Many people ask me, “Andrew, which part of Ireland is your favorite?” From the first time we visited Green Island, my answer will always be the same: West Coast! If you would as well ask me what is the best thing to do around the coast, it would be the Connemara Tour. Let me share with you the details of our trip.
Our journey started by joining a guided bus tour in the city center of Galway City to reach Claddagh and Salthill (west part of Galway). I have listed below the places we visited as part of the Connemara Tour.
The first stop of our trip was Pearse’s Cottage located in Rosmuc Village (in the heart of the Connemara Gaeltacht, on the Wild Atlantic Way).
Patrick Pearse (leaders of Irish Nationalism, poet, teacher) built a cottage for himself on the shores of Loch Oiriúlach in 1909. Mr. Pearse used his house, as a summer residence and summer school for his pupils from St Enda’s in Dublin. If you would like know more about Patrick, you can check exhibition about him located inside visitor centre. After passing main entrance, it takes 5 minutes’ walk, to get to the main the cottage. What we noticed inside the cottage is that it’s really bright inside. Also we’ve seen how people lived in house back in the days. When you get outside the building you will see a beautiful view of the lake. If you turn right and walk few minutes, you will find a bench, where you can take a sit and enjoy of the view of lake and village.
The next stop of our trip was Dog’s Bay Beach. Before the stop, we decided to take a break on the way and take few pictures of the wilderness bog landscape and experience the tranquility and isolation of Connemara.
Dog’s Bay Beach
Dog’s Bay is a beach stretching a mile out into the Atlantic Ocean, we were lucky that time because there are not so many people to take pictures and enjoy the view.
The next stop of the tour we had is at Connemara National Park.
Connemara National Park
Connemara National Park is one of six national parks in the Republic of Ireland that is managed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. The Park covers over 2,957 hectares of scenic mountains, expanses of bogs, heaths, grasslands and woodlands. We chose to walk up to Diamond Hill and it took us 2 hours to get on the top. We really enjoyed hiking there.
Our last stop before we came back to Galway was Kylemore Abbey Castle.
Kylemore Abbey Castle
Kylemore Castle was built in the late 1800s by Mitchell Henry MP, a wealthy business man and liberal politician from United Kingdom. Inspired by his love for his wife Margaret, and his hopes for his beloved Ireland, Henry created an estate boasting ‘all the innovations of the modern age’. An enlightened landlord and vocal advocate of the Irish people, Henry poured his life’s energy into creating an estate that would showcase what could be achieved in the remote wilds of Connemara. You can go inside the castle, walk around and see beautiful Victorian Walled Garden.
After long day of Connemara tour, we decided to go back to Galway, to discover local Irish Music in O’Connor’s Pub.
As soon you enter to the pub, you will feel the local family vibes. First, what you can notice are the decorations inside. A lot of gadgets on the walls such as farm implements, crockery, photos, pictures, old gaslights on the ceiling and laundry next to chimney that gives you an impression that you feel like you are home. The bar offers a big choice of local whiskey’s, beers and ciders. Every day they have different live bands, which is a good opportunity to discover local music. O’Connor’s pub is open till 2 am (we were last guests of this place). The next day we decided to stay in Galway city.
I still have it in my mind, when I arrived in Galway for the first time (8 years ago). As soon I went to downtown, I fell in love with local vibe of music and art. Let me tell you a little bit of this city.
Galway is a harbor city located on Ireland’s west coast sits where the River Corrib meets the Atlantic Ocean and is the sixth most populous city in Ireland. If you are planning to visit Ireland, I recommend you to add this city to your itinerary. It’s easy to get there from Dublin by bus (the ride takes only 2 hours 30 minutes).
What can you do in Galway? Here are my top 5 recommended things to do in Galway
- Enjoy walk Shop Street, High Street and Quay Street.
Those streets are located in city center. You can pass places, where you can meet local street performances, such as musicians, Irish dancers, buy local clothes, try local food and drinks and you have opportunity to buy traditional Celtic jewelry for example well know Claddagh ring.
The Claddagh ring (Irish: fáinne Chladaigh) is a traditional Irish ring which represents love, loyalty, and friendship (the hands represent friendship, the heart represents love, and the crown represents loyalty).
According to Irish author Colin Murphy, a Claddagh ring was worn with the intention of conveying the wearer’s relationship status:
On the right hand with the point of the heart toward the fingertips: the wearer is single and may be looking for love.
On the right hand with the point of the heart toward the wrist: the wearer is in a relationship.
On the left ring finger with the point of the heart toward the fingertips: the wearer is engaged.
On the left ring finger with the point of the heart toward the wrist: the wearer is married.
2. Visit Latin Quarter.
Latin Quarter is in my one of favorite’s part of Galway. Here I usually try local desserts and stop for coffee. This place is very romantic during evening, where you can take a sit, order glass of wine and hear local music.
3. Chill at Corrib river.
If you would like have a break during sunny afternoon or warm evening, I recommend you to go spot located between Wolfe Tone Bridge and Claddagh Quay. Here you can meet local people, guitar players and people who want catch a little bit of Vitamin B.
4. Museum of City Galway.
If you would like to know a bit of history of this city, this place is definitely for you. The museum was founded on 29 July 2006 and is located beside the Spanish Arch. The place has a variety of permanent and touring exhibitions. The permanent exhibition include preserves and displays materials relating to the history of Galway City, Archaeology, Art, Geology, Natural History, Social, Political and Industrial History and Folk life. The entrance to museum is free whole year.
5. Enjoy sunshine at Salthill.
If you would like to see a seaside area, this part is located in the City of Galway in the west of Ireland. There is a 2 km long promenade, where you can take a walk or ride by bicycle. Also, along the way are beaches, several restaurants, pubs, coffee places and National Aquarium of Ireland. If you are lucky, you can also see Aran Islands during sunny days.
Place to stay in Galway:
If you want to feel local atmosphere with the best warm Irish welcome, I recommend you to check out The White House B&B.
This property is located 2 minutes’ walk from the beach. Overlooking Galway and its beaches, the White House is only 2.4 km from the city center and it offers affordable rooms with free Wi-Fi and free parking. The suite rooms at the White House are beautifully appointed and have seating areas with armchairs some have sea views. Rooms feature TVs, hospitality trays and hairdryers. We stayed at the first floor on the sea side site. The dining room, where the hosts serve breakfast in the morning, make you feel like you are at home. This place is for everyone: families, friend trips, couples and small group. I visited many Bed & Breakfast in Ireland and this one is my favorite.
Unique place for brunch & coffee:
This coffee place is located 1 minute walk from the Bus station. Inside you will feel really like you are in a jungle. The garden with palms and different kind of plants is covered by glass roof, so during sunny days you will feel really warm and during raining days you don’t feel wet. The place offers Breakfast, Brunch, coffees, homemade juices and smoothies. Each time i visit Galway, I try to come there for drink before I leave the city.
Before we arrived to Galway, I spot this nice promo video of Galway city made by EyeZone Studio. You can see the video below.
I decided to contact, meet them and talk about the city and his experience as video maker. During our chat, they shared the news about recording the second part of their Galway promo video and they invited us to this project. We are looking forward to see the results. It was honor to say something about my favorite city in Ireland!
- If you are planning visit Connemara region, make sure that you have enough time. This is full day trip.
- Galway Museum has also seasonal exhibitions. Check what kind of exhibitions there is during your visit.
- If you are looking for some advises about regional beers and whiskeys, don’t hesitate to ask bar tenders. They will be happy to share the knowledge.