Family Vacation to Ireland

Aug, 2008

The highlight of the trip was having my entire immediate family, two children & spouses, 6 grandchildren & my son's mother-in-law all together for a whole week.
We were 6 adults and 6 children, ages 15,two 13s, 11, 7, and 5, (two girls - four boys). While it was a challenge to develop a program to fit all - we did have a fabulous week. To make this trip affordable we rented two homes - Muckross Holiday Village - 1 4BR and 3BR adjoining units - it was perfect. We cooked in one, moved the table from one so all ate together in one house - had a big backyard, and were a half mile from the entrance to Killarney National Park. We had two mini-vans that could seat 7 each.
We hiked, and some took a jaunting car part way through the Gap of Dunloe (a 12km trek)…at the end of that forced march, we found our way to the Killarney lakes edge where a boat picked us up for about a 1 1/2 hr tour of the Killarney Lakes…and then a stop at Ross Castle before being picked up and driven back to the start of our trek where our vehicles were. I was pretty sure I wouldn't be able to get out of bed the next day…but lo and behold - we all felt just great. We made an attempt to do the Dingle Bay trip, but the day we chose was raining - so we went to the aquarium at Dingle Town - and then stopped at a pub for the daily Guinness injection (all returned from this trip with great appreciation of Guinness) We returned to Dingle two days later when the weather cooperated - What an amazing drive, the views are impossible to describe. The 40 shades of green and the hillside dotted with white sheep. After the Guinness stop, we went to the water park at Tralee (indoor pool with lazy river, steam, sauna…evreyone loved it, great stop for the kids) Some of us visited Muckross House - once visited by Queen Victoria - also owned by the Guinness Family at one time, and the last owner was a lady from California who married an Irishman and received the house as a wedding gift from her parents. It's been restored to it's Victorian era - gorgeous grounds, gardens, and views of Killarney Lakes.
The acreage of over 11,000 comprises Killarney National Park and was Ireland's first national park. We hiked one day to the waterfalls at Killarney National Park, spectacular views of the lakes, and an incline only a goat could appreciate. One day we did a tour to Cork (two of my grandchildren's mother was a Cork) However, we found out that the Corks likely came from Scotland - but the trip to Cork was fun anway, we spent a lot of time at the English Market there, local produce and meats and cheeses; and then we had a guided tour of the Cork City Jail, a 19th and early 20th Century jail closed in the 1920s. Because the Republic of Ireland gained independence from England in the 1920s, they still refer to Northern Ireland as "the six counties remaining to join the union." My daughter is a gourmet cook so we ate very well, grilled lamb kabobs, pasta with three sauces, potato dishes to die for (Irish potatoes taste better than any potato in the world) roast chicken with citrus and garlic, - etc…Even if one WANTED to take 12 people out for meals, we would have been broke after the first couple days. On Saturday the 2nd of August we left Killarney for Dublin - we were told it would take anywhere from 4 - 6 hours…we made it in 5 with a stop at Naas (Omaha's Sister City) btw if you're going to park illegaly in Naas it helps to know Timmy Conway- but that's another story.

In Dublin I hired a driver/guide for a tour of Dublin - i also had admission tickets to Guinness Storehouse and we spent a couple hours there (excellent brewery tour…and I've taken several..ends with a free Guinness on the 7th floor with a spectacular circular view of Dublin.)These are just some of the highlights - the big ones are really the ability to be together as a family, play games, talk, see the grandchildren interact, get some great family photos and offer everyone an experience they're not going to have very soon again. Our final farewell party was at Abbey Tavern - in the picturesqe village of Howth just outside Dublin, a dinner followed by traditional singing/dancers.