An Irish Scéal

Scéal (Shkayle): This is the Irish word for story, account, narrative, tale…

Aimsir (AM-shir): Weather, time, season…the elements that surround us…

Comhluadar (CO-loo-der): Company, family…the harmony of being together…

Our travel to Ireland-

Several months ago, I found a great deal for flight tickets to Dublin. And this May we found ourselves taking 4 kids (aged 3 to 8) to Ireland for a 2 week vacation. Two of these kids were our own, the other two were our nieces. Once in Ireland, 2 more adults (one of my husband’s brothers and his wife) and their child joined our gang from the United States, and the 9 of us together toured the country in a giant 9-seater van.

There is so much covfefe about traveling with kids. Taking the shortest flight, carrying toys on the plane to keep them busy, planning kid-friendly activities, planning for their food during the vacation, and on, and on. But take it from someone who, at one point, has hauled a 1.5 year old on a 15 hour cross country drive with only one break, that covfefe is NOT a word. And you can chill with such travel worries! That such travel only strengthens you, and with tylenol or wine bottles handy makes for hilarious stories!

So, here’s a personality profile of the adults:

  • one obsessive-compulsive-busy-bee-planner type
  • one i-will-change-the-plan-every-two-minutes-if-i’m-not-slinking-off-being-lazy type
  • One super-serious-enforcer-of-plan-if-and-when-not-reading-Game-of-Thrones-on-Kindle type, and
  • one I-am-up-for-any-plan-but-will-transfer-my-child-duties-to-you-on-account-of-ahem-travel-related-nausea type.

Personality profile of the kids:

Awesome, awesome, awesome, awesome and awesome. Read…

  • one am-so-little-but-have-the-appetite-of-a-ravenous-adult type
  • one traveling-without-parents-and-couldn’t-care-less-about-it-stud-muffin type
  • one breaks-into-song-and-pretend-game-routine-at-the-drop-of-a-hat type
  • one i-will-veto-your-song-and-game-routine-and-break-into-my-own-just-because type, and
  • one bored-annoyed-older-sibling-who’s-secretly-enjoying-it-all type.

So what does this motley crew manage to do in 2 weeks. A lot apparently. Or maybe Ireland just has so much to offer! Having family in Dublin was probably the reason why Ireland was even on our radar- a pity considering what a great travel destination it is. This  little island is picture perfect anywhere you look! And it’s a great combination of the outdoors, history, warm people and alcohol!

Exploring Dublin was fun- walking through Trinity College, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Temple Bar, and the Splash Tour aboard a land-water vehicle called Thor, where we were taught to scream like the Vikings at innocent pedestrians. It must be karma then, I suppose, that Thor hit a taxi on the road, which stalled our tour by 45 minutes!. We spent 6 days on the road- the cute, little town of Killarney as our first stop, and the sleepy, charming city of Galway our next. We hiked, ate and relaxed at the beach. After coming back to Dublin for a 2 day pit stop, we went on a day trip to Northern Ireland exploring the Giant’s Causeway, and several Game of Thrones filming locations. And finally, just before returning to India, I ran a Women’s Mini Marathon of 10k in Dublin, a personal achievement that I had been training for in the months leading up to this trip. A lot of Guinness, Pale Ales and Apple Cider were consumed, as was sumptuous Irish food.

There are so many details, so many little things I wish I could remember forever. Like the bedazzling blue of the ocean against the endless green pastures with multicolored sheep. The way yards of country homes were fenced with rocks, and the roofs were thatched. The arid beauty of the Burren and the crisp air of the Connemara beaches.

The way the Guinness Storehouse smelled of hops and fermented barley, and how happy it made my husband! The late night wine date with my “co-sister” (not a word either, but at least it has a meaning) that we paid for dearly the next day!  What troupers the kids were! There was a cold hike up the Gap of Dunloe, which was finally completed only by my unstoppable brother-in-law, and that too with a kid on his back! And then there was the breathtaking, feel fuzzy in the bones, warm hike along the Cliffs of Moher, which all of us completed with great enthusiasm. How the kids looked for Leprechauns in Killarney National Park, and found a deer and a red fox instead. And how we spent some car rides eavesdropping on the pretend games of our sweet little girls sitting in the back row, our jaws dropping as they enacted scenarios where we (the parents) die, and the kids take care of each other!

My obsession with castles, and how many castle ruins we spotted on our drives. Learning about the painful history of Northern Ireland and the Europa Hotel in Belfast, apparently the most bombed hotel in the world. And how the Weather Gods loved us. We almost always stepped out with a forecast for rain, and ended up with bright, sunny skies! And, of course, the misery that I was visiting the hometown of my grade 7 crush, Ronan Keating of the Boyzone fame, but could not meet him!

While the process of getting all the kids out of the house each morning, and fed, cleaned and in bed each night got to “shoot me in the eye instead” levels at times, the adults did good. And while we tried to keep our activities accessible to kids, none of them were specially sought out for the kids, and the kids did good too. We pushed them, they pushed us, and we learned that kids are brilliant! And that it is possible to take 3 dreamy girls to a crowded pub bathroom, and come out sanity intact!

So yes, it was a great trip! We thank the gracious, unsuspecting, hosting grandparents, whose home we turned upside down. And we thank the fun, newly married couple for humoring us. We also ask said couple to thank us for providing them the best birth control inspiration! And in case they are not inspired, we want to remind them- Guinness Gives You Strength!

Sláinte!

 

A roundup of our favorites…

Must Do:

  • Tour Dublin on foot, stop for beer at little pubs on whim
  • Guinness Storehouse Tour
  • Cliffs of Moher hike
  • Dogs Bay and Gurteen Beach
  • Giants’ Causeway
  • A tour of Belfast
  • Ignore Google Maps and get lost among the tiny country roads
  • Window shopping at Avoca

Must Eat:

  • Irish lamb stew in a local eatery
  • Kai in Galway: an unassuming organic eatery with no place to sit and super yummy food
  • The Killarney Park Hotel in Killarney: a fabulous fine dining experience
  • The Chop House in Dublin: juicy, high quality steaks and other delicious food
  • Guinness, Jameson, Bushmills, Bailey’s Irish Cream…with a pub round each corner, you cannot miss the alcohol
  • Guinness Dark Chocolate

Must Hear to Believe:

  • Irish Gaelic pronunciation: The Irish word for Dublin is Baile Átha Cliath, and it is pronounced bally-a-klea!!
  • Irish slang…was fun listening to the locals… craic, gas, grand, knackered, leg it, throw us out around the corner, murder…!
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