So after 2 months of planning the day has come. It was time to discover the Emerald Isle. When traveling, the first day is usually allotted to flying & traveling to the intended destination. We were ready for that day. After dropping off my adorable cat at my Grandparents & then the car to Blue Sky Parking, it was time for a 13 hour flight day. We were ready.
We won the lottery on the flight from Chicago to Dublin. My Mother & I each had our own row. 2 meals, a quick nap, & half of a viewing of Braveheart later, we stepped foot onto the foreign land that we had only been able to dream of.
Once we picked up the tiny yet perfectly sized car, it was time to hit the road. After quickly getting lost & getting directions from a handsome Irishman with deep blue eyes I could have swam in, we wandered into the Wicklow Mountains to find Sally Gap. We couldn’t go to Ireland without visiting the scene where Holly & Gerry meet in P.S. I Love You.
Dublin to Sally Gap is a stones throw away. It’s hard to imagine how close the tranquil Wicklow Mouintains are to the big city. Once we had explored the serene Wicklow Mouintains, it was time to head towards the town of Wicklow & visit the Wicklow Gaol.
The Wicklow Gaol is a historic 18th century prison that housed prisoners that had been sentenced under the Penal Laws. The Gaols inmates suffered through horrendous conditions & dark dungeons used to keep them locked as punishment. The prisoners even had to turn what looked like a treadmill/mill of sorts for hours as punishment. When arriving at the Gaol, you are greeted by characters playing very convincing 18th century characters. The Wicklow Gaol offers day tours, night tours, & even paranormal tours. I couldn’t even imagine how spooky the former prison would be at night, I was spooked by the life-like figures in broad day light.
You would have thought that our day was done, however, it was only half way through. After picking up some much needed Irish snacks, including the most delicious chips I’ve ever had, It was time to visit the land of expensive sparkles… Also known as Waterford Crystal.
Thankfully, Waterford Crystal was having a sale on ornaments. Thanks to my Mom, we now both have Waterford Crystal snowflake ornaments. Although we opted out, the Waterford Crystal Visitor Centre offers guided tours through the creation process. You even get to break some Crystal creations that aren’t up to par during the tour.
Since we were exhausted to say the least. We knew we needed to check into our hotel & grab our first Irish dinner. We stayed at the quaint Hotel Minella in Clonmel. It was the perfect distance between Waterford & the destination for the next day, the Rock of Cashel. The Hotel Minella is located right outside of Clonmel & along a small but mighty River Suir.
After being up for over 24 hours it was time to get settled in. After a quick cat nap we found a place to eat in town, & I almost fell asleep during said dinner. The next day was going to be the first full day in Ireland. My Mother & I were ready for the Rock of Cashel, Jameson Experience, English Market, & more. First, it was time to sleep in a comfy bed & dream of the Irish men & the upcoming days of our Irish Road Trip.
Room provided by the lovely Hotel Minella.
Prison tour provided by the Wicklow Historic Gaol.