It feels weird to be talking about anything other than politics post-Brexit-referendum. There’s all this turmoil and we’re just carrying on with our ordinary lives like nothing’s happened. I recently found out that I’m entitled to Irish Citizenship, meaning (if they accept me) I’ll be able to keep all the benefits of EU citizenship – yay! Maybe this is the perfect time to show you Part 2 of my Ireland adventures! If you didn’t catch the first part – I talk about Co. Kerry and Co. Cork here.
We left our beautiful cottage in Kells Bay on Wednesday morning and set off on the long drive to Connemara. To break up the journey, we made time for lots of scenic stops – the first at the crossing to Kilrush. The car ferry is surprisingly easy – you just drive on to what looks like a floating piece of road, and the crew take your money from the window, like at a car boot sale! We did have a wander around whilst at sea but it was so incredibly windy, I could barely keep my sunglasses on my face so I hopped promptly back into our cosy car. Lunch was another windy affair at the Diamond Rocks Cafe in Kilkee. It was lovely to watch the dramatic waves crashing over the rocks from inside, with a pizza and a cup of tea, but when we went out to explore we almost ended up in the ocean. The wind was so strong, and the spray from the waves would drench you from a huge distance. It was quite a humbling experience – to feel the power of nature, the danger of the sea and the elements – when I’m so used to feeling safe in the tame “nature” of the city.
The next stop on our journey was the cliffs of Moher. We almost didn’t stop because we balked at paying for parking (typical young people!) but I’m glad we did because it was so beautiful. At first you enter into a (slightly dated) visitor centre, where we spent too long making videos of ourselves against a green-screen Cliffs of Moher to send to our friends and unsuspecting colleagues. I thought it was bizarre to have a fake cliff backdrop to take photos against, when the real one was next door, until I went outside and had to crawl up the steps to avoid being thrown into the sea by the wind. At one point an Irish man warned us that “the storm is coming!” causing us to literally run away from the encroaching rain cloud approaching from the West.
For dinner, we stopped in Galway City. We didn’t see much of it, but the City Centre was super cute and we ate some delicious Thai food at the Asian Tea Restaurant. Anxious to get to our hostel in time, we soon carried on to the last leg of the driving. Friends, do not drive through Connemara in the dark. The roads are narrow, winding and unlit, curving through dramatic mountains and ravines that you can’t see. The car was battered with flash hailstorms for the last couple of hours – whilst I attempted to stay awake with Chelsea (thank god for her amazing driving skills) and the other three snoozed in the back. Luckily we got to admire the scenery on the way back out of Connemara!
I’ve actually been to Connemara before, 3 years ago (read about it in this post!) and I was so excited to return. We stayed in the Sleepzone Hostel next to Killary Harbour, which has really spectacular views. If I’d been there for longer I would have loved to do some water activities – the sea kayaking looks great! They were really kind to us at the hostel – the man at the desk even stayed late to check us in after we realized we were going to arrive close to midnight. The next day we went to visit my Aunty Cathy, her husband Colin, and her lovely daughter Grace, as well as their gorgeous family of animals! We weren’t planning to stay for long, but we were enjoying the homemade food (you’d think we’d never been fed before…) company and atmosphere so much we almost stayed all day.
Cathy runs a travel business in Connemara and she has a wealth of knowledge about fun things to do in the area – check them out if you’re ever planning a visit!
After a leisurely hike around the Connemara National Park, we headed to Dublin. We had originally planned to have two nights in Connemara but we were one day short because we missed our ferry across the Irish Sea at the beginning of the trip. Boo. I would have loved to stay longer!
Most of my photos from Dublin are during the evening because, well, we spent a lot of the night drinking and a lot of the day sleeping. It’s such a cool city, I particularly enjoyed the wealth of craft beer pubs and burrito shops. I’ve never seen so many burrito shops in one city! The cheap and very tasty veggie/vegan Indian food at Govinda’s was a lifesaver. On the first evening we decided to do the typical tacky tourist thing and go to Temple Bar… when in Dublin! It was overpriced and the music was cheesy, but it was busy and open late and we had a great time. We made a lot of friends and somehow acquired a stag group half way through the night.
My favourite part of Dublin was definitely the Botanic gardens. I seem to visit a lot of Botanic gardens, but this one was particularly special. It wasn’t too busy and the Victorian architecture was stunning. It was the perfect place to shelter after a hard night! Early on Saturday morning, we took our ferry home via Liverpool. It was a much better experience than on the way over – and we took advantage of the cheap cabins to sleep most of the way home. Ireland, I miss you already!