Galway is a wonderful town with nice views, a great pub and food scene, and an overall lively place to be. Sooner or later though, we yearned for a bit of peace and quiet and a slower pace. Many visitors to Galway trek out into the Connemara and we decided to head south into The Burren. Our guide at Ancient Ireland Tourism mapped out a self directed day trip for us a day ahead and we enjoyed every minute of it.
Heading out of Galway on the Limerick Road, we headed for Kinvara following the Wild Atlantic Way. Along the drive, we stopped off to see Dunguire Castle right before entering Kinvara. Parking can be a bit of a challenge along the road and in tiny lots but we continued down the road until a spot opened up and then walked back to the castle.
The castle has been restored and enjoys an enviable location right on Galway Bay. There is a nominal entry fee although worth the price. The banquet hall is decorated as it would have been in the 1500’s and the upper level has been converted to living quarters from when Christobel Lady Amptill lived there. We ventured outside along the narrow ledge which wraps around the tower to enjoy stunning views in all directions.
Before leaving, we checked out the gift shop. Thom Brady makes unique, handcrafted jewelry and his creations of glass on metal are most interesting. We also picked up a knitted wool shawl in the shop which is absolutely lovely.
Why no sit back, relax, and leave the driving to your own private guide? Explore the Burren with a local guide who can point out all of the sites along with much, much more!
Heading into the center of Kinvara we pulled over and parked by the pier and enjoyed the shops and the views of the small harbor and fishing boats. Stopping into Connollys Pub (music) we say hello to Cathol, the owner and then cross the street to Greens Pub and meet the proprietors Mary, Hillary and Collette. We lingered by the harbor, taking in the ambiance before continuing on our journey with plans to stop in the pubs on the return trip to take in some traditional music.
From Kinvara we headed down the road into New Quay and by now, it is time for lunch so we stopped at Linnanes Lobster Bar on the water. If in the warm season, there is outdoor seating as well. Grab a bite to eat or enjoy a pint before heading down the road as the seafood chowder is some of the best we have tasted anywhere in Ireland.
Next point on our journey, we arrived at Flaggy Shore, simply following the road signs. After parking, we tool the 3 km walk along the shore and enjoyed the wonderful views of Galway Bay. We noted the houses along the walk as some are to let so they might offer ideas for the next vacation and the opportunity to let a home right along such a beautiful waterfront.
After a relaxing lunch, we headed inland into The Burren on the Carran Road. This is a very scenic ride over the landscape with a couple of interesting stops along the way.
The Burren Perfumery is worth an hour or so visit, so we we stopped there. They blend perfumes here, many from flowers which grow in The Burren as well as offer handmade scented soaps. There is plenty of parking, and this is a quiet place for tea and to grab a snack in the café. After tea, we took a stroll through the well maintained garden. It is too bad we were not around when all the flowers were blooming out in the countryside, as the Burren, while at times desolate, is known for some unique wild flowers.
We are chocolate lovers, so we stopped at the Chocolatier. Unlike most chocolate factories, this establishment actually roasts their own cocoa beans so they control the entire process from start to finish. They do offer tours although when we visited they had a production run in progress and were not taking visitors. Here too we found a café for a drink or snack, as well as restrooms. Before leaving, we were sure to pick up some Irish milk chocolate made with milk from Irish cows!
We had plenty of time left in the day so from here headed out to the cliffs of Moher which are stunningly magnificent. There is a large visitor center there and plenty of parking. A visit to the cliffs should take an hour or two, more if planning to hike along the cliffs.
When heading back to our hotel in Galway, we remembered to stop in Connellys and Greens when passing through Kinvara for some Irish music and a bit of craic!
Once back to Galway, we headed to the Latin Quarter for the pub scene and to enjoy a delicious dinner of locally caught seafood at Fisherman over in Salthill.