Friday, May 27, 2016

Ireland Road Trip: Connemara

Actual date of this event: 8 June

After visiting the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren the day before with wonderful weather, we had another big day planned for Monday - a long drive through Connemara.
We started out around 10am, and took the N59 toward Clifden. We stopped after not too long to see the Aughnanure Castle ruins. We expected an entrance fee, but it was free and we were two of five other people visiting.

We continued our drive as lakes began surrounding us and popped up in the distance. Yellow and purple flowers were blooming all over Ireland at this time of the year and it made the drive so beautiful!

While doing research, I randomly came across the recommendation to veer off the N59 to check out Bog Road. If you look at a map of the area, there are little ponds of water that surround the road. From the actual road, we could see water but it wasn't as visible as what the map showed though because we were too low. The boggy wetland is filled with peat (usually moss), and also sheep! We had to stop or slow down while on Bog Road many times as the sheep didn't want to move from their nap in the road.

The road was literally only wide enough for one vehicle, so when a large truck came at us, we had to do some maneuvering to get out of the way.

We eventually returned back to a normal road again, and back onto the N59 passing through the town of Clifden (the capital of Connemara).

Another recommendation that was given during my research was to take the Low Road/Sky Road peninsula loop at Clifden to get some beautiful scenic views. We chose to stay on Sky Road the entire time.

After the loop, we met back up with the N59, continuing on until we reached Kylemore Abbey. Call us crazy, but we chose not to go into the abbey as it seemed very crowded, it was pretty pricey, and we still had much more driving to to do. The old Benedictine Abbey looked like a fairytale castle as it sat on the lake.

We got back in the car, but not for long. We were both hungry for lunch, so we pulled over along the larger part of the lake to eat. We found a private little spot on the rocks where we felt like we were the only ones on earth (one of many times this happened while in Ireland). We were so relaxed and could have stayed there for hours, but we had to get moving again.

We eventually reached a point where we needed to make a big decision: a.) Continue through the Doolough Valley to add on another hour or two of our drive, b.) turn back and take the R336 back toward Galway, or c.) turn back and take the R344 through Lough Inagh Valley back toward Galway. We chose option C.

And good thing we did because this was one of (if not the top of) Luke's favorites places on Earth. Again, we were just about the only ones on this road except for the sheep and the occasional vehicle every 15min or so. We found this old looking bridge with a small river running underneath it to pull over. Luke took a million pictures and wandered off to where I couldn't see him anymore. I found him sitting on the river bank in his own calm world. Those of you that know Luke know this is not like him... Mr. Type-A/Can't-Sit-Still-For-Two-Minutes had found his happy place. After 45min or so of relaxing and playing with/running from the sheep, I finally had to tell him it was time to leave and we needed to move on.

When we reached the N59 back to Galway, we chose to take the coastal detour on the R336. We stopped at a cemetery to check out the Irish names on the stones, and there was a nice view of a beach below where TONS of children were swimming... I cant even imagine how cold that water was! Then we chose to drive to that beach, and walked along the rocks for a while before making our way back to Galway for the evening, arriving around 6pm.

What an amazing day we had for such a long drive! Luke was a huge trooper and did the entire thing himself, but I did all the research on what there was in Connemara, so I deserve a pat on the back too. We could have spent many more days in the area though, so it is a shame we were pressed for time. I am so glad we chose to stay an extra night in Galway, so we could get a glimpse into this part of the country.

More from our Ireland Road trip: IntroductionGalway CityCliffs of Moher & the BurrenConnemaraLimerickKilkennyCashel & Cahir, Connor Pass & Dingle TownRing of Kerry, Slea Head Drive all to come...

Connemara has its own breed of ponies, the Connemara Pony, a sports pony with a strong stamina used for competitive jumping and riding.

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