Galway

Galway Travel Blog

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Entrance to Newgrange.

When last we left our intrepid heroine...well, I'm not sure what she was doing but there was probably Guinness involved.

 

So, here's #2 in the travelogue, whether you like it or not.  :)

 

Monday was....sleeping in.  I think we finally got out of the hotel by noon.  Took care of errands (bank, internet cafe) and then off to Kilmainham Goal (jail).  It's where the leaders of the various revolutions have been jailed, so much of the tour is a look at the fights for independence from England.  It also gives some insight into attitudes about law, order, and punishment in the 18th and 19th centuries.  I found it quite interesting, but I'm a history junkie.

 

Boy, this country is really fabulous if you're a history nut (any history in the last, say 5,000 years).

View from Trim Castle
  From there, we hopped a bus to the Guinness factory.  We got there 15 minutes after the tours shut down.  Darn that Rick Steves Guide!!  Second bum steer of the day.  But the gift shop was open, naturally, so we dropped a few Euros and headed home.

 

Had an early dinner and went to bed for a long night's sleep.

 

Tuesday we had The Big Adventure -- driving in Ireland.  We picked up our rental car about noon and headed out of town.

 

How anyone who is used to right-hand driving manages this on their own is beyond me.  Jeff was behind the wheel but it absolutely took two of us to get out of town and to our destination.  He concentrated on staying on the correct side of the road (and not clipping cars on our left) and I figured out what we were supposed to be doing.

King Stone at Hill of Tara
  And reminded him to stay on the left and alerted him when we were straying TOO far to the left (that happens a LOT). 

 

We were both pretty worn out when we got to our destination, Newgrange. 

 

Newgrange is a 5,000 year old burial chamber and religious site north of Dublin.  There are actually 3 mounds there, but Newgrange is the only one you can enter.  The guidebooks tell you to get there early to avoid the crowds but there were no crowds mid-day on the Tuesday after a long weekend.  Crowd-free.

 

So, we had a lovely tour and visit inside the burial chamber.  Quite small and you better not be too tall on the way in.  It gave me a chance to really re-think my notions of Stone Age people.

Model of Trim castle
  To build something like this, you need a stable, relatively prosperous society because you need to be able to support people who aren't creating food or shelter but can be devoted to building.  It took 2-4 generations to build it, which also suggests social stability.  And it suggests both a developed theology and respect enough for that theology to devote the resources to something like this.

 

Hadn't really thought of it that way before and, of course, not all of that is literally true.  Still, it's a good vacation if someone makes me look at the world in a new way.

 

From there, took some unbelievably tiny roads to our hotel.  These country roads are narrow and bounded on both sides by 6' and 7' hedges planted, literally, to the side of the road.  So every curve is a blind curve and you can NOT pull off the road, at all.  Sorta like running between jersey barriers.

 

I was worn out by it and I wasn't even driving!

 

The next day, we headed to the castle at Trim.  It's an Anglo-Norman castle (for those of you who know of such things).  One of the largest and best preserved in Ireland.  Which doesn't mean it's exactly intact but you can still move through it and up to the top.

 

Our guide, Jacqueline, loves her country's history and mythology and was just a fountain of good and interesting information about the castle, about the area, everything.  What fun!  We had a long tour (there were only 4 of us) and loved every minute of it.

 

Then to the Hill of Tara, the historic site for crowning the High King.  It's just out in the middle of the country, at the intersection of two country lanes.  You need to pick up a guidebook at the local bookshop, and it's worth it.  I really enjoyed rambling across the multi-acre site (and avoiding the sheepshit everywhere, since the sheep also have free rein of the site).  Some really cool stuff there, including the 'FairyTree' (which has coins stuck in all its crevasses).  For those of you into it, it definitely has 'good energy'.

 

Then we headed across country to Galway.

 

There are no 'interstates' or 'freeways' in Ireland, except for a few miles around Dublin.  It's more like regional roads.  Like Rt. 66 used to be across the US.  Wide good roads, but generally 2 lanes only and you'll go through each town along the way.  No way to zip from point to point really. 

 

For you speed freaks, it would be frustrating.  But you really do get to see the country, up close and personal. My favorite scene was near Galway. The wind had been blowing hard, 30-40 mph, for 2 days.  Plus, we were now in a heavy rain.  In some fields, I saw a line of cows leaning into a stone wall, trying to stay out of the wind and rain and looking just pitiful.  Like 'what did we do to deserve this?'. 

 

Never was a cow so sad-looking!

 

But we made it to Galway.  It's a lovely college town and we're in a B&B that faces the bay.  Really lovely views from our rooms.  Today is a 'maintenance' day.  Laundry, internet, planning, wandering.  Tomorrow, weather permitting, will be some hiking. 

 

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Entrance to Newgrange.
Entrance to Newgrange.
View from Trim Castle
View from Trim Castle
King Stone at Hill of Tara
King Stone at Hill of Tara
Model of Trim castle
Model of Trim castle
Galway
photo by: AleksandraEa