Last month, Mike and I traveled to Ireland for a destination wedding! Our friends Lance and Katie got hitched in the village of Adare – a lovely part of Limerick County. We spent 3 wonderful nights here before heading to Dublin for another 3 days. Here are the highlights from the first half of our trip:
We flew into Shannon, Ireland and had a driver take us 20 miles away to our hotel, Adare Manor. If you’ve ever seen the show Downton Abbey, then you have an excellent idea of how magnificent our hotel was. Adare Manor is the former estate of the Earl of Dunraven and his family, and thanks to Downton Abbey, I have an inkling of what life might have been like in this home back then.
Adare Manor Downton Abbey
Our room at the manor was quite impressive…
…But my favorite thing about Adare Manor was the beautiful & expansive property that we were free to roam about.
One morning we even took a walk with some friends to a 15th Century “Franciscan Friary” nestled in the corner of the hotel’s golf course. It was wide open for us to explore.
Most frequented, there was also a gate from the property leading directly to the heart of the village which had a grocery store, a pharmacy, a couple churches, several pubs, a few upscale restaurants, a Chinese restaurant, a park, and a visitor’s center.
As for the food, I did eat very well, though I learned right away that I’d be exercising the “Flexi-” part of my “Flexi-vegan” lifestyle. The Vegan options outside of Dublin were quite limited, and the handful of Vegetarian options I’d find on menus were heavier fare like cream-based soups and sauces. Even the delicious Brown Bread that we were served everywhere was not Vegan as it is typically made with Buttermilk.
A sampling of my (not Vegan) Irish eats:
Potato & Leek Soup Cheesy Wrap Sandwich
Puff Pastry with Veggies & Wine Sauce Veggie Platter with Cabbage, Turnips, etc
The salads in Ireland, however, were simply unbeatable. Most had a tangy mustard dressing and contained the freshest greens & herbs, like the generous amounts of Dill in this salad:
But most importantly, Adare certainly made a magical – and fun – setting for the wedding, which was held in a centuries old church. (Also, check out the gorgeous bouquets of paper-flowers hand-made by one of the Bridesmaids)
Congratulations, Lance & Katie!!!
And the reception, held at Adare Manor, was simply unforgettable. First, we dined like Royalty:
Goat Cheese Salad Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Soup
Grapefruit Lemongrass Sorbet Wild Mushroom & Truffle Risotto
Vanilla Cheesecake & Blood Orange Sorbet
Then after dinner, we danced and drank and sang along to the piano-man playing in the hotel’s pub.
To finish off a perfect night, I might have snuck up to the room ahead of Mike and ate the fantastic pillow-chocolates all by myself.
The next morning, we all enjoyed the hotel’s buffet, before setting off on a tour-bus with all the other wedding guests to see some sights. I made a bowl of dry muesli mixed with several types of fruit. The fruit juices mixed with the muesli to make a wonderful oatmeal-like bowl, without need for any milk.
The main focus of our excursion was the infamous Cliffs of Moher which you may have seen in The Princess Bride or Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. We were very lucky to have a clear, warm, and sunny day to view them, as it can often be quite cold and windy at the cliffs.
For me, the Cliffs hid a wonderful surprise. Our Ranger-guide let us borrow his binoculars to see that many of the white specks in the cliffs are actually birds (look closely!) – a mix of Atlantic Puffins (SO cute!), Guillemots (a Penguin-like bird), and other sea-birds. They stay close together, keeping watch, to prevent the Ravens from stealing their eggs.
On our way to the Cliffs, the scenery was gorgeous – rolling fields of happy cows and sheep with ruins of castles and churches off in the distance, small villages, and beautiful sea-scapes. We also made a stop at The Burren, a vastly different landscape of rocky terrain that was also the site of many ancient burials.
On our drive back from the Cliffs, we stopped in the town of Doolin, which is known for having top-notch Irish music performed in its pubs. We heard a fantastic group perform at McGann’s pub, including a hauntingly romantic version of “I Want to Hold Your Hand” which brought down the house.
I was so torn between the amazing music indoors and the beautiful weather outdoors, and did sneak across the street from the bar momentarily to admire the beautiful countryside and adorable cows in this popular hiking area.
The next morning, we packed up and headed off to Dublin for even more adventures!
Stay tuned for posts about our food-filled time in Dublin.
I’d love to hear from you!
Have you ever been to a destination wedding?
What do you love most about small towns?