Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Ireland 2015: Passports & Ashford Castle

On May 22nd, the day after graduation, we hopped a plane to Ireland! John and I took a very similar trip with my parents in 2007 to see John’s distant cousins, and with time passing, we thought it was important to take Helen Grace and let her meet her kinfolk and see the homestead. My dad planned every detail of the trip, keeping some mainstays and adding some new ventures.

As nervous as I was about how we were all going to get any sleep on the plane and how we’d survive with a jetlagged 5 year old, HG proved to be a first class world traveler.

We had a short flight to Atlanta around 2:30 and then boarded the big plane for the 6.5 hour flight to Dublin around 6:30. HG stayed awake for dinner and then laid down and slept in my lap until they woke us up on the approach into Dublin. She woke up happy and excited to explore.

We rented a car and drove from Dublin to Ashford Castle near Cong in County Mayo, stopping for lunch at Wineport Lodge in Athlone. HG passed out for a quick cat nap on the way to the hotel, but that tied her over long enough to make it through a carriage ride and dinner at the pub at the Lodge at Ashford Castle. We did have to wake her up the next morning around 9:00 though- she was out like a light!

Going through security in Memphis2015-05-22 12.13.18Boarding in AtlantaFullSizeRender2015-05-22 18.55.12Getting all settled for the big flight2015-05-22 19.47.082015-05-23 02.20.36She’s the only person that gets this excited about finding her luggage.2015-05-23 03.53.25First passport stamp!!!!2015-05-23 03.53.45Lunch at Wineport Lodge in Athlone. We found the restaurant mentioned in a book as we drove through the countryside, and it turned out to be a really great little spot on a beautiful lake. We might have interrupted some wedding photos, but who wouldn’t want some jetlagged, ragged Americans in their keepsake pictures?!2015-05-23 06.59.102015-05-23 07.00.562015-05-23 07.05.27We were awestruck when we turned on ‘the road’ (per GPS) and arrived at the Lodge at Ashford Castle. Ashford Castle is a breathtaking 350-acre estate on the shores of Lough Corrib and dates back to 1228. The Guinness family bought it in the 1800s and extensively developed it, and it’s now owned by the Red Carnation Hotel Collection. We stayed at the Lodge, which is near the castle and is the former home of the groundskeeper. The staff were amazing and knew us all by name, including the birthday girl since Granddaddy had arranged all kinds of special treats her for big day while we were there. We stayed two nights and all wished we had more time to play, explore, and enjoy the spa!CF6C9238CF6C92392015-05-23 10.57.452015-05-24 21.52.28CF6C9240CF6C9243Behind the Lodge, this beautiful courtyard framed all of the rooms. Endless entertainment for HG.CF6C01202015-05-23 10.53.34Our suite was two floors- sitting room downstairs and bedroom upstairs, complete with a balcony, king sized bed, and rain shower. HG ended up making a pallet in the bedroom floor and staying there until the wee hours of the morning.2015-05-23 10.17.432015-05-23 10.19.262015-05-23 10.19.502015-05-23 10.20.18After we threw our bags down, we headed to the equestrian center to take a carriage ride around the property.2015-05-23 12.13.44CF6C9255Bramble (as in, Rose) was our horse for the ride.CF6C9258P1060924Loved this old school house that we passed on the ride.CF6C9311One of very few sprinkles that we encountered on our entire trip happened on this carriage ride- of course, HG and I didn’t have our raincoats, but again, she was a trooper and it didn’t last long.2015-05-23 11.22.24-12015-05-23 11.22.59Along the way, we stopped at an overlook of Lough Corrib, which is said to have as many islands as days of the year. The Guinesses loved coming here so much that they built a little cabin and obelisk monument. The island in the middle of this view is named Ardilaun, and when Mr. Guinness was ennobled, he took the name of Lord Ardilaun.2015-05-23 11.42.47CF6C9273CF6C9280CF6C9293Back at the Lodge, we had dinner at the pub downstairs and explored a bit more of the place. It was so very thoughtful and exotic, yet still charming and Irish. We loved it!2015-05-23 12.41.51CF6C9236

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