Tag: Ireland

Beautiful Mayo along the Wild Atlantic Way

Westport – the town that stole my heart

Mayo stole my heart.  This beautiful county was my home for three years.  I was welcomed by the wonderful warm people and enchanted by the magnificent surroundings.  I return to Mayo as often as I can.

The Wild Atlantic Way conjures up images of crashing surf over jagged rocks, rugged mountains and landscapes with changing hues. But, it’s so much more than that. It’s also about the culture of local music and literary festivals, museums and historical sites. And don’t forget those beautiful white sandy beaches in hidden away coves and the hospitality that comes with a good old fashioned Irish pub. You’ll find all these things anywhere along the Way, but none more so than in the western and north western counties of Galway, Mayo, Sligo, Leitrim and Donegal.  I really need to extend my exploring up the coast.

Mayo is often described as being ‘hauntingly beautiful’. Perhaps it’s because you often have the windswept landscape all to yourself. Or maybe it’s that stories of the famine seem to resonate more loudly here. Either way, much like the rest of the west coast, the scenery is breath-taking and dotted with spectacular vistas.

As you travel from Letterfrack in Connemara on your way into Mayo you’ll pass along the southern shore of Ireland’s only true fjord, Killary Harbour. The fjord stretches 16km from the Atlantic to Aasleagh falls where Galway and Mayo meet. Along the way, stop off and take a boat cruise where the spectacular nature of the fjord can be truly appreciated.

Aashleagh Falls on the Wild Atlantic Way

After Aasleagh falls your destination is Mayo’s jewel in the crown, Clew Bay and the Georgian town of Westport. Most would take the N59 straight up to Westport. Instead, take the scenic route and while there’s no coast road to follow for quite some distance, the R335 will take you through the absolutely stunning DooLough pass. This valley is home to a famine memorial that is definitely worth the visit.

A worthwhile detour is to divert from the Louisburgh road and head to Silver Strand and the Lost Valley. The Lost Valley is a sheep farm run by 6 generations of the Bourke family. It also serves as a famine memorial where it’s possible to visit deserted communities not inhabited since the famine. The beach at Silver Strand adjacent to the farm is unspoilt, but, beware of bathing as the waters have been described as treacherous. Overlooking the farm and the beach is the magnificent Mweelrea mountain. It’s Connacht’s tallest peak at 814 metres.

Around Clew Bay

The road gets closer to the coast when you get to Clew Bay where there are rumoured to be 365 islands. One for every day of the year. There really aren’t that many, but why let facts get in the way of a traditional story. Why not stop along the way at the foot of Croagh Patrick. There’s no need to climb right up to the top, but a short walk up it’s base will give you spectacular views of the bay.

The most welcome respite on your road trip is the beautiful Georgian town of Westport, my home for a while, just a short distance from Croagh Patrick. The pubs and cafes provide excellent food and drink and there’s plenty of accommodation to suit all pockets.

Westport is strategically located so that it’s easy to base oneself there while exploring the south and northern coastlines of Mayo over a few days.

A short drive along the north shore of Clew Bay lies the delightful town of Newport. The town is a renowned angling centre and stands at the entrance to the Bangor Trail, which is now part of the Great Western Greenway, a 43.5km cycling and walking route from Westport to Achill Island.

Achill Island and North Mayo

You really should include a visit to Achill Island a place that epitomises the Wild Atlantic Way with its rugged landscape, steep cliffs, rolling mountains, sheltered beaches and deserted villages. There are loads of adventure activities like surfing, horse riding and hiking as the well as the famous hospitality of its pubs and restaurants. It’s no wonder that there are plenty of families who make Achill their annual holiday destination. To the North West of Achill sits the 11,000 hectares of the unspoilt and uninhabited Ballycroy National Park. It’s a massive area of bog and peat dominated by the Nephin Beg mountains and is also part of Mayo’s Dark Sky park, where on a clear night you can see over 4,500 stars in the sky.

A short distance from the park is Mayo’s Gaeltacht of the Mullet Peninsula and the Barony of Erris. Belmullet is an ideal town from which to explore the peninsula’s cliffs and wild landscape. There is a plethora of water and adventure sports available.

As you drive away from the Belmullet along Mayo’s north coast, you can see the coast and beaches of Donegal miles in the distance. Stop in the picturesque seaside village of Killala famous for it’s role in the 1798 rebellion. Killala is packed full of tourist amenities and its skyline is dominated by a 12th Century Round Tower.

Ballina is Mayo’s largest town and is more or less the last stop before you enter County Sligo. Sitting on the River Moy, Ballina is considered an excellent Salmon fishery and its famous Ridge Pool in the heart of the town is a ‘salmon angers paradise’. In July, the population swells as the town hosts the annual Ballina Salmon festival with a week-long feast of free entertainment.

Travelling to Mayo is enchanting.  Pack the car and head out and I promise you might fall in love with the beautiful county and it’s people.  However as I have learned it is best to be prepared.

Before you hit the road make sure you are covered with Liberty Insurance Ireland. All our our car insurance policies come with 24/7 breakdown assistance with Home Start as standard and it won’t affect your no claims bonus. Get your car insurance quote online now.

This is a sponsored post, however as you know I never post about anything I don’t believe in.  It is a pleasure to feature the beauty of Mayo on my blog, and to remind people how important it is to be prepared.

Thanks for reading

 

Kerry xx

Thank you to Connemara Wild Escapes for the wonderful photos.

 

 

 

 

How to pack fabulous into a 10kg carry-on bag!

Packing for a week in a carry-on bag is the biggest holiday challenge for me.  I want to be comfortable, feel fashionable and pretty and still not incur excess baggage costs.

It starts with shoes …

Shoes are the most important item in my holiday wardrobe.  Firstly I must be comfortable, and walking is always a huge part of the holiday.  In addition shoes are the heaviest item in your luggage and when you have 10kg for a week’s worth of style some forward planning is needed.

I was recently introduced to Hotter shoes.  These fabulous shoes have transformed my wardrobe and my foot comfort.  So stylish and super comfortable.  My pale blue Flare sandals are a dream to wear.  They are seriously stylish but are so well designed that they even have fastenings that adjust – absolutely perfect for me as my feet swell in the hot weather.

Blue is a favourite colour for me – and like denim they go with everything!.

Red shoes, in my opinion are magical.  Gorgeous soft buttery leather and a padded,shaped innersole make these Nirvana mary-janes so comfortable, while still being fashionable.  The design of this shoe is perfect with dresses, leggings or jeans.  Such a versatile choice that I know will take me through the seasons.  A great choice for travelling!

How to pack for Summer sun

Summer means colour to me.  Banish those blacks and greys and get happy.  I love summer bright dresses that you can simply slip on and be ready to go the beach or eat dinner al fresco.

I start packing by laying out the clothes I think I want to take on the bed.  Then, I count the days and consider contingencies.  Most often do a bit of editing because we often take too much.  The next items to go in are shoes.  I normally travel with three pairs.  For a summer holiday, a pair of flip flops, a pair of sandals and a pair of shoes suitable for walking and travelling.  As I wear a lot of dresses, these all need to be pretty!  My Hotter sandals and shoes in blue and red were the first items in the suitcase. A quick glance at my holiday wardrobe assured me that they were the perfect choice.

My packing checklist

I work on a little checklist for all my trips – just to make sure I have all I need and nothing extra.

This would be for a seven-day trip.

  1. Footwear – sandals, flip-flops, shoes
  2. Dresses x3 – normally a couple of maxi dresses and a shorter one. (I do wash and wear)
  3. Leggings x 1
  4. Tops (for leggings) x 2
  5. Wrap/cover-up
  6. Swimsuit
  7. Cardigan
  8. Underwear
  9. Modesty tops (Little vests to go under my dresses and protect my modesty somewhat)
  10. Capsule make-up and cosmetic collection (it all fits into a little zip lock bag)
  11. Hair – yes I take my heated rollers with me everywhere, hairbrush, hair ties and pins.
  12. Medication – I do have to take a good bit with me – so that is a second zip lock bag.
  13. Extras – travel adaptor, phone charger, my journal
  14. Accessories – a fold up beach bag, sunglasses, and a few key pieces of costume jewellery.
  15. Handbag – I checklist all the items in here too – no harm in being prepared.

Tick everything off the list and then roll pack.  This way I fit everything I need in.

Yes, it can be done!  Carry-on luggage only.

I wouldn’t have believed it could be done.  It is possible to save on checked luggage and fit whatever you need into a little suitcase.  I do think it is all about choices, and for me it definitely starts with choosing the perfect shoes.

This is a sponsored post by the fabulous Hotter Shoes.  I was gifted the shoes which have honestly become my favourites.  I wrote about choosing the shoes and the wonderful service offered by Hotter in this blog post.

Thank you for reading, and I hope I have inspired you to book that summer break – and save the cost of check-in baggage for a nice dinner out on holiday and maybe a glass of wine.

Kerry x

South Africa to Ireland a Big Move – My Story

There is no place like home

 

I have updated this blog post, which is one of my most read.

Thirteen years ago I moved from Johannesburg, South Africa to Ireland.  Not only was it a huge move from continent to continent, but it was also a move from city life to a rural life in beautiful Connemara.

It really doesn’t matter how many people you ask about the experience before it happens, it is still a massive shock to the system.

Ultimately my decision to move was motivated by the rising crime in South Africa.  There were a few experiences that really touched my life and I realised that I was living with fear.

I don’t judge the people who have stayed and neither do I judge the people who have left the beautiful country that is my birthplace.  The time came and I had to make my choice, and the fact that I had a 7-year old son was a huge part of that.

From South Africa to Ireland

We moved across the world and landed up in Connemara in early February.  Connemara is a beautiful place, but it doesn’t really show it’s beauty in February.  It was wild, windy and very cold.  It rained almost every day.  I wasn’t prepared, and my pretty umbrella bought in South Africa turned inside out and blew away the first time I used it.

With the hindsight of 13 years I am glad I made the move.  It has been a very turbulent 13 years which has seen me live in Connemara, in Westport, Mayo and now back in Athenry on the east side of Galway.

It has seen me start my own business in the form of a craft shop called An Siopa Buί – The Yellow Shop.  Through the shop I was privileged to travel across Ireland and meet some really special people.   Circumstances change and I returned to the corporate world and spend two and a half years in Westport (considered to be the best place to live in Ireland.)  I am now living in Athenry (made famous by the song The Fields of Athenry) and am moving onto a different phase of my life.

The common thread through my life and the big move has been people.  The friends that I have made at every stage – both South Africans in Ireland, South Africans at home and of course my Irish friends.

After 10 years I took Irish Citizenship and am proud to be Irish – although I will always be South African too.

I visit South Africa as often as I can and will always have the song of Africa in my heart.  When I am homesick I think of the sound of crickets on a summer night.  The evocative smell of sunset after a hot day and the wonderful social culture of bring and braai (a BBQ where everyone brings something along).

I was honoured to take part in a TV series on RTE in 2007 called No Place Like Home.  The producers came up with a cool concept of featuring foreigners living in Ireland, and comparing where their lifestyles in Ireland with lifestyles back ‘home’.  The title really says it all.  There is no place like home, but what I have come to realise is that you can have two homes.  I will always have a little part of my soul in Africa, but now I have fallen in love with Ireland too.

The West of Ireland where I have made my home is a truly beautiful place.  One day on a drive between Westport and Connemara I stopped to take in the view.  The word awesome came to mind.

Truly awesome as you realise that this magnificent scenery is simply there for us to appreciate and admire.

Ireland has been good to me.  I have made so many friends, through my crafting, through blogging , through the ICA and through my career.  I have been welcomed into so many homes and drunk copious cups of tea as I have learnt the generosity of spirit that the Irish are known for.

My son is now grown-up and has completed a Physics Degree at University in Galway and is now working in his dream job in the United Kingdom.  He has made his home here but I will always remind him of his African roots, so he too can have two homes. (Maybe even three since he has moved on)

You can read my post about my empty nest  here.

My information about the legalities and practicalities about moving to Ireland is a little out of date.  It is almost 15 years now.

I am delighted to say that there is a whole lot more information out there than there was when I did the move.

There is a wonderful Facebook Group run by South Africans who have made the move and I suggest that you join it and take a deep dive into the files.  There is so much information available and the people in the group are so helpful.

You can find the group here.

I do try to answer all the emails I receive but it isn’t always possible so apologies in advance.

Thank you so much for reading.

Kerry xx

Radiant after the shower – the Nía Natural way

500px-Intensive-Shower-MousseMost mornings I start off with a shower.  It wakes me up and gives me a delicious feeling of freshness as I get on with the day. I have tried shower gels and soaps, but I had never tried a mousse.  To be honest when I had a look at this cute little tin in my ITWBN goody bag I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it.

Well I can promise you now once you have tried Nía Natural shower mousse, you will be converted. Silky smooth and with a really subtle but fresh aroma this mousse leaves me feeling fresh, and clean.  I appreciate that although softly fragranced, it doesn’t conflict with my perfume choice of the day.

I have struggled with dry spots, where skin gets a little flaky and inflamed on and off for years, and so before even trying the Nia Natural Creamy shower mousse I did a little investigating. Just saying, these spots have all cleared up now!

The company was started by Celia O’Grady in the West of Ireland.  Nía means radiance in Irish and that makes a whole lot of sense if you have used the products.  All the ingredients are all natural using the highest quality ingredients.

The product recipes are a combination of carefully selected ingredients, organic when economically possible and always natural. ‘The skin is our largest organ. It absorbs into the body much of what it comes in contact with. When choosing ingredients that we use in our products, we believe it must be good enough to eat and be beneficial for the skin.’  Read more about the quality ingredients here.

I am making up my shopping lists for Christmas (I know it is early), but I am going back to South Africa to visit family and friends.  I think some really great beauty products from Ireland need to be added to my list.

These gorgeous products are available online or in a range of health shops and other outlets around Ireland.

You can’t beat radiance!

Thanks for reading

Kerry x

Having attended two Into the West Blogger Network (ITWBN) events, I have been really lucky to receive some great products in my goody bags.  All my reviews are honest and relate to products I have used myself. 

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