Monday, June 29, 2015

Ireland in 13 Days: Uninvited Advice From Yours Truly

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The base of Croagh Patrick, locally known as the Reek (the Irish word for "peak")

One of the beaches on Inishboffen
On our last day in Westport, we climbed the nearby Croagh Patrick - a traditionally religious trail that many Christians climb as a pilgrimage in honor of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. It is said that he spent Lent (40 days, 40 nights) on the peak of the mountain fasting and praying. That said, this climb is not for the weak of heart or body. It is tough, and I would recommend renting a 1.5 Euro walking stick for the extremely steep and rocky descent. In all honesty, I didn't make it to the top, but if you do there's a small chapel and great views - if you are lucky enough to find a rare clear day. 

Day 4-5: We then headed west to the tiny fishing village of Cleggan, or as our cousin/tour guide Fr. Tony King refers to it, the Home Village. He and his family grew up there and one of his brothers still runs a bar, Sweeney's, in Cleggan. 
Stayed: We stayed in the family cottage, called Cloon, which is a tiny little place on a hillside with a fabulous view. It rained somewhat authentically the majority of our stay. 
Ate/Drank: Sweeney's, a cozy pub owned by Tony's brother Malachy and his wife. There were some tourists and some locals and a great atmosphere. We then headed to Joyce's that evening, a very traditional-feeling family-owned Irish pub with live music and some couples dancing. The next day, after our adventures, we ate at Oliver's - great seafood. Skip the Pier Bar when you get off the Inishboffen ferry and go to Oliver's instead.

Activities: You MUST get on the ferry to Inishboffen. We were lucky enough to get a clear, sparkling day on the island (island of the white cow, by the way) and enjoyed a day full of exploring by foot and by bike. You could stay on the island in one of the many hotels or hostels, but a day trip was fine too. Beaches are white and the water is crystal clear and bright blue.  It was amazing. Check my Instagram for a few more shots and the view of ancient prison ruins from the ferry!

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