At the end of June, my family and I went on a trip to Ireland!!! I was so excited to get there and see the country, and thrilled to find out that celiac disease is quite common in Ireland. Eating gluten free is always my biggest concern about traveling so I was relieved to find such an abundance of options!
We flew into Dublin on an overnight flight. This was an important part of the trip for me. Over the past few years, I have developed a fear of flying. I always liked flying when I was younger, but my adult years have brought on more worry and anxiety about the whole experience. I started to realize that anxiety was becoming a big part of my life and I needed to get it under control before it took over. Since January, I have been seeing a psychologist who focuses on CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) and mindfulness therapies and it has been incredibly beneficial. I want to talk more about these experiences in the future but I haven’t figured out how to put it all into words yet! BUT this flight/trip was a big test for me. I found that my mindfulness techniques worked really well to keep me calmer and happier on the flight than I have been in a long time. It was a really rewarding experience.
We arrived in Dublin at around 11am but this wasn’t our final destination! We had rented a house for the week near a small town called Glenbeigh, which is on the Ring of Kerry on the west coast of Ireland.
So we set out on our drive from Dublin to Glenbeigh. At first, it felt like we were driving up the 401 but about 1.5 hours into the drive we started to see the beautiful Irish countryside. The rolling hills, bright green colours, and all the sheep! We made a pit stop in Adare for lunch. It is a really cute touristy town with all the necessary Irish things – a castle, a beautiful park, some gorgeous old churches, and lots of friendly people! We stopped at a little lunch spot called The Good Room. My first taste of Irish food was amazing! They had gluten free scones and gluten free bread and they were very knowledgeable on all the ingredients in their various meals. I felt instantly comfortable to eat whatever they told me was safe. I ended up getting a delicious salad with fresh bacon on top and a warm piece of gluten free bread on the side. With a few gluten free scones in a doggie bag, we jumped back in the car for another 2 hours of driving. Finally, we made it to our house outside of Glenbeigh and it was breathtaking!! We were up on a hill overlooking Rossbeigh Beach and the Dingle Peninsula.
After a day of traveling we were all exhausted but we were also starving! Luckily my amazing mom, being the super planner that she is, had already made a reservation for us at a restaurant in Glenbeigh that had lots of gluten free options. The place was called Rumours Bistro and it was the perfect place to have our first dinner in Ireland. It was a really cute little bistro with a very welcoming vibe. And the food was delicious!! They didn’t have a separate gluten free menu but they didn’t need one because all of their sauces were gluten free! I had lots of options. I ended up getting a hake fillet and I loved it! I had never had hake before but it was a very mild and very tasty white fish. We went back to Rumours another night later in the trip and I was very tempted to get the hake again but I ended up trying the cod. I was glad I made this choice because the cod was just as delicious!
The next night, everybody was still pretty exhausted and nobody felt like venturing far from the house so we decided to go to the pub on Rossbeigh Beach. My mom talked to them (it’s such a treat traveling with my mom because she is so amazing at advocating for me and making sure I always get the best gluten free food possible!) but this pub didn’t sound like they had the best gluten free options. Pubs are not generally the most celiac friendly since most of the food is breaded. Anyways, we decided not to let that stop us! We went to the local grocery store and got chicken, potatoes, and carrots to whip me up a quick meal that I could bring along.
The next day was my favourite day of the trip! We went on a day trip to Killarney and explored the Killarney National Park. It was absolutely gorgeous!!! The first part of the day was spent at Ross Castle, which is a restored defensive castle. It was very cool to see all the sneaky techniques they used to keep invaders out of the castle. The next part of the day was spent hiking through the national park. The most exciting part of this for me was the cafeteria (big surprise eh?) because they had gluten free bread!! A cafeteria (buffet style) with gluten free options is not easy to find, but in Ireland it is :). I didn’t look through all the other buffet options to see if there was anything else for me because I had brought a lunch but I definitely tried the gluten free bread and the gluten free banana bread. They weren’t the most flavourful breads I have ever tried but they were definitely tasty with some jam on top!
Then the MOST exciting part of the day was dinner in Killarney!! Again, my incredible mom found a perfect place for dinner – Allegro Pizzeria. It had gluten free fish and chips!! And an entire gluten free menu, they even had gluten free dairy free pizza! I inquired further because I was a little skeptical about the gluten free fish and chips seeing all these gluten-full fish and chips coming up. But she assured me they had a separate fryer for the gluten free meals. Although I had an extensive gluten free menu to choose from, I obviously opted for the fish and chips! I have always loved fish and chips so I jump at every chance to try a gluten free version. I would have to say these were definitely close to the top of the list of best gluten free fish and chips I have ever had! It had a thick batter, which had the perfect amount of crunch to it and a great flavour. It was quite a greasy meal for my tummy to handle but other than feeling a bit heavier when we left, I was thrilled by the whole experience!
Although that was my favourite part of the trip, we definitely still had more days ahead of us and more amazing things to see! The next day we explored the Dingle Peninsula and found more adorable little towns and beautiful views. That night was my parent’s anniversary so we had to find a nice restaurant to celebrate. We decided to go to Jack’s Coastgaurd restaurant because it looked nice, was close by and had gluten free options. I loved Jack’s! When we got there I mentioned to the waitress that I had celiac and was just wondering what I would be able to eat on the menu (we had called to ensure they had gluten free options but they didn’t actually have a gluten free menu so I had to inquire about it.). She had the best response ever. She said “Just let us know what you would like and we will make it for you and make sure it is gluten free.”. I have never heard somebody respond so kindly to my request for a gluten free meal. She seemed almost excited to have someone with celiac at her table. And the next thing I knew “Celiac Bread”, as she called it, had arrived at my table. It was the best gluten free bread I had ever been served at a restaurant. For dinner, I decided to order the lamb. I had eaten lots of fish since arriving in Ireland but I hadn’t tried any lamb. It came with sweet potato puree and spinach and it was delicious!! The puree was creamy and the lamb was perfectly tender and flavourful. I was very happy with the entire experience 🙂 they even brought out a surprise dessert for my mom and dad to enjoy together.
The next day we decided to have a low-key day around the house so we explored some nearby trails and made dinner with local Irish salmon! It was a great day 🙂
For the last day of our trip, we drove back to Dublin to explore! Unfortunately, I started feeling really sick that day so I didn’t get to explore Dublin as much as I would have liked. However, my fiancé, my brother and his girlfriend went for a tour of the Guinness factory, which I’m very sure they would highly recommend! It looked like a really cool place! Luckily, I didn’t feel like I was missing out too much since a huge building full of gluten with not much to do but learn about it and taste test it wasn’t really high on my to-do list. But I was sad to miss out on some of the other sites in Dublin. It just means I will have to go back one day!
For dinner, I wanted something simple to eat and my mom (as always) found the perfect place for us to go. We were staying at O’Callaghan (which I would definitely recommend! It was clean and comfy and in a great location) and decided to walk out for dinner. We were able to walk through St. Stephen’s Green, which was perfect for me because I got to experience one of the most beautiful parts of Dublin! It is a gorgeous park right in the center of the city and it had been the pride parade that day so it was full of life! The restaurant we went to was Unicorn. It is an Italian restaurant just minutes from St. Stephen’s Green! There is nothing specifically listed about gluten free on the online menu but when we got to the restaurant, I noticed there were markings on the menu to indicate the meals that were naturally gluten free. I was able to get a roasted chicken breast with a side of grilled veggies, which was perfect for my sensitive stomach! I loved the atmosphere of this restaurant and everybody’s meals were great!
Overall, this was one of my favourite family trips! The people in Ireland were incredibly friendly, the food was delicious, the scenery was breathtaking, and the history was fascinating to learn about. It was also amazing to see that everybody understood what I was asking as soon as I said I had celiac. I felt very comfortable and welcomed in Ireland 🙂
I know my blogging has been a bit sporadic this summer but my board exam is just one week away now and then everything should go back to normal! Stay tuned for my next post about my most recent triathlon!! It was a few weeks ago now and I’m so excited to share my experience and some of my nutrition tips!
Hope you’re all enjoying the beautiful summer weather 🙂