Thursday, June 30–Boyle, Co Roscommon

Driving through Westport; Westport House; Croagh Patrick; Clew Bay; looking for the Granuaille visitors center in Louisburgh; Gurteen and the Coleman Irish music centre; wandering around town; dinner and a pint at An Craoibhin

Linsfort House B&B

Black VW Passat sedan



I had the light breakfast at my B&B this morning–a piece of Irish bacon, a sausage, mushrooms and an egg–about 9:00 this morning. I didn't spend any time wandering around Westport, just drove through it twice, once on the way to Westport House and down to Croagh Patrick and Louisburgh, and then once again on the way back to Castlebar and past the National Museum of Country Life on my way here to Boyle. I rather liked what I saw of Westport, though, and it would be worth spending some time exploring on its own.

Westport House is well worth the trip, although it's a bit confusing once you get there. You buy your ticket at an office in some buildings a few minutes away from the House, I guess because that's where you buy tickets for the rest of the amusements there. The house itself is quite beautiful and is set in some lovely grounds, and is filled with antique furniture. The manor house on the estate was built by one of Grace O'Malley's descendants on the foundations of one of Grace's castles.

As I said, I went on to Croagh Patrick but only stopped at the car park/gift shop to take some pictures and buy a couple of key chains. The weather this morning was grey & heavily overcast, with frequent sprinkles. The path up to the church at the top of the hill is a 3.5 hour round trip. I forget what the sign at the base says is the change in elevation from the car park to the top. In the short time I was there, I saw lots of people setting out on the trip to the top.

Clew Bay is huge. Westport is at the sheltered, inland end of the bay. Legendarily there are a total of 365 islands in the bay, some of them large enough for a few houses. Unfortunately there really weren't that many places to stop and take pictures without blocking traffic on the two lane road.

The Garmin sat nav didn't list the Granuaille visitors center but Google Maps on my Irish Android smart phone did. I didn't see any signs for it when I got to Louisburgh, but Google Maps told me I had arrived when I was driving through the center of town on the usual theoretically two lane road with people parked in both directions on both sides of the road so I decided to give it a pass but turned around as soon as I could to head back the other way. I did, however, stop to take pictures and go inside the very lovely church on the edge of town.

The trip from Castlebar over to Gurteen, the home of the Coleman Irish music centre in Co Sligo, took me along two long stretches of single lane country roads where I did encounter oncoming traffic several times, once on a blind curve where I had to slam on my brakes and pull over to the side to let the other cars through. At least it had stopped raining by then, or those parts of the trip would have been even worse than they were. Because I hadn't stopped for lunch anywhere along the way–and as usual there were no places to eat or even gas stations with food stores for much of the time–I was pretty hungry when I got to the Coleman Irish music center, Gurteen is quite a small town. I hadn't seen any open restaurants in the area, just a large store across the street, so I had the last of my Slimfasts for lunch instead.

The Coleman center is small but very well done. It's named after local boy Michael Coleman, regarded as one of the greatest Irish fiddle players of all time, who was born nearby in 1891 and died in 1945, leaving behind a trove of early recordings of his music. There's s short movie about Irish music and a whole gallery of interactive displays about the various types of Irish music and instruments. I enjoyed it very much, although I didn't spend a lot of time with the interactive displays.

It was raining again when I left so I decided to save Carrowkeel until tomorrow. I got to Boyle around 3:30. Yesterday I had received an email from Frank, one of the owners of Linsfort House, asking when I'd get here. He said he'd be here from 3 to 6 PM. Linsfort House is another establishment on the main street of the town center, with not much of a place to even park to load or unload. I had actually gone past the place once but had seen the sign for it; I managed to swing around and found room in a no parking spot almost right out front. Frank brought my big bag in for me while I went up the street to where I could turn around and come back down and when I got back here he was standing in a vacant spot holding an orange cone almost right across the street. After he showed me to my room we chatted for a bit and he recommended a couple of places for dinner and a pint.

I like Frank. I haven't met his partner yet, since he had to go pick her up at the airport around the time I went out for dinner and they had a late dinner themselves when they got back. I might be the only guests here this evening since I haven't met anyone else yet, but Frank did say he had a couple of girls who were due sometime this evening. (I think the other guests are here, since I just heard voices when I walked past the room on the landing here by the breakfast room when I went across to mine to get something to drink.)

Linsfort House is an interesting building, built on several different levels. There's no desk in my room, so I'm using a table in the small room on the street side on the first floor where I'll have my breakfast tomorrow. It's basically on the same level as my bedroom but between rooms there are stairs connecting the two levels.

I really like my room as well. It's quite large and pretty. The shower's another phone booth but this time the door's larger so that helps.

I've wandered around Boyle a couple of times and like it quite a bit although it's pretty easy to see that hard times have hit the town and not quite gone away, since in almost every block there's at least one closed premises. It's another riverside town on the Boyle river, a tributary of the Shannon itself.

I took a walk before unpacking and had to take pictures using my Irish Android phone because I needed to charge the battery on my real camera. Frank and I chatted for a bit after I got back and he recommended a couple of places in the area to visit. Two of the main attractions in the area, King House and Boyle Abbey are just up the street from here, so I'll definitely go there before I leave town.

I went back out for a wander around and to have some dinner and a pint around 7:30 when the sun had sort of come out and the battery for my real camera had finished charging so I took it instead. On my earlier wandering around I had passed one of the places Frank had recommended, a place with a Gaelic name, An Craoibhin. I noticed that one of their specials for tonight was chicken & mushroom vol au vents, so that's where I decided to go for dinner. It turned out to be a rather small pub, and I got the feeling that everyone who was there when I got there or came in when I was there was a local and usual customer.

Tomorrow morning I need to stop into the local tourist information office and see if they can tell me anything about the O'Carolan heritage park which is supposed to be nearby. Then I want to stop by the megalithic complex at Carrowkeel as well. It's about 45 minutes from here in Boyle out to Carrowkeel, around 45 minutes from Carrowkeel to Keadue, and then almost two hours from Keadue down to Galway.

Return to journal