Begin in a snug, at the Bleeding Horse, a typically beautiful and charming Dublin pub.

This snug is upstairs, in a warren of little alcoves and hallways, with other bars, and other little groups in conversation.

This pub, a stone’s throw from where we were staying, was founded in 1659. 

In other words, just recently launched.


In its more than 350 years of history, the Bleeding Horse has had distinct moments of fame. It was actually mentioned by James Joyce in his literary masterpiece, Ulysses.

The Brazen Head, of Dublin, and Shawn’s Bar, of Athlone, are currently locked in competition for ‘oldest pub’ bragging rights, each being closer to a millennium in age. We visited those historic and hallowed drinking grounds. 

Heard a lovely traditional session at Matt Molloy’s in Westport.

The Rock of Cashel surprised everyone, with its incredible story, views and graveyard. The legend of the Rock harkens back to the fight between Saint Patrick and the Devil, and it’s a doozy. 

Fog and rain do have their dramatic and beautiful upsides: we felt lucky to witness the fog lifting and shifting at Connemara National Park, and to see sunshowers crossing the Burran on a clear morning. Also, the rainbow we saw at the Rock of Cashel was splashily vibrant and colorful.

In the snug, you’re deep in conversation with old and new friends. They are your traveling companions.

Our group gathered in snugs, in smaller little groups, to share experiences and tell our own stories.

“Toppest-notch seafood chowder and mussels at Howth Harbor.”

“100% Irish ingredients in all the food. Even at McDonalds, forchrissakes! “

“Green Spot,” “Jameson Crested,” “one cube please,”

“Fair play.”

So that was fun.

We also grabbed great sections of benches and tables to all be together, from time to time.

As we begin to unpack our memories, I think we’ll realize that it was more than great craic that we had. More than great experiences. Our travelers and our tour guide, Lee, were some of the kindest, wittiest and most big-hearted people we have ever had the pleasure of knowing. We are beyond grateful for a lovely tour, made far better by truly excellent company.  It was a magical week.

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