the parents visit ireland 

Ger and I love it when family and friends come to visit us in Dublin. It’s always such a pleasure to see familiar faces and spend quality time with people. My parents, Kathy and Charlie, came for a visit this fall (yes, this is a belated blog post) and we had a fabulous time. We popped over to London, England for a weekend to watch the Dolphins vs Saints NFL game at Wembley Stadium too. It was a visit filled with great memories and I can’t wait for them to visit again this summer!

I start this blog post in London, England.  Friday night before my parents arrived, we went to a going-away dinner for a friend of ours, Hugo, who was moving to New York City the following week.  Let me tell you, the food and drink at The Orange Public House is top-notch. I would highly recommend it! Not to mention the company, we had such a fun time. After dinner, we ended up at a friend’s place drinking, singing, and dancing to all hours of the night. #londonlifestyle

Once my parents arrived Saturday morning, our friends, Kevin and Siobhan, cooked us all breakfast and we had a great morning sitting outside in their garden with blankets and champagne having a good ole’ chat. Then, we headed into the city to collect our NFL tickets (Hon Dolphins!) and get some Indian food at the Bengal Clipper just off the Thames River – a lovely meal to be sure. We headed for some drinks after dinner and ended up having another late one with the parents and old friends. Couldn’t have asked for a better day in London.

The came Sunday, the day of the big game. We headed to Wembley Stadium in the morning to soak up all the NFL ambiance and get hyped. We wandered thru the NFL Village (enjoying a couple of beers along the way) and then to the Dolphins Fan Zone; the energy in the place was insane. Fans showed up for every team in the NFL (jerseys included). And of course, there were the Dolphins and the Saints lifers decked out to the nines. It was really something to see. You’d never find anything like it in states.  Anyone who has been to an NFL game in London can vouch!

IMG_3083Then came game time. The first drive began well for the Dolphins but then Jay Cutler threw an interception and the game went downhill from there. I believe the final score was 20-0 Saints. As a Dolphins fan, this was not the ideal outcome.  For the 80,000 fans who were at Wembley, it was not a fun game to watch…unless perhaps you were a Saints fan.  The older woman in front of us (around 70) was a loyal Saints fan who did a cheerleader dance of sorts every time they got a first down or scored.  She even had her own pom poms.  After awhile, we had to look away; it was just too much, haha! A definite highlight of the game was the stadium food – they had all kinds of goodness, including local English grub. We ended up getting meat pie and mash at halftime and it was quite tasty. Once the game was over and we finally made our way out of the masses at Wembley (which took some time), we headed to a cute little pub on Abbey Road, The Salt House, for Sunday dinner. As you can see, we did a lot of eating in London. #winning

img_3031The next morning my parents flew to Dublin and we weren’t far behind. We had a lovely outdoor brunch at The Elgin prior to heading to Stansted. I had smoked salmon, scrambled eggs, and potato latkes with chive sour cream and Ger had a spiced potato, fresh green pea and broad bean hash with dukkah rolled eggs. Yum!

My parents were in Dublin for the rest of the week. Dad was in Dublin for a work conference and Ger was working all week, so mom and I had lots of time to explore during the day.  One of which, mom and I headed to the town of Howth, just north of Dublin.  It’s such a charming place. We started our afternoon at Howth Harbour, admiring all the ships, the lighthouse, the views of Ireland’s Eye, and Howth’s cliffs.  Then, we went for a fish and chips dinner (lunch) at Bershoff’s – famous for its fish and chips. And they were quite tasty.

Once we finished dinner (lunch), we ventured to Howth Castle. What a beauty. We took a walk around the castle grounds, admiring the architecture and the gardens. Howth Castle has its origins in medieval times. In 1177 Almeric, the first Lord of Howth, came to Ireland and built Howth Caste; his descendants still own it and live there. The castle was originally constructed in wood, but a new stone castle was built in its place in 1235. The castle was altered again in 1738, and most recently in 1911.  When touring the castle, it is still possible to see evidence of the alterations that have been made. It gives a unique perspective on the architectural progression of castles in Ireland. On our walk back to town, we found ourselves a new puppy friend; he accompanied us down the driveway of the castle before running to his parents around the corner.  It was a great day out.

Dad met us for drinks at Mary Mac’s Pub that night and we had a lovely Indian dinner from Ravi’s Kitchen in Ballsbridge. At Ravi’s, they make really, really fabulous food. I highly suggest it if you’re ever looking for good Indian eats in Dublin.

The next night, we met mom and dad at the Guinness Storehouse for a private dinner held by the conference. There were about two hundred people there, but, it felt like we had the place all to ourselves. We had a catered, buffet Irish dinner on the fifth floor accompanied by live Irish music and free Guinness all night.  Then, we headed to The Gravity Bar. Being at the world-famous Gravity Bar in the Guinness Storehouse with virtually nobody there was quite something, not to mention having the entire storehouse to tour virtually on our own! For perspective, the Guinness Storehouse had over 1.6 million visitors in 2016 (on average, over 4,300 a day) It was truly a night for the books and one I doubt will ever be replicated. #guinnessfactoryalltoourselves

(This is the 9,000 year lease that Arthur Guinness signed in 1759. Amazing foresight that one ;))

(Pictured above is the Gravity Bar – normally packed full of people, this “almost empty” moment was something special)

The next day, my parents met us for a walk around Sandymount Beach before we headed to Cashel in Tipperary for the weekend. It was quite a calm day on the sea, I hadn’t seen one like it in quite some time. They enjoyed the iconic Sandymount Beach views to be sure.

Once we got to Cashel, we met Ger’s parents, Jim and Mary, for dinner at Chez Hans, a Michelin-rated restaurant in town.  It’s an intimate bar and restaurant set inside a former church and has quite the atmosphere. The food is to die for. I mean, I couldn’t get enough. For the starter, I ordered a pate of chicken liver and foie gras, truffle butter, tokaji jelly, poached pear, and toasted brioche.  For the main, a 10oz Angus fillet steak with three local and wild mushroom variations and béarnaise. And, for dessert, a flourless chocolate pot with honeycomb and vanilla ice cream. Magic. We finished the evening with drinks at Mikey Ryan’s; needless to say, we all loved it.

The next day, dad went to a local hurling match with the boys – he couldn’t stop talking about how much he enjoyed it!  To be fair, it is a very Irish thing to do and a great sport to watch. While the boys were at the match, Mom and I went for a shop around town and a coffee with Mary. We finished the day at Ger’s home house playing Euchre around the fireplace and enjoying each others company.  We got to see little Alice (Ger’s niece) as well – she had us all cracking up for a good hour or so!

(The dahlias that grow in Ireland are gorgeous.  Pictured above and below are some spotted while walking around Cashel)

IMG_3373img_3526The next morning, Jim cooked us a full Irish breakfast (my favorite thing about Ireland to date).  It’s always so friggin’ tasty and just what the doctor ordered. After, we played some pool and hit around the slioter before we took the train back to Dublin. That night, we cooked dinner and watched the Miami Dolphins NFL game with mom and dad at our apartment. It was great having them there and being able to watch two Dolphins games with them – the Miami Dolphins are a family tradition for sure.

The next day was my parents last day in town, so I took them to Greystones in Wicklow for a coffee and then we headed towards the Greystones to Bray cliff walk. It’s my favorite walk outside of Dublin (Greystones is a forty minute ride on the DART from town) and now my parents love it just as much as I do! We ventured off the beaten path a few different times along the way to soak up the cliff side views. You’ll see pics below. This is one walk that you can’t miss when you’re in the Dublin area – it’s worth every minute!

After a good five-mile walk, we arrived in Bray. And it was decided that a pint in the “Best Bar in the World” (as voted by Lonely Planet in 2010) was in order. So, to The Harbour Bar we went.  We ordered a ham and cheese toasty and chips along with some local brews and had a great chat with the bartender who turned out to be the son’s owner. He gifted us three custom pint glasses to serve as a memory of our time in Bray and my parents time in Dublin.  It was so kind of him and we all still have them 🙂
Then, we met Ger for a dinner at The Old Spot in town. I love this restaurant. It’s another I would highly recommend. Again, the food and the company were both fabulous. To start I got a lovely citrus salad with goat cheese and for the main, pan roasted cod with green beans and mashed dill potatoes.  A bottle of Muga Especial Rioja was ordered and savored by all for dessert. It was a lovely meal to end a lovely trip.

I won’t lie, I miss my parents and family dearly.  I can’t wait to see them again in March 2018!  We have a family trip planned to Italy – one of our favorite places – and I’m confident it will not disappoint. As the Italians say, fino alla prossima volta!

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