A place that goes by many names. Some you know, some you do not.
I am not going to go down the rabbit hole I almost just went down on all the names Ireland is or has been known by. That was a close one. We are all safe though.
I will however share a name by which it is now known to me.
‘The Place Where The Term, “Photos Do Not Do It Justice,” Was Coined.’
Good, no?! OK, fine, we will work on it, but here is why I think this. I think this is also where I might finally break WordPress’ photo capacity. Just blow it up. Wish us luck, I have many, many pictures. This whirlwind trip will be broken up into a few
posts letters. The point is, dear readers, I was disappointed in most all of my photos! Now, I can anticipate y’all telling me I am full of IT. However, if you could have seen it all with your own eyes and felt it all with all your known and unknown feelings, you would feel the same. I would look at my pictures at the end of the day and just wonder what exactly it was I saw with my own eyes. It was more…everything! The pictures simply do not do the place any kind of justice.
My trip I suppose technically began two Thursdays ago. I was fully packed on Wednesday and my house was about one hundred percent clean by that point. I may have stayed up super late one night (like 1 AM), fueled by anticipation and super strong coffee to get there, but I got there! It felt amazing to only have to wake up Thursday and put clean sheets on my bed. I am not sure what feels more accomplished than that. I know, that sounds somewhat sad, but adulting is sad sometimes! It feels really good to come home to a spotless house. It also gives you a good reason to procrastinate on unpacking and laundry upon your return. Who would want to undo all that hard work!? Anyway, I digress…
Fortunately for both Merle and myself, we had a quick 12 hours at the farm scheduled after work on Thursday. He was really in a dither with the packing and energy and general change. I always feel guilty when the dogs get upset knowing you’re leaving and not wanting to be left behind. We had just enough time to let him have good run and for me to check on everyone in addition to getting a few things done before we had to leave Friday morning. I said a sad goodbye to my boy Merle at the kennel at mid morning on my way back home to grab a quick shower, throw my bag in the truck, and head to my friend’s house. I left my truck safely parked there and we hopped in a car to the airport.
I was feeling pretty good by this point, but I would still not feel like I was actually on vacation until we all arrived on the Emerald Isle WITH our bags. There have been a lot of airline travel mishaps recently as I am sure you have heard and it was definitely something that was causing me some slight worry. BUT, as they say, try not to worry for naught!
Getting through bag check and security was a blessed non event and we headed straight to find a mimosa and lunch! It is vacation and travel after all! Mimosas are the first call of duty on any trip and we had plenty of time before our 4:45 PM departure.
There are blessedly no airplane pictures for you, at least not for the flight over. If you have been around here a while, you might well have been expecting some of those. I did it both when I went to France and when I went to Hawaii! I feel it shares the whole experience. The truth is though, I always feel so silly taking pictures out the window of the wings or of the flight trajectory while in flight. Ha, normally it does not stop me, but this time it did. I was more restless while in the air than I normally am.
All that said, the travel went off just fine! We landed at 10:30 AM Ireland time and so did our bags. The fun could really begin now. We were picked up by one of the farm owners and we stopped at a shop in Bunratty on the way for a coffee and a snack. In retrospect, we should have also made a quick souvenir run through here as well, but we did not.
You already know the Ireland is very green. They call it the Emerald Isle for a very obvious reason. I was expecting it, but the stark difference to Texas at the present moment deep in a very brown and crispy drought was a bit shocking! I could also mention the starkness of the difference in temperatures, 100+ deg. F to 60 deg. F, but we do not need to go there. However, the flowers there! They are stunning. Flowers everywhere. Not just landscaped flowers, but wild ones as well! These beauties along with the hydrangeas literally everywhere were just lovely. I have never seen so many hydrangeas and of such size and so many colors. Funny thing is, I think I only have one hydrangea picture from the whole time and it is a bad one through the window of a bead and breakfast. Oh well, live for the moment! Anyway, like I was saying, the colors. All kinds and colors of wild grown flowers. The fuchsia bushes and hedges and the purple heather in the fields are just stunning against the green. It brings complimentary colors to a whole new level. It really makes me want to become a master gardener.
We only stopped for half an hour before making the rest of the drive to the farm which would be our home base for the next four nights.
Like I said, GREEN! Made also even more green by the lovely weather we had. We did have some rain too, do not you worry!
The drive was…I am not sure of the word to use here. Harrowing seems like it should be a bit strong, it is not like we did not know the whole opposite side of the car bit, but I think it just might be accurate! Put eight Texans in a van hip to hip and drive it on the left side of the narrow, non shouldered, not quite two lane road with fast oncoming traffic…not sure what else to call it. I think Bertie was laughing at all of our gasps. It was an experience!
We were all ready to get out and scretch our legs, at take a deep breath, by the time we arrived.
We were immediately greeted by the magical wonder and charm of the farm and the house, but the best part was being greeted by Sneachta, or Snow, the sweetest lab (and a good looking and behaved one too!).
Have a walk through the house with us!
So many things to see and experience here. So many nooks and crannies. So much history and magic. I bet I could come ten times and still see something new.
After arriving at the farm mid Saturday, we had the rest of the day to rest and be leisurely. We got a tour of the whole house and got settled in our rooms two by two. We had to have another toast after getting settled! I chose a Bulmers light Irish Cider. Little did I know I was toasting to my horse!
After grabbing our drinks, we went for a little walk around the farm. In addition to Snow the Lab, there was also a Border Collie, also named in Irish/Gaelic, but I can not remember her name. It sounded somewhat like snickers and nothing like Cujo, but we called her Cujo as she was a typical turbo intense BC. Very sweet though!
The house and barns were completely surrounded by a magical forest. A magical forest glade! I have no doubt that there were ferries in amongst the trees.
Cujo trying to tell us dense humans where we should go with her by luring us with her stick.
An Sibin is the name of the farm/riding center/outfitter. The name apparently means speak easy and/or/with homemade whiskey. We booked our trip through Stacey with Active Riding Trips and we had a lovely booking experience with them. We came for an eight day riding adventure from Whitegate to the west coast complete with six riding days. It was an adventure to be sure and we really covered some country!
Once we had our little walk around the farm with our drinks, we retreated to our rooms for a little nap. While I did not think I would be able to sleep, I am glad that I got a little bit of a nap as I could not sleep on the plane.
After our naps we all got a little restless and dinner was not until 7 PM. We had some time so most of us took another little walk down the road and hooked up with the walking trail before dinner.
Loyal snow stayed with us the whole way and back again.
We went a little ways down the trail before the ground got a bit soft and wet, so we turned around to stroll back for dinner.
We had a lovely candle lit three course dinner with wine of cuscus stuffed roasted tomatoes followed by succulent slices of pork with potatoes and veggies and a finale of apple and berry crumble topped with fresh, soft whipped cream.
I went to bed full of anticipation and dreams of meeting my horse for the week the next morning! This is what we came here for, to ride and see Ireland by horseback, between the ears.
The story continues! Come back soon for the next chapter!
Walk in love, dear readers!