Today was our first day of walking. We started out right after breakfast with a stop at the beautiful Galway Cathedral right in town. Across the river, Emma showed us the huge Gothic facade behind which the nuns live—in markedly modern condos.
Then we took a short drive to Connemara Marble, where artisans create beautiful jewelry from the many colored marble quarries that are found in Ireland. Galway black marble features fossils of tropical sea life, proving that millions of years ago the climate here was quite different.
After that it was time to get walking at Connemara National Park!
As we made our way up the gentle incline, scenery unfolded below.
I loved this wooden walkway. It made it seem like we were just suspended in the middle of our beautiful surroundings.
Connemara National Park Walk
Location: Through the city streets and the coastal road that connects Amalfi to Atrani.
Length: About 2 miles
Time: We had 90 minutes to explore the area and walk as far as we wanted.
Terrain: The paths and walkways were at a slight incline.
Best view: From the top of the hill, we got our first view of the Irish countryside!
Favorite moment: We saw a white pony and a foal in an unbelievably picturesque field at the base of the mountains.
When we got to the bottom of the mountain I was feeling pretty accomplished, but we still had a whole afternoon ahead of us. Katie and I grabbed a quick sandwich at the visitor center and, true to form, I grabbed a coffee to go before it was back on the bus for us.
This picture doesn’t really do justice to the palatial estate nestled right in the base of the mountains. It was built by the well-to-do Mitchell Henry for his beloved wife, Margaret. A trained surgeon, Henry was a brilliant man of science and the grounds reflect that—the soil in the sprawling Victorian gardens had to be mixed with powdered Lyme fired in a kiln to be fertile enough for the flowers, and the Scottish red brick walls retain heat to create a “microclimate” warm enough to grow exotic fruit.
After exploring the gardens and the abbey, we all headed back to Galway. At Emma’s suggestion, Katie and I had dinner at a local pub. The Irish stew was exactly what I needed after a big day of exploring the Irish countryside—with a Guinness on the side, of course. And if that doesn’t sound like an authentic Irish evening for the ages, it gets better. Just as we were finishing our dinner, the live music began. A trio made up of a guitarist, accordion player and a fiddler started in with the traditional Irish songs. Before we knew it, a pair of step dancers took the floor. They were amazing!
Until next time!
– Jessie R., Editor