Into the West

Holidays are great, they allow us to get away, experience new things and leave the stress of everyday life behind, unfortunately we can’t just up everything and go on holiday whenever we need a break and that is what road trips were invented for! Last week Three of my friends and I needed one of those breaks and so we all went on our first road trip to the West of Ireland, we had no set plans for the day just a few ideas of what we wanted to do and so at 7am, maps in tow we set off into the west.

Our first stop was Tullamore which is towards the centre of Ireland and which marked the halfway point on our journey, being 8 on a Sunday morning only the local shop was open so all we could get was a takeaway coffee and breakfast rolls, after fuelling up and stretching our legs we again set off towards Galway.

Our first destination was to be Dunguaire Castle, It’s located approximately 30 minutes from Galway city and to get there you drive down the most publicised road of the moment, ‘The Wild Atlantic Way.’ The road twists and turns it’s way through countryside and gives the occasional view of the Atlantic (The further south on the road you go, the more you see). Upon arriving at the cattle we found parking beside a small estate of thatched cottages and walked towards the castle.

Dunguaire Castle

The castle is set on the rocks in Kinvara almost in a bay between two peninsula’s, We payed in and worked our way up through the castle to the roof from where you can walk around and enjoy the views from. The views are truly extraordinary and while looking we found a small island with a ruin on it connected to the mainland by some rocks which we could only see due to the tide being out, so we took advantage of our timing and climbed out onto the island where we sat for a while enjoying the views.

Derelict Ruins, Kinvava, Co. Galway
From there we continued south along The Wild Atlantic Way going though many small villages before beginning the steep ascent towards the entrance to the Aillwee Caves. Once there we had a picnic in the Burren enjoying the amazing views of the limestone, fields and sea that can be seen when you are so high up in such a beautiful landscape.
Taking in the View

After lunch we went on a tour of the caves, seeing the extraordinary sights that are inside the mountain and under the burden and learning about the history of the landscape and the cave. Photography in the cave was difficult, flash could be used but it gives images a very harsh light and unfortunately I am tripod-less at the moment so I had to improvise. I found that using IS on a wide lens and balancing on a steady object, in this case my friend’s shoulder, kept my camera steady enough to take some great photos, while this is an example of ‘needs must’ photography, it also shows how you shouldn’t let your gear hold you back, blaming problems on your gear is something we all do, it’s the easy option!

Underground Waterfall
From the caves we started to travel back north towards Galway city but decided to take an even more scenic route and took the empty two-rut-road to the very end of the Rine Peninsula. There we were greeted with yet more spectacular views of the mountains and the ocean that surround us.  We parked up at the end of the road (yes, it literally just ended, any further and we’d be in the Atlantic Ocean!) and walked along the beach taking in the view and taking the occasional photo.

Beach on Rine Peninsula, Clare
Panorama on Rine Peninsula, Clare

After turning around and getting back onto the main road we found our way to Galway city. While there we parked up and had a walk around Eyre Square and the surrounding area. Eyre square on a sunny day reminds me of St. Stephens Green on a sunny day, in both places the second the sun appears everyone flocks to them as they are the only greenery in the cities, the atmosphere there was truly amazing. From there we went to the Galway docks, we weren’t planning on stopping there but we noticed the ‘ Share A Coke Roadshow’ was there so we all stopped by for a free coke with our names on it and a walk around.

From there we went to our final destination of Salt Hill, the coastal resort part of Galway city. We walked along the promenade before going for dinner in a seaside pub, where of course I had to have fish and chips before getting an ice cream and going on the amusements which brought to an end our day in the west.

Red and Yellow

On the way home we stopped again in Tullamore and we were the last customers of the day in the McDonalds there having coffee and reminiscing about our day. Road trips are truly great, they give you a day to escape and go somewhere new, yet you don’t have to spend time organising or booking things, they are, in essence, the perfect escape!

Below is a map showing the places we went to should you want to explore the west.

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