Chambers at Large in Oughterard, County Galway, Ireland

Making the most of a free weekend, with absolutely no commitments, I decided to head west from my homeplace to County Galway.

County Galway boasts some beautiful scenery.

I have visited the city of Galway a number of times and have found it somewhat crowded and a little pricey, thus I searched the web and found a great deal at the Connemara Lake Hotel in the town of Oughterard, about 25km from the city centre. Right in the middle of the town, which some may deem a village, surrounded by pubs and numerous eateries, this was an ideal spot to spend the night.

For €99 I had a two course evening meal, with a bottle of wine, a spacious, comfortable room with excellent wi-fi and a hearty Irish breakfast in the morning. With the added bonus of friendly staff this was terrific value for money. I would highly recommend it.

A further search of the web revealed two places of interest, although there are many others. The first was Glenglowla Mine, 4km outside Oughterard on the Clifden Road. (I’ve been to Clifden a few times too and it’s worth a look and it features in my book Reprehensible.)

My tour of Glenglowla Mine was fascinating. A peek back into the past when times were incredibly tough and I am in awe of the men who managed to work at depths of 300 ft and more, bringing lead ore to the surface.

Winch to bring the lead ore to the surface

The entrance to the mine is non-descript but down I went, taking my time negotiating the concrete steps, lit by electric lights.

Entrance to Glenglowla Mine

Of course, the 19th century miners descended on wooden ladders, either in pitch black or by candlelight. Working in cramped conditions, three men worked at the rock face, one holding a metal spike to drill into the rock, two others alternately hitting the spike with sledge hammers, working in rhythm twelve hours a day or more to find the precious lead.

The work was extremely dangerous, arduous and remuneration only given when lead was found and mined. To add insult to injury the men were expected to provide their own tools and candles as well! (And I think I have it tough sometimes!)

Sunlight just visible at the top of the mine

Glenglowla is well worth a visit, but wear a jacket as it’s damp and cold down in the bowels of the earth. Good footwear is a must and hard hats are provided. I’d like to thank the family for showing me around, making me most welcome and I wish them all the very best in subsequent seasons. I will surely return another day.

Aughnanure Castle and Watch Tower

My second point of call was Aughnanure Castle, about 2km from Oughterard, not far from the golf course. This castle is similar to a keep, but has outer walls and is reached by a walk along a secluded river. Within the two storeys is a secret chamber and a murder hole, the reasons for which are well documented on signs on the walls.

The Keep through the Trees

By the keep is a very unusual watch tower, with a corbelled roof and I spent a half an hour looking around, climbing the spiralled staircase, finding it easier to go up than to come down, the steps being uneven.

I thoroughly enjoyed my weekend away and will be going back to explore Lough Corrib and other sites near Oughterard next year.

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