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#theretreatireland, day 4: the merrion, louise kennedy and o’donoghue’s

Trinity College

Although we were exhausted from the past three amazing days on The Retreat Ireland, my blogging soul sister Stacie Haight Connerty and I got up early to do yoga on the roof of The Marker Hotel with Mari Kennedy.

Boy, were we glad we did.

Mari is such a nurturing teacher and the class was all about mindfulness and gratitude — two things that were very much a part of this trip. The gentle stretches were the perfect way to get ready for another busy day, and peeking up at the gorgeous Dublin sky while in Savasana pose made us feel grateful all over again.

After a quick breakfast in the lobby (don’t worry — the Marker buffet has chocolate croissants, too), we had free time to explore the city, a.k.a. shop again.

You see, yesterday, between Russborough and checking in at The Marker, we did have an hour or so during which, at Grania’s suggestion, we ran to Dunne Stores for pretty, inexpensive sweatersDunne Stores sweaters

and cleaned out the sweets aisles at the local grocery store because European cookies and candy are just so much fun.

Irish sweets

When we got a cab and told the driver where we were headed, he said “Oh, the fookin’ Marker. You mean the permanent one?” Ha ha ha. He then proceeded to use “fookin'” in every sentence, which just added to the unique charm of Ireland for us.

Anyhow, back to today. That’s a picture of Trinity College, at the top of this post. I thought I should include a sightseeing photo for you because, if you’re going to Ireland for the first time, you really do need to see the breathtaking library there. This time around, though, we admired it from the other side of the street because we had limited time and major shopping to do.

First stop: Avoca — because I was not leaving Ireland without a new blanket to go with this one that Michael and I bought in Dingle a few years ago.

Avoca green blanket

Although so much tempted me at Avoca since it’s basically Anthropologie with an Irish accent — like these clothes

Avoca clothing

and these housewares —

Avoca housewares

I stayed focused.

Mission accomplished, and I won’t mention the fact that it’s 80 degrees here in San Diego and I’m passing out while writing this.

Avoca blue blanket

We then went into Cath Kidston, where we felt compelled to make up for lost time. How had none of us ever discovered this lovely store before?

Cath KidstonWe explored a few more stores before I grabbed a cab back to the Marker for lunch with my dear friend and former neighbor, Mandy, who moved back to Ireland with her family almost a decade ago and who I miss so much!

Marker Hotel lunch

Lunch was delicious and it was so great catching up. We talked as fast as we could and made plans for dinner before I had to meet up with the group again for our next adventure: tea and a tour of the art at the Merrion Hotel.

Merrion Hotel outside

Merrion Hotel garden

The Merrion Hotel is gorgeous and is situated in one of the best locations in Dublin — just a few minutes walk from Grafton Street (the city’s famous shopping street, where we had just helped support the Irish economy) and the “golden mile” of St. Stephen’s Green.

Merrion Hotel James Joyce statue

We were so lucky to have a private tour of the Merrion Hotel’s amazing art collection, led by an expert from the National Gallery of Ireland.

Merrion Hotel art tour

Take a look at this painting because you’re going to see it again …

Merrion Hotel artWe were also given beautiful catalogs of the collection, which I’ve shared with Michael and which we’ve pored over so many times, trying to figure out when we can go back and see them in person again.

After the tour, it was tea time at the Merrion.

Merrion Hotel tea

Oh, I could so get used to this.

Merrion Hotel tea trays

Merrion Hotel tea treats

You know that painting I asked you to remember?

Merrion Hotel Art Tea

Look! It’s been transformed into a tart!

Because this is an Art Tea, the brilliant bakers have used some of the paintings as inspiration for their pastries. They tasted as good as they looked!

I tried a couple of different teas — Granny’s Garden, Fruits of Paradise — and topped them off with a hot chocolate. With whipped cream, of course.

Thankfully, we walked to our next stop, admiring all the iconic Georgian doors along the way. When we arrived at Louise Kennedy’s house/studio

Louise Kennedy sign

we were ushered into an elegant, peaceful space where it’s easy to see how creativity would thrive.

Louise Kennedy welcome

Over champagne and macarons, we got a rare inside look at the designer’s stunning bridal collection

Louise Kennedy bridal gown

and we sighed over the sophisticated outfits that put Louise Kennedy on an Irish postage stamp, just like Lainey Keogh, who we had visited a couple of days earlier.

It was such a treat to go behind the scenes of this world-famous designer, and, as it turns out, my friend Mandy’s daughter had actually modeled for Louise Kennedy at one point!

Too full for a real dinner, I had some French onion soup with Mandy, her husband Grant and daughter Sara at a cute little restaurant called Chez Max while we caught up on both families. Being with them made me miss them even more. Who knows? Maybe we’ll move to Ireland this time instead of them moving to California.

They came with me to meet the group at the historic O’Donoghue’s, a traditional Irish pub where music was playing and drinks were flowing. The crowd was wall to wall, so we didn’t stay long, but after another great day filled with special experiences, food and friends old and new, these honorary Irish eyes were definitely smiling.


  1. Oh, seriously, Lois. Do I have to see another Ireland post and eat my heart out that I can’t get there for a few years? I heart that country so much!

  2. Robin (Masshole Mommy) says:

    What an adventure you guys had over there. I would love to go to Ireland someday!

  3. Those sweaters look beautiful! And the food- oh, all the food!

  4. This looks like such a wonderful trip filled with so many adventures! The food looks delicious and I would love to visit that art gallery.

  5. wow what a beautiful trip. Oh and those tea sets would not have been able to survive me. I would have wanted them all.

  6. What a wonderful trip. The photos (particularly the goodies) bring it to life and make me wish that I too were there enjoying the wonderful trip. Enjoy Enjoy Enjoy

  7. Ruth Curran says:

    So much to love in this piece, Lois, from those sweaters to the candy to the blanket to the art that was turned into a tart! You know you had me at “Anthropologie with an Irish accent.” How absolutely perfect.

  8. Such an amazing trip! I love the goods, the food, the atmosphere and all of it!

  9. Helene Cohen Bludman says:

    Oh my, Lois. This trip was perfection! Please take me along next time!

  10. This – “basically Anthropologie with an Irish accent” – sounds amazing!
    And yum.. I love European candy so much.
    I’m so enjoying the food as art photos!

  11. Wow what a fun location. You seem to be getting a lot of miles under your belt. I especially love those poncho.

  12. I want to visit that Irish Accented Anthropologie, those Pashmina’s are beautiful and they can hide all the pastries I would have eaten (I’m drooling). Thank you for sharing this wonderful trip!

  13. I could have shopped till I dropped!
    Please tell me you came home with that gorgeous sweater.
    I would LOVE one of those to wear with my funky leggings!
    The colours in the dishes makes me want to go shopping… so pretty!

  14. If I”m a good little girl and then click my red heels three times will I end up on the next trip alongside of you? My oh my Lois. Perfection.

  15. As of now .. I’m living vicariously through these posts. Yoga on the Roof is the way to start your day. Even though the Sweaters are inexpensive .. they actually look expensive.Beautiful .. Ireland is simply beautiful

  16. wow those pictures are making me green with envy lol I know for sure someday soon we are going to vaca there. hey, I’m half Irish have a good excuse 🙂

  17. I love that kitchenware. I know my daughter would too!

  18. Day 3 sounded like a day of first class treatment. Those artistic tarts are so cool!

  19. Okay so can I just mention the lovely apparel? What great images you are taking – looks like a fantastic vacation

  20. I took use FOOKIN like a comma 🙂 Just kidding but I loved this little tidbit about the Irish 🙂

  21. Lois Stanton Van Dahm says:

    My main concern; did you get a green (?) sweater for Michael to replace the one you disposed of?

  22. This post made me smile. My father’s parents were born and raised in Ireland. They came to the US when they were 18 years old, so most of my family is still in Ireland. I haven’t been back to visit in over 10 years but I still recognize some of the sweets and things you posted. Brings back great memories! Thanks for the nostalgia!

  23. Sounds like you had fun. I love the ponchos.

  24. When my daughter came back from Ireland she brought me the most beautiful wrap. I love it and wear it a lot in the fall.

  25. Oh goodness, sounds like an amazing trip! I LOVE those colorful housewares! And I’ll have to look up Cath Kidston – looks like my style!

  26. What a lovely time you are having. Love the shopping!

  27. Catherine S says:

    What a wonderful trip. Tea time looks like it was yummy. One day I will make it to Ireland.

  28. Ireland sounds like such a fabulous place to visit. Seeing it through your blog has been such a treat. Thanks for the journey.

  29. What an amazing time you had! I love the housewares section of that store. I could stay there for hours.

  30. Wow, what awesome history there. I love the photos!

  31. I’m jelly! I want to have an awesome trip to Ireland! 🙂

  32. Ireland is so beautiful. You are so lucky to be able to go there and experience all the wonderful places and food!

  33. Wow. These are some gorgeous photos. That hotel looks just stunning. I would love to visit Ireland someday, it looks just lovely. Looks like you had a ton of fun!

  34. Thanks for another post about your wnderful trip. I would love to go there sometime.

  35. hopscotchnjb says:

    Wow, what an amazing trip. I would love to go with my girlfriends!

  36. I have never been to Ireland but am thinking of revisiting the UK next year. Since it’s not too far away, maybe I can take a weekend over there.

  37. I have always wanted to travel to Ireland. I love to shop. It sounds like you had an amazing time.

  38. I love learning about new places. Sounds like it is a great place to visit.

  39. Traveling overseas is so much fun! We lived overseas for many years and we loved to take day trips.

  40. I like reading your post about overseas. It looks like you and your friend had a great time in Ireland. Love the pictures.

  41. I have been wanting to visit Ireland for long time & these awesome pictures increases my interest even more. The foods look delicious & I am in love with those beautiful housewares. I am sure you had a great time out there.

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