On a Saturday evening, a friend and I flew from Fort Wayne International Airport (FWA) to Dallas Fort Worth International (DFW). The start of our trip was a bit concerning when we missed our connecting flight from DFW to Dublin, Ireland. We found an extremely helpful employee at the Admiral’s Club in Dallas who vowed to get us to Dublin the next day and, God bless her, she did!
After our overnight flight, we arrived in Dublin about five hours later than we had planned. Our two other travel companions had been there waiting for us for six hours. Once we all connected, we drove our rental van to Kinsale, County Cork in Southern Ireland. The journey from Dublin was an adventure. The roads near the city were similar to those you would find in pretty much any metropolitan region. As we drove farther away from the populated area, the roads became a little tricky, with plenty of old, one-lane paths.
Old Head Golf Links was our first stop. While the other guys might disagree, I think it should have been our only stop. The course is built entirely on a peninsula jutting into the North Atlantic Ocean. It’s a thousand feet or so above the beautiful waters. Every hole was an event with scenery you cannot find anywhere else.
We played Old Head one time and stayed at the on-site resort the first night. It was the best, boasting a modern hotel and restaurant. The rooms sit right on the course, and the nighttime sky with a full moon was better suited for significant others than a bunch of gross golf buddies.
After golf at Old Head, we packed up the van and headed to the town of Killarney, which was our headquarters for three nights. Killarney is a perfect small Irish town with about 15,000 residents. We played golf three more days in a row and found a great restaurant each evening to finish our day. The food was better than I expected. We found plenty of variety, including Irish beef and seafood; but, if you like fish and chips, this is the place for you.
Our Killarney lodging was at the McSweeney Arms Hotel — a nice spot for a romantic getaway, but not right for the guys. We will find another place in Killarney next time.
We played at Ballybunion Golf Club, the name derived from the term Bally, meaning the town or place of, and the family name of Bunion – thus, the town of the bunions. Ouch!
Next we played Dooks, not to be confused with Dukes in Scotland. The ocean was all around us when we played these courses and it totally enhanced the experience. Our last course was Tralee – another spectacular place with scenery to boot.
Dooks was our least favorite course. When we go back we will replace it with one called Waterville Golf Links instead.
At the end of our fourth and last round, my buddy Dave and I left the other two in our group, Evan and Milt, and headed to Galway — a resort city on the eastern coast of Ireland. Our wives, Andrea and Cheryl, had arrived earlier in the day. We met up with the ladies and found our way to the Seabreeze Bed and Breakfast on the north side of the city. Our French hosts Frank and Marian took care of us for the next five days.
At that point we became tourists and sightseeing was high on the priority list. Among other things, we went to a castle, the Cliffs of Moher, and Cheryl and Dave ventured to the Aran Islands where they spent the day touring. Andrea and I walked four miles along the beach to downtown Galway where we went to an odd little casino, shopped and had lunch before walking back the Seabreeze.
We did rent a car while in Galway and drove (on the wrong side of the road) to the destinations that were too far to walk to.
I can only speak for myself, but I loved being in Ireland. The weather, by the way, was perfect; low 70s and sunny everyday for golf, and not a lot different for the remainder of our trip. The people of Ireland are extraordinarily friendly and helpful. It was easy to navigate the countryside, even when we drove ourselves.
And, Ireland is relatively inexpensive compared to other countries. The lodging, food and golf were not only good, but affordable. I give Ireland two thumbs up.