The Wild, Wild Atlantic

They don’t call it the Wild Atlantic for nothing.  There is so much beauty it is almost overwhelming, and the wind, terrain, and extreme colors make it almost seem dangerous.

IMG_7830b

IMG_7837b

It’s kinda unbelievable how much we did in one day.  It seemed fine at the time, but looking back, whoa!  That seemed like several days.

We headed out to Doo Lough, which has a sad story from the famine, but amazing views. There was no map on Earth to help us find it, so we asked at many petrol stations, until we triangulated the tiny road into the valley.

There is a long drive out here, where you can really take in the immense nature.  The mountains you drive on and look up to are steep.  The sand under the loughs and fjord is black.  The wind was so strong, there were crashing waves in these bodies of water.  The water seems so foreboding, yet so gorgeous in contrast to the terrain.  The sheep are everywhere, and seem so far from any human settlement.  We drove through grasslands, and what seemed like a rainforest.  Trying to understand how so many different things can exist in the same area is quite eerie.  Our eight year old enjoyed sharing his knowledge of different biomes, all in one short drive.

IMG_7854b

IMG_7861b

From there, we headed to an iconic place that held my eyes up in anticipation of living in Ireland so many years ago. My sophomore year in college, I had a poster of “Ireland” that was an image of Kylemore Abbey.  Not unlike the Wild Atlantic itself, there is something captivating about the rugged beauty of the way this castle was built into a mountain in front of a lake.  Heartbreakingly, it was very much covered in scaffolding.  Guess they weren’t going to advertise that.  Didn’t get an image like my poster, but I got to see it.

IMG_7886b

We moved on to a spot Daddy was dying to see, Twelve Pines.  Our little one had fallen asleep, and I was drifting off too, so we stayed in the car, while the big boys explored.  It was REALLY windy in this spot.

IMG_7898b

Next we went to another castle, Ballynahinch, and took a relaxing stroll along the lake there.

IMG_7935b

IMG_7940b

Next, we visited Cong.  I don’t know what I was expecting, but this town seemed unlike any town I’d been to in Ireland.  I guess it was just touristy in more of a Disney sort of way (I’m stretching).  They did a great job of keeping a quaint feel, and making sure you know Quiet Man was filmed there.  It wasn’t crowded, but it was nice to be around other people for a change.  We walked around the bit of ruins of the abbey, then proceeded into the forest.

IMG_7943b

I didn’t know it was going to be a forest, but it quickly became dense, and reminded me of a rainforest.  The colors were lime green, and the canopy was full, and we didn’t see the sky.  Not what you’d expect from Ireland.  It seemed to go on in every direction forever.

IMG_7973b

We were in pursuit of a cave to explore.  The cave was a set of stairs that goes deep into the ground.  It looked like you could then walk in two different directions, but it was very rocky, and we had other things to see.

IMG_8007b

IMG_8018

We got back on our trail, to go back to town, but it didn’t seem to be leading us back.  We could only see trees in every direction.  After a couple hours of walking, I started to be concerned we were walking in circles and wouldn’t make it to town before dark.  We were tired, hungry, and some of us needed a bathroom.  Daddy and I were now carrying the kids.  Luckily, Daddy has a great sense of direction, and got us back to civilization.  I can’t tell you how excited I was when I saw the first human.  We walked into town and plopped ourselves in a pub for dinner.  I then got to appreciate the photos from the filming, and John Wayne relishing his time here.

This day doesn’t stop here, but this is getting too long, so, to be continued…