Friday, July 29, 2011

Ireland Week!!! The "Must-Sees" of Ireland: Connemara and Bru Na Boinne

First things first. I get to announce the WINNER of my first blog contest!

It was super easy to enter, all you had to do was leave a comment on last Monday's post. (Extra points for facebook/tweeting and for following this blog).

And the winner of $30 to Amazon is:   Abbey Rymarczyk!!! Congrats girl!

I'll send you an email with your prize in it!

Thanks to everyone who participated. I promise there will be more contests so stay tuned :)

Okay, now that we've done that... on to...

Our last day for Ireland Week. The five previous posts were:

1. Dublin
2. Glendalough, Rock of Cashel, Ring of Kerry
3. Dingle
4. Sea Kayaking in Dingle

5. Cliffs of Moher, Galway, Aran Islands

On our way from Galway to Westport we stopped in the Connemara region. The region is known for its diverse landscape, especially the bogs, which are prevalent in this area. 

One of the most popular sites in the region is Kylemoore Abbey. (Otherwise known as Katie's house. It's so nice of her to let us tour it, isn't it? ;))

And this is Katie's view:

Ok, you're right, its not Katie's house. It actually used to be a school for girls until last year when they decided to close it off. It started out as a castle for Mitchell Henry who built a church for his wife after she died. The church is lovely.

He fell on hard times and it went into disrepair until the Benedictine Nuns who fled from Germany made it there home and later turned it into a school. They let you tour the inside of both the Abbey and the Church. It wasn't expensive and is worth a stop if you're in the area. The Victorian Gardens were okay, but they are currently doing a lot of repairs in the gardens so it might be better in the near future.

We went on to Connemara National Park. The skies were threatening rain while we ate lunch and contemplated on whether or not to do one of the three hikes in the park. We decided to try, as all three started and ended in the same place, they just differed in how high up Diamond Hill you wanted to go

And. Let me tell you my friends. Diamond Hill is a misnomer. This is not a hill. It is a mountain. 

And. Let me also tell you my friends. Beware of your conniving friends when they tell you that they only want to do the easy trail. When you get to, what I now call, "The Rock of Peer Pressure", they will be sneaky, and annoying and convince you that even though it is hailing and you are soaked from the rain, that it is a good idea to keep climbing up a mountain.

Don't tell me I didn't warn you... ;)
This is Katie and I after I gave in and said I would keep climbing the mountain...

And we climbed

And we climbed

And we climbed. This was the point where, "Are you kidding me!?!" escaped my lips every 100ft or so as I couldn't believe we weren't at the top yet. (It was a very deceiving mountain.) Everytime you got over a crest, and thought you were at the top, there was more to climb.

But finally we made it! And the views were some of the best on the trip.

Then we walked down the mountain to our car.

Do you see those little white patches, almost directly over my head? That is Kylemoore Abbey. When we were down there, looking up at the mountains Katie said, "If I lived here, I would climb those mountains." We all laughed. Turns out the joke was on us :)

We left Connemara and headed for Westport. Westport was a nice city, but in our opinion there's really no need to go there. If we did it again, we would have gone back to Galway after Connemara. 

But we did get to see this raindow, which we now dub, "The Rainbow of Abandonment" as we were able to convince Katie to get out of the car to take a picture, which allowed us to drive away without her. Hehehe.

After Westport we drove cross country to Trim. Another nice city and it really is a perfect place to stay the night before your flight leaves. (That way you don't have to deal with a whole lot of Dublin traffic.)

We visited Trim castle, which was where the movie Braveheart was shot. It was okay. They make you take a tour if you want to see the inside. I think it was worth it, even if it was a bit long.

The day before we left we visited one of the most talked about sites in Ireland Bru Na Boinne. They are one of the largest and most historic megalithic sites in Europe. Bascially a combination of Neolithic tombs, standing stones and henges.

It was pretty neat, but this was our last out of ten days and I think we were all a little nutty as you can tell from the numerous crazy pictures we took while waiting for the tour... We might have appreciated it more at the beginning of the trip...

And that was our trip.

I'm sad its over... I so want to go back.

Just a word of advice for comfort sake. Pack really light. Not only are most rooms in Europe really small, but you're going to want a small vehicle so that you can manuever the 'one-lane' roads in Ireland. They are seriously skinny roads, people :)

This was our trusty steed: A Volkswagen Polo. It was a good car. Did the job.

Hope you enjoyed the Ireland recap. Be thinking about 'Weekend Wisdom' for the post on Monday. Last week's were wonderful!


e@thisnotedlife said...

my dad just spent the first half of the summer in ireland teaching for a study abroad program and loved it! I'd love to have the opportunity to go

Kelley said...

So jealous! I could totally have spent two months there. When we got back, i needed a vacation from my vacation :) We fit so much in and still didn't see nearly enough!

Katie Harder said...

I want to go back. I looked up tickets to Ireland the other day. Aer Lingus is doing a special to Dublin for $300 out of Chicago....

Kelley said...

What!?! Heck, lets go back for a weekend :)

Aguilar Elliot said...

the shots are awesome. the scenery looks so free, so open, so poetic.

Peter said...

That's a great post and the photos are great too. Nice info too. Nice sights. Call Ireland.

Kelley said...

Thank you! It truly was a trip of a lifetime. And even though I complained the whole way up the mountain, I'm glad we did it :)

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