In three hours you can drive completely cross-country in Ireland, but you would be foolish not to stop at the Wonderful Barn, Maynooth Town, or another historic site along the way. We left Dublin and began our journey to explore the west coast of Ireland. Our trip had been going so well until the very last side trail stop at the Clonmacnoise ruins.
The sun all but fell out of the sky without notice, leaving us in stuck in a field and unable to see. A man approached us quite malignantly out of nowhere, and we had no choice but to leave within minutes of arriving. Long story short, we got back to the car and flew off like bats out of hell. He followed us for some time but we finally lost him. We were not able to explore the ruins but they were nice to look at, anyhow.
My pick for this entry is Royksopp/Fever Ray’s collaboration “What Else Is There” because it really sets the tone for the rest of our night.
We arrived at our Renvyle cottage near midnight. The rental car GPS had utterly failed and we were freaked out after both the scary stranger and an hour of navigating oceanside cliff territory in the dark during a blinding rainstorm.
Hurricane Ophelia had crossed the Atlantic and was headed right toward us. Unsure what to expect, we camped out in the living room of our AirBnb glued to the news. There was no phone or wi-fi and we could not get a cell signal, so we felt very uneasy. We managed to get a little sleep, but by 6 am Ophelia had hit Cork pretty badly and was moving closer.
When the sun rose, I could finally see the landscape around us and I was floored.
Not wanting to miss my chance, I went for a walk down the Connemara loop. It was peaceful for a while.
Renvyle is one of many villages on the Connemara Loop, which runs along the Connemara National Park. The region is tucked into the center of the western coast Ireland, right on the Atlantic.
Renvyle is also close to Inisbofin Island, and about three hours’ drive north of Doolin and the Cliffs of Moher.
Suddenly the sky went dark and rain pelted against me in a stinging wind. It was so strong it nearly knocked me over a few times. I had to put the camera away for a bit and run to safety.
We had tea and watched the sky go from black to blue and back for a couple hours. Irish public radio is an abomination, but it was all we had. Between moments of static they played samples of music that sounded like bubble gum ads in the 1970s, bits of news where even the reporters admitted they were not sure if the source was trustworthy, and lonnng segments of hilarious call-in radio shows.
I started in on the book our new friend had gifted me with in Belfast, and we counted our blessings. After a while, the storm passed (or so we thought). We went for a walk together and were so excited about these double rainbows shooting across the entire village.
The whole area was surrounded by luscious green hills, giant stones, and peat bogs. Burning peat is one of our favourite smells, and it was a lot of fun to poke around and see various stages of cutting and laying out the bricks.
Our cottage was on a hill overlooking two beaches, a sandy one and a rocky one, with a trail that went up the mountain between them.
It was as remote and quiet here as it was beautiful. The only sound was from the water lapping and of a few nearby sheep.
The news had said the tornado was gathering strength and would be crossing us again shortly. We had no food and were feeling restless because we were unable to check in with our families, so we drove around the loop to the nearest village to find wi-fi and something to eat.
The sky went dark again. Waves started heaving onto the beaches, flooding just enough so that sand was no longer visible.
Tully, the nearest village, was already a ghost town so we turned to Letterfrack. We found a grocery and a hostel, whose staff let us in to warm up and use their wi-fi.
I realized right away that this place was on the protected side of the mountain and all the water had ran down away from the streets, whereas our cottage was between two beaches and had already began to flood.
We rushed back to get our things and relocated to the hostel. It was an absolutely wild, white-knuckled ride.
We checked into the Letterfrack Hostel with our carload of snacks and waited for the storm to blow through. We had not eaten since the previous day but now we had set out our hurricane feast and were in better sorts.
Eventually we dozed off. Thunder echoed and shook the whole place throughout the night, but Hurricane Ophelia once again seemed to have gone right around us.
Early the following morning, we woke up and saw an enormous deer outside our window. His shoulders were taller than the top of a parked SUV several feet away, estimating him to be around eight feet tall or more.
We were mesmerized by how graceful he was, his ears perking up with every sound and movement around him. Each time I tried to snap his photo, he would freeze and stare at me.
After breakfast we set out to explore the Connemara National Park, which I have written a separate entry about.
Follow me to Surreal Connemara.