I know what you are probably thinking.
That we are not even half way through the trip story and this is the last installment. Also, why can’t you put a week long trip into one post?! Just pick the highlights and move on!
OK, fine, maybe you are not thinking that, but I am.
That is part of my point. How does one pick their favorite part of something like this? How do you accurately describe it?!
But who cares, let us get to the good stuff. Buckle up and have a whole pot ready.
Even if I feel like my pictures do not do the countryside justice, this is where the views really kick it up a notch. For me, this is true especially on Wednesday and Thursday. Not to discount Friday though, just wait till you see. This is also my favorite part of the trip because Wednesday and Thursday night we stayed in two different villages in B&Bs and hotels. Staying in any village means one very important thing: PUBS. Pubs mean sessions. MUSIC! We may have only had two nights, but we had to make them count. Thursday night really did not disappoint! We also raced to see the Cliffs of Moher up close and personal right before sundown, so there is that too!
Here we are packed and ready on Wednesday morning, ready to throw our bags in the van and drive to the horses.
The field the horses were in for the night was somewhat split level. Naturally, they were all at the top. We looked at each other and started to climb the hill. I am not sure if these pictures really show the level of incline or size, but we were all winded by the time we got to the top.
The horses did seem to enjoy watching us climb the hill. They know what they are about. Just look at them.
Like I said, they know what they are about. After I grabbed Bulmers, I turned around and saw.
Only a horse such as Bulmers could add to a view like that.
It is like he has a sense of humor or something.
It is like a post card.
So this was one of my favorite days. The views were spectacular before we even started riding and we got to ride in some of the more open country off the roads with no power lines. It was really special to see after we climbed the hill the junction of the forest, the heather, and the green fields.
I am not sure if you can really see it, but where you can see the purple flowers is a little creek/drainage/riparian area. This farmer had it electric fenced off to prevent damage by the cows.
Electric fencing us used primarily everywhere we went in conjunction with the walls and hedges. Interestingly, we also saw quite a bit of barbed wire which was a surprise to me. Four pronged and most of it looking new.
Before this trip, I did not realize the nature of the hills here. I thought gentle rolling hills. While they do look like that maybe from a far or in pictures, the hills are quite steep.
Should I mention again how much I love the heather? No? OK.
The reward at the top of the hill!
This is my favorite moment of the trip. I think Bulmers quite liked it too.
I thought this is was a cool little shot at the top of the hill. While in the wild and free heather, you can see the dark green forest there with the old and new timber and the stark contrast of the soft, light green field.
This country side here to me you really can not capture in photographs.
One more for good measure because you can not get enough!
Some cute horses we met on the road.
A farmer baling haylage or silage.
After a long and great ride, the horses were loaded up in a lorry to take them across some more populated areas to their field for the night. We would meet them there the next morning on Thursday.
A big lorry for big horses. The nice driver Declan said to me, “You only have to say goodbye until tomorrow. Not long.” Did I have hearts in my eyes or what?
Our drive into town was interrupted by the diary cows by the looks of it going to be milked.
We were dropped at our B&B’s in Corofin (I think that is where we were, don’t judge me. We were moving a lot!) and basically ran to a pub. We only had so much time and we needed to make the most of it!
We found this charming place which looked to be the best around! Also almost the only around, but it was only Wednesday and the village was quite small.
I found it interesting the Coors was on draft everywhere. No, I did not have any, I stuck to Irish. I should have asked the bar tender what it is about Coors that is so popular. Alas, I will just have to go back.
I enjoyed my first ever glass of Guinness. It was worth the wait. I liked it a lot more than I though I would. I did not have three by the way. I had two. Not that anybody should be counting when on vacation in Ireland anyway. I also moved to Irish whiskey later…so…there.
Spot the pup in the pub! We moved to another pub called the Yellow Submarine where we would actually be having dinner. They opened up just for us. It was arranged again for us to have a three course dinner there. I had a salad which was good, but I should have gotten the veggie soup, it was really good. I had a ham and tomato toastie with chips (and vinegar!) for the main. Basically a grilled ham and cheese with tomatoes. They had a choice of apple or rhubarb pie for dessert. As a group we all decided to share so we could all taste both. They were both amazing (I need to learn some new words), but I think the rhubarb was particularly wonderful. The crust was perfect and one of the best I have ever had.
After dinner we went back to the first pub for music and drinks.
We walked back to the B&B and hit the hay to do it all again tomorrow! Our group was split into two B&B’s. I can not remember the name of the place we stayed at, but it was really nice. The rest of the group stayed at Lakefield Lodge which was reportedly also lovely.
The next morning our breakfast table was set very nice and we even had the treat of French press coffee. I am a sucker for French press! After a nice visit with the owner, we drove out to the field to meet the horses.
The morning started out stunning and blue, but got rather Irish and rainy pretty quickly!
There is only one other kind of rain that is more pretty. You guessed, Texas rain, especially after you have not had any for a while, but this sure is pretty! Especially with Bulmers’ ears in it. I finally brought along an extra hair tie, so he got a braid to last the day. I stuck some fern leaves in it to dress him up for the day and set out with the goal to build a bouquet in his braid through the day. You all know by know I am just a horse girl kid at heart. The adulting of the world has not beat it out of me yet.
We were riding through the Burren landscape this day through to the coast on Friday.
After riding for a while, we stopped to explore a cool Celtic ring fort!
I am sure you’re not surprised by now to know that I was clearly the photographer of the group. I do not like to generally share pictures of other people for protection and privacy reasons, but it is hard to see details in this picture for the landscape.
It was a very dynamic weather day. It rained enough to soak through my breaches, but the sun was still there to play.
Bulmers’ bouquet growing! One of the other horses kept trying to eat it! The horses there eat mostly everything around. From grass, to flowers, to hedges. There is not much they do not touch. Apparently there are no poisonous plants in Ireland. In Texas, we have not only poisonous plants, but sticky and pokey plants that practically jump out to bite you!
The peat is everywhere! I do not think we got to enjoy a peat fire once though.
It was fascinating to watch the landscape change as we trekked west.
Before we knew it, the sun full on with blue sky and we could see the blue Atlantic!
Like I said, colors. This was only a taste of what was to come tomorrow on our final day.
On this night we stayed in the village of Lisdoonvarna. We were again split between the Bellview B&B and the Rathbaun Hotel. Dinner and Breakfast for us all would be at the Rathbaun.
We did the same thing of drop and run to a pub. This is a cute village that has a bit more going on that where we were the previous night. We were also missing, by a day, the famous match making festival that happens annually here. It is apparently quite a ‘scene.’
We walked around for a few minutes to take it all in before heading to the pub in The Ritz for a drink.
We had dinner at our usual time of 7 at the hotel, another three course meal with many options to choose from. There was no lack of food for us! I had the veggie soup for my appetizer. For my main I had the traditional lamb stew. I wish I could have this all the time or at least taken the leftovers! Ice cream for dessert with some sort of chocolate fudge sauce was the perfect ending to the food portion of the meal. We had to get a move on from the table if we wanted to catch the Cliffs of Moher before sunset! We took our Irish coffees (not as good as the ones on the farm!) to-go as we hopped in the taxi van to head to the Cliffs.
When we arrived at the Cliffs, we decided to divide and conquer. Half of us went right, and half of us went left. I went with the left group. It was nice and quiet. No other people there and light winds.
We had the taxi driver John drop us at the best pub in town. He knew what he was about.
We started with four playing and singing and ended the night with six. It felt like all the stories you hear about what Irish pubs are like. This was obviously my favorite evening of the trip.
I went for the good stuff and had a good conversation with the bar tenderess.
I could have stayed there for hours. Just tucked into the corner with the stayers of our group. Listening to music and lilted conversation. Conversing with the locals and hearing stories. One day, I will be back for more horses, pubs, and people, but not everything lasts forever and we had one last full day of riding to rest up for!
Friday morning brought us another good meal at the hotel for breakfast before we made our way to the horses for one final time.
Another day and another adorned braid for Bulmers! His flower is what they call a butterfly bush. Beautiful color and an even better fragrance. I should have saved my butterfly shirt to wear on this day!
We stopped to explore this chapel ruin and grave yard. While I enjoyed being up close to it, it felt wrong when I was inside. Like I was invading someone’s privacy.
It was very beautify though.
And the horses really were a compliment to the scenery. Which I do not think will surprise anyone.
We also saw a lot of happy cows everywhere we went.
The clouds really cleared for us to show off the blue sky, green grass, and wildflowers when we started to climb some hills on our way to the coast. Yes, hills, plural. Two very large hills that by the end felt like mountains.
This was the first reward for the first climb. We dismounted and led the horses down a steep gravel road to have lunch in the valley.
After lunch, we then led the horses up another very steep hill with smooth, slick, old rocks. It does not show, but we did some serious hike climbing. At some point during our climb, I was doing quite a bit of thinking about my paddock boots. We were all pretty winded by the time we made it to the top.
BUT IT WAS WORTH IT!
This was at the very top and look at the flowers. I mean the picture does not show anything like what it looked like in person. Nicola the owner and one of the guides we had part of the week even exclaimed at the particularly special and unique beauty.
The Cliffs of Moher are there off in the distance.
For such a small island, it sure is big!
After a spectacular final day of riding, the horses were again loaded on the lorry and taken back to their starting field for a well deserved week of rest.
We had a long quiet drive back to the farm that evening.
I know for me, I was feeling very grateful. Grateful to be blessed with this trip and to experience a beautiful culture. Grateful for time with friends and the people we met. Grateful for the horse I got to ride and who took such good care of me and for being able to spend so many hours in the saddle. We rode a solid five and a half active days with almost half of it trotting and cantering.
I was also grateful to be heading back to a home a love and to be coming home to my own animals that I love.
This whole trip was an amazing experience. Every horse you ride has something to teach you and Bulmers was no different. As a lifelong and frequent rider, I would not consider myself to have low confidence or registerable fear. It is however a nature of the game to have some level of healthy fear. They are horses after all and even professionals have some level of fear and anxiety. All of that said, I found Bulmers a lovely confidence builder that I did not know I was needing. It was surprising to me. He reminded me to ride the horse you have. I was not even feeling scared, but before I even put a foot in the stirrup he almost grabbed my hand and said, “I got you, let’s go have some fun.” You can call me crazy, but long time readers know by now I am into the woo of life. That is where the carry descriptor for Bulmers came from. He carried me I felt like. He was so naturally uphill feeling when he moved, it felt very literal.
The whole week was a truly special experience.
I was sad to say goodbye to Bulmers, but I was also happy to be coming home to mine. I will carry Bulers and his feeling with me.
Dinner that night was late, but it was still festive. Sweet potato sliders for the appetizer, coconut chicken for the main, and brownies for dessert. Really good brownies! We had an after dinner champaign toast of thanks and gratitude with the owners and staff.
We stayed up late and packed late. We would have an early and long day on Saturday beginning with an 8 AM departure to make our way back to the airport.
Thankfully our travel was safe and event free. I got home in time to have a hot bath before jumping in bed. I think I was asleep by 11 PM and I slept all the way through to about 6:15 AM Sunday morning Texas time.
I was feeling pretty good! I figured I had escaped any jet lag.
That is what I get for thinking! It hit me hard by Sunday afternoon and the hangover lasted almost week! The good news was, I was at the farm by Sunday midday and would pick up my Merley Bob on Tuesday morning (thanks the Labor Day).
I hope you enjoyed coming along for the ride on my trip to Ireland! Thank you for letting me share this all with you. Sharing this with others is almost as good as going for me. Not everybody can go and do this for any number of reasons. Just another reason I feel grateful.
Walk in love, dear readers! Where should we go next?!