Middle of Nowhere, Ireland

Trip Start Jun 19, 2008
Trip End Oct 11, 2008

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Flag of Ireland  , Western Ireland,
Monday, June 30, 2008

            Hello from Connemara! We've been busy in the last few days. After we left Dingle, we headed to Doolin (on the west coast, north of Dingle). We caught sight of Doolin, and it made Dingle look like a sprawling metropolis. The town of Dooling is made up of about 10-15 buildings, situated near the pleasantly babbling Aille River (sounds like it's out of a fairy tale or something, right?). But don't be deceived. There is a lot to do in the little town. In our 2 days there, we listened to great pub music, toured the Aran island of Inis Oir (pronounced Inisheer) by bike (and let me tell you it is not a flat or a well paved island - in fact, if you make it there, take the horse-drawn tour and save yourself a heart attack), and saw the Cliffs of Moher [See our stories that go w/the pictures from these adventures]. Unfortunately, all that activity left us with zero euro to spare in our daily budgets, and we ate quite a bit of toast, oatmeal, powdered soup, and noodles at the Aille River Hostel. As everyone around us in the hostel left to get pints and some music, Ryan and I made ourselves a pot of tea (free, provided by the hostel of course) and read our books with the over-50 crowd and the small children. When 10:30 pm hit, we were already fast asleep.
            This morning, we made our way through "The Burren," an oddly barren landscape filled with a huge amount of limestone. Rain has made channels in the soft stone, creating a latticework both unique and eerie. Look at the pics. We also saw a stone tomb from around 4000 BC - not something you see every day in the states, huh? From there, we drove north, through Galway's suburbs, to the region of Connemara. We almost cut it from our itinerary, but once we caught sight of the majestic landscape, we were glad to have made the trip here. Connemara consists of green, striking mountains, sheep that like to graze roadside (and sometimes chill in the road), very few people, and Ireland's only fjord (talk about a fun word to say...we've been using it as much as possible). Our hostel is situated on the fjord, literally in the middle of nowhere. It is humongous, although we have only seen a few other guests here. For some reason, all of the staff (which outnumbers the 3-4 guests about 8:1) speak French and broken English. Fairly odd in the middle of the Irish countryside. I tried to ask the friendly receptionist some advice about what to see in France, and he told me about the weather in Ireland. Huh? Oh well. I guess it is only preparing us for our journey to Paris in a few days. Once we got situated in the hostel, Ryan and I drove to the nearby Connemara National Park. We took a (free) 3km hike around one of the smaller hill/mountains, and enjoyed some tremendous views. After we finished, stomachs were rumbling (and we are quite sick of dehydrated soups), so we found a local greasy spoon that filled us up with fried fish and French fries (chips). Ryan and I rounded out the evening with a game of Scrabble (I beat him by 35 despite his trash talk J hehe), mountain views, and 2 liters of cider. All in all, a good day. Tomorrow we are off to Galway, where we are excited to experience some city living after 5 days in the Irish countryside. Unfortunately, Galway will be the last city we visit in Ireland.
And just for your personal knowledge/entertainment...


1. My stomach does not appreciate Irish cheese (and it makes car rides painful for Ryan too)

2. When someone tells you there are no police and lots of crack, it doesn't mean what it does in downtown Milwaukee. Crack means "fun" in Irish. In fact, it's spelled "craic."

3. Stretchy yoga pants are definitely a trend that has not made it over the Atlantic. People look at me like I'm wearing tights and forgot my skirt.

4. Ryan is in the process of learning to look both ways before crossing the street (still some work to be done...we'll keep you posted).

5. Sheep could appear in the middle of the road at any time.

6. Even if you think a road is definitely too small to be a 2-lane road, it probably still is (and a giant tour bus is likely to come speeding around a corner at you at any moment)

7. Some road signs just can't be figured out without a manual (some look like: "no ears allowed at any time" or "no bridges at all" or one near the cliffs of Moher "do not walk into fire with birds circling around you")

8. It is hard to learn to get into the correct sides of the car for passenger and driver (Ryan and I mix it up almost every time).

9. Sticking to a budget in real life isn't like Monopoly or personal finance class. One can only eat so much bread, peanut butter, powdered soup, and free tea.

More to come as we continue our travel education...
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smousemom63011 on

It was great talking to you today
Happy travels to France! Ryan, you promised not to run with the bulls! Patti, you don't do it either. hehe.

I hope you have safe travels and keep in touch! I love you both!


pshinehayes on

things to learn
So happy you two are getting an education along with all the Guiness. I especially like that Ryan is learning to look both ways. 22 years, haven't been able to accomplish that yet. Yikes. I would love to see photos of the wacky signs you come across. Love the one about the cliff you did photograph. Your pictures are beautiful - what a remembrance. Dad and I are at the lake this week if you are calling - use the cell phones Ryan. (Ahem - PLEASE call.) Love to you both, Mom Hayes

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