my Connemara/Galway trip

Connemara Travel Blog

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Hi there!

Finally I found the time and inspiration to tell you about ma trip to Ireland´s west coast. (..this is actually the second try, after my first try of one hour´s work vanished in the depth of the www).
So, I´ll publish the single days now instead of the full story at once.
I hope you don´t mind.
My friend Tobi, whom I grew up with back in Germany and who is like my second little brother, had worked at Kylemore Abbey as part of his studies for landscape architecture. And because those three months were nearly over, this was my last chance to visit him on the other side of the island.

Originally I wanted to make a video blog this time, after all I´m a video producer. But I failed so far to put myself into nice make-up and lighting and tell you rather than write about what I did. So, for now I will only give you my normal blog with some quickly edited material that my grandpa could have

OK, here we go with Part 1.

23/08/2007 - off to "Ireland´s piece of heaven"

My alarm rang at 4am and I was completely irritated until I realized that I had a nice trip ahead of me today.
I managed to put everything (even my laptop) into my big bag-pack and left the house at 5.30am.
This is now actually a funny story of a journey you can make in Ireland to get from point A (in this case my house) to point B (my accommodation in Letterfrack).
And here it goes:
From my doorstep the...

...brought me to...

...I took the tram, named Luas...

...where after a chat with an old man who told me about the insufficient toilet system on trains and how much better life was in the good old days (Did you know that in the good old times a letter that you sent at midday did arrive at its destination at 3pm? On the whole doubtful!) I took a...

...where a man from the tourist bus agency escorted me by foot... the...

I told the driver that I will get off at Kylemore Abbey and won´t do the rest of the tour, which is actually a common way of getting there, because it is so remote that it doesn´t even have a proper connection with public transport.
And the next two hours of my journey looked like this (lean back and enjoy):

It seemed like the further we got the more and more pretty the landscape got. The driver told us stories about the Irish and their beautiful country and I tried to absorb everything I saw and heard.
Then finally we arrived at Kylemore Abbey.

I grabbed my back-pack and met Tobi at the souvenir shop. After we stored my things in the staff accommodation I got a private tour of the grounds.

The gardens where Tobi worked over the past weeks:

The Abbey itself isn´t that spectacular in my eyes, but therefore the surrounding landscape.

Mysterious stories from the past rank around the Abbey. There is still evidence of the tragic deaths that occurred to the family that once owned this place.
A little church was built by the husband for his dead wife....

...and a mausoleum, where now the whole family rests.

We took the walk back to the staff accommodation and one of Tobi´s co-workers brought me to the neighbour village Letterfrack in his car.
Here I was to stay in the B&B  of the pub "The Bard´s Den".

The room didn´t make a clean impression and was full of spiders...ugh, my favourites... *shudder*

Tobi and I met again in the pub itself for dinner. They really serve good food here.
And well fed we took a little walk up in the forest which leads towards Diamond Hill. This was our goal for tomorrow, to climb that hill.
In the forest we saw a sign that said "Letterfrack Industrial School Graveyard". Intrigued we decided to go through the metal gate and follow the little path that lead further into the forest. After only a minute walk or so we arrived at another metal gate. Enclosed  in low stone walls we saw a few dozen heart-shaped gravestones lined up in neat  rows.
This was scary.
Then we noticed another sign and I really felt shivers running down my spine. It read:

"What they suffered
they told but few
They did not deserve
what they went through
Tired and weary
they made no fuss
They tried so hard
to stay with us."

We were shocked. What had happened here?
We had a short walk around the graves all from the time of the first and second world war and quite quickly went back to the road.
Actually, when I was back home I did some research. Apparently these "lost boys" were pupils in a Christian school here in Letterfrack and through unknown reasons many boys died.
Even today people in the area tell their boys: "If you don´t behave, we´ll send you to Letterfrack!".
What a story on the way.
With this morbid experience I said good bye to Tobi who drove back to Kylemore with his bike.
I went to my room, cleaned my pillows from spiders and had a good night rest.


The original plan was to climb the Diamond Hill today. So I was all geared up with my cap, a small rucksack with everything I could possibly need on a small mountain and my walking boots.
Unfortunately the clouds hung so deeply that half the mountain was swallowed by them.
There was no point in going up there without a view. So there had to be a new plan.
And that was to drive to Clifden and have a walk to the ruin of a castle there with two of Tobi´s female co-workers.


("normal" vegetation at the side of the road)

The sun came out and I had Absolutely NO stamina. The mountain climbing probably would have been a desaster. Already sweating we arrived at the outer walls for the castle.

Then followed a beautiful walk down the hill along fields and "postcard horses". Tobi once said that he´s living in a postcard and that the horses, sheep and cows know exactly how to pose to create the perfect postcard. And there I found one on a hill letting its mane blow in the wind.

We walked on towards the sea and along more beautiful countryside.

We arrived at the castle and had a lunch break. It was a little disappointing to see that the castle was "preserved" by just besmearing it with ugly concrete.
Nevertheless this was a beautiful place to have our sandwiches.

(Mia and me)

When we continued descending the hill to find our way back to the town I got silly and ran down the hill like Heidi, with the slight difference that I felt like causing minor earthquakes with every step (or stump?) I made...

Suddenly the fog came back from the sea, which felt a little eerie. The humidity raised to a for me unbearable level and my shirt was litteraly drenched and dripping. I felt like weirdo until the others told me that they wer soaked as well.
But this doesn´t stop us from having a wonderful walk along some more fields, the seafront and some more postcard horses.

And where there wasn´t a way, Tobi made us one.

Then finally we got back to town, did some shopping and drove back to Letterfrack.

("just" the way home)

In the evening after a good shower we all met again for a few pints in the pub with some more co-workers.

(Tobi and me)

I said good bye to everyone and was dropped off at my B&B.
Tobi would come to Dublin again next weekend before heading back home.

....and here is an impression of what I would have seen, if I had made it to the top of Diamond Hill. These photos are from Tobi:

25/08/2007 - Galway

In the morning I took one of the few buses that drive between here and Galway and left Letterfrack.
It was a nice 2 hour journey to Galway. I went straight to the tourist office and asked for day trips and accommodation.
There were of course many possibilities for city tours, but unfortunately nearly no place to stay overnight, because there was some special cycling event in the city this weekend.
What a shame!
So I decided to just look at the city for a few hours and take a bus back home to Dublin today.
I left my luggage at the train station and jumped on the next city tour bus.
(The following pictures are taken from the top of the bus during drizzle rain, so please excuse, if they are a little funny...hehe)

After the tour I had a stroll through Galway´s shopping streets.
This was so cute. It was a saturday early afternoon and you could freely walk without being bruised afterwards like in Dublin. McDonald´s was empty and the people actually stopped and watched the street performers in amazement.
Antisocial people were an exception not the rule.
Even in this drizzle rain Galway made me feel so much more comfortable than Dublin. While Dublin has to fight for my favour even in sunshine, Galway´s fisher town flair captured me immediately.
I´m honestly thinking about looking for a job here for January.
Here´s the impression I got during my walk.


Well, on my way back home with the bus reality cought me again the closer I got back to Dublin. The landscape got more and more ugly (and even though everything in Ireland is nice and green, it really seems to get more ugly) and the bus filled with unpleasant people.

Anyway, this was a wonderful trip I had and good new impressions I got of the country I live in.
And again the urge to get out of Dublin got stronger than ever.

Tobi was right when he said: "You live in Dublin, but THIS is Ireland!"
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photo by: paganmom