Showing posts with label Leenane. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Leenane. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Spectacular Connemara

Connemara Day 2

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Killary Harbour
Connemara National Park - Kylemore Abbey & Walled Garden - Drive to Leenane - Lough Inagh - Roundstone - Ballyconneely - Mitchell’s Restaurant.
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Lough Inagh
An action packed day in Connemara. You could perhaps leave out the action but it was surely packed and we deserved our lovely evening meal at Mitchell’s in Clifden. When we left Clifden in the morning, a soft mist was falling but that had more or less vanished by the time we reached Letterfrack and pulled into the Connemara National Park. 
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A tangle of trees in Connemara National Park
Some impressive items in the Visitor Centre, including a pine tree trunk that has been carbon dated to 8,600 years ago. There are quite a few walks here, one that takes you right to the top of Diamond Hill. But we took a shorter one and admired that landmark from a distance. We also has some great views over to the sea, including Inishbofin Island.
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Part of Ireland's largest walled garden in Kylemore
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Salmon and Spinach Quiche at Kylemore cafe
Next stop was Kylemore Abbey, the scene of an 19th century love story between Mitchel Henry and his wife Margaret for whom he built Kylemore as a residence. But she died prematurely in Egypt and the fun and games (shooting, fishing, billiards, even Turkish baths) stopped. He built a gothic church in her memory and eventually joined her in a mausoleum that, like the church, still stands.

In 1920, the residence was bought by the Benedictine nuns and became an abbey. And the tour reveals many links between Ireland and Ypres in Belgium where the nuns came from.


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Well known Connemara scene, with some of the Twelve Pins behind.
The nuns also ran a boarding school (recently closed) and are now restoring the very impressive Victorian walled garden that Henry built. It is the largest such garden in Ireland and if you are caught for time when visiting Kylemore, make the garden your priority! It is a twenty minute walk but there is a shuttle bus. We had a nice lunch in the Mitchell’s Kylemore cafe and you’ll also find a spectacularly situated tea house up by the walled gardens.


On exiting the abbey, turn left and head for Leenane and a special drive, starting with lakes and mountains to your right. Changes then to bogs and mountains before you drop down towards Leenane getting spectacular views of Killary Harbour, Ireland’s only fjord, on the way. Well worth the trip, even if you turn back in Leenane.


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Evening in Roundstone
We did turn back and picked up the road to Lough Inagh. Not very well known but many say it is a must visit. Surrounded by mountains, it is certainly a beautiful place. Continued on to the main road back to Clifden and found the well known waters, with the Twelve Pins behind, on the right. It is one of the most photographed sights here so I just added to the statistics as you can see above.

We then drove down to Roundstone and its harbour with the same mountains in the background. Lovely spot but the Post Office, on the main street, could badly do with a coat of paint! Next stop was Ballyconneely and its fish smokery. Soon we were back in our Dun Ri base in Clifden.


Dinner was firmly on the agenda and we booked a table at a pretty busy Mitchell’s in the middle of the town. This was a major step-up on the previous evening. We picked from the three course menu for 25.95. A massive bowl of well made chowder got me on my way while CL enjoyed a Cod and Salmon Fish Cake (Chilli, Fig and Apricot Chutney).

Good choice of mains and I was very well pleased with my Baked Hake, dressed Savoy Cabbage, Crispy Bacon and Mustard Cream with a side of boiled potatoes. Really top notch. CL appreciated the quality of her Mitchell's Fish Bake, locally sourced white fish "fused" with melted leeks and a light topping of house mash. Quite a lot of good stuff!

Desserts were nothing to write home about, so we won’t. Overall though, it was excellent and we booked again for the next night.
Connemara Day 1
Connemara Day 3