Ireland, day 10: Adare and Galway

We’re into the second week of the trip now… day 10, a Monday, saw us on the move again, this time travelling from Killarney to Galway. Check out time was 10 a.m., so we were up bright and early again… although it was closer to 10:30 by the time everything was squished in the car and we were ready to move. We’d decided to take things a bit easier that day and only have one stop en route, for sightseeing, leg-stretching and lunch! That stop was Adare, and I’m so, so glad we went there! The minute we eneded the village I fell in love with the thatched cottages… but first things first…

We had come to Adare to visit the castle (known as Desmond Castle) because it was on our heritage cards. The booklet that came with the cards told us access to the castle was by guided tour only, and to register for the tour we had to go to the heritage centre, so we did. It was 12 noon at this point, and the lady in the heritage centre told us the next tour was at 2. Huh. We still wanted lunch though, and I definitely wanted some photos of the thatched cottages, so we weren’t leaving just yet! First of all, we went into the Holy Trinity Abbey Church, which is right next to the heritage centre.

Inside the church
Inside the church
More of the church
More of the church

The thatched cottages were just across the road from the church, so naturally on leaving the church across the road I went! Just look at the adorableness!!

Adare cottage 1

Adare cottages 2

Adare cottages 3

Once we finished taking photos of the cottages, Jan went back to the car to fetch our sausage rolls and the rest of us headed into Adare Park to find a spot to eat lunch.

In Adare park
In Adare park

These guys came to join us, obviously hoping we would feel like sharing:

Birds
Birds
A bird on a bin!
A bird on a bin!

Once we’d eaten, we continued our walk around Adare village. We found another thatched cottage up the road from the park:

Thatched cottage

I had hoped to buy stamps, but the post office was closed for lunch. The perils of villages.
I’ve no idea what this building actually is, but I liked the look of it, so out came the camera…

Just a house? Or something else?
Just a house? Or something else?

We also came across some scary looking cattle in a field… I swear if we’d got any closer they would have charged us!

"Take one more step and you're dead!"
“Take one more step and you’re dead!”

There was still about half an hour to go before the castle tour, but some people had postcards to write so we decided we would hang around and wait after all. At 2 p.m., a mini bus turned up to take us up to the castle.

The outside of Adare Castle
The outside of Adare (Desmond) Castle

What we were told on the tour was interesting, but the guide did a terrible job of presenting it! I’m not sure whether she was bored or trying waaay to hard to remember what came next, but either way she spoke in a monotone throughout! Oh well, the castle itself and the views of the river and old bridge from the castle made up for it!

Adare Castle

Old bridge, viewed from the castle
Old bridge, viewed from the castle

The river is called the Maigue, which is pronounced May. Makes perfect sense…

The next stop was our hotel in Galway. After parking up, checking in and unloading the car, we decided to walk into town.

I really liked Galway. It is a city, but not a huge city, so it wasn’t horribly overwhelming for me (like London… I hate, hate, hate London!). And the first thing we saw when we reached the centre was water! The River Corrib flows into the sea right near Galway’s city centre. I’m sure I’ve lamented Karlsruhe’s lack of water before, so I was very exited to find out that the sea was right there in town.

Where the River Corrib meets the sea
Where the River Corrib meets the sea

The first thing we wanted to do was find out where the bus home went from. The information from the hotel had been “Eyre Square”, so off we went to find it. To get there, we walked up a street called Quay Street, where most of Galway’s pubs and restaurants seem to be. On Eyre Square, there was part of a building just standing in the middle of the square. It’s called the Browne doorway and is all that remains of a merchants house built in the early 17th century. The house was originally elsewhere, but the doorway now stands on Eyre Square.

Browne doorway
Browne doorway

We found the bus stop, checked when the last bus back to our hotel would be then went in search of something to eat. Personally, I thought some of the places on The Quay looked nice and reasonably priced, but for some reason another member of the group didn’t want to go back down there. He originally picked an “Italian” place that was offering a two-course meal for €10 (hmm, suspiciously cheap!) but we vetoed that on the grounds that every single thing on the menu contained either cheese or cream – no good for our lactose-intolerant friend! I had actually seen some of their “food” on the tables outside as well and was very relieved when the place was vetoed!

We then ended up outside a place called Finnegan’s, which advertised itself with “Eat in a genuine medieval building”. Sound like a tourist trap much? Main meals there were €9!! Again, alarm bells were going off, but by that time I was fed up of trying to talk people out of going for absolutely anything as long as it was cheap, so I went along with it. MISTAKE!!! At Finnegan’s, we ate the only bad meal in the entire two weeks we were in Ireland!! My lactose intolerant friend asked whether there was anything she could eat, and was told even the fish and chips and milk in the batter. The only thing that was safe was apparantly a chicken salad, so she ordered that… only for the plate it to turn up with grated cheese on it. Err… what?! The rest of the sald consisted of a few ingredients (one of which was tinned sweetcorn) thrown hapharzardly next to each other. Some salad!! About 10 minutes later, the hot food the rest of us had ordered finally turned up (why bring the sald first?). The waitress noticed the salad hadn’t been touched and asked if there was anything wrong with it, to which the reply was “Errr, cheese!!”.  So away went the salad to be brought back aaages later no longer with cheese, but also no longer with peppers. Umm, what? My friend then requested the bread that was supposed to come with the salad and was told soda bread had lactose in it – but they did have some little baguette slices if she wanted. Yes, of course she wanted!! There needed to be something substantial to go with the so-called “salad”.

The chicken kiev I had ordered was ok, if a bit dry, but the carrots were definitely microwaved and therefore soggy. Pretty sure the mashed potatoes had been reheated in the microwave as well. I tried some of my kale and din’t like it, but put that down to my hatred of all things cabbage-like. However, afterwards someone else said it simply hadn’t been very nice. Our waitress was friendly enough, but very young and totally clueless… hence the having to be sent back to fetch bread. *Sigh*. All in all, NOT a good experience. But I did warn everyone before we went in! Maybe next time they’ll be willing to pay a tiny bit more for some food that’s at least semi-decent! In summary, if you’re ever in Ireland and find yourself passing Finnegan’s DO NOT go in!! You can get much better food for roughly the same price elsewhere.

Anyway, enough about the crappiness! After we’d eaten, we decided to go for a walk and find the cathedral since we had plans for the next two days and might not havy any more time to explore Galway. Here, have some photos:

The Corrib
The Corrib
Galway Cathedral
Galway Cathedral

A couple of decided we wanted to actually see some traditional Irish music before we went home, so after taking photos of the cathedral, we headed back towards the pubs. This time, at the top of Quay Street, we turned right and went down a parallel street… which is where we spotted The Pie Maker. and its amazing sounding pies (later to be confirmed as amazing tasting too).

We discovered that we would have to wait half an hour until the first pub started its live music, so we took a walk down to the pier, walked around a bit, took Charlie photos and sat listening to a guy who was playing his guitar to himself at the water’s edge. We also saw swans flying, but I didn’t manage to get a photo of them. It was an amazing sight though!

I couldn't get a picture of swans flying, but here's one swimming...
I couldn’t get a picture of swans flying, but here’s one swimming…
Charlie ponders life's mysteries
Charlie ponders life’s mysteries

Then it was back up Quay Street and into a pub for music. I *think* the place we went to was The King’s Head, which is on High Street – the continuation of Quay Street after the crossing. It reminded me a little bit of an Irish pub called Scruffy’s here in Karlsruhe, except cleaner and with much friendlier staff!! The music was pretty good, and of course they played Galwa Girls! Four of us stayed to watch the music, while the fifth member of our group went off to get some sleep.

Musicians 1

Musicians 2

Att 11, we went to get the bus home, but on finding out we had to wait 20 minutes, we decided to walk. It’ll be fiiiine, we thought. We walked into town, after all we thought. HA! The boys (who have smartphones) took us on a detour that went through the nicer part of town. The houses in that area were really, really nice (and big… and posh!). Unfortunately, the detour took us too far south – there was never a right turn where we needed it – so we ended up walking past where our hotel was in a parallel street then having to double back on ourselves when we eventually found a turning. We did make it back before midnight, but only just!

And that’s all for this blog post. Tomorrow I’ll tell you about what we got up to while staying in Galway…

Ireland – My Favourite Things

I will be providing you with a map of the route we took in Ireland as soon as I figure out how, but for now here are some of my personal favourite things from the trip.

1. Irish friendliness. Anything you’ve heard about how friendly Irish people are is 100% true!! In fact, we only encountered one unfriendly Irish person throughout our entire two-week stay (at the Cliffs of Moher, in case you were wondering). Just to give one example of the extreme friendliness and determination to help: On the final day of our initial stay in Dublin, I went with Jan and another member of the group to Kilmainham Gaol (very interesting by the way, and well worth a visit). The bus driver not only announced our stop (Irish – and UK – buses don’t do this automatically), but asked us to wait a few minutes before getting off so he could direct us to the jail. Another passenger who was waiting to get off then interrupted to say he works just opposite and would be happy to show us the way. Not only did he then deliver us right to the entrance, but he also pointed out a park opposite (actually the grounds of an art gallery) where we might like to go for a walk after our tour. All together now: Awwww!

The "New" east wing of KIlmainham Gaol - we were told it's been used in various films/TV series so some of you may recognise it
The “New” east wing of KIlmainham Gaol – we were told it’s been used in various films/TV series so some of you may recognise it

2. Being able to order a cup of tea with milk without either being looked at like I’ve just grown an extra head or – even worse – being brought coffee creamer instead!

3. Buying a horse head on our very first day in Dublin, naming it Charlie (because that way it could be either male or female) and proceeding to take photos of each other wearing it all over Ireland.

Charlie in a field
Charlie in a field

4. The full Irish breakfast at the B&B we stayed at in Dublin (Waterloo Lodge… highly recommended!). And bumping into the butcher on our way out on the first day! No Tesco Everyday Value sausages at that place…

5. The amazing carvery meal we ate at a place called O’Neill’s in Dublin. I have no photo to share with you because I had inhaled it before the idea of photos even occurred to me…

6. Kilkenny. All of it. The highlights being: i) The cute kitty we discovered hanging around the graveyard of St. Canice’s Cathedral. I’m not usually a cat person, but this kitten was soo soft! ii) Blaa Blaa Blaa sandwiches… and the lovely ladies who worked there. iii) The sweet shop next door to the sandwich place, where I discovered Jedward chocolate bars and also bought a bag of the most delicious cherry boiled sweets. iv) Going for a few drinks with an English girl who worked at the hostel we stayed in and playing “I have never”. Fun!

Blaa Blaa Blaa

7. The ruins of Kells Priory, located just outside the village of Kells in County Kilkenny. Basically a giant adventure playground for adults! You have to brave a lot of sheep droppings to get there, but once you do it’s well worth it. My photos do not do it justice at all… this thing must have been absolutely huge when it was in one piece!!

Part of Kells Priory
Part of Kells Priory
More of Kells Priory
More of Kells Priory

8. This bridge over the River Barrow in the village of Leighlinbridge. I took sooo many photos of it! The walk along the river was pretty nice as well.

Google tells me this is a valerian stone bridge, and Wikipedia adds that it's from the 14th century and thought to be one of the oldest functioning bridges in Europe
Google tells me this is a valerian stone bridge, and Wikipedia adds that it’s from the 14th century and thought to be one of the oldest functioning bridges in Europe

9. The tour we took of the Rock of Cashel – our guide was so enthusiastic and informative! I can’t remember half of what he said now, but at the time it was very interesting! I do remember that the reason the monks who lived there eventually abandoned the rock was the weather… and I can well believe it given the wind on the day we were there!

Part of the Rock of Cashel (can anyone else see the face on the left-hand side?)
Part of the Rock of Cashel (can anyone else see the face on the left-hand side?)

10. Taking photos of the sunset at Ladies View on the Ring of Kerry. Although the part where we got eaten alive by midgees was much less fun!

My friend admiring the sunset at Ladies View
My friend admiring the sunset at Ladies View

11. The adorable thatched cottages in Adare.

One of the thatched cottages in the village of Adare
One of the thatched cottages in the village of Adare

12. Seeing a puffin at the Cliffs of Moher. Unfortunately it was too fast to photograph, so here’s a picture of the cliffs themselves. Also, we were told The Princess Bride was filmed there, so I now need to watch that film again and see if I recognise anything!

Cliffs of Moher
Cliffs of Moher

13. The pies we ate in Galway! If you ever find yourself there, you must go to a place called The Pie Maker!! I was able to try three savoury pies (pork sausage in veal gravy pie, roast beef pie and chorizo, mozzerella and pesto pie) as well as one sweet one – the rubarb and ginger. All four were delicious! And at only €9 for a savoury pie, gravy and mushy peas (or pie, salad and wedges) it’s an absolute bargain, too! A photo will follow once I request it from my friend (my camera’s battery had run out at this point). **Edited to add: PIE!!**

Pie, glorious pie!
Pie, glorious pie!

14. This adorable puppy who we met at the top of Diamond Hill in the Connemara National Park.

Gorgeous puppy!
Gorgeous puppy!

15. The cute little cafe in Dublin that Jan and I stopped at to write postcards shortly before we left for our flight home. The cake I ate there was nice enough, but nothing special, but the cafe itself was adorable… and also cheap!

Cafe Oya... I loved the wall decorations!
Cafe Oya… I loved the wall decorations!

And there you have it… my 15 favourite things from our trip. More Ireland posts will follow shortly…