Last weekend I found myself in Ireland for my first ever visit.  I was really looking forward to it, not only because it was my first time, but because I was visiting a close friend and her husband.  Having moved to Ireland over a year ago I wanted to see the place she now calls home.  I hopped on an early morning plane from Birmingham and a short 45 minute flight later found myself in Dublin.  Taking the motorway north it wasn’t long before we were in the countryside.

Dundalk countryside (5)

After brunch my friend and I went off to explore the countryside that surrounds their home.  It truly is an idyllic setting with green fields and open spaces as far as the eye can see. Just walking freely down country lanes without having to dodge traffic was pure bliss. The only thing we did have to dodge were the showers, but even they didn’t dampen our spirits.  I can’t remember hearing anything apart from normal countryside sounds including the rushing water from the waterfall.  The only other noise was from our non stop chattering.  There seemed so much to catch up on.  To be fair I don’t think we stopped talking all weekend.

Dundalk countryside (6)
Dundalk countryside (7)
Dundalk countryside (3)
Dundalk countryside (4)
Waterfall

On the Friday evening a table had been booked at The Bay Tree in Carlingford which I was assured I would like.  And they were definitely right.  This was my kind of restaurant, it’s just a shame it’s so far away.  Read my review.  After a night of fine food and even more chatter and laughter it was time to head home.  I hadn’t noticed until they mentioned it but the sky in the countryside was much brighter, at night, than in the city.  Yet another reason to love the countryside.

The Bay Tree, Carlingford,

Saturday my friend and I had a girlie day.  We decided to explore more of the Irish countryside and headed to Castlewellan Forest Park in Co. Down, Northern Ireland.  The Park has 460 hectares of natural beauty as well as a castle, lake, gardens and arboretum.  We strolled along the lake path which saw us take in about 2 miles of this wonderful park.

Catle at Castlewellan Forest Park, Co. Down, Ireland
Walking in Castlewellan Forest Park, Co. Down, Ireland
Castlewellan Forest Park, Co. Down, Ireland (3)
Castlewellan Forest Park, Co. Down, Ireland (7)
Castlewellan Forest Park, Co. Down, Ireland (5)
Castlewellan Forest Park, Co. Down, Ireland (4)
Castlewellan Forest Park, Co. Down, Ireland (6)
Castlewellan Forest Park, Co. Down, Ireland (2)
Castlewellan Forest Park, Co. Down, Ireland

We both love being out in the open air, so we took a drive from Castlewellan up through the Cooley Mountains. With the pine trees it reminded us of the Canadian mountains.  The views from near the top were amazing. After all the fresh air we were ready for lunch and this made the perfect spot.  Whilst en route, through the Mountains, we stopped off at the fresh fish shop as dinner was going to be a Jamie Oliver fish tray bake.  I’ll be posting our version of the recipe soon.

Cooley Mountains

We stopped off at the beach on the way back.  If the day hadn’t been so intermittent with showers, it would have been nice to have spent the day there with a picnic or BBQ.  Maybe that’s something for the next visit.

Beach, Dundalk, Ireland
Beach, Dundalk, Ireland (2)
Beach, Dundalk, Ireland (3)

Saturday night turned out to be a bit of a party night.  It was good to catch up with some of the guys that had come to my friends wedding a few months previously and to meet some new people.  But before I knew it the weekend was coming to an end and it was time to say goodbye.  I’d really enjoyed my few days exploring this part of Ireland and spending time hidden away in the countryside.

Dundalk countryside (2)

Was this the start of my own love affair with the Emerald Isle? I’ve definitely missed the tranquil countryside setting and the feeling of being in your own little world.  I’d definitely like to explore more of Southern Ireland so yes I suppose my first trip has given me a taste of what Ireland can offer.  There will, of course, be more visits to my friend to spend time together relaxing and enjoying the slow pace of country life.

I’m putting on…..my rose tinted sunglasses!

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