Day 4 – Saturday Aug. 19, 2006
We ate breakfast at the Mountainview B&B and then packed up the car and headed off to Galway City. From our 1997 trip I remembered Galway as the city of the many rotaries or “roundabouts” – small traffic circles. We followed the signs and found our way into the town center and pulled into a parking garage near a Tourist Office. At the Tourist Bureau we bought some maps, postcards, jewelry etc. The lady at the Tourist Bureau directed us to an Internet Café that was just around the corner so we went looking for it. It was a little, very crowed, storefront filled wall to wall and front to back with tables and terminals. We sent an e-mail to Tom & Shirley and one to Jennie. On the way out of the Internet Café we picked up an International Calling Card so we could call Jennie, Clint & Jeremy at 12 noon (their time) on Sunday. The card, as it turned out, only worked once – what a rip off. The rest of the time “…service to that area is not presently available.”
Around noon we left Galway and headed west, toward Clifden. We went through a small town called Oughterard that appeared to be a very nice little town – too bad we didn’t have any time to stop for a visit. It had a small river running through the town and they had built a green belt or a park along both sides of the river. It started to rain and, as a result, even N59 wasn’t as fast as we had hoped it would be.
We arrived in Clifden around 2:30-3:00 and ate a quick lunch at a convenience store and then drove onto Kylemore Abbey in the rain-more of a mist than a rain. We had to skip the side trip we had planned to Roundstone because there just wasn’t enough time. Along the way to Kylemore we stopped along the way to take some pictures of the very picturesque Connemara Mountains.
Around 3:30 we arrived at Kylemore Abbey. The area was a lot more rustic than I had imagined. The roads leading to this world famous tourist attraction were very narrow and badly in need some repair work. On the way to the gift shop there was an area set
aside for people to take photographs of the famous abbey. This is the spot from where thousands of pictures of the abbey have been taken, only the ubiquitous row boat was missing. As a dutiful tourist, I also took some traditional shots of the abbey from this point
After a quick stop in the restaurant and gift shop we walked to the visitor center. Parking was free but admission was 11 Euros each. We walked to the abbey and took some pictures both inside and out. The digital camera didn’t seem to like the conditions inside (even in “Museum” mode), and kept giving me a “red light”. However, the pictures turned out very nicely.
We walked past the abbey over to the miniature Cathedral Church that was commissioned by the builder of the Abbey to commemorate the death of his wife in 1874. We passed on visiting the mausoleum that was still further down the road and opted to take the shuttle bus to the Walled Victorian Garden that was about a mile away from the visitor center in the opposite direction.
That turned out to be a very good choice. The Garden, that covered 6 acres, was originally built in the late 1880s and was fantastic. The Garden is currently being reconstructed as time and money allow. Only 2 of the original 22 original glass green houses have been restored so far but more are on the way. We wandered around the gardens in a fine mist and were able to take quite a few very good pictures despite the wetness and the gray skies. All the buildings have not been restored but the entire wall around the garden was still intact and the entire garden has been restored according to the original layout. Finally, we had to work our way back toward the entrance to the gardens because there was only one more shuttle bus operating that day. We caught the last bus and arrived back at the visitor center just before it closed.
Once back in our car, we called the B&B (Ballykine House B&B) and told them we were on our way. It should have taken less than an hour to travel to the B&B. Along the way we stopped in Leehaun to take several photos of a cabin being thatched. This was one of the villages where the movie “The Field” was filmed.
The first time by our turn off we missed the turn to Clonbur and wound up in Cong where there were some nice ancient ruins. Another call to the B&B was necessary to straighten out the confusion. We should have taken the Clonbur road, which was N465, but it was under construction and looked like the wrong road. So, in all it took us about 1-1/2 hours to reach the B&B and by now the sun was going down.
The Ballykine House B&B itself was set way back from the road but was very nice. The ruins of Ballykine Castle were on the far backside of their property but the ruins had gotten badly overgrown according to the owner. The recommendations for dinner were: Eddie’s Bar which had a more expensive restaurant and Butler’s which was serving bar food. We checked both menus and decided to try Burke’s. The service was slow but the waitress was trying her best. I got chicken stuffed with potato, wrapped in prosciutto and covered with a mushroom sauce. Noël got a “House Special” (a toasted sandwich with ham, cheese, tomato and onion). For dessert she had a slice of cheesecake with a Chocolate & Harvey’s Crème sauce.
We asked about any live music in town and the waitress said that usually there was music at Burke’s on Saturday night but not on THIS Saturday night. We paid the bill, left her a 5 Euro tip and headed back to the B&B and this time we didn’t get lost.