A Few Days: Ireland

June 22, 2017

Long-time readers will definitely think I’ve lost my marbles when I tell you the person who suggested we spend our first afternoon in Ireland handling ferocious looking birds was…me. Yes, me. The bird-hating, bird-fearing, enemy of all things feathered, me. I don’t know what I was thinking. Part of me was remembering my Daddy-o talking about falconry, because he’d done it on a vacation in Vermont many years back, and he said it was an amazing experience. I blame the Internet. Months ago, I was noodling around on travel websites and when I typed in “things to do in Killarney, Ireland,” up popped Killarney Falconry, to rave reviews.

Whether swayed by all of the positive reports or a bout of temporary insanity, I asked my husband if he wanted to do it, and he had that sucker booked in about 5 seconds. I didn’t even have time to second guess myself, and I really didn’t, until we arrived at the edge of a wooded glen in Ireland and I was faced with a huge-ass, predatory bird. It had been absolutely pouring rain during the entire drive from Cork airport to Killarney, so I wasn’t even sure if things were going to be a go, but I guess little things like rain don’t bother ravenous, carniverous birds, because our falcon (hilariously named “Texas”) was raring to go.


  ^^Don’t fuck with me, 666 bird. Pretending not to be terrified of you.

We actually lucked out and the rain subsided during our hour-plus time with Sir Feathers. I’m pretty sure the damn thing could sense fear though, because almost immediately he decided to swoop down from a tree and rest his enormous self on my FRIGGIN’ SHOULDER, causing me to pee myself a bit.

“Oh, he likes you,” our guide Geoff chucked.

Likes me?!?  My fat fanny. That bird was playing with me, plain and simple.

Another less than calming thing about Texas the falcon was that he eats other birds. Little feet of baby male chickens, to be truthful. I’m not sure what exactly I thought falcons would eat, but the first time Geoff placed a disembodied little chicken claw in my hand, so Texas could swoop down and chomp on it, I felt a little sick to my stomach.

“It’s okay, Lassie” Geoff assured me. “They only kill the male baby chicks for falcon food, because the males don’t grow to lay eggs or be succulent, big-breasted hens. The males are a right waste, so might as well use ’em for something.”

Uh, okay.

Actually, once I got used to Texas, it wasn’t that bad, and Geoff the guide was charming in that twinkle-eyed, Irish way. Before long, he had us laughing so hard that I kind of forgot about Texas’ fearsome hooked beak and terrifyingly sharp claws and his penchant for cannibalism. We walked through the woods and listened to Geoff’s stories and Texas swooped and landed and gobbled until he got full enough that he wasn’t as keen to obey commands. At the end, we were introduced to fluffy, sweet, docile owls, which we got to hold and admire. Well, my own was sweet, anyways.

Awesome Stepkid R.’s owl shit on him and my husband’s owl–Gandalf–was spooky and terrifying-looking.

After that, I definitely wanted a long, thorough shower and many beers at the pub, which I got. I got whiskey, too, because brave girls who handle birds deserve whiskey.

We spent a couple of days in Killarney, eating and drinking and hiking in Killarney National Park and walking up to the Torc waterfall. The weather was absolutely psycho–it poured rain, it drizzled, it blazed sun, it got steamy, it got chilly and blustery. I had two layers of rainwear that I kept having to take off and put back on again at a moment’s notice, but it was all worth it because it looked like this:


Plus, they make hella good lager and whiskey, which was our reward for all of that outdoor activity.

Then it was off to Dingle, which is a little fishing town that’s even smaller than Killarney and is full of colorful little shops/restaurants and surrounded by water, majestic green hills and cliffs.


Another thing that surrounded us? A buttload of cows and sheep. I kept looking out at the lazy cows and the little lambs and thinking, “Oh, look how happy and delicious those little animals are.” Mainly, I ate fish in Dingle, because that’s what you do (since fish comes in hourly from Dingle bay into the harbor) but I did partake of a wee little lamb or two and yes, they were delicious.

The most famous place in Dingle to eat seafood is at a little shack of a fish-n-chip joint, located conveniently across the street from the police station. Forget donuts–Dingle cops are fueled by fish-n-chips. Reel Dingle Fish and Chips is a total dive but every Irishman we met told us to eat there, so we stopped for a snack one afternoon. I could only eat *sob* a bite or two because girl has no gallbladder any more, but the boys deemed it delicious, especially the fried monkfish.

I had better luck with the seafood chowder at a teeny little spot called the Chowder Cafe.

This place had me at their chalkboard sign inside which read: “Please be noted of the following–all bread served here contains gluten/wheat. Brown bread contains wheat and egg. All chowder contains dairy and wheat. All toast contains wheat. All quiche contains dairy, eggs and wheat.”  In other words, we are too little and too local to give a flying fart about your food sensitivities, so buck up and deal. And boy, I have to tell you, they served up the best damn bowl of chowder I have ever eaten. It made me vow to recreate it at home, but then I remembered that I don’t live on Dingle bay and have access to fish off the boat and double-thick cream from the cows in the pasture two doors down. Shoot. Memory will have to suffice.

The rest of our time in Dingle was spent driving through the countryside and up cliffs with winding, narrow roads that had ZERO guardrails and made me almost lose my chowder a couple of times. It was breathtakingly gorgeous and some areas were so remote that signs were only in Gaelic. Some signs went the extra mile and were in Gaelic for Tourists, which I appreciated.


Probably our most memorable meal in Ireland was at a tiny storefront place in Dingle called Ashe’s. I got all loosey-goosey because they sat us in a booth that had an old picture of Gregory Peck (in his hopelessly handsome Atticus Finch days) sitting above us, and Gregory Peck was sitting in the exact same booth, in the exact spot I was sitting in, and I get all gorked out and stupid about stuff like that.

Sitting in Gregory Peck’s spot made me so happy that I decided I deserved lobster. Which they then brought out (alive!) on a plate for me to inspect before they boiled his brains out. This seemed hilarious.

“Well, hello there, Mister Lobster,” I cooed at the trapped and snapping crustacean. “Don’t you look absolutely delicious!” The people dining around us (tables are quite close together–small joint, you know) started to snicker but a couple of ladies looked a little horrified.

I looked at the teenaged boy holding out the lobster for inspection. “I’ll take him,” I said. “I can tell he’s delectable. So delectable that I think I’ll name him.” The kid turned pink around the ears. “Murphy,” I announced. “His name is Murphy. And please go cook him up now. I’m starving.”

“Missus,” the teenager said, laughing, “I gotta say, that’s a first,” and scurried off to the kitchen.

My husband grabbed the wine bottle and topped off his glass.

I leaned back in Gregory Peck’s booth. “I love this place,” I said, and dug into my salad.

“My God,” I heard one of the horrified ladies mutter. “I don’t think I could eat the poor thing after I gave it a name…”


In case you’re wondering, Murphy was spectacular.


  ^^whoops, maybe I shouldn’t have named it Murphy, since every Irish town seems to have a shop/pub named after one.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

elizabeth June 23, 2017 at 4:50 am

I was super-impressed when I saw the photo of Texas(!) the falcon on your hand (no way I would do the same thing with, say, a tarantula) and whiskey is in fact the right drink to have after doing something so far from your comfort zone.

I can’t wait to hear about the rest of your trip–it sounds like Ireland was a complete blast, but you know I’m really excited to hear about Madrid.


Dana Talusani June 24, 2017 at 3:53 pm


I was quite proud of myself for not cowering in the corner the minute I saw that bird. I am also afraid that my Madrid post will disappoint because we had two days there and I spent the second day all gross and vomity-feeling in bed. I cannot tell you how MAD/SAD I felt. My only silver lining is that it is reason to go back to Madrid.


Sherri June 23, 2017 at 7:38 am

Looks fantastic!


Papa Guy June 23, 2017 at 9:18 pm

You, my dear are fucking awesome.


Kel June 24, 2017 at 7:43 pm

Oh my DOG. Your post could mostly have been written by me, 9 months ago.

We did a falconry experience in Wales and one of the owls shit on my daughter’s shoes! The Harris hawks and owls were just amazing and we all loved every second.

The fish and chips are indeed amazing — my husband and son tried 7 different ones across Ireland and Wales and would rate them together.

We love Torc waterfall – we hiked to it as well! My crutches thought about shifting in the wet pine needles and mud on occasion, but so worth it.

Now I really have to finish editing the 400 photos. =)


Dana Talusani June 24, 2017 at 8:25 pm


I love that you were there! And owl shit must be part of the whole experience, yes?


Kel June 26, 2017 at 11:05 am

Yes! We have it on video. =)


The stills aren’t in there but you can see the video.


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