Ireland. The land of the lepricons with the big pots of gold. The land where the rain always pours, and the beer even harder. The land of the green wilderness, the stories and the magic.
I grew up with the music of the Dubliners. The playful sounds, the sad stories and the voices of the past imprinted the Irish magic onto my soul. Only in Dublin you can find the ghost of Molly Malone, haunting the streets crying “cockles and mussles alive, alive oh”. Only in Ireland you drink your whisky from the jar like all proper Irish do. Add a 16-year old me watching Gerald Butler in PS. I love you, and there you have my fantasized image of Ireland.
My first trip to Ireland came unexpected. My friend Kim and myself needed a break from daily life and decided to go on an adventure taking the first flight out. When it turned out that that particular flight was going to Belgium, we decided to adjust our plans and, almost as spontaneously, booked ourselves a trip to Ireland. Our dear friend Google advised us that the South-West region was the best for first-timers and after some AirBnB research we booked ourselves a week in Garry’s ‘farmhouse in peaceful environment’.
The flight was completely within our budget, and for a flight as short as this one (hour, hour and a half) Ryan Air was comfortable enough. When we walked out of Dublin Airport and the first greeting we heard was a “how are ye love”; my heart simply skipped a beat. No matter where you’re from; the minute you set foot on Irish soil, you feel on holiday. This was the first sign of proof that the Irish fairytale I had in mind, was really about to happen.
After a 2,5 hour trip by train, we ended up in Cork city. The bus to Glengarriff didn’t show that day, so we had to ring up Garry to give us a ride. And that was one amazing drive. From the soft glooming hills of county Cork to the mountain-like rocky nature of county Kerry. The closer we came to the South-West coast, the more impressive the views got.
Once we arrived in Glengarrrif (with a citycenter of exactly 2 streets), the road ended and we continued for another 6 kilometers off-road. Bouncing and shaking over rough forest roads we arrived at our home for that week, complete with amazing views over the mountain chain that holds Glengarriff within her arms. Within no-time our bags were unpacked, our hiking boots on our feet, cameras around our neck, hats on the heads and we were out for adventure. Small creeks, scheeps, rocks, mountains and forestry mantled with a velvet layer of moss were caressing the lens of the camera. My god what is Glengarriff an amazingly beautiful place.
We’ve left quite some footprints that week. On Garry’s invitation “I’ll take ye girls for a small hike. If ye lucky, ye might see the fairies today” we hiked to the top of a 1,5k mountain. As a result, we ended up knees shaking and our heads in the clouds; watching over the magical Barley lakes. Gary was right. Up there, resting my legs at the Barley lakes, I experienced an inner peace and serenity that could only have come from the fairies.
Even the pubs in Glengarriff completely lived up to the magical fairytale I formed in my head as a kid. The minute you walk through that door, into a crowded pub, you are overwhelmed by the sound of clinging beer glasses, laughing people and celtic tunes. And right there, on a wooden bench, 3 old man singing the Dublinners; with the whole damn pub functioning as their back-up vocals. No dirty looks, no judgement, no stares. Just human beings, drinking a pint, having a laugh and singing Irish classics. Within 10 minutes you’ll be pulled on a barstool, supplied with a pint and talking about your life and life lessons with a random stranger.
It is for sure, that we enjoyed our week South-West coast fully and like never before. A week filled with the long-wondered Irish magic. A dream I never realised I dreamt became true that week in Glengarriff. The unstoppable waves crashing against the cliffs, fog slowly clearing up between mossy forestry, the tiny doors nailed against the trees to provide the lepricons a home, the sheep who keep you company during your morning coffee in the backyard and the unforgettable atmosphere in the small Irish pubs. So many friendly people saying hi when they’re passing you by, holding the door and always asking you how ye are. Isn’t that lovely?
After a week it was time to go home. Twenty bruises, 4 shaking knees, two empty wallets but mostly two peaceful satisfied souls boarding a Ryan Air plane back to the Netherlands. The place I used to call home. Not knowing what this break was still going to bring me in the future.
You can book your stay at Garry’s farmhouse through AirBnB, or send me a message and I’ll hook you up! No matter how, if you’re ever planning to visit Ireland I highly recommend a stay at Garry’s place!