In our Myers-Briggs personality types, I am a J and David is a P. This has never been more evident than when we were planning this vacation. I prefer to have a plan, whether we stick to the plan or not. Before we left, I had a loose schedule written out for every day of the trip. It doesn’t bother me if we deviate from the schedule, but I like to have an idea of what we’re going to be doing and make sure we cover all the activities that are important to us. David would have been happy to figure it all out when we got there and take it day by day.
I’ll write another post about how all the planning went, but day 2 in Ireland was kind of an anomaly. I asked David what was important to him during our time in Ireland. The only thing he really wanted to do was go to the coast. Dublin is close to the coast anyway, but there are lots of really picturesque towns and villages dotted along the Irish Sea within a short commute of Dublin. Since we had only one full day in Ireland, we planned that day for our coastal trip. I found that Dublin’s train system had several stops along the coast, so I looked up a few towns and asked David to look at them and pick his favorite for us to visit. We settled on Dalkey. That was our itinerary for the day – go to Dalkey and explore. I was happy because we had a destination, David was happy because we didn’t have a particular time we had to be anywhere. Win for everyone!
That morning, we woke up, had breakfast in our hotel, and walked to the Tara Street station to take the DART. Tickets are easy to buy at kiosks outside the station. The journey was quick and really easy, with beautiful views of the sea once we got out to the coast.
Dalkey is a really cool village, like something out of a storybook. It has several shops and restaurants and two castles.
We visited the bookstore (of course), stopped in a bakery to get a cream doughnut, and then walked outside of the village to Dalkey Island. This was one of our main reasons for choosing Dalkey as our destination. It’s a tiny, uninhabited island just off the coast with a ton of history and significance. There is a local man who will ferry you across to the island, but unfortunately it was extremely windy that day and he wasn’t out. We had to content ourselves with looking at the island from the mainland.
We continued walking and came upon a little park with an excellent view of the island, so we climbed up on some rocks and stayed there for a while, took some pictures, and enjoyed the view. While we were sitting there, David looked over and saw another spot farther down the coast with a much higher hill than where we were sitting. Using the maps on his phone, he discovered that it was called Bray Head, and that Bray was only a few more stops away on the DART. He really wanted to see it, so we decided to start heading that way.
Before we got back on the DART, we decided to climb Killiney Hill. It was a beautiful walk with lovely views at the top, and a few interesting structures. We decided to take a different way down and came upon The Tower Tea Rooms. We popped in to have sandwiches and chips for lunch. The food was really good, and we felt ready to move along and continue exploring.
We walked back to the DART station and bought tickets to go along to Bray. The train dropped us off quite a way from Bray Head, but it’s easy to spot so we started walking that way along the beach. Bray felt much more commercialized than Dalkey, almost like a small Atlantic City. The walk to the trailhead is up a long slope right on the water. It was a pretty long walk to get to the trailhead, and by that point it was late in the afternoon and our feet were tired. We considered just enjoying the view from there and leaving, as the whole roundtrip trek is pretty long. Fortunately, we decided that since we had come all the way there and were not likely to come back we needed to just keep moving. The walk up to the cross at the top was a little rough. Since we weren’t planning on hiking, David was wearing casual shoes and the hike up was pretty steep and rocky. I was not thrilled at the prospect of coming back down. We stopped a few times on the way up because the view was incredible even from there. Once we reached the cross at the top, it was breathtaking. On one side was the Irish Sea and the coast stretching back up toward Dublin. Behind us was the Irish countryside, with a beautiful patchwork of fields and trees. It’s one of the most stunning views I’ve ever seen, and pictures don’t do it justice.
On the other side, there a was a trail heading south along the coast that was begging (David, specifically) to be explored. We walked down the path and encountered a gate with a sign letting us know that we were entering a farm. We paused for a second and wondered what that might mean. Were there animals on this farm? Crops? We weren’t sure what to expect, but opened the gate and stepped through.
The whole walk felt magical. I felt expectant and whimsical, like things were just about to happen, like I was walking through a fairy tale. With the sea on one side and the countryside on the other, the strong wind, and the clouds overhead, it almost felt too good to be true. Since we landed in Ireland, I had been on the lookout for sheep. It felt like just the right time for them to appear. As we started down the path, I prayed out loud and asked God to let there be some sheep somewhere along our route. After a few more minutes, we thought we heard a strange sound. We stopped and waited quietly until we heard it again. It sounded like a bell – and possibly a moo. The path continued to our left, but we heard the bell to our right. We decided to leave the path and find out what it was. Soon enough, we came upon a whole herd of cows grazing right in front of us. We didn’t want to disturb them, so we kept our distance and took some pictures. We were getting ready to leave when David turned to the right and said, “Kendalyn.” I turned to look and there, right on the side of the hill, was a flock of sheep. I don’t know why I was so excited about seeing livestock when I’m from a farm town in Ohio, but it all just felt so dreamy. It felt like a gift from God for us to enjoy and delight in, and we did. We turned to head back to the path, thanking God for his creation and the beauty in it.
It was a long walk. We ended up walking all the way around Bray Head, back through another gate warning us about the farm, through a residential area, and then down a long, skinny sidewalk right by a very busy road. The sidewalk eventually led us back into Bray and to the train station. By this point, it was late in the evening and we were ready to head home. I’m thankful we were there in June, because the sun doesn’t set there until about 10 pm so we had lots of daylight.
We took the train back into the Tara Street station in Dublin and headed to Sheehan’s Pub in the Grafton Street area for dinner. It was packed, so we sat at the bar where we were joined by an Irish guy with some interesting stories to tell. When we finished eating, we walked back to our hotel and collapsed, not even needing to count Irish sheep to get to sleep.