Vagabond Wild Irish Rover Day 1 Dublin to Galway to Clifden

Kylemore Abbey

 It's Sunday morning October 17, 2021 in Ireland, we're up and have a lovely Irish breakfast, pack up and meet our group of fellow travelers in the Grand Canal Hotel lobby at 8:30 a.m.. 

Our Vagabond group leader for the next eight days is Bébhinn (pronounced Bay-vin). The others include: a young couple from Wisconsin, a woman from Chicago and two delightful women from Greystones, Ireland. We load up our luggage; put on our masks, hand sanitize and off we go. 

We're heading to Galway for a lunch break and a chance to stretch our legs. Once out of the van, we all go our separate ways. 

Jay and I find an outdoor table at the Skeff Bar. They write down our contact info. and seat us at nice table in the back of their outdoor patio area. Jay orders the Wild Atlantic Seafood Chowder and I have Chicken and mushroom vol au vent. Both delicious and very filling.

After lunch, Jay and I walk around where the River Corrib meets the Atlantic. It's raging from all the rain they've been having. The sun is trying to peek through the heavy clouds.

We watch the birds and seals fishing. I speak with a few people who are doing a beach clean-up. The fire fighter who organizes the clean-ups tells me he tries to get folks out about once a month. They've collected a lot of trash.

We still have time so we walk up river to the old salmon weir. We don't quite get to the Salmon Weir Bridge but it's a lovely area.

We meet the group back in town and continue our journey to Clifden. 

Bébhinn has a special walk planned for us along the way.

Mám Éan
Bébhinn brings us to Mám Éan (often anglicized as Maumeen, Mamean, etc.) It is a little pilgrimage spot at a pass through the Maumturk mountains of east Connemara, roughly between Oughterard and Leenane.  

Mám Éan, translates to ‘The Pass of the Birds’, and is tucked in between mountains with beautiful views all around and a quiet and peaceful atmosphere throughout. The climb is steep but worth it. There are 360 views and at this time of the year lots of waterfalls.

There is a tiny chapel, a mass altar, a holy well, a rock known as St. Patrick’s bed, a statue of St. Patrick and the Stations of the Cross scattered roughly around the rocky and boggy site. You have to hike up to see theses ancient structures. 

Two thousand years ago this site would have been an important Celtic shrine. The site was later claimed by the early Christian church and they turned it into a shrine dedicated to Saint Patrick.

Mám Éan would have been of great importance during the 17th and 18th Centuries when the “Penal Laws” outlawed the Catholic church in Ireland. As a result, the site would have been used as a secret outdoor church known as a “mass rock”, to allow Christians to celebrate mass which was forbidden.

After the repeal of the Penal Laws in the mid-19th Century, Mám Éan returned to being the destination of an annual pilgrimage. Today, where once there was an outdoor mass rock, a small chapel called “CiIIin Phédraig”, dedicated to St. Patrick, has been built.

The locals seem a bit curious about our visit.

We make our way back down the trail to the van.

The hike was about 2.4 miles, the footing a little rough and parts were very steep but it was definitely worth it for the views and viewing the ancient structures.

Back in the van and heading to our castle hotel in Clifden. Tonight we'll be staying in the Abbeyglen Castle.

But before we get to the castle we stop for a photo op at Kylemore Abbeythis has got to be the most photographed building in County Galway. It sits at the head of a beautiful lake, nestled up to a small mountain. It's gray and misty and so Ireland.

Kylemore Castle was built in the late 1800s by Mitchell Henry MP, a wealthy businessman, and liberal politician. Inspired by his love for his wife Margaret, and his hopes for his beloved Ireland, Henry created an estate boasting ‘all the innovations of the modern age’. An enlightened landlord and vocal advocate of the Irish people, Henry poured his life’s energy into creating an estate that would showcase what could be achieved in the remote wilds of Connemara. Today Kylemore Abbey is owned and run by the Benedictine community who have been in residence here since 1920.

A short drive down the road and we're at our evening accommodations. We check into to Abbeyglen CastleJay and I have room 63. We have a Prosecco toast and a story about the castle before dinner in the lounge area. So we get settled quickly and head downstairs.

While waiting for the story to begin we ask the other couples in the room where they are from. One couple must not speak English well or they weren't interested in answering, the other couple is from New Hampshire! Jeff and Alison. Small world.

We make our way upstairs to the dining room. They seat us a a table they have set up for our group. But only Emma and her mum join us. The young couple sit by themselves by the window and the woman from Chicago must have taken her meal in her room. Bébhinn is staying at a B&B down the road.

We're a little shocked that dinner is a prix fix menu. We are seated and don't seem to have much choice but to roll with it. We probably should have shared a dinner between the two of us. It was quite a lot of food.

Duck Confit

Catch of the Day-Sole

The food was delicious and very filling. The desserts were yummy too!

Our tummies are full and we're getting very sleepy. We're off to bed, in our cozy castle room.

You can view all the photos from my adventure by scanning this QR code

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Next Up: Clifden to Spanish Point