landscape was green upon green upon green, castles and ruins were ubiquitous, and the Guinness flowed like water!