Day two on the TurfNSurf Wild Ireland tour, we’re back on the bus by half eight to zip up the coast to Donegal where we’ll be spending the night. It all starts off serene and cultural, as one of the girls pops on some trad and we drive through rain spattered Connemara, stopping for a quick coffee in Clifden. By the time we reach Connemara National Park the weather has picked up and a quick kilometer and a half walk for incredible views of the sundrenched surrounding countryside. I fear a running description in this series, will be how impossible it is to be capture these places in words. Unfortunately its the truth of the matter, and if you haven’t before you should add it to the must see list!
Careering onto Kylemore Abbey with indie rock blaring we enjoyed two hours of snooping through the beautiful estate. Built in 1868 it started out as a castle before passing through several owners and into the hands of the Benedictine nuns, who have used the grounds for everything from a school to a pottery barn. There were several decadent rooms to explore, filled with old pictures and religious artefacts, before following the shore of the lake to the church. After catching a little shuttle bus we were brought to the Abbey’s walled garden, which is incredible. Passing through the arch in the wall, you could never expect the rolling hills and hundreds of beds of flowers that stretch on and on, here we spent lunch soaking up the tranquil sunshine.
A tip to try oysters from Killary Fjord Shellfish meant pulling in off the road on the Mayo border and bombarding the local producer. Being allergic, I enjoyed snapping the others as a game of roulette unfolded. Some comically gagged from the taste of the slimy molluscs, while others loved the delicacy and went back for seconds and the complimentary wine. We eventually hopped back on the bus to stop in Westport for ice cream and the longer drive to Bundoran through Yeats county. Nothing was sweeter than pulling up in the Donegal sea side town and dropping our bags in rooms we would keep for two whole nights, instant mess.
After showers the next priority became the World Cup Semi Finals, I headed straight for the pub with the German girls where the lovely TurfNSurf workers had a corner in a local called the Kicking Bull. We arrived just in time for the second goal, the excitement diminishing to dread as the goals kept racking up, met by the crying faces of Brazilian children repeatedly shown on RTE’s coverage. Oscar’s goal bread a sigh of relief for everyone, the discomfort of the goals outnumbering the cancelled Garth Brooks dates had weighed uncomfortably on our revelry. One more round and it was time to call it a night, the real business of our long anticipated surf lesson kicking off at half eight the following morning.