Ireland Part II: Beer, Bride, and Countryside (Laura)
(I have no idea what happened, but I just realized this part II post on Ireland never published! Sorry for the BIG delay!)
We really have to thank our friends Becky and Niall for getting married in Ireland, or we may have tragically let more years go by before visiting this glorious place. We would have been grateful to be invited even if they had a BYOB wedding in a mud hut, so the fact that their wedding was a Downton Abbey fairytale except with fun Irish people instead of stuffy English gentry, absolutely blew us away. But first, let’s start with Dublin.
After a week of traveling on our own, it was so much fun to meet up with old friends in Dublin to kick off a week of beer and cheer as a prelude to the wedding. We were reunited with our wedding buddy Kate for a week’s worth of triple room sharing. Becky and Niall are so well-liked that they were able to get dozens of friends to fly out from the States for the wedding, forming a sort of A-team high school reunion. And a big unexpected treat was getting to meet up with Catherine and her boyfriend Scottish Mike (ScoMi) for three nights in Dublin. Things really couldn’t have worked out more perfectly.
The days in Dublin were spent indulging in giant Irish breakfasts, roaming around the city with friends, and evenings out with the bride and groom and the whole wedding clan. Our pub-to-historical-site ratio was about 5:1, depending on whether or not you count the 14th and 15th century pubs we drank in as historical sites. On our last night in Dublin, Cath, Scomi, Mike and I went on a literary pub crawl put on by two actors who played out scenes from works by Beckett, Yeats, and other Irish literary greats outside pubs they frequented. It was sad to say goodbye again, but Cath and Mike were heading on to fun times in Belfast, and we were headed up to Slane for the wedding.
Slane is a gorgeous little pastoral village north of Dublin that also happens to have the oldest monument I’ve ever seen (Newgrange tombs, 5,000 years old!!). It is also home to the most beautiful wedding venue you’ll ever find: a Victorian estate called Tankardstown. The ceremony was in a glass- ceilinged atrium with the sound of rain almost made-to-order for an atmospheric wedding. The bride was stunning, the groom was awe-struck, our bridesmaid friends have never looked so beautiful, and every detail was memorable. During cocktail hour we got to roam the rooms of this amazing estate: parlor, drawing room, game room all with authentic furniture and decor that I couldn’t believe we were actually allowed to use! The dinner was exquisite, and the heartfelt speeches that followed left not a dry eye in the room. Follow that with five hours of dancing (the d.j. played until 3:00 a.m.which allowed us to ring in my birthday!) and we all left with bruised feet from the most awesome wedding ever (Sadly we both forgot cameras so we have zero photos!).
As a great consolation for “the wedding is over blues,” a group of us including the bride and groom Becky and Niall, the bride’s family, and high school friends Kate, Sara, Elliot, Julia, and Lauren, ll continued on to Galway for more fun. Galway is an adorable harbor city, full of awesome pubs and restaurants, and close to some great day trips. Plus this time we had an authentic Irishman with us to answer all our questions and push our previous beer limits to new heights.
The highlight for us was a day trip out to Inishmore, the “largest” of the Aran islands (still only an hour long…by bike). A group of us rented bikes and road along a coastal crest taking in the sites. As if the view along the way of rocky beaches and green pastures wasn’t enough, we finished at an incredible monument called Dun Agenus. Built over 3,000 years ago, this semi-circular fort spills over the crumbling cliffs hundreds of feet to the frothing ocean below. The bronze age people that lived here thrived for over 2,000 years on trading and fishing. This was by far the oldest structure any of us had ever walked on and touched, and it definitely gave Kate a self-described “historgasm.”
We truly were blown away by Ireland for all the reasons mentioned in these two posts. We will definitely be back for more crack in the not-to-distant future, but for now we have some great memories to tide us over. Congratulations to the Conways on a magnificent wedding that we will all cherish!!! Slonja!