Postcard from Connemara National Park

We try to celebrate special occasions (anniversaries, birthdays, promotion etc.) by taking trips – big or small. Sometimes it works, sometimes life gets better of us. But we never stop trying.

While deciding on where to go for Raga’s birthday we were very confused. We wanted to go somewhere in the west coast of Ireland but the weather forecast wasn’t good. The west coast is usually wet throughout the year and the rainfall is heavier compared to here in Dublin. So activities get limited. We searched a few places until we saw this lodge on Airbnb. The whole setup of the lake, hills and the only house made it irresistible and we booked it immediately. And the whole time we were thinking – ‘Well, it is going to rain but we can just relax. We will see how it goes.’. Now that it was decided that we were going to Connemara National Park we planned to rent a car from Galway and drive the rest on the Wild Atlantic Way.  And, maybe because we had super low expectations, we ended up having the best time ever!

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Beautiful panoramas everywhere
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The drive was so beautiful

Ireland is extremely beautiful and Connemara is no exception to this. Every turn, every road leading to the national park is breathtaking with each bend out shining the previous one. It was getting late and dark by the time we got around driving towards our lodge. The drive gave us a feel of being in the bond movie Skyfall where Bond is rushing to take M to a safe place in his Aston Martin. We got the similar spooky, dark feeling of mountains, gloomy sky and the lake by the road. But the whole scenery changed on our drive back in the morning. The place looked surreal, lake by the road extremely picturesque to make us stop a couple of times to take photos.

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My James Bond driving a rented Opel Corsa 😛

Now coming to the Connemara National Park. There are 4 trails at the national park where you can do walking or hiking based on your interest and fitness level. We ended up hiking the most difficult one to the top of the diamond hill. The trail is well maintained and covered with stones or wooden planks throughout. As we kept progressing towards the top, the beautiful landscape of the national park kept revealing itself. We kept stopping every few meters to take photos of the beautiful panoramas. I probably have a million photos in my camera of our hike. The views from the top was even better and I just sat there for a good amount of time soaking in everything while Raga was candidly chatting with a sweet, fitter and older couple from UK.  What made the view worth even more was the effort it took to hike all the way up.  We went with zero expectations but the Rain God was so generous to us. The weather was beautiful the whole time and the experience of hiking on the bog lands filled with beautiful purple flowers was one of the highlights of our trip.

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Beautiful bog land filled with purple flowers
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We hiked that hill. About 105 floors! With views like this, I have no complaints..
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It was a lot of effort, you guys. 😛
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Closer to the sky.
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Not sure how long I sat there soaking in the beauty
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And we met Harry on top of the diamond hill
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The journey down was prettier as well
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And the sun is out! Only the people living in Ireland know the importance of the sun.

Some of the other things you can do in Connemara –

  • You can also rent a bike and cycle around the Connemara loop.
  • Kylemore Abbey is really beautiful, nestled amongst the trees and hill. A very picturesque spot for any tourist. Even if you decide not to go inside, don’t forget to take photos with the Abbey in background. It would be worth it.
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Kylemore Abbey

Also let me talk a little bit about the lodge we stayed in, because the experience was just too good to skip. The owners of the lodge are shepherds since past 4 generations. It is mainly looked after by an old (about 80 years), fit lady who spoilt us with a lavish breakfast of eggs, bread, juice, fruits, coffee / tea every morning. Her son-in-law was telling us that the building is older than Kylemore Abbey and explained us how they do sheep farming. The location is perfect. There is not a single house around. In the front there is this beautiful huge private lake and at the back are the mountains. They are living a dream of an urban person and they don’t even realize that. Every morning we woke up to the sound of sheep bleating. The view from the windows were probably the best thing to wake up to. In the evening we went for a leisure walk outside the lodge amongst the sheep. The walk was so relaxing and we enjoyed chasing the sheep. The sheep are probably the most scared creatures on earth. Little sound and run for their lives. And then they turn back to check if the world is in order again or they need to run a bit more to save themselves!

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Kylemore Lodge
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Our morning view from the room
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We walked up the hill amongst the sheep
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Raga is probably counting how many of them are there on the hill

There is a small town called Letterfrack close the Kylemore Lodge and Kylemore Abbey. To our surprise there was an Indian café even in this secluded place. I must say – people really love Indian food here in Ireland. The food was pretty good and we ended up having both our dinners there. On our last night we spent a couple of hours in the pub called Molly’s and enjoyed some late night Irish music. We made friends with Garry, the owner of the pub and he spoke to us about his days in Irish military and his travel. We ended up teaching him ‘Khush Raho’ for ‘Be Happy’ in Hindi and he spent the rest of the evening trying to memorize those two words and making us laugh by his attempts. People in Ireland are really friendly and warm.

Our trip was really satisfying and Raga loved his birthday celebrations. The whole experience was much better because of the flexibility of the car. I don’t think it would be a good idea to rely on public transportation in this part of the country, because probably there isn’t any.

We also took a side trip to Cliff of Moher and spent a couple of hours roaming around in Galway, but more on that later. Stay tuned.. 🙂

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Sheep wishing Raga a very Happy Birthday!

12 thoughts on “Postcard from Connemara National Park

  1. Like your courage, staying in such an isolated place. I guess in India, we think ten times!! This shows how cultured Ireland is. We read India was like this in ancient times, wonder how and why did we loose this fantastic tradition and culture?
    Your posts are too cool and I love them. You both are perfectly made for each other and retain this forever!

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      1. We were there as part of a one year adventure, backpacking between university degrees. My (now) husband’s grandmother came and joined us to see Ireland and Scotland. She was a wee thing, all of 5 feet tall. The winds there blew her about something fierce! I have this photo of her mailing a letter home, at a mailbox, planted on a post in the middle of nowhere on that road, just a mailbox and that wild and rugged landscape stretching as far as the eye could see… she was leaning as much as the post in that wind! I’ll never forget that day.

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      2. One year backpacking adventure sounds really exciting. We always think of taking time off to travel but that plan hasn’t taken any shape till date. Your description sounds like an exciting adventure in itself. Connemara is still same I guess with a slight increase in population. The place we stayed had nothing around for a few kilometers. So secluded yet so safe. I believe its still as beautiful as it was when you visited.

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  2. This gives me such a good idea! I love your idea of postcards… I think I might borrow and tweak it a bit for my blog, if that’s alright with you. I’ll do “snapshots.” They’ll be the little stories behind my favourite photos from the trips we’ve taken… just short pieces and a single image. Like the one for what I describe above. It might be a fun way to do a regular feature (I’m new to this whole blogging thing, but have been journalling for years).

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