On a quest to return her great-grandmother's ashes back home, Kaitlyn and Zack Blake traveled to Ireland, their dream honeymoon destination.
Before Kaitlyn and Zack Blake got married, they knew they wanted to honeymoon in Ireland. Neither of them had been to Ireland before, and it would be a journey of love – for each other and for Kaitlyn’s great-grandmother. As Kaitlyn told IrishCentral, “It has been my dream to go ever since my great grandmother passed away. We were always really close and she would always tell the most amazing stories of her childhood and about her family.”
Kaitlyn’s grandmother was born in Portrush, Co. Antrim in 1925 and left in 1946 when she married an American soldier. She was the third of four children and was best buds with Billy Knox growing up. Kaitlyn’s great-grandfather asked her great-grandmother’s dad for her hand in marriage at the Royal Portrush Golf Club. Before they were married, Kaitlyn said, the lovebirds would sneak off to Dunluce castle to have a smoke together. As a couple, they won dance competitions all the time
Due to Zack’s military service, he and Kaitlyn had to postpone the honeymoon for two years, finally making the journey across the Atlantic in summer 2015, for 11 blissful days. They brought with them Kaitlyn’s grandmother’s ashes, planning to scatter them on her family’s grave – finally bringing her home to Ireland.
They made the following video of the trip, and Kaitlyn shared some of the highlights.
We were lucky enough to get to go meet some of my great-grandmother’s family that still live in Portrush! They own the Offshore Bar, right off of Main Street. It's the kind of bar where the people would walk in and the bartender goes to grab their drink of choice, without them having to ask for it. We met so many amazing people sitting at the bar, and the moment we met her family, we immediately clicked. They had so many stories that I had never heard before.
We had only planned on staying in Portrush for one night but after meeting them, they asked us to stay another day and we couldn't argue with that! While in Portrush, we also got to visit the little church that my great grandparents got married in (there were a lot of tears while I was there). We were there on a Saturday so we were not able to go in and find their marriage certificate but it was the most amazing feeling to stand on the steps of the church and know that this was the exact place my great-grandmother stood on that special day.
On the way to the Offshore bar, we found the house my great grandmother grew up in! It's now a Chinese restaurant which made us all giggle but was also very special to see!
In the video, you can see me spreading my great-grandmother's ashes on her mom and brother's grave. I'm glad in the video you can’t see the tears but I'm so honored to be the one that brought her home and reunited her with her family. It is a moment I will cherish forever. As you can probably tell, Portrush was my favorite place we visited!
Another one of our favorite places was Kilkenny. We were there when they won their big hurling match so the town was so alive. We also visited Cork City, Blarney, Killarney, the Ring of Beara, Dromoland Castle, Belfast, and of course Dublin.
My second favorite stop was the Ring of Beara. We had never heard of it but a local at the Toy Soldier factory we visited in Cork told us it was a must-see! We were amazed. The scenery was breathtaking and self-driving the ring was the best adventure!
We now tell everyone we meet that a trip to Ireland is a must. What always took my breath away is that everywhere you look in Ireland in picture-perfect. Everywhere! The locals are the most amazing people. They tell you all of the best places that are less touristy and more of the real Ireland. Also, the food was amazing. Goodness. I had to order the fresh seafood chowder everywhere that we went.
We absolutely loved our time spent in Ireland. Everything was perfect (including the weather!). Our dream now is to be able to take my grandmother so that she can see and experience all of these special places where her mom grew up. We will be saving every penny to go back!
We wish you many returns to Ireland, Kaitlyn, and Zack!
Did you honeymoon in Ireland? Share your story in the comment section, below.
* Originally published in October 2015.