Goodbye 2010s – My 2017 Connemara Trip and Why A Quick Break Is Good

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This post is part of my 10-week retrospective looking back at a specific trip from each year of the 2010s. Read more about the series here. Below are links to every post in this series.

My 2010 Toronto Trip and Why I Love a Quest
My 2011 Vancouver Trip and Why Repeat Visits Are Nice
My 2012 Denver Trip Was Weird And I’m Gonna Try To Explain It But Fail
My 2013 Thunder Bay Trip and How a Statue Made Me Cry
My 2014 NYC Birthday Trip and Why I Like Traveling with Friends
My 2015 Madrid Trip and Going Somewhere You Never Expected
My 2016 Tokyo Trip and Why Challenging Travel is Worth It
My 2017 Connemara Trip and Why A Quick Break Is Good
Bye 2010s – My 2018 Belfast Trip and My Love of Day Trips
Bye 2010s – My 2019 San Francisco Trip, and Why It’s Okay to be a Tourist

In 2016 I moved to Ireland (temporarily). It took some time to find a steady job and a place to live, and in February 2017 I decided to take a quick “weekend” trip on my days off to Galway. I had explored a bit around Dublin where I was living, but I hadn’t ventured to any other part of Ireland. Initially, I thought about going to the Cliffs of Moher (and I would go there at the end of the year), but several coworkers of mine kept talking about Connemara. It was an area I’d never heard of before, so I decided to go there.

On this trip, I took a bus tour to see Connemara. It’s hard to take decent photos from a moving bus, but I think this one turned out pretty well and shows the unique and barren landscape of Connemara.

Living in Ireland I didn’t have a car. I wasn’t about to rent one and try to drive a manual (which I’ve never done) on the left side of the road (when I was used to driving on the right in Canada). The nice thing about Ireland is that it’s a small enough country and there are several buses that run from Dublin to Galway. Of course with a vehicle, I would have been able to stop at small towns, but I was just excited to see another part of Ireland. There’s also train service to Galway from several cities in Ireland. I opted for the bus because it’s a bit cheaper.

This is the River Corrib in Galway. It’s actually one of the shortest rivers in Europe (only 6 miles) and because of that, it’s also a very flowing river, with high water levels. This photo was taken minutes before a huge downpour.

I spent two nights in Galway, staying at a hostel close to the bus station. It was above a pub (because obviously) and I went down for a pint and to listen to the trad music (a.k.a traditional Irish music). The next day (my only full day of this trip) I took a coach tour through Connemara. This is a region of Ireland that’s very different from other parts of the country. Most people think of Ireland and picture rolling green hills with grazing sheep or the dramatic sea cliffs. Connemara is a mountainous area with lakes and bogs that’s less green than other parts of the country (although still beautiful). One of the places we visited was Kylemore Abbey and the Victoria Gardens (though there’s not much for gardens in February). We also visited the small village of Cong where the John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara (she’s Irish) movie The Quiet Man was filmed.

This is Kylemore Abbey and yes this photo makes it look like there’s a magical castle on a lake. This was originally a home built by Mitchell Henry, a London doctor, who became an MP in County Galway. The home was built for his wife Margaret, who tragically died in 1875 before the house was completed. She is interned at a mausoleum on site. After Henry’s death, the building became a school and a convent. Since 1920 it’s been the home of Irish Benedictine Nuns, who fled Belgium in World War 2. The main level is open for tours, but the top level is where the Benedictine Nuns live and work and are off-limits.

Getting to see a bit more of Ireland was nice, but I wish I had more time in Galway. It rained most of the time I was there, but the west side of Ireland tends to get more rain than the east side (where I was living), so I didn’t see much of Galway. I did wander around the Latin Quarter, but most of my time in Galway was spent at the hostel or inside at pubs (not just drinking, I did order food too). I wanted to go back to Galway at some point while I was in Ireland, but I never did. That’s just another reason (of many) for me to go back to Ireland.

Things To Know
While in Galway I stayed at the Galway City Hostel. This was an excellent budget accommodation close to the bus station and train station. The dorms were clean and modern, and there was a shared kitchen space. The hostel is about a 10-minute walk to the Latin Quarter. I paid for my own stay here and really enjoyed it.

Would you take a trip to the Connemara region of Ireland?

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