We spent the day traveling down the Wild Atlantic Way from Connemara to the Burren, two regions of Ireland famous for being exceptionally beautiful.
Connemara stretches from the area surrounding Westport down to Galway. We had a lovely stay at Willow Lodge in Westport and set off for lunch in Clifden and the afternoon in Galway.
On the way down to Clifden we saw some beautiful sights and scenery. We stopped and saw Croagh Patrick, the famous mountaintop where St. Patrick spent 40 days fasting. We also stopped at Kylemore Abbey, which always surprises me with how it seems to rise up from the side of the mountain.
Clifden is on the coast on the far west side of the country and it’s a beautiful town. We had visited before and enjoyed seeing the town again. Mom and I browsed in the shops while Scott watched football in a pub. We met up for lunch at Mitchell’s, which was delicious.
Sweet Scott was determined that I would get to spend the afternoon in Galway. We walked along the streets and enjoyed excellent people watching. Highlights were Judy Greene’s pottery and a beautiful flower shop. Thinking I should have spent 38 euro on one of these tiny sheep.
Leaving Galway we began to see the signs of The Burren — rocks! The hills go from green to gray in no time.
After another hour in the car we landed in Doolin for the night. Doolin is famous for its rich music heritage and McGann’s Pub did not disappoint. The music was great and Scott raves about his BBQ! We had a really fun (and late!) evening before heading to bed.
I love sleeping late. Love it. Even in Ireand. We didn’t even go down for breakfast until nearly 9 and then spent time walking through the shops in Donegal.
Before heading out of town we stopped for a latte at a wee tea room. Caffeine wasn’t our only coffee shop priority. We needed wifi to get in touch with our fabulous friends at the Adelphi again. Nicola was very kind to have a shirt and jacket we left sent ahead to Dingle for us.
We’re all feeling very relaxed despite covering a lot of ground working our way from Dublin, up the east coast, through the North and Northwest in just six days. I certainly have developed a love for the north. Antrim is stunning and Donegal is remote and wild. There were long sections that were trickier than normal to navigate as the signs were only in Gaelic.
Tonight we’ve landed in Westport, Co. Mayo. I’m writing from the back room of Matt Molloy’s pub in the center of town. Molloy is the flutist for the Chieftans and every guide book (and our B&B keeper) said this is the place to be for trad (traditional) music. It shouldn’t start for an hour or so and we’re resting and hiding from the rain.
A few other highlights:
- Lovely drive though Mullaghmore’s country side. My history-loving husband was enamored by a castle on a hill. Turns out it was most recently the home of the ill-fated Lord Mountbatten. Stunning from a distance, but still closed to the public.
- Sligo! Busy city, home of Yeats. We just did a drive through.
- Tubbercurry for lunch at a small, lovely hotel.
- Foxford Woolen Mills shop in Foxford.
- Exploring Westport!
- Talking to a local jeweler about the Claddagh ring Scott bought me in Connemara several years ago. Turns out that it is very rare because the center heart is carved from Connemara marble, which I did not know is rather difficult to do.
- Dinner with the family at Wyatt’s Hotel. Delish.
- Checking in to our B&B, Willow Lodge, which is fantastic. More on that tomorrow.
The mist was thick over the bay when we woke up Thursday morning. At least at Rockhaven House we were warm and dry.
I rely on Trip Advisor for our B&B bookings and it hasn’t steered us wrong yet. Rockhaven was spotlessly clean, comfortable and cheerful. We loved meeting Heather and her husband. Check out the lovely views from their home!
We enjoyed walking around Dunfanaghy before heading out of town again on the Wild Atlantic Way. The first town we visited was lovely Ardara, a stunning village know for its history in the weaving tradition.
First stop in Ardara was lunch at Nancy’s Bar which was an absolutely precious pub with a fenced in garden in the back. We also visited weaver Eddie Doherty‘s shop and got to watch him handweaving on the loom.
We spent the rest of the afternoon driving to some of the great view points along County Donegal, including Slieve League, the highest sea cliffs in Europe. They were equally parts stunning and terrifying. All of the views today were incredible and among the prettiest any of us had seen in Ireland.
Our final stop was Abbey Hotel in Donegal Town. The hotel and our rooms are lovely with old almost antique-looking furniture. After getting checked in we walked to the Olde Castle Bar for dinner, took a walk and went to hear the music at the Reel Inn.