Monday, 3 September.
Today was really the start of our Northern Odyssey, our venture into new parts of Ireland - at least for Angela and me. All of this trip has been new for Marie. We spent the morning seeing the children off to school for the first day of term, which was also Ruby's first day ever. They were both excited to be going. We then had a very pleasant couple of hours with Liz and Toner before setting off on our trip.
The plan for today was to drive around the coast road of The Connemara district of West Galway, stopping as an when the fancy took us, until we made it to Westport in Co Mayo. After that, we would be on a "point A to point B" drive up to Donegal, via Sligo. We would have liked to take more time at these places, but our limitations meant that we could only concentrate on a few things.
The drive through The Connemara was all about the views, so I will let the pictures tell the tale of that part of the day. Along the way, though, we stopped at Roundstone, which is a fishing village that looks out onto the North Atlantic, to have a late lunch. Roundstone is an absolutely delightful village, with a beautiful harbour. We enjoyed a leisurely "al fresco" lunch, while admiring all the classic Jaguar cars that were on a club outing. We also chatted with two couples from Northern Ireland, who gave us some good tips for the following day. We were also blessed with fantastic weather, which was a huge change from the cool, wet summer Ireland has endured up to now.
We took a break from our drive at Westport, where we had a quick walk around, a cup of coffee and a very pleasant chat with one of the local Garda (police). Westport has a monument to St Patrick, which was both surprising and not. Obviously not, because St Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, but surprising in that we didn't know why there should be a statue here and not in other places. Our appalling ignorance (given our Irish backgrounds) was to be relieved in a couple of days - more soon.
At about 8 pm, we reached Donegal and our B&B for the night. It was quite an eye-opener. The B&B is called Rossmore Manor and it really looks the part. It is a very grand looking place that sits on a hill overlooking a broad river mouth that feeds into Donegal Bay. Inside, it is sumptuously furnished with very generously proportioned bedrooms. The owners are a young couple with four children, who somehow also managed to be attentive hosts. We had the run of the house and they served us tea and biscuits in their own lounge. To save money, we had booked a triple room but they put Marie in her own room at no extra cost. This place was easily the best B&B we stayed in on our touring around - and none of them were bad. It made for a very pleasant evening after our long day on the road.
Anyway, we hope you enjoy the pictures of the Connemara and until next time, "slán abhaile". Marie, Angela and Ray.