In honor of my parent's 30th wedding anniversary, which is on New Year's Eve, we took a family vacation to Ireland right after Christmas. Having been there when we were younger, we were excited to visit again to celebrate New Year's Eve!
We left a couple of days after Christmas and flew into Dublin. It is definitely a festive and time to go on vacation because everyone is still in the holiday spirit. We began our vacation with a big brunch at the Shelbourne Hotel. The Shelbourne is a lovely hotel with great service, fun restaurants and a couple of cozy and charming bars.
After coffee and brunch, we embarked on a day of sight-seeing. Dublin is a very manageable city to walk. We moseyed along Grafton Street and window shopped. Brown Thomas is a lovely department store and we had fun seeing the holiday decorations.
We walked through the lovely St. Stephen's Green, which is right across from the Shelbourne Hotel. We toured St. Patrick's Cathedral and Christ Church Cathedral. We walked around Trinity College and Dublin Castle.
After a big day of exploring and touring, we all retired to our rooms for a quick nap before dinner. We ate a great dinner in the hotel went to bed early.
The following day we had a relaxing brunch and then went to an exhibit at the National Gallery with Sir John Lavery's art work. He was an Irish artist and the exhibit was charming and so interesting. After seeing the exhibit, we decided to look up the top five pieces of art work in the museum. We had a fun time looking for the pieces throughout the museum.
From the National Gallery, we ubered to the Guinness Storehouse. We purchased tickets online ahead of time for a tour. The tour is fun because you end up on the top floor with views of the city. The top floor was all decked out for the holidays with Christmas music playing.
After the Guinness tour, we ubered to The Brazen Head, the oldest pub in Dublin. We were happy to get there early because by the time we left, there was a very long line. It is a cozy restaurant and fun to visit because of its history.
After dinner we went to a tour at Jameson Whiskey. The Jameson tour was also interesting, with a little tasting at the end. We ended the evening in the little bar at the top of the steps called the 1824 Bar.
The following morning we had a driver scheduled to drive us three hours across the country to Ashford Castle. The weather was mild and the drive was easy, with great scenery. Ashford Castle looked so beautiful with an enormous tree in the main entrance. We enjoyed a lovely lunch upon arrival and then settled into our beautiful rooms.
The rest of the trip was spent eating, talking and relaxing at Ashford. We had a spa day with massages, manicures and pedicures. We enjoyed walking outside around the grounds and around the little town of Cong.
We did archery and falconry, which are memorable and such enjoyable experiences to do all together. We thoroughly enjoyed afternoon tea at the hotel.
The highlight was the magical New Year's Eve celebration which started with appetizers and champagne followed by a magnificent dinner in the George V dining room. There was a great band and we dance a ton! Right before midnight, we were handed champagne, given wraps and guided onto the patio to watch a beautiful firework display. It was a great way to enter in the new year!
One of the days, we had a driver take us about forty-five minutes away to a town called Leenane. My Dad's father's side of the family is from there. The route he took us was so scenic between a mountain. We toured the town and knocked on the door of a distance relative and had fun talking to him. A highlight was having an Irish coffee at the local pub.
The driver then took us to a charming seaside city called Westport. We had a fun dinner there, walked around and purchased Irish sweaters in a beautiful shop.
We had a relaxing and memorable family vacation in Ireland! The vacation was the perfect mix of sight-seeing and relaxation.