This was a beautiful drive through rolling country with hills and ocean views.  The Folk Village shows the creative genius of Fr.James McDyer who helped to invigorate a depressed community on the west coast of Donegal.

IMG_9327 copyIMG_9335 copyIMG_9351 copyIMG_9352 copy

Fr.James McDyer himself

IMG_9354 copy

IMG_9361 copy

Map of the counties, featuring the most prolific rock

IMG_9364 copy


It was nice to moor alongside a quay in a deep water birth, so we didn’t have to zodiac ashore!  We got a taxi into town, climbed the hill to St.Catherine’s Church and admired the recently renovated interior. After a hot chocolate we went to the museum in the old carpet factory.  The quay is full of wings for a wind farm.

IMG_5389 copyIMG_9315 copyIMG_9316 copyIMG_9317 copyIMG_9318 copyIMG_9319 copyIMG_9325 copy

Clare Island

After an exciting ride in a zodiak we reached Clare Island and were greeted by a piper, Paul.  We were told the story of Grace O’Malley who talked to Queen Elizabeth in Latin!  It was her castle on the hill. The parish priest, Fr.John and David had much to discuss. Then we walked to the Sailors Pub, where we were fed and watered and entertained by a fiddlers band, folk singers and dancers.  Sharon O’Grady made a big fuss of us and escorted us to her wayside stall.  We rode back by zodiak to a watery sunset.  It was a lovely afternoon and evening.

IMG_5354 copyIMG_5385 copyIMG_5356 copyIMG_5382 copyIMG_9300 copyIMG_9303 copyIMG_5383 copyIMG_9309 copyIMG_5388 copy

IMG_5245 copy

The harbour at Kilronan

IMG_5252 copy

Decimated thatched cottage

IMG_5267 copy

Early purple orchid

IMG_5272 copy

Limestone pavement

IMG_5274 copy

Fossils in the limestone

IMG_5278 copy

Dun Aong Hasa fort

IMG_5280 copy

Inside fort on cliff top

IMG_5284 copy

Cliffs from the fort

IMG_5300 copy

Habitable thatched cottage

IMG_5302 copy

Traditional crab & lobster boat

IMG_5318 copy

Chancel of St.Ronan’s church

IMG_5325 copy

Local transport and crafts

We moored in Galway Bay and were zodiaked to buses which took us across Galway and then on a wonderful day tour of Connemara.  After lunch we visited the exquisite Kylemore Abbey and learnt its history from the days of the Henry family until the Benedictine nuns whose community occupies it today.

IMG_9298 copy

We were roused early in the morning to see the famous cliffs of Moher.  Unfortunately there was too much mist to see them properly so I returned to bed in my dressing gown!  Alas this is only a picture of a picture.

The pictures which follow are of the glorious Kylemore Abbey which blew my breath away, it was so stunning.

IMG_9276 copyIMG_9283 copyIMG_9282 copyIMG_5224 copyIMG_9286 copyIMG_9288 copyIMG_9287 copy

Here are shots taken on the drive through picturesque Connemara.  It was lovely in the morning but even better when enhanced by the sun in the afternoon.

IMG_9289 copyIMG_5239 copy

Peat cutting which is illegal in the EU, so they pay a fine to continue this traditional activity.

IMG_5237 copyIMG_5234 copyIMG_5230 copy

The Skelligs

These two amazing rocky islands rear out of the Atlantic just off the Irish coast.  Extraordinarily Skellig Michael was the home of a group of monks who made their monastery and hermitage at its summit for 700 years.  It was an adventure just to view the site from our fragile rubber boats.

IMG_9229 copy


IMG_9233 copy

More guillemots

IMG_9239 copy

Harbour Seal pup

IMG_9245 copy

Skellig Michael

IMG_9256 copy

To the lighthouse

IMG_9257 copy

Little Skellig & Silver Cloud

IMG_9265 copy

Cave & Zodiak

IMG_9268 copy


IMG_9272 copy

Welcome back!

Overnight we reached Ireland, County Kerry and moored on Valentia Island.  From there by zodiak to Knightstown and by coach to Kells Bay Gardens.  The owner was away building his fern garden at Chelsea Flower Show.

IMG_5055 copy

Portmagee, Star Wars Village

IMG_5073 copyIMG_9206 copyIMG_9214 copyIMG_9222 copyIMG_9215 copyIMG_9224 copyIMG_9212 copyIMG_9208 copyIMG_9207 copy