Okay, fair warning, these posts are really long, but I’ve made a commitment to be a better travel journaler (mostly because I have the worst memory EVER). So…I’m sorry for the long windedness. I’ll post a short one next.
In front of McGann's Pub
After Galway we headed south to Doolin. Doolin is a stone’s throw from the Cliffs of Moher (which is an Ireland must-see), but we also heard it was a hub for Irish music, so naturally it was a no-brainer that we would stay a couple of nights in Doolin. (The Husband seriously loves Irish music, like listens to it all day everyday at a very loud decibel).
Ballindereen: On our way to Doolin we stopped over at a tiny town called Ballindereen. The Husband can trace one of his ancestors back to the Ballindereen Parish (a baptism), so we stopped there to see if we could gather any more information. We were lucky that it was a Sunday and were able to attend Mass at the Ballindereen Parish. After mass, we spoke with the priest about our search. Unfortunately, the records on hand didn’t go back that far, but the Priest promised to do some digging for us and email us later (I heart technology). Since we struck out here, we decided to go out to a few of the cemeteries in this area to see if we could find any more pieces to the family tree puzzle. Many would not think this is a fun or glamorous way to spend a honeymoon, but there was something really special about so fervently looking for information about my new family. The Husband is constantly trying to tell me facts about our ancestors, but this was the first time I felt like I got really into it. And, this sounds super morbid, but the cemeteries were beautiful. The sky is super gray, the grass is super green, there are Celtic crosses everywhere…it was just a very somber, breathtaking place. (We will definitely be making a trip back to Ireland in the future just to do genealogy).
The Burren: I, being the stellar navigator I am, took us the long way to Doolin through “The Burren,” but it was AMAZING. The entire drive was along the coast and the scenery was out of this world. Like I seriously can’t describe it with words. I highly recommend not taking the efficient road to Doolin. We stopped and explored the Dunguaire Castle. (Ireland has to have the most castles per capita – they are seriously everywhere). We stopped at Monk’s Seafood Pub and Restaurant where the Husband ordered a seafood platter that I expected to be a fried plate of goodness (Pappadeaux’s style), but it was the freshest, most diverse seafood platter I’ve ever seen. I think I ended up eating more of his than my own.
Doolin: After a little more driving, we finally arrived in Doolin, which is a tiny town made up of mostly farms, pubs and a few shops. When we were booking the trip we read this phenomenal review from a guy (I think on Yelp) about his stay at McGann’s Pub. He said it was a great little pub with nice rooms above it to rent. (I was picturing Amy Adams in Leap Year).
But guess what? He was a man and his idea of a “nice” little room was not my idea of a “nice” little room. It was bad enough that my very frugal husband was ready to forfeit our $26 (that should have probably been a sign to us that this place was less than awesome) and find a different place. But, I, of course, had to prove that I was a tough girl and sleep there for not one night but two nights. (For the record, if that occurred now, after 10 months of marriage, I would totally relocate (or sleep in the car)). Our solution to our accommodations was to go downstairs, drink large quantities of Bulmer’s and Guinness, listen to Irish music and wonder back upstairs tipsy enough to not think about where we were sleeping. But while the accommodations may be crappy, the pub and the live music are not. It was so authentic and packed with locals.
The next morning we woke up and drove out to the Cliffs of Moher. People are strategic about their visit out there because the fog is often so bad you can’t even see the cliffs, but we got so lucky and had a perfect clear view of the Cliffs. Later that evening we explored some more of Doolin and visited the other must-visit Irish music pub, Gus O’Connor’s. The music here was so neat. They were literally playing from a booth and just loving what they do. It was really fun to watch.
At a gift store next door to Gus O’Connor’s, we bought my new father-in-law a real Aran sweater. (The Aran Islands where these sweaters are made are just a day trip away, but we had a few people tell us the boat ride out there was not always reliable or worth spending a whole day on so we decided to save that until the next trip.)
Gus O’Connor’s crowd, however, did not even compare to the crowd at McDermott’s Pub (that is literally across the street from McGann’s – Ireland also has the most pubs per capita). Apparently, the band playing that evening was quite well-known and people of all ages came out to see them. There were well over 100 people packed into this small pub well until midnight on a Monday night! It was amazing. And even though they were packed, they still took the time to make proper Irish coffee by warming up the glass and using real heavy whipping crème and brown sugar. They were delicious.
Lisdoonvarna: Between our visit to the Cliffs and Gus O’Connor’s Pub, we stopped over in the town of Lisdoonvarna. Friends of ours suggested we at least make a stop here and we needed a place to do a load of laundry (the Husband underpacked) and send some postcards, so we took a walk through the town, ate breakfast and stopped into a couple of pubs (that would be the other Irish trend) including the Irish Arms. September is also the month for the famous Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival. It was awesome. It looked like Valentine’s Day threw-up in that cute little town.
The Husband’s favorite phrase from this portion of the trip (that he way overuses to this day): “There are things we will be Doolin, and there are things we won’t be Doolin.”