Goodbye to the Decade | My 2017 Trip to Connemara, Ireland and Why A Quick Break Is Good

This post is part 8 of my 10-week retrospective looking back at a specific trip from each year of the 2010s. Read more about the series here. Today I’m talking about the 2017 trip to the Connemara region of Ireland. Previous editions of this series include

In 2016 I moved to Ireland (temporarily). It took some time to find a steady job and a place to live, and in February 2017 I decided to take a quick “weekend” trip on my days off to Galway. I’d explored a bit around Dublin where I was living, but I hadn’t ventured to any other part of Ireland. Initially, I thought about going to the Cliffs of Moher (and I would go there at the end of the year), but several coworkers of mine kept talking about Connemara, an area I’d never heard of, and I decided to go there.

A small mountain and lake in Connemara, Ireland.

On this trip, I took a bus tour to see Connemara. It’s hard to take decent photos from a moving bus, but I think this one turned out pretty well and shows the unique and barren landscape of Connemara.

Living in Ireland I didn’t have a car, and I wasn’t about to rent one and try to drive a manual (which I’ve never done) on the left side of the road (when I was used to driving on the right in Canada). The nice thing about Ireland is that it’s a small enough country and there are several buses that run from Dublin to Galway. Of course with a vehicle, I would have been able to stop at small towns, but I was just excited to see another part of Ireland. There’s also a train service to Galway from several cities in Ireland (though I opted for the bus because it’s a bit cheaper).

River Corrib

This is the River Corrib in Galway. It’s actually one of the shortest rivers in Europe (only 6 miles) and because of that, it’s also a very flowing river, with high water levels. This photo was taken minutes before a huge downpour.

I spent two nights in Galway, staying at a hostel close to the bus station. It was above a pub (because obviously) and I went down for a pint and to listen to the trad music (a.k.a traditional Irish music). The next day (my only really full day) I took a coach tour through Connemara. This is a region of Ireland that’s very different from other parts of the country. Most people think of Ireland and picture rolling green hills with grazing sheep or the dramatic sea cliffs, but Connemara is a mountainous area with lakes and bogs that is a lot less green, but still beautiful, than other parts of the country. One of the places we visited we Kylemore Abbey and the Victoria Gardens (though there’s not much for gardens in February). We also visited the small village of Cong where the John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara (she’s Irish) movie The Quiet Man was filmed.

This is Kylemore Abbey and yes this photo looks like it’s a magical castle on a lake. This was originally a home built by Mitchell Henry, a London doctor, who became an MP in County Galway. The home was built for his wife Margaret, who tragically died in 1875 before the house was completed. She is interned at a mausoleum on site. After Henry’s death, the building became a school and a convent. Since 1920 it’s been the home of Irish Benedictine Nuns, who fled Belgium in World War 2. The main level is open for tours, but the top level is where the Benedictine Nuns live and work and are off-limits.

Getting to see a bit more of Ireland was really nice, but I wish I had more time in Galway. It rained most of the time I was there, but the west side of Ireland tends to get more rain than the east side (where I was living), and so I didn’t really get to see much of Galway. I did wander around the Latin Quarter, but most of my time in Galway was spent at the hostel or inside at pubs (not just drinking, I did order food too). I wanted to go back to Galway at some point while I was in Ireland I never did. That’s just another reason (of many) to go back to Ireland.

Things You Should Know
While in Galway I stayed at the Galway City Hostel. This was an excellent budget accommodation close to the bus station and train station. The dorms were clean and modern, and there was a shared kitchen space. The hostel is about a 10-minute walk to the Latin Quarter. I paid for my own stay here and really enjoyed it.

Check Out Some More Posts About Ireland on Take Me to the World

Have you been to Ireland? Would you take a trip out to Connemara?