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  • Dana Tutela

A Ginger with Roots in Ireland

Updated: Jan 22

redhead in Ireland

At the end of August, my husband and I traveled to Ireland to see Notre Dame play against Navy in football. The game may have been the highlight for Bob, but for this Ginger with Roots it was the lush green landscape and flowers everywhere we went! The weather was constantly changing, but basically it would rotate through light rain, drizzle, clouds and sunshine throughout the day while holding temperatures in the 60’s. Usually I am miserable in cool damp weather, but this felt right. Maybe my DNA memory was recognizing its roots? I know my hair did! It was wild!

Our first stop in Dublin was to check into our apartment style hotel at Beckett Locke. The accommodations were new and clean. We appreciated the kitchen and king size beds which are hard to find in Ireland. It's also conveniently located right on the Dublin tram system called 'Luas'. Dublin is a fantastic city filled with history and places to explore. After the exhausting journey of traveling to Ireland, we hit the ground running. We opted for the hop on/hop off style bus to fight through the jet lag and get a quick overview of Dublin, including the Jeanie Johnston, Trinity College, Temple Bar, The Book of Kells, and more. I highly recommend the Little Museum of Dublin!

Although the hustle and bustle of the city was invigorating, my favorite spot in Dublin was St. Stephen’s Green, a 22 acre public Victorian park in the middle of the city. Between the football game and multiple pubs, this vast expanse of greenery was a sight for sore eyes. Bob looked at me when I realized what we had stumbled upon and smiled, “I thought you might like this.” He was so right.

St. Stephen's Garden Dublin

Next stop was the Rock of Cashel on the way to Cork. Bob was intrigued by the history and ancient structures, but I was busy soaking up the landscape. I don’t know how many ways to say green, but there was so much green! This ancient site is literally a rock with a structure on it and life has managed to sprout all over it! Ireland itself is the epitome of surviving and thriving. Every time I found flowers flowing out of rock crevices, I would think of Ireland's history and how they survived the Vikings, the English, the Potato Famine, etc. As Jeff Goldblum says, “Life finds a way.” Can you name the movie?

In Cork we stayed at the River Lee Hotel. We loved this hotel! It was situated right on the river and was easy walking distance to downtown Cork for shopping and restaurants. The hotel itself was very elegant with an exquisite lounge and restaurant.

When we weren’t exploring Cork, we took day trips to Blarney Castle, Cobh, and Kinsale. Blarney Castle was fascinating and, yes, we kissed the Blarney Stone! Although I’m pretty sure we are both already blessed with the gift of gab! As captivating as the castle was, I had no idea about the beautiful gardens surrounding it. I could’ve spent all day exploring the paths through gardens and forests and ancient druid sites. It was unbelievable. We followed trails through stone tunnels, along streams, and around hillsides blooming with plants that looked like they were from Dr. Seuss. All I wanted to do was take pictures and write down notes about everything that was growing. Heaven!

Not all gardens have to be 20+ acres to deserve attention. This little one outside St. Colman’s Cathedral in Cobh is a memorial to lives lost during the pandemic and it stole my heart with its abundant flowers and placards situated throughout the beds. The colorful houses stacked in the background are known as the House of Cards.

After Cork, we traveled to Dingle and enjoyed the best Guiness beef stew and plate of fish and chips. This quaint town is coastal and vibrant. One feature of Ireland that I wasn’t expecting was the abundance of planters. Everywhere we went there were containers brimming with flowers. I especially loved the window boxes. So beautiful! I even found my own street!

We stayed the night at the Dunraven Arms Hotel in Adare which is near Limerick. This lovely 18th century family-run hotel was marvelous! Our room was massive and outfitted with a 4 poster bed and luxurious bathroom. The breakfast buffet was the best one we had in Ireland-so good! If you do manage to stay here someday, pay attention to the photographs in the hallway of famous people who have visited!

Adare is another quaint town known for its street lined with thatched roof buildings. I managed to find a darling park here across the street from our hotel. I particularly enjoyed finding these bee hives in the park to help sustain their pollinators. Ireland may be historic in appearance, but it is progressive in preserving the integrity of their country’s resources. Recycling and water management is commonplace. I also found a nearby school with a garden inside its playground area. This made me so happy to know these children are learning the homegrown life at an early age.

Our friend, Tammy, who is very familiar with Ireland insisted that we visit Bunratty Castle while we were in Adare, and I am so glad she did! The castle was interesting, of course, but I was enthralled by the reproduction folk village in the surrounding 26 acres. Bob was very patient while I played with the chickens and ducks. I would be interested in his version of this trip if he were to write a blog. “There she goes again…taking pictures of flowers…talking to chickens...”

After Adare, we visited Kilkee, a small coastal town that has a true beach and its own set of cliffs that are lesser known than the Cliffs of Moher. We were mesmerized by the rugged terrain, cows passing through pastures along the path, waves crashing into the rocks, etc. Our hotel was a little worn around the edges, and we both agreed that we should’ve made this a day trip instead of staying the night there, but c’est la vie. It’s an adventure, right?

Driving from Kilkee to The Cliffs of Moher was probably the most intense journey by car I’ve ever endured. Bob does a wonderful job driving on the left side of the road, but this route was NARROW! Holy cow! We saw some amazing countryside on the way, but my heart was pounding every time we passed a truck or tour bus. It was totally worth it, though, to see the Cliffs of Moher. They were spectacular. Pictures don’t do them justice. We hiked 7 miles along the edge. Thankfully we were there on a clear sunny day without gale force winds. Again, I was awestruck by the tenacity of life. Flowers are growing from rocky hedges while horses and cows are pastured next to 700 foot cliffs. Unreal.

We spent the night in Galway at the Connacht Hotel which was fantastic. I made a mistake with our reservation date and showed up a day late. Not only did they find a premium room for us, they did not charge us for the night we missed! Grand customer service! They have an indoor aquatic center which thankfully allows me to say YES I swam in Ireland, just not in the frigid ocean waters like we saw other people doing. We did have to purchase bathing caps in order to use the pool, and we laughed at each other the whole time. I will spare you the photo! I do want to share a photo of their atrium type area near the lobby. You know by now how much I love flowers and greenery! Check this out.

On the ride into Galway for dinner, we spotted a rainbow over the River Corrib. Pot of gold, anyone? Galway is filled with music and eclectic restaurants. We took a break from fish and chips and enjoyed the Latin district which was incredible! I do wish we had more time to explore Galway, but what we did see was lovely.

On our way back to Dublin, we made a stop in Kilbeggan for breakfast and a tour of the Kilbeggan Whiskey Distillery. I'm not a whiskey drinker, but that tour was fantastic! First a shout out to Kilbeggan Handmade Chocolates! Their cup of coffee hit the spot after the previous night in the Latin District and their sangria. We were the only customers when they opened and we had a nice relaxing chat over breakfast with Declan until it was time to head across the bridge to the distillery. Check out the photo of the swan in the river that flows past the distillery! The distillery has some serious history to share- wow! I had no idea what went into making whiskey. I'm still not a huge fan of the taste, but I have a new appreciation for an occasional sip. I might even be sipping some now while I write this.

Our final night in Ireland was spent back in Dublin at the Clontarf Castle. It was my one request on this trip that started with a football game. I really wanted to stay in a castle! I loved how Clontarf was well appointed as a hotel, yet still felt like a castle. There was a private event going on while we were there, but we still managed to roam around and enjoy the medieval surroundings. I need to work on my royal expression!

Saying goodbye to Ireland was not easy for this ginger, but I was ready to head home and get back to our true roots planted in South Carolina in a little house by the lake. I leave you with a few more photos of our journey through Ireland!

blackface sheep in Dingle

white anemones blooming

colorful fishing boats in ireland

duck face closeup

bee in dahlia

bee in yellow flower

bee in red flower

gravel path and rock wall

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If you enjoyed a gardener's perspective in Ireland, explore the island of Maui with me:

waterfall in lush forest of Maui

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Sep 24, 2023

Loved reading it ‘again’ in the light with my glasses on! You are so talented! Slainte! 🍻

Dana Tutela
Oct 07, 2023
Replying to

Thank you! Your Ireland advice was so helpful on our trip!


Sep 22, 2023

Wow!! Beautiful pictures, great “tour” you have written through Ireland!


Sep 21, 2023

thank you for sharing the details of your lovely trip!


Sep 18, 2023

Beautiful! Love the links for the hotels that makes it so convenient!



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