I signed up for a three-day tour of southern Ireland because the public transportation to some of the more remote sites is lacking and I was not about to rent a car and drive on the wrong side of the road. So early in the morning I started my tour with the Paddywagon company inside a bright green, kind of embarrassing bus that screams TOURISTS!
Our driver and tour guide Val let us know that while there were about ten people on the bus, there were only three of us staying for the full three days – which he appreciated since it was going to be his first time! We got on the road and started to drive west, with a few stops along the way to Galway including Ashford Castle - an amazing hotel build into a castle - and Cong - a town famous for the setting of the John Wayne film, "The Quiet Man".
As we arrived in Connemara Park within County Galway, we learned about the Great Famine that Ireland went through in 1845-1850. During this time, there was a disease throughout the land's potato crops which were the main source of food at the time and families became extremely poor and hungry. Unable to pay for their land, and still under British rule, Irish peasants were evicted from their homes, forced to live in tiny 'famine houses' and work on very small plots of land designated by stone walls that can still be seen today, to grow crops that would be sent overseas. You could see remnants of the famine houses and stone walls throughout Connemara Park and along the Irish countryside which have been left up out of respect and to remember the country's past.
After driving through Connemara Park, we finally arrived in Galway, a city known for being much more traditional and where you can still hear many people speaking Irish (or "Gaelic" in Irish). With pubs and shops everywhere, Galway is a great place to spend a day and night. Read about "THE PERFECT NIGHT IN GALWAY"!