Rain, driven almost horizontal by the strong winds, made driving from Sligo to Cong difficult enough on the narrow backroads. Cong is a beautiful village on the border of Co.Galway and Co.Mayo. On this particular cold morning, Cong was still bustling with tourists who were there to visit the Quiet Man cottage, Ashford castle and the fabulous Cong abbey.
Myself and Dolores had planned this trip to Connemara for a while, and although we had decided to sample the beauty of the fabulous landscape on offer, we would only be spending 10 hours in Connemara. Cong was our entry point into Co.Galway, a fabulous county marked by desolate landscapes, a place where you can find yourself hiking the Twelve Bens in the morning, have a refreshing dip in the Wild Atlantic in the afternoon and finish off an active day in bustling Galway. The first thing we noticed was the amount of foreign cars, especially French ones. Connemara has always been popular with French tourists, especially after Michel Sardou sang about Les Lacs du Connemara. By lunchtime, we had reached Roundstone, and while we drove into the little fishing town, the rain decided that enough was enough, and grinded to a halt. It was only just gone noon, but we were on the road since early morning, so we decided we were going to grab a quick hearty lunch. Our choice was quickly made, O'Dowd's seafood bar and restaurant had some interesting dishes on their menu, and they didn't disappoint. Mussels, seafood chowder and seaweed hummus was our selection, and all was as tasty as each other.
2 fighting seagulls made us look up while walking back to our car, and to our delight we noticed that the rain had gone and the low hanging clouds were disappearing making way for a few patches of blue sky. And that is Ireland, during our 10 hours in Connemara, we got exposed to rain, sunshine, witnessed rainbows,... , we changed from jumpers to rain jackets back to Tshirts,.... the only thing which doesn't change is the amazing landscape. Our next stop was Dogs Bay, a white beach surrounded by the clearest water. And the weather didn't put a damper on the people visiting this amazing strech of coastline, some of them jumping into the chilly Atlantic only to re-emerge screaming with happiness, or should we say shock caused by the freezing water.
The area around roundstone is marked by bogs, small lakes and a fairly flat landscape. But in the distance, you always see the Twelve bens which stand there tall and impressive. Next stop was one of the Atlantic Way Discovery Points, Derrigimlagh Bog. It was here that the worlds first commercial transatlantic wireless station was opened , but it is also here where the first non-stop transatlantic flight landed. The walk is worthwhile doing, it is very educational and explains all that there is to know about the wireless station. (for more information: https://www.outdoorfitnesssligo.com/travel-blog/derrigimlagh-a-signature-discovery-waypoint )
Another observation myself and Dolores made while driving towards Kylemore abbey is the amount of sheep which wander around Connemara. And they seem to prefer walking along the few roads which meander between the impressive mountains of connemara, or just laying on the road enjoying their afternoon nap passing no heat of the many tourists driving by them.
Next stop was Kylemore abbey, one of Irelands main tourist attractions. The amazing Abbey and it's walled gardens is flanked by a pretty lake, at the back of the Abbey is the imposing mountains of Connemara. The Abbey has been home to the Benedictine community since the 1920's , and it is mainly the last years which has seen the restauration of the victorian walled gardens,...
Kylemore Abbey is not to far from another impressive location, Killary fjord , Ireland's only fjord. Killary harbour is approx. 16km in lenght, and at it's deepest point it is 45m deep. And we ended our Connemara trip with an unexpected find. Along the road overlooking Killary fjord in the Misunderstood Herron, a roadside cafe selling the freshest of food like mussels, smoked salmon,...all of which can be finished off with one of the tastiest of cakes available,... So, Connemara is a must visit location in Ireland, one where it really doesn't matter if it rains or not, one where you can discover all that Ireland has to offer.