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Kilkelly, Ireland: why every backpacker MUST visit!

Kilkelly ireland

So Matt and I are heading to Ireland in 61 days, and it just makes me want to relive all my previous experiences. I want to tell you guys about a small town in Ireland called Kilkelly.

As you know from a previous post, I went to Ireland with Jordan and Dani in July 2015, and I had a blast. Ireland was so much fun that I decided to go back for eight days at the end of my trip to drive around the country and see more of it. I decided to find small towns around the country to staying with Airbnb and just go with the flow. I covered a lot of ground this way and ended up staying in tiny towns which were all great experiences.  By keeping my options open and not settling on the typical tourist spots, I was able to find the town of Kilkelly in Mayo County.

According to Wikipedia, in 2011, Kilkelly had a total population of 1211 including rural and urban living. That’s pretty small when you look at Dublin for the same year pop. 527,612 and then think of all the tourists added on to that number. It’s just under three hours to drive from Dublin to Kilkelly, and it’s a beautiful drive. I was comfortable driving on the opposite side of the road at this point, so I was able to enjoy the scenery. Although, some of the roads are tiny so when cars came rushing by me the stress levels went up a bit.

Arriving at Kilkelly

When I drove onto the main street of Kilkelly, I knew I had found something special. I was in “real” Ireland and not the bustling city/tourist laden Dublin. The Airbnb I was staying at was right on the main road. I had to go to the butcher’s to call my host and let them know I had arrived. The B&B I was staying at was right over a bar (y’all can appreciate how happy I was about this) which was also owned by the same family (the Duffy’s). I had my pick of rooms, and they had breakfast food for me in the fridge which was very appreciated. Mr. Duffy told me that the bar opened up a little later in the afternoon and that I should come by for a beer.

I showed up a bit after opening and sat down at the bar. Mrs. Duffy was bartending, and she greeted me warmly. I decided it was time to have a Guinness in Ireland and I was not disappointed. I never liked Guinness before, but there was something completely different about the taste. Interestingly enough, I learned later on when I went to the Guinness store house that it tastes differently due to the water used to make the beer in Ireland. I sat and talked with one of the locals and Mrs. Duffy and enjoyed learning about the County I was in.

A bit later on, a group of younger people arrived at the pub. They seemed to be a lively group, and they clearly knew everyone else in the pub. I got up to go outside and dropped my cell phone on the floor and one of the guys in the group laughed at me. That was our introduction.

I explained that I was a Canadian travelling in Europe for fun and he invited me to their table. Everyone introduced themselves, and I will always remember meeting Colette. She spoke SO FAST! Every time she said her name I would just hear “Clit” which I thought was a pretty unusual name. You can imagine awkward me going: “Clit… okay nice to meet you!”. They all laughed, and she said: “No! It’s Co-lette” in an over exaggerated way. I laughed full heartedly and apologized for misunderstanding while everyone else just howled at my expense (another one of my epic blonde moments).

I met many people that night. Each and every one of them made my night amazing and fun. I sometimes had to ask them to repeat themselves due to their accents but it was well worth it.

The beers were flowing, and everyone was having a good time. One of the guys I met, Bryan, decided it was time to get his guitar and sing some tunes. To my delight, he legit pulled up a bar stool, sat down with his guitar and started singing some Irish songs. Everyone sang along (except me because I knew none of these songs) and I was just in utter awe. How cool was this? I had no words, but the smile on my face would have given you a good idea of just how happy I was.

Karen, another of the people I met that night (who was dating Bryan the musician) asked me if I had tried a real Irish breakfast yet. I told her that I had not had the chance yet. Her mom was at the bar with us, and they both invited me over for breakfast the next morning. I was a bit shy about just going over to their house, but they insisted: “just walk up the street – it’s a few doors down and just come in!”.

Breakfast in Kilkelly

I  woke up the next morning feeling like death. You know the feeling I’m talking about – the “I am so hungover I just want to die” feeling. I looked exactly how I felt which didn’t help me feel any better. Then I remembered I was invited to breakfast. At that moment, it was probably the last thing I wanted to do. Crawl back into bed with a big bottle of water seemed like a much better idea. However, you only live once, and I knew I would never get such an amazing opportunity again, so I put on my big girl pants and got ready for breakfast.

I was a bit nervous that once the alcohol wore off, things would be awkward but I convinced myself to stop being ridiculous. Funny how we always create our own fears which often stop us from doing awesome things. I walked out the door, marched up the street (I think it was like three or four doors up), knocked lightly on the door and walked in. Karen’s mom greeted me with open arms and welcomed me into her home.

She made a FULL spread. I couldn’t believe it! Bacon (the Irish kind), sausages, tomatoes, eggs, pudding, beans. It was ALL there.  Karen and Bryan came down for breakfast, but Karen’s brother stayed in bed (like I said it was a rough night of drinking). I was completely blown away by their hospitality and their kindheartedness.

breakfast in kilkelly
My proper Irish breakfast

More of County Mayo

After breakfast, I decided to head out and explore some more of Mayo County. I visited the Cong Abbey as well as Ashford castle. They were both breathtaking even if it was a very windy/rainy day.
Having a car made this infinitely easier but driving those tiny roads in those weather conditions was interesting, to say the least! Kilkelly is located in a good spot where I was close to lots of cool things.

Here is a video I took while at Ashford castle (you can hear the hangover in my voice – sorry not sorry!). It’ll give you an idea of how massive and beautiful it is. It’s actually a hotel now, but I can’t fathom the price per night.

More of Kilkelly & Ireland

I decided to stay in that night and relax. I ended up watching Taken on TV and catching up on some much-needed sleep. The next day, I walked around Kilkelly a little bit and decided to head out again to do more exploring. I drove an hour North East to Parke’s Castle and lucky for me it was a beautiful day. If you hadn’t realized this yet, I have a thing for castles.

Ireland
An epic view on the drive up
Ireland parkes castle
Parke’s castle

That night, I met up with Colette and some others from the gang and went out once again. A few people stopped me at the pubs to welcome me to Kilkelly. It was kind of crazy to have people know who I was before I even met them. Word traveled fast about the Canadian girl visiting Kilkelly (I’m a pretty big deal, m’kay?). We had another great night, and I am so glad I picked Kilkelly out of all the places I could have gone to.

To sum it all up

Kilkelly had some of the nicest and most generous people I ever met. If you like to have fun and you enjoy your pints of beer – you’ll fit right in. I hope I can return one day to enjoy their company once again. I can’t highlight enough just how great it was. And like I said, the location is great to hit up a bunch of different spots in the region. I never expected to write a 1500 word post but there is now a Kilkelly shaped hole in my heart, and I had to share with you my time there.

Time for some promotion

As I said, I met Bryan during my time in Kilkelly. He had an incredible talent, and he’s currently in the process of launching his first album (I believe it comes out in October)! If you guys want to discover a great musician from Ireland now living in Australia, go check him out. His links are below:

Facebook

Soundcloud

Youtube

 

As always, your comments are welcome below the post 🙂

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