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Irish Adventures


Visiting Our Homeland

John McKinney

As our flight took off in mid-May, I knew we would be embarking on a truly once in a lifetime trip. I had been dreaming of visiting Ireland for years. Ireland was one of the most breathtakingly beautiful countries I’ve ever seen. It immediately felt like home, which only two generations prior it had been my family’s home. My grandmother had come to America from Ireland when she was a little girl.

The flight touched down in Shannon at 8 am the day after we left. I have trouble sleeping on planes and this was no exception, I slept for a combined 45 minutes on a 6+ hour flight. It would have been infinitely worse had I not sprung for the bulkhead seat. I’m 6’ 4” so that extra legroom was a lifesaver.

We picked up the keys for our rental car, loaded it up, and got in. Everything felt odd, I had never driven in a country that drove on the left so I had never sat on the right side of a car as the driver. Thankfully, we avoided any major mishaps…though I almost pulled out into the wrong lane from a gas station even though I was trying to tell myself which lane I needed to go in. I was fighting muscle memory. Changing gears, grabbing my water bottle, and holding my wife’s hand was all my left hand’s responsibility now.

There was one thing I did not like in Ireland, the tour buses, oh those wretched tour buses. The smallest of them take up the entire lane and most ventured into your lane. I honestly felt bad for the people in them, they wouldn’t experience Ireland the way my wife and I did. They couldn’t take a detour, change their plans last minute, or just stop on the side of the road to hike. They missed some of the most amazing sights that we experienced. They only saw the most touristy places, which is fine I suppose but in my opinion, the places off the beaten path are the most worthwhile.

Irish Whiskey

Our first major stop was to experience that great liquid gold, Irish whiskey. We headed south from Shannon and on to Middleton, the home of the Jameson Distillery. What a blast that was. I love whiskey but even my wife who hates the stuff agreed that it was worth it. We learned so much and got to drink some delicious whiskey along the way. At the end of the tour, I participated in a taste test with Jameson 12 yr, Jonnie Walker Black, and Jack Daniels. I feel like the Americans were a tad underrepresented but I get it, they’re trying to sell whiskey.

The Jameson Distillery is a peaceful place in a quaint town. If you stop there, you should eat at Farmgate, a delicious restaurant not far from the Distillery.

St. Colman’s Cathedral

After our whiskey tour, we made our way to Cobh to see St. Colman’s Cathedral. This massive gothic cathedral towers over the town. Located right on the Cork Harbour, provided picturesque views both inside and out. If you’re heading near Cobh, this cathedral is a well deserving stop.

Ireland immediately felt like home, which only two generations prior it had been my family’s home.”

Kinsale

Our B&B for the night, this B&B on Airbnb, was in a quaint town named Kinsale along the River Bandon. Upon arrival, we bolted over to the Charles Fort. The Charles Fort sits at the edge of the water and was a lot of fun to explore. Check it out if you find yourself in Kinsale. Our first Irish poured Guinness was in a pub in Kinsale, Kitty O Se’s where we also had dinner. The food was good, the atmosphere fun, and the beer great as well. I had slept one hour in the past 40 hours so I was beginning to feel like a zombie. I’m pretty sure I was out as soon as my head hit the pillow.

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