I’m back! And Ireland highlights.

Where did the summer go? We’ve been back in Salt Lake for two weeks after a three week vacation in Ireland and Belgium and a quick trip up to Montana so my husband could run an ultra over Labor Day weekend.

So here’s a photo dump of the highlights of our 10 days in Ireland!

Highlight 1: Visit Dublin! Dublin gets a lot of slack for not being “Irish” enough but it’s a city full of life, good vibes and an amazing restaurant/bar/nightlife scene – although I’m a bit biased as I grew up in the suburbs and went to college in the city. It’s the anti-SLC – people everywhere, busy and so much going on. Please visit if you have the chance.

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View of the River Liffey – and an unusually sunny day in Ireland.

After a couple of days on the east coast – including my first ever Park Run – we headed to my husband’s home town in Co Clare.

Highlight 2: Get out of Dublin. If you visit Ireland you have to rent a car and get away from the cities. We headed to Killaloe and took a cruise on Lough Derg and has some amazing seafood (crab, prawns (shrimp) and smoked salmon).

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View of from the lake. Don’t let the picture fool you – it was in the 50s for almost the whole time we were there.

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As good as it looks.

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NBD – just the ancient church in the town. I think it’s from the 1500s.

FYI: Irish cuisine has improved SO much! Growing up it was pretty bland but now they have embraced the quality ingredients that are available especially sea food.

Highlight 3: Westport! Luckily, we happened to be in Ireland for my birthday this year and I decided I wanted to take a trip to Westport, Co Mayo, which is on the west coast – right on the Atlantic. It is famous for being close to Croagh Patrick – Ireland’s holy mountain. Legend has it that St Patrick spend 40 days and nights at the top of this mountain during his time here and every year you can climb the mountain as part of a pilgrimage (hardcore pilgrims do it barefoot).

The trail is about 6 miles outside of town and is about 2500 ft in elevation gain with the last section being steep and full of talus, but the views (if you get them) are worth it.

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View of the islands in Clew Bay.

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Church at the top.

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View out to the Atlantic.

Highlight 4: Achill. A short drive outside Westport is the island of Achill (which can be reached by a bridge). This was historically one of the most remote and poorest parts of Ireland and is stunningly beautiful with some tragic history.

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Keem Bay. At the end of the road. People were actually snorkeling in the bay.

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A deserted village.

Highlight 5: Kylemore Abbey. We took the scenic route back to Dublin – for a family wedding – through Connemara stopping at Kylemore Abbey. A castle and victorian walled gardens built by a man for his wife. When she died tragically young he built a miniature cathedral for her. The weather while we were visiting even upped the romanticism.

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The castle.

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The walled garden.

img_20160811_120343It was amazing acting as a tourist in my own country and of course we got to spend time with all of our family and friends.

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