April in Ireland: My Return to Glenbeigh

I’m no stranger to Ireland.  This trip was not my first nor my last.  But it was my first time in Ireland as an adult, which opens the doors to the magical world of…

Guinness!

Guinness!

But that didn’t impede my playtime on the farm.  There were lambs to cuddle and cow pies to dodge.

Despite my very Anglo-Saxon surname, I’m more Irish than anything else.  My mother’s parents grew up in rural Ireland and immigrated to the United States in their early twenties, where they met (on a blind date) and married.  Whenever I’ve visited Ireland, I’ve stayed in my grandfather’s hometown of Glenbeigh in County Kerry.  Glenbeigh a small coastal town, bordered by Rossbeigh Beach and patchwork hills.  In typical Irish fashion, the roads are impossibly narrow and often occupied by farm animals.  The one main street is peppered with pubs and inns, and I’m pretty sure I’m related to everyone who frequents them.  So… ixnay on the irtingflay.

Many years ago, my cousins and siblings and I used to roam the farmlands like a slightly less violent Lord of the Flies tribe.  We staked out new turf, bestowing grassy knolls and creek beds with names like “Mysterious Falls” and “Sheep City.”  We teased bulls until they charged us.  Our legs were mangled by thistles and thorns, and I took more than one bloody spill while running atop the stone walls.  We searched for leprechauns and fairies and pondered the possibility that we were secretly descendants of Irish royalty, or better yet, mythical characters like Diarmuid and Grainne.  And I developed the disturbing habit of collecting sun-bleached sheep bones from the mountainside and taking them home to America.  Can you imagine being the TSA agent who screens that carry-on?

For better or worse, I did less tribal roaming/voodoo and more relaxing in pubs this time around.

I had just returned from Georgia a few weeks before this trip with no interest in traveling again for a long time.  But with some encouragement from my family and a nostalgic glance at the old vacation albums, I decided that a return to my roots might be good for me.  And it was.  The farm was quiet, surrounded only by the sounds of April rain showers and bleating lambs.  Without internet access, I was forced to read or make conversation with the neighbors (or their sheep) for entertainment.  It made me feel warm-and-fuzzy inside to be staying next to the cottage where my grandfather’s grandfather was born, and I wondered if I should just move here for a summer or a year or two.  Work the land, collect my drinking water in rain barrels, slowly write the next great American novel.  Then my wifi-withdrawal shakes returned and I started clawing at the walls.

Up next: Dublin and Northern Ireland!

Charming Glenbeigh and Rossbeigh:

Wellies in Ireland

Make sure to wear your wellies on the farm!

Rossbeigh

Rossbeigh

Rossbeigh Kerry Ireland

Rossbeigh beach

Rossbeigh from the mountainside

Rossbeigh, County Kerry

Cemetery in Ballinakilla

Where the Griffins are laid to rest in Glenbeigh

Glenbeigh

Our favorite haunt: The Towers Hotel

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April in Glenbeigh

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April in Glenbeigh

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Wisps of sheep’s wool

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The “old house”

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Sheep bones.  Get 'em while they're hot!

Sheep bones. Get ’em while they’re hot!

35 comments

  1. lea

    I just google image searched “Glenbeigh” and scanned through the results. I thought “hey, that gravestone looks really familiar” and clicked on the link only to find it led me to you! Too funny – I suppose I haven’t forgotten it all yet. So glad you got to go back as an adult – I can’t wait to do the same!

  2. maureen murtha mckeever

    Meghan…Absolutely Beautiful, Hopefully someday, I’ll visit Ireland in a few years after I retire. All my Grandparents were born there. In fact my Nana was born in Lower Ballinakilla, Glenbeigh Co Kerry, Her name was Minnie Powell her mother remarried a Michael Cahill our families had to know one another way back when. Talk soon Maureen. Jan 20,2015 email mm10301@aol.com

  3. Oh, look at you and that lamb! ❤ So sweet.

    I've still never visited Ireland (shameful considering how close it is to my homecountry). Your photos are beautiful. I can see you doing a summer there. 😀 Just being the farmhand girl helping out. It sounds like a Thomas Hardy novel.

  4. I’ll drink Guinness anywhere! One of my most memorable travel moments was in an Irish pub in Madrid. I have not had the pleasure to visit the source. On my bucket list. Great photos!! Glenbeigh and Rossbeigh do look charming indeed. What a wonderful experience to walk the walk of your Grandfather’s land.

    • Thank you, dreamiliscious! I’ve become a big fan of Guinness after this trip. I definitely recommend that you visit the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin if you’re ever in Ireland. It’s an awesome experience for anyone who enjoys beer, or history, or the history of beer. 🙂 And yes, Glenbeigh is very charming, more so in the summer when the sun is actually shining!

  5. I was lucky enough to visit Ireland several years ago, but only got to have three days there! and one of those days was occupied with work. So, my desire to spend more time in Ireland is well stoked.
    Lovely photos and I look forward to learning more about your trip.

    • Oh two days is never enough to explore! Where in Ireland were you, Andrea? I’m guessing Dublin if it was for work.

      I think I could spend years in Ireland and still not run out of beautiful things to see!

  6. Thank you for sharing! I’ve always wanted to buy an ocean-side cottage in Ireland and you just gave me such a beautiful insight into what it’d be like to live there. I say make the move! Just imagine the wonders that being so close to nature will do for your peace of mind.

    • Oh, that sounds lovely, Ashley. The weather can be a problem for some people, but it’s not so bad if you don’t mind a bit of rain and fog. I think the summers make it all worth it! And you’re right, being out in the countryside is so healthy for someone who normally lives in a city. Good medicine.

  7. I’m also part Irish, but I’ve never visited the motherland. It’s absolutely on my must-visit list. I can’t imagine a more comforting, restful trip than wandering through the countryside. I can’t wait to read about the rest of your trip!

    • I hope you get to experience it, Erin. There are so many things to see in Ireland. I’m glad that I’ve had the opportunity to visit so many times… and still, I have a long list of Irish sites I haven’t been to yet!

  8. Fabulous photos…. I can believe you when you talk about wi-fi withdrawal symptoms. It’s like an addiction. It’s also been forever since I came across someone use the term Wellies. I used to wear them, growing up in London, and then later when I completed my childhood in Nainital. Nainital is a hill station in India… I have not even seen them in years.

  9. So very, very jealous. BTW, let me tell you about the time I walked into a pub in Edinburgh and asked if they “had Guinness on tap.” My guess–they’re still laughing about that…

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