We have two weeks between pet sitting assignments here in Ireland, so we are spending one in the Galway area. We have rented an apartment here near the center of the city of Galway. The weather has overall been overcast, cold and rainy but with some careful planning we were able to catch two sunny days to tour the lovely area of Connemara and the largest of the Aran islands, Inishmore.
We took a bus tour of Connemara so that David could see the countryside (you don’t get to see much when you’re driving). We rode the bus looking at the green countryside, the tall hills and the scattered lakes of the part of northwest Ireland. It was stunningly beautiful. The bus driver Mike told us about the landscapes and the history of this part of Ireland. We stopped for a quick break at the village of Leenane to see the start of the Killary fjord. Then we went on to the Kylemore Abbey. This is a lovely castle that was built on an isolated lake by a merchant named Mitchell Henry for his wife. She died just four years later at 45; he was heartbroken and built this Gothic mini church in her memory. Around the 1920s, a group of Benedictine nuns who had been bombed out of Ypres, Belgium, in World War I bought the property and made it into a girls school, which they ran until declines in numbers of both teachers and students forced its closure in 2010. Now it is a romantic tourist attraction.
The next day we took a bus to Rossaveal harbor. While we were waiting for the bus, we had a hot chocolate made correctly with real milk and ground up chocolate at a small French restaurant named Le Petit Pois by a very friendly lady. We hopped on the bus to catch a ferry to the Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland. We went to Inishmore, the largest of the 3 Aran islands, and it is like stepping back in time. When we got off the ferry we found Tomas ( he is featured in Rick Steves’s 2004 video about the island) and his red van. There were four couples that he piled into his mini van for a 3-hour tour of the island. He took us to the end of the island to see the ruins of the seven churches. There are actually only the remains of two 8 – 13th century churches and a graveyard. Then he drove us to the main tourist site, Dun Aonghasa, which is a iron age ring fort at the edge of a 300 foot cliff. We had 2 hours on our own here at the fort. Tomas told us that it was a 15 minute walk up to the fort. Well, it turned out to be a 30 minute hike up hill.
See those little people? See that long trail of gravel and eventually big rocks?
Here is a photograph of the last bit of the up hill trail. David says that a little old lady was making it up to the fort , so he would too.When we made it through the rock doorway this is what we saw.
The trail to the inside walls. These people were not taking any chances. This was a triple wall defense.
The walls formed a “C” shape around the cliff edge. The cliff edge was a sheer drop down about 300 feet to the ocean. There are no safety rails along the edge if you are stupid enough to slip and fall it is Irish natural selection. Or tourist natural selection, as you can see here; that is a straight drop to the ocean.
We made it back to the ferry landing with plenty of time to shop and have a drink. When we got home , we were exhausted but happy. We were on the Aran Islands and we love Ireland !