I’m going to preface this blog post by saying it’s not going to do Ireland justice. I visited 3 cities in this majestic, green country, and to lump all 3 into one post is a travesty – I’m aware. Without diving too far into the nitty-gritties of the situation, let’s just say I ventured to Ireland at the wrong time of my life and very much with the wrong person. As beautiful as this country is, there is unfortunately a certain layer of heartache that comes up whenever I look at the few and far between photos I possess from this trip. To be honest, that is probably the main reason it’s taken me nearly two years to write this post.
So why create this post at all? A couple reasons – one, I’d like to begin to chip away at the emotional equivalent of a marble slab that has come to encase this particular chapter of my life, and two – I hope to use the handful of good memories from this trip as a catalyst to inspire my next journey. After all – you take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have…your second trip to Ireland.
Yeah. I’m pretty sure that’s how that song goes…
1. Leo Burdock‘s Fish and Chips
Argue all you want, but my vote is in – the best fish and chips in the UK is at Leo Burdock’s. Yup, that’s right – I’d pit Leo’s against the best fish and chips in England, Wales, and Scotland, and guarantee it would still come out on top. (And in case you’re curious – yes, I have actually enjoyed fish and chips in each of those countries #majorlifegoalachieved #needtoreevaluatelifegoals).
Leo Burdock’s is everything I’ve ever wanted in a Fish and Chips shop. It’s cheap, easy, quick, convenient, and uncomplicated. You get a massive slice of fish and a ridiculous portion of perfectly warm and crispy chips. Best of all? Your meal is prepped to order and wrapped in paper so that your food never goes soggy.
Leo Burdock’s…I’m telling you, I’m all in.
Would you believe me if I told you that the first Guinness I ever drank was at the top of the Guinness Factory in Dublin? Well you should…mostly, because it’s the truth, but also because…who would lie about such a thing?!
Yes, my first experience with the infamous stout was the one I hand poured for myself (after learning the proper technique of course 😉 ). One sip and my life was forever changed. No, but really, Guinness is now my beer of choice.
Not a drinker? No worries. Even non-drinkers will enjoy the tour through the Guinness Factory. The history of the drink and the break down of its ingredients is fascinating. I also loved seeing all the retired advertisements and the gift shop was really something else (try the Guinness chocolate…just sayin). On top of everything else, the exterior of the factory is jaw-dropping. The property is massive, and the giant wooden gates set along the uneven, cobblestone roads is really something to see.
3. Traditional Irish Breakfast at WUFF
Oh my god – this breakfast was so good, we went twice. No, no. We not only went twice – we went twice within two days. Look at the yolk on that egg – LOOK AT IT!
Ugh – everything on that plate was so good I could die (yes, even the black and white pudding you see on the upper left side of the plate). Did anyone else watch that Hulu series with James Franco called “11.22.63?” Just me? Okay, stay with me…
There is a scene when James Franco first travels back in time, where he remarks on the food from 1960 tasting better than anything from his actual time. His only reasoning for it being that he is actually eating food as opposed to the processed garbage we are all too used to nowadays. Still with me? THAT is how I would describe this meal at WUFF.
The bread was freshly baked, the bacon (traditionally more “hammy” in the UK) was flavorful and fatty – even the breakfast beans were phenomenal, and I am not a beans with my breakfast kind of gal. (Sorry, UK heritage…beans at breakfast is just one thing I’ll never fully understand. Love me that haggis tho 😉 ) Good lord, even the pre-packaged Irish butter was mind-blowing. Honestly…I’m done here, who is booking a trip back to Ireland with me?
4. Dún Aonghasa
Oh, good lord…where to even begin with the magic that is Inishmore?
Inishmore is an island off the west coast of Ireland. In total, the island is about 12 square miles. Think about that for a second… #tiny
Seeing the entire island is just a day trip from Galway, but a word of warning… If you are prone to sea sickness, CAREFUL when you opt to travel. We ventured there during the summer, when the waters should arguably have been a bit calmer – however, our tour boat was still rocked damn near Gilligan style. No, we weren’t ship wrecked like on the TV show, but 70% of the passengers utilized the available bathrooms and sick bags. I know, not the most charming part of this story, but definitely still worth a mention.
Once on the island, the most popular option is to rent a bike for the day and peddle the main road. We, however, opted for the horse and carriage option because I don’t care HOW the saying goes, the truth of the matter is one can damn-well forget how to ride a bike (Me. It was me. I nearly got hit by a car. Don’t tell my mother.)
But, as it usually happens with life’s unexpected plot twists, the option we ended up with was the best thing that could have ever happened. Our carriage driver was a local, born and raised on the island. He gave us a tour of his home that no one else could have possibly provided. On our journey to the other end of the island, he drove us past “the school” where he informed us he was “the teacher.” Yes, as in the one and only. You may find yourself asking, how many students does a school with one teacher on a 12 square mile island have have? Six. Six students, 1 class – ranging through Ireland’s equivalent of K-12.
After following the main road up one side of the island, he dropped us off at the base of a small hike. At the top of this hike awaited the cliffs and prehistoric fort of Dún Aonghasa. At the base, there were a handful of artisan shops and snack bar. On such the cold, rainy day that we found ourselves on Inishmore, we opted for a delicious, warm bowl of tomato soup before venturing on to the hike.
The hike (re: walk) to the site was pretty quick and easy – the only challenge was the slick rocks due to the rain. But the views along the way are stunning – there will surely be a part of you that will feel like you’ve stepped back in time (that earlier James Franco reference making any more sense yet? No? Damn it).
Then, when you reach the cliffs… #prepareforjawdrop
Inishmore was such an amazing treat. I honestly cried as I hugged our carriage driver as he dropped us back at the boat. I teased him and told him I was going to look for property in order to move to the island. He laughed and said a “city-lass” such as myself would never make it. I still intend to prove him wrong one of these days 😉
5. Irish Coffee
Irish Coffee is a remarkable beverage consisting of hot coffee, Irish whiskey, and sugar. The ingredients are stirred together and topped with thick cream. In short…it’s heaven. Word to the wise…don’t be an asshole like me and try to order one with breakfast. It’s more thought of as a cocktail than actual “coffee” if you know what I’m saying 😉