Catching Up

No blog post yesterday, because I didn’t make it back to the guesthouse until midnight, and that was too late for me to do anything coherent. So, today you get a double-dose of my Irish adventures.

Yesterday started with a bus tour to the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher.I’ve been on this tour before, but I always enjoy it. And, of course, it was Penny’s first time, so that was cool.

First stop of the day was Dunguaire Castle, which is said to be the most photographed castle in Ireland. Here’s my contribution:

Tide is out in this picture. When it’s in, the water comes almost up to the base of the3 walls.

Next was the Poulnabourne Dolmen, a prehistoric tomb where they found twenty-two bodies of men, women, and children.

Lunch stop was at McGann’s in Doolin. I stayed here for almost a week about ten years ago. They don’t rent out rooms anymore, but the place is still friendly and welcoming with great food.

The main stop of the day was the Cliffs of Moher. Again, I’ve been here several times, and climb up and down to the various viewing spots has gotten rough on my arthritic joints, so I didn’t wander all that far. Got a nice picture of the sculpture at the front of the visitor centre, which is the same as last time, but a little more weathered.

Driving down, there was some worry that the fog would be too thick to give us a good view of the cliffs. It cleared up enough that we were able to get a good look at them, but lingered enough to make things look weird and otherworldly. This is a view down the cliffs to Hag’s Head, at the far end.

At the other end of the cliffs is O’Brian’s Tower, which gives some of the best views of the cliffs, especially from the top. It was more of a climb than I felt up to, but I told Penny to make sure she went for a look.

Last stop on the way home was a bit of shoreline with the rocky terrain that the Burren is known for.

Gary, our tour driver, gave us some recommendations for places to check out for music and food back in the city, and we ran into a lady at one of the places that Penny had met a couple of nights previously. We all went to dinner, then back to Taafe’s, one of the music pubs Gary had recommended. There, a young German couple named Matthias and Kristina wer kind enough to let us share their table, right next to where the musicians would be setting up’

These folks – whose names I never got – were amazing. They started out with a fair amount of traditional Irish stuff, took requests, and ended the evening playing c9vers of Pink Floyd, Bruce Springsteen, The Cranberries, Lee Earle, Depeche Mode, The Cure, and others I didn’t recognize. Things got rowdy and dancey, and my voice got sore from singing.

And that’s why there was no blog post yesterday.

This morning, we got a little bit of a later start. We didn’t have a tour to go on, and planned to spend the day just walking around Galway and seeing stuff.

We started with the train station, getting tickets for our trip tomorrow to Killarney, and spent an inordinate time looking around for someplace to get out laundry done. We had lunch at a really great chip restaurant called Prátaí, which is Irish for Potatoes. We went and saw the Red Earl’s Court, an archaeological excavation in the city centre, and then the Spanish Arch.

The area to the right of the arch is the oldest preserved section of the city walls.

Just past the arch is the Galway Museum. It’s not a huge museum, but it’s got a lot of cool stuff in it. Like this Galway Hooker hanging in the gallery.

After this, we sat for a bit in The King’s Head, resting and having a drink, then walked along the Corrib river walk to the Galway Cathedral. I’d visited here on my last trip to Galway, but there was a confirmation service going on, so I didn’t want to intrude by taking pictures.

This time, no service, so I took some pictures.

The cathedral. If you look closely, you can just see a wild Penny in the left foreground.

So, the cathedral is stunning and beautiful. It’s a more modern design than most other cathedrals, having been opened in 1965.

Then there was the walk back, and dinner, and then back to the guesthouse, and here we are now.

Tomorrow, we catch the train to Killarney.


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.

This is outside the front door of my hotel. The mix of buildings – dark stone with bright colours – is typical of Galway. At least, this area of it.

Turn right out my door, and you can look at the far side, where Claddagh and Salthill start.

Turn a little farther right, and the Fisheries Tower sits just across the bridge over the channel.

The arch on the left is Spanish Arch, running through the remains of the old city wall. The one on the right is Blind Arch; it doesn’t actually penetrate the wall.

Here’s the far side of Spanish Arch, looking along the length of the remaining city wall.

Just past Spanish Arch is a row of medieval buildings, some of which are still in use.

The buildings tend to be Georgian and Victorian, but the twisting street layout and stones are medieval. It’s a neat place to wander.

More of the twisty, turny streets. These are closed to vehicular traffic, so I wouldn’t have got to see them on the bus tour.

And just down one alleyway, you find St. Nicholas Church jumping out at you.

Thomas Dillon and Sons jewellers. They are apparently the original makers of Claddagh rings.

According to legend, the pub here was granted to the man who executed James II. According to the web site for the pub, it’s a little more complicated than that.

Eyre Square, the park in the middle of the city. Very full of people during rush hour.

Eyre Square is ringed by buildings like these.

This is the doorway of the Browne family house, moved here in 1905 from Abbeygate Road. I have no idea what the significance of any of that is, but it’s a neat little monument.

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.

  1. 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. []