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Daisy on the lookout at Glengowla Mines.
Daisy on the lookout at Glengowla Mines.

Daisy’s Connemara Adventures

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I was rudely awakened early one morning from the dreamless and before I knew it I was strapped into the car and we were off down the road.

The Arts Festival was on during our visit. I posed for this sculpture.
The Arts Festival was on during our visit. I posed for this sculpture.

It turned out herself had an early appointment and that’s what had disturbed my morning. I slept away in the back of the car so I didn’t immediately realise that instead of going home, we were going on to Galway city.

As usual when we’re in Galway, himself took me for a stroll around the city, with plenty of wandering around book shops. I’m not a great dog for reading myself – it’s hard to hold the book with paws – but I had no objection to walking around and being admired and stopping at McCambridges for a swift dogguccino.

Later on, we met up with herself, her friend Susan and Susan’s granddaughter Amber and we had a great chat over a drink in Tigh Neachtain.

I love my 99!
I love my 99!

After another stroll around town, we ended up in Salthill where I was given a few scoops of ice cream and a whole cone to myself. It was already shaping up as a great day but it got better as all my hopes were realised when we arrived at The Twelve Hotel, one of my all time favourite places.

My lovely friend, Manon was there to greet me at reception, along with new recruit Gemma and in short order we were settled in our room. On our first night we had booked a movie and pizza night so an array of mouth-watering food, including pizza, chicken wings and cocktails were delivered, along with a popcorn maker for later. I was only able to snaffle a few crumbs but they were delicious and the hoomans were stuffed by the end.

On the lookout at Aughanure Castle.
On the lookout at Aughanure Castle.

The next day, after our usual hearty breakfast, where I met several lovely doggies, we were supposed to go on a boat trip around Killary Fjord but we decided the weather might be better on the following day. Instead, we followed an itinerary suggested by Manon and visited Aughnanure Castle outside Oughterard, a 16th Century fortress that used to be almost fully surrounded by water. Now there’s only a small river left but you can see where the water flowed. I was particularly delighted to be greeted by two zany springer spaniels who were full of chat. There were two resident cats also and I was so impressed with the castle, I decided a truce was in order and I didn’t try to chase them.

It's not your mine, it's my mine.
It’s not your mine, it’s my mine.

On then to Glengowla Mines, on the other side of Oughterard. This abandoned silver and lead mine was restored and reopened as a labour of love by Keith Geoghegan, whose family have lived on the land for generations. As we waited for the tour, himself talked with Seán, Keith’s son, about what else but cars – I swear he never shuts up. Keith’s daughter Orla took us down the mine and I have to admit at times it was scary.

We went down some steep steps and as we got deeper into the mine, himself carried me in case I stumbled. The hoomans were given helmets which was lucky as himself clocked his head a few times. I got no helmet but I was well protected in his arms so I was grand.

At the very bottom of the mine, the little cavern was lit with just a candle so that we could experience what life was like for the poor miners. Then the candle went out and we were left in pitch darkness for half a minute. I know canaries were brought down mines in olden times and I’m glad dogs never were. I know we’re supposed to see well in the dark but I couldn’t see my paw in front of my face and I was never so happy to see daylight again.

We had a lovely chat with Keith before we left and I’d highly recommend a visit to the mines. Five paws.

It was back to the hotel then as the hoomans were going to dinner at West Restaurant while I snoozed in the room after a tiring but fantastic day.

Land Ahoy!
Land Ahoy!

The next day it was on to Leenane and although we had a few drops of rain on the way, the hoomans refused to put the roof up. It was OK though as the raindrops seemed to fall behind us and I didn’t get even slightly wet.

Dogs are very welcome at The Misunderstood Heron.
Dogs are very welcome at The Misunderstood Heron.

We had lunch at the Misunderstood Heron, overlooking Kilary Fjord and they served up some delicious potato and cheese pasties. I fell in for a crumb or two so I can confirm how nice they were.

And then it was on to the boat, where I was allowed onto the deck to enjoy the views along the coastline of Ireland’s only fjord. I really enjoyed the sea air and my fur was flying in the wind.

To really make my day, I was invited into the cockpit and allowed to steer the boat for a few minutes. I was very careful not to scratch it and I felt very responsible having 1,000 horse power beneath my paws. I wonder how much dog power that is? I even got a certificate which I must frame and put over my bed.

Is my left paw Port or Starboard? I can never remember.
Is my left paw Port or Starboard? I can never remember.

We returned to The Twelve via a short stroll around Clifden and a nice dogguccino in a new to us café, The Twelve Pins.

That evening, we strolled out to Barna Pier and a nice outdoor table at O’Grady’s, where they specialise in fish. They both started with prawns and himself was only raving about his Tuna steak special but do you think I got any of it? All I got was my boring old, dry dog food. Sometimes life isn’t fair but despite that little disappointment, I really enjoyed my weekend away and can’t wait ’til the next time I meet all my friends in Galway.

About John Galvin

Motoring editor - The Clare Champion Former Chairman and voting member of Irish Motoring Writers' Association

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