Wednesday, January 23, 2019

2018 Ireland Day Seventeen, Eighteen and Nineteen: Dublin to Roundstone to Westport

Tuesday, July 3, 2018 (Go West) (Dublin to the Aran Island Inishmore, Co. Galway)

The beginning of our third leg of our trip finds us packing in our Dublin hotel for a flight to the Aran Island of Inishmore.  We are limited to a 30 lbs. bag for today while the rest of our luggage is stored for our return from the islands.

Our last leg tour group includes:

Lin Sisson Taunton, Massachusetts
Roger & Noella Benvenuti Corona, California
Dennis & Evie Dieck Green Bay, Wisconsin
Alice Bratcher Louisville, Kentucky
Andy & Donna Suzanne Rice Snellville, Georgia
Richard & Wendy Pontefract Tavernier, Florida
Larry & Vickie Deel Cocoa, Florida

We have to get across the country today so our first stop is at the Tyrrellspass Castle (Co. Westmeath).  The castle dates back to 1411, built by the Tyrrells, who came to Ireland around the time of the Norman Invasion.

Our lunch stop is Cong (County Galway), famous for being the location for the John Ford movie “The Quiet Man.”

After lunch at Ryan's Hotel, we hiked about the town.

We headed into the hills of Connemara (Co. Galway) to a beautiful location where we found the Joyce Country Sheepdog Training location.  Look at the view the trainer has everyday when he gets up. He told us that the hills across the river contain sheep from three farms and the dogs need to separate the sheep be his commands.

No one has ever trained a puppy well enough to escape Denice's death grip once she gets ahold of a cutie like this.

The trainer provided us with the information we needed to understand the strong relationship between the trainer and the dog.  Our trainer had just lost his favorite dog--and the dog on the field today was a new leader. Despite that, the way these two related to each other was special to see. All the commands are done by voice or whistle with the dog being able to be pretty far away and yet still hear his human.

...and then the guide dog posed for me.

To get to Inishmore in the Aran Islands, we have to split in half as a tour group as the plane can only carry of us over.

Denice and I were in the back of the bus

Not many tourists actually visit the island so accommodations are limited but we loved the B&B Pier House on Inishmore (County Galway).

Food on this trip was interesting to say the least. We have feasted on all sorts of food but tonight, on this little tiny island, we ate at a restaurant called The Bay View which has a Guatemalan chef named Byron Godoy Flores who lays out a great menu. 

While Denice rested, I walked up the way to a pub called Joe Watty to hear some island music. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2018 (Go West) (Inishmore (Aran Islands) to Roundstone, Co. Galway)

This foggy morn on Inishmore Island I had a chance to do a walkabout the docks.

Our official tour started with a trip to an old church yard and graveyard.

Our next stop was the Iron Age fort, Dun Aonghasa. This fort is a cliff side site which takes a bit of endurance to hike up to.

You can understand while military leadership would like this spot, it commands the horizon and is unapproachable from the sea. Dating this site is vague but credited to either the Bronze or Iron Age.

Me, pretending the height of the cliff does not bother me

For lunch we stopped and shopped and then shipped out, flying back to the mainline.

This time we got to sit up front

The bird's eye view of the landing

After we returned to the mainland we headed over to the 15th Century Aughnanure Castle (Co. Galway), bastion of the O'Flaherty clan.

Tonight we are sleeping in the Roundstone House Hotel, Roundstone (Co. Galway)

Thursday, July 5, 2018 (Go West: Roundstone to Westport (Co. Mayo)

Today we are exploring Connemara where you really have no idea what old thing you might find along the side of the road.

One of the spots we stopped was where the first transatlantic flight completed by John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown (Co. Galway) landed in 1919. It is also the area is also where Marconi sent wireless radio transmissions across the Atlantic.

Proof of the narrow nature of Irish roads

You never know what you might see on the Irish byways of Clifden (Co. Galway) when you stop for lunch.

We took a drive along the Sky Drive for some pretty spectacular views of the Irish coastline.

Our National Embarrassment follows us all the way to Ireland

Yeah--more sheep being encouraged to stop blocking our way

On this night we slept in the Clew Bay Hotel in Westport (Co. Mayo). On this night we at a spectacular and elegant meal at Sol Roi. After listening to a rather uninspired set of music by a family of musicians we moved on to Matt Molloy's Bar. We got a seat with our travel companions Noelle and Roger and listened to the Thursday night session with two violins, guitar, flute and button accordion.  This might have been the best music we heard on the whole trip.

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