The one trip that we knew we had to make during our six months in Europe was to Ireland. Both of our families have strong Irish ancestry, so we definitely wanted to visit the land of our heritage. We also flew our mother over from the United States to join us for our trip since she had never been to Ireland. Instead of renting a car, we hired a local tour guide from a company called ToursByLocals and chose the tour that would take us to Kilkenny and the Southeastern coast. We augmented the tour to add the city of Waterford so that we could visit the crystal factory and purchase something special to bring home with us.
Our tour started out perfectly as our driver took us through the countryside where we saw quaint little farms with fields filled with sheep. We even had sheep crossing the road in front of us, it was exactly what we had imagined a trip into the Irish countryside to be. Our first stop was to one of the many historic churches of Ireland, however we weren’t able to enter the church as they were having services at the time. We have seen plenty of churches in Europe, so that was not a big deal for us, but it was a little disappointing. Hoping to make it up to us, our guide took us to a historic monastery where we could walk the grounds. Upon our arrival, the gates were closed and the ticket office was closed and there was no one at the site. Luck was not on our side, but the day was early and we were optimistic that our luck would change.
We then went to Kilkenny Castle, which was absolutely spectacular and was again exactly what we expected to see in Ireland. From there, we traveled to Waterford where we hoped to purchase something special to remember our time in Ireland. Upon our arrival, we found the Waterford Crystal Factory closed. Not only was the factory closed and no tours available, but even the store was closed. Our guide pulled up their website and there was nothing indicating that it should be closed and our guide had never seen the store closed. We visited a viking museum and while we were there, we asked if they knew why the factory was closed and they were just as surprised as us to hear that it was closed.
We were obviously frustrated that we weren’t able to visit the factory or even purchase something in the store, but there wasn’t anything that anyone could do. So we put a smile on our faces and continued on to have lunch at a seaside town. Our tour guide felt extremely bad as now he had taken us to three places that we weren’t able to actually see, but we didn’t blame him. Our last stop was to another historic church that had a tower that you could climb for a couple of Euros that had wonderful views of the countryside. By now you can guess what we found when we arrived. It too was closed for no apparent reason and there was a sign that it would be open to the public an hour later, but that would have gotten us back to Dublin far too late, so we chose not to wait.
Despite all of these things, we truly enjoyed our tour as well as our time in Ireland. We couldn’t help but joke with each other that for once, we didn’t have the luck of the Irish. These things happen sometimes and we certainly could have gotten angry with our guide, but it wouldn’t have changed anything. There was no doubt that he felt bad, but other than perhaps the first church that we visited, there was no way for him to have known that these other places would be closed as their websites all indicated that they were open.