Ireland – Weekend – Celebrities, Crystal, and Dirty Dublin

Greetings, sweet friends!

Today, I’ll be wrapping up our wonderful trip to beautiful Ireland. Three and a half months later, and I still want to relive this trip every single day.

If you missed the post on our Thursday there, you can find it here. (links to other days are there, as well.)

I’ve hesitated somewhat to write this post, because the last few days of our trip were a bit different than the days we spent in the Galway and Killarney areas. If you’ve been following those (and if not, where have you been??), you know that my list of “favorite things” is about a mile long. Unfortunately, as we made our way back east across the country, I didn’t have as many additions to that list. Now, please don’t mistake me, I don’t want to deter any of you from visiting the Dublin area, but for us, it was not as enjoyable as our time spent in the natural countryside of the west coast of Ireland. We had become accustomed to the slow living in the quaint countryside towns and the expansive natural landscapes, so to be thrust back into the urban life of Dublin was a stark contrast.

On Friday, in an effort to see just a bit more of Killarney, we started our day at the Muckross House in Killarney National Park.

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The estate was quite beautiful and would be a wonderful place for a picnic. The tours were a bit expensive (€13, I believe?), so we opted out of that and just walked around the grounds, instead. On a future trip, I plan to spend more time in this area hiking through Killarney National Park and taking a jaunting car ride. Three days for Killarney, Ring of Kerry, etc. was definitely not enough! So much beauty here!

Friday’s agenda included a great deal of driving- from Killarney to Waterford to Dublin, so we were eager to be on our way and off we went. Unfortunately, the clothes dryer at our Airbnb didn’t get the job done for Jonathan’s jeans, so we had to air dry on the journey. Ha!

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After spending the previous 5 days in this beautiful country, we had come to regard castles as commonplace. We had spent hours in the car and had seen everything from minor ruins of walls or turrets to the inhabited. We had begun by making remarks at every castle, but by Friday, had come to only point out the truly grand. As we made our way east on N24 parallel to the River Suir, Julie piped up as we drove through the tiny town of Kilsheelan- awesome castle sighting!

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In an attempt to see this castle, we found this sign. I’m going to start asking Peanut the Poodle to “foul” elsewhere.

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We could see the castle off in the distance, so we pulled over in a small parking lot by the river to get a better view. Upon closer inspection, we could tell the castle was across the River Suir (on the south side) and knew there had to be a way to get there. Less than 100 yards up, we found a bridge to cross the river in our attempt to see this castle up close.

Now, for anyone who has ever visited Ireland, you may know there are brown signs that point to just about anything one would ever want to see- beach, castle, park, town square, etc. We did find it a bit unusual that no signs seemed to point us to this house, but that didn’t deter us from this mission. We crossed over the river and into County Waterford (the river is the division between Counties Waterford and Tipperary here) and immediately turned right through these gates

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As we passed through the first tree line, we found ourselves approximately a half mile from the monstrosity that was our destination. We continued, but something within me felt uneasy. There had been no signage at the gate, which felt very unusual in comparison to the other castles we had visited thus far. Each of us made remarks about whether we should be here or not, but by that time, we were a few hundred yards from the main road with electric fences on each side of the very narrow passageway. (This was nothing unusual. Apparently, electric fences are commonplace there and, of course, so are the constricting roads.) It would have been impossible to turn around, so we continued. About halfway, small signs on each side of the narrow road announced the name of the establishment and read “guests only.” Having visited a similar castle turned hotel earlier in our trip, I was now convinced we were approaching the grounds of a hotel or at the very least, an event space. Giddiness overtook my nervousness.

As we drew nearer the gates into the courtyard, a motorcycle quickly approached from behind leaving us no choice but to enter through the single vehicle wide opening. It was at the moment that my fear struck.

To understand why, I must backtrack. You see, we had retired early most evenings while in Killarney and had spent a great deal of time watching the evening news. Every night, we were bombarded by stories of organized gang violence (I’m not talking American thug kinda gang violence… I’m talking really scary old school, stone-faced Irish white men kinda organized crime.) in Dublin and of the retaliation murders happening there (perhaps another reason I wasn’t thrilled with our weekend stay).

As we drove through the gate, a 50-60 year old man dressed head to toe in black with a single black and white bandana tied around his head stood outside the front door. “That’s it. We’re gonna die.” I just knew it. I should have called my mama that morning. I should have said my final farewells. I should have hugged her one last time. Oh, God! My poodle! He’ll be left motherless!

Meanwhile, my sister exclaimed, “Oh my God! A rock star! I wonder who it is! Ask him! Look! There’s a woman having tea inside!” Our fate was sealed. She’s about to get us killed up in here.

Jonathan drove nearer  and told the man that we are only turning around, and the man motions for us to circle the fountain. As we lap back by him, Jonathan asked, “Is this a castle we can tour?” The man responded, “No, this is a private residence, just as the signs stated.” No emotion. None. Get the h-e-double hockey sticks out of here!

And just like that, we got the message. We exited the gates and continued on about our day. Julie, convinced she had just been in the presence of greatness, couldn’t let it go, though. She knew there was something special about that place. Because she didn’t have international internet, she waited until we had wifi that night and this is what she found…

Meet Gottfried Helnwein:

Gottfried Helnwein at the Save The World Awards show 2009

Gottfried Helnwein at the Save The World Awards show 2009

According to Wikipedia:

Gottfried Helnwein (born 8 October 1948) is an AustrianIrish visual artist. He has worked as a painter, draftsman, photographer, muralist, sculptor, installation and performance artist, using a wide variety of techniques and media.

Helnwein studied at the University of Visual Art in Vienna (Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Wien). His early work consists mainly of hyper-realisticwatercolors, depicting wounded and mistreated children, as well as performances – often with children – in public spaces.[1] Helnwein is concerned primarily with psychological and sociological anxiety, historical issues and political topics. As a result of this, his work is often considered provocative and controversial.

Ok, so maybe he wasn’t a rock star, but he’s still famous. How famous exactly? Well, in late 2005, his friends, Marilyn Manson and Dita Von Teese, were married on the grounds of the very castle we had just trespassed! In fact, the wedding was such a big deal, Vogue featured it in their March 2006 issue in an article titled “The Bride Wore Purple.” Gottfried was even Manson’s best man. We {sorta} met someone famous! (Oddly enough, by the time of publication a few months after the wedding, Von Teese had already filed for divorce. That marriage didn’t last long…)

Julie did manage to snap a few photos of the castle.

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And if you’re interested in reading more about the property itself (Gurteen Castle), you can find that here.

Also, you can find out all about the Vogue article here.

Having rubbed shoulders with celebrities, we continued on to Waterford where we took the tour of Waterford Crystal.

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As you can see from some of the molds below, many important pieces were crafted here.

Being in supply chain and planning on a daily basis, I was just as interested in their production schedule! Not exactly what ours in the pipe business look like….

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Having worked in manufacturing for the last few years and well, really, just being American, I was blown away by the lack of safety guards! Not only for the workers, but also for the tourists filing through. Don’t get me wrong, I actually really appreciated it. That tells me that the technicians are highly trained (really, they said during the tour some of these positions take 4+ years just to work your way into taking a test to be able to do this. If you fail the test, you start the four years over again. Intense.) and common sense isn’t a thing forgotten there. I would also imagine it must not be as easy to sue over there as it is in the good ol’ US of A. There’s no way a manufacturing facility here in the US with blades like the ones below would allow untrained civilians to walk so close by. Especially in the first two pictures below, I could have extended my arm to reaching length and my hand would have been in that blade. Crazy. (Meanwhile, I have to wear a hard hat and met guard boots to walk down a road at the mill. Go figure.)

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And what about this little cutie?! Oh my… those eyes… I know it must get aggravating to have your work constantly displayed to those touring everyday. Even still, he looked up and gave me this little smirk. Too cute, sir. Too cute.

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And as with any good tour, they dump you out in the gift shop at the end!

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Too bad this little vase was about all we could have afforded. Ha!

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After Waterford, we made our way to the big city- Dublin.

We checked into our Airbnb (more on that later) and headed out in search of sustenance. We had dinner at Wallace’s Taverna where I had my first experience with truffle pizza. Had we not been sitting by the loudmouth who insisted on cursing more than actually speaking useful words, we might would have enjoyed dinner a bit more.

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After dinner we ventured into the Temple Bar District. Think Irish Bourbon Street here. We listened to a few bands on the street, but after witnessing a drug deal just inches from our own hands, we decided to call it a night. This was our first bad taste of Dublin.

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Our Airbnb was the source of much of our uneasiness throughout the weekend. Though I’m quite fond of the service Airbnb offers, I was disappointed in this particular location. The cost of this “luxury apartment” was very pricey for what we received. It was evident when communicating without our host just prior to arrival that what they were doing was probably illegal. Our host (who we never actually met in person, because they were out of town) was insistent that we not go to the management office AT ALL- even in case of emergency. The apartment was filthy, and the room in which Seth and I slept smelled very odd. The furniture in the living room looked like it had been mauled by bears. Other than the fact the internet was great, and that was a first for the trip, this Airbnb was extremely disappointing, and my review reflected that!

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Saturday morning brought about a bit more promise. We started the day off with what had become the norm- fresh bakery goods from the nearby grocery. That morning, I realized this may be the last real chance I had to enjoy the flaky goodness, so I snapped a few shots in remembrance. And now, as I type this, I would give up just about all of my belongings from one of these little guys.

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First stop in our busy day- Guinness!

Now, this is where I get real with you. If you only wanted to choose one brewery/distillery to check out while in Dublin, I would not recommend Guinness. Yes, it is iconic. Yes, I had come to enjoy the taste. However, those are the only two positives I can name. At €18 per person, the tour is ridiculously overpriced, especially considering you never see any production. Basically, you are herded through a highly designed museum of sorts as if you are cattle. (Really, it was PACKED in there!) Many of the displays are video based with sound, but when you’re in a room with 100 other people, you can’t hear a word that’s being said. Everyone is trying to cram around the speakers and really, it’s just miserable.

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The best part of the Guinness tour was the free beer you were entitled to at the top of the building where you could overlook Dublin. Unfortunately, since we were touring there first thing, I didn’t exactly have a taste for beer at 10:30 in the morning!

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We did find this cute little eatery as we made our way through the streets of Dublin. The workers there were so inviting and even let us southern girls take a peak at the kitchen.

Up next, St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

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Apparently, a storybook festival was being held that day, so these characters were entertaining kids on the lawn of the cathedral. Their costumes were INCREDIBLE, and they were actually really entertaining for adults, too!

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These little pups really seemed to be enjoying their beautiful spring day!

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As we stepped inside, we noticed a choir singing a cappella, and it was beautiful!

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After the cathedral, we moseyed on over to Dublin Castle where Julie and I went into the Chester Beatty Library while Seth, Jonathan, and the bugs enjoyed the beautiful day out on the lawn.

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Knowing our time was drawing to a close, we made sure to fill out postcards for the nieces and slip in the mail. Jonathan was insistent he be the one to drop them in the green mailbox!

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Growing tired, we stop by Trinity College briefly…

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We were hoping to see the Book of Kells, but the line wrapped around the building. Maybe on another trip we’ll have more time and feel better about more Dublin journeys.

A quick bite at the Hard Rock, and we were about to fall asleep at the table. We stopped back by some souvenir shops, but it was time to call it a night, a weekend, and a trip.

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So at a glance, our time in Dublin doesn’t seem so bad. And truly, it wasn’t awful. I think we all just agreed that the time we had in Galway and Killarney was much more enjoyable. The rush of city life was very different from what we had become accustomed to, and compounding that with our exhaustion hit harder than we planned. I think that’s all part of adventure. Sometimes places won’t live up to the hype you imagined or turn out like you expected, and that’s completely ok. You aren’t made to love everywhere you ever visit. As one might be able to tell from my extensive posts on this trip, we truly had a wonderful time. In fact, I have to seriously hold myself back from continuing to Instagram these pictures. I know people are tired of them! Ha!

As I wrap up our incredible Ireland excursion, I look forward to 2017’s journey- GERMANY! We have German friends who we are so very excited to visit, so I’ll now commit the next months to planning that adventure!

Until then…

Happy travels, my dears!

Jubilant Jennifer

PS – Ever been to Germany? I’d love to hear all tips and tricks you may have! Leave me a comment below!

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3 thoughts on “Ireland – Weekend – Celebrities, Crystal, and Dirty Dublin

  1. Anonymous says:

    I’m from Ireland and doing a year abroad for university and I just spent the last half an hour trawling through your blog. It makes me so homesick but I’m delighted you had a good experience 🙂

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