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Westport - Kinvarra (through the Connemara)

Home -> Europe -> Ireland -> Travelogue Ireland -> 16 December 2002

Monday 16 December, Westport - Kinvarra (through the Connemara)

MurriskToday we have a decent breakfast, so just 2 fried eggs for me with some toast. We don't have to wake up early because it won't be light until 9 o'clock. First, we drive along the coast of Murrisk and before us the first mountains loom ahead. This landscape reminds us of Scotland, and is totally different from the plains of Holland! We had expected gloomy weather and maybe even rain, so we are quite surprised when the sun rises from behind the mountains. Again, we seem to be very lucky with the weather.
Connemara ConnemaraSoon we arrive in Connemara, a mountainous and rough region, a landscape we both love: it is so unspoilt and quiet and there is beauty everywhere we look. Now and then we pass through a village, hiding between the mountains but we also see a lot of lonely houses in this beautiful landscape.
Now and then we pass through a village, hidden in the mountains, but there are also many single cottages, spread throughout the mountains. I notice that all (inhabited) houses are quite large and well-kept. I thought Ireland would be much 'poorer', but it surely isn't. Throughout Ireland the houses turn out to be quite large: what do they need all that space for? When we check for prices at real estate agents we find out it isn't easy to find a cheap house: under € 100,000 there is almost nothing for sale!
Kylemore AbbeyThis is Kylemore Abbey, now a girls' school. Like a castle from a fairy tale it lies along the lake, build on the hillside. But we also see a lot of ruins, often ordinary houses which are abandoned by their former inhabitants and now left to the weather. Once (in the middle of the 19th century), 8 million people lived in Ireland, but famine and emigration lowered that number quickly. At this moment there are 5 million people in the republic and Northern-Ireland.
ConnemaraI cannot get enough of landscapes like the one on this picture and every time I realise how boring the Dutch sceneries are: no mountains, almost no hills and even nature has to be very tidy. We are so arrogant that we think even nature has to be kept by human rules. Humans have spoilt nature without thinking, now we sometimes try to 'save' nature with rules, thinking we know better than nature itself...
Castle at Clifden Ruins at ClifdenRegularly, we see hitchhikers, and before Clifden we give one a lift, a French man who stands lonely in the middle of nowhere. In Clifden he gets off and we drive through the town where we happen to see this small castle. A bit farther on the way we come upon this house, build next to a ruin. Nice to have ones own castle wall and gate.
ConnemaraThe sun keeps on shining and the temperature is very nice, it must be higher than 10°C. From Clifden we take the coastal route on the southern side of the Connemara: narrow roads with beautiful views. But the roads need some repair work, continuously we have to watch the road for holes and the sides of the roads look like a coastline cut by fjords.
RoundstoneIn Roundstone we have a lunch break in a pub and we take a photograph of an Irish palmtree. I think it is marvellous that so many palm trees can grow here in the open air. I have them on the windowsill but when they grow taller we need a place where we can plant them.
RoundstoneBlinded by the sun, walking in December without a coat, wonderful... And again we see many coloured houses. With rain and clouds it can be very gloomy here, so maybe that is the reason why they make their houses so colourful. Another thing the architects (and law-makers) in Holland could learn from.
Land consolidationLike in England, the area is filled with boulders and people have build low walls to border pieces of land. No reallocation of land and no tidy and straight fields like in Holland, but all chaotic parts.
When we leave the desolate area of Connemara we drive past Galway, although it must have a nice old town centre. But we have only a few days here and we want to see as much as possible of the whole country, so we drive on, southwards in the direction of The Burren.
Dunguaire CastleJust before Kinvarra we pass this castle, Dunguaire Castle, a small, but totally renovated castle. In the summertime there are held medieval banquets.
Kinvarra seems to be a place where we can find our next hotel, but the only hotel in town is closed (just for today, we are being told). So we try some B&B's but nowhere we are allowed to smoke in the room.
It is getting dark very quickly, so we drive back in the direction of Galway. After a few kilometres we see a pub with a B&B and without any hope Teije goes inside to ask for a room. 'Course you can smoke', the owner tells him and soon we are in a small, but nice room.
Het is al bijna donker dus rijden we snel terug, richting Galway. Maar al na een paar kilometer zien we een pub met B&B erop and Teije gaat toch even vragen. 'Tuurlijk mag je roken', zegt de man in de pub and al gauw zitten we op een kleine, maar prima kamer.
A great part of the evening we sit in the pub downstairs and talk with the friendly Irish people, especially the bartender, who totally agrees with us that one should travel as much as possible when one doesn't have to work. Of course, the Euro is also an interesting topic of conversation and we tell him we collect Irish euro sets for friends, but we lack the 1 and 2 eurocent coins. So we exchange about 20 pieces of each. Teije tries the local whiskey (Powels) and is very content with it. When we climb the stairs outside at the back of the pub to our room it seems to be freezing a bit.


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