County Galway – Half way there
The county of Galway is about the mid-point of the Wild Atlantic Way (WAW) and is home to both Galway City and the beautiful, but rugged Connemara Coast. This area is known to have the largest Gaeltacht Irish-speaking population in all of Ireland.
A major tourist spot along the WAW is Kylemore Abbey with its exquisite Victorian walled gardens. We didn’t have time to tour, but this is on my bucket list for next time I’m in the area.
We spent the night at the modern Clifden Station House Hotel and were within walking distance to the fabulous Abbeyglen Castle Hotel and restaurant where we had a great meal complete with entertainment. They even set out a throne chair for their guests who want selfies in all their royal splendor.
One of County Galway’s more interesting towns is Clifden, which is known as the Capital of Connemara. Founded in 1812, by John D’Arcy, Clifden gained some notoriety when Marconi built his first transatlantic telegraphy station four miles outside of town.
A scenic section of the Wild Atlantic Way is called Sky Road and offers great views of the Atlantic as well as John D’Arcy’s now abandoned castle.
Further south is a picturesque little fishing village called Roundstone. Definitely worth a stop, Roundstone is known for its large artist population.
Continuing southward, another 90 minutes, you’ll arrive in the thriving metropolis of Galway City. With a much more urban flair, you’ll discover countless shopping and dining opportunities. This is the Republic of Ireland’s fourth largest city and considered the cultural capital of Ireland by many. 20% of its 75,000 population are students.
We stopped into McDonagh’s of Ireland for lunch and after waiting in line with all the locals, were delighted with our large servings of fish and chips.
Sightseeing abounds and we were treated to a walking tour with Historian Extraordinaire, Conor O’Riordan. One of the most impressive structures is the St. Nicholas Cathedral. Another oddity worth seeing is the section of the old fortress walls that has been encapsulated into a downtown shopping center.
This large modern metal sculpture on the town square is a representation of Ireland’s most famous sailing ship – the Galway Hooker.
Also found on Eyre Square is a memorial to John F. Kennedy where he spoke right before his assassination.