Thursday, February 13, 2014

Ballinafad and thereabouts

After a trip in to the doctor first thing Monday morning, so we could care for our carer before we left - thank heavens all was well - we jumped into Milly and headed for the pass leading into the Maam Valley (where we live) for a hot dog lunch. It was great to have the time to actually stop on our usual way home, to appreciate the view we love but which we whizz through every time we go to town.

The image below is the view across the Maam Valley (from our lunch vantage point at the top) and if the image could be larger you'd see our house on the extreme left distant mountain nestled into the lower slopes.

Our intention for the next three or four days was to take our time exploring our front doorstep in Connemara, a luxury we don't often have time for. I had this memory of a stunning overnight stop along the bog road from Roundstone to Clifden, so while the light was still in our favour we took a quick trip there, before visiting Roundstone, to check that the recent volatile weather hadn't mushed it into mud-dom. Driving along the bog road, and seeing the slippery dangers of a single lane road after dark (when we planned to return), where simply meeting another car may slide us into the bog forever, we decided it wasn't such a sensible plan.

A trot up a little hill, through piles of sheep marbles, jumping over bog puddles and teetering on Connemara rocks, brought us to a stunning 360 degree view of this special place slap bang in the middle of Connemara ... I'm not even going to try and put words to these stunning views:

Well, maybe for this one where I couldn't resist this sheep backview



  Himself, thinking he could sneak in a quick shot of me ... ha ha ha
I'm the best at avoiding camera lenses :-)

The anticipation of a lovely hot cup of tea with a sea view sent us trundling along the rest of the bog road, at mosey-pace so the driver (me, as Alan's still not able to drive after a little op) could appreciate the eye-pulling views without leaving the road, taking a left at the main road from Roundstone to Clifden, and setting out along the coast road through Ballyconneely. I was keen to see if the area had survived well after recent high seas and winds. The words of my artist pal Lol Hardiman always ring in my ears ... he lives in this area and worries that global warming will claim his house within the next 20 years! We were happy to see that damage was minimal.

There weren't any safe places for me to pull off the road for photo-taking along this coastal road ... hence the lack of images, so you'll just have to imagine the small (and I mean small - say a quarter of an acre each or less sometimes), hillocky, rock-wall enclosed fields housing Connemara ponies and cows, and dotted with houses like you see in the image above.

Roundstone - when we finally got there after that extremely enjoyable drive along the twisty and turny, uppy and downy, coast road - didn't prove to be very motorhome friendly so we drove on through. I'll be back to Roundstone later in the year for better-weather photography and painting. It's only about a 45 minute drive from home.

After checking whether Ballynahinch Castle was open for a quick pint in the pub - it wasn't, it's being renovated in time for the summer season - we settled down for the night in a nearby road-side quarry (!!!!) well protected from the weather and with a grand view out front, if not out back! And, of course, it was free :-)

This was our view from the quarry, out the front window of Milly:

And this, next morning, was a taste of the snow to come that day ....

Everyday living  took over our morning and with a tiny degree of nervousness at driving a fully-loaded Milly on icy roads to Clifden, we set off at snail's pace to find a post office and shop to buy a few supplies. The drive was fabulous, safe enough, with incredible scenery and always a pleasure to shop and do business in Clifden. Pics some other time as we had an eye on the weather and wanted to find a safe place to stay for two nights, so didn't take out our cameras.

We took the lower Sky Road - thinking that the wind on the higher Sky Road (and it's very high!) out of Clifden may be a bit chancey in Milly while we were still getting the hang of her - and ambled along to where I thought a decent parking place might be. Alas, all spots were too open to the weather so we decided to retrace our steps and if nothing else jumped out at us, to settle back in our quarry. We had spotted the parking lot at Ballynafad Church earlier, and thought this might be an option .... and it was! To cut a lovely, long, relaxing day and two nights short for blog purposes, in between bouts of rain, sleet and snow, we ventured out from our snuggy Milly-nest to take these pics of the Church, the old cemetary, the lough in front of us, and the snow-covered mountains. A truly idyllic winter camp.

This will give you a good idea of our Little Heaven for a couple of days:

 Views of the old cemetary, uncleared and left natural. I thought it was
beautiful, mystical and natural ... if I was going to be buried I'd love it to be
in a place such as this!


The old cemetary is to the left of this view of the Church beyond the river.

It was good to see Himself dressed in Galway colours!

And Herself safely holding her Rosary and gems without fear
of them disappearing into somebody else's hands! For that indeed,
I love living in rural Ireland.

Just a couple more shots of our view:

Just before we left Ballynafad Church parking lot, we popped into the always-open Church, pushed a suitable fee into the candle box to say thanks for the two nights parking, and lit our two candles. It felt like a fitting end, and a fitting way to say thanks, for a couple of days of bliss.

We've been home today, to catch up with a bit of business, fill our tanks and fetch more warm socks. Tomorrow we're off to Cork via Limerick for a couple of business reasons and also to see our pal Helle Helsner who taught me bronze casting, and our "adopted" daughter and ex-gallery manager Grace. I hope she's prepped her arms for a monster bear hug!

Come Sunday we're off to Northern Ireland with a one-night stop-over in Dublin.

Loving this life!!!!!!!


  1. Lovely pictures and nice sentiments from the West

    1. Thanks Marcus ... it really is a stunning place and we love it! I hope you know it well too :-)

  2. Great pictures indeed, my dears!! Looks and sounds like the trip of a lifetime!
    Xxxx Nina

    1. We're having the time of our lives thanks Nina :-) Next blog coming soon ..... xxxx

  3. Sounds like you guys having loads of fun xxx

    1. Hiya Meglee. Your shop pics are lookin' good! Going to email you in the next couple of days. We're in Northern Ireland at the moment ... just arrived. Miss you! xxxx