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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

My Utopia Found - Kilkenny, Ireland (Days 4-5)

Road Trip Adventure - Sharing the road with sheep! At Wicklow Mountains.

My dreams have come true – we are road tripping through the mountains of Ireland. THIS is what we came to Ireland to do! YES, you really are sharing the road with sheep. And YES, sheep are plentiful dotting the entire landscape. It was absolutely delightful. None barred our path, so no sheep delays. 

It’s amazing how long you go without seeing another car. There were times when I wondered what we would do if we had car trouble. If weather had been really bad, we had alternative plans to take the freeway to Kilkenny (down the M9), but as luck would have it, weather was fine for our travel through the scenic Wicklow Mountains.

Sweet loaves of bread - this was awesome. We drove at our pace, pulling over at random stops to check out ruins. The kids would dart out of the car and run around in awe of their surroundings, standing still to allow a few photos. I was a little concerned with them getting hurt in the middle of nowhere, but only a few times did I pull them back from whatever rocky ledge they were about to peer over. For the most part, we were right there with them sometimes even pushing ahead when they were ready to go back to the car.

In case you wondering, yes the kids did have their electronics. It was a necessity and I’m glad they were able to occupy themselves for portions of the drive. This allowed us ALL to enjoy the time.

We came through Sally’s Gap via Military Road feeling like the only people left on earth. Looking back, this drive is what I tell people about when I advise them to get car. THIS is Ireland. We passed through Glendalough (“Valley of the Two Lakes”) stopping for lunch at the Visitor’s Center. It was pretty busy here, but we were able to find parking (yep, sign posted warning of car thieves). There are a lot of scenic sights from here, including entrances to numerous hiking trails. You could plan a stay and explore them in greater depth. We were okay with leaving after lunch as it felt a bit crowded with all the tour buses.

We rolled into Kilkenny and found our accomodations in the village of Stoneyford at the stunning Lawcus Farm Guesthouse.

I never want to leave. We are on a working farm, but more like "glarming". It's so beautiful and we are running around giddy as can be! At Lawcus Farm B&B.

We will be ok here. Our one street village has a pub. At Stoneyford Kilkenny.  Off licence means purchase liquor and take back to your lovely B&B.  The pub doesn’t serve food (I know, what???), but head across the street to order Indian carry-out and they will deliver it to you at the pub.

We even had plenty of leftovers to take back to the farmhouse. We had the family room with upstairs loft, which the girls made a designated "kids-only" area.

Farm life.  The next morning, we had a delightful full Irish breakfast. Caitlin and Molly got to earn their keep by feeding the animals and checking the chicken house for eggs. At Lawcus Farm B&B.

Another day, another castle, another pub! At Kilkenny Castle.

Kilkenny Castle is an OPW Heritage Site (accepts the heritage pass).  There are guided tours, but you can also wander about on your own.  There are guides in the various rooms, so even if you don't go on tour, you are able to ask questions and learn about the various areas.  We even got lucky and had one guide grab the girls and take them to a hidden room.  The grounds are beautiful and there is a lovely large water feature (fountain).

Kilkenny Castle is in the village, so you will have no trouble finding a place for lunch.  I ate seafood chowder at almost every lunch.  Just so tasty!

Impressive ruins! We left them the way we found them! At Jerpoint Abbey.

We took the guided tour at this Heritage site.  It was very interesting and provided insight into daily life.  The architectural details are what catch your eye.  These monastic ruins are in really great shape weathering time.

There was only one way to reach these ruins - thru the sheep! At Kells Priory.  

Just down the road from the farmhouse (practically their backyard - have I mentioned I never want to leave?), we found these ruins. Wait, we have to go THROUGH the sheep to get to them? Will they charge? Will they herd into a blockade? Will they separate me from my children?  Well, I knew enough about animals to warn the girls to stay away from the babies. Other than that, just, ummm, try to watch where you step. I know. Don't worry too much about it. That's why mommy told you to wear your rain boots.

Sad to leave the farm this morning! But first, we let the chickens out through their tunnel and collected the eggs for our breakfast.  I may or may not have cried at our departure from this pocket of paradise.

The girls saying goodbye to all the farm animals.  This took hours.  They kept saying we missed one and would run back down.  No hurry.  How could you be in a hurry to leave such Utopia?

Up Next - Day 6 Kinsale, Ireland

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