February 10th, 2020 – Day 2: Galway, Ireland to Athlone, Ireland

Wow. What a day.

We got up and around at a leisurely pace this morning after a much-needed night’s sleep. I think we slept about 10-11 hours.

We have encountered some fierce winds, sleet, rain, snow…and no damn sun so far. Not what I need to get over my S. A. D. but if it is gonna be gray and rainy it might as well be REALLY shitty outside.

We dropped off our laundry at the laundrette and then went into downtown Galway to find breakfast. We went to a place called The Caprice Cafe. We all got coffee, local eggs scrambled with some amazing bacon and toast.


Look at that bacon! Breakfast at The Caprice Cafe – Dublin, Ireland

I ended up getting black pudding (blood sausage) so we could try it. We all tried it and the consensus was that it was okay but wouldn’t order it again. Everything else was delicious. The eggs were local organic eggs and they were the best eggs I have ever eaten. I don’t know what they feed the chickens there but the eggs were amazing. The toast I had was made from black bread – a dense, filling delicious bread thick-sliced with Irish butter.

We went walking around to see the city and do a little shopping.


Galway, Ireland

What a fun city to hang out in. We went to see the Galway Cathedral.


Swan on the River Corrib in Galway, Ireland


Galway Cathedral – Galway, Ireland

Then we got back in the car for a drive into the country.

We were off to see the castle where my family originated. I have to admit I got a bit choked up seeing the castle as we drove up, and a little bit more as I walked up to the front gate. It’s where our Irish family heritage began and that is a pretty powerful and emotional thing to think about. We couldn’t go inside since it was closed for the season but we got to get fairly close – up to the front door. It’s a pretty moving experience to visit a place like that and one that everyone should be so lucky to have in their lifetime. I am now that lucky.

It’s also a place where my parents visited many years ago, and the last text I got from my good friend Paul before he died unexpectedly was a picture of this castle telling me all about it. This place really has a lot of meaning to me.

Aughnanure Castle – Oughterard, Ireland

We left there and headed east for our next night’s stay at The Bastion B&B in a town called Athlone.

One reason for going to Athlone was to visit the oldest bar in Ireland – Sean’s Bar. It was so much fun. We stopped by to see it and decided to go find food before the pints started tipping.


Athlone, Ireland


Sean’s Bar – Athlone, Ireland

We ended up at The Snug for a starter pint and some pizzas from Pavarotti’s Pizza next door. We had seats by a peat fireplace and it was a very cozy place. They had something I had heard of previously and wanted to try called poitín – Irish moonshine (pronounced “po-tcheen”). Our publican there, Pat, gave me a small taste after warning me.


Inside The Snug – Athlone, Ireland

I now know what they have done with leftover napalm. That poitín was the harshest thing I have ever drank and burned oh-so badly. I tried to wash it down with a Guinness but it did little to put out the fire in my throat and stomach. Luckily the pizzas showed up to help but the moonshine had cauterized my tastebuds. What I could taste was delicious though!

We left and went back to Sean’s and kicked the evening into overdrive. Several pints later two musicians named Jim and Mick rolled in and the night got even better. We were sitting right next to them and we all had a great time.


Jim and Mick at Sean’s Bar – Athlone, Ireland

Another thing we did there at Sean’s was to add an old Kansas license plate to the collection on their wall with all of our names on it. This was to honor my dad and his love of Ireland.

We eventually managed to get back to our BnB and went to sleep.

It was a great day.