Ireland days one and two

I posted some photos last night before passing out, now I`ll try to fill in some story while I`m a bit more awake. Hotel wifi isn`t connecting right now so no idea when this will post but I`m typing it at 9:30pm on Monday from our hotel in Galway

The flight from JFK to Shannon was only about six hours and between takeoff, landing, and meals I only got about three hours of sleep. That made for a very long day as it was straight onto the tour bus and off to the Cliffs of Moher. It was a bit of a hike uphill to get to the top of the cliffs but what a view! It really was amazing.

From there we drove through the Burren, a huge area of land carved by glaciers and made up mostly of rock. We drove through that area on our way to Galway. Despite being told to prepare for chill weather maxing out around 65F, we hit a heat wave with 75 or so. Oh, and the AC on the bus wasn`t working. The warmth of the bus plus the lack of sleep made the whole bus a bit drowsy and crabby so arriving at the hotel, I think we all ran to the showers.

After a bit of time to rest and clean up, our tour leader, Willi, took some of us on a walk through the main section of Galway, to get a better idea of the area. Then it was a lovely dinner in the hotel before crashing quite early and quite hard.

Today we were up for a good Irish breakfast and the on our way through the Connemara region to Kylemore Abbey. The Connemara region was starkly beautiful. Rocky wet soil has made it difficult for farming or settling and so we could drive many miles between houses. Even the flocks of sheep were rare. I found it kind of haunting and wanted to get out and hike through the deserted land and hills. As someone with little to no interest in athletic activity, it was an odd place to get the urge to go hiking.

Kylemore Abbey was a lovely “modern” castle, built about 150 years ago by Mitchell Henry as a “love letter” to his wife. It was a nice estate with a small church. There were also some big Victorian gardens, but time was running short so we skipped those. We drove back through more of Connemara Nation Park and passed by an old bridge featured in the classic John Wayne movie, The Quiet Man.

Upon returning to Galway, we did a bit of shopping and then had fish and chips at McDonaghs, apparently a bit of a local institution. After popping in to several pubs on the high street of Galway, only to be disappointed by the beer selection, we walked about half an hour to the Salthill area on the water so that I could finally get my hands on some good beer. It was worth the walk, especially given the long chat with one of the employees of the bar/brewery. I think I`ll let the beer info be a second post.

Tomorrow we pack up here and head to Killarney via Bunratty Castle and Adare. I`ll be back whenever I get WiFi!

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