Way Out West

Last week I blogged about our wonderful trip to the Aran Islands but our fun in Galway didn’t end there. While there were many positives, first of all let me deal with the big negative from our trip, the sleeping arrangements! We stayed in the Connacht Hotel in Galway and had access to a two bedroom family suite (to be clear no fault is attached to the lovely Connacht Hotel for our lack of sleep). We had looked at holiday rentals but in the end the access to the kids club, swimming pool and pancakes for breakfast trumped the alternatives. In theory, this reduced bedroom scenario (our four kids are spread over three bedrooms at home) seemed fine to us as, although it would be cramped sticking four kids into one bedroom, at least myself and Niki would have a room to ourselves to watch the odd episode of Suits! Ahh the naivete, you’d think that after 11 years of parenting we’d be able to figure out what was going to happen if we put all of our kids into one bedroom (including two sharing a double bed). Cue multiple outbursts of “stop kicking me!”, “he’s making me laugh!”, “it’s too hot I can’t sleep!” and that was just from yours truly! Apologies to those in rooms 4111 and 4113 if the shouting got a bit out of control at times. So it’s safe to say the sleeping arrangements were not a success but the waking hours more than made up for it.

At the top of the positives was the availability of good nourishment. We had worried that lack of access to our own cooking facilities would be an issue for our very picky eaters. We needn’t have worried. Our first port of call upon arrival in Galway was Dough Bros, well not the pizza restaurant itself (which is not upon to diners due to covid restrictions), but the outlet they have opened in O’Connells bar on Eyre Square. We have always made it our business to visit Dough Bros when we travel to the city of the tribes. This was our third visit and I can honestly say that the pizzas are the best in Ireland, the bases are light yet substantial and the toppings are innovative yet classic. I am thinking of getting an online petition to get them to open an outlet in Dublin. The arrangement with O’Connells seems to be a win-win situation with the patrons availing of quality food along with beverages of choice and the venue has a substantial beer garden / outdoor eating area. Also if pizzas aren’t your thing, there is also the option of Handsome Burger which operates out of the other end of the beer garden. My wife confirmed that the burgers were top quality and the boys loved the rosemary fries! It is no surprise that queues are a regular feature outside O’Connells but we were so impressed that we had to go there again on the eve of our departure, now that’s a ringing endorsement!

For  something a bit more upmarket we ventured to the excellent Brasserie on the Corner which is just around the corner from Eyre Square on Eglington Street. Now going upmarket with our kids is always a risky business but myself and Niki had a hunger for something which took more than 5 minutes to cook so we rolled the dice again and this time came up with a 12. As is customary these days, we sanitised ourselves thoroughly before being shown to our seats. The atmosphere was classy yet relaxed, the steaks (which myself and Niki both ordered) were excellent and the kids menu (along with the crayons which came with them) were sufficiently broad to cover all tastes and artistic temperaments! The “piece de resistance” was the dessert which included a black forest gateau ice-cream, all my dreams had just come true! Before leaving the topic of food (and my waistline shows that I should have left this topic halfway through our Galway sojourn, probably around the time the aforementioned ice cream arrived) I must give a special mention to The Gourmet Food Parlour, a local favourite down the road in Santry and also excellent in Salthill but without the Dublin GAA stars!

So apart from the culinary delights of the West, what else did we do on our trip? Well I got to wear my wet-suit for the first (and second) time. Now my boys have been wearing wet suits on holidays for a number of years, ever since Lidl had one of those middle aisle sales, but this year I decided to take the plunge (excuse the pun) as I could no longer face the bitter cold of the Atlantic without some insulation (excluding my natural version of course). Wet-suits are particularly difficult to carry-off with a graceful air especially when the zipping up process brings to mind William Shatner’s corset in his later Star Trek years, I’m thinking of you Wrath of Kaahhhnnn! But I was definitely glad for its warmth and buoyancy as I bobbed along searching for glimpses of fish and crabs (successfully in the Coral Strand but less so in Silver Strand). Speaking of the Coral Strand or Tra an Doilin as the locals in Carroroe like to call it, I made the fatal error of not bringing along my sandals with me and quickly went from “I don’t know what you “snowflakes” are complaining about, it’ll build character”, to “oh my god, the pain, the pain, I can’t walk please somebody carry me to my blanket”. The ultimate ignominy was when the plastic bag for my snorkel mask blew away and I had to be helped retrieve it by an elderly lady because I was chasing after it with the grace and athleticism of the proverbial cat on a hot tin roof!

So our holiday this year may not have taken in the delights of a French boulangerie, or the rush of water-sliding into an outdoor pool, or even my particular favourite pastime, the one hour browse through a hypermarche, but we did have some memorable times in Galway and the food was definitely to be recommended!

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