Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Scotland + Ireland: Cobh and Dublin Days 8 + 9

One of the big reasons we chose to travel to Scotland and Ireland this past summer was to celebrate a big birthday of my MIL. They'd done a little research into their Irish family roots and wanted to stop at the Cobh Heritage Centre, which has a on-site genealogist to help you do just that. As a major transatlantic Irish port, Cobh served as a significant departure point for people emigrating to America.  Because this was the last port of call for many Irish emmigrants, it is frequently mis-recorded as people's place of origin in ancestral documents. It is also famously the last port of call for the Titanic. And another brightly painted seaside town, so we were all interested in checking it out.

We headed to Cobh early in the morning on our way up to Dublin. It was a short drive and we had no problem finding parking and heading down to the main area of town. We popped around a while, but were rather disappointed with the shops and such. It's pretty right on the water, but not much to do. The Titanic Museum was tourist trap expensive, so we skipped that.

Instead Joel took Cam to a cute playground right along the water and Kane and I headed for a Irish Coffee (and Sprite) at a nearby pub. We all had our priorities. They finally joined us for a pint before we all headed over to the Cobh Heritage Center.

Kane and Joel joined the rest of the family at their genealogy appointment, which proved to be super interesting. Turns out that their family actually hailed from Northern Ireland, not County Cork as they'd thought. They were able to show them some interesting historical documents and everyone thought it was well worth the visit. Kane also checked out the museum exhibits there and seemed to enjoy them. But the day was cloudy and everyone was hungry and looking to move on. So we scooped up some takeaway sandwiches from Yellow Door Cafe (delicious and easy) and hit the road for Dublin.

The drive up was almost entirely on the highway, so my co-pilot anxiety got to chill a little bit. I'd really wanted to have time to stop at the Rock of Cashel on the way, but we couldn't get there with much time to explore before it closed. No biggie. It turned out that everyone needed a post-lunch car nap. But we all perked up as soon as we got to the city. After spending a few days in quieter towns, Dublin was the perfect little jolt of energy for the last leg of our trip.

We quickly checked into the Westin Dublin, which was centrally located and very kid friendly, and then headed out for a little walk to dinner. My BIL had made reservations at nearby The Pig's Ear and we were starving. Everything we had was insanely delicious, especially my Tartare of Irish Beef Brisket, Picked Onion, and Seeds, with Smoked Cheddar. Cami couldn't stop raving about the mini chocolate dessert which she claims was "tart and not too sweet." She literally asked every remaining day in Dublin if we could go back there for dinner and actually cried once (or twice) when we told her we had no plans to return. You could take that as a sign of extreme tiredness, but since she's still talking about it at home, I'd say you should add that to your list if you're headed to Dublin.

Our plans the following day included a serious walking tour, so we tucked the kids in early that night.  My in-laws graciously agreed to stay with the kids though, so the semi-adults of us in the group headed out to Stags Head for some fantastic live music.

We woke up to a gray day and pouring, pounding rain. There was no rescheduling, so I dressed the kids in their full rain gear (SO happy I ended up getting the rain paints), met up with our tour guide Sam from Pat Liddy's Walking Tours in the lobby, and headed out.

In addition to seemingly knowing everything about everything, Sam was a singing, comedic one-man show. And he was fantastic with the kids. Although he appeared truly appalled that the kids hadn't seen the Disney Movie The Lion King, commenting "oh, you're thoooose kind of parents. You take your kids on educational trips instead."). We spent almost four hours walking around the main areas of Dublin, including City Hall, Trinity College, Merrion Square (with a fabulous Oscar Wilde statue and awesome playground for the kids), the Natural History museum (packed FULL of taxidermy and very reminiscent of Nicole Kidman's office in Paddington the movie), St. Stephen's Green, the Creative Quarter (Dublin's hipster 'hood), George's Street Arcade, Dublin Castle, and Temple Bar. The sun had come out by the end and the city was sparkling beautiful as it dried off. We stopped quickly to grab pizza for the kids and then ended our tour shortly after.

We'd originally booked a tour of the Guinness Storehouse, which was high up on my list of items to do in Dublin. But Joel and I could tell that the kids were done with tours after our marathon walk that morning, so instead we split off and took the kids back to Merrion Square to let them play in the terrific playground there. Then we strolled back through the Creative Quarter so I could google all the shops, stopped to grab a nosh and listen to some live music in the Temple Bar area at touristy, but good, Gogarty Bar, and let the kids pick out sweets at Aunt Nellie's Sweet Shop.

The rest of our crew returned from the Guiness Storehouse with reports that it was cool, but commercial and a good thing we'd skipped it with the kids. They were headed out to the Traditional Irish Music Pub Crawl recommended by Rick Steves, but Joel and I took the kids to Fallon & Byrne for a lovely meal (after first perusing their gorgeous food hall, of course). We were stuffed, but the kids couldn't pass up another Irish ice cream from the Dublin Murphy's outpost. So ended our only full day in Dublin full and happy and wishing we had more time to spend there.

I've only got one last day to report on from our trip ... Belfast will be up next week!

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