Ireland: Exploring Connemara & Inishmore
If you travel to Ireland, you have to visit Connemara and the island of Inishmore. Everyone knows Connemara has a rugged landscape. This is why people refer to it as the wild west of Ireland. Like anywhere in Ireland, rams and sheep can be spotted all along the road.
Our plan was to visit Kylemore Abbey and Victorian Walled Garden. It was built as a castle in 1868 and is now the Abbey and home of Benedictine nuns. The Abbey, built in 1920 as a refuge for the nuns fleeing Belgium during World War 1. The nuns opened a boarding school for girls and restored the Abbey, Gothic Church, and Walled Gardens to their former glory.
The Neo-Gothic Church built in the style of the 14th Century. It’s described as a ‘Cathedral in Miniature’ and is a lasting testament to the love of Mitchell Henry for his wife Margaret. He built this amazing church as an homage to his beloved wife when she passed. Now that is romance.
Just outside the walls of the Victorian garden, live these sweet, smelly babes. Ken Scamper (below) and Gloria Summer (above) veg-out on the thick grasses, abundant weeds, and I suppose whatever is thrown out for them. Hah!
Most of our days in Ireland were spent in a car. We drove to one area to walk around and site see just to get back in the car to go to another area to do the same thing. It made the times that we hiked so much more sweet though. When we decided to visit Connemara National Park, we thought we were just going to have a short jaunt around the Bog trail. Three hours later we were ready for a pint and a bath. The views were worth it.
There were so many roads and paths so seemingly no where. I took a ton of photos just like this because I loved how small they made me feel and the idea of not knowing where a road will take you until you get that curve.
The Aran Islands: Inishmore
After Connemara National Park we stayed in the town of Clifden. Unfortunately it was so late, uh, like 5:15p, when we arrived that it was already too dark for any photos. We made Irish friends at the local bar and called it a night because we had to be up EARLY to get to the ferry to Inishmore the next day. Like I said, we did a lot of driving.
Inishmore is the largest of the three Aran Islands on the west coast Ireland. And I still could not imagine being on this island during the height of tourist season. It may have been freezing but the sun was bright and warm allowing for the best possible day roaming around this gorgeous, ancient place. I would like to go back with Adam and ride backs from one end to the other, adventuring and seeing places we couldn’t with our tour guide. My mom already wants to come back and is hoping to have a better knee by then to bike around and hike to higher elevations. Fingers crossed!
This house had a newly thatched roof and sat up on this hill. It could not have been more picturesque. This is the traditional style of homes on the island with a thatched roof and three windows on the front.
Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher are Irelands gem. One of the most visited places on the island it does not disappoint. The views overlooking the Atlantic Ocean are stunning. You can hear the puffins and other coastal birds flying and squawking below. The sun was out for only a moment when we arrived but the clouds rushed in and the winds picked up reminding us of just how quickly the weather can change in this rugged, magical place.
We spent one night back in Adare before we left for Dublin for our last night in Ireland. I’m not a city girl but I can appreciate the hustle, the lights, the noise for a night or two. And if you travel Ireland, Dublin is unavoidable. We stayed in a quaint hotel on the River Liffey with spectacular views of the city.
The hotel was near The Temple Bar which is a famous, if not the most famous bar, in Dublin. Why, you ask? Most people really have no idea, hah! Instagram? Pictures of this bar are used the most in stock photography for Dublin. And because of social media tourists from all over the world stop here for a selfie.
Ireland decorates for Christmas in early November. And the Temple Bar was no exception. We ventured in just to have a quick pint and ended up being there for hours. They decorate every room from floor to ceiling in holiday attire. Christmas had officially exploded within these walls and it was amazing. Of course 99% of the patrons and music is American. It’s not the best place for an Irish experience but it’s fun regardless.
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