I’m going to pull the same trick my local newspaper does and only tangentially match the headline. By no means is the western portion of Ireland ugly. Instead, I’m just recognizing that someone, perhaps several people even, have come up with overwrought paeans or overplayed pop songs dedicated to Killarney, Dingle, and Galway.
The nice thing about meeting people along the way is that they give you good ideas. For instance, some Irish guys I met in Florence (wow, that sounds pretentious…) drew me a map of places to go on the back of their cereal box. That’s how I ended up in Killarney, where I enjoyed touring Ross Castle and which makes a good base for tours of the Dingle Peninsula (lots of fun!) and the Ring of Kerry (supposedly amazing but I can’t say firsthand).
Galway has some nice shops and a few great places to walk. There is even a gas station with an outdoor laundromat when the washing machine at the hostel is broken and the launderette up the street wants 18 euros to wash your clothes.
County Mayo is certainly more rural than Galway and Killarney. However, it also has an airport with 20 euro Ryanair flights so I happily watched the scenery fly by in the bus. There was no smile on my face when I paid that 10 euro ‘airport development fee’ (that somehow was not well publicized) but why let pesky fees ruin ‘flowery descriptions of stunning scenery?’