For a major re-cap of our Ireland Adventure, here's a list of my "Best of Ireland":
My favorite campground was Hungry Hill on the Beara Peninsula. The owners were so very nice, the showers were great (although it was a tight squeeze for CH), and I just liked the overall feel of the place.
Definitely the Guinness. I tried Murphy's but it didn't hold a candle to the Guinness. CH's would probably be the Bulmers Cider, but I'm more of a beer girl! I had 1 "Jamie with Ginger & Lime" (Jameson, ginger beer, and lime) but couldn't get enough of the Guinness. Especially since I learned my lesson by not trying it until the end of the last trip!
This is a tough one because we didn't have a bad meal the whole time we were there. The beef stew at The Castle Inn really stuck out for me, so that's what I'm going with!
Best Irish Coffee
Without a doubt, the best Irish Coffee I had was at MacCarthy's Pub in Castletownbere, County Cork, on the Beara Peninsula. I told Adrienne (the owner) it was the best I've had, and she laughed and said that I probably said that every time I had one.
This is another tough one because every time we turned a corner there was something more beautiful than what we had just seen. While Ladies View was gorgeous, I'm going to have to say the scenery at Kilcatherine's Point/Church on the Beara Peninsula. It took my breath away.
Out of all of the castle/abbey/tower house ruins we saw, I think Tintern Abbey was my favorite. Rock of Cashel is definitely in the running for the best, but there was just something about Tintern Abbey, with the battlemented bridge and church ruin, not to mention the walled gardens, which I'm going to have to go back and see again when it's in full bloom.
The best thing that we experienced without expecting it was the Irish Red Deer on our walk from Ross Castle back to Killarney. I knew the deer were in the park but had forgotten about them until we saw them.
Oh, gosh, y'all! We went to a lot of pubs while we were there! If I had to pick one that I would definitely go back to, it would be the Moycarn Lodge and Marina. It's not really considered a pub, but it set the beginning of our adventure with new friends, laughter, and (of course) drinks.
The best story from the whole trip is meeting Maeve & James in the Killarney Pub. We walk into this packed pub, ask to sit with a young couple, and end up sitting there for hours talking, drinking, and laughing. The best part is that Maeve is a Special Education Teacher of high school-age students with Autism. I only regret that we didn't swap information so I could ask her more questions!
Best Advice on Where to Eat
This one is a no-brainer! The first piece of advice we received before we touched down on Irish soil was the best: Sullivan's in Oughterard, just west of Galway. Incredible coffee and just as amazing pastries. I would go out of my way to stop there again!
There are only 2 things that CH & I did that my SIL & I did in 2017. One was taking the ferry over the River Shannon between Galway and Killarney. That was a time-saver. The other thing was my favorite: Finding Husseys Pub in Killarney. In 2017, we found it by accident and had to go in because of the name. This time, CH saw it (again, by accident) and we had to go in. If you find yourself in Killarney, definitely look for it.
How can I not include the Irish people in this category? Every person we spoke with was incredibly nice. (Well, there was that 1 bus driver in Dublin but I put the blame on myself for that one!) Everyone was so helpful. If we had not spoken with anyone, we wouldn't have seen half of the really cool things we saw. Before we went on our trip, we watched videos and read about what not to do when you're in Ireland. One of the things was not to talk about your heritage. I think I'm a rarity of an American because I have no Irish in me...I'm only German. Almost everyone we spoke with at any length asked us if we had Irish blood. So strike that advice about not talking about your heritage! It struck me how many people had traveled to the USA or to Australia. It was rare to speak with someone who had never been, and almost every person said they had a relative who lived in the US. If for no other reason, go to Ireland for the Irish people. Don't be shy...talk to the people in the pub. One lady at the campground in Killarney told me to stand at the bar in a pub...don't sit down at a table unless you want time to yourself.
But the absolute best thing we did for the whole trip was hiring the campervan. Having a toilet at our disposal (ha!) was perfect for our needs. Having the freedom to go where we wanted, when we wanted couldn't have been more perfect. And, on top of that, it was most certainly a money saver. We couldn't have been more pleased with Bunk Campers. If you're planning a trip to Great Britain or to Ireland and want to go at your own pace, check them out!