Monday 16 July 2018 Doonbeg – Ballyvaughan
- Spanish Point
- Ennistymon Cascades
- Doolin Caves
- Cliffs of Moher
This morning we continued our drive along the N67 to Spanish Point, 3 km west of Milltown Malbay, a small resort with a sandy beach. Spanish Point was named after the Spanish who were buried here after the wreck of their Armada ships along the coast in 1588. Those who escaped from their sinking ships and made it safely to land were later executed. Today it was quite windy and there were people swimming in wetsuits, so I think the water was quite cold.
Next stop was Ennistymon to see the Ennistymon Cascades. This town is very quaint with a typical Irish main street with many traditional pubs. Behind the main street is the River Inagh with its small rapids known as the Cascades. It is roughly a 15-foot waterfall into a small pool with continuous gradient with sections of rocks and ledges with a chute and a salmon gate. At the moment the river doesn’t have a lot of water running through it, so it is not very spectacular, however there is a lovely riverside walk.
We then headed to the Cliffs of Moher but because there was limited parking we were turned away and told to come back at 4pm. So, we continued to Doolin Caves along the R478 and went on a guided walking tour to see one of the world’s most compelling cave attractions, the Great Stalactite. Donning a hard hat, we were taken over 200 feet under limestone of the Burren landscape to a section where 2 men found a cave system in 1952. The cave was dimly lit and when the guide turned on the lights we were met by an amazing sight of a 7-metre-long free hanging stalactite which looked like a chandelier, it was a truly astounding sight. It is hard to believe that it was formed from a single drop of water over hundreds of thousands of years ago and is the largest stalactite in the Northern Hemisphere weighing over 10 tonnes. We then took a looped walk around the cave where there were pygmy goats and chickens and down where the original entrance to the cave is, is an Enchanted Hallow Fairy Village with fairies and troglodytes, very cute.
Last place today was the Cliffs of Moher with thousands of other people. The rugged cliffs are spectacular sea cliffs which run for about 14 kilometres and rise about 120 metres above the Atlantic Ocean at Hag’s Head. At the midpoint of the cliffs is a round stone tower built in 1835. We visited the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience which was built into the hillside approaching the cliffs and watched a video displaying a bird’s eye view from the cliffs. We walked the paths around the cliffs and the scenery was spectacular.
We continued along the R478 and then onto the N67 to a carpark across the road from a church just before Ballyvaughan.
Tuesday 17 July 2018 Galway
We continued along the N67 to Galway where we parked the motorhome at the Greyhound Track along College Road and walked down to the Tourist Office and then into the town centre. There were a lot of people around because it was the start of the Arts festival.
The first part of the town we visited was John F Kennedy Park where the Browne Doorway is located. It is a medieval doorway dating from 1627 and was originally part of the Browne Mansion and moved to the park. It was hard to see as they were preparing for an art and sculpture display for the festival. This area is also surrounded by shops and traditional pubs.
After, we went on a guided walking tour around the city. We visited a part of the Medieval City walls (a 60-metre curtain wall and two original towers) which have been incorporated into Eyre Square Shopping Centre and are very well preserved; St Nicholas’ Collegiate Church which was founded in 1320 and said to be the largest medieval church in continuous use; the city markets which are on the laneway outside the church where there is delicious crepes and other goods; Lynch’s Castle which features decoratively carved windows and gargoyles and the Spanish Arch which consists of two stone archways in another remaining part of the city wall along the riverbank.
At the completion of the 1 ½ hour walking tour we visited the Fisheries Watchtower Museum which is a restored 1853 Victorian watchtower with fisheries memorabilia but could not go inside as it was closing time. We then walked to Katie’s Claddagh Cottage which is a traditional thatched cottage museum which replicates cottages from the old fishing village and famine times from 200 years ago. We then passed through The Claddagh which is an old fishing village where the Claddagh ring originates (a ring designed with hands -friendship; crown- loyalty; and heart – love) and Kirwan’s Lane which is one of the last remaining late Medieval lanes with three original gas lamps. Galway is a pretty city, but it doesn’t have many significant historical attractions.
Tonight, we stayed at the Greyhound track where we parked all day for €5 and after 6:30pm until 8 am it is free.
Wednesday 18 July 2018 Galway – Killary Harbour
- Kylemore Abbey and Victorian Walled Garden
- Killary Harbour
An early start to the day as we need to be out of the carpark before 8 am, so we headed along the R336 to Spiddal for breakfast, a picturesque seaside village where we sat and overlooked the shores of Galway Bay. A lovely start to the day.
We then turned off to the R340 passed Carna and took a left onto the R342 to Roundstone, another picturesque village with a delightful harbour. We walked through town and discovered a shop that makes bodhran, an Irish traditional drum in a variety of sizes. Two miles from Roundstone we stopped and had lunch and a stroll along the beach at Dog’s Bay, a beautiful horseshoe shaped bay with a long stretch of white sandy beach and crystal-clear water. It reminded us of our beaches at home.
We continued along and turned onto the N59 again to our last stop of the day, Kylemore Abbey and Victorian Walled Garden. Kylemore Abbey is a Benedictine monastery founded in 1920 on the grounds of Kylemore Castle. It is a magnificent castle which was abandoned and later restored by the nuns.
The abbey was founded for Benedictine Nuns who fled Belgium in World War 1. We caught a bus in the grounds which took us to the Victorian Walled Garden, a 6-acre garden with restored garden buildings. The gardens are designed with plants from 1901 and are absolutely stunning. We caught the bus back to the abbey and walked through the restored rooms reading about the history of tragedy, romance and education. We then watched a film which also retold the history of the castle.
Further along the N59 at Killary Harbour, a fjord we camped for the night. The campsite is situated at the edge of the fjord where Killary Cruises operates boat tours from and there are picnic tables and chairs. There were about 8 motorhomes here for the night. A lovely little layover.