Traveling: Galway, County Mayo, County Sligo, and County Donegal, Ireland

My last few days in the Republic of Ireland were filled with trips to the northern area and more days of rain. Galway was a vibrant city. Eyre’s Square, Shop Street, River, Spanish Arch: lots of young people everywhere. I really enjoyed some live music at the Murty Rabbits, where I also had a disappointing stew – everybody warned me Ireland’s food was not the greatest…

In County Mayo  we visited Cong, where John Wayne filmed “The Quiet Man”, Cong Abbey, and Ashford Castle, a 5-five hotel/medieval castle. On our away out we also went to the Country Life museum, which had many artifacts from life in Ireland.

We only stopped at County Donegal for a day, but it was one of my favorites not only because of its spectacular views but also because it is the home of the fiancé’s ancestors. We went to Grianan of Aileach, a circular structure from the 7th century CE atop a hill from where you can see 3 different counties. It was very windy, but we warmed up by having some food and Guinness at Leo’s Tavern, the bar of Irish singer Enya and her family. We also stopped by Glenveagh Castle, built in 1870. It’s inside a national park and it has beautiful gardens. We toured the castle, a retreat for the rich and famous like Charlie Chaplin and Marilyn Monroe, but couldn’t take any pictures of the inside.

View of threel counties from Donegal

View of three counties from Donegal

County Sligo was very dreamy – I had a coffee while watching the waves and the rain at Strandhill Beach. I definitely see where W.B. Yates got inspiration from. We visited the Irish poet’s grave that says “Cast a cold eye on life, on death. Horseman, pass by!” And life goes on… now to Northern Ireland!

Traveling: Bunratty Castle and Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

My favorite day in Ireland! After days of rain and more rain, we finally had some sunshine for the highlight of the trip. We first stopped at Bunratty Castle, which is not a big deal at all, except that it was built by the MacNamara’s in 1400’s, which happens to be my future husband’s ancestors. So after we get married, can I claim the castle and become a princess???

We arrived at Cliffs of Moher: just spectacular and breathtaking. Miles and miles of cliffs and sidewalks to explore. I’ll let the pictures tell the story.

Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

On our way out we also stopped at The Burren, which is a cliff side area that looks like a lunar landscape, then at Corcomroe Abbey to see a skull and bones under a tomb.  We also tried to go to 16th century Dunguaire Castle, but since we spent so much time at Cliffs of Moher, when we did arrive, it was already closed. That’s okay though, at that point I was already getting tired of so many medieval castles!

Traveling: Blarney Castle, Cobh, and Cork, Ireland

Travelling back South, on our way to Cobh, we stopped at Blarney Castle to kiss the famous stone. According to legend, kissing the bottom of this limestone slab gives you the give of eloquent speech. The castle and its gardens, such as the one dedicated to poisonous plants, are beautiful and you first walk up several flights of stairs, stopping at the different areas of the castle, and then up on top there is a guard that helps you lay down to kiss the stone. Yes, a little gross, but hopefully I didn’t get sick! Not sure if I did get the gift of gab since it’s been taking me so long to share all my Ireland adventures…


We then spent the afternoon exploring Cobh, a port town very important in history: it was from here that Annie Moore, the first immigrant to arrive at Ellis Island in New York, left from. It was also the Titanic’s last port of call before it sank. Cobh is not that picturesque, but it does have charming hilly streets leading to Colman’s Cathedral.

Statue of Annie Moore

Statue of Annie Moore

Cork City was a lot more cosmopolitan. Well, it is the second largest city in Ireland! The River Lee divides the city in half and the bridges are very pretty. There is an unimpressive English Market and lots of shopping, but Cork is well known for its restaurants. We had a beer tasting at Rising Sons Brewery where I actually learned a lot and by the end of it I could tell the difference between a Belgian beer (cloudy, unfiltered) and an IPA (more hops to preserve, bitter).

Cork City

Cork City

The next day I did go for a run! From my hostel to St. Finbarre Church, only to arrive their and not be able to enter because I didn’t have any money for a “donation”. But the outside was pretty and the run along the river was well worth it!