Monday, September 15, 2014

Ireland Day 3: Kylemore, Connemara, and Clifden

Today started out with an amazing breakfast at Marless House.  Mary is by far the best B&B hostess I have ever met.  It has been a few years since the last B&B I stayed in, but mom and I stayed in quite a few when I was in my early teens.  Mom agrees with me on this.  On Trip Advisor Mary has been recommended for her scones, so I definitely ordered a scone with my breakfast along with scrambled eggs and helped myself to her fruit bar.  Ummm may have had some of her homemade brown bread as well.  shhhh don't tell.
Before I start on the happenings of the day, here are a few musings that mom and I have noticed: There are a lot fewer public restrooms (called Toilets) here than in the states, something we definitely take for granted!  Something we like here is that there are barely any fast food places to be found, especially not on every street corner.  Along with that, gas stations are not on every street corner either....which must be a problem for the back road people here!  Do they keep barrels of fuel at their homes?  Another thing we Americans take for granted is mirrors in the Toilets.  None of the public restrooms we've been in so far have had mirrors above the sinks.  How vein we are!  The car we're driving is basically a piece of metal on wheels....no A/C, no shocks, no elbow rest, etc...I don't know how these cars make it here with all the pot holes and bumps in the road.

On the list for today was the 2nd thing I was most looking forward to in Ireland so I was anxious to start the day.  The drive from Salthill to Kylemore Abbey was adventurous to say the least.  The speed limit on most of the road is 100 km....which is something like 60 mph I think....so you're driving these windy twisty barely 2 lane roads at 60 mph???  I think Mom had a heart attack on me at least 3 times and I know I did almost once.  But even with that, I will say that we are feeling more acclimated now.

First up, Kylemore Abbey!  The thing I was 2nd most looking forward to.  The story of love surrounding this amazing estate is still sitting with me tonight.  This man, Mitchell Henry, not only loved his wife so much that he built her this home (took 4 years to complete 1867-1871), but when she died in Egypt from dysentery, he had her body brought home, interred here, and built a Gothic chapel in remembrance of her. It's called The Miniature Cathedral and the quote on the placard outside of it tells a beautiful story of his love for her. Here is part of it: Mitchell wanted to show his love for Margaret in a way that would last through time...this beautiful neo-gothic church is his tribute to her.

I had been told by multiple people that we should eat at the Kylemore Abbey cafe and try their scones(yes scones again!)....so we did.  I will say that Mary's scones BY FAR beat Kylemore Abbey's.  Their food was good, but the scones, I'm unsure why so many people recommended them to me.  Today was my last carb day for the rest of this trip!

After spending a couple of hours at the Abbey, we headed to Connemara National Park and hiked for a little over an hour.  It was a great way to work off those carbs.  On our way down the hill, we met up with an older couple who had just come down the bigger mountain.  They were 74 and 70 and so inspiring!  The husband had a stroke 4 years ago. Can you believe? Going from a stroke to hiking a mountain...at 74!  And their Irish accents, oh their accents....it was perfect.
After the hike we drove on to the town of Clifden....I had heard of it before we travelled but I wasn't too interested in visiting it, so I hadn't planned to stop.
We stayed for about an hour....mostly to use the wifi in the bakery and drink tea.....oh did you think I was going to go through a post and not mention the tea again? :)  Had above 5 cups today and drinking one currently...not to mention that while we were in Clifden we stopped at the grocery store and bought Barry's tea to take back home with us.
On the way back from Clifden we saw a brown marker for a castle so decided to pull off since it was still daylight....SOOOO GLAD WE DID! This hidden gem is Aughnanure Castle.  It was after hours so we couldn't go in, but just walking up to it was breathtaking enough....I've got the wikipedia on it open on another tab and am currently reading through it.
After that quick detour, we found another one!  I have no idea what this one is called because it was right behind a school and cemetery and there were no signs for it, just random ruins, but it was down a road by Brigit Gardens if anyone knows....
Have I mentioned how beautiful the sunsets here are?  Absolutely gorgeous!
Next stop Cliffs of Moher (the 1st thing on my must see list) and then on to Killarney.






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