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July 8, 2012 / Stephanie Vermillion

Coasting through Connemara’s countryside

I’m usually not big on doing bus tours because, as you’ve probably noticed, I like going out and finding the adventure myself. I really wanted to get out to Connemara because I’ve heard nothing but good, beautiful things, and had every intention of hiking those hills. But seeing as my body already hates me from my Killarney craziness, and my marathon training kicks into full swing this week, I figured it was probably the wisest option to just relax and let someone else do the thinking, planning and moving for me.

Connemara, Ireland

Connemara, Ireland

Surprisingly it worked out better than expected, because with only eight people on the entire tour bus, it felt much more intimate and personalized than expected. And when the rain began to pour as we were winding through the mountains, I really didn’t mind having a roof over my non-waterproof, rain jacketed head.

The bus took us through the breathtaking Connemara countryside and the Maamturk Mountains (easier on bus than bike, but I did miss the adventure), then all the way out to one of my favorite sights this trip: the Kylemore Abbey.

Originally built as a love gesture by Mitchell Henry for his wife, Margaret, in the 1860s, the Abbey (initially a castle) is set back within the Druchruach Mountains and stands as the symbol of Connemara. Its current owners, the Irish Benedictine Nuns, purchased Kylemore in the 1920s after their Belgian Abbey was destroyed in World War I. In total, the property adds up to nearly 10,000 acres of green, Irish beauty.

Kylemore Abbey, Connemara, Ireland

Kylemore Abbey, Connemara, Ireland

After gallivanting around the historic abbey grounds for a few hours, we headed back through the mountains toward Galway, with some passengers fallen asleep, some freaking out over a lost phone (I know that feeling all too well), and then me. Absolutely and completely captivated by the breathtaking mountain scenes, lost in the memory of climbing to the top of Ireland just days before.

As is typical with bus tours though, I was abruptly snapped out of these daydreams when the driver told us he was going to “let” us walk across a bog. A bog. The same landform I climbed up and down an entire mountain on? The same squishy, muddy ground that caused me to slip at least five times, potentially (but thankfully not) down Carrauntoohil and into a hospital? Yeah, as novel and exciting as that sounds, I’d say I was (and will be for awhile) all bogged out. Therefore, I sat on the bus, pretended I didn’t hear anything and waited to get swept back away into my mountains.

Kylemore Abbey, Connemara, Ireland

Kylemore Abbey, Connemara, Ireland

When the tour ended it was bittersweet, because I knew the Irish dream (nightmare at times) vacation was coming to an end. In just a short week I had conquered Carrauntoohil, trotted through Killarney on horse, lived through the Gap of Dunloe, gotten up close and personal with the Cliffs of Moher, celebrated the Volvo Ocean Race finale, walked Kylemore’s grounds and, best of all, reunited with some good college friends.

So now it’s back to London and back to real life (kind of real, as living by Kensington still feels like a fantasy). But I’m not the least bit upset about that, because it means I’m one day closer to starting my internship with the Bell Pottinger Group, and one week closer to cheering on team USA in the London 2012 Olympics.

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2 Comments

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  1. ireyroad / Jul 9 2012 7:45 am

    What an amazing picture kylemore Abbey is, you’ve certainly had an exciting tour of Ireland! Thanks for sharing your experience!

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