Other daytrips around Letterfrack; Killary Fjord, Roundstone and Kylemore Abbey

September, 2019

Letterfrack is surrounded by many interesting places. During my stay, two couples used the B&B just for the night and continued their trip the next day. They missed all the wonderful spots, the views and the hikes. One couple was touring around Ireland in one week! To get an impression…….from the window of their car. They even missed the beauty of Kylemore Abbey, just a ten minute drive from Letterfrack.Kylemore Abbey

Although a tourist attraction, it is a lovely place to visit. Its history goes back to 1860, when Mitchell Henry built the Abbey for his wife Margaret on the lakeshore, at the heart of a 15,000 acre estate. After Margaret died, Mitchell Henry built the Gothic Church, in memory of his wife. They both rest together in the Mausoleum, very near to the church.

On the other side of Kylemore Abbey, you will find The Victorian Walled Garden, a six acre oasis with glasshouses. There is even a shuttle bus going for the elderly and small children, but the hike along the lake is very enjoyable.

In 1920 the Benedictine Community of Nuns arrived at Kylemore, where they established an Abbey and an international girl’s boarding school. The school is gone, but the nuns stayed and in the Craft and Design Shop you will find a variety of products, all handmade by the Benedictine nuns.

I would have loved to walk up the mountain to the Sacred Heart Statue, which was erected in 1932. The view from there over the Connemara Mountains must be stunning, but there is just no time enough. Next time?

After leaving the Abbey direction Westport, the road will soon follow Killary Harbour. This is one of the three glacial fjords in Ireland. It stretches sixteen kilometers inland to the lovely village of Leenane. I visit on a rainy day, but even then the views are still spectacular.

On the shores of majestic Killary fjord is a food truck, where you can grab an excellent coffee or soup.Food Truck along the shores of Killary Fjord

The food is delicious (try the veggie pasty) and there are benches to sit down when it is not raining! Also a great place to take pictures of the fjord………

Another great day trip from Letterfrack is driving along the Wild Atlantic Way towards the remote fisherman’s village of Roundstone. Once leaving Clifden behind, the road gets very calm with amazing views all over and again a colourful rainbow! There are enough opportunities to stop the car and admire the coastline.

Artistic Roundstone has plenty to offer. The best Bodhráns ( Irish drums) are produced here, by famous instrument maker Malachy Kearns. The drum is on one side covered with goatskin and Bodhrán means deaf or haunting. There are plenty of restaurants, which serve the day’s catch, such as lobster, crab, shrimp, mackerel or cod.

Next time, I would love to spend some more time in peaceful Roundstone; go hiking up the mountain, along the coast and enjoy the delicious food!

My stay in Ireland was an unforgettable one. I fell in love with the country and its people and I certainly will return!!!

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!