Archive for the 'Ireland' Category

Day 3 – Galway to Westport


Galway is a lovely place. After finally having a proper full Irish breakfast, we set off nice and early on a sunny albeit windy day towards the coast road. We potted around the place stopping occasionally for a breath of bracing sea air or a photo op, and considered a €45 return flight to Inishmore but decided it was a bit expensive for a 3 hour stay.

We’d been this way before but rushed it somewhat so I was keen to explore as much as possible. Not for the first time we regretted not buying a proper map, relying on the freebie we got from Budget rent-a-car. This map had clearly marked “scenic” roads, which I tried to follow (Debs was driving) and on the whole they were pretty good, but I was keen to find a particular road we’d been on before, but having zig-zagged along for hours we still hadn’t found it.

Still, we had a great day. Lunch was an odd affair at a hotel near Maam Cross, toasted ham and cheese sandwiches which we had to explain to the Polish waitress what a toasted sandwich was. We eventually got into Westport and found another B&B which was great apart for the most pathetic shower you’ve ever had. Once changed we headed into town to watch the match, stopping at Moran’s pub (which was also a shop) and then onto a bar where we watched the game between France and Brazil over some dinner.

On the way home I took some nice shots of Westport’s “river”. It’s more like a canal, and supplied by what appears to be a small stream really. Again, we had no plan for the next day…

Day 2 – Ennis to Galway


If there’s one thing you can rely on in an Irish Bed and Breakfast it’s a good fry up in the morning, so imagine this – bananas, apples, plums, oranges, pears, yoghurts, cakes (yes, cakes), muffins, breads, toast, cheeses and juice. I’m not complaining – it was still repeating on me by lunchtime, it’s just not what you expect round these parts.

Anyway, that set us up nicely for our second day. After a wander around the town, which we kept finding new bits of, we set off in the car towards the most famous sight in Clare; the spectacular Cliffs of Moher. Battered by the Atlantic Ocean and up to 660ft high they attract a huge number of visitors, which explains why you’re not allowed anywhere near the edge anymore. Apparently a large chunk recently fell, taking with it a picnic bench.

Well, sod that… Debs and I went right up to the edge like many others which afforded me the time to take this shot, which I am very pleased with. It was a fairly overcast, yet bright day if that makes sense, which makes for horrible washed out skies in my photos – my camera just doesn’t seem capable of balancing the light in these conditions. After a few minutes a guy who looked very much like a fat version of Debs’ cousin Eonagh asked us to move on, so we had to go back to the path some 20m back.

Lunch we took in a tiny village called Doolin – the capital of Irish music in Clare, and complete with purple thatched cottage.

From here we headed to The Burren, an area of limestone much like a lot of Yorkshire where I’m from. To be honest, I was totally un-blown away by it all – it lacked any of the mountainous majesty of Galway or Mayo, and as Limestone pavements go, I think Malham cove and the lower slopes of Ingleborough in North Yorkshire were much more spectacular. The main attraction was The Dolmens (ancient man made sculpture type things, burial sites I guess), which was so overcrowded with busloads of tourists we didn’t bother stopping.

Onto Galway – I was keen to get in good time to watch the Germany v Italy semi-final of the World Cup, so we checked into a B & B and headed into town, and specifically to The King’s Head. It’s a funny pub – looks really small from the road, but huge inside. We’d been here last time we were in Galway and saw an excellent live band, and it was good for football too. The match was great, with Italy winning with 2 late goals in the second half of extra time.

After a drink on the way back (and a shocking look at how much we’d spent so far), we hit the sack again.

Day 1 – Dublin to Ennis


Having been ridiculously indecisive as usual, Debs and I left Dublin Airport without a plan of where we were going to go for the first few days of our week in Ireland. We had a number of ideas – Cork, Kerry, Limerick and Clare, but didn’t feel we had enough time to get from Cork or Kerry to Mayo (whilst doing what we did want to do), and didn’t feel Limerick
was what we were after. Even then, we didn’t know we would end up in Ennis, but Ennis it was.

Ennis is the principal town of Clare, and I guess for you Yorkshire folk about the size of Otley (with a similar number of drinking establishments too!). We arrived having driven from Dublin in our nicely upgraded Golf through Athlone, Ballinasloe, Loughrae and Gort. With a stop for lunch, it took about 5 hours or so. We drove through the town centre and found a nice B & B the other side of town. Once we’d dumped the bags we headed straight out for a beer in town as it was a lovely sunny evening.

We chatted (or rather, got chatted to) by some locals who’d been on the piss all day by the looks of it. They told us how to find the famous house used in Father Ted (that we didn’t bother to find) but then left one by one. We headed to another bar for a drink before we headed for some dinner at The Town Hall.

Food in Ireland is a funny affair really. I’m sure in the major places such as Dublin, Cork and Limerick there’s a whole host of great restaurants that you can choose from, but it seems the majority of the west coast of Ireland is dominated by over-priced under-achieving places or pub food. The Town Hall was recommended to us by our landlady, and it was €50 a head including wine for a 3 course meal. My starter was so uninspiring that I can’t even remember what it was, and the main course was a lamb shank served with an odd tomato sauce on a bed of mash and vegetables. It came with another portion of cheesy potatoes and vegetables, which I didn’t even need to start into. Anyway, at least the wine was good, and we left and had a post dinner drink or two at The Diamond Bar before we hit the sack.


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