|We left Galway on Wednesday morning, bound for Westport. At breakfast, Brida, the owner of the B&B, chastised me when she found my discarded Starbucks Via coffee packet. I need really strong, dark coffee, and hers didn’t make the cut the previous morning. Although it was brewed and most of what we have been served has been instant coffee, I needed more. She was a little insulted that I would choose instant coffee over hers. It was a little embarrassing.
Wednesday was one of our most beautiful drives yet. The boys and Scott were getting a little annoyed because I was asking to pull over so many times to take photos. We took about 80 photos that day, so it was hard to cull them down to a manageable number for this post.
Much of the drive included Connemara National Park, a fjord area speckled with lakes. It was a wilder landscape than we’d seen as of yet.
We stopped at Kylemore Abbey, a Neo-Gothic country house and gardens built in the 1860s, but just took photos and moved on.
We also saw a lot of peat bogs. Peat is the mossy organic material that is cut from the ground, then dried into little logs for fireplaces. Its fires provide much of Ireland with a distinct, smokier smell on cold days. We normally wouldn’t smell peat burning at the end of June, but this has been an unusually late spring, with three times the normal rainfall for June. In fact, the night before, Cork, in the south, had some serious flooding problems.
Part of the drive included Famine Pass, where more than 250 people died of hunger in a Donner Party like outing. A famine ship memorial is in the town of Louisburgh.
We arrived in Westport on Wednesday eve, where we had a lovely B&B on the river. Some the nicest places we’ve stayed have just been overnight stops.
We went to a local pub for dinner, watching part of the Euro Cup game between Italy and Germany, then let the boys lounge in the room while we headed around the corner to another pub for traditional music. This isn’t any pub. Matt Malloy’s pub is owned by the flute player of The Chieftans, Ireland’s most famous traditional music band. (They recently played at the UC Davis Mondavi Center). We got there right before music began at 9:30 and stayed well past 11 p.m. It was a local band that played, with a break from a delightful character who sang acapella, leading the packed room in songs.
On Friday, we drive out of the Republic of Ireland to Derry, Northern Ireland.