This post is a collaboration with, and is sponsored by Chill.ie
I was given the opportunity recently to take a look at these e-books, put together by Chill Car Insurance which gather together a collection of suggested places to drive to within Ireland. They group them into categories such as, ‘Ireland’s Most Beautiful Drives’, and ‘Hidden Drives Ireland’, and even one with helpful tips on driving in the winter.
One of the books, Irish Cultural Drives, which has a section of suggested places to bring the family, includes places like Dublin Zoo, or the Doolin Caves. But actually, when I spotted The Rock of Cashel listed under the cultural section, it inspired me to bring the boys there and make it a day of adventure for them.
We had never been before, and it just so happens that one of Rian’s favourite books is Zog, by the author of The Gruffalo. Zog is a dragon who goes to dragon school and learns all the basics of being a dragon, like flying and breathing fire, and rescuing princesses from castles… and what better place to hunt for Zog than the Rock of Cashel?
His little face when we told him where we were going….eyes lit up, and the questions came fast. ‘Will Zog be there? Will we see him? Does he fly up high? WIll Princess Pearl be there too?’
It was an easy sell. If there’s one thing I’ve realised recently is that at this age (four and two), they really don’t care where we are, or where we go, as long as they can come too. Whether it’s a trip to the shop to do the weekly grocery shop, or a walk around the block, or our favourite walk in the woods, they really don’t care. Obviously I love to see them outside and running around as much as possible, especially this time of year when the weather isn’t great, so this was a good chance for us to go somewhere new.
When we got there, as expected on an overcast, cold day in January, it wasn’t too packed with tourists which we were glad of. Rian spotted the castle as we drove into the town of Cashel – ‘I SEE THE CASTLE MAM!!’ There was no sign of Zog yet though, so we decided after the hour long drive to go for a bite to eat first in Cashel as I’m pretty sure it’s harder to find dragons on an empty stomach.
After a delicious lunch in a cafe called Bowes & Co (highly recommend a visit here!) , off we went to The Rock.
After a bit of a confusing and unnecessary loop around Cashel town centre – twice! – before we eventually found the right turn, we parked the car and walked up the hill. Rian was on constant lookout for Zog… so far though no luck. I started to wonder how he’d take it when it turned out we weren’t actually going to see him, and was wondering about just how clever I actually was, when we got inside and the OPW staff member greeted us.
‘Excuse me, is Zog here?’
Straight in, no messing around. The OPW lady, whose name was Julie-Anne, looked slightly confused. ‘Ehhmmm… hmm. Let me see…’ and she looked at me for guidance, looking slightly panicked! ‘Zog is our favourite dragon from one of our favourite books… we were wondering if he’s home at the moment?’
Full credit to Julie-Anne. Without skipping a beat she said ‘OHHH Zog? Yes Zog lives here! Come over here and I’ll show you where his bedroom is’.
She led us into the main part of the ruin. ‘Look up there, do you see those windows high up? That’s Zog’s bedroom’
Rian’s little face couldn’t believe that we were actually where Zog lives. Susan showed him various things, like if you look out this window here, sometimes you can see him whizzing by, but he flies so fast sometimes you can’t always see.
‘So is he home then?’ The moment of truth. Julie-Anne looked at her watch. ‘ oh no, not at this time, he’d be out looking for his dinner now’.
I looked at Rian wondering how he’d take the news.
‘Oh right no problem, maybe we’ll see him tomorrow then!’ And that was that!
We spent another half an hour or so just walking around and taking in the beautiful views, even on a dull grey day. The kids were able to run around themselves without making too much noise, full of adventure and wonder, something that I hope lasts forever but of course it probably won’t.
But maybe some of the magic will always linger regardless, memories of the day we went to Zog’s House.