I knew I couldn't miss the opportunity and immediately started planning my route and of course gave himself a call as he is always up for a roadtrip. Next day I picked him up and we set out on our journey which began with us getting lost, ending up in Mullingar ( the wrong direction completely), getting used to roadside garage toilets (ewy), meeting some little goats in a trailer and hearing the same damn Katy Perry song not once but FIVE times on the journey down. Now I only passed my driving test three months ago so the idea of having to drive on a motorway was freaking me out but with my co-driver encouraging me along (with sweets and tunes) I soon got used to it and even took over some slow ass trucks. We took the motorway the whole way down thinking it was the easiest way and we soon got to our Airbnb which was a nice/odd place. We were staying with some lovely Chinese people who didn't have great English but the room was so fancy and comfy. The place although fancy, had a hostel feeling to it as people came and went every day just staying for one or two nights. We didn't mingle much as we were so tired we just had movie nights in bed and were too lazy to get up for breakfast.
|Beautiful little Airbnb in Togher|
We took a stroll to a Chinese nearby and found this amazing nature reserve in the heart of the town.
After my interview, we went exploring the city while we were there. We found some touristy places to check out and we decided to go to Cork Gaol (jail). It was a beautiful building and had really interesting stories on all the inmates. We then took a walk into the city which we couldn't quite put our finger on it but had this almost like the whole city was under reconstruction feeling. Yet we still found the most amazing Cathedral that was just breathtaking, although we didn't go inside as you had to have tickets. We didn't stay for long looking around the city as we were wrecked from the walk in and so we took some side streets home. For me driving and then walking I got this feeling of Italy when in Cork city as the streets are tiny and all up hill it was a big difference than back home.
We stayed two nights at the Airbnb then headed for home with the intention of stopping at the Rock of Cashel on the way home. Another beauty I have been to before but wanted to show rich. Now I think everyone knows at this stage I'm a Potterhead through and through, and of course, when I see this place I immediately think of Hogwarts. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves it really is a beautiful place.
We spent longer than expected there and were absolutely wrecked so decided we would stay somewhere on the way home for the night, little did we know we know it would only be an hour from Cork. We decided on Thurles just off the motorway and searched for a BnB there with the first being a disaster (in a loud pub with no breakfast) but the next being a sheer miracle. I can not say enough how amazing Helen and her little Bnb is but please if you're ever in or passing Thurles check out St. Josephs on the way into town. It started off with Helen offering us tea, coming into the room to show us everything and getting to know us, taking our breakfast orders for the next day and even turning down the bedcovers for us. I mean I literally feel in love with this little old lady from the moment I met her. We were madly in need of some showers and to our royal delight (yeah we're getting fancy now) there were fluffy dressing gowns for us both (also Rich decided he wanted the girly flowery one) and the most amazing bubble gum shower gel, I mean we could still smell sweets the next day.
Helen really puts everything into her BnB and we noticed how much of a perfectionist she is (my kind of girl) as she had little sweets and biscuits laid out for us with everything labeled. We decided for another quiet movie night in bed with our fluffy dressing gowns but beforehand came across one of the notes from Helen which says there were books to read and take home in a drawer, I mean come on could this be more magical. After some serious debate in my head over which book to take I went with the classic Wuthering Heights as I've never read it.
Now to breakfast where things just got more magical. We were the only guests at the time, yet Helen made a huge effort to lay out everything we could possibly need in the breakfast room just for us and then she made up fruit bowls and the most beautifully placed scrabbled eggs on toast ever. We were truly treated like royalty as we sat in the sun with out china cups and opera music in the background.
Helen continually came to check on us and then even came out with a map to show us a different way home. So full of knowledge and interesting stories she talked with us for ages about local events and history and then told us about a huge telescope at Birr Castle on our way home which we knew we had to check out, which were going to send some photos of us at to her as we noticed she had some from past customers too as she had told us one couple were at her house then went home to get married and visited her again and brought their wedding photos to show her, she made that amazing of an impression . After bidding our fair wells to Helen, who before we left offered us water for our journey which actually comes from the Devils Bit mountain which we heard of at the Rock of Cashel. Myth has it Saint Patrick and Satan fought on the mountain causing the stone to blow over and create the Rock of Cashel creating a cutout shape in the mountain.
|You can clearly see the famous cut out shape here.... and also the sky which should have told us a storm was clearly coming.|
So we headed off for Birr Castle but on our way saw a sign for the Devils Bit close by and decided we would go see it up close (little did we know how close).
When we got there, there was quite a lot of people heading up the path and of course, mister wanted to climb it but my gosh I was not prepared for this and don't know how many times I sat down saying I was giving up, until I saw this note on a picnic bench... looking out on the view I caught my breath and seeing older people making the climb I decided I have to do this.. along with some encouragement from Dale the lurcher we met who came for cuddles before racing to the top.
This was proper mountain climbing as we climbed rocks, slipped between gaps and steps until just before the top it got incredibly dark... of course a storm had to come. We ran up to the top thinking there would be some kind of shelter but our only shelter was this huge cross where people were already hiding under. I have never felt hailstone as cold as this, but I guess I have never been so high up on a mountain in a t-shirt during a storm before. As we all huddled together, with poor rich getting most of the beating (perks to being small I took shelter under his wing) we literally just counted down until it would end. Finally, with all traces of the bubble gum shower gel from yesterday been washed off us completely, the hail ended and there was a moment of sunshine that we took to get our classy edge -of- the -mountain -looking -out -on -the -view photos before getting off the mountain asap.
We decided to take a different path down as the way we came up was dangerous enough without the rain, but of course, the path we took wouldn't be that simple and yet again we got lost. Finally, though we made it to the warmth of the car where we again met Dale and his owners who we talked with about where we were from and heading to and they told us about a little organic garden centre with a cafe that we had to try, much to Rich's delight they had hot soup. We dried off as best we could although shoes were destroyed so driving in socks was an experience, wrapped up in blankets (thank you, mammy, for keeping one in the car) and went to find the cafe.
So it turns out there were two within 10 minutes of each other with the same name (whhhy google maps must you do this to us) but we eventually found our little one and had hot drinks and soup.
We got back on the road and headed for Birr Castle in Offaly arriving just in time to take a quick look around before they closed, and just in time for the heaviest rain so we couldn't take much of walk around without getting soaked too.
The castle here is actually still being using and we happened to see the people being brought around in a horse and chariot (while us peasants stood sharing a tiny umbrella getting soaked). In our chances to take a walk between showers we strolled the gardens as lord and lady imagaining it was us that lived here. What we went there for was the giant telescope which was the largest in the world for over 70 years and was incredible to see.
|I had to put this one as Rich is convinced this plant is rhubarb.|
Finally, we got back on the road for home taking lots of back roads passing through 7 counties and endless little towns, tried to make a list of all the places we passed through but my co-driver was too busy enjoying being in the shot gun seat and eating all the sweets.
It was some adventure all packed into four days but isn't that was life is about, experiencing all you get a chance to.