The Irish B&Bs - May 2013
Our vacation package came with vouchers for 8 nights in B&Bs of our choosing. Vouchers are, basically, a way to pre-pay for your B&B stays eliminating the need to carry cash and/or make credit card transactions. The voucher system works thru www.reserveabandb.com where you can see what is available and make reservations. The website also has a smart phone app for those wishing to make reservations on the fly, however, each reservation carries a surcharge. Besides addresses and phone numbers, the gps coordinates for each B&B was published on the webpage which was handy because I was able to pre-load my gps before leaving home. All four of the B&Bs were "ensuite" meaning private bath, provided free wi-fi, a sitting room with coffee and snacks.
We decided to book our B&B stays in advance before leaving home. We also decided to book 2-night stays in 4 B&Bs which would give us a full day to explore without packing our luggage and trying to decide where to stay. All of the B&Bs we booked double as the innkeeper's private residence so most of them preferred that guests arrive between 3pm and 6pm. They apparently have lives of their own.
The Harbour Masters House was the first B&B on the trip. We selected it, first of all, because it was close to Clonmacnoise and where the family homestead was located. There were other options but reading that there was a pub within walking distance where we would be able to get dinner cinched it for us. We arrived at the Shannon airport at 6am and would be out and about all day so the prospect of being able to park the car and walk somewhere for dinner was the way to go. Grainne, the innkeeper, grew up in the house because, back in the day, her father was the harbor master. The place was spotless and impeccably maintained. Our room was small but very adequate. The sitting room was warm and toasty with a peat fueled fire burning in the stove. We both opted for the "full Irish breakfast" so we had our first run at "black pudding" and "white pudding". We ate both and found that it wasn't the stomach churning experience others had lead us to believe. Here are some images of the B&B and of the nearby pub where we ate dinner two nights in a row.
Our second B&B was the Fountain House located some distance away to the south. We had heard that some years ago the Irish government was trying to promote tourism so residents were encouraged to establish B&Bs in their homes hence the reason there are so many in Ireland. The Fountain House was definitely a product of that because it was basically someone's home with rooms added on for visitors. We walked out to the lake and found the exterior to be in need of a little tlc in spots. However, our room and the ensuite bath were large, clean and comfortable. Breakfast was to order. The innkeeper, Breda, had some school aged children so Kathy, being a retired school secretary, enjoyed finding out about the Irish school system. The B&B is located on the main road between Cork and Killarney and getting out into the traffic was a heart pounding experience. As mentioned elsewhere, narrow roads with limited visibility and insane speed limits, 60mph in this case, was what we found right in front of the Fountain House.
Our third B&B was the Kilburn House located to the west of Killarney just outside of the town on Milltown. We found it odd when our gps said to "navigate off-road to our destination". Coordinates were for the house itself which is some distance off the main road. This 300 year old B&B was situated in a valley on a 130 acre farm and was an amazing sight when we started down the drive. Everything about this place was impeccably maintained and, in a word, wonderful! We were the only guests the 1st night and shared the place with one other couple the 2nd night. While in the sitting room, we found a picture book showing what Gret and her family went thru renovating the place, wow. We asked about nearby places for dinner and Gret directed us to Larkin's, an Irish pub, where we spoke at length with the owner, Mike, and his sister.
The fourth and final B&B stay was at Eden Hill House. We selected Eden House because it provided a gateway for visiting The Cliffs of Moher and it was near the Shannon Airport for our return flight home. This was another B&B located on a large piece of property with horses, cattle and some chickens. Guests were invited to walk the property which we did. The innkeeper, Maureen, greeted us upon arrival, showed us our room and took us on a tour. Everything was clean and well maintained. Breakfast was to order and I actually asked for some black and white pudding.
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