Lucky Box of Charms / by Adrienne Hess

As some of you may know, The Boy (Clint) and I took an amazing trip to Ireland a week ago.  We had impeccable timing everywhere we went, from getting to restaurants or museums before the crowd or narrowly missing rain when we did outdoor activities It started from the very beginning in the Chicago airport of all places.  It's possible we waltzed our way right into the First Class Lounge and relaxed for a bit before our plane was ready to board.

 And the plane! As soon as we were boarding a bunch of Irish international choir kids started serenading us. They were very talented, here's a video of the back of the chair in front of me with a soundtrack thanks to those kids. 

The flight attendant made them stop for the takeoff presentation though... They did sing again when we were getting our luggage in Ireland and it was just as amazing.  A great way to start a trip.

I did immediately leave my sweater at the rental car place and we had to go back for it, but that was a minor bump in the trip... and an extra toll pass (we set the GPS to avoid tolls after that, best decision we made). 

The first castle we stayed in was the Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel and we immediately went out exploring despite my very pronounced jet-lag (Clint can sleep on planes; I clearly have some issues). We found our first pub (through tripadvisor) at the top of a hill, called The Druid's Chair.  Our bartender was super helpful about where we should go and what we should see.  Although apparently he had a summer job in Myrtle Beach as a rollercoaster operator of all places and all things so clearly his tastes have improved. 

After that we drove into Dublin (a mistake we didn't make twice- Clint driving in a city is bad, Clint driving on the wrong side of the road in a city is very stressful) and walked around.  We went to Walton's to take a look at all the Bodhrans. (Clint dreams of playing as good as our friend Jim.) Then we got coffee and beer at a pub, but the jet-lag was definitely getting to us and we headed back to the hotel/castle for a sleepy meal.  I mean look at us. 

Hellloooooo Jetlag

Then we went up to the room to watch Brave because it was on Netflix and The Secret of Kells was not. Clint still needs to watch it and you should too!

The next day we had a day entirely devoted to Irish Alcohol.  Starting at St. James Gate and Guinness and then heading over to Jameson's Distillery.  At Guinness we learned how to pour our own glass of Guinness and got a certificate like a little kid to prove it.  Along with a picture where we and a handful of strangers all look a bit confused and ridiculous.  We did learn a lot about the brewing process they use as well as the history of Guinness including it's transportation history and advertising history. 

After we had been up to the very tippy top of Guinness we headed over to the Old Jameson Distillery, where Clint wouldn't let me take any photo's so I only got this one.

 Everyone can blame him for how little good photography is in this post. We did both learn the proper way to make Irish Coffee's as well as the fact that we both like Scotch more than Whiskey (DON'T HURT US IRELAND, we really like Powers Irish Whiskey if that's any consolation).  In fact, the Irish Coffee was so good we got it again that night at the Fitzpatrick's bar, but not before we found out that there was a Captain America's Restaurant in Dublin!  It was crazy crowded and the food looked 'meh' so we just went in to say we went in and bounced. 

The next morning we headed North and West to get to Kilronan Castle Hotel which had the most amazing thermal pools. Just giant hot tubs (and cold tubs) as well as a steam room, a sauna, and a "relaxation room."  Again, the lack of photo's is entirely Clint's fault.... Though this is where I realized that the chances of getting any decent in-focus pictures of me where slim to none. Behold:

After I had my gut-wrenching realization we headed into town to go to church where I didn't understand much of what the priest was saying, but did manage to realize that he blessed Roscommon's football team at the end of this sermon.  We then headed into Carrick-on-Shannon and had some lunch at An Poitin Still where we saw the people getting ready for the game before going to Lough Key Forest Park (yes, I did walk for miles in that long dress and I have no regrets - except for not teaching Clint how to properly focus a camera).  I did get some of the best photos of the trip here though since I had Clint captive out in the wilderness.  As you can see, Clint has some problems focusing on my face, and I have some problems getting him to turn around so I can take a picture of his face without it being goofy.  It's okay, he'll just look stoic while he walks away from me in every picture I guess. 

Then came the day you've all been waiting to hear about! The day Clint randomly asked me if he should shave and weirdly told me that morning, "Yeah, I like that shirt. That shirt looks good." So obviously, I had no idea what was going to happen and I definitely didn't think his weird obsession with what day we were going to the Cliffs of Moher was suspicious.  Definitely not. We got up on the cliffs by O'Brien's Tower and Clint suggested we get someone to take a picture of us (which was also not weird since he had been so gungho to take pictures the rest of the trip. Hmmmm.). He ended up asking this awesome Australian couple because they had a DSLR and seemed trustworthy. Their names were Kerry and Adrian so clearly it was meant to be.  Kerry took pictures of us with my phone (Clint had no memory on his) while Adrian was nice enough to snap a few with his DSLR and emailed them to us later! Thanks Adrian and Kerry!

Anyway, Clint came back up the steps to where he told me to (very not suspiciously) wait and was like, "You know I love you right?" 

I said, "Yeahhhhhhhh?"

And then he got down on one knee, as one does, and said, "I asked your parents and they're down with it, so will you marry me."  It was very Clint.  And I'm not going to lie, I may have been making grabby hands at the ring and be leaving parts out that were a total blur in my memory. 

Here are the pictures that Adrian took (Kerry made an appearance):

Kerry got excited and shed a few tears when Clint told them he was going to propose.  Here are the one's she got with my phone.  Got to say, we don't look to bad.  Though I am mad that the roads were way too scary for me to put on makeup in the car.  And sorry Matt, he didn't propose with a ring box full of the diamonds from Lucky Charms.

And some great shots of the Cliffs! With a few of us looking goofy in there.  Maybe an out of focus picture of me or two. 

After the Cliffs we headed to our next castle, Dromoland Castle! Which was a super neat place.  And when we told them we just got engaged they gave us Champagne and had chocolates sent to our room with a congratulatory note! That night we had some oysters and breakfast for dinner before Clint had a celebratory cigar. Frank, our bartender, also serenaded us with, of all things, a few beautifully done Frank Sinatra songs. 

The next day, we went on as many adventures that Dromoland had to offer us that we could. We started with Falconry, then horseback riding, and then Archery.  After we flew Brian the Hawk, we went and met the other hawks in the mew as well as a few owls. One of the owls was awesome and his name was Pickles and I wanted to take him home.  That night I actually had a dream about sneaking back in to see Pickles. 

Then was Clint's first time on horseback! He did pretty great though we did get led around a bit by Clara because she was a bit nervous of his total newness and of my newness to the English riding style. 

Then came Archery.  We were both pretty good I must say, though my boobs are definitely a hindrance to proper form as the string kept hitting them when I pulled it back.  I want to make clear that Clint's bullseye picture has an arrow taken out of the white around the edge that he didn't want anyone to see. I'm telling you so that you know he isn't perfect at everything involving a bullseye.  Me on the other hand...

After our adventures we took a quick nap (Clint took a long one) and then we went into Newmarket on Fergus for dinner.  We stopped at The Hunter's Lodge for some great food, a beer and some conversation with and older man at the bar about baby sheep. Then we decided to hop to another bar.  We ended up at the aptly named, The Pub, and I immediately realized that my leather jacket's zipper had broken with me in it.  

Clint abandoned me to the bar to go pee and one of the older gentlemen at the bar watched as I struggled to try to fix the zipper.  He was like, "I'd try to help you, but I don't think your husband would like that."  I eventually had to take the jacket off over my head and once we got the zipper free try (and fail a few times) to remember that I couldn't actually zip it. 

It turned out that this gentlemen was the head chef at the Dromoland and once we had said that we just got engaged the day before him and the other three men at the bar started buying us drinks.  We literally paid for the first round and that was it.  A dude at the end of the bar that had such a heavy accent (compounded by the fact that he was definitely drunk) that I couldn't understand him was buying us different types of shots.  And they were all ribbing each other about things and getting into arguments over nothing (apparently the Chinese restaurant down the street is run by Malaysians). 

It won't be a surprise to anyone that getting up the next morning was not a fun experience, but we did, and we took an hour detour into Galway to explore. And I'm sorry to say, I got one picture. Totally Clint's fault.  And the downpour of rain right when I took my camera out. But! The picture legitimizing my love of whiskey and ginger ale and all the people that look at me when I order that can suck it.

From Galway we went back to the northern part of Ireland where we were staying at the Dunboyne Castle Hotel.  It too had a thermal room, but their pools did not seem as hot as Kilronan's. 

The next day we went back into Dublin for a day of actual history and culture instead of just alcohol.  Our first stop was the beautiful Trinity College to see the equally beautiful Book of Kells (again, go see the movie). I didn't get to take any pictures of the Book of Kells, for obvious reasons, but the library above it was magnificent. Apparently the library in Hogwarts was based off of it, and we all know how much I love Harry Potter. And books. And History. And, you know, Harry Potter.

After Trinity College we made our way to St. Patrick's Cathedral for some more history lessons and architecture.  When we got there we were lucky enough to be in time for an unscheduled choir performance.  And let me tell you, It was awesome. 

After that we tried to find oysters.  We failed miserably, but we did find a cool bar that led us to Darkey Kelley's where we saw an older gentlemen drink six Guinness' while we drank one beer.  He was watching the horse races and he didn't get up to pee once. It was insane. 

After our adventure's running around Dublin that day we went back to the Dunboyne for a final huzzah dinner. We even got champagne and chocolate again because ENGAGED!

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And that's all she wrote about Ireland. Well, we'll see.