Showing posts with label O'Dowd's. Show all posts
Showing posts with label O'Dowd's. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Sunny Days In Connemara

Sunny Days In Connemara
On the Connemara Loop, near Tully Mountain
Maybe it wasn't sunshine all the way but it felt like it as we enjoyed a couple of days in beautiful Connemara recently. There was that thundery shower as we arrived but the sun came out as we drove from Moycullen over the hills, past a wind-farm, to Spiddal.

A visit to the Craft Centre there is always worthwhile. Revived by a cup of coffee in Builín Blasta, we strolled up the village itself, taking a look at the stained glass in the church before going down to the rocks and the sea and the beaches, all very pleasant in the warm sunshine.

Beaches of Spiddal
We drove along the coast road then, passing TG4 headquarters, close too to the airfield for the Aran Islands, before checking in at Screebe House, our superb base for the next two nights. We had a very warm welcome indeed. The house, renovated a few years back, is situated within yards of the waters and our room had a wonderful view. You may read more about our hotel experience here.

Good views again as we drove over to Kilkieran and the well known Coyne Bar. Great to see a line-up of craft beer taps on the counter and great to sit outside and sip a little of the Cascade by the local Independent Brewing as two young ladies at a nearby table chatted fluently in Irish. More of the same beer after an excellent dinner at Screebe House.

Old graveyard in Spiddal
Day Two found us on the scenic way - a couple of sets of roadworks too! - to Letterfrack and a trip around the bay on a glass bottomed boat. Letterfrack Bay Water Tours give you the chance to see the fish that live on the floor of the bay. The boat has eight glass panels. Despite the best efforts of our skipper, we didn't get to see as much as both he and we had hoped.

But still, there were crabs on the bottom, including a couple of spider crabs scampering away together and lots of starfish who grow quite large around here. The Thornback Ray is common here but hard to find on the day and indeed we were lucky to see the one that did appear!

Pint of Independent's Cascade in Coyne's of Kilkieran
On board, they have lots of examples of the shells of scallops, whelks and so on. Apparently, those scallops can really move when need be. 

The big surprise though was when the skipper reached out the back of the boat and pulled a starfish from an enclosure that we didn’t know about. Had a good look and feel - didn't realise they are so big! By the way, the boat trip gives some lovely views of the surrounding land, including Diamond Hill and the Twelve Bins.

The tour takes an hour and after it (or before it, in our case) you can tour their little museum and modest aquarium nearby (all included in your ticket). This gives you a feel for the maritime history of the area, the shipwrecks (including some from the Spanish Armada), the advances in boats and equipment, how the people lived - there is a butter making churn and an very old Pye radio there. And your tour ticket also entitles you to a cup of tea or coffee and biscuits.
Craft village in Spiddal
You also get some friendly tips. And one such set us off on a beautiful local trip around the area of Tully mountain that yielded some spectacular coastal views before eventually bringing us back to Letterfrack. Here, we called to the National Park, not for a walk up Diamond Hill, but for a cup of coffee in the cafe.

By the way, admission to the Park is free and many, Irish and visitors, were taking advantage. I find it hard to understand why there isn't at least a parking charge. I don't think anyone would begrudge paying a few euro towards the upkeep of these lovely places. We came across another, Coole Park near Gort, on the following day.

Sky Road, near Clifden
 From Letterfrack, we headed in the direction of Clifden, all the while looking out for the famous Sky Road. We found that and some more spectacular views on the approach to the well known town. Then we saw signs pointing in the direction of the monument to Clifden founder John D’Arcy. We climbed up there - a short climb but stiff enough - and were rewarded with a great view of the town below and the mountains beyond.

On the road out of Clifden (the N59), there is a spectacular view to your left, a well known one that you’ll see in many photographs and it includes the mountains, the Twelve Bens, large lakes and a stand of evergreens. Think I’ve stopped here at least once on every visit to Connemara.
Clifden, from a nearby hill
A glass of Galway Hooker
in O'Dowd's, Roundstone

Dinner that evening was in the lovely old (1840) pub called O’Dowds in Roundstone, just alongside the harbour from where you have a gorgeous view of the Twelve Bens. Dinner was gorgeous too as you may read below.

A 2014 holiday in Connemara
O'Dowd's Seafood Bar & Restaurant (Roundstone)