Time to move on today and armed with a list of must-see places thanks to Adam, the cheerful young concierge in the Morrison Hotel in Dublin, we headed west on the N4 towards Galway.
As we neared the half way point, we left the motorway and continued our journey on ordinary roads, planning to take a break around lunchtime. We found ourselves driving through an area of peat bogs and stopped to take a closer look at the stacks of peat blocks drying in the sunshine.
Our plan was to take a break at Clonmacnoise where we could spend some time learning a little about St Ciaran and his followers at the Irish Heritage site here. It was a busy place and the car park already full, so we found a small patch of wide grassy verge and though there were no other cars around, we felt we’d left it in a safe place.
We walked into the monastery site and joined the delightful Davina for a guided tour. Her Irish wit and amusing delivery had us all smiling in no time – what a great way to hear about this rather special place.
She explained all the motifs on the main replica crosses in the graveyard, the originals being in the museum next door.
She explained how to use the shape of the North Door to whisper a secret or share a confession to someone standing on the other side.
And she invited two of the group to dip their hands in the water contained within the magic stone, explaining that it could cure warts…or cause their hand to drop off overnight.
The two “victims” laughed. So did we.
Standing above the Shannon River, there was a chill breeze up here, so we didn’t linger too long, but it was a fascinating place and we were really pleased we’d come.
Before we left, we stopped in the museum to take a look at the original crosses and watch the video explaining the history of the place, auf Deutsch because we couldn’t be bothered to wait until the English language show. Ellis and Mary took the chance to have forty winks!
Though the original crosses were beautiful, as always I went for the fragments of patterned stone. Love them.
Returning to the car then, it seemed as though we’d started a trend for on-street parking!
We arrived at our hotel in Galway in the early afternoon and are very happy with our comfortable room, bearing a couple of hallmarks of the designer – Philip Treacy.
But though our room is lovely, the corridors are painted a deep purple and there’s a magenta carpet throughout and very low level lighting.
The hotel is on the edge of town; a low glass-fronted structure overlooking the bay to the front. However, both our rooms overlook the back of the hotel and have a fine view of the shopping centre behind it: Pets at Home, PC World and Maplins. Not quite in the same vein…
We spent the afternoon in Galway City, where gentlemen sat watching the world go by.
There was a lively buzz in the main shopping street and we were glad to find O’Mailles.
The shop came highly recommended by the chap in the Tourist Information Centre.
Each Aran sweater was signed by the maker and came beautifully presented.
Whilst Mary chose some hanks of yarn to take home, my hero found a tweed cap to add to his collection.
I was happy to admire the amazing hydrangeas in the flower shop along the street as we enjoyed the first Irish coffee of the trip (not the last, I’ll bet!)
This evening, we’ve been to a performance of Trad on the Prom which was absolutely incredible. World class Irish dancing accompanied by fine musicians; we loved every minute. We left tapping our feet! Sorry, no photos, but the website gives a great taste of the show.