stone wall with green ivy, country road, church ruins

Charming Irish Bed & Breakfast in County Kilkenny

“Let’s find someplace beautiful to get lost”

When we arrived in Ireland, we spent our first few nights in what would become my favorite Irish B&B, Lawcus Farm Guest House, in the area of Stoneyford, in County Kilkenny.  Why was it your favorite, you ask?  Well, I’ll tell you:  It was a small working farm in the countryside, with quite a few farm animals – pigs, cows, goats, chickens, and a dog or two; it had the nicest, most welcoming, friendliest, most helpful, informative, down-to-earth, delicious-breakfast-cooking hosts; the accommodations were comfortable, quaint, charming, and well-thought-out; the other guests that we met were friendly and fun to get to know; the property was great fun to explore; it was close to a little town with a small pub with really good food; it wasn’t far from Kilkenny; there were some great ruins nearby to explore; and staying there gave us a taste of what it would be like to live in Ireland.

a two story stone building with a slate roof and windows outlined in red brick with green bushes in the front
An outside look at our favorite Irish B&B

We felt so welcomed and cared for while staying at Lawcus Farm Guest House.  As I am sitting here writing this, I am really yearning to go back . . . . . maybe next year . . . . . I can dream, can’t I?  Anyhow, I had learned about this B&B while researching on TripAdvisor, and it had really good ratings, and they had availability for the three of us – the room included a queen bed downstairs and a loft with two twin beds – perfect for my husband, myself, and our college-aged son.

stone lodge with brown wooden door and window on the left and a lantern on a post across the walkway from the door
The door to our room is on the left
a queen sized bed with a plaid quilt and floral bedspread in a room with orange walls, two nightstands and two lamps
The lower floor of our room had a queen sized bed on one side of a divider
a small kitchen with a table and four chairs, a sink, wooden cabinets, a dorm sized refrigerator and a microwave
There was a kitchenette on the other side of the divider, and also a bathroom
a small room with angled ceilings and two twin beds with red bedspreads and floral sheets
Our room’s top floor had two twin beds – perfect for kids or teenagers (or our adult son)

Part of the fun of staying in B&Bs in Ireland is getting to meet fellow travelers from other parts of the world.  Every morning, our hosts, Mark and AnnMarie would fill up our bellies with an amazing breakfast.  In the breakfast room, we met people from Australia, England, and also others from the USA.  Some of our favorite new friends were from Australia and we are now connected with them on Facebook.

a kitchen with windows on the walls and clear glass panels on the roof with a smiling man and a pleasant smiling woman wearing an apron
Mark and AnnMarie were so lovely, warm, and welcoming
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Enjoying the full Irish breakfast!
an open room with tables and two smiling men and two smiling women sitting at one table with dishes and breakfast items on the tables
Our new friends from Australia – beautiful people, inside and out!

Before coming to Ireland, I did a lot of research about things to do and see, but once we landed at this B&B, we opted to change our plans and enjoy a little bit of down-time.  It was fun to walk around the farm and watch the animals and hang out by the peaceful water that flowed by.

two white pigs with big black spots, one laying in a rocky yard and one standing and eating in the yard
The resident pigs
a little black goat with horns standing on rocky ground and looking at the camera
This little goat kept us laughing. He was either climbing on top of the pigs or butting them while they slept.
a young man standing in an overgrown green bank looking at a dog that is scratching the sand at the water's edge of a small river
The farm dog, Bruce, followed us as we explored. He was also pretty amusing

Besides the lodging found in the stone house, Lawcus Farm Guest House also has a tree house nestled among some trees at the back of the property.  I think there were some honeymooners staying there at the time.  It was a little more expensive than the other rooms, but is quiet and private and would be a great place for a couple to stay. Image may contain: tree and outdoorImage may contain: tree and outdoorImage may contain: tree and outdoor

Image may contain: tree and outdoor
Lawcus Farm Guest House tree house

I can’t say enough about how much I liked this place.  But I am not the only one.  When we were there, one of the couples from Australia was on a return trip and they brought a gift for Mark and AnnMarie to show their appreciation for everything.  Also, TripAdvisor just ranked this B&B #2 in all of Ireland, and #18 in all of Europe.  But they are #1 in my book!

two women and one man sitting down on a deck outside while the man looks at a framed picture with one man standing and watching
Our friends from Australia presenting Mark & AnnMarie with a piece of artwork

When we first arrived at Lawcus Farm Guest House, Mark pulled out an artistically hand-drawn map and sat down with my son and I (my hubby wasn’t there yet, as he got a stomach bug right before our flight to Ireland, as mentioned in my last post, How Do I Love Thee, Ireland? Let me Count the Ways) and showed us all the things of interest in the surrounding area.  Now, I can tell you that not all hosts go to this much trouble, and Mark was able to direct us to things that I hadn’t really noticed in my guidebooks, or hadn’t noticed in my online research.  Some of the things he pointed out were a local artisan studio, a mill (historical landmark), and a ruins called Kells Priory.  He also told us where to get a meal locally and some interesting things to visit in the bigger town of Kilkenny.  That first day, my son and I headed over to visit Kells Priory and then into the tiny town of Kells to the local pub for dinner.

Kells Priory was amazing!  Some people may look at it as kinda boring or just a pile of rubble, but my son and I had the best time exploring.  It’s the kind of place where, if you were a child with an imagination, you could have played there for days, inventing stories about knights and kings and all kinds of adventures.  But I will share more about that in my next post.  I have so many pictures to share!

After the priory, we ventured into Kells and visited our first Irish pub.  I didn’t really know what to expect.  We don’t really do pubs here in the states.  I mean, we have bars, but there’s a whole different expectation with bars than with pubs, I came to realize.  When I think of a bar here, it seems to be all about the alcohol.  But a pub in Ireland is more about community.  Sure, they serve beer – Guinness to be exact – but it’s not just about the beer.  Pubs are like community centers where you can get a good meal and connect with your friends.

inside a building with dark walls, a sign that says "Guiness for strength" and shows a man pulling a cart with a large horse riding inside it. a sign that says no bloody swearing
Funny pub signs

In hindsight, I wish that I had taken a few more pictures inside the pub.  I had my first fish & chips meal and had mushy peas for the first time.  I didn’t know quite what to expect with the mushy peas – it didn’t sound that appealing.  But they were surprisingly good!  Overall, we were very pleased with our meal, and it was a great ending to a very long and tiring day.

I have so much more to share about our time in County Kilkenny, so I will have to save that for my next post.  Our introduction to Ireland and the Irish countryside was beautiful and brilliant.  We were just beginning our Irish adventure, and were looking forward to all of the excitement that was to come.

Please come back and visit for my next post about County Kilkenny.  Until next time, happy traveling!

Do you have a favorite Irish B&B?  If so, please comment below!


How Do I Love Thee, Ireland? Let me Count the Ways

“Don’t listen to what they say, go see” ~ Chinese Proverb

Whenever I think back to my family’s trip to Ireland, it brings a swell of love and excitement in my heart.  And a yearning to return.  Ireland welcomed us with open arms, warm locals, and believe it or not, sunny skies.

What do I love about Ireland?  Let me count all the things – the people, the scones, the green grass, the rolling hills, the stone walls, the sheep, the wild coast, the history, the ruins, the castles, the B&Bs, the pubs, the other visitors that we met, the chocolate, the ice cream cones that every shop seems to sell, everything, all of it.

Beautiful rolling hills and a sheep farm

Why Ireland?

It all started with a sort of medical reason.  My college-aged son needed a procedure done on his eye that was not covered by insurance and was about half the price in Dublin as here in the states.  So we decided to take the amount we would save on the procedure, and spend that amount on traveling to Ireland.  What a deal!

We needed to be in the country for a little over two weeks, due to a follow-up visit with the eye doctor, so we ended up in Ireland for about 17 days.  In preparation for our trip, after booking our tickets on Aer Lingus, I did a ton of research on TripAdvisor.  I read a lot of advice on the message boards about the must-see places to visit, how long it takes to see everything, and the types of places to stay.  It seemed like staying in bed and breakfasts was the best bet, so that is where we tried to stay at each stop, when possible.  In America, staying in a bed and breakfast is usually more expensive than staying in a hotel, but in Ireland, happily, the opposite is true.

Our Favorite Irish B&B
Our Favorite Irish B&B – Lawcus Farm Guesthouse near Kilkenny

We made plans to traipse around Ireland in a general clockwise direction, beginning in the eastern side and ending in Galway, with a visit to the Dublin eye doctor near the beginning and at the end of our journey.  It was a real struggle for me to not over-plan.  I tend to want to cram as much as I can into our journey, while my husband, who has a stressful job, likes to enjoy a lot of relaxing along the way.  So, keeping that in mind, we did not attempt to see any of Northern Ireland, or really anything north of Galway in Ireland.  We also weren’t really able to visit the area of Cork, which had some really cool stuff to experience.  I guess we will have to work those places into our next sojourn!

Packing for Ireland

Since I knew we would be doing a whole bunch of walking, and because in Ireland it usually rains a lot, and because it can be chilly in May, I tried to get us prepared for those conditions.  I searched out comfortable rain-repellent or rain-resistant, easy-to-pack pants for all of us, waterproof walking/hiking shoes, light, packable raincoats, and tops and warm but light fleece jackets that we could layer and re-use.  The goal was to fit everything we needed for two and a half weeks in our suitcases, without over-packing or over-stuffing.

In the process, I found the absolute best walking shoes for me.  They are so comfortable – like instantly comfortable – and waterproof and a color I love.  They are from Ahnu, and i can’t say enough good things about them.  The soles are made by Vibram.  They have held up very well – from our two and a half weeks of miles of walking around Ireland, to a week and a half of hiking trails in Utah and Arizona, to just every day use.  I usually wear them when it is raining here at home, too. My husband and son got Merrell hiking shoes for the Ireland trip and they have done very well for them, also.


Image result for ahnu purple walking shoes
My favorite hiking shoes – Ahnu Women’s Sugarpine Waterproof Light Hiking Shoe

After getting some unsolicited advice from an avid hiker that we should avoid packing jeans, we found some light, easily packable water-resistant pants from Eddie Bauer.  Thankfully, they were running a 40% off of everything sale at the time, and it wasn’t too hard on the wallet.  We wanted to be able to wash some of our clothes in a sink or something if we didn’t have access to a washer and dryer and have them dry out pretty fast.  I’m happy to report that it wasn’t really necessary, as we either had a washer and dryer available nearby or used a service to wash our clothes.  Most towns around Ireland have something like that available.  You drop your bag of dirty clothes off and a few hours later they are folded and ready for you to pick up.  Very helpful!

For our tops, we tried to stick with things that we could easily layer on and off, including some fleece zip-ups that we purchased – Columbia brand for me and Eddie Bauer for the guys, and a light rain coats.  I did quite a bit of research on rain coats and found some Marmot brand for the guys that had good ratings, yet didn’t cost hundreds of dollars.  I think theirs were right around $100 a piece.  With all the preparation for rainy Ireland, it ended up only raining for one full day and one half day – we were so happy about that!

Our Travel Plan and First Day

After landing in Dublin early in the morning, and getting our rental car along with a portable wifi device to power the GPS app on our mobile phone (Google maps), the plan was to head to the Powerscourt Estate and Gardens in Enniskerry and explore, then head to our first B&B.  You know what they say about the best laid plans.  Ha!  The night before our flight to Ireland, my husband got an awful stomach bug and couldn’t leave the same day with us.  When my son and I got our stick shift rental car without him, that’s when everything got very challenging.

Driver’s seat on the right, stick shift on the left!

First of all, my husband was supposed to drive, and I was going to navigate because I knew exactly where we were heading.  Without him there, the roles shifted, and I became the driver of the left-handed stick shift, and my uninformed son became the navigator.  Two strikes. Wait!  I forgot to mention that we were driving on the left side of the road!  Yikes!  Three strikes!

I was a little freaked out by the stick shift.  It worked differently than any I had ever driven because you had to push down to shift it into reverse.  Well, I didn’t realize that, so I avoided the far left gear, thinking that was reverse.  Every time I thought I was putting it in first, it was actually in third.

Then, I asked my son to put “Powerscourt” into the GPS so we could get to our first destination.  But since he didn’t understand that we were going to Powerscourt Estate & Gardens, and I didn’t know that there was something else named Powerscourt in downtown Dublin, we ended up heading to an entirely wrong destination.  In Dublin.  Through freakishly narrow streets.  On the wrong side of the road.  In rush hour traffic.  With lots of college students crossing the streets in front of us.  Lots of stop and go traffic.  And I couldn’t get it into first.  So we kept stalling.  Stalling at red lights.  Stalling at stop signs.  Stalling when we slowed down for the down town, rush hour, college student pedestrian traffic.  It was a nightmare.  A nightmare.  I though I would die of stress.  Oh, and I forgot to mention that when you are new to driving on the left side of the road and you are new to driving from the right hand side of the car, your perception is all thrown off and you keep hitting curbs with your left front tire.  And you come dangerously close to any object on the left side of the car – other cars, car mirrors, stone walls, etc.  Can you see it?  Can you feel my stress?

When we finally figured out the mistake with the GPS and got the correct place lined up, we were able to begin heading out of the city and into the country side.  And even though I still didn’t have the whole stick shift thing worked out, at least we weren’t stopping every few minutes for a red light or a stop sign and stalling out.  Whew!

When we finally rolled into the parking lot at Powerscourt, my son and I were both SO relieved!  I don’t think I have ever been so happy to get out of the car!  But we were here.  We had to wait a few minutes for the place to open and we were hungry after our long flight so we headed straight for their little cafe.  And I purchased my first Irish scone with cream and jam (along with hot tea).  When I took my first bite I thought I had died and gone to heaven.  Oh. My. Goodness.  Why don’t we serve this deliciousness in the USA? What is wrong with us?  (We do serve scones here, but not the same!)

After refreshing our bodies and souls we walked around the magnificent gardens of Powerscourt.  Unfortunately, we were in somewhat of a daze as we walked around, fueled by lack of sleep, so I am sure we didn’t enjoy it as much as we would have if we were fully awake.  It was lovely.

Japanese Gardens in Powerscourt

After touring the gardens, we were so ready to find our B&B, that we tanked the other item on the agenda, which was visiting Glendalough, a beautiful valley with a Early Medieval monastic settlement.  I’m sorry we missed it, but sometimes you can only do so much, plus it meant more driving.  So, it was on to Lawcus Farm Guesthouse!

When we finally dragged our weary bodies to our B&B, we were so glad to take a short nap, find a pub for some dinner and then head to bed for the night.  We absolutely loved our stay at our first Irish B&B.  I will highlight this lovely lodging place in greater detail in my next post.

Before our trip to Ireland, I had read somewhere that when you travel, and the unexpected or challenging happens (and they inevitably will), just go with the flow, relax, and don’t get upset.  So, with that mindset, all of the first day’s challenges didn’t get us down.  We were in Ireland!  I was so happy to be here.  After all the planning and preparing, we were here, and looking forward to our future adventures.

Please come back for my next post about our Kilkenny adventures.  Until next time, happy traveling!