Our bus driver's name was Michael O'Malley and he was the best tour guide. He told lots of stories and gave the history of the entire Connemara region. And he cracked a lot of jokes that no one got except for Katie and I. We laughed out loud the entire trip. Seriously, it was like the rest of the bus didn't speak English. But now that I think of it, I don't think they did speak English.
Connemara is unbelievably beautiful. Truly, I have never seen anything like it. Everywhere you turned was a picture waiting to happen.
Our first stop was Kylemore Abbey. It is tucked far way into the hills and is currently run by Benedictine nuns who have been there since they escaped Belgium in WW I. (Not the exact same nuns, of course.) It was originally built by Mitchell Henry in 1849 for his wife Margaret. Once the castle was finished, he and Margaret and their nine children moved in. But she died on a holiday in Egypt and he returned heartbroken and built her a small cathedral on the grounds in her memory. He also built a mausoleum for her to rest and he is now buried beside her. It is all quite tragic and romantic.
I have always wanted to see this castle. It is the one in all the posters that you see of Ireland. Katie and I were so excited to be there in person. And of course we began taking pictures right away:
...my camera battery died.
I KID YOU NOT.
There was some definite wailing and gnashing of teeth. But thankfully Katie's camera was working great and she took some awesome pictures. But I was a little bummed. Okay, a lot bummed. And I even had a spare battery...back in our room.
Since I don't have any more pictures to show you, I will let you be as creative as you want to be in imagining our trip. Here are some guidelines for you: It was vividly green. There were lots of sheep and stone fences. There were waterfalls and lakes and it looked like it could rain at any moment. We saw old villages and ancient ruins and ran into people who speak Irish in their everyday conversations. It was truly like stepping back into time.
And we both had ginormous scones with jam and cream. This has become our new favorite pastime.
I highly recommend going to Connemara if you are ever out this way. It is so very worth it. And I would ask for Michael O'Malley to be your bus driver. I bet you will get all of his jokes. And take a few pictures for me.