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County Galway

(Learning How to Be Irish)

Excerpt from Beth's Journal:
Friday - September 6, 2002

2:50 pm - Arrival in Galway
After flying through the night, waking up to the drink cart hitting us in the elbows, realizing we had booked our no-name rental car from Shannon instead of Dublin, having to stop at a pub on the airport access road to figure out how to get the car in reverse, and getting used to driving on the left for 3 hours, we found ourselves in Galway City. Precisely at the same moment that school was letting out!!

Imagine rounding the corner and having your car instantly swarmed by navy blue blazers and striped ties. I was definitely concerned that our little Opal Corsa would be carried away! However, we managed to park the car, find our hostel and settle in with relatively little drama.

Saturday - September 7, 2002

9:00 am - The Road Trip Begins
Sheep Along the RoadWe decided to explore the area in the northern part of County Galway. . . we picked up several touristy brochures about bus tours of the area, and decided that if we followed one of their routes, we would get to explore the countryside as well as see some true tourist traps. I had studied the maps and picked out a route that was opposite the buses, so we wouldn't get stuck with any huge tour groups. . . and then we set off.

Mind you, this was the first driving experience on small Ireland roads. We affectionately referred to the roads by their color code on the map. Thus far, we had only experienced the "green roads," which were National roads. . . analogous to our two-lane highways for the most part. In our adventure around the Connemara National Park area, we would delve onto the "red" and "yellow" roads which were regional. We knew they would be smaller, but just didn't know how small. . . We began winding our way on a "yellow" road along the coast.

Things were going smashingly until we found ourselves entering a town that was completely in the wrong direction!! Another fact about the towns in Galway was that their signs were almost exclusively in Gaelic and we hadn't figured out the translations yet. Ah well, a wrong turn never foiled the Roadchix before, so we turned around and made a left at an unintelligible sign and began crossing a series of bridges.

At that moment, a large truck came barreling the other direction. Kristy, like most Americans, felt a bit squeamish about the big truck, the small road, and the discomfort of driving on the left, so she swerved left to give him more room. . . right into a good sized rock. And when your tires are about the same size as bicycle tires, a good sized rock can create a good sized gash. . . about 3 inches long to be precise. Yes, we had a flat. We pulled over and prayed that there'd be a spare (there was) and hoped that someone would come along to give us a hand (he did), and we headed back in the opposite direction to make the correct left turn and head off on our adventure again. . . several hours behind schedule.

Kylemore AbbeyThe rest of the day went much more smoothly (although the roads never really seemed to get any wider). We saw a sheep and wool museum, the picturesque Kylemore Abbey, and a castle. We had one more night scheduled in Galway, but decided that we'd seen enough of the city and had enough adventures to write a good story. We headed to Limerick totry to get into one of the Bed and Breakfasts we'd heard so much about.

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