I am heading to Ireland tomorrow to shoot a job for Freeport Yoga Company and the brand-new Running On Insight and as I began my planning, I thought it might be a good idea to look through my old photos/journals from my last trip to Ireland in 2013 and see if it sparked any ideas.
As trips down memory lane are wont to do, what began as focused research quickly devolved into oohing and aahing over remembered adventures and it occurred to me that this was the trip that really marked a shift in how Justin and I approach travel. It was the beginning of what we've come to think of as the "Mosey Method" of traveling.
The Mosey Method has a few key defining features:
1. Take your time. I mean this. This is at the heart of the mosey method. Have a second cup of coffee in the morning. Chat with the host of your B&B casually. Pull over to look at the sheep or pet the donkey or just take in the view. Stop for a beer. Have a second one. Get caught up watching Manchester United play Everton and cheer with the locals. Avoid hard deadlines to be places whenever possible. Stay an extra day if you like. Do not rush.
2. If you have an itinerary at all, make it loose and flexible. I am a planner by nature, so I tend to want to make myself familiar with what's around and what attractions/towns/events/etc are most appealing to me. BUT. Don't be married to a strict itinerary. And ask anyone you can (host at your B&B, girl scooping your ice cream, bartender pouring your beer) what they recommend doing/seeing...there always seem to be things off the beaten path that are more interesting than the big guidebook attractions. It's how you can find yourself watching a college cricket match in the midst of Dublin on a beautiful afternoon or being regaled with tales by an weathered old fisherman in a little coastal pub while Dougal, the bartender, buys you a pint on the house. These are the experiences that stay with you long after your souvenirs from tourist trap gift shops have gone in the trash.
3. EAT!!! Okay, so admittedly this is always a mantra of mine, but when traveling, I take this especially seriously! And by eat, I also mean DRINK! If alcohol isn't your thing, that's cool...stop for coffee or tea or a milkshake or whatever instead! But stop. We had one of our best meals and interactions on this trip when we decided to stop for a beer and a bite in a pub that was the only building aside from farmhouses for miles...it just stood alone at a crossroads near Newgrange and we just had to check it out. We were rewarded with hilarious overheard banter between locals, great advice for a place to stay, and a bit of local history that may or may not be true, but was certainly entertaining to hear. And c'mon...snacks are always fun!
And since I've never shared our 2013 trip in this space, I thought it would be fun to recap our first true Mosey Method trip around Ireland...
After an overnight flight, we picked up our rental car and checked into the Fitzwilliam Hotel (I always make it a point to book my first night's accommodations ahead of time...it's no fun to be sleep deprived and wandering about an unfamiliar city with your luggage trying to figure out where to go). I have a small obsession with books and history and I couldn't wait to stand in Trinity College Library's Long Room and smell the old leather bound volumes, so that was our very first stop, along with the famed Book of Kells.
From there we staved off our jet lag by walking in the crisp May air...
From there, we wandered...stopping to listen to the buskers on Grafton Street, admire the locks of love on Ha'penny Bridge (which have since been removed), and have our first Irish pints in a tiny bar we couldn't find the actual name of. We passed by the Temple Bar and it's throngs of American tourists and eventually made our way back to our hotel when the jet lag finally did us in.
After a tremendous night's sleep, we enjoyed a short run in St. Stephen's Green before a casual breakfast and hitting the road. Around lunchtime, we rolled into Cahir in Co. Tipperary and, after a beer of course, explored Cahir Castle...
When the opportunity came up to stay the night at a castle-turned-bed & breakfast, we grabbed it. The Carrigeen Castle was just a short walk from Cahir Castle and although more modern (I love it when early 19th century is "modern"!), still a cool experience...
Nothing says haunted castles like red uplighting...
I just couldn't bring myself to pass by Blarney Castle, so upon leaving Cahir, we made our way to the famous keep. While we skipped kissing the stone (yuck!), the castle and grounds were among our favorite excursions in Ireland and absolutely worth the price of admission. We toured the castle, which was incredible (did I mention that I love history?), and then spent several hours wandering the grounds and gardens.
Anyone else thinking what I'm thinking? ...Downton Abbey...anyone? Anyone?
Ring of Kerry / Dingle
While motoring happily along the narrow winding backroads toward the Ring of Kerry, we spotted a small trail leading into a wood and stopped to investigate. We spent nearly an hour in this mossy faerie wonderland before resuming our travels...
We arrived in Dingle just after twilight, eager for a bite and to find a place to stay for the night. The next morning, we took all the time we wanted as we wandered along the peninsula toward Doolin. While we never caught sight if Fungie, Dingle's famous dolphin, we did manage a few sheep, the fascinating beehive huts, and, of course, the magnificent views...even if our GPS did keep trying to tell us we were driving into the ocean!
Doolin / Inis Mor / The Cliffs of Moher
In Doolin we found phenomenal music and...you guessed it, beer and snacks! We had a rollicking good time before the moonlit walk back to our B&B...
The next day we were lucky enough to catch a break in the weather. The ferry to the Aran Islands from Doolin hadn't been able to get out for more than two weeks, but we were met with, if not sunshine, at least mild weather and jumped at the chance to head out to the islands. We had to make a decision as we couldn't do them all, so we opted for Inis Mor, interested in seeing it's renowned cliffs. The island was a delight and we pedaled around it with silly grins plastered to our mist-soaked faces...
Doonagore Castle looking all princess-y...
The Cliffs of Moher were spectacular to say the least! Do yourself a favor and get past the throngs at the visitor's center...well worth the walk.
From the Cliffs, we began our journey back toward Dublin and home, but not before stopping overnight in Meath to see the Neolithic passage tomb and temple at Newgrange. I have such an interest in these types of historic sites and so much wonder that Stone Age people could build such a structure to align with the winter solstice more than 5,000 years ago. It was absolutely fascinating.
In retrospect, I might have stayed longer in a single place rather than move on almost every day...something that we've since incorporated as part of our usual travel strategy...but it was actually pretty great to get a bit of a feel for the different areas of Ireland on this first visit and we truly employed the Mosey Method, so we never felt rushed or harried.
I'm looking forward to heading back tomorrow and will keep you posted as I explore the Connemara region a bit before hunkering down to work near the Cliffs of Moher for a week! Be sure to follow along on Instagram for updates along the way!