Galway

We left Kenmare for Galway June 10. We decided to drive to Tarbert and take the ferry over to County Claire.

We stopped in Kilkee and started looking for a place to eat when a woman came up to us and suggested the Diamond Rocks Cafe – close to the rocks and cliffs at the edge of town. The Duggera reef out in the bay has three large natural pools (or mini-lagoons) that make for swimming holes referred to by the locals as Pollock holes. I saw a couple of people coming out of one of them when we arrived at the cafe.

Lunch was extended when three of us ordered fish and chips as we tried to work our way through a piece of fish the size of my forearm. None of us managed to finish it. If we had known we could have ordered one order of fish and chips with an extra side of chips to share between the three of us.

From there we went to the Cliffs of Moher.

June 11 we drove into Galway. We stopped at the tourist office who mapped us out a walking tour. It started in a park called Eyre Square.

The park includes a number of statues including a bust of JFK. From there we went into the old part of town. Lots of street musicians along the way.

Below statues imagining Oscar Wilde (Irish) sitting down with Eduard Wilde (Estonian).

We walked up the river Corrib over to the university and back along a canal to Galway Bay.

Wandering around, we came across the house of Nora Barnacle, wife of James Joyce. Nora Barnacle was born in a poor house in Galway in 1884, moved to Dublin in 1903 and met James Joyce in 1904. She came back to Galway a couple of times and lived in this house – now a museum.

Around the corner from Nora Barnacle’s home is a Memorial to Lynch’s Window. James Lynch, a local magistrate is purported to have sentenced his son to death for murder of a “stranger” and personally hanged (or lynched) his son from his own window.

It turns out that the legend of James Lynch may not be true and it probably is not where the word ‘lynch’ came from but it’s an interesting story that gives the tour guides something to talk about.

June 12 we drove along the Wild Atlantic Way and an area called the Connemara north and west of Galway. We stopped at the Connemara Cultural Centre which also tells the story of Patrick Pearce, who’s cottage is nearby and can be visited as part of a tour (below).

Patrick Pearse was a teacher and writer who was the leader of the Easter Rebellion in of 1916. The rebellion failed and Pearse was executed but it lead to the creation of the Republic of Ireland a few years later.

Further along, we stopped in the town of Roundstone to look around.

As we drove through the Connemara, we came across people cutting peat moss for burning – obviously still in heavy practice. Below is one peat moss pile we went by.

Below – one of the beaches we passed.

Devan and Karen came across this stop sign.

We stopped in Clifden for lunch and then did a hike in Connemara National Park. Karen and Devan did the entire hike to the top but the rest of us gave up halfway. It was unbelievably windy.

We stopped briefly at the Kylemore Abbey but it was near closing time.

We headed home. Below is a shot taken along the way.

We decided to go back to Kylemore Abbey. Originally a dream of Margaret and Mitchel Henry who came to the area on their honeymoon – they decided to build Kylemore Castle which they did in 1868. In 1875 on a trip to Egypt, Margaret contracted dysentery and died. Henry built a mini-cathedral on the grounds of Kylemore castle in her honour.

In 1903, the castle was sold to the Duke and Duchess of Manchester but they were forced to sell it a few years later to cover the Duke’s gambling debts.

The Benedictine nuns bought it in 1920. They had been forced to flee Ypres and Belgium during World War I and needed a permanent residence. They fixed it up and renamed it Kylemore Abbey. They started a girls school which remained in operation until 2010. They now hold retreats and other activities and have opened the grounds to the public. Besides the Abbey and mini-Cathedral, the grounds contain walled-in Victoria gardens.

Below – some pictures of the walled-in gardens.

Below – old friends walking in the Abbey grounds.

Even here they use peat moss for the fireplace.

Finally – on the trip home an area where the sheep are not fenced off from the road.

And now we are on our way back to Canada.

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