Diamond Hill and Tully Cross, Connemara

September, 2019

Just outside Letterfrack, you will find the entrance to Connemara National Park. One of the Twelve Bens (or Pins) is Diamond Hill. Its name is related to the glitter of the quartz crystals on the mountain. The views reach over the water, as far as the islands of Inishbofin and Inishark. It is surrounded not only by many other Bens, but also by Kylemore Lough and Kylemore Abbey.

The grey weather is not very inviting for a long hike, but with my raincoat and my poncho tucked away in the backpack, I decide to give it a try. It is still early in the morning and there are only three other cars in the parking area. The guy at the information desk tells me about the three different loops. I decide to go for the red one, which goes all around the top of Diamond Hill and takes about two and half hours to complete. He does not tell me that the weather can be very unpredictable, once you are halfway on the mountain!

I start my walk full of optimism and energy and although the drizzle is changing into rain, I still enjoy the endless views over the water and the mystic red earth.

The stonepath trails and wooden boardwalks (erected after severe erosion) are very well-assigned, but as soon as you climb higher, the wind is picking up. I only see a handful of people up the mountain in front of me and the weather is changing from one minute into the other. I get my poncho to cover my backpack and try to follow the others. The stone path is no problem with good weather, but with these gusts I feel extremely unstable. At a certain point I have to make myself very small and hold on to a rock, as the wind gets under my poncho and tries to lift me! Wow, I will end up as Mary Poppins, if I continue this hike……..I decide to return and join some others, who made the same decision. Further down, you can take another loop, which brings you back to the parking area.

I drive back to Diamond Hill on my last afternoon in Connemara, just to get some nice shots and enjoy the hike in calm, sunny weather conditions.

They say Ireland has four seasons in a day and you have to dress in layers. These four seasons give the sea different colours, very impressive clouds and endless rainbows.

The afternoon brings some sunshine again, so I grab my camera and go on a hike to Tully Cross, situated on the Renvyle Peninsula.

Tully Cross is a very small village on the Wild Atlantic Way. If you follow the road, you end up in Tully Head, where the Atlantic Sea lies at your feet. It is also possible to climb Tully Mountain (well, more a hill!), but there are no assigned pathways.

In Tully Cross I visit famous Paddy Coynes Pub. At this time there are no other guests, but I do find the fire place burning and treat myself on a nice and well-deserved gin & tonic. One day I will return and enjoy their special Irish Nights!


From Dublin to Letterfrack, in colourful Connemara

September, 2019

My first week in Dublin went quickly, due to the many events in the evening and sightseeing during the day. My daughter and I visited the Guinness Storehouse, where every floor gives you a lecture about the history and the process of making Guinness. Once you are on the top level, you arrive in the Gravity Bar, where you can treat yourself on a pint of Guinness, while enjoying a panoramic view over the town.

One of the famous pubs in Dublin is O’Donoghues on Merrion Row. Very authentic and visited regularly by The Dubliners, as well as many other famous people.

While the family is returning to Australia again, I pick up my rental car from the airport and start my trip to the Western Coast of Ireland. It all sounds very relaxing, but it wasn’t! Just the knowledge of having to drive on the left hand side of the road with a left manual gear, gave me sleepless nights. On top of the stress, there was an issue with my credit card and I had to call my bank in The Netherlands to solve the problem, as otherwise no car! With a delay of an hour, I finally could collect my vehicle. I first checked it thouroughly for any damages (took pictures of every scratch!), practised the gear, adjusted the chair and mirrors and took a deep breath……I checked the instructions of my Tom Tom, which I brought with me from Holland and also got the google map from my phone on. Another deep breath and off I went on the highway. For the first hour I constanly told myself “left, left, left”, but you can’t go wrong on the highway! Once out of Dublin, it is pretty relaxing driving, only in Galway I had to do some roundabouts and turns, but all went well. The roads are getting smaller after Galway and at some point I had to go right, missed it, tried to turn and couldn’t get my car into reverse. A farmer finally helped me, with a big smile on his face, while my face turned red!

By now I was driving on a road, with water on both sides and the red coloured mountain range of Connemara on the horizon. It felt like I was travelling on another planet. Sheep were just wandering in front of my car, while dark clouds were hanging against the mountains.

Towards Letterfrack
View from the house
View from the house on Connemara Loop, in between Letterfrack and Tully Cross.

Without any issues I reached the small village of Letterfrack, where I got some salade, cheese and wine to get me through the evening. Gerry and Mary, the owners of the airbnb, which I booked for the coming 6 nights, wrote me very detailed instructions how to reach the house. It was just light enough to see. The narrow road went up and down and finally I arrived in paradise!

The next morning was fairly cloudy and the forecast not really promising, so I decided to go on an early hike along the coast. After a few meters, there was this tiny harbour and I enjoyed the stillness, the colours of the surroundings and the view over the water.

I continued the small road, passing a few tiny houses and a flock of sheep, until I reached the ocean. Later my landlord told me, you can hike all around the peninsula in around 5 till 6 hours. Next time! This first day I take it easy. By the time I returned, rain started pouring!