Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Simply Ballyseede

Our third stop on our honeymoon tour was Ballyseede. This castle was much smaller than the others but seemed to marry both Ballynahinch's cozy charm and Dromoland's service. It was just adorable! 
They even have two dogs on staff! A smaller black and white dog, Einstein, who met us as we approached their big red doors and nonchalantly went inside. We kind of figured that he was allowed to...the other, Mr. Higgins, whom we met later wasn't as lucky. A lovely woman named Ester checked us in, giving us a big key and talked a bit about meals and other accommodations.
The inside of Ballyseede was so quaint and really didn't fit with the modern world. Each space was ornately dressed yet personal and warm. I felt as though I was at my grandparents house. Their home used to be filled with antiques, items from their travels and lots of family photos. Ballyseede seemed to be family owned, or at least family run...from what we gathered Ester handled check ins and other needs and her brother helped with meal service. Looking back I should have asked more questions! Throughout the castle alongside antique paintings were lots of photos, mainly of families that had stayed at Ballyseede or had gotten married there. Maybe we should send them a card to add to their collection!
Once checked in we made our trek to the top of the castle. No elevators needed here. Craig carried a few bags and someone helped me with mine, thank god! Our room, the Mangan, was small and bed a bit old but we were okay with that. Each new place we stayed at was such an adventure! 
Upon exploration we found that there was a lower level of rooms so it was really sweet of them to give us a top floor room. We had a grand view overlooking the very Alice and Wonderland grounds. Ballyseede had glass water bottles as well. Such a fantastic idea!

 Ballyseede had both an outer door and inner doorway and that's where we found Mr. Higgins, a very big Irish Wolfhound! He was so sweet! Off of the main floor there were two big rooms to the left and 3 to the right...if I'm remembering correctly! The right making up a dinning area and bar. Part of that dinning area, more reserved for breakfast, extended into a whole other ballroom fit for magical weddings. Ester even took us in there to see! They had maybe 6 tables set up with different kinds of place-settings and a smaller table with a big sword on it, that was used to cut the cake. She even let us try it out...sadly without cake!
We grabbed some lunch in their bar area. I wanted to try their version of a goat cheese salad. It was really good...but way too much fried cheese he he! I wanted to eat it all but my tummy wouldn't let me. Craig had their fish and chips and an Irish coffee!
Dinner was and decadent! We had expected more guests for dinner but no one was there, our server said that there was supposed to be a wedding that weekend but it had been canceled. We ended up having the entire dinning area to ourselves. Definitely more romantic! We felt so tucked away from the outside worldOur server was really nice as well and funny! We joked about sitting at the long table in the center, just us two, yelling back and forth like rich people.
He brought out a little cup with a treat from the chef, it was mushroom soup! Yum! For our main course I tried the salmon and Craig the duck. I usually can't eat a ton of fish in one setting but this was really flavorful and not too fishy. Craig liked the duck, it was a nice change from usually eating beef/steak. They brought out some potatoes too...OMG so buttery!
That morning we had the most delicious breakfast!!! I found out that their pancakes were more like crepes and I wanted to eat a mountain of them! So good...I need to fly back there just to eat these!
 Craig also ran into a duck...most likely friends with the one he had eaten for last nights dinner! Yikes!
That afternoon we were heading out to see some sites and Ester made sure to give us a map of the Dingle Peninsula with lots of notes about where to go. She also said we needed to visit Dick Macks. "You have to go, tell them I sent ya!" 
We did make it there and they had no idea who she was but loved that she keeps sending people there LOL! It was a cute pub...sort of old-school and dreary. It looked like it was created in an old home and there were only a few people inside. I tried a fizzy "girly" drink he he!
Dingle was pretty and turned out to be a surfing town much to our surprise, we are from Santa Cruz. It was fun seeing a few surf boards along the way. There were cute boutiques and shops too, so we took our time and walked around. The drive around Dingle was really pretty too. Lots of open land and lakes!
 By the time we returned, a bit late in the evening, it was time for tea and dessert! We ordered a lava cake with a bit of ice cream....I probably don't have to describe how awesome it was! I also had some peppermint tea in one of their fancy cups and a scone. These were usually for breakfast but they were far to good to pass up.
 Einstein was there too...playing with what I thought were those brownish sugar crystals but they turned out to be rocks. There were 7 of them and he would wait for you to toss one and he would go get it and so on...then he would keep them in his mouth until he wanted to play again. So funny!
Then the morning came and what we feared finally was time to go again..sigh! We ate breakfast, they even wrapped up a few scones for me, and Craig and I walked around the property snapping pics. I could totally see why it is such a wonderful place to get married...I imagined what my dress would look like flowing down the castle steps...greeting guests in the garden...even feeding the ponies. Oh to dream! Such a beautiful castle!
  This was going to be another place that we will have to come back to. I still only have the fondest memories of Ballyseede!