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Published: August 16th 2017
Today we met Carol and Frank for breakfast after which we boarded our bus for a tour of the countryside of Connemara which is a district in western Ireland facing the Atlantic. Its coastline has tiny coves, bays and fishing villages. Our destination was Kylemore Abbey, but along the way Patrick pointed out points of interest. The most interesting was that The Quiet Man starring John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara was filmed here. We passed a bridge named the John Wayne Bridge and visited a town called Maam which had a replica of the cottage from the movie.
We learned about the Connemara ponies which originated in Ireland and we saw many as we drove through the beautiful countryside. The hills were dotted with sheep and we were lucky to see a small herd being herded by 2 Border Collies. We think they were in training as the farmer was right there. It was fascinating to watch how the dogs were in control.
We arrived at Kylemore Abbey which was in a beautiful setting overlooking a lake. Kylemore Abbey is a Benedictine monastery founded in 1920 on the grounds of Kylemore Castle in Connemara, County Galway. The Abbey was
founded for Benedictine Nuns who fled Belgium in World War I. The Abbey is one of Ireland's top tourist attractions. About a mile from the Abbey is a 6-acre Victorian Walled Garden which unfortunately we were not able to see because of time constraints. Kylemore Castle was built in the late 1800s by Mitchell Henry, a wealthy businessman. He also built the walled garden. There was a beautiful Gothic Church a short walk from the Abbey. Nearby is the mausoleum where Mitchell and Margaret Henry are buried side by side. Their story was rather tragic as Margaret died at the age of 52 after contracting dysentery while traveling, leaving behind 9 children. The estate covers 1000 acres and there are many woodland and lakeshore walks.
We arrived back at the hotel about 5:00 and had some free time to explore more of the pedestrian district and enjoyed music from some of the street vendors.
Dinner tonight was a medieval banquet at Dunguaire Castle which is a 16th-century tower house on the southeastern shore of Galway Bay in County Galway. This was an optional excursion and most of the group signed up. We had an evening of good food,
wines along with music, song and storytelling. This brought us to the end of another exciting day. Tomorrow we leave Galway for the Cliffs of Moher.
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