Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: Round Ireland (2016-20)

Galway - Castlebar, via Cong and the west coast

After a fairly early breakfast in the hotel, I began the day by having a look around Galway City on foot. Following on from a brief conversaation during check-in the previous afternoon, I wasn't expecting much in the way of impressive buildings. The agent had commented that the place was "more about pubs and atmosphere". Nevertheless, I took in the harbour area, Eyre Square, the pedestrianised narrow streets that the check-in agent probably had in mind, the Spanish Arch (decidedly missable!), the riverside walkway, St Nicholas' Collegiate Church and Galway Cathedral.

ABOVE: An early morning walk around Galway city centre, taking in -
   (top row) the harbour area, Eyre Square and Quay Street
   (middle row) Quay Street and the riverside walkway
   (bottom row) St Nicholas' Collegiate Church and Galway Cathedral

I checked out of the hotel soon after 1030, and reinforcing what seemed to be turning into a custom on this trip, I began the day's driving with a very short hop: ten minutes to Galway's seaside district, Salthill, which seemed quite attractive.

I then followed the R336, initially along the coast and then northwards through Costelloe and Maam Cross, through the part of Galway known as Connemara, before picking up the R345. This took me eastwards along the shore of Lough Corrib to the attractive village of Cong, on the Galway/Mayo county border. I had lunch at Puddleducks Café, followed by a look around the village, which incidentally, provided the set for much of the 1952 movie The Quiet Man.

ABOVE: Driving along the shores of Lough Corrib  BELOW: The village of Cong

I then backtracked to Maam Cross and turned right onto the N59 westwards towards Clifden, where I took an intentional detour onto an amazing coastal loop called the Sky Road. I soon knew why: this was a narrow road with some sensational gradients and genuinely awe-inspiring viewpoints.

This was almost immediately followed by another Wild Atlantic Way-marked route on a second coast-hugging loop to Cleggan. This one included a spur to the crossing to Omey Island, which was drivable at low tide! I didn't risk it; I felt sure there must be some clause or other in my rental agreement that disapproved of driving on the seabed!

LEFT: A cheeky shot on the final stretch 
RIGHT: Settling into the Harlequin 

Finally, I made a non-stop run to Castlebar via Letterfrack and Westport, deciding to save the latter for an initial stop the following day.

Tue 11 Sep 2018

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