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Time To Travel - The Beginning of Ireland!

Welcome!  This begins a capture of what I hope are many world travels for our family.  Maybe it will give another family some ideas or even help you with planning travel with kids.

We Are Going To - IRELAND!

Rob had several times mentioned that we would need to go to Ireland when Granny was over there.  Hmmm, Ireland?  We could stay at Castle Chic (Granny's house outside of Dublin on the east coast in a coast village called Donabate).  I had been there before and knew that there were plenty of sights that the kids would enjoy.  I thought we would just sight-see by driving out each day and returning.  

Well, one rainy day, a few guidebooks and TripAdvisor, and all that changed.  I can’t praise TripAdvisor enough for all the information I gathered.  And the courage it provided!  But first, I asked Rob if he was willing to drive in Ireland (Of course! Piece of cake!).  Great.  I knew we did not want to see the country by buses and crowds.  We were going to march to the beat of our own drum.

What to do on a rainy day?

I put together a 3-week trip beginning and ending at Castle Chic as initially planned, but OH MY SO MUCH MORE in between.  I decided on a clockwise circular route where we would cut straight across from the west at Galway back to Donabate, missing the north, unfortunately, but time constraints prevailed.  Guess we will have to return to Ireland again - Giants Causeway awaits!  I booked the flights for the full three weeks and then began the planning of where we would stay.  We ended up with 8 different accommodations selected using TripAdvisor ratings and reviews.  By the way, we were planning for the following summer (summer is peak season in Ireland) – 10 months away!  So, I had my pick of the top-rated spots.  I wanted the places we stayed to be an important part of our experience, not just a place to lay our heads.

We have an itinerary!

The important thing was to keep the travel time between accommodations under 3 hours, which would leave a full day of sight-seeing as we moved from one location to the next, plus at least a full day in the area for enjoying our stay and the offerings of that location.  Again, where we stayed would also be a big part of our Ireland experience, so it wouldn't be packing and unpacking just to sleep.  Also, we had a car, so it wasn't like we had to completely unload everything at every place.

Right before we left, I booked our inter-island roundtrip flights for our stay on the Aran Island of Inishmore.  I decided to splurge this route over taking the ferry for the experience.  Also, an 8 minute flight sounded really appealing with the ease of free airport parking, and only 10 total passengers, including the pilot.  It was WELL worth it!  Highly recommend!

The last thing I did pre-travel was get a Collins Ireland Comprehensive Road Atlas and highlight our routes as well as print out the directions from AA Ireland Route Planner online at  It's free and provides turn-by-turn directions.  This was a useful alternative for when we weren't comfortable with the GPS suggestion to turn onto a narrow dirt road through a sheep filled field over a cliff in the rain - ha ha ha.   

We left for the airport on a Saturday armed with our fully-charged electronics.  The girls were very excited that they would be going to bed on the plane and waking up in Ireland. 

What follows is our day-by-day great adventure!

TOUCHDOWN Ireland, Dublin Airport!  From the airport, we got our rental car for the duration of the trip. Used Dan Dooley – prebooked and prepaid. There was a problem at the rental counter and somehow we ended up having to purchase additional insurance. Not sure what happened there. We also got the wi-fi (GET THIS!) and two booster seats for the girls. Turns out, Caitlin was too big for the booster seat, so we ended up not using it. Good thing we were able to ditch it at Castle Chic because the trunk was tight and we barely fit our luggage in.  That's the other thing - I chose a compact vehicle, but one with a trunk since we would be traveling and stopping for sight-seeing with our luggage.  Signs are posted in most of the tourist parking lots warning of thieves.  Not sure how common they actually are, but we were a bit worried about having things out in the open in the car.  We giggled our way down the road about LEFT, LEFT, LEFT and managed to successfully navigate our first roundabout without circling repeatedly.

Ireland - Day 1

We've safely arrived at Castle Chic.  Kissing the sea salt air.  At Donabate Beach.

This beach is on the way to Castle Chic. This is the only picture I was able to take because Caitlin promptly slipped getting out of the car and fell flat on her face. I thought for sure she lost teeth. They were all still intact, but it was still a bloody mess and her lip was split. This is the sort of thing I fear most traveling with the kids. Being somewhere foreign and needing medical attention. Poor thing - we were in-country less than an hour. We were a bit panicked, but those who know me, know I was well armed with a first aid kit. Whew! We were able to bandage her up and she recovered with just parental attention. Luckily, we had nothing planned for the first day and simply relaxed with a very lovely bbq dinner prepared by the neighbors.

Up next - Day 2 First Castle, First Pub

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