Monday, 12 March 2012

Goodbye Inis Mor, I'll Be Back!

As our ferry back to the mainland wasn't until 5pm this afternoon, we were still able to enjoy the rest of the day on Inis Mor.  Geraldine was happy for us to leave our luggage at Seacrest B&B & come and sit in the warm in the guest room in front of the fire, if we found that we had time up our sleeves later in the day, before heading down to the harbour to catch the ferry.

Thomas taking Johnny for his morning dip in the Ocean, Inis Mor
Straight after breakfast, we walked across the road to the beach to watch Thomas take Johnny for his morning dip in the sea.  Tucking his feet up underneath him on Johnny's back, Thomas ventured out quite deep.  The benefits of sea water for the treatment and prevention of leg injuries in horses has been known for centuries.

The South-East Coastline of Inis Mor
Once dried off, Thomas hitches Johnny up to our favourite wee jaunting car & was ready to take us off again around the west of the island, visiting old graveyards, & roadside monuments along the way.

A universal sign regardless of what language its in, Inis Mor, Aran Islands

Killeany Cemetery, Inis Mor

Celtic Cross in Graveyard. Inis Mor

St Enda's Monastic church ruins, Inis Mor
St Enda's is a little church, half buried in sand in Cill Einne (Killeany) graveyard on the south-east end of the Island. The graveyard is at least 1500 years old and is still in use as the main burial ground of the Island. It contains the grave of St. Enda who died around 535 A.D. and is the patron saint of Inis Mór.

Church of St Éinne, Inis Mor, Aran Islands

Fragments of carved stone & an 11th century High Cross from the Church of St Éinne
Inis Mor, Aran Islands
Gravestone, Inis Mor
Coastal Graveyard, Inis Mor

Inis Mor Lighthouse
Roadside memorial Stones or Leachtai, Inis Mor

Roadside Memorials, Inis Mor
Simple roadside memorial Stones or Leachtai , some erected as early as the 18th century, dot the coast built in memory to islanders who died abroad & to fishermen drowned at sea.

Island transport, Inis Mor
Island Transport, Inis Mor

Planting Potatoes, Inis Mor, Aran Islands

South East coast of Inis Mor
Old Dwelling, Inis Mor

Teampall Bheanain [St Benan's Church], Inis Mor
Ruins of the ancient church of St Benan's sits high on the rocky hilltop overlooking the harbour & is reportedly, one of the smallest in the world measuring just 10.75ft x 7ft.
It dates from the 11th Century, and is dedicated to Saint Benignus, a disciple and successor of St. Patrick.

Church Ruins, Inis Mor
Kilronan Harbour, Inis Mor
By 11.00am it was time to give Johnny a hurry up to get down to the pier to meet the 11.15 ferry from Rossaveel so Thomas could snaffled more tourists as they walked off the pier.   Thomas was in luck as 5 incoming tourists decided to take him up on his offer of a traditional Pony & Trap Tour around the island .  We didn't hesitate to reassure  Thomas & Johnny's new charges, that this was definitely the best way to see the island. 
So now we had to disembarked, giving Johnny one last affectionate pat before he trotted off  with all five new tourists squeezed on to the trap.  Poor Johnny - his load just got a lot heavier & I wouldn't mind betting he was wishing we hadn't given up on him quite so soon. 

Johnny & Thomas off on another Tour of the Island
We had 6 more hours to fill in before catching the ferry back to the mainland, so carried on by foot to the Aran Sweater Market to purchased a few wee momentos of our stay on Inis Mor.   As well as a gift shop, there are also wonderful displays of the history of the Aran Sweater & market, well worth taking the time to check out.

The Aran Sweater Market, Kilronan, Inis Mor
Display documenting the history of the Aran Sweater, Aran Sweater Market, Inis Mor

Historic Aran Patterns, Aran Sweater Market, Inis Mor

Historic Aran Patterns on display at the Aran Sweater Market, Inis Mor
Stone building, Inis Mor
After a wander around Kilronan we walk back up the lane to JoeWatty’s to spend a few hours in the warm beside the peat fire.  Grace & Patrick, the proprietors came over for a chat & to make sure we were comfy & well fed.  The free wifi allowed me to catch up on some much needed blogging, facebooking, twittering & emailing.... oh the joys of social media.

An Inis Mor cottage
Kilronan, Inis Mor, Aran Islands
We got back to the Seacrest B&B at 4.15 to pick up our luggage which we’d left there for the day.  Thomas had just arrived back from his day out with the 5 new tourists & offered to take us for a wee drive around the island before dropping us back down at the pier.  We’d had a fabulous stay on Inis Mor and really were sad to leave.
Leaving Inis Mor
The crossing was as calm as it could possibly be on the way back to the mainland where we paid our 5 Euro to get our car out of the parking lot & headed north west to the small fishing village of Roundstone. 

It was now dusk and 'Aoife' our sat nav, decided to head us off through the Bog land, a wilderness with narrow roads with no markings  or signs posts to reassure us we were going in the right direction.  It was with some relief that after a good 30 minutes driving, we finally came to a crossroad directing us toward Roundstone.  
Welcome to Roundstone
I first saw Roundstone when it featured on the film The Matchmaker [1997] starring Janeane Garofalo, David O'Hara, Milo O'Shea, Maria Doyle Kennedy & the great David Kelly.   The movie also showcased Dun Aonghasa on Inis Mor so, both Inis Mor & Roundstone featured high up on our list of places to stay when we got to Ireland.   Roundstone was exactly how we imagined it.  A beautiful wee fishing village on the West Coast of Co. Galway.   As we entered the town we passed the small harbour & the famous O'Dowd's Pub before coming upon the Wits End B&B further up the street.  We felt like we'd been here before, as we really had thrashed that movie to bits.

Roundstone, Co. Galway
Roundstone, Connemara

Roundstone, Connemara
Another welcoming site was the large St Patrick's Day Banner which was strung high about the main street. St Paddy’s Day banners & Irish flags adorn the lamp posts & streets of Roundstone in preparation of St Patrick’s day this Saturday. For the second year running, Roundstone were featuring their own parade which from all accounts was a roaring success last year.

St Paddy's Day Parade Banner, Roundstone
Waiting for us at the Wits End B&B were Eileen Coyne & her mum Nora. It was like meeting up with old friends & right from the moment we walked through the door I knew we were going to have a fabulous time here. Eileen had saved us the two rooms on the top floor overlooking the sea & to our surprise, charged us the same price as it would have been if we were in a twin room. She gave us the option of the twin room but we both jumped at the chance of spending a couple of nights in a room on our own!

Wits End B&B, Roundstone
After settling into our rooms, we walked down the street to O'Dowd's Bar for one of their famous Hot Ports recommended by Eileen.   Eileen wasn't wrong, it was the perfect nightcap.

O'Dowd's Bar, Roundstone, Co. Galway


*  1 tsp brown sugar
*  70ml port
*  1 unwaxed lemon slice, studded with four cloves
Dissolve sugar in 70ml of just-boiled hot water and add the port. Lightly squeeze the lemon slice into the drink and add the slice. Serve immediately.

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