So, in other big news this month, We’ve recently returned from a big family trip to Ireland and I have been so excited to share some highlights with you all!  Just like several of our previous trips I’ve shared in the past, when I started going through pictures, I realized this is going to take a little while, but I’m doing my best to narrow it down to our favorite highlights and send out some tips for those of you who are thinking about making this trip!

We spent 8 days in the southern part of Ireland, starting in Dublin, and going around the southern coast and back up to Galway, then back across to Dublin! We took all our kids, plus my in-laws joined us, so we were a party of 8 Ryans, trekking through Ireland in a van that often seemed bigger than the roads we were on!

map via Google

We arrived in Dublin before 5 a.m. on our first day and hit the ground running.  From the airport, we drove to our hotel in the Sandymount community of Dublin, to leave our luggage, but could not check in that early so we left to find breakfast.  My first of many lattes on this trip was at at Café Java, not far from our hotel, and it was definitely picture-worthy with the shamrock on top.  

Right after breakfast, we headed across town to Malahide Castle and gardens, which was the first of several beautiful castles we saw!

On this property, there is also an Avoca shop and cafe, which we learned is a very popular store in Ireland, and it reminded me of an Irish Anthropologie!  So pretty with lots of gorgeous goods.

After Malahide, we all agreed we would love to take a short nap in the van to get a little recharged from being up for over 24 hours by then!  So, we did just that, then drove to find lunch and tour Trinity College in downtown Dublin.

The jewel of Trinity College is the library called The Long Room, which was inspiration for the Harry Potter library, I’m told.  I’m unclear whether it was actually filmed here or just modeled after it, but it is very impressive, regardless!  Also here is the famous Book of Kells, which is an ancient collection of renderings of the Gospels.  It’s a must-see in Dublin!

Just near the college is Trinity City Hotel, which we ducked into for a quick photo in the lobby, and from the looks of it–I would recommend it!  Really fabulous!

Our hotel was just fine and in a little quieter area, as well, with free parking, so I would recommend it also.  It was the Sandymount Hotel and you can find the website here.

The Sandymount neighborhood is quiet and nice, and we had dinner there the first night a cute burger place, and another breakfast the next morning near the hotel at Brownes before heading off to our next destination!

And the next destination happened to be Kilkenny!  This is a great little town, full of shops and restaurants and another huge castle!  

The umbrella street was so cute, located on a shopping street called Market Cross.

So we did our second castle in 2 days and enjoyed it very much as well!  

Our hotel for the night was a short scenic drive away in Castlecomber, and the scenery was truly beautiful in between each of our destinations!

This hotel was one of our favorites of the trip because of its charm.  It was the Avalon House Hotel and you can find the site here.

Very clean rooms decorated in European cottage style, with cute and delicious lattes available as well! 

We also recommend the breakfast at the hotel! Book with your room for a discount on that! 

Ahhhh!  So much crammed into 2 days and I only showed a few things!  Next up will be our next few destinations on our itinerary, so stay tuned!  Meanwhile, as always, I’ll try to answer questions if you have them! Have you been to these places before?