cead mile failte

in case you wondered, i AM still alive and i DO still intend to write in this blog. i just... don't. haven't been. needed some time off? i don't know, i don't have an excuse. but now, i am finally sitting down to write about one of the best possible weeks of my LIFE, aka the week scott and i spent in london and ireland. mostly i'm talking about ireland because it is the country that could most accurately be described as the love of my life. 

my oldest friend got married in london, and as soon as she told me her wedding would be there, i had my heart set on going to ireland afterward. scott and i have been lucky enough to travel quite extensively together, especially pre-baby, but we hadn't taken a trip together since fiona was born, and he had never been to ireland. i studied abroad there in 2004 and fell so hard so fast i assumed i'd be back early and often. unfortunately, i never made it back after graduation, SO you can imagine how excited i was to go back. 

we landed in dublin on sunday and immediately had to tackle the challenge of driving on the right hand side of the car, on the left hand side of the road. scott did a GREAT job and we got to our airbnb, only to discover it shared a parking lot with the oldest bar in ireland, brazen head. we were SO EXCITED and basically ran there as soon as we could. we ordered 2 guinnesses (guinnessi?) and sat at one of the courtyard tables and committed to a bowl of irish stew and fish and chips. we went all in, is what i'm saying. guinness lovers are not lying when they say it tastes better in ireland. it.is.SO.GOOD. but i do have to admit, in terms of things i was excited to drink, i might have been more excited about bulmers than guinness. if you're unfamiliar, bulmers is an irish cider that isn't exported outside of ireland (i don't think). anyway, you can't get it in the states, and i have dreamed about it ever since i left ireland. even with the rise in popularity of ciders, and the dozens i have tried, that first taste of bulmers and the many subsequent to follow were everything i dreamed of. it's so effervescent and smooth and just the right amount of sweet. 
brazen head (in the daytime)

first guinnesses of the trip

oliver st john gogarty
after a few guinness at brazenhead, we headed to my favorite bar from 2004- oliver st john gogarty. like everything else in my ireland experience, i wasn't sure if it would live up to my memory. the entire time we were in ireland, i had this feeling like i was revisiting a dream, and nothing could possibly live up to the original. this place was just as good, maybe even better, than i remembered it. we went straight up to the second floor where there was a 3 person band, and we stayed there until they stopped playing. it was THE best. i cried. what can i say? i am easily moved by music.

the next day, we had beautiful weather for our drive to galway, with one major stop: maynooth, the city where i lived when i studied abroad. this town has been huge in my memories, and i really wasn't sure what it would be like to go back. but once we got there, i successfully navigated from the college to the house where i'd stayed, and the walk was just as long as i had remembered. i had so many feelings seeing this place that held such a huge space in my heart, and made sure to take a picture on campus where i'd taken one 13 years before.

despite the major turnover on the main street (there wasn't a SINGLE pizza place when i was there. now there are 5?? what the??) it felt so good to be back, to walk the routes i did so many years before, to remind myself that YES it really did happen, it was real, and it was as beautiful as i remember.

later that afternoon we arrived in galway and immediately ranked it as our favorite irish city. i love dublin, but it just doesn't have the same charm as galway. the walkability, live music, charming cobblestone streets just drew me in. it's such an appealing place. 

an awesome 11-person band

my favorite guinness lover
the next day, we headed to the cliffs of moher, which i had never seen. the drive was INSANE and i was so so glad i wasn't driving. there was a sign on the way that was literally a zig zag. all i could think about was the insurance we chose NOT to get on our rental car. but thanks to scott's fearless driving, we made it safe and sound, and it was so so worth it.

sorry for the major photo dump, but it was just so so beautiful, i couldn't stop. on the way back from the cliffs, we stopped at a tiny bar and restaurant called the burren smokehouse. i'd found it online and knew my smoked-meat-loving husband would appreciate it. i did NOT know that we would have the BEST meal of our trip there. hooooly crap, cold and hot smoked salmon with the best flavor and texture i have ever tasted. somehow this is also the only meal i didn't photograph? i don't know, i guess i didn't take a moment to pause before shoveling it in my mouth.

we spent one more night in galway and headed back for one more afternoon in dublin before leaving. we visited the kilmainham gaol and i would highly recommend it to anyone planning a trip to dublin. the role it played in dublin's history was fascinating and it provided such incredible context for our time in ireland. it was also a great precursor to the guinness storehouse. 

so, here's the thing about going on your first couple vacation post-baby: it is the first span of time you have had post-baby to talk for any length of time without pausing to check on the baby. to focus squarely on each other for hours, without a tiny conversation terrorist interrupting you. to leave the house, and go literally anywhere without baby-logistics to be discussed, and diapers to be purchased, and bottles to be remembered. this trip was so freeing, so reconnecting, so necessary for us. while the first few days were hard because i missed fiona and worried about how she was doing, once we settled into it, our baby-free vacation brought all the joys that i took for granted about being baby-free. we stayed out late into the night, we slept, we relaxed, we had long, leisurely dinners and we saw all the live music we could handle. we have loved a lot of moments in the last 15 months with fiona, and i think that made the several consecutive moments we had alone in ireland that much more precious. it is always hard when a trip comes to an end, especially when you've been anticipating it as long as we did this one. but coming home to fiona was the one thing that could match how wonderful our trip was. getting to hug my sweet girl was almost as good as that first taste of guinness, that first sound of the irish accent. almost.


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