As if the Cliffs of Moher weren’t enough amazingness for one day, it was only the start! Our lunch stop was in Galway where my mom had “the best salad ever.” And I think she was serious!
Between Garmin, heavy traffic, and our Rick Steves map, it wasn’t exactly clear how we were entering Galway. After a bit of a navigation / parking debacle, we opted to just leave the car in a lot and walk. We didn’t have a whole lot of time to spend in Galway, so it didn’t make sense to waste it wondering around in really slow traffic. We would be much faster on foot. While it wasn’t where we intended to be, we got to walk through Eyre Square and down the pedestrian shopping street.
We had lunch at Ard Bia at Nimmos, which was super eclectic and utterly delicious. It was located at the Spanish Arch, which was part of the old city wall. It was constructed in 1584 and was the place where the Spanish ships would unload their cargo.
After lunch and a stroll back to the car, we were off to Kylemore Abbey. I am still conflicted about whether or not this stop was worth it. On one hand, it was magnificent, plus it offered an experience in what felt like the Irish wilderness (more commonly known as Connemara). On the other hand, it was a lot of car time for an old castle with only a few rooms on display. Many of its formerly remarkable rooms have been repurposed to accommodate the abbey’s (and previously the school’s) needs. One example is a former ballroom was converted into a chapel. This obviously makes more sense, but I was sad to not see more of the original splendor of the home (which was built in the 1860’s). Rick Steves says the best part is the view from the lakeshore, and I think he’s right.
Now, an unexpected surprise was the Victorian Walled Gardens. They were HUGE and so well manicured – not something I expected in the middle of nowhere!
After our rushed visit, we were back in the car for the grand finale of a really remarkable day…Ashford Castle!
When I was planning my trip, my Barnacle told me that her favorite castle in Ireland was Ashford Castle. I looked into visiting, and it turns out that it is a hotel, and you can spend the night! How exciting! It’s not just any hotel. It’s one of the most fabulous I’ve ever experienced. The castle was built in 1228, and over the years it expanded to be the huge place it is today. There have been quite a few different owners, including the Guinness family. We had such a fabulous evening feeling pampered as we received the royal treatment after a very full day (and week, for that matter)!
What a fabulous place to feel like a royal – if only for a night!