The Wild Atlantic Way. This trip’s travel plans revolved around seeing the west coast of Ireland in slow steady bites. And so…….
Coming off Innis Mor in the driving rain on a ferry that was cresting waves and bouncing without any fears was a romantic entry to the WAW north from Galway. Dripping wet garb and a bus full of happy-go-lucky Gaelic speaking locals was almost like a script for a movie. And there was LSM waiting for me at the hire car office with his yarns and research successes to share. Driving in Galway city is a doddle, and the Toyota Corolla hybrid was both familiar and a practical size for the narrow roads we knew were coming. So…..
20 minutes up the road I wanted to take a photo (yes it was still raining but that never stops me) but the front passenger window only opened about 5 inches. Ah ha…something wrong here she thinks! Yep, I would either have to sit in the back to take photos from the car, open the door and get wet, or not bother capturing the sights. Not for this little WAW warrior!!! Front windscreen shots were a challenge between the wipers though….lol.
So the challenges began. The first stop was the Connemara National Park at Letterfrack. This was to have been a loop walk to get the blood stirring, but the weather was a definite downer. So it was an interesting meander around the Visitor Centre, mushroom soup thickened with potato (no surprise there but a gf bonus) and a hot chocolate. Lots of bog info. Quite interesting…though Aussies often have a different take on the word.
The message on the back of one of the camper vans in the car park brought a spark of sunshine-
Where would we be without a sense of humour? – Germany!
Non PC but worth a smile. So we headed north facing lots of marathon runners plodding along in the rain and looking a bit forlorn…..but good on them in their fundraising efforts! The Benedictine Monastery at Kylemore Abbey was spectacular across the lake, but we pushed on to Leenane via the gushing roadside Ashleagh Falls. Not quite as high as the Barron Falls though….lol.
Here was the Granuile Heritage Centre. Break out the trumpets! Bucket list #2. Grace O’Malley, the Pirate Queen of Ireland holds a strong fascination…..please read Anne Chambers’ account of this amazing 16th century warrior woman if you would like to know more. The volunteer-run centre captures her essence in a musty, dimly lit exhibition, but it stirred my soul! Yes the collage below shows my passion for her story. We will be following some of her locations on the WAW.
Also at the Centre was an exhibition of the Famine and the dispossession of so many families in the landlord Clearances. Close to home for so many of the Irish diaspora across the world.
Buoyed by the visit to the centre, we travelled from this pretty coastal village to Westport. This is a bigger town with a need for street signage and more visible house numbering…though we finally find our b&b and received a warm welcome from host Hubert. Very patchy wifi, so it was a reading catchup.
An early bird dinner at Sol de Rio Italian restaurant saw my sliced aubergine stuffed with ricotta and herbs followed by the delicious calamari and prawn gf pasta dish, while LSM slurped on the local mussels and a duck on spinach and the inevitable side of chips….but in a classy silver server.
We were keen to pop in to the famous Matt Molloy’s pub for a bit of music and a pint, but the overflow of football tragics maudlin after the loss of the local Mayo team to Dublin; the strong smell of defeat and the swill of too many pints in such a small space sent us instead over the road to the traditional Aunty Nellie’s sweet shop for a nostalgic taste of licorice torpedos……not gf!
The early morning was dull but fine as we headed over the floral bridge in the Sunday stillness and our way back to Murrisk to face the challenge of Croagh Patrick. Farewell Westport.