As part of our planning when we travel, we work to find a place to “park” me as it were, to allow me to rest when needed. My stamina is limited, but I love to experience what I can take in. We found the perfect spot for eight days right on the edge of Ballyvaughan, overlooking Galway Bay.
It was a short drive to get food, the post office was around the corner, but more important (for me) I could simply sit in the living room or kitchen and take in the sights of Galway Bay right outside our window.
We quickly got acquainted with the grey herons, not something we see in North America, but actually quite similar to the great blue herons I often see at the lake down the street from where we live. Oyster catchers were a relatively new bird for me, though they do show up in the US.
There are no double crested cormorants, but instead we spotted a flock (about thirty birds!) of Great Cormorants swimming all together just off shore next to the quay in Ballyvaughan.
Mountains and ocean are nestled next to each other in Ballyvaughan–we saw some amazing sunrises as the sun peeked over the mountain (at least on the days when it was not completely clouded over.) Kayakers paddled by our window as they explored Galway Bay. The lights of the city of Galway twinkled across the bay each night.
Just a few steps away from our house was a picnic area on the shore, along with a bird blind. Caution was needed when walking on the main road, but for much of the distance between our house and the picnic area there was a grassy verge that allowed us to stay off the road and avoid the multiple tour buses that zoomed past throughout the day.
We had no real agenda for most days, but simply set out to find me some Easy Walks and get outside. We spotted a small stone building next to the road, at the base of a small mountain. The limestone karst soaks up water quickly, but also allows for springs to flow through the rock. The building we found was constructed to protect a natural spring.
Almost directly across the street from the spring we found the ruins of a home.
A little farther along the road we spotted a sign, found a place to park and investigated.
We found a narrow walkway that led to a cemetery.
The map indicated we should find a castle quite near by. We looked for signs, spotted what looked like it might be a castle (you’d think they’d be difficult to hide) and finally simply walked down a dirt road.
There was no sign on the road, just a hunch, and sure enough, at the end of the road we found right on the shore a national monument, a castle built in the 1400’s. The walk along the road was my Easy Walk. The walk around the castle was more challenging.
The walk along the karst limestone rocks on the shore was more that I could manage. But it was all good.
For most of our trip we spent more time walking than driving,which was fine by me.
While my husband became more skilled in managing the car each day, I was still much happier getting around on foot. And when not out walking, I stayed home and enjoyed the view of Galway Bay.
Marjorie Turner Hollman
Marjorie Turner Hollman is a personal historian who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, More Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, and editor of Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed. Just out is her latest book, Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are.
She has been a freelance writer for numerous local, regional, and national publications for the past 20+ years, has helped numerous families to save their stories, and has recorded multiple veterans oral histories, now housed at the Library of Congress.