We arrived in Galway from Dublin by train with high expectations for this city. Galway, a harbor city on Ireland’s west coast, didn’t disappoint. We got a taxi to our new AirBnb hoping that it was a good choice for our 7 day stay. It was. Once again we arrived to meet our host and found a very clean, modern apartment – not in Galway (the city), but in a little seacoast city of Salthill. Salthill is a 20 minute walk or 5 minute bus ride into the city center of Galway. Perfect location and apartment as we had anticipated. With a 2 minute walk to the bus and a 5 minute walk to the Atlanta Ocean – we concluded that “we did good”.
One thing that surprised us; however, was the size of Galway. We would have guessed 100’s of thousands of residents, but come to find out it only has 75K people. So much packed into this lovely city. Being a college town, it has a youthful exuberance that makes it feel so lively. Lots of traditional pubs that offer live Irish folk music not to mention art museums, galleries, and restaurants.
First Day Trip from Galway – Connemara
We decided not to get a rental car here, but instead picked 2 separate day trips with a local tour company. Yesterday we went to the Connemara region with numerous stops in local villages, and stops for camera enthusiasts to capture the raw landscapes and wild Atlantic coastline.
The highlight of the trip for us was the 2 hour stop at Kylemore Abbey (below) which was extravagantly located on a lake in the midst of the mountains. This Abbey is also home to the Benedictine nuns. Here are a few photos from the Abbey, and after the photos a little more history of this masterpiece of construction for the time.
Next to the Abbey was the Gothic Church, a miniature Cathedral that was build by Mitchell Henry in memory of his wife Margaret.
The Gothic Church
And, further to the right of the church was the Mausoleum (see below) where Margaret’s ashes were interred after her death from dysentery, and then later Mitchell’s ashes after his death at 84.
Kylemore Castle was built as a private home for the family of Mitchell Henry, a wealthy doctor from London,England. He moved to Ireland when he and his wife Margaret purchased the land around the Abbey. They had visited there while on honeymoon in 1850 and she was so charmed by Connemara that Mitchell purchased the estate (15K acres!) as a gift for her; thus building one of Ireland’s most iconic castles in 1862.
Mitchell Henry was a kind man and eventually represented Galway in the House of Commons, and was a strong advocate for home rule. He set up a school on the grounds of the Castle because he wanted his tenants’ children to get an education. Also, in hard times he reduced the tenants’ rents.
Since 1920 the Abbey has been home of the Benedictine nuns. They arrived there during WWI as refugees having fled their monastery in Flanders. The nuns have a long standing tradition of education. Irish nobility sent their daughters to be educated with the Nuns. It evolved into an international board school which operated until 2010 when the school closed. It closed because of declining number of students and aging nuns.
Second Day Trip from Galway – The Cliffs of Moher
Having enjoyed our 1st trip with Lally Tours, we opted to do a second tour rather than rent a car and go ourselves. Good decision I think. The big attraction for this tour was The Cliffs of Moher, but there were additional stops at Dunguaire Castle, Aillwee Cave, and lunch in a local pub in Doolin.
Since the Cliffs were the main attraction we were excited to go, but our expectations were greatly exceeded. The Cliffs were awe inspiring stretching 5 miles and standing 700 feet tall at the highest cliff. Wind was a wee bit of a problem for us at 35 mph, and gusting much faster of course. We were happy; however, that it didn’t rain on us, but slightly overcast all day. Below are some photos taken on the tour, and a few photos of some people that were a little too close to the edge of the cliffs in my opinion.
Of course there were you usual tourists who got to close to the edges. The “bad hair photo” of me is why I think it was not a good idea to get too close.
We chose not to do the cave portion of the tour because I am a little claustrophobic, and besides the grounds were beautiful so we opted to take photos instead. The cave tour was so short (30 minutes) so I don’t think we made the wrong decision. Do you?
As you can see the weather is interesting around here. The photographs of Clay and me were taken just a few minutes apart. I guess the sun was shining on the better of the two of us. (wink!)
Also, we had a short stop at the most photographed Castle in Ireland according to our tour guide. You know; however, that you can always trust what a tour guide tells you…..except me.
Here it is our last day in Galway after a week packed with interesting things to do and places to go. Enjoying catching up on our Facebook posts and our travel blog. Tomorrow on to Dingle, Ireland.