- Day One – Bunratty and Doonbeg
- Day Two – Cliffs of Moher, The Burren and Lahinch
- Day Three – Slea Head Drive, Beehive Huts, Dingle Peninsula and Killarney
- Day Four – Tralee and Killarney National Park
Our fifth day in Ireland was a scenic road trip that included a partial tour of the Ring of Kerry and stops in small Irish towns en route to our next major destination: Kinsale! We woke up to foggy and overcast skies, but that did nothing to detract from the beauty of the countryside.
We began the morning with a quick breakfast at the hotel. Hot chocolate was on the menu!
I grabbed a few things from the buffet, including smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, as well as a pastry and fresh fruit that I neglected to photograph. As usual, everything was very tasty.
Then we piled our bags into the van and headed out! Our first objective was checking out the Ladies View, which as you know has been my goal since we began planning this trip. There’s no real reason other than that it was one of the first pictures I looked at of Ireland and it instantly made me think, “We need to visit as soon as possible.”
We drove through Kenmare on the way and got out to explore for a bit.
I somehow ended up wandering toward the shop at the end of the street. Can’t imagine why.
I ended up buying a children’s book called Before You Sleep by Benji Bennett, which had won an Irish Book Award. It was also tempting to buy the Hunger Games trilogy, but I resisted.
We hopped back in the van and onto the Ring of Kerry, eventually reaching Moll’s Gap.
How often do you get to see sheep at a rest stop?
And then, suddenly, we’d made it. The fog dissipated just in time for the Ladies View!
It was just as gorgeous as the pictures promised, and incredibly peaceful. This would be yet another place where I’d love to relax with a good book. I’m glad we were able to see it!
Excellent artsy photo below courtesy of Bobby.
From the Ladies View, we continued on toward Kinsale, breaking for lunch at the Mills Inn Hotel in Ballyvourney, Macroom, a recommendation from our guide.
We all enjoyed a small glass of Guinness to start.
And I went with the ham, cheese, onion and tomato toastie with chips for lunch. Yum!
Soon afterward, we arrived in Midleton for the Jameson Experience.
We were super excited for this tour of the Jameson Distillery, as we’d read great reviews and knew that it featured original buildings dating back to the late 18th century.
The chandelier inside the lobby was a bit more modern – and pretty awesome.
Our tour guide was really knowledgeable and walked us through the entire whiskey-making process. There are three main ingredients that go into making Jameson: barley, maize and Irish water. Malting is done with a portion of the barley to produce enzymes that are later used in the brewing process. We were able to see the original floor they used to spread out the grain – the hot air could come up through the holes, allowing the barley to germinate.
They used to carry ridiculously heavy bags of this stuff up several floors!
There were many other terms we learned along the way – milling, mashing, fermentation, distillation. I won’t attempt to explain it all because I’m no expert. But it was incredibly interesting, and made me appreciate just how much work it takes to get the finished product.
We also walked by the Master Distiller’s cottage, which dates back to 1825.
At the end of the tour, we were brought into the tasting room, where we all had a chance to try a small glass of Jameson whiskey for ourselves. I decided to be brave and try it without ginger ale – it was predictably strong, but I liked it!
A select few guests were also invited to take part in a comparison tasting between American, Scottish and Irish whiskies. Can you guess who made up two of the lucky chosen ones? Papa and Mama Bender, of course!
The biggest difference between the three whiskies comes during the distilling phase. Generally, Scottish and American whiskies are distilled twice, while Irish whiskey is distilled three times. For this reason, the Irish claim their whiskey is smoother and purer. There are a few other differences, and of course, everyone thinks their way is best! But personal taste is always the biggest factor, and everyone at this table chose Jameson as their #1 pick – what a coincidence!
All location bias aside, Jameson was the legitimate favorite of these two certified tasters.
Once the tour was over, we headed back to the lobby bar and picked out a few more samples to share – some unique Jameson varieties that aren’t easy to find back in the United States. Needless to say, we left in good spirits (pun intended).
We arrived in Kinsale a short time later and checked in at the Trident Hotel.
Can you spot the photobombers above? Kinsale is a fishing village in County Cork. Our hotel was right on the water, which made for gorgeous views right outside our windows!
The rooms themselves were bright and airy, but the big windows beckoned you outdoors.
And so out we went! While on our way to dinner, we passed an interesting lot with a gate out front that read “Merlin’s Keep.” Inside there was a tangle of leaves and trees – it sort of looked like a secret garden! I might have been the most intrigued of the group, haha.
Similar to Dingle, Kinsale is full of small and winding streets with colorful buildings.
I loved this grouping of stacked houses in every color of the rainbow.
Eventually, we found Crackpots! Yet another winning recommendation from Mike.
I started out with a slice of delicious Irish bread with butter and an interesting tomato jelly.
Since we were “early birds,” we were able to take advantage of the three-course special menu. I chose the soup of the day to start, which was an amazing tomato bisque. I could really go for some right now as I type this post.
For my main dish I had the sautéed gnocchi, which was perfection! Seriously, how can you go wrong with a three-cheese Irish sauce and herb crusted chicken topping? So good.
For dessert, Bobby and I shared this delicious brownie a la mode.
It was yet another fantastic dining experience. After dinner, we settled our stomachs with a walk along the pier. It was cool to see all of the boats in the harbor. This was actually the start of a holiday weekend in Ireland, so Kinsale was even busier than usual.
We also stopped at a grocery store and picked up a bottle of wine for everyone to share. There was a nice patio right outside the hotel and even though the breeze was a bit chilly, we enjoyed sipping and savoring the evening. Can you tell one of us was a bit colder than the other?
As the sun set, Bobby and I decided to take one more stroll about town. We meandered through the streets, passing this awesome purple “bookstór” that I had to photograph (obviously).
It was fun to listen to the music wafting out from the various bars. We stopped in one for a bit, but mainly just enjoyed checking out the hilarious Guinness advertisements plastered to the walls.
It was really nice to have a day devoted to relaxing and sightseeing, but we were excited for yet another round of golfing excitement to come the following afternoon.