Updated: Aug 20, 2019
The next morning, we woke up at a pretty normal time for us... jet lag didn't seem to be a thing flying over to a place eight hours ahead of what we were used to! We quickly made a pot of french press coffee, so roasted potatoes, and omelettes for breakfast before heading out on our first adventure of the day. (Disclaimer: We live a plant based lifestyle at home, however we decided to have a few meals that contained dairy, fish, and eggs on our vacation because we felt that these items were humanely sourced and safe to eat. And we enjoyed some fish n chips because we wanted to.)
After my first Air Bnb experience in San Diego, I decided that it would be fun to book one in Ireland. If you don't know what Air Bnb Experiences are, they are events or gatherings held by locals in a given region you search for. In San Diego, I went on an ocean kayak tour. In Sedona, there are TONS of spirituality and healing based experiences you can book. The particular experience I booked was called "Guided Wild Food Walk and Talk" by Lisa. What a great way to meet some locals and to get to know the flora and fauna of the Irish forests!
We met Lisa and her foraging companion Emily at a "locals only" spot called the Hellfire Club. Now, I don't know if there are any Ghost Adventures fans in the house, but this was one of the locations in season 9 that the team traveled to. I remember watching this episode with my sister in our teen years and almost shitting our pants from being so scared! If I remember correctly, they heard a banshee in the middle of the night screaming. Little did I know that I would be traveling to this creepy place one day. And silly me, I had NO idea what I was getting myself into until I actually walked into the ruin at the top of the hill and had the recollection, "huh, this seems oddly familiar..." 😂
Our walk started in the woods, where we started learning about the plants. Ten steps on the trail we stopped to observe some herb Robert, a dainty little pink flower with five petals and leaves almost carrot like. The flowers were bitter, but definitely edible, as we snacked on them the whole way. We learned that you can turn spruce needles into incense, dig up bull thistle root and create a coffee substitute with it, and what Ireland's country flower was - a shrub called gorse that had yellow flowers that smelled like coconuts. On the way up the hill, we picked red clover, plantains, and observed the spiky beech nuts hanging from the towering trees.
It was around this time that a clearing in the forest appeared and where you could see the Hellfire club, a ruin at the top of the hill with a view of all of Dublin, with the ocean behind it. I asked Lisa what the building was, and she told us it was called the Hellfire club, a place where a group of satanists performed rituals during the 18th century. It was then that we started telling ghost stories and Emily had one in particular she shared. I don't remember specifics, but it had to do with her being home all alone one day and she heard chains being rattled by her bedroom door, and upon opening it, there was no one there. At that very moment, I stepped on something in the grass that made a clanking noise. I picked it up and it happened to be an old string of chains, rusted and corroded as if they had been there awhile. A chill went down everyone's spine as we were bamboozled as to how this could happen!
Emily and Lisa found a nice spot in the grass to set up a small picnic and Austin and I went inside the Hellfire Club ruin to see if we could pick up any vibes. Despite being such a renowned haunted place, there were dozens of children running around the ruin, through all the rooms, laughing and playing tag. I felt the heavy energy right away. Knowing what this place was now, I set up my camera to capture me walking through the doorway of a bottom story room. I wanted to feel what it was like in the room, and who knows? Maybe I would pick up an EVP or apparition on film! My clip was short lived though because the creepy feeling was starting to get under my skin, and there was no way I'd be bringing any of that home with me!
I joined Lisa, Austin, and Emily for the picnic and we shared some foraged raspberry leaf and peppermint tea. The breeze whistled through the grasses, sending energy all over the land as we talked about what we all did in our day to day lives, and shared stories around wild tea. Before long, we headed back down the trail, this time another way, and came across the thickest and darkest stretch of pines imaginable. As if the Hellfire Club wasn't enough! The four of us tread lightly in this dark place, almost dusk in the middle of the day, and came across an abandoned camp. Lisa and I were apprehensive to explore it, but Austin and Emily went right ahead. At first we didn't know if anyone was there, but after tiptoeing through the thicket, they saw a half build log cabin and some tents, abandoned like the Hellfire Club.
Once we trekked through fields of fresh raspberries, we ended up back at the parking lot, gave hugs and went on our way. If you're in the Dublin area and are looking for an adventure, please go check out Lisa's experience on Air Bnb! It was like getting together with old friends, chatting about plants, herbalism, foraging, growing food, the perfect companions on a trip like this. 10/10 would go again! If you're interested in getting to know Lisa and her company Orchards Near Me more, visit her website to see where else she can do foraging tours at!
"Where to next?" Austin asked.
"Let's see here... what else do we want to do in the Dublin area?"
And then we headed off towards Glendalough. The main reason we wanted to stay in Wicklow was because the Wicklow National Park was so close. Ireland has six national parks, scattered about the country. Now, remember that Ireland is a pretty small country. It can fit inside of Texas eight times and is roughly the size of Wisconsin, possibly a bit smaller! From where we were compared to where Glendalough was inside this national park was not so far... or so we thought!
About ten minutes up the mountain we started hitting a heavy bout of fog. The road narrowed. Sheep roamed everywhere. Trees disappeared. It was like we entered the Twilight Zone, just sheer confusion all around us, which way would the road turn? And to top it off, the jet lag kicked in and I couldn't keep my eyes open to help watch the road! After an hour or so of driving like this, we exited the mist and came into stands of forest. This was the beginning of the national park. And soon after, we entered Glendalough. What is this place you ask? It is a valley with two lakes in the middle. Thick, mossy forests covered the land around the lakes and up the mountains. Near the visitor's center is a Monastic City from around the 11th century. We began our descent on the hiking trail and visited this city first. An ancient graveyard littered the land around the monastery, a crumbling ruin that was once a haven for monks and spiritual people. People walked around this area quietly, respecting the sleeping folk under the heavy stone slabs, their names worn away from years of weathering.
We continued on with our journey here, and noticed a string of a trail leading off the main path and into the green forest. Austin led the way as we snuck into this new world we had found, a world so quiet yet watchful that we remained the same. Within a few dozen yards, we were completely alone, away from anyone else in the park. Secluded. All around us stood towering trees covered in lichens, the ground had pillows of moss that I was sure not to step on , for fear that a fairy's house rested beneath it. I found a trail of feathers leading us deeper and deeper into this wood, and eventually the stringy dirt trail ended. We could have been lost if we wanted to, but we didn't wander that far off. I sat in silence for a few moments, breathing in what was around me. If I didn't know any better, I'd say that there were supernatural beings watching us from afar - I could just feel it. I didn't feel creeped out by this, no. It was more of an awareness that we weren't alone and this was something else's home, possibly fairies!
Back on the trail, we found ourselves wandering toward the stretch of land between the two lakes. The larger lake had land features on the far end suggesting that a glacier had formed this valley, a glide through the peaks and down to the lake. Ducks waddled on the shore of the lake and a little boy sat on his haunches and watched them carefully. It was precious to see the innocence all over this place. The boy had the biggest smile on his face when the baby ducks drifted near him. His dad watched from afar, a smile on his face too, just watching and allowing his son to experience the pure joy gifted from mother nature. From behind us, a group of people, kids and adults, stood under a stand of trees laughing their asses off, I'm not sure at what, but it got me laughing too.
It was getting late, so we headed back to the car to drive home. It was another hour, and I dozed off more than once on the way home, but in good time we made it. Dinner was a Mexican rice with lots of veggies mixed in. This honeymoon was going so well, so relaxing. It was so long since we had this much time and freedom to ourselves. No rules. No limits. Just the vast expanse of the sky before us. This was only the beginning of something great to come. And yet at this moment, we had no idea what was coming for us.
Check out the video below to see a visual rendition of the day!
Thanks for reading along today, be sure to come back on Tuesday to read about Day 3 - a trip to some mysterious sacred sites and to an island off of Dublin!