Ireland: Exploring Connemara & Inishmore

Travel Photography

This photo was taken in County Connemara on the way to Kylemore Abbey. A lake surrounded by mountains under a cloudy sky.

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.

Kylemore Abbey in County Connemara. The abbey sits at the foot of a mountain next to a lake.

Kylemore Abbey

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. 

Kylemore Abbey in County Connemara at Kylemore Abbey and Victorian Walled Garden. This is the Neo-Gothic Church on the grounds of the romantic nineteenth-century Irish castle overlooking a lake in the West of Ireland.

Kylemore Abbey and Victorian Walled Garden in County Connemara. This is one of the two pigs at the gardens. Her name is Gloria Summer.

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!  

Kylemore Abbey and Victorian Walled Garden in County Connemara.. This is one of the two pigs at the gardens, Ken Scamper.

Kylemore Abbey and Victorian Walled Garden in County Connemara. This is a green houses within the gardens that allows them to grow tropical plants and trees.

 Kylemore Abbey and Victorian Walled Garden in County Connemara. This is one of the many green spaces within the gardens filled with ferns and lush green plants. It’s the perfect fairy garden.

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.

Connemara National Park. Diamond Hill trail overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

Connemara National Park. Diamond Hill trail with limestone steps leading up a hill.

Connemara National Park. Mother and daughter hiking the Diamond Hill trail. A wooden path sitting atop a bog with mountains in the distance.

Connemara National Park. Girl on the Diamond Hill trail looking over the Atlantic Ocean.

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.

Connemara National Park. Landscape photos with long wooden path atop a bog with limestone boulders and mountains in the background.

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.

Aran Island of Inishmore. Four human shadows watching seals sunbathe on a limestone beach.

Aran Island of Inishmore. Dún Aonghasa, a prehistoric, cliff-top fort, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. It is one of many ancient sites on the western islands.

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!

Aran Island of Inishmore. Dún Aonghasa, a prehistoric, cliff-top fort, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. It is one of many ancient sites on the western islands. There is a large field of flat limestone on the path to the top.

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.  

Aran Island of Inishmore. Thatched roof house with three small windows and a door 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.  

Cliffs of Moher, located on wild Atlantic Way in County Clare on the western coast of Ireland.

Cliffs of Moher located along the wild Atlantic Way in County Clare on the western coast of Ireland. A white watchtower sits atop a cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.


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. 

Dublin city-scape along the River Liffey at sunset looking east into the purple sky with pink clouds. Travel Ireland.

Dublin outside The Temple Bar at Christmas. Travel Ireland. The entire outside of the building is covered in Christmas lights.

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.

If you haven’t yet, check out my first post on

Travel Ireland: Part I