Sorry for the complete blog silence. The last month has been incredibly busy for us at work and we had an emergency child care issue to deal with as well. We are back from our trip to Ireland and we have another short trip to Boston planned very soon so we really need to get back on the blogging wagon.
We had a great time in Ireland and I really hope we can go back again soon because we didn’t have enough time to see and do everything on our list, even after limiting our itinerary to just a few places. The first part of our trip involved visiting Russ’ family about an hour east of Galway in a small town called Kiltormer. Russ is in charge of that re-cap since I spent most of the time trying to prevent Finnegan from falling out of a tree and Declan from running into the road. The boys are obviously far too young to appreciate the significance of visiting family so far away – I’m sure the only thing they remember is the friendly dog and the playground down the street.
After a day and a half in Kiltormer, we were on our way to Clifden to visit Connemara National Park. We stopped in Galway for a few hours to see the city and have an early dinner. We walked by a double decker bus just as a tour was about to start so we decided to hop on since we knew we wouldn’t have a lot of time to sight see. It was starting to mist (which was one of the only times it rained our entire trip) so it seemed like a good way to get out of the rain as well. We went back and forth between the lower deck and the upper deck depending on the level of misting. The waterfront area looked nice and there was an aquarium that we would have liked to explore if we had more time and the weather was nicer.
Someone enjoyed riding in the bus without being strapped into a car seat!
The boys harassing the pigeons again.
We couldn’t stay too long because we still had 90 minutes of driving to get to Clifden. The drive was easy – well, it was easy until we reached the actual “road” that our B&B was on – the Sky Road. Here is a video showing what driving on the Sky Road is like: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y82A6RhX6tI&feature=youtu.be
We stayed at the Ardmore House B&B for two nights. It is a little outside of town so you can’t walk to the shops and restaurants, but as a trade off, they have a really nice cliff walk right outside their door. The scenery in this area is wild and raw with weather to match.
The next morning, we fueled up on smoked salmon and scrambled eggs and set out to visit Kylemore Abbey and do some hiking. We had a bit of a delay when Russ hit a big rock and popped our tire as he was turning around on a narrow road. Thanks to a very nice German couple, we managed to change the tire on the Renault minivan that we rented – the jack that came with the car was worthless, so the process went much faster with their German-made jack. This was the start of our car woes, which didn’t end until we handed the keys back over to Avis.
Once we were back on the road, our first stop was Kylemore Abbey. The gardens, grounds, and abbey are beautiful. The kids had fun throwing rocks in the water, chasing sheep, and climbing the small staircases inside.
After Kylemore Abbey, our plan was to hike Diamond Hill, but it started to rain so we headed to Killary and for a cruise instead. It was a 90-minute trip and the kids were free. The scenery was beautiful, they have indoor seating with large windows, outdoor seating that is covered, and they have snacks on board so it was pretty easy to keep the boys engaged. I ordered a bowl of seafood chowder, which Declan promptly devoured. The small taste that I had was delicious and there was a ton of seafood included. I don’t know that I would specifically include the cruise in our next itinerary, but it’s a great thing to do if it’s raining or you need slow down and relax.
The boys fell asleep on our drive to the visitor’s center of Connemara National Park so we took turns doing a very short walk on the Bog road, which is part of the medium length Diamond Hill hike. I hope we can return when the boys are a little older and do the entire hike because the area looked beautiful.
For dinner we went to one of the pubs in Clifden with live Irish music. Finnegan found a partner in crime and had a great time entertaining the other patrons with some creative dancing.
We had one more night at Ardmore B&B so we did the cliff walk again. Because it didn’t get dark until 11PM and my boys didn’t feel the need to sleep until it was dark, we had many hours in the day to explore.
The next morning, our plan was to find some small ponies for the boys to ride because Finnegan was obsessed with the idea and we thought it might tire them out before the long drive to Doolin. However, our plan was thwarted when Russ returned from getting a new tire and gassing up. After loading the car, it wouldn’t start. We tried and tried, but finally decided to call road side assistance. Ugh! After waiting an hour, roadside help hadn’t arrived so Russ tried the car again – and it started! Hmmm, that was odd, but we decided to risk it and went to a horseback riding center that our B&B recommended. It was a 30 minute drive on some narrow roads, but we made it. In hindsight, it would have been much better to skip this detour. The center almost always has availability, but they were completely booked that day with a large contingent of French tourists. Then our car wouldn’t start again. Our French-made car. Damn the French.
After waiting almost an hour, we tried the car again. No luck. We asked to borrow the phone at the riding center and called roadside assistance again. Ten minutes later, Russ tried the car and it started. The only consistency we had the rest of the trip was if we called roadside assistance, the car inevitability started again. We decided to bag the rest of our plans in the area and head for our next stop – Doolin.