These islands have been inhabited for thousands of years and retain an ancient feel even though they are accessible both by sea and by air. There are less than 2000 people on all three islands and many of them are there for the simplicity and remoteness of the lifestyle.
Fondest memory: All over Ireland, and particularly here, you find ancient graveyards where the feeling of antiquity and solemnity pervades. I did not check the dates on the graves but this one has been there a long time and symbolizes its link with a revered past.
Kylemore Abbey is just a few meters off the main road N59 leading from Clifden to Leenane and Westport.
From Clifden you will have to drive about 1 hour to Kylemore Abbey.
Fondest memory: Kylemore Abbey looks like a medieval castle, but it was built in 1826 for Mitchell Henry, a rich merchant from Manchester. In WW I benedictinian nuns from Belgium came there and transfered the castle to a boarding school for agriculture.
You may park your car there and have a little stroll in the park in order to get a good place, where to take a picture and at certain times of the year you may obviously also see the building from inside. That was unfortunately not possible, when I had been there in 1990.
To Connacht or to hell....
THIS used to be a sentence, when someone was found guilty of a crime in the times of Oliver Cromwell, and so the prisoner could choose between a life in a prison-cell or to be deported to "Connacht" , the area of the Connemara of today .
Fondest memory: "hell" was the expression for the prison - and it was a very strict and severe prison at that time of Oliver Cromwell, BUT a life in the Connemara was obviously considdered even worse :
There was almost no place at all, where wheat, potatoes or vegetables would grow, the soil was salty and spread with giant stones...
This is one of my favorite places in the Connemara and I took this picture just a few meters off the main road R340 between Rossaveal and Gortmore. Along that road you may easily park your car and walk around a bit in order to take pictures of the unique landscape.
Fondest memory: Connemara is my favorite part of Ireland. There you will find great beaches, plenty of lakes and bays of the sea, sourrounded by the '12 Bens' - a group of mountains.
Connemara is a Must, when you visit Ireland !!
The Cliffs of Moher are NOT part of the County Galway, BUT I simply mention it here, because it makes a great day-excursion from the city of Galway.
Drivingtime to the Cliffs is about 1 hour.
Fondest memory: The Cliffs of Moher are one of the most visited sights of Ireland, because it is on the schedule of all big bus-tour-operators. They have a big parking, several souvenir shops and plenty of singers and musicans performing and selling their records (mostly it is the Mulroony-sisters: sentimental irish songs for tourists like you and me...)
Take a nice walk there in the fresh air, climb up the tower and be careful at the cliffs !
If you are having VT withdrawal whilst holidaying in Galway, help is at hand.
We popped into net@ccess and spent some down time checking emails and catching up on VT gossip.
Computers worked well and it wasn't too expensive.
It got a little embarrasing as we were leaving though.....as seen in this photo, my mother-in-law wanted to take off with someones bike!!
the irish are quite differenr from the people you tend to meet in the northern part of europe.
they seem to have all the time that noone has anymore.
they are also very tolerant towards people who like to have a drink too many.
i really liked chatting to the local drunks when i was there and i never found that other people were giving them bad looks like people often do back in denmark.
long live the irish.
both the drunk and the sober.
Galway city is the "capital" of country galway: it's a nice enough little town, not too remarkable in its architecture - but what's makes it special is its buzzing atmosphere and nightlife. it's also a convenient base to explore the surrounding areas and villages.
Fondest memory: the rain - the endless soft rain - and many visits to several friends.
One particular memory, back from my students days, is rag-week in galway: back then it was really over-the-top.
connemara is the area north of galway: it's rugged, silent, and ever changing: you can see dramatic mountains, then rolling hills, then again a dreamy coastline and beaches, and right after wide fileds with ponds and cattle. And right after that charming little colourful villages. The farther you go from Galways, the fewer crownds you bump into. Connemara's really worth it - the more remote, the better.
Fondest memory: short hikes in connemara national park, and relaxing on some of the area's coral beaches: however the sea was far too cold for swimming.
the burren is my favourite corner of ireland: it's an amazing geological area south of galway: the ground, for miles and miles, is covered by limestone flat boulders, and it really looks like one has landed on a different planet.
Fondest memory: driving along the ocean road in the burren - impressive - or else following the really narrow military road: even more unreal.
the aran islands are three small and scenic islands located off the connemara coast in county galway. They are Inishmore (the largest of the group), Inishman and Inisheen. The landscape is wonderful and rugged - unfortunately in the summer months they are incredibly crowded, so a visit can turn a bit into a nightmare.
Ferries (island ferries) leave from Rossaveal. Phone: 091 568 903
Fondest memory: Cycling around Inishmore and meeting some locals which, by coincidence, used to be my Dublin flatmates friends. A great mad party followed
Favorite thing: Dunguaire Castle is just beautiful. The castle was built about 500 years ago, supposedly on the former site of the King of Connaught's 6th century Royal Palace. It can be visited, and each floor tells something about the castle's different owners all the way up to the 1960's. There are medieval banquets held in the castle twice nightly that cost about 38 Euros per person.
Favorite thing: A region in west Galway is called the Gaeltacht, here you will find people who speaks Irish (Gaelic) as a first language. It is the most extraordinary experience walking into a pub and hearing people speaking Irish to each other.
Fondest memory: On our first night on Inishmore we rented bikes right after our boat had arrived and went for a short cycle. We went up the path to Dún Dubhchathair but it was a path you couldn't cycle on. Well I couldn't. Colm tried and I waited for him. It was really quiet there, at 10 in the evening on a path in the middle of nowhere. The only sound I heard was herons having a fight in the trees rather close to me. They seemed to have lived there and let me have a look into the 'living room'.. Wonderful place definitely! And a wonderful evening...
INISHMORE, Aran Islands:
Sitting on the ferry to Inishmore, between hundreds of litres of fresh milk and the instruments of a band that was playing in the local pub for three nights.... Made me realized it's an island we're going to ;-) It also made me more tolerant when I read the menu in the restaurant ..... be prepared! This place is expensive!
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Aran Islands, County Galway, Ireland
Good for: Solo
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