Ireland’s west coast forms a crescent shaped bay around the Aran Islands, and this was our route from Letterfrack through Galway, and down to Bell Harbour / Bealaclugga, right to the heart of the Burren.
What Irish radio lacks, we made up for by singing our favourite songs at the top of our lungs. This one is our old standby.
As with all roadtrips, you need a playlist, junk food, and a few good puns. We named our rental car the Clarevoyage for two reasons: after collecting her in Dublin we were voyaging onward to County Clare, and because she helped see into that future.
Also the GPS system we rented displayed a double pink line to guide us along our way so we referred to our road trip as #twointhepink and giggled ourselves silly.
We named this sheep in Irish for “Encouragement” and he was our spirit guide on the trip. Any time my friend got nervous about driving or going out into the ocean on a boat, or we got frustratingly lost, he cheered us on.
Clonmacnoise and the Baby Cows Blockade
Speaking of getting frustratingly lost, there was one night where we went to the Clonmacnoise ruins but did not get there until after dark. We had a really creepy encounter with someone and it was way out in the woods so we took off like bats out of hell. We had just taken a breath of relief, when all of the sudden we were greeted with several pairs of eyes in the pitch black. We needed this laugh.
After our stay at the Letterfrack Lodge, we spent most of the day exploring the stunning Connemara National Park and Kylemroe Abbey before heading toward Galway. You can read more about Connemara and Kylemore with the links.
We stopped in a town called Oughterard before Galway to stretch and get a snack. First we found a market that sells local goods, then I walked over to Powers Pub to get some coffee and sulk a little that we did not have enough time to visit Glengowla Mines and play on the sheep farm.
Galway was adorable from what we could see of it, but the hurricane had hit the night before and there was a lot of destruction and trees down, so we kept on trucking until we reached Kinvarra.
Dunguaire Castle is a 16th-century tower castle overlooking the Galway Bay between Kinvarra and Bell Harbor. It was closed when we visited, but from photos I can tell it is awesome inside.
Legendary literary icon and doctor Oliver St. John Gogarty bought Dunguaire Castle in the 1920s and began restoring it. The castle became a meeting place for notable Irish writers such as William Butler Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, and others.
It was acquired in the 1950s by a new owner and now hosts a variety of private and medieval events.
Just across the water from Dunguaire is Bell Harbor’s main town junction.
We stopped to get some seafood chowder for dinner and by the time we reached our rental home, the sky was jet black and lit up with actual twinkling stars. It was so bright and clear we could see several constellations.
This was one of the coolest places we stayed during our trip. Our host’s daughter is a young painter and the whole house is filled with her artwork.
I slept like a lamb with Lemmy and Bowie watching over me.