I finally have time to work on my trip report as we have just returned home from a great trip to Ireland. This report is a continuation of my initial report at http://tinyurl.com/7godjv8 (thank you Uasal for showing me how to do the tiny url; if this link doesn't work, my apologies and not Uasal's fault, I am not that computer literate). I probably should have mentioned that we are 2 adults traveling with our 22 yr old son and 19 yr old daughter in the first report.
It was not difficult exiting Dublin from Budget city centre (once we got thru the shortcut recommended by both the passerby and the shopkeeper – probably should have stuck with the route recommended by Budget!) and once on the M6 it was much easier to adjust to driving in Ireland. My husband drives a manual at home but still found the shifting with his opposite hand (and the roundabouts) initially a bit difficult but nonetheless manageable. I will say I think the driving is much more difficult for the passengers (especially on those narrow roads along cliffs) but by the end of the trip we were all a lot more comfortable and much less excitable and I’m happy to report no accidents (although I’m pretty sure the car picked up some new scratches from all the narrow roads we traveled so am glad we got the super CDW).
On the way to Westport we stopped by both Kilbeggan Distillery (2 for 1 admission thru Heritage Island Discount Pass) and Clonmacnoise (monastic heritage site). They were both worthwhile stops although Clonmacnoise added a bit of drive time and we were all road weary by the time we arrived in Westport.
In Westport we stayed for 2 nights at Killary House B&B (35E pps/night). The rooms were clean and quite spacious and the breakfast was delicious (we loved the potato waffles). The proprietor Margaret was exceptional. She was most cheery and helpful and flexible (I won’t give details as I wouldn’t want to obligate her to future boarders) but we very much appreciated her generous nature.
Westport itself reminded me of a Lake Michigan resort town. It was a bit touristy for our taste but very beautiful and it is well located for exploring Co Mayo and we were well situated for the next day’s extraordinarily beautiful drive thru the Connemara to Ennis. Prices seemed a bit cheaper than Dublin city centre and the quality of food for the price was better.
It was getting late so for dinner the first night, we went to a fast food place and had a cheap and very good fish and chips dinner (no comparison to the fish dinners at fast food places in the US). Afterwards, we went into (and quickly left) a few of the bars that are mentioned in the tourist books. It was no different than being in Temple Bar (overflowing with crowds) and not what we were looking for. My son and I decided to call it a night but my daughter talked my husband into exploring further with her and they did find a pub with trad music frequented by the locals rather than the tourists and met some very friendly older Irish gentlemen. They reported the music and singing was great and I was a bit disappointed that I had not persisted with them. We returned the second night but that was after the big rugby and soccer matches and the crowd was a bit younger and had done some serious drinking and although interesting to sit back and watch and listen, they were a bit rowdy and we did not stay long.
We only had one full day in the Westport area and spent that day on Achille Island. Achille Island is beautiful and is the Ireland of the movies – remote feeling, narrow winding roads, scattered ruins, lots of wandering sheep and nursing lambs, working ranchers/farmers (?not sure of the correct term), beautiful cliffs and sandy beaches. It was the perfect tonic after the busyness of Dublin city centre. We were in awe of the scenery and had a lovely day although a bit road weary by the end of the day (a common theme of our trip). Lots of places to pull over which we did frequently and took short walks (no fences) and hopefully that was not inappropriate.
We even had a little sunshine and the weather was a bit warmer but unfortunately as was our other common theme throughout our visit, we were a bit rushed. This was the Saturday of the big rugby championship match and my son wanted to return in time to watch the match in the neighborhood pub. He did have a great time doing so and got some good instruction in the game and the rest of us visited the many shops in Westport.
For our second night we decided on dinner by the water and had a nice dinner at Sheebeen’s although unfortunately we sat in a back room with no water views but did get to watch the soccer match on the big screen. Afterwards we made the short drive to Croagh Patrick. It was a shame we did not have the time to make the climb. In hindsight I can see that we should have allowed more time for getting out of the car and doing things and we would have been much less road weary. It was very difficult finding the right balance between seeing all the many sights and taking the time to actually experience the sites.
To be continued in Trip Report 3- Ennis…