25 Chapters
Medium 9781628872682

11 NORTHWEST IRELAND: MAYO, SLIGO & DONEGAL

Jewers, Jack FrommerMedia ePub

11

Northwest Ireland: Mayo, Sligo & Donegal

The strikingly beautiful landscape of Galway segues into the strikingly beautiful landscape of southern Mayo without any fanfare. Like Galway, Mayo is a land of dramatic scenery, with rocky cliffs plunging down into the opaque blue waters of the icy sea. If you head farther north, you’ll reach the smooth pastures of County Sligo, the classic landscape that inspired the great Irish poet William Butler Yeats. The main appeal here is not its towns, which tend to be functional farm communities, but the countryside itself. Though the region is dotted with fairy-tale castles and mysterious prehistoric sites, its biggest gift to the visitor is tranquility.

Essentials

Arriving

By Bus    Bus Éireann runs daily bus service to Sligo Town from Dublin, Galway, and other points including Derry in Northern Ireland. It provides daily service to major towns in Mayo. The bus station in Sligo is on Lord Edward Street.

By Train    Trains from Dublin and other major points arrive daily at Westport in Mayo, and Sligo Town in Sligo. The train station in Westport is on Altamont Street; about a 10-minute walk from the town center; in Sligo it’s on Lord Edward Street, next to the bus station.

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1 THE BEST OF IRELAND

Jewers, Jack FrommerMedia ePub

1

The Best of Ireland

Tiny, and with ever-changing scenery, Ireland is an addictive place to explore. Within a few miles you can travel from plunging cliffs and flat pastureland to towering mountains and gloomy peat bogs. You can spend the night in ancient castles or state-of-the-art spa hotels, dine on fine Irish cuisine or snack on crispy fish and chips served in a paper bag. The sheer number of sights, little villages, charming pubs, and adorable restaurants and shops can be overwhelming—that’s why we’ve put together this list of some of our favorite places and things to do in Ireland. We hope that while you’re exploring this magical country, you’ll find a few of your own.

The best Authentic Experiences

Seeing a Traditional Music Session at a Proper Irish Pub: While there are plenty of shows for the tourist crowd, nothing beats the energy, atmosphere, and authenticity of a genuine small-town traditional music session. Buy a pint, grab a seat (preferably one near a smoldering peat fire), and wait for the action to begin. We’ve listed some of the best places in this book, including the Long Valley in Cork (see p. 133) or Gus O’Connor’s and McGann’s in little Doolin, County Clare (see p. 188).

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6 THE SOUTHEAST

Jewers, Jack FrommerMedia ePub

6

The Southeast

Dramatic coastline, misty mountains, and evocative historic monuments characterize the lush counties south of Dublin. The area also has a distinctive, musical dialect, peppered with unique words and phrases—remnants of the ancient Yola language that was once spoken here. The three main tourist centers of the Southeast—Waterford, Wexford, and Kilkenny—are close enough together that you could use any as a base for exploring the region by car. In only a few minutes, you really start to feel like you’ve left the city behind and entered the real countryside. But “city” is a relative term out here: Waterford, the biggest town in the region, has a population of just 46,000.

Essentials

Arriving

By Bus    Bus Éireann (www.buseireann.ie;  01/836-6111) operates direct service several times a day from Dublin’s central bus station (Busáras), into Kilkenny, Wexford, and Waterford. The journey to Kilkenny takes upwards of 2 hours; to Wexford and Waterford, closer to 3.

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10 COUNTY GALWAY

Jewers, Jack FrommerMedia ePub

10

County Galway

For many travelers to Ireland, Galway is the farthest edge of their journey. Part of the reason they draw the line here is because the depths of the county look so forbidding—with its bleak bogs, heather-clad moors, and extraordinary light—they think that it must be the end of all that’s worth seeing in Ireland. It isn’t, of course, but Galway is just far enough west to escape much of the touristy bustle of Kerry or Cork. And that’s a compelling part of its attraction—here you can climb hills, catch fish, explore history, and get away from it all in the Irish countryside. With its misty, mountain-fringed lakes, rugged coastline, and extensive wilderness, County Galway is a wild and wooly area. And yet, nestled just outside its most dramatic and unkempt part—the windswept, boggy expanse of Connemara—is one of Ireland’s most sophisticated towns. Though small, Galway City has long been a center for the arts, and the winding, medieval streets of its oldest quarter have a seductively bohemian air.

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Medium 9781628872927

4 THE BEST SHOPPING

Jewers, Jack FrommerMedia ePub

Om Diva shop.

Shopping Best Bets

Best Bargain-Hunting for Fashionistas

★★★ Om Diva, 27 Drury St. (p 83)

Best Streetwear for Well-heeled Teens

★ BT2, 28–29 Grafton St. (p 82)

Best for Street Food

★★ Temple Bar Food Market, Meeting House Square (p 88)

Best for Exclusive Accessories

★★★ Louise Kennedy, 56 Merrion Square (p 83)

Best for Handmade Engagement Rings

★★★ DESIGNyard, 48–49 Nassau St. (p 86)

Best for Full-On Foodies

★★★ Fallon & Byrne, 11–17 Exchequer St. (p 84)

Best for Knitted Homewares

★★ Avoca, 11–13 Suffolk St. (p 85)

Best for Serious Bibliophiles

★★★ Ulysses Rare Books, 10 Duke St. (p 80)

Best for Traditional Irish Penny Whistles

★★ Waltons, 69 South Great George’s St. (p 88)

Most Classy Department Store

★★★ Brown Thomas, 88–95 Grafton St. (p 81)

Best for Contemporary Irish Art

★★★ The Doorway Gallery, 24 S. Frederick St. (p 80)

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