It’s a foggy, cold morning. Fall is slowly creeping into Asheville. A few trees outside my window have already succumbed to his grip and are oozing out burgundy and burnt orange. I woke up at 6 am. It’s better than yesterday when I woke up at 4. Jet lag is the worst. I finished editing my pictures for the first part of the trip, and by 10am I’m on my second Chemex of coffee.

There are so many memories and things to remember from the trip. 28 days jam-packed with driving, sight-seeing, and exploring. We left the US on September 7th, my birthday. Our flight was overnight to Dublin and we arrived at 5am local time. After picking up the smallest of rental cars, we drove to Gort, a town near Galway. Driving on the wrong side of the car, wrong side of the road and shifting with the wrong hand is certainly a challenge, but I think I did a pretty good job. Nothing in Gort was open, and we ended up at a hotel for most awkward and quiet breakfast of all time. The dining room was ornate, wooden, regal, and silent. Large wooden chairs and heavy tables dotted the room with elderly couples sitting scattered throughout. Despite the room containing roughly 10 other people, it was completely silent.

The waitress asked us what we wanted, but hadn’t given us menus. We asked what they had and she said whatever you want. We stammered out some foods that normally are associated with breakfast…eggs, bacon, toast, coffee, and stared at her questioningly. What do you order when someone says you can have whatever you want? And on 0 hours of sleep after having traveled for the past 15 hours. She nodded and shortly brought out our very “American” breakfasts. We ate quickly in the silence, contacted our host and waited for her to come to the hotel so we could follow her back to the house.

The Life of Reilly Lodge was a converted garage with a loft bedroom upstairs and a kitchen and bathroom downstairs. It is in a cow pasture basically, so the cows walk right up to the downstairs windows.

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Teresa is amazing and pleasant and made us the most delicious scones. So sweet. After a much-needed power nap, we showered and piled into our tiny car to go to the Cliffs of Moher on the western coast of Ireland. It was about an hour and a half drive, but on the way we came across ruins of an old monastery with a huge tower and amazing graveyard so of course we had to stop and check it out. Another couple from New Jersey was there and they had gotten the keys to the church somehow and offered to let us walk around with them to see inside of the church and other buildings.

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Back in the car we continued on the way too small and winding roads to Clare. The Cliffs of Moher were beautiful and even though it was so windy the sun kept us warm on our trek to the top. Our first views of Ireland were certainly stunning.

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Back at our apartment we slept for 12 hours. What an amazing feeling. I woke up first and made coffee and looked out over the rolling Irish countryside. Spoke with the cow outside the window, chatted with Theresa for a bit and then we were off to Galway. We sat at a French Cafe for a while just soaking in the sunshine and enjoying our coffee, then walked around the town stopping in a few bookshops to pursue the used books. The afternoon took us to the Galway Horse Races where we joined hundreds of other spectators watching the horses run the track, cheering for the winners and even bet on a horse.

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Our next house was in Kells Bay. The beach was so beautiful and the mountainous scenery surprised and delighted us. We drove to Dingle from Kells Bay, the pouring rain and narrow waterlogged roads made the journey much longer than it should have been. The hedge rows radiated with fuchsia and orange flowers spilling over into the road. Blackberry bushes and ferns added to the colorful hues. The coastal sea town of Dingle was adorable. Through pouring rain we made our way to a small coffee shop called Bean in Dingle, decorated with greys and yellow and looked very much like many of our coffee shops in America.  The damp chill in the air hovered over the town but we managed to explore and find some amazing little shops, pubs and most of all Murphy’s Ice Cream. Yum.

Dingle. Kells Bay. Cork. Ardfield.  With a sporadic trip to Blarney Castle thrown in between.

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In Cork we had the amazing experience of going to Church with the Freece’s. Missionaries we have supported for most of our lives. Seeing the church we have prayed for and being able to interact with the people there was such a sweet experience.

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After Cork we stayed in Wexford, visited the beach from Saving Private Ryan, and then went on to Howth. A fishing town right next to Dublin. It was a beautiful sunny day and we spent most of the day outside on the pier. Watching seals and birds, eating fish & chips, listening to street musicians and exploring the little city.

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After Howth our tour of Ireland was done. So crazy to think the first leg of our journey was already done. We went back to the Dublin airport and flew to London for our next adventure!

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