Weddings and Kissing Stones in Ireland

Just 2 weeks after our weekend in Switzerland, we boarded a plane to Ireland to celebrate our friends’ wedding. We arrived in Cork, got into our rental car, and drove through the Irish country side to a cute little coastal village called Skibbereen.

The wedding was held at Liss Ard Resort where we also stayed. It was a gorgeous property with tennis courts, lots of little trails to walk, and the Sky Garden.

Liss Ard

Liss Ard

Liss Ard

Matt was on Best Man duty along with Jono so while they were off making sure the groom got to the ceremony on time (he did, good job boys), Cath and I got to spend the morning napping and watching trashy TV while lazily getting ready.

Cath and I

The ceremony was beautiful and I loved how they were able to have a couple minutes after Gerrie walked in to talk to each other while the band finished the song. You could just see their nerves calm and they were just so happy. I have very strong opinions of taking photos during wedding ceremonies (that’s the photographer’s job) so I didn’t take any but you can see some here: Gerrie and Craig’s Wedding by Liam Kidney Photography.

After the ceremony, the boys and bridal party went to have photos taken so Cath and I were left to drink prosecco and eat yummy appetizers…and I think we did a very good job at that. I was very aware that this was the last wedding I’d be at before my own so I took full advantage of not having any responsibilities!

Guests

With the happy couple

Soon it was time for dinner and it was clear that Gerrie had put a lot of thought into the Kiwi/Irish menu. All the food was delicious and I even tried black pudding for the first time! It wasn’t bad, but I don’t think it would be something I’d willingly choose to order. It was at this point that things started to get a bit silly thanks to the prosecco, wine, and an unexpected hot and sunny day.

Table settings

Matt and Cath

Dinner turned into speeches which turned into dancing until the wee hours of the morning.

Dancing

Dancing

When I looked over my photos the next day, I found that I had only taken a couple which didn’t involve Matt dancing with Gerrie’s little niece. Excuse me while my heart (and ovaries!) explodes.

Dancing

Dancing

Dancing

All in all it was a very fun and amazing wedding which we all paid for the following day. Good on Jono for being able to drive us to Kanturk while Cath and I hung our heads out the car windows…it was not a fun couple hours but we made it without any incidents. Little did I know, the night after a wedding is actually a bigger night for drinking in Ireland but I was definitely not up for the challenge. Instead, I sipped my water and ate jaffas, whittakers and other kiwi treats while listening to the Irish band.

P5170076

The only picture I managed to take on the drive.

On our way back to London, we realised we were very close to Blarney Castle so we had to make a stop to kiss the stone!

Blarney Castle

Blarney Castle

Blarney Castle

We rushed to the airport and made our flight in the nick of time. It was a very long 3 days that caught up with me on the flight and in the hazy blur that was my brain, I left my passport on the airplane. I noticed pretty quickly, raced back to the gate and told the security guard who then told me the gate was already closed and the flight was gone. Again, in the haze, I had told him the wrong gate number and after a few nerve racking minutes, in which I told myself I was not leaving the gate until I had my passport, the security guard came sauntering back with my passport in his hands.

And with that, the weekend came to an end but that didn’t mean we were able to relax because the following weekend was our trip to Norway…

Advertisements

St Patrick’s day in Ireland

Liffey

Our trip to Dublin was Dayna’s first time in Ireland despite having proudly carried  around an Irish passport for over a year now so she was pretty excited to finally set foot in her family’s old stomping ground.  And what better weekend for it than St Patrick’s day weekend!

St Patrick's Cathedral

We took a bit of a whirlwind approach given we are preserving our leave for the long list of other trips we have this year so we flew in on Saturday morning.  Good fortune and a generous friend saw us staying for free with Grace (who I met at university in San Diego).  Our taxi driver from the airport gave us a bit of a tour of Dublin on the way to Grace’s place before getting lost and eventually dropping us off and overcharging us but at least we made it in one piece (his driving was  a little…erratic).

We got to enjoy a quick lunch and catch up at a great local place with Grace and her fiance before setting off on our own little walking tour of Dublin.  We were quite close to St Patrick Cathedral so naturally started there before venturing over to join the masses at Dublin’s most popular tourist spot – the Guinness Storehouse.

St Patrick's Cathedral

Christ Church Cathedral

Bakers pub

The queues were absolutely massive but we had made the great choice of pre-booking our tickets so at least our line moved quite quickly and we were in the door after a short wait.

Guinness Storehouse

Guinness Storehouse

As far as museum/tours go, this one was up there and despite having thousands of people streaming through, it never felt overly crowded.  We learned all about the history of Guinness, saw some of the original documents and learned what makes the beer so good.  We had to refuel midway so tried some unique little snacks at the cafeteria (Guinness and beetroot brownie was great if you’re ever there).

Guinness Storehouse

Guinness Storehouse

Guinness Storehouse

Guinness Storehouse

Eventually we made it to the top floor and the Gravity bar where we got to finally enjoy our free pint of Guinness.  Maybe enjoy is the wrong word for Dayna as she only made it a quarter of the way through hers before I was handed the rest (good for me at least!).

Guinness Storehouse

Guinness Storehouse

Guinness Storehouse

Dublin is quite a flat city so the view from the Gravity bar was great (a little hard to get to see it with the throngs of people though).

Guinness Storehouse

After the tour we headed across town to a pub and got great seats to watch Wales thrash England in their final game of the Six Nations.   Half way through we were joined by David, another UCSD friend of mine who I hadn’t seen in 5 years.  It’s amazing how 5 years can pass and yet you can fall straight back in to conversation as if it was yesterday.

We ventured to Market bar nearby with Grace and Conor and enjoyed a great dinner.  The potatoes were as good as would be expected in Dublin.

Matt, David, Grace, and Connor

So with slightly sore heads we woke the next morning to venture out on a classic St Patrick’s day mission – to find a Tim Hortons.  Ok, so maybe just classic for Canadians but we had found out Tim Hortons was in Dublin and had to find one.  After walking around and around the spot that Google maps said was a Tim Hortons we gave up and opted for a nice local cafe.  5 minutes after leaving we of course stumbled across one and had to have a second breakfast of donuts and coffee.  Despite the coffee not being a match for a double double in Vancouver, it was still a nice surprise to find in Dublin.

TIM HORTONS!

Full to the brim, we wobbled over to find a spot to see the people’s parade.  About 5 minutes in we were pondering what’s the point of parades anyway – a bunch of people waving flags walking past a bunch of other people – not that great really.

We lasted a while longer which was maybe worth it since we got to see the Brazilian contingent salsa dancing down the street (let’s just their clothing choices were brave given how cold it was).  We had done a fair bit of walking at this point so we ventured off to find a nice pub to rest our weary legs but a seat was not forthcoming.  Instead we just settled for a lot more walking and got to enjoy some of the proper St Patrick’s day parade when we got stuck on the wrong side of the parade route.

Parade

We had made rough plans to meet friends from London (Craig and Gerrie) at a pub a wee ways out of the Temple bar/parade route area but ended up running in to them enroute proving how small Dublin can be.

Flags

Ferris Wheel

The rest of St Patrick’s day saw us visiting a series of different pubs and doing our bit for the Irish economy, 1 pint at a time.  We ended the night with meeting up with David and Grace again, briefly visiting “probably the smallest bar in the world”.

David and Matt

David and Matt

David and Matt

Probably the smallest pub in the world

A very sore head woke me up to the harsh reality of a morning flight the morning after St Patrick’s day (not great planning there!) but we made it to our flight on time thankfully.

So a bunch of happy reunions, 9 pubs, a few Guinness and a leprechaun (the duty free area at Dublin airport had hired a little person (is that the PC term now?) to run around in a leprechaun costume) in 48 hours.  Not a bad St Patrick’s day.

Matt’s quick dash to Ireland

I have always wanted to have a job that allowed me to travel.  I had dreams of flying off to beautiful locations, having a meeting then lying by the beach drinking beer for the rest of the day.  Maybe another meeting over a 5 course, 5-star dinner at night as long as they kept serving beer.

So I was pretty excited when we started discussing a work trip away to Geneva a few months ago.  Unfortunately for me that trip got canned at the last minute.

Second time lucky though, we ended up planning a quick 2-day trip to Ireland at short notice to cover off a few different meetings in one trip.  My dreams of beautiful locations with beaches had to be adjusted down slightly to settle for Waterford & Dublin, Ireland.  I had never even heard of Waterford.  According to Wikipedia, Waterford’s population is 46,732 and Vikings first settled nearby in 853.  There’s all you need to know about Waterford.

As excited as I was to fly off to Waterford, my plans were nearly derailed before I left for the airport.  Our flights were booked for first thing Monday so when I got sick the Wednesday before I thought I still had plenty of time to get better.  Fast forward to Saturday morning and I was hugging a toilet in the bathroom of a NHS waiting room, waiting for a doctor to tell me what to do to get better.  At this point I couldn’t even hold water down and I was 4-5kg lighter than I should have been (YAY for having a “healthy” BMI for once though) – it was not looking good for my Monday morning flight.

Thankfully I managed to make a miraculous recovery and was even able to hold down a bit of food by Sunday evening.  So off I went to Southend airport at 6am on Monday morning.

I’m used to London airports being quite large and busy so Southend airport was a nice change.  The only downside of the lack of other customers was that the airport security appeared to think this meant that we should get some extra attention.  Nothing like an early morning pat down to wake you up though.

The plane we took to get to Waterford was one of the slightly scary propeller planes that I hate flying in.  Added to this was the fact the flight before us was diverted to Dublin due to poor weather.  All up, not a great flight.

Our small Plane sitting at Waterford airport

Arriving in to Waterford is not an awe inspiring experience it has to be said.  My first view of Ireland as we landed was huge piles of mud surrounded by muddy fields with a small tin shed airport terminal dotted in the middle of one of the muddy fields.  At least clearing security was quick, 10 seconds and we were all through.

I won’t bore you with the details of our meetings and will leave you to fill in the blanks of what a bunch of accountants might get up to when stuck in a room for four hours.  It was thrilling.

I was starting to feel a little worse for wear so had to dip in to my supplies of various painkillers and nausea meds to get me through but we made it to our train to Dublin on time.  After catching up on a few bits of work using the wireless on the train (being able to remotely log in to your computer from a train in another country still amazes me), we arrived in Dublin late on Monday night.

One of the great things in London is that any night of the week you can find a whole range of different places open for dinner late at night.  Unfortunately Dublin is not like London on this apparently and we settled for a tourist-y establishment that was still serving food.  This was fine for me as we got the classic tourist experience of cheesy Irish songs while we ate.  The Pogues’ Dirty Old Town was a highlight for me.

I still wasn’t feeling 100% at this stage of proceedings but I couldn’t resist doing another classic tourist activity in Ireland – drinking a pint of Guiness.  Some people have gone so far as to say that Guiness is actually good for you and based on my experience I would have to agree.  I felt much better (and fuller!) after my pint.

In between meetings on Tuesday I got to see a bit of Dublin on an apparently rare sunny day but was mostly stuck inside.  I did manage to walk around some of the nicer parks in central Dublin but left plenty to see when we go there next time (hopefully next year!).

As most of you know Dayna is, according to her passport at least, Irish.  This is despite never having been to Ireland.  To make up for beating her to it and visiting Ireland without her I had to buy her a little present to tide her over until she can get there too…

Aww, Matt brought me back a present!!

I arrived back in to Heathrow on time on Tuesday evening ready to pack up and get ready to complete my tour of London airports (3 in 3 days) as we were flying out for Norway from Gatwick early the next morning.

Next time: our first visit to the Arctic and our chase for the Northern Lights…