My OE - Ireland                                           
JULY 2003
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Sat 19-Jul 03	Swords - Clifden, Connemara (Co. Galway)

Yay - A full weekend off for Jason, the first in 1 1/2  months but the first of many!  Left home early and headed towards Galway (City and County).  It was a slightly overcast which cleared as the day went on.  Not too hot which is good for us! 

Stopped in Loughrea to have a look at the town moat, the only functioning moat left in Ireland.  Next we detoured off to see the Turoe Stone (near Ballaun), a stone carved with Celtic art dated between 300 BC - 100 AD.  This is one of the only examples of Celtic artefacts remaining in Ireland.   On to Athenry next (pronounced Athen-rye) to visit the towns castle and also saw our first examples (or many over the next few weekends) of traditional hay stacks. 

The Turoe Stone, Near Ballaun

Athenry Castle, Athenry, Co. Galway

Basement of Athenry Castle

Athenry Castle

Drove on towards Galway, through the outskirts of the city and into the 'Lar Connaught' / Connemara region.  Some good views across Galway bay towards the Burren.  Connemara reminded us of a cross between the Burren and the Killarney Lakes District - some very rocky desolate areas, and others very green with lots of lakes.

Visited the Coral Strand near Carraroe - a white beach that looks like sand at first glance but on closer inspection is 100% coral!  Very cool!  Kind of like the beach on Fitzroy Island in Queensland Australia, but more finely ground/broken-up.

Traditional Hay Stacks

Lough/Lake, Connemara

Carraroe Beach...

...and the Coral!

Connemara View behind Carraroe Beach

Carried on around the coast road (Screeb/Derryrush/Carna/Cashel etc) to Roundstone, which is a very pretty little seaside village and harbour, with good views back towards the 'Twelve Bens' mountain range now that the cloud had lifted - I think these were the  first set of Irish Mountains that we would really count as mountains instead of just big hills!  Had a look at the Roundstone Music, Craft and Fashion Store where they make Bodhran's (a traditional Irish hand-held drum) - although not today.

You'd think he's mow the roof!

Peat stacked for drying

Roundstone Harbour

Headed on from Roundstone towards Clifden - lots of good coastal views.  Decided then to carry on towards Letterfrack and see Kylemore Abbey this evening while the weather was good - can't guarantee the same for tomorrow (just like Auckland weather!). 

Planning to head inland from Clifden tomorrow, so headed back, arranged accommodation and grabbed some dinner - which we ate in someones driveway along the 'Sky Road' out from Clifden with a great view below us.  At the end of the peninsula that the Sky Road goes around there are amazing views of lots of little islands, inlets, peninsulas etc.

Roundstone to Clifden (somewhere)


Kylemore Abbey, near Letterfrack

View from the Sky Road, Clifden

Sun 20-Jul 03	Clifden, Connemara (Co. Galway) - Swords (Co. Dublin)

This morning was overcast and raining/pouring on and off, however saw some beautiful scenery anyway!  Headed on the Clifden to Recess road across the centre of Connemara.  We popped into a side road we're read about in our Lonely Planet guide (really just a farm track) into a lovely valley surrounded by six of the 'Twelve Bens'.  The rain stopped long enough to take some 'moody' looking photos and then started again.

Next we headed north through the Inagh Valley, past Lough Inagh and some more amazing scenery (it also started to clear up for the day).  At the end of this road we turned back towards Letterfrack (where we had been the day before) to do a coastal loop from Tully Cross to Glassillaun and back inland along Killary Harbour/Fjord.  More lovely beaches, lakes, valleys, with rocky landscape then giving way to more green and bog covered hills.

Picturesque valley surrounded by six of the Twelve Bens
(above and below)

Lough Inagh, Inagh Valley, Connemara

Coast between Tully Cross and Glassillaun

Headed on to Leenane, Maam, Maam cross and Oughterard.  Had a quick look at Lough Corrib and almost got lost and stuck looking for an ancient bog road!  Had a look around Aughnanure Castle in a nice secluded wooded demesne (part golf course), before heading back towards Dublin.

Aughnanure Castle

In order to avoid the sunday traffic that was starting to build up on the N6, we took a detour and went looking for the Hunky Dory (potato chips) Buffalos roaming the planes of Co. Meath near Ashbourne.  With help from some vague directions and some road signs (!!) we did actually find them - Very cool!

Home on the range
Where the Buffalo roam
and the Sky's are not cloudy all day!

- or something like that.  Maybe not written with Ireland, or my singing voice, in mind!

Check out:  or 

The Buffalo went that way!

The Hunky Dory Buffalo, Ashbourne, Co. Meath


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