Friday, August 11, 2017

Our Family Ireland Trip

It's been just over a month since we got back from Ireland and I am finally getting around to posting a trip recap. It was such a great trip and I am so glad we were able to take Claire there. Ireland has a special place in our hearts. We went there on our one year anniversary and Matt worked there for a year and a half. I've made quite a few trips over to visit him while there and we spent spring break there just over 2 years ago (recap post here). It was exciting for Claire to get to go! And she was such a trooper! That girl walked so much and rarely asked to be carried. And she did really well on the airplane and with time change, too. Don't be scared about taking your kids overseas! They fit better in the airplane seats anyway. My in-laws, sister-in-law and her husband, Matt, Claire, and I all went together. My sister-in-law and her husband flew in from Atlanta and met us in Dublin while the rest of us headed out of Chicago O'hare. 

With all that, the trip didn't exactly start off well. We were delayed 3 hours in Chicago before taking off. Then once we were finally in the air just as we were heading out over the Atlantic Ocean we were rerouted to JFK airport with no information about new flight, new plane, or delay. Once we arrived at JFK at about 3:30am, we still weren't given any information. Finally we were told we were getting a new plane and would take off at 8:30am. Well that was also delayed another 2 hours. We were supposed to arrive in Dublin at 7:50am but didn't end up arriving until after 10pm. At that point all we wanted was a shower and to be able to sleep laying down! 

We stayed at the Clayton Hotel in Ballsbridge, a neighborhood in Dublin. It's a gorgeous hotel with beautiful grounds and historic charm. It's also very close to the DART, a rail transportation system that you can use to get downtown or even out to Howth (a quaint fishing village outside of Dublin with amazing seafood restaurants). 
After a much more restful night of sleep, we headed out to Powerscourt Estate to see the gardens and the Avoca store there. Avoca is a chain of stores in the area carrying handmade Irish blankets, sweaters, and more. I love browsing what they have! We got a few things for Claire and for the baby.

It was in the cafe they have there during tea and scones that we did our little gender reveal. Claire was sure it was a boy, but you can tell she wasn't too disappointed and is now very excited to be having a little sister! 

Afterwards we spent a little time out on the terrace taking photos, but didn't walk around the grounds at all due to the weather. We drove to Glendalough to see the monastic settlement there founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century. 

The scenery there is just gorgeous and the rain let up just enough for us to enjoy it! Later that night after a nap (for all of us) we went to The Ivy House  for dinner. Matt used to eat there often when he lived in Dublin and the food there is delicious! It was the best bangers and mash (sausage and mashed potatoes) I had all trip! I think all except one of us had the bangers and mash! 
Friday we split up after taking the DART downtown. I took Claire to Dublinia, a family museum that focuses on the Viking influence and history in Dublin while the rest of the group went to Jameson Distillery. The museum was fun and interactive. I wish we had more time there! An hour and a half just wasn't enough. We all met at Zaytoon for lunch. Persian food is fairly popular in Europe and SO good. We love the donner meals and I had to have it at least once while we were there. Oh, and some garlic cheese fries! Matt and I took Claire for a nap while everyone else saw St. Patrick's Cathedral and did some shopping. That night we met at The Oliver St. John Gogartys in Temple Bar for dinner. It's a fun place with the live music, just don't expect exceptional food or service. Don't get me wrong, it's fine, but you go there for the atmosphere and music! Claire knows quite a few traditional Irish songs and requested a few of her favorites (Whiskey in the Jar and The Irish Rover) and was able to sing along. It was possibly the most fun and best entertainment we had all trip!

On Saturday we headed to County Limerick to visit some family my father-in-law has there. They are my husband's grandmother's cousins. She has visited them before, but none of us had ever met them. It was a lovely drive out with many scenic views. 

We were able to visit two of the cousin's homes. One of them still lives on land that has been in the family for generations. My husband's great grandfather grew up on that land (although the original house burned down long ago) before immigrating to America. It was lovely to meet them all and they were so hospitable! I could not have had one more sip of tea or bite of cake when we left! Claire had a lot of fun playing with her distant cousins on the land and finding salamanders in the pond! She was so exhausted by the time we left she slept the entire 3 hours back. 

On Sunday we took the DART out to Howth. Matt and I have been there quite a few times and love it. Sundays are a great day to visit because there is a little market to walk through. We also had fun walking out on the pier to the lighthouse and watching the boats. We even saw a seal! 
We were so lucky to have such a beautiful day for walking around! 

Claire was very excited about the candy she got from the market and refused to pose for our picture. 

For lunch we ate at The Bloody Stream. By far, it was the best fish and chips I had while there. We've eaten at that restaurant many times. Although there are so many delicious seafood restaurants in Howth, eating at The Bloody Stream is practically tradition for Matt and me! That night we ate at The Quays in Temple Bar. It's a bit cramped inside, but the food was delicious and the bread and butter pudding for dessert was amazing! 

On the way back to the hotel we stopped by and said a quick hello to Molly Malone. I may have spotted some of the most adorable shamrock sweaters and gotten 2 matching ones for Claire and our daughter-to-be. There were only 2 sizes, a 7 (bigger than Claire wears now) and a size 1 so I am really hoping next winter they will be able to wear them!

On Monday we headed out to Waterford. Claire really enjoyed the tour and now says she wants to work there. We told her we would visit as often as possible! 

We walked to O'Donoghues for dinner that night. I wouldn't recommend eating there. It seemed like a great place for a pint. It was cozy and full of character, but soup and sandwiches for dinner didn't quite cut it. 

On Tuesday we went to Butlers Chocolate Experience. This was a new experience for Matt and for me. I found it when looking into family activities in Dublin since I knew Claire and I would not be doing the Guinness or Jameson tours. Half of the group went to Kilmainham Gaol while Matt, Claire, my mother-in-law, and Claire headed to Butlers Chocolate Experience.

 This was such a great tour! We saw a movie about the history of Butlers, went through a small interactive museum, saw the factory, and then got to decorate a chocolate elephant to take home. We got to try several samples throughout the tour, too.

Claire still tells us this was her favorite part of the entire trip. The rest of the day was filled with a tour of Trinity College for some of the group, nap for us, and some quick shopping. We ate at Gogarty's again to enjoy the traditional music.  

On Wednesday my sister and brother-in-law and father-in-law did a one day trip to Northern Ireland. It was such a long day trip we decided not to take Claire and we had seen most of the sites on the tour during previous visits. Instead my mother-in-law, Matt, Claire, and I all had another Dublin day. This would also be known as my shopping day! Some of my favorite stores to stop in are Penney's (also known as Primark in other parts of Europe), Dunnes, and Zara. We got some of the cutest clothes for Claire and I found a few items for myself. We also got to eat lunch at Zaytoon's again. After a nice nap (these naps were a godsend for me with all that walking) we ate dinner at the Brazen Head Pub. Ten years ago when Matt and I first visited Ireland together we got a picture taken outside in this exact spot so we were able to have another family picture taken with 1.5 more people in our family! Can't wait to frame this one! 

Early Thursday morning we headed back, thankfully with no delays this time! It was such a wonderful trip and I am so glad we were able to spend time together as a family. This trip is one we will all remember for a lifetime! And Claire is already asking if we can go back once the baby is 4 1/2 since she believes 4 1/2 how old you need to be to visit Ireland. Her reasoning cracks me up! 


  1. Thanks for sharing this amazing trip! These pics are wonderful. So glad you could do this before the baby arrives. Have a great weekend Laura!

  2. Haha! You better start planning your trip for when Claire's sister is 4 1/2! I love seeing your photos! It looks like you had an amazing trip!

    Doused in Pink

  3. What an awesome trip recap!! Your family is adorable and this looks like such an amazing trip (minus the major flight delays on the way out - ugh!!). Congrats on your baby girl and hope you guys have just as much fun when you go back in 4.5 years! LOL!
    Gina || On the Daily Express

  4. Wow...what a great trip, Laura!!
    These are always the best memories!!

  5. Oh what a fun trip! I like that you managed to fit so much in through the day, even with the naps! We've finally booked a trip to another state in a few months to give the boys their first airplane experience, but I've been a little unsure about how to structure the days knowing we need to fit in naps. It's so nice to see it's possible to travel with a little one and nap times and still do and see a lot! :)

    Hope you are having a lovely weekend :)

    Away From The Blue Blog

  6. Loos great! We are going to the UK in a few weeks!

  7. Looks like you guys are really having a blast! Lovely photos! Enjoy the rest of your trip.

    Jessica |

  8. I loved reading this post so much. :) We want to take our kids to Europe eventually. Claire is such a trooper, she did great and she looks just so excited and not bored at all in all of the photos! It sounds like you had a lot of great food and I am envious of your shopping day!


  9. Loved this post, just like our friend Carrie said. What a beautiful country! I pinned the image from the cemetery onto a Pinterest board called Images and Imagery. Hope that was ok. Just lovely.

    So glad you were able to share this delightful experience with so many you love. And what a perfect way to reveal that baby numero dos is a niƱa! Claire is going to be the BEST big sister.

  10. What a great trip, thanks for taking us along! Ireland is on my bucket list. One of my girlfriends went with her family this Summer and had a great time too. Looks like a beautiful place!

  11. Looks like you had such a great time! I have two little girls and it is so much fun that they have each other. I have a sister and there is nothing like having a sister to help you out in life. Congrats!

  12. This just looks like so much fun! How neat that you were able to meet family and also all go as a family of three too. The chocolate part would have been my favorite too. ;)

    Amy Ann
    Straight A Style

  13. Thanks a lot :D

    sounds an amazing place to visit dear friend. Nice pictures!
    Hope you are enjoyed :D
    Family moments are the most important :')

    NEW DECOR POST | EXTREME MAKEOVER DECOR: without budget and leave Home!
    InstagramFacebook Official PageMiguel Gouveia / Blog Pieces Of Me :D

  14. Looks and sounds like an amazing trip! It is on my list of places to visit!
    Stylin In St. Louis

  15. What a beautiful family and that looks like a fun trip! I love that you showed candid photos while traveling and not the glamorized travel shots. Who has time for that anyway? LOL

    Abby | Life in the Fash Lane

  16. Claire is such a sweetie but her parents rock so that’s expected :) Looks like you had a great trip to Ireland, it must have been fun visiting as much as you did, Its on the short list of places to visit next year. I love all the pictures :) Claire's Smile can light up any room

  17. Wow, what a super trip - it look fabulous. Glad to see you visited a Guinness supplier! Jacqui