Sunday, 4 December 2011

A road trip, a cottage and a lovely surprise....

Sound Cottage
Well, we've been back from our trip to Achill Island for a couple of weeks now but our internet router problems prevented me blogging about it sooner. First things first – I did take my art stuff with me but I didn’t however take so much as a pencil out of its bag once the whole time we were there. I had great intentions of coming back from a long walk with rosy cheeks and settling down at the table to spend a few hours working on a pointy portrait before curling up in front of the fire with S and the dogs to watch one of the many DVDs we brought with us.

So, why did I not do any art while we were on holiday? Well, what actually happened was that there was no table in the cottage. Seriously. I mean there was a small side table in the tiny kitchen but not one you could actually sit down at. And there was a coffee table in the living room but it was really more for putting our drinks and/or our feet on rather than doing any art (maybe if I was 5 years old my joints could withstand kneeling at a table for more than 5 minutes but being a tad older than that it just wasn’t a comfortable option!)

So, that’s my excuses for not doing any art out of the way. Now let me tell you about Achill Island and how much we loved it.

We set off after work on Wednesday evening so that we wouldn’t waste Thursday in the car. We actually made good time and arrived at the cottage at around 9pm. Thank feck for Sat Nav as I think we’d have spent a bit of time trying to find it otherwise! It was right down a long narrow dirt track near the shore of Achill Sound looking across over to the mainland of Ireland (it is technically an island although it is joined to the mainland by a bridge and you could probably swim across as it really isn’t that far!) Beside the cottage we stayed in (which is 80 years old) was the ruin of the original stone cottage owned by the family who rent it out. 

The original Sound Cottage

The cottage was quaint and quirky. Not 5 star but that isn't what floats our boat – it was full of character and pretty lived in which was perfect for us not having to worry too much about two mucky pups on the furniture! (We didn’t let them on the sofa while they were mucky, just to clarify, but you know what I mean!). The location was fantastic - miles from anywhere with only two other (empty) houses on the same road.

Thursday was Ireland in all its glory – gale force 9 winds and torrential rain – which lasted the whole entire day! We ventured out only to stock up on peat and logs for the fire, managed a miserable walk up and down the main street of the village for the dogs who were more than happy to return to the warmth of the cottage and sleep the day through (as were we!) It was actually lovely to have a legitimate excuse to just put on comfy clothes and lounge around the cottage all day.

The weather outside the cottage window!
Friday was a better day and we headed off to explore the island. We drove to Trawmore beach, one of 5 blue flag beaches on the island. We went to the wrong end though (we only discovered on the Sunday) as it was all stones and shingle. We still had a good old walk though and the dogs loved it.

I was studying a sheep half way up the hill - trying to work out if it was stuck (it wasn't!)
Fort at Trawmore Beach
It was actually really small!
Saturday was really nice and sunny and we went to the deserted village at the bottom of Slievemore Mountain. It was so strange to see all these ruined cottages, many of them still standing against the elements pretty well. It used to be booley settlement when families lived somewhere different in summer and winter to allow cattle to graze on summer pasture. This would’ve been their summer dwelling. Now they’re home only to the sheep who graze nearby and who kindly stood still and gazed at us with curiosity as we snapped their photos.

My wee family at the Deserted Village

The locals were friendly

Part of Atlantic drive - before the cliff edges!
After that we followed the Atlantic Drive along a cliff top route. I'm not great with heights and so the feeling that we might veer off the road and plunge to our deaths in the Atlantic ocean did leave me with white knuckles. We drove down to Keem beach look out point before going on round the coast to a gorgeous wee beach at Dugort where we had another good walk before heading back to the cottage for another afternoon/evening of chilling out and falling asleep before the end of movies!

Dugort Beach 
Mount Slievemore behind Dugort Beach 
Dogs exploring the beach 
Flying Brodie
So warm we had to take our coats off!

Reuben just looking adorable!
The dogs at their happiest
Saturday night was perfectly clear skied and being so far from civilisation we were able to see so many stars - we think we saw the milky way as well but despite our best attempts our night time photography skills left something to be desired! However we stood outside for ages staring at the stars with the lights twinkling in the distance from across the bay, just listening to cattle lowing and some kind of bird I'd never heard before singing in the dark. It was perfect and right at that moment I totally wished we never had to leave.

Not a very good photo but it the best we could capture of a very starry night
On Sunday we headed off to the top of the island and then back to Trawmore beach where we discovered the proper sandy part and after another long walk up and back down it, we headed back to the cottage for yet more movie watching (at this stage S had convinced me to give The Lord of the Rings a try as I’d never seen any of the three parts and I ended up pretty hooked!)

Monday morning we packed up and headed off by 10am for the five hour drive back home. On our actual anniversary on Friday S had given me a card with money and apologised for the lack of imagination but that he had ordered me something online and it hadn’t turned up in time but it should be there when we got home. 

When we got home, I discovered that this was a little ruse of a story to throw me off the scent as what he’d actually done was.... tune in next time to discover what my thoughtful husband had gone and done without me knowing!


  1. How mean to stop at the most interesting point! Thanks for sharing all those wonderful photos, Ireland is really very beautiful! Valerie

  2. I will most likely never make it to your country and I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed the tour, everyone you do I enjoy more.You have a very sweet little family, the small hairy ones are adorable and the big one is quite handsome.You had just the kind of holiday my husband and I once enjoyed as well.No big cities for us, it was always somewhere our dogs were welcome and where nature was our constant companion.

  3. What a magical place, almost as if it's another world. Now what could that surprise be??Fancy making us all wait! xx p.s. Your "babies" are simply adorable.

  4. Next time I want to go away in with Hubby I will be popping back here to remind myself where to go! It looks just our cup of tea! That starry photo is incredible! :0)

  5. Wow, great photos! It must have been an awesome trip. Wonder what hubby has up his sleeve. Today is our 24th anniversary but my hubby is not very good at sneaky, LOL.

  6. Ohhh! These shots are stunning! Very beautiful, xo

  7. Fantastic photos! I especially love Reuben's close-up. The lighting is great and he expression!

  8. Beautiful, beautiful photos! However, my very favorite is Reuben looking adorable. Smile.

  9. I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed looking at these photos and am ready to book a flight there NOW! Thank you for the tour. Love the photos of the puppies too.


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