Wednesday, December 31, 2014

An Overnight Getaway

On Monday Niall and I left the kids with his parents for an excursion around the countryside. S and W slept over at Niall's sister's house, and we stayed at a hotel. It was our first night away from the kids ever. Everyone did well, all things considered! It was nice to enjoy a little respite from the constant crazy of parenthood :).


We first stopped off in Cong. One of the most beautiful towns in Western Ireland, it is also where The Quiet Man was filmed in the 1950's. This statue commemorates the project. The Quiet Man is a bit off a joke among Irish folk {see: Why Does Hollywood Hate Ireland?}, and I could not get Niall to pose next to this...


Cong also has an ancient {dating back to the 1100's} Abbey. This old fishing house was used by the monks. It had a fire place to keep them warm during winter fishing sessions. After crossing this river, we enjoyed a lovely walk in the forest behind the Abbey.


We enjoyed a light lunch at The Puddleducks Cafe. As a big Beatrix Potter fan, it was an exciting moment. I had to take pictures of Jemima for S.


Isn't this pillow adorable? Just the sort of ideal accessory for a child's reading nook. Or a window seat.


The local book shop had a nice collection of antique materials. I drooled over a very old copy of Middlemarch.


Next we strolled up to Ashford Castle. Currently a five star hotel, we were unfortunately unable to go in and check it out. Residents only.


Still, stunningly gorgeous. The artistry, genius and innovation that goes into a building of this size, and then makes it last for hundreds and hundreds of years, is mind-blowing.


After a long, long drive around a picturesque lake, we arrived at our hotel in Westport. We had probably the fanciest dinner I've ever eaten in my life. The three courses were interspersed with other little plates of fancy yet barely recognizable edibles.

I had steak, and it was amazing. More amazing still were the perfectly cubed potatoes surrounding it. I'm at a loss for how to describe them. They had the thinnest, crispiest exterior, and a warm and soft interior that practically melted in your mouth. I had no idea a potato could become something so other worldly.

Niall had gotten a deal online, so a meal that should have cost 111 euro was only 20. That was incredibly gratifying :).


Tuesday, after a lazy morning and hotel breakfast, we set homewards in a different direction, landing at Kylemore Abbey. Originally a castle, it was purchased by Benedictine nuns in the 1920's.


We had been here four years ago on our last visit, but hadn't paid to go in. This time we thought, "Why not?" and paid for the tour of the home, cathedral, and Victorian walled gardens. The gardens were incredible, even in December. The Cathedral built in honor of the late owner's wife was also impressive. Unfortunately most of the house proper was closed off, since the nuns live in it. I was hoping to get a peek at the ballroom and bedrooms and kitchens, but all visitors can see are the dining room, drawing room, and entryway. If I had known that we might not have paid the fee. Ah well. Now we know.




The view from the gardens. Kylemore is tucked beneath impressive mountains, and nestled behind a lake.


The outdoor buildings. They featured tools and living quarters from the late 1800's when everything was built.


The Head Gardener's house {upper left} was set up as it might have been in the 1800's, and we were able to wander into all of the rooms. That was somewhat gratifying after missing out on the house, but I still felt a little disappointed. 

All in all we had an amazing time! It was nice to get away from the kids for a bit, and to spend so much time in the car with Niall. We tend to have our best conversations on road trips. 

Happy New Year's Eve!

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