I can’t even say how bad I feel about seriously delaying the finishing of our of blog about our trip to Ireland that occurred in 2014 at the beginning of our year off. Sophia and I met so many wonderful people while travelling around the southern part of Ireland and saw so many beautiful things during our trip. The village of Ballyvaughan was definitely a highlight of our travels, so much so that I wrote a review on Trip Advisor about it’s famous whiskey bar and the wonderful people we met.
After leaving the Arran Islands, we decided to head north to Galway but on the way in the car Sophia was reading about Ballyvaughan and this legendary whisky bar. Something in the way she talked about the village and the pub made us change our plans and find a B&B in Ballyvaughan instead for one night. We ended up staying two nights. We settled in at the Oceanville B&B and headed out for supper at a restaurant nearby before heading over to the whisky bar. We enjoyed a nice supper and of course a Guinness at Monks Seafood Restaurant & Bar where I finally had the first peat fire of the trip (I love peat fires!!). Sophia was settled in and had her Guinness Stout.
We stayed at the restaurant until we thought it was a reasonable time to go over to O’Loclainn’s Whisky Bar which is known by locals as the ‘most authentic whiskey bar in Ireland. Of course we actually ended up showing way too early (7pm-ish). The whisky bar itself was pretty empty except for a couple of people and their kids having dinner; yep, kids in a bar!! In Ireland kids are allowed at the bar/pub until 9pm, and then they have to leave; my wasted youth! So Sophia and I sat at the bar and were greeted by Margaret the whisky bar owner who gave me an educational tutorial on Irish whiskey in comparison to Scotch. Margaret was good enough to introduce me to Connemara whisky, I almost wanted to give up scotch after tasting it, almost. Anyways, Margaret was wonderful and as the evening went on, the pub filled up and local musicians came in. The musicians played traditional Irish tunes and would take breaks occasionally in between to tell stories. They even had the barmaid (we have forgotten her name??) who worked for Margaret sing a traditional acapella song from behind the bar. She was amazing!
During one of the breaks, the lead band member asked the audience if anyone could sing since their lead guy was sick; he asked several people and even asked me. I said “no”, emphatically. He then asked us where we were from and I told him Nunavut, Canada. Surprisingly, he knew where that was (he used to live in Toronto) and then went on to ask me numerous, intelligent questions about living in the arctic and about wildlife including polar bears. Before I knew it (after Sophia pointed it out later) people from the back rooms had come up to the front to listen to the “interview”. There was maybe 20 people behind me at one point listening to me describe our lives in the arctic. Of course, there was another person from the crowd who would occasionally interject to ask us what we would do if we saw or came across an aggressive polar bear. I tried to answer as best as I could but no answer could have satisfied the person asking!
When the questions finished, the band started up again and true to Irish hospitality, people started coming over to buy me whisky and Guinness. I was invited to one particular table (Sophia went back to the B&B for a bit) and joined Eion and Dorthy for several Guinness and great conversation. Eion took a year off and moved from Galway to run his aunts gift gallery called Lillimar Gift Gallery. Dorthy did her Masters in Gaelic studies and language I believe; a really great couple! Sophia came back to the bar to see how I was doing (and to make sure I didn’t get lost and made it back safely to the B&B)!
Of course we did not spent two days hanging around Ballyvaughan just to visit to bar but we also got to see some of the wonderful historical sites around the area.
Ballyvaughan was our last village before heading back to Dublin in order for us to catch our flight back to Gatwick, England. We were sad to leave such a wonderful place but had to go! Our good friend Richard picked us up and we spent a couple more days with Richard, his friends, and family before heading to London where we would stay a couple more days with one of Richard’s friend’s John and his wife Gabby. Following our short but wonderful trip to England and Ireland we headed back to Canada where we began our year off (2014-2015) living and sailing on our sailboat ‘Blue Tale’. ~ Rob
Trip Advisor review for Ballyvaughan
“How to describe our 2 nights visiting O’Loclainn’s Whisky Bar? I’m 46 y/o (at the time) and I’ve travelled Ireland before, and this trip my wife and I rented a car and drove from Dublin following the coast south to Galway over 2 weeks. If our only experience in Ireland was this pub, the 2 nights hanging out there, and getting to know the pub’s owner Margaret and her staff; I’d move to Ballyvaughan and buy a stool at the pub. Obviously not every night would have the same experience, but the people of Ballyvaughan we met there were awesome, friendly, and after 2 nights there and meeting the people we met, you felt part of the community. The selection of whiskies and of course Guinness helped; no meals, only snack packs.”