Recently Craic & Cultúr travelled the short hop outside Galway City to Roundstone and Clifden on the West Coast of Connemara, as part of our research for
The Craic & Cultur – Wild Atlantic Way Guide.
Here is a little taster…….
Roundstone located a little over an hour’s drive North West of Galway City towards Clifden.
Now a word of caution for anyone that may not have driven on country roads of Ireland before, you may find our roadways small and bumpy, twisting and turning its way over hills and around headlands with speed limits that seem strangely high to any visitors.
The locals will know these roads well and will generally use the speed limit as a target rather than a limit.
The secret to anyone new to driving in this area is just take your time and be confident, don’t allow yourself to be stressed or panicked and enjoy the challenge.
As you travel through the picturesque villages of Moycullen and Oughterard and into the wilds of the heart of Connemara you will notice the change of landscape, from the lush green fields to rocky heather covered hills.
The majestic peaks of The Twelve Pins stand proud overlooking the small valley lakes that you drive along side.
A little insider tip for a quick stop and photo op – In the village of Recess, visit Conn the Protector of Connemara, his statue stands proud watching the visitors of Connemara as they drive by.
We continue in to the beautiful fishing village of Roundstone. Perched above the waters of the Atlantic looking down into its own small harbour, Roundstone is a picture postcard of an Irish fishing village. A line of small town houses facing the bay, dotted with small local bars, restaurants and cafes.
The close knit community of Roundstone is evident from the moment you step inside the door of any bar, shop or café, friendly and welcoming.
Right in the middle of the village with wonderful views across the bay is the Roundstone House Hotel locally known as Vaughans, it is here that we will be laying our heads tonight.
The Roundstone House Hotel is a small hotel, bar and restaurant owned and run by the Vaughan Family.
With the perfect balance of old Ireland family hospitality and charm combined with comfortable modern rooms and fantastic food.
Continuing along the coast, twisting and turning, passing the golden sands of Gurteen & Dogs Bay we arrive in the regional hub town of Clifden, sitting among the hills of Connemara with its pier touching the clear waters of the Atlantic.
With a selection of Bars, Hotels, Restaurants, Craft shops and everything an exploring traveller may need.
Heading towards the aptly named Sky Road we drive through the grand gates of Abbeyglen Castle Hotel.
The hotel stands on the hillside keeping watch over the bay with gardens and views to rival the most spectacular surroundings anywhere in Ireland.
Inside and out the Abbeyglen lives up to its Castle title, majestic with old world charm and the friendliness one would expect with real Irish Hospitality.
We are welcomed like returning family as is every guest.
VIP treatment here is the norm with Owners Paul and Brian Hughes hosting dinner and taking time to meet the needs of each guest with charisma and an evident passion for hospitality, and sharing their little slice of Irish heaven with the world.
For more on Roundstone, The Roundstone House Hotel and Things to see and do in the area visit www.roundstone-connemara.com
To experience the hospitality of Abbeyglen Castle Hotel visit www.abbeyglen.ie
And to read more about Connemara, Places to stay, Things to Do and enjoying an Authentic Irish Experience stay tuned for the release of
The Craic & Cultúr Guide to The Wild Atlantic Way (2017)
It’s the June Bank Holiday Weekend, and the Sun is "Splitting the Stones”
But on a Weekend like this, with the weather so fine and Galway city a buzz with life, what would be my perfect Galway day. Those little moments of perfection that bring the mind and body back to neutral before another crazy month.
So here it is My Perfect Galway Day
Plunge into Galway Bay
Where ever you are in the city, hop on a bus, get a taxi or take a stroll and get yourself to Blackrock in Salthill. Here take in the atmosphere, The sun worshipers lounging on the sand, the doggy paddle swimmers with their necks above water and the back flipping daredevils leaping off the divinnboards.
Maybe take a paddle yourself and immerse yourself, not only in the cool waters of the atlantic but in a local right of passage for teenagers and big kid adults alike.
Take the Prom to Town
From Blackrock, take a stroll along the famous Salthill Promenade, or “The Prom” as its called locally. Passing along the village of Salthill towards the City of Galway, grabbing an Ice cream cone and weaving your way through the smiles of dog walkers, the lycra wearing joggers, or simply the lazy dayers taking it all in. This route, a regular escape for the locals of Galway & Salthill, stretches along the bay.
From Salthill following the coast, the lapping waves are your constant companion and you make your way into the edges of the equally famous Claddagh, around South Park affectionally known as “the swamp” and onto the historical Nimmo’s Pier & Claddagh Quay. Stop and take it all in, Looking across at the picturesque Long Walk and Spanish Arch. With a few final steps you find yourself over the Corrib River stepping over Wolfe Tone Bridge and suddenly the relaxing, tranquility of the Prom and Claddagh changes to excitement as the Streets of Galway City layout infront of you.
With the City of Galway a buzz on a normal day, there is something extra special when the weather is good, and then the added bonus of the Bank Holiday, Well thats a recipe for an electric atmosphere. With Buskers playing instruments of all shapes and sizes with songs and voices to match, Quay Street, High Street and Shop Street, the main artery of the City has its own unique sound track. Time to Soak it up.
Head to Griffins Bakery on Shop St, Grab a coffee, treat yourself to alittle baked piece of loveliness, take advantage of the outside seating, then sit back, relax, watch the world go by and feel the hours drift away. It is now that you have stopped and are watching the lifeblood of Galway City pump around you that you really see the City. the craziness, the friendliness, the contradictions, the similarities, the alternative, the bohemian, the normal and the strange, all in one melting pot.
Jumping around the corner, turning onto Church Yard St. Under the shadow of St. Nicholas’ Church we find the buzz of Galway Market.
Here crafts people trade their creations. From knitwear to jewellery, paintings to woodcraft, artisan food to organic vegetables and fish mongers.
A stroll through the market is something to be savoured, and in my experience take more than one trip. Chat with the traders, hear the stories of what they’ve created. Take in the sounds, the smells and maybe even have a taste,Madras curry, Yummy Crepes, Japanese Sushi, and mouth watering handmade cookies.
if there was anywhere in the Galway that was an snapshot of its history, culture and diversity the Galway Market is it.
Exploring Local Shops
No Perfect Day in Galway is complete without stepping through the doorways of some of my favourite local retailers. Galway is a fantastic city for supporting it own local economy and I pride myself, like many other people in the city, in supporting and spending local. But these independent local stores have personality, character and history. Spending some time here you’re likely to leave with little less money but with a lot more than just the items you bought.
The moment you step inside the famous Charlie Byrnes Bookshop of The Cornstore brings a wave calmness and tranquility, surrounded by books, old and new, wealth of knowledge and culture with of course the few colourful characters always with a windward and a smile.
The Great Outdoors on Eglinton St for the active moments, looking a the new gear toys on the market, a playground for anyone with an adventurous soul. Chatting to the staff, exchanging stories of adventures gone by, plans yet to come and stories of the street from the 35year history of the Store.
These are just two of my Favourite Independent Local Retailers, maybe I’ll do another blog in the future about them all.
Time to fill the gap and grab a bite. But with hundreds to those from in Galway all of various styles and price ranges it’s hard to pick just one, Your spoilt for choice. But with the weather shining it’s close to the water I want to be so It’s down to O’Conaires on The Docks. If you’re lucky enough you’ll nab a window seat, looking across the harbour in early evening is magical the waving of sail masts and the squawking of seagulls as a masterly prepared meal is whipped up for you.
It is this standard of restaurant that makes Galway what it is for Culinary Creativity, Good Food, Good Wine, Good Service from the Bay into a Pan and onto your plate is something we take for granted in Galway and we are very lucky to think that.
Time for a Pint. It’s into O’Connell’s Beer Garden (the worst kept secret in Galway Bars) for a Cool Pint of Plain. Stepping in the front door into this old-world bar on a sunny day gives the misleading impression of quietness. Order the Pint and step out back for reality. O’Connell’s draws a crowd on a sunny weekend evening and has a relaxed atmosphere with a touch of devilment in the air. From a quiet pint reading a paper, to a chat with friends, as the pints flow so will the time until the music and night air become one. Surrounded by smiling faces, laughing, chatting and dancing.
From here the nights plans come together, where next, who’s playing where, whats on…….
But thats for a different Blog Post.