Malahide Castle Is A Great Day Trip From Dublin

Malahide Castle.jpg

*Photo is my own, if you love it then be sure to share it just link back to my blog.

Planning a visit to Ireland??? Many travellers use Dublin as simply a port of entry and exit while they plan on exploring the rest of the country…big mistake! Dublin boasts traditional Irish pubs, live music, and legendary history. One of my favorite medieval castles is located just on the outskirts of Dublin and it is where I am taking you today. The Malahide castle was the first, I repeat, the first place I visit when I landed from America. The castle and surrounding town did not disappoint!

How ya gonna get there? Malahide Castle & Gardens is located only 9km north of Dublin, just outside the pretty town of Malahide, and can be conveniently accessed via the DART train. Expect around a 30 minute journey; if you have a car, then the best route is via the M50. Travellers looking to tour a medieval castle have got it made here….parts of the castle date back to the 12th century. Surprisingly, other than about 10 years during Cromwell’s occupation, this estate remained in the hands of the Talbot family for its entire existence until 1976.

The guided tours run from 930am-430pm, seven days a week and it is reasonable to spend 2-3 hours touring the house and spending time in the gardens. There is a nice AVOCA cafe inside the grounds, so great for coffee, snacks or a full meal if you prefer. The tour guides have been excellent on each of my 3 visits, providing a thorough, but concise explanation of each room you visit in the castle. Most have a sense of humour too! The period furniture, rugs, and accessories are absolutely amazing. You will have plenty of time for photo opportunities during the tour.

*Thanks to my husband for these photos inside the castle.

While the food at the AVOCA cafe is tasty, my advice is to save mealtime for the town of Malahide. Just a short walk from the castle, prepare to fall in love with the colorful, unique buildings and the small town coziness of Malahide. You will be spoilt for choice when it comes to pubs & eateries!

Those looking for an Irish pub with traditional music should head down to Oscar Taylors or Gibney’s Pub. Just thirsty???? A nice informal bar for a few drinks is Gilbert & Wrights or for a more contemporary vibe and something to munch on, choose Duffy’s. The Scotch Bonnet has very eclectic decor, comfy couches to lounge on and is family friendly with yummy food.

After your feast allow some time to meander down to the gorgeous Malahide beach…2km of soft sand that allows for tranquil views and peaceful walks along the beach. On a clear day you may get to see Lambay Island, Ireland’s eye and Howth. Phenomenal picture taking is here, my friends. Along the beach is The Grand Hotel which is worth a walk into for a pint and quick break before heading back into city centre.

malahide beach joe.jpg

*Thanks to my husband for these photos inside the castle.

For more great information on Malahide click here.




Malahide Gardens

Flowers Malahide Gardens

*If you love it, share it! Just don’t forget to link back to this blog as photo is my own.

Today’s photo and post are taking it back to Fall 2014 after I had take a photography course and began to actively use my Canon 7D. I can’t believe how far I’ve come!!!!

Malahide Castle was the first place I visited when I moved to Ireland in October 2013. I was literally 2 days off the plane and still jet lagged. Not too mention this Floridian was freezing her tail off in the frigid 40 degree weather. With numb fingers & toes I waited on the DART to take me to this castle my husband wanted the kids and I to see.

The photo above is from Sept 2014 on a much sunnier day; I snapped away  as quickly as I could to avoid being chased by the bees that day 🙂 The gardens at Malahide castle are both exotic & beautifully kept. One of my favorite things here in the Emerald Isle is the gardens featured at many of the castles/houses.

Stay with me tomorrow as we tour Malahide Castle.

🙂 Heather

Chubby Gloworm

As the weather gets colder here, one Buster Brown, aka Mr. Big, must don his winter attire. Large dogs are not afforded the variety of fashion choices the way smaller dogs are…..this means a dog built like Mr. T. gets stuck wearing a fluorescent orange hunting vest. Sadly, this “coat” made our normally svelte boxer look chubby….a chubby Gloworm to be exact.

On a normal day (one where Big isn’t wearing a coat) my two year old son will laugh hysterically the entire trip to his big sister’s school because the dog is riding in the car. This afternoon I loaded a giggly, wriggling boy into his carseat while an idiot of a brown dog attempted to sit in a Britax carseat. Maniacal laughter and snorting (Buster) was my chorus on the 1.5 mile trip to pick up my daughter. Luckily, the DART (Dublin train) was right on schedule with my school pick up so we got trapped on a side street for 10 minutes and I was able to take this rather fetching pic of Mr. Big.


I will give you a little background on the history of Buster picking up his little girl from school, so you can begin to understand what we encountered today. My daughter attends an all girls school; all the little girls in her class and both kindergarten teachers know Buster by name (although they may not know my name). The 4-5 year old girls will generally get extremely excited if he has accompanied me for a pick up (or as the Irish say collection). Today was an absolute mob scene….these girls went INSANE when they saw Mr. Big in his brightly colored coat. Literally, screaming and running to him as if he had candy. I was actually late to get my child because of the melee Buster caused.

A classmate of my daughter’s came running up to us to strangle Buster with love and amidst her screams of excitement her mother looked at the dog and said, “Hi Buster! I love your coat, it’s brilliant!” She gave me a quick nod and then the two walked away. Yep, she didn’t even know my name. I hadn’t seen her before, but she clearly had heard of the legend that is Mr. Big aka Buster.

Pretty crazy to think this big, dumb brown dog is known and loved by a group of 4-5 year old little Irish girls who have only heard of his greatness secondhand. They await his school pick ups knowing they are few and far between….what they don’t know is that he is a super jerk and that is why he rarely visits the schoolyard. But today they all got to see him in his glorious, winter coat….our very own chubby Gloworm.

I endured another giggly ride home (no DART this time thank goodness) and as I was about to back into my driveway a huge garbage truck flew around the bend in our complex. The driver screeched the giant truck to a halt almost in front of our house and then the three men inside the vehicle saw Buster. While I can’t read lips I could see the look of adoration on all three of the men’s faces, as they stopped for much longer than necessary to get a look at this giant, orange coated beast. Bust was not surprised at all, as he has spent the majority of his life being admired by blue collar workers…..he is used to the “that’s a good lookin dog ya got there”, or some other redneck compliment yelled from a truck in his general direction. I do believe he is somewhat uncomfortable with the more formal, “He’s gorgeous. He’s lovely. He’s brilliant. May I stroke him?” types of compliments he receives in Dublin. Today’s ogling garbagemen were met with a disdainful glance, angry snort growl, and bulging neck veins as Buster tried to show them just who’s driveway they were in front of. This display of brute strength and stupidity only proved to make the men more interested.

As I bring this post to a close my husband kindly has reminded me that upon Buster’s arrival to Dublin airport an Irish vet met him and the first words out of his mouth were, “That’s a good looking dog there. Is he a military dog?” To which my husband replied, “No, he’s just got really big shoulders and the only coat available was in camouflage.” It looks like Big has two pieces of clothing now….one fluorescent orange coat and one camouflage fleece vest.  It is getting late here so I am off to bed; I hope you all enjoyed this little tale of Mr. Big.



Tiny Outbreak

When a nurse becomes a parent there are many things that she dreads, but everyone has their top few….in no particular order they are: choking, drowning, pink eye, and head lice. The last on this list was something I hadn’t thought about in years.  Sure I had spent the better part of adulthood suspicious of pink eye, throwing out mascara over an allergic reaction causing my eye to turn pink or training myself never ever to touch my face. Yes, you can scratch your face with your elbow :0

Back to the head lice thing…..the last time I had encountered these evil vermin was my first year as an RN. My patient had a horrible infestation, yet due to embarrassment, she failed to notify the staff of her condition upon admission. Thanks to an astute anesthesiologist I became alerted. I raced into action as if it were the movie, Outbreak! A quick phone call to my mother to obtain Nix and have the contents made ready for me in my bathroom and then I waited on that last two hours of my shift to end. My skin crawling more by the second… eternity later I changed into new scrubs and threw a surgical cap over my head (can’t be too careful) as I headed home. I called my mom as I pulled into the driveway and instructed her to leave the scene. Barely inside the front door, I stripped naked and threw my clothes into the garbage bag that my mom had left at the door per my instructions. A thorough decontamination was performed on myself and luckily, I avoided a catastrophe. Fast forward nearly ten years and I was faced once again with this vile vermin.

Last week I saw a poster up at school about lice being prominent in school and with the warm weather they were even more likely to occur. I tried to calm my panicking nerves and avoid the desire to shave my daughter’s head….I had just began to calm down when today my daughter said, “There is a note for you in my folder.” The note was a typed memo from her school alerting parents to lice being found on several girls at the school with instructions to plait (aka braid) your child’s hair and keep it up. OMFG I ran her up the stairs and into the shower; this will be our daily routine until the weather cools down in Dublin enough for the devil lice to die off. I’m not a great hair braider, so what next? I am considering a full head of braids or even better yet….corn rows. Those evil little fuckers will never be able to invade a tightly corn rowed head! Option two is a Sinead O’Connor style head shave, wait a minute, we are in Ireland after all, so that should fly right?

Hmmmmmmm the choices……maybe I should just send her to school with a surgical cap on… is light blue, so the same color as her uniform.

How have my fellow nurse mom’s dealt with these terrifying, yet apparently common incidences with small children?

I’ll be waiting your answers as I attempt to braid my child’s hair into tiny little braids :0

Or will it be the clippers with no guard tonight?????




A Day in Bray

bray promenade

Monday we woke up to sun streaking in the windows and decided to head out to Bray, Ireland for the day. Bray is a quaint little seaside town about a 30 minute trip on the train away. My mom is visiting us so we are trying visit as many places as we can. Monday was the last day of Bray’s Summerfest which included carnival rides on the promenade and fair food. I’m not sure how my mom and I managed to get the kids ready, make it to the train on time, and actually get onto the DART (train) with a double stroller. The kids absolutely love the train and had their faces pressed to the window for the majority of the ride.

The trip down was fairly uneventful until a small child (about 2-3 years of age) began to eat an apple whilst sitting in his stroller (it is called a pram or a buggy here). This little child did not like the skin on his apple so he just took tiny bites of skin and spat them out onto the floor of the train. His parents were oblivious to the goings on until my little girl said in her loudest voice, “Mommy, that little boy is gross! Why is he eating his apple like that?” At that very moment, as if in slow motion, the apple tumbled out of the boy’s hand and bounced dramatically onto the filthy train floor. The mother didn’t miss a beat, picked up the apple, thought about at least wiping it on her shirt, changed her mind, and handed it back to her now screaming little boy. Nice! I’m guessing little Paddy McButterfingers will be crapping his britches for the next two weeks. Irish parents are so much more carefree than their American counterparts from what I have witnessed thus far. I spent the next few minutes trying to silence a little girl’s incessant requests to know why that boy would eat an apple off the ground, priceless!

I hadn’t been to Bray and was delighted by the colorful seaside promenade…the kids were ecstatic at the carnival rides lining the street. We got there early enough that the rides hadn’t even been opened yet, so my two and a mob of others took over an empty carousel. They were just as happy to play on the free, non moving attraction which meant our little group of parents got a few moments to relax. We got ride a beautiful Victorian carousel complete with hand painted, wooden horses that had real horse hair for tails. The carousel was SO beautiful! My mom tried desperately to take a picture of the three of us on the ride, but she can’t manage a picture when the subjects are completely still, so here is what we got…..

I packed a picnic lunch because both of my children are obsessed with having picnics and bringing their own food to eat. Yogurt was a great thought until you factor in a windy Irish day to the equation…think yogurt on tiny faces, with hair stuck to yogurt. Thank goodness this public outing was complete with public restrooms (usually this type of thing is a hard find in Ireland and is never free if it is available). Ahhhh it is the little things in life after all!

My mom and I got to relax after eating while the kiddos dug up sand on the beach and played with large rocks scattered about. Each child took the customary handful of stones and put them into their pocket. They wanted to bring them home to make the stone turtles we had been talking about making earlier. I thought it was perfect timing we happened upon such wonderful, smooth stones just as we had decided to make our fun art project. We had extremely windy weather and as the sky darkened my mom and I decided it was time to head home. Our little group walked back to the DART and managed to get ourselves and our contents safely aboard.

Later that evening when my husband got home he was greeted with excited little voices telling him stories about their day at Bray. He looks at me and says, “You know you can’t take the stones from the beach….there is like a GIANT sign at the beach saying not to remove the stones.” Awesome…..well here are our pretty little Bray stone turtles….feeling horribly guilty right now 😦




August 8, 2014


Gym Tan Laundry

GTL gym, tan, laundry is not something I do EVER! As a mom of two young kiddos I do a lot of laundry and carrying of heavy objects, which I suppose is my gym time. Recently, I joined a gym here in Dublin at University College Dublin; yeah that’s right I’ll be working out right along side the Irish college kids. I actually didn’t realize the implications of a college gym until my first trip there yesterday. Here is how it played out. 

I got all excited for my big trip to the gym and then realized my workout gear consisted of Victoria’s Secret Pink Collection complete with writing on the butt or inappropriate Soffe shorts. My only acceptable capri pants were way too wide for European standards, but since I had to wear something…..I threw them on with my Tampa Bay Rays shirt. Getting the to the UCD gym was my first step and since I wasn’t paying attention at all the other day when my husband drove me (to make sure I knew where it was) I relied on my GPS (sat nav here). According to Murphy’s law my GPS lost its signal at the exact moment where I realized I no longer knew the next turn to take. A quick pullover yielded me the dreaded map, but amazingly enough I found the UCD Athletic Center. 

I parked in the parking lot that said UCD gym members all other will be clamped. Yep, no tickets here in Dublin, they go straight to putting a metal boot on your wheel. Ouch! No worries though because I gave my car registration plate number the other day when I joined the gym. So why the confused face gym front staff member? Can’t find the email with my car’s info on it? I had exactly 22 minutes to work out by the time I got my picture, gave them more information, and then ran out to my car a second time.

Super high speed double time work out it is! I do NOT do cardio at the gym….I hate treadmills, steppers, and ellipticals…boring! So I stretched and did 50 pushups and decided I would do my arm workout today. I walked confidently to the weight lifting section until I saw the well muscled, Irish kids pumping iron. EEEKKKKK!!!! I can’t go in there with my tiny weights! I turned around and stealthily made my way back to the light weight dumbbell shelf. I grabbed an 8lb weight and picked it up quickly….wow are the weights heavier here or something? Ummmm, yes, they are because they are in kilograms. 8kg is definitely not 8lbs. I wanted to avoid looking dumb and disrupting the personal training session going on next to me so I made due with my selection. I’m surprised I can type this blog right now. 

I will say that after getting over my initial fear I think I’m going to really enjoy going to this gym and who knows, maybe next trip I’ll pick up a bar and do a clean and show those Irish college kids what’s up. On a side note….arms day is not something you do the day before a 3 hour CPR renewal class. I swear those dummies were made of concrete and my instructor made me do 5 cycles everytime! I’m not going to be able to move for a few days. 

Until next time!



Feckin’ Poodles


Don’t Push a Poodle…..

Today’s rant is brought to you buy the I can’t stand misbehaved, shitty little dogs campaign. The kids and I took a short drive to Sandymount beach for a morning of rare sunshine and digging in the sand. I decided not to bring our beast (boxer) today as I wanted some peace and quiet. I might add that when at the beach he is kept on his leash so as not to snag a total stranger’s toddler’s sandwich without breaking stride.

The three of us lugged all of our sand toys, beach blanket, etc out to a clear spot and plopped down. I noticed a group of Irish women and a gaggle of kids with a terrier and a Newfoundland just a few feet from our blanket. I wasn’t worried because the dogs were sticking to their group and they were cute.

Out of nowhere a wet, stinking mid sized poodle came barging onto my blanket thundering its sandy little paws all over the place. I straightened out my arm and held out my hand against the dog preventing it from completely destroying our blanket. “No, go away!” I said in a stern voice. I swear you could have heard a pin drop on that beach.

I felt like I had been so rude, but yet I was only keeping a wet, dirty dog off my clean blanket. If it were my dog or hell even a breed of dog I liked, I would’ve been OK with it. I have a huge problem being the owner of a large breed dog, who happens to be well muscled ie scary to some, because society expects me to keep him under control all the while looking the other way when small dogs misbehave. I am forever conscious that others may not find my beloved Mr. Big as endearing as I may and take no offense whatsoever. So why did I feel like I was rude for firmly, but kindly/properly correcting a dog who was in my space when I didn’t want him near?

I felt as though my poodle pushing incident was made worse when I opened my yankee mouth and my American accent came out. I suggest if you are going to take a stand against an obnoxious small dog you do it in your home country as to avoid even more ridicule than would usually be expected. But, alas, the Irish are pretty awesome and the owner apologized to me. Luckily, I ended up making friends with our beach neighbors who completely agreed with my course of action…..feckin poodles!



July 8, 2014