We touched down at Shannon International airport at roughly 6:30 in the morning. This was a terrific time to start three weeks abroad even if we were a little tired from lack of sleeping on the flight. Once we collected our luggage, cleared through customs and collected our rental car, we set out to explore the West coast of Ireland... at 7:30 AM.
Living on the East coast of the US, not far from NYC, my husband and I are use to our world waking early. This is not the case in Ireland. Not only could we not find a restaurant open for breakfast, it was as if we were the only people out and about on the roads. This turned out to be a huge benefit as neither of us had driven on the left side of the road before! (Well done, Matthew! I had full faith in your driving skills and I was more than happy to be your co-pilot.)
Another plus to being up before anyone else was gaining free access and parking to the Cliffs of Moher. There wasn't anyone on duty at the parking lot nor at the entrance, so we parked and walked the cliffs, taking in the amazing views, flowers and birds. After roughly an hour and a half, we noticed people began arriving and the shops started opening. We stopped to ask if we should pay and were told "If you get here that early, you deserve free entry" It was a great start to our Ireland visit!
The majority of our stay in Ireland was at a Trump property: Doonbeg Lodge. The property is a 5-star links golf resort located on the Atlantic Ocean. Side note... neither my husband nor I play golf, but we are very drawn to life on the water. Though we didn't use the golf course, we've heard it's quite lovely.
The resort has a main building, a cluster of suites across the courtyard, and several cottages located seven minutes away by foot. Our suite, #15, is located in the main building and from the master bathroom, you can see and hear the waves crashing on the coast. Perfect. Suite #15 includes two bedrooms, a main sitting room, a full kitchen and 2.5 bathrooms. The building itself was built in 2004, but has the look and feel of an antique estate by the sea.
The hallways are wide and outfitted with either dark-stained wide wooden planks or warmly aged stone flooring. Throughout the main building are collections of frames and touches of home with wooden tables, wool runners, collection cases & glass jars and other accessories. While I saw the 5-star appointments all around, I felt as though I was in someone's home, not just some industrialized business. Perhaps the reason for this was the staff working at Doonbeg. My husband and I have been fortunate to have stayed at a few luxury hotels, but the employees at Trump International, Ireland are the most genuinely warm and hard working people we've ever met. From the front desk to the wait-staff, the concierge to the management, everyone we spoke with is as kind as the day is long... and the days are very, very long in Ireland in the summer. Sunset is at 10:30 in July!
With flights from JFK to Shannon International taking only 6+ hours, I see returning to Doonbeg in our near future!