Today is our final post on our travel adventures in the beautiful country of Ireland. You can check out the day-by-day, play-by-play here, here, here & here for suggestions on where to go and what we loved, but I’ll try to sum all of that up shortly for the ultimate Ireland travel guide (Spenla family style). For now, I’ll leave you with our last three days, which we spent on Inis Maein (a small island off of the coast of Galway) and in Clifden (most perfect Irish town part 2 – part 1 for us is here).
Shortly after leaving Galway (where we stopped over for a delicious lunch) we boarded a ferry from Rosaveel to Inis Maein, a small little island (one of three just off the coast) that we discovered when searching for a little Irish vacation cottage to rent. First, I can’t believe we made the ferry. One of my guidebooks mentioned that the port was 22 km (not miles) from Galway – but it was actually closer to 50! We were the last ones to board and I was running like a crazy woman down the pier. Second, when we arrived that night we were a little bit worried… the island was empty! completely empty! (pros and cons for traveling outside the traditional tourist season).
That’s our wee cottage above. It was a bit bold to rent a desolate retreat online, but I figured we’d be in the mood for a little cozy relaxing as a family after 7 days on the road. And we weren’t to be disappointed. (Yep, it was as cold as it looks on the outside, but don’t worry, toasty fire and cute stone cottage interior awaited inside). Plus, there’s always the local pub.
We did enjoy a Smithwicks and toasted sammy when we arrived (one of six patrons at the only facility – of any kind, I think - in town) while we waited for the cottage to be unlocked by a local caretaker. Inis Maein is home to approximately 150 full time residents, and apparently a good deal of visitors at other points in the year.
The next day brought with it a decent amount of morning rain, but by the time we were up and about and walking the island the skies had cleared and the sun was shining. The agriculture specialty in these parts? Rocks! and walls and mazes everywhere.
We stumbled upon this ancient chapel as well, and check out these amazing flat headstones. They were pretty much stacked on top of one another, over and over again. Makes you wonder how that works on the underside…
More touring of the small island…
The island was indeed a getaway of its own kind, but the highlight might have been returning back to the mainland via a 10 person airplane that shuttles folks to and fro. At just 10 Euros or so more per ticket, it was well worth the splurge to see Ireland from the air.
Our last two days were spent in the idyllic town of Clifden (which rivals Kilkenny for most majestic Irish town in my book). I cannot imagine a more lovely set of shops, pubs and beautiful windows (love me some photographs of windows and doors from around the world – they speak volumes to the culture, the people, the country…).
Kevin enjoyed a round of golf for his birthday (which was coming up very soon!) and Liv and I shopped a bit through the local stores.
Mmmm delightful. A final day of relaxing and enjoying some lazy time in a sweet village. This was also the location of Liv’s dancing video, and the locals absolutely did not mind her tagging along as we tried out different restaurants/pubs! (plus we weren’t the only one with kids, so that made us feel slightly less like bad parents…)
And that is our Ireland trip. Ten lovely days in one of the friendliest countries we’ve ever visited. The people, above all, were probably our favorite part. Friendly, kind, generous folks who look after you and who laugh heartily in conversations at pubs and street fairs, and when you quizzically ask them which direction such-and-such castle is in. Ireland, we’ve had a beautiful time exploring your lands. Thanks for the hospitality!
PS More on our family journey right here (you can start from the beginning of this crazy tour…).