To wrap up our adventures in Galway, I wanted to showcase one more day trip possibility and talk a bit more about the actual city of Galway.
The last day trip we took out of Galway took us over to Connemara and Kylemore Abbey.
Originally built as a castle in the 1860s, the property was restored and turned into a Benedictine Abbey in the early 1920s. Along with the Abbey, there is a beautiful six acre garden, plenty of walking trails, a gothic church, dining and shopping. Visiting Kylemore is a perfect half day stop. It was bit drizzly the day we visited but that didn’t stop Brett and I from exploring the garden. Once again, because of a few rain drops, we really had the garden pretty much to ourselves for nearly an hour. Visiting in November meant we didn’t see a lot of flowers, but the gardens and walls were still incredible beautiful. I am looking forward to returning in a warmer month to see more of the gardens in bloom.
The abbey itself was undergoing restoration while we were there, but we were still able to explore and take some great photos. This is one of those places where photos just don’t do it justice.
If you follow the path past the Abbey, you’ll come to the Gothic Church. It’s nestled into a hillside, overlooking the lake. Getting closer to it, there is an old cemetery fenced into the church grounds. The church is open for visitors, just jiggle the handle a bit to get in. Since we were there towards the Christmas Holidays, it was already decorated and I was able to take a couple of my favorite holiday shots while inside.
If you continue past the Gothic Church you’ll find more nature trails and wooden areas to explore. We could have stayed much longer, just wandering the trails and taking in the beautiful nature on the grounds.
Give yourself a little time to enjoy some lunch in the cafeteria and browse through the gift shop on your way out.
Our next stop was the village on Cong. Known for being the filming location for the movie, The Quiet Man, Cong is also home to Cong Abbey and the Monk’s Fishing Hut. Cong Abbey, built in the twelfth venture, sits on the site of a sixth century church. It’s a short walk from the main street of the village and worth walking into the woods to see the ruins. On your way you’ll pass the Monk’s Fishing Hut in the river.
Our last stop of the day took us to Ross Errilly Friary, near Headford in County Galway. The Friary was built in the middle of the fifteenth century and used off and on until the mid eighteen hundreds. It is such a well preserved site, we really enjoyed being able to wander through the structure. There are lots of twists and turns and it is a bit easy to get lost, but that made it even more fun to explore. We arrived just as the sun was setting and that made for some fantastic photos of the buildings.
Ross Errilly Friary (Photo Credit: Erin Moore)
One of the best things about making Galway a base for day trips, is coming back to Galway for the evening. This city is a food lover’s paradise, a whiskey lover’s dream and a music lover’s playground. There are so many great places to sit down to delicious meals, whether you are looking for traditional pub food or a fancier sit down dinner, Galway has you covered.
We highly recommend a fancier meal at Ard Bia, make sure to use the online reservation system to guarantee a table on your preferred day. We also stumbled upon The Pie Maker. This tiny spot is a hidden gem in Galway. We stopped in for lunch and regretted not having time to come back for another meal. Seating is limited, so you may want to try a slightly off time for lunch or dinner but the food is well worth the schedule adjustment.
If you enjoy a good whiskey, or two or three, Galway is the place to be! Galway hosts the Whiskey Trail, We didn’t make it to every spot on the trail during this visit, but next time we’re in Galway, completing the trail is definitely on our list. If you only have time for a couple stops we enjoyed stopping into Blake’s and Freeney’s. Both places had very knowledgeable whiskey experts who helped us navigate our way through a few different types of whiskey.
Finally, if you’re looking to enjoy some great music during or after dinner, nearly every pub has a band or two playing well into the evenings. For a triple bonus, you can hit An Púcán or The King’s Head, for dinner, the Whiskey Trail and evening music. If you happen to visit during the holidays, you’ll also get to enjoy their Christmas decorations.
I think the best way to sum up Galway might be to come ready for some fantastic adventures in the surrounding area and be prepared to have cozy nights in local pubs enjoying incredible food, drinks and music. Our time in Galway was amazing and we are looking forward to our next trip there.
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