Much as I love Dublin and city life (and I do! I’ve written about our lovely community here and here), I am always so happy to get away into the country. Carlow, to be honest, is not the first county I think of visiting whenever I want to get out of Dublin, yet there is so much going for it, this tiny jewel of a place, one of Ireland’s smallest counties. Mountains, the rolling green patchwork hills that bring me such joy on journeys down the country, rivers with generous walking spaces alongside, villages with distinctive Irish style: Carlow has them all. And it’s not so far from Dublin, making it ideal for a quick spin, as they say.
We were lucky to have a recent two days and a night away, thanks to friends who have a beautiful restored farmhouse in County Carlow in the shadow of the Blackstairs Mountain.
It was a hotel mini break personalised. We were served beautifully prepared food: quiche, falafels, roast lamb, with produce from a few feet away: new potatoes, farm eggs, mushrooms for which my son and our hostess foraged before breakfast.
We basked in the sun on the stone flag patio, greeted the small herd of Kerry cattle (approximately .78% of the worldwide Kerry cattle numbers) as we walked through their field, hacked our way through a bog that has been replanted with indigenous trees and plants, saw orchids and traces of badgers, crossed a stream – a tributary of the Barrow, that contains freshwater pearl mussels – and (one of us) sank up to the knee in bog muck.
Evening saw us with glasses of wine in front of the fire chatting late into the night, catching (sight of) falling stars and the flashing lights of airplanes heading for Dublin or Belfast from Marrakech and the continent.
Swinging high up into the trees and a jaunt through the countryside in a classic Morgan made the visit five star.
We did a quick run up Mount Leinster and surveyed Carlow, Kilkenny, Wexford and beyond on our way home to Dublin.
And you just can’t go home from the country without a going away gift; in this case, courgettes and black currants that we helped pick and are now jam.