Fjord cruise, seaweed spa, and an Irish Pub

Trip Start Mar 24, 2004
Trip End Apr 05, 2004

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Flag of Ireland  ,
Monday, March 29, 2004

We meet some of the group at the hotels traditional Irish buffet breakfast. Then it's on to the bus. First hotel inspection is just up the street. Then two more.  Back on the bus and back through my beloved Connemara. The grumbling starts when everyone notices how close they are to Kylemore Abbey but realize they will not be going there. Hmm. I am just smiling and remembering yesterday and thinking they should be gazing out the window at this spectacular scenery.  Down the hillside, at the harbor's bay is the pretty little town of Lennane. 
                                                                                                                                                        Location:   Nancy's Point (2 km from Leenane), Connemara Peninsula, County Galway                                                                                                                                                                            Attraction/rating: Killary Fjord Cruise/3 - 4* depending on weather  150 passenger all-weather catamaran. 1 hour cruise of Ireland's only fjord. A placid nine-mile scenic journey past mussel and salmon fish farms, sheep grazing on hillsides, and a glimpse of the Atlantic Ocean, while the Captain provides a commentary about the sites and the area. Occasional sightings of dolphins, seals, otters, wild goats and many species of seabirds can be observed in their natural habitat. Sailing out, the beautiful village of Leenane is in view. We're told that Great Britain harbored her naval fleet here during the world war.  I guess since Ireland has stayed neutral in the wars, the announcer doesn't know if it was WWI or WWII or both?

The harbors depth is 78 feet, and we can see the mountains that line the harbor on both sides, providing a safe mooring. The mountains to the right are rocky with little vegetation while to the left it's the 1000 shades of green.

A seafood buffet has been included in our cruise. Quality (and quanity) shrimp and crab along with brown bread, potatoes and veggies. Beer and wine, along with pop can be purchased at the bar. We're eating quickly to get back out on the top deck for the scenery. 

It's a pleasant and very relaxing way to spend time. If rain is scheduled in the forecast, this is a wonderful place to spend an hour and a half. We spot some seals, see the fish farms, someone says "whales!" Must be the Adventure Tour couple from New Mexico. Turns out to be a few dolphins. They don't care this is their first time on water other than a lake or river and they are beaming. We all raise our glasses for a toast to a new experience .  

Bathrooms on board. Snacks and food service available. Indoor dining area for approx 50. Additional outdoor seating on deck is available. Options for group lunch range from sandwiches to seafood buffet.   
Rates/Times: Adults  €17.00, OAP and Students €14.00, Child under 15 €8.00, Family Rate 2 adults 2 children €40.00   Group rates available. April to October 10:30am, 12:30pm, 2:30pm and 4:30pm. Other dates upon request.

Eowin, our wonderful driver has us back in the bus in the blink of an eye. Pretty good considering he is corralling 47 tour operators who all have their own priorities! Leenane village, Eowin states, was where part of the movie "The Field" with Richard Harris and Johh Hurt (?) was filmed. It's a picturesque village, sitting at the mouth of the harbor with the Maam Turk Mountains forming a spectacular backdrop behind the village, and the Killary Fjord harbor and hills looking into the town's pubs shops and homes. I could spend a few days here.

We drive north on 59 stopping for a quick look at Aaslageah Falls, a wide waterfall with Ben Gorm in the background. To the side is Aaslageah Lodge, a Victorian structure, which I wish we had time to inspect. Eowin says it's a favorite of anglers, as Erriff is the prime salmon river in the West.   Definitely worth the quick stop. The road north to Westport is beyond scenic. It's just too hard to put into words, so I will stop with AWESOME drive.  This is part of Joyce's County. And it stays awesome even up to Westport.
  Attraction/Rating:  Rosmanny Spa/5*   Rosmanny is located 6 kilometers from Westport. A €10 taxi ride.  The facility is modern, huge expanses of glass give panoramic views of Croagh Patrick, " The Reek" and the Atlantic Ocean. The indoor pool area relaxation suite have floor to ceiling windows overlooking the sea, which is only twenty feet away. We've opted for the seaweed bath (€29 per couple or €18 per person) and the use of the heated Seaweed Thalossotherapy pool and hot tubs (€10 per person if you are not booking any massage or therapy treatments) Towels are (€2 per person)  We hit the pool and hot tubs first to relax. What a view. You notice an immediate difference when you exit these areas. Your skin feels soft and the feeling of dryness is nonexistent.       
                                                                                                                                                      The The seaweed baths are in a private room. I slide into a claw-foot bathtub, filled with hot water and uncountable strands of slimy seaweed. Knowing that seaweed does have it's own aroma, I have an aromatherapy oil added to the bath. Ah. Too soon my twenty minutes is up, but my skin feels like a baby's. Next trip, I will book a full day here with treatments and of course the seaweed bath.   
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We make it back just in time for dinner at 7:00pm with the group in the hotel's Islands Restaurant. Although the carpeting is dark and the drapes are drawn, the room fairly glows. The furnishings are comfortable. China, linen and silverware are upscale. Wide variety on the regular menus from fish and chips to duck. Our new friend Jim and his wife, Peg and her husband, a biking and walking tour operators from Philadelphia and a sweet southern couple join our table.

We have a set menu which is still exceptional. The service is prompt and courteous. Desert is elightful. Everyone is getting over their jet lag, some have slept part of the day on the cruise and bus. Jim asks what we are doing, I tell him just going into town to walk around and maybe hit a pub. He says they will meet us in ten minutes in the lobby.  Fifteen minutes later we are in quaint, adorable Westport.

A quick walk around the town (and making sure we do not step in any dog poop which is all over the side walks) and we know that only the pubs are open.   Our little group of 4 has swelled to 18.

Someone heard about Matt Malloy's Pub (a flutist from the Chieftains). We head over  and are told that Matt is in the back along with a traditional band. It's a huge cavern like room, but the place is packed. The "aisle" that goes to the bar has disappeared and the band can be seen but not heard. Our group is trying to muscle down to the bar. Gary and I exchange the "we are outta here" look. 

Sneaking out we walk next door to the Porterhouse Bar, owned by Joe O'Malley. This is what we were looking for. A neighborhood pub with traditional Irish music. Searching for a seat I bumped into Kyle Munn, who everyone in the pub knew. His friends ask us to join them, which we quickly did. After college, Kyle played soccer player for 5 years in Ireland. Seems that he came over from New York and didn't want to leave. Kyle now owns his own Irish pub, Snuffy's in Saranac Lake NY and comes back to Ireland every year to pub hop.

It seems we are traveling on the same path since Kenmare and were in some of the same pubs at the same time in Dingle and Doolin! Also ironic he says that the "Irish band" playing at Matt's is an American band from Boston. They play at his pub occasionally in the summer. Matt went off with friends earlier in the evening. I'm happy where I am, the music is good, the company is fine. Just another perfect night in Ireland.   
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