Ireland - England 2012

Galway and Connemara

Tom packed up and checked into the hotel provided by Royal Meath: Carlton at Blanchardstown.  I stayed back as I was going on another full day tour today.

My day started early again, waking up at around 5:45am as I had to catch a taxi to the train station to travel to Galway, west of Ireland.  To get from east to west the ride took about 2 hours to complete and that included about 15 stops in between.  A coach with about 12 others were waiting for us Dubliners (2 of us on the train).  The other person was a retired nurse living on Kangaroo Island and had already been on holidays for 7 weeks our of 8.

The first stop was The Quiet Man Bridge which featured in the John Ford film The Quiet Man starring John Wayne.  The tree with the some bits tied to it is of a pagan wishing tree.  Essentially, you tie a sick persons belonging to the tree and make a wish for them to get better.

There were so many photo opportunities on the road but the rain came and ruined them – and it stayed for the good part of the day.  The tour guide said that it had rained everyday for the past 6 weeks and this was to be expected as Ireland is the first landmass for the Atlantic winds to hit after traversing across the oceans. As the winds encounter warmer climates, they dump the rain.

The main event was Kylemore Abbey which has over 150 years of romance, tragedy, gambling and war history.  These days, it is run by the Benedictine Order community of nuns since 1920.  If you’re a keen hiker, you could easily spend many days walking the various trails.

We had a fantastic driver named Joe operating the Lally Tours who was courteous, professional, knowledgeable, enthusiastic, humble and humorous.  I highly recommend their services if keen.

After arriving back in Dublin (around 9pm), I was hankering for a nice juicy steak as I only had snacks throughout the day and the ordinary Irish stew yesterday.  I walked around but it appeared the average steak price was around 30 Euros!  For that price, I would expect a mega cut, slow cooked steak from Hogs Breath with all the extras thrown in and a couple of drinks to boot.  These steaks were normal sized so I gave it a miss.  I ended up going into the Noble House on Dame St and ordered the Noble Combination starter and Szechuan Beef with fried rice for mains.  The combination was beautiful and had a variety of starters, including a rib.  The main came held in a lattice bowl made out of potato strips then deep fried.  Over a short period of time, the sauce would seep through and melt the base adding to the texture and flavour.  The waiter said that everything was edible, just leave the plate back.


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