Planning for Ireland

I am pleased to announce that the ‘Black Beret and the Grey Cap’ are going on our first overseas trip since becoming parents. It has been 3 years since we left North America and we chose Ireland for this momentous journey. It will be a very short trip – 5 days only – and just the two of us.

We started planning the trip in February, locking in a car rental and flights for the end of the summer. Life is extra busy these days, so I didn’t do any trip planning until the summer was already underway (and didn’t cut the tags off my new luggage until the day before the trip as I was still doubtful we could pull it off!)

I asked friends and family for advice on where to stay and go, borrowed books from the library, and browsed other blogs and Pinterest for ideas. I wanted to make the best of our time there, but not try to pack too much in as there will be no time to recover when we get home.

green Irish countryside
Photo by Nils Nedel on Unsplash

What They Said

Below is a simple list of the places that my friends recommended. The recommendations focus outside of Dublin. This was by design as we are spending very little time in Dublin. I wanted to see as much of nature as possible during our time away:

The Musician

My friend lives in Ireland and recommended these places outside of the city for us to explore:

The IT Guy

My friend absolutely loves the Ring of Kerry and says its one of his favourite places to go on holiday. He is a foodie and recommended these places:

The Mom

My friend from my local ‘mom group’ is originally from Ireland and recommended we visit these places outside of Dublin:

  • Kilkenny: cute town; restaurants
  • Kinsale: beautiful fishing town in Cork
  • Glengarriff: picturesque peninsula in Cork
  • Wicklow: beautiful 
  • County Clare: beautiful
  • Armada Hotel: hotel in Clare; dinner and drinks; live music

The Hairdresser

My partner’s hairdresser is from Ireland and was adamant we go to the Guinness Storehouse – apparently its not just for tourists!

  • Guinness Storehouse
  • Cork: picturesque town
Church rises above a street of colourful row houses
Cork. Photo by Jason Murphy on Unsplash

My List

In addition to what my friends recommended, there were a number of places I wanted to visit that we couldn’t fit within our short trip:

  • Newgrange burial site: tomb built around 3200 BC
  • Skellig Islands: ancient stone huts on a remote island
  • The Dark Hedges: an avenue of beech trees along Bregagh Road in County Antrim
  • Giants Causeway: unique rock formations
  • Cliffs of Moher: classic cliffs of Ireland
  • Sliabh Liag: cliffs in Donegal that are said to be prettier than Moher
  • Galway: town full of music with beautiful scenery
  • Dingle: beautiful peninsula and colourful seaside town

As we enjoy eco-tourism best, we decided to focus our trip on the Irish countryside instead of Dublin. We ended up making our focus the Ring of Kerry, a scenic drive in the South of Ireland that supposedly had a little bit of everything you’d want to see in Ireland. We hoped it would be similar to our favourite trip together: Scotland.

A puffin sits on a cliff with a rocky island in the distance
Skellig Island. Photo by Isaac Burke on Unsplash

Family Prep

My biggest fret (even greater than even the cost) was how myself and my child would fare away from each other for 5 whole days – with an ocean between us! Up until this point I had only spent one night away from my child and even that had been difficult [for me]. However, we had an opportunity to travel and a highly trusted family member as caregiver for our child – so why not do it? We could really do with the time away too. Who’s relationship hasn’t suffered over the pandemic and since becoming parents? It would be good for us as a couple and our caregiver assured us it would be good for our child too.

Preschooler Calendar

To prep for the trip, I designed a weekly calendar for my 3-year old child. I created magnetics for daily highlights (playground, school etc) and a nighttime magnet to go over each day at bedtime. For the week away, I included a tile of our son with both parents on our farewell and return day, then a tile of him and his caregiver on each of the days we were away. I hoped this would help him understand our absence was temporary.

Shared Album

I created a shared album on my phone to upload photos of our trip of things our child might enjoy. I thought a shared album would be best as it wouldn’t rely on timing calls or sharing texts with the time change, disrupting routine or appearing at inopportune times. We would still call of course, but I thought a shared album would give both the child and the caregiver control over when and where to look at pictures.

I also planned to ask our child pick a pocket-sized toy for us to travel with. I would take photos of it at various places throughout our trip to show we are thinking of them. It would make a fun subject!