Dingle to Westport, May 24 – May 30th.
After having such a delightful time in Dingle, and getting to visit with my friends Eileen and Victoria, we begrudgingly packed up our gear into the car and continued our journey northward toward Doolin on the 24th of May.
Along the way we stopped at numerous places; Ardfert Cathedral ruins for example.
We also visited Ballybunion; a nice little holiday resort seaside village where we stopped for a nice picnic lunch overlooking the beach.
Then we continued until we crossed the River Shannon via a ferry near Tarbert making our way to Killrush on the other side.
From there we meandered along country roads continuing to hug the coastline as much as possible until we reached the Cliffs of Moher later in the afternoon.
Just a wee bit further north and we arrived in the cozy little hamlet of Doolin where we would spend a couple of days in a darling and cozy hostel called the Aille River Hostel.
The next day we took a ferry from Doolin over to the Aran Islands and spent one night at Aonghasa’s Walker’s Lodge on the big island of Inishmohr. What a wonderful experience that was!
We landed at the cute little harbor, grabbed some lunch, did a little shopping…
…and then boarded a shuttle bus which took us around to the various sites on the island.
The big highlight was Dun Aonghus fort; a VERY, VERY ancient dwelling, fortress and sacred spot perched on the edge of a cliff. Impressive to say the least!
The highlight of our day however (as if it could get any better) was when we were able to take a pony and cart ride back out to our lodging near Dun Aonghus after the rest of the tourists had taken the ferry back to the mainland. We were just riding along with our fantastic driver, Tom and his spirited horse, watching the sun slowly set as we lazily clopped along the beautiful scenery.
The next morning we left that beautiful harbor and took the first ferry back to Doolin. We explored Doolin a bit more visiting its many cute and quaint shops and finished the day off by taking in some great traditional music at a local pub, James Griffins and lived it up.
After that wonderful stay in Doolin and Inishmohr, the next day we continued our journey northward, winding our way up through the Burren, visiting many sights, including Kilnefora Cathedral & Poulnaborne Dorman, an ancient and sacred burial tomb.
A little further up the road near Ballyvaughn we found a cool little castle, Newtown, and the Burren Art Centre.
Continuing northward to our final destination for the day, Galway, we came upon Danguaire Castle with some really cute thatched roof cottages which were being restored. We decided to take the tour of the castle, and were so glad we did.
Saw and experienced quite a fair bit that day, and luckily we only had a short distance to finish our days’ travel to Galway where we would stay put for a couple of days.
We stayed in a small and nice holiday resort town, Salthill, just minutes from Galway in a 2 bedroom apartment. We went to a local market, bought some food and enjoyed the view from our balcony while we ate. Phew! What an exciting day!
The next day, May 28th, we walked into Galway from Salthill and began exploring and enjoying it’s many sights and culture for a couple of days.
From Galway we starting driving north again through the Connemara stopping halfway at a lovely remote hostel called Ben Lettery for one night. Before we arrived at the hostel however, we visited several interesting places, starting with the village of Cong with its Abbey and very posh castle!
Cong is small, but really packed with a pow. Ashford Castle is a 5 star hotel now and the guard wouldn’t let us go across the bridge without paying 10 Euro each. Oh well…
We ambled through the woods back to the car parked at the Abbey and continued our journey through some pretty incredible landscapes.
The next place we found was another castle!
We had traveled quite a bit and decided to stop at the store in the very small town of Recess to get some groceries before heading the last couple of miles to our remote hostel. What you see behind the sign that says “The Connemara Giant” is the totality of the town of Recess!
The Ben Lettery hostel sits at the base of a rocky Ben without anything else around. Pure peace and quiet. Our host, Sam, has a famous Connemara goat and a rescue dog, Chantel.
The goat had its back leg mangled and it had to be cut off at the knee. A french doctor has made a prosthesis for it so it can walk. This goat, and Sam, have become quite well-known. People come to the hostel just to see the wild Connemara goat turned tame!
The next morning, we had to leave, although we really enjoyed getting to know Sam and her animals. Quite the young lady, managing that hostel all by herself and taking care of rescue animals as well.
We started our drive through the rest of the Connemara starting with a tour of Ballynahinch Castle which was just down the road from the hostel. We went there specifically to get a sneak peek preview of the place for our friend Maureen back in Oregon. She will be lucky enough to get to stay there later this summer with her sisters! Lucky ladies!
After the castle we drove a bit down the road to the coast and found the picturesque seaport village of Roundstone, some gorgeous beaches at Gurteen Bay and Dog’s Bay.
We also visited the Marconi sight where the first trans-Atlantic telegraph lines came to shore and also where the first trans-Atlantic flight landed by Captain Alcock.
Up the road a bit further and we came upon, and visited briefly, Kylemore Abbey.
Then we meandered along the Asleagh river and to its falls…
…through the Doolough Valley at the base of the Bens where the Famine Cross stands.
Lastly, near the end our day we came upon the pilgrimage trail that leads up to the top of Croagh Patrick, and across street was the Coffin ship; a monument to the people who suffered from the great famine. Unfortunately, many died on the ships on their way to America from starvation and disease.
Soon afterward we arrived at The Old Mill hostel in Westport. Menora, our host for the evening, was such a great gal, she took good care of us, set us up with a great room, made some bread and we had a real nice meal and then slept like babies. A perfect ending of our third week in Ireland!
Next post will be all about our adventures from Westport to Donegal, Londonderry, Glenveagh National Park, and the beginning of Northern Ireland! Until then… hope you have enjoyed this installment.