Next stop, Galway and Connemara.
We spent two nights in Galway at the Barnacles Hostel. I don’t relish staying in hostels, but when left with no other choice, this one was perfectly adequate. It was clean, the sheets were clean and in good condition, and the room overall was well maintained. The husband and I booked a private room, but none were available so they gave us a room with two bunk beds and blocked off the other beds.
Well, so they said. The second night, we stumbled in at a fairly late hour after enjoying a traditional (trad) music session at a local pub and sampling
several a few Irish beers only to notice all our stuff had been moved around and there were two massive backpacks on the top bunks of each bed.
We momentarily freaked at the thought of sharing a room with teenage European backpackers and then ran down to the front desk to rectify the situation.
To their credit, the desk clerk seemed embarrassed about the issue and immediately went upstairs to remove the offending items. We were given new keys, an apology and sent to bed. Ok, fine.
After falling asleep, which is no small feat in a bedroom located directly above a crowded pub, I was shocked awake when our door opened at 2:00 am and a strange man walked in. I immediately shot up and told him about the snafu while silently praying he spoke English and wasn’t an angry youth wondering what I did with his backpack.
He understood and then left. Apparently the ‘new keys’ were not a protective measure after all. I’m pretty scared at this point knowing there is a second backpacker who has yet to come in… Well, another made an appearance about an hour later and as I hadn’t slept a wink I was ready with an explanation. Meanwhile the husband is blissfully sleeping away courtesy of earplugs and the deadening effects of alcohol.
Needless to say I was really cranky the next morning. But that day was saved by a wonderful drive through Connemara to Kylemore Abbey.
Kylemore was originally built in the 1800’s by a husband as a gift to his beloved wife, however she died early due to dysentery. It was taken over by nuns of the Benedictine Order in the 1920’s and is still used as their abbey today. They live there full time but keep the grounds, church and walled Victorian gardens of the estate open to visitors. The nuns make soaps, chocolates, pottery and jams which are sold in the gift shop- I bought blackcurrant jam, yum!
My favorite thing at Kylemore was the Victorian walled garden. It was complete with ornamental sections, a kitchen garden, exotic plant section, and some greenhouses. There were several greenhouses that collapsed due to lack of care so the estate is working on rebuilding them now.
I was especially enchanted with the walled garden because I had just finished reading The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh which is the story a young woman trying to find a life for herself after foster care. She has a unique gift for understanding the power of flowers, which stems from her extensive knowledge of the Victorian use of flowers to convey messages. Sunflowers mean false riches; yellow roses, infidelity; basil means hate; baby’s breath, everlasting love.
If you are a fan of flowers or just really good fiction that you can learn a thing or two from, I cannot recommend this book enough! At the end, the author compiles an entire dictionary of the Victorian language of flowers based off her own extensive research. It is so interesting to flip through it and imagine what it must have been like for ladies to receive bouquets from potential suitors and then spend hours decoding the meaning of every stem. 🙂
I loved Kylemore Abbey, the grounds and the garden. You can easily spend half a day here, don’t skip it if you plan on being in Galway, make it a day trip!
Thanks for reading, tomorrow will be the last post about my trip. I need to get back in the kitchen!