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.