On a slow boat to Ireland

We can fly directly from Carcassonne to Dublin in about 2 ½ hours or we can take the train from here to the port of Cherbourg, stay overnight, and board the ferry the next afternoon that gets to the Emerald Isle the following morning. Based on the title of today’s blog post you can guess that we chose the 2-days-of-travel version, plus a bonus stopover in Paris. Choosing this option let us lower our carbon footprint—train/ferry average 0.1 pounds of CO2 per mile vs. 0.8 pounds per mile for planes—while giving us lots of comfort. (There’s a footprint calculator link below.) Our Senior Rail Card gives us a discount on French trains and the ferry we chose was more like a cruise liner with bars, restaurants, shops, two movie theaters, and spacious balcony suites. We were in no particular hurry to get to our destination, although even more luxury awaited at Ashford Castle Hotel, so we took what for us was the easy way.

Eyre Square

Once the ferry arrived in Dublin (sunrise from the ship is the featured photo above) we took city bus #53 from the ferry dock to near Connolly Station and then the Red tramline to Heuston train station. Since we’d be back in the capital city later in this trip we headed straight to Galway for a couple of nights. We’d been in the west of Ireland 17 years ago when we’d rented a castle with friends —and something related was soon to follow (next blog post)—and at that time we’d used a guidebook called Daytrips Ireland that I wanted to consult again. We started with the original market area, Eyre Square, that’s now a colorful park with pathways, benches, statues, and a fountain from 1984 that commemorates the city’s founding 500 years earlier. The free-standing cut stone doorway and window bearing coats of arms dated 1627, the Browne Doorway, was once the entrance to a mansion belonging to one of the original 14 tribes that settled the area.

Lynch’s Castle

At the south western corner of the square the main thoroughfare called Williamsgate leads out of town but not before changing its name 4 times—to William, Shop, High, and Quay streets—by the time it reaches the bridge over the Corrib river, 550 meters (1/3rd mile) away. We initially went only as far as Shop Street to see Lynch’s Castle, another former home of one of the original tribes but this one is still standing from the the late 15th century. Down the appropriately named Church Lane we saw the Collegiate Church of St. Nicholas, known to date from 1320 and rumored to have been a stopping point for Christopher Columbus prior to his transatlantic crossing in 1477.

Spanish Arch

Back on the main road, now on the High Street portion, there were some additional carved stone doorways and family crests of those 14 original tribes plus at #16 was the tweed shop, Ó’Máille, that made the costumes for the movie “The Quiet Man”. Further along, now on Quay Street we saw Blake’s Castle, a fortified tower house with a coat of arms from 1645. Across from there is the former Fish Market, currently just an open area that leads to the city’s most photographed landmark, the Spanish Arch. This stone structure from 1594 got its name from all of the Spanish ships that unloaded their cargo of wine and brandy during the Middle Ages.

McDonagh’s Fish & Chips

With 475 pubs in Galway, we were never very far from a pint of Guinness. Based on ratings and personal recommendations (thank you, John, Gaynor, and Pete!) we narrowed the choices down to: The King’s Head (first paragraph photo), 15 High St., the city’s oldest pub dating from the 13th century; Tigh Neachtain, 17 Cross St. Upper, loved by locals and tourists; Taaffes Bar, 19 Shop St., traditional music; An Pucán, 11 Forster St., traditional music; and The Quays, Quay Ln. For fish and chips the recommendation from all sources was unanimous: McDonagh’s, 22 Quay St. No, we did not make it to all of those pubs but that just gives us the incentive to return.

Next time on the blog, we sleep in a castle. 

Carbon footprint source: https://sustainabletravel.org/

15 thoughts on “On a slow boat to Ireland

  1. Great pictures! Your descriptions of your trips are always so informative and entertaining… yes, I’m still jealous!

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  2. I’m having an out-of-body experience seeing our home of 11 years depicted here today complete with waves of nostalgia. Galway is a very special place. We, too, would have steered you to Tigh Neachtain and McDonagh’s (though McDonagh’s used to have the most glorious sign complete with lovely carved fish – don’t know what happened there!) Looking forward to seeing Ashford Castle again next time. We spent H’s birthday there one New Year’s Eve and it was a joy.

    So glad you enjoyed it!

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    1. Nice to have your confirmation, Katherine. Ashford Castle was/will be worth the wait. See you next week on the blog!


  3. We are taking a nine day trip to Ireland next May. I’ll definitely put McDonagh’s on the agenda for Galway. I’d love to get some other recommendations for the rest of Ireland from you all. Would you be my travel agent? Lol

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    1. Just wait!!! October is Ireland month on the blog so you might get more inspiration for your trip. We will be happy to advise on places that are really worth a visit as this was our third trip.


    1. Hi Mindy! Sounds like we’re not the only ones having fun if you just got back from a cruise 🙂 We think that you two would love visiting Ashford Castle, north of Galway. That will be on the blog next week. All the best to you and Mike!


  4. Ireland is definitely a place I could visit again! I remember the people being so warm and welcoming and the landscape quite breathtaking and diverse depending on the region we were in. We didn’t visit Ashford Castle but did stay in Dromoland Castle and Adare Manor and spent a couple days in Galway as well. The bars were wonderful but don’t remember which ones we went into. I’m not a Guiness lover but did enjoy the Harp beer that was quite a bit lighter than the Guiness! Your post brought back great memories!

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