Ireland:

We are coming to the end of our time in Ireland and we don’t feel ready to leave. We have LOVED this place. From the moment we arrived we have encountered friendly warm people who really go out of their way to help.

It’s been a month since I wrote and I have taken nearly 500 photos so bear with me, I have tried to squeeze 4 weeks of fun and adventure into something you want to read and see and not get bored with.

We had a week between arriving and starting our next workaway so we hired a car and drove around the coast going south out of Dublin towards Wicklow National Park. If you have been following our blog you may remember me waxing lyrical about springtime in England well now it is autumn in Ireland and it is so beautiful. Wicklow National Park was an array of golds and reds. We first visited Glendalough and the ‘Monastic City’ the site of a 6th century monastic settlement. Quite amazing.

We then drove towards Cork and went to the small town of Cobh (pronounced Cove), even though the weather had turned rather grey and cold it was a colourful sight and well worth a visit.

We had a plan to drive part of the Wild Atlantic Way  and enjoy the wild west coast. It turned out to be a very good idea. Over the next few days we drove the Ring of Kerry starting in Kenmare, then the Dingle Peninsula, we keep thinking we had hit the best bit and it couldn’t get better but each new day bought more spectacular sights!

The Cliffs of Moher get a lot of attention and are well worth the visit but this coastline has so much to offer.

We got as far as Clifden and would really have liked to do more but it was time to return our rental car.

Some of the best bits of our travels are the people we meet and we had the opportunity to stay with a wonderful family who, at very short notice, offered us a bed for two nights. Nancy is the childhood friend of our Italian sister-in-law Petra and she and her Irish husband, Kevin, live in Ennis with their two gorgeous boys, Luca and Marco. The boys tried to tell us about Hurling, a sport they love but sadly we left non the wiser except to think it was a mix of hockey, lacross, a few other sports and requires a helmet. Their warm hospitality and friendly welcome will not be forgotten in a hurry!

Oh and did I mention how easy it is to travel here? The lack of traffic is great, and then there’s the great food and yes even surf beaches (plural) where people are still enjoying the water despite it being November!

After returning our rental car to Dublin we caught a bus to the centre of Ireland and started our next workaway. We have been working with Chris who is the owner of Ardmore Country House in Kinnitty in County Offally.

Kinnitty is at the base of the Slieve Bloom Mountains which are well known for their great walking trails. Chris’s house is a Victorian townhouse that she has restored over a number of years and furnished with some wonderful antiques. During our time with her we have helped with some of the day to day B and B tasks, bedmaking, toilet scrubbing, vacuuming, laundry and ironing etc and we have completed some creative tasks, built an IKEA wardrobe, varnished floors, made curtains, put new silicon into showers and more.

Probably the most satisfying task for us all was recovering ten dining chairs. It seemed like such a straight-forward task but it wasn’t. The chair bases were hardwood so it took a lot of effort to undo the old covers and replace the webbing and add new covers. All three of us were involved in this task and even Renie the Canadian visitor staying in Chris’ cottage joined in. Alone this would have been a tedious task but as a group we had lots of fun!

We have loved this workaway, Chris is such good fun, she has really made us welcome and helped us be a part of this community. Chris has taken us to a number of musical events in a variety of pubs and at Kinnitty Castle, we have walked in the local area and visited some of the local villages. We even watched the quarter, semi finals and finals of the Rugby World Cup in the local pub.

We also enjoyed the company of Renie, who is from Edmonton in Canada. We joined her for a weekend in Sligo where we attended bits of a music festival and also visited sites associated with W B Yeats. A wonderful weekend. Renie is a lot of fun and I suspect we may see each other again one day.

Autumn has been pretty spectacular here and we have grabbed every opportunity to get out and see it. Chris also enjoys photography so we were often found out with all our cameras, well two cameras and my phone!

We are now going back to Scotland to our friends and workaway hosts at Monzie Estate near Crieff.  While we are sad to leave Ireland I am certain we will return and we look forward to seeing Chris in New Zealand when she visits in 2016.

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