My last night in Galway. Also, the end of my second week of vacation.
Today I was on a tour through the Burren and to the Cliffs of Moher, with the Galway Tour Company. I cannot say enough good things about the tour company. Yesterday, Mike took me into Connemara, and today Gary took me into the Burren. Both drivers acted as guides, and were fun, funny, knowledgable, and friendly. Both days, we stopped at little, out-of-the-way spots that seemed almost like local secrets, as well as hitting the big tourist areas. These drivers went above and beyond to make sure we all had a good time, and they seem to be indicative of the type of people working for Galway Tour Company.
In short, if you want a tour in this area, these are the people you need to talk to. They’re awesome. So, thanks, Gary and Mike!
The Burren is a rocky, mountainous expanse. Now, I said the same thing about Connemara and the Ring of Kerry, but burren means rocky place in Irish, and it’s something of an understatement.
So, that was today. Tomorrow, I get on the bus for about six hours, heading to Derry/Londonderry. I’ve got about one week left in Ireland, and I mean to make the most of it.
This morning was my bus tour of Connemara. It was raining pretty hard when we started, and the first couple of places we stopped I was very happy for my Tilley hat and good hiking shoes.
Connemara is, like the Ring of Kerry, very striking scenery on the west coast of Ireland – mountainous, cut with hundreds of tiny streams and several large loughs. The roads are narrow and winding, and there are a lot1 sheep wandering up and down the mountains.
Our first stop was Ross Errilly Friary, which I am told is the best-preserved building of its age and type in Europe. It was still raining, so the pictures aren’t great.
After the Friary, it was on to the village of Cong, where the 1951 John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara movie The Quiet Man was shot. It was still raining, so I didn’t get to see as much as I might have liked, but I did see a little.
We moved on into Connemara itself, then, up through the mountain passes.
Our stop for lunch was Kylemore Abbey, where we stayed for two hours. There was a lot to see, and the rain had stopped by this point.
Three rooms have been opened to the public by the Benedictine Nuns who ran the abbey as a school until a couple of years ago. These have been restored to the way they would have looked in the mid-to-late nineteenth century.
Past the abbey is a nice walk through the woods to the gothic church2 and the mausoleum3. The woods are similar to the ones around where I live, but much wetter.
Up the other direction from the abbey is one of the largest walled Victorian gardens in the world. Much of it was still in bloom, even at the end of September.
On the way back to Galway, we made one more stop.
It was a nice trip, with a lot of stunning scenery. The guide, Mike, was both knowledgable and friendly, and really added to the day by taking us to see some little-known scenic spots4.
Tomorrow, I’m back with the same tour company5 to tour the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher. I’m looking forward to it.
I’m a little over half-way through my trip, and made it to Galway today. I’ve spent a lot of the last several days on buses, and when I got to Galway, I just didn’t have the energy to go out and take a bus tour of the city. I’ve got two bus tours in the next two days, so I decided that I would take some time to relax this afternoon1, and just take a walk around the area by my hotel to see what I could see.
I picked the Jury’s Inn in Galway because of its location, and that turned out to be a great choice. It’s right on the edge of the medieval section of the city, and perfect for taking a stroll around with a camera.
So, after taking a couple of hours to walk around and see stuff, I came back to the hotel for dinner, and to give them a bag of dirty laundry to the front desk – I am out of clean shirts, but that will be fixed by tomorrow evening.
Now, I think I’m going to kick back, do some reading, and get an early night in. Tomorrow, I’m off to Connemara.
I’m getting a little worn, to tell the truth. I need to make sure I’m getting enough rest and eating right so that I don’t wind up sick for the last half of my trip. [↩]