We woke to yet another beautiful day full of sunshine. After our delicious traditional Irish breakfast, we said our goodbyes to the owner of the B & B and started our daily adventure. A very short distance away from the B & B, stood Aughnanure Castle. Of course we had to take in a tour!
The name Aughnanure comes from the Gaelic, Achadh na nIubhar – the field of yews. One very old specimen remains nearby the gates.
The uses and mythology of the Yew Tree are quite interesting:
Yew timber is incredibly strong and durable. Traditionally, the wood was used in turnery to make long bows and tool handles. One of the World’s oldest surviving wooden artifacts is a Yew spear head estimated to be around 450,000 years old.
Anti-cancer compounds are harvested from the foliage of Taxus baccata and is used in modern medicine. Eating just a few leaves can make a small child severely ill and there have been some deaths linked to yew poisoning. All parts of the tree are poisonous.
Yew trees are associated with churchyards and there are at least 500 churchyards in England which contain yew trees older than the buildings themselves. It is not clear why, but it is thought that yew trees were planted on the graves of plague victims to protect and purify the dead, and also in churchyards to stop ‘commoners’ from grazing their cattle on church ground as yew is extremely poisonous to livestock.
Aughnanure Castle and grounds
The castle, which stands on what is a rocky peninsula, is a particularly well preserved example of an Irish Tower house. Though the castle did finally succumb to superior cannon power, the O’Flahertys knew well enough how to protect themselves. The great rectangular Tower House is protected inside two alls or enclosures. The inner enclosure is wedge-shaped with walls pierced with gun-loops. The remains of a gatehouse and drawbridge are at the northwestern corner. On the northern side, the Drimneed River adds a natural defense line. the outer ward consisting of a large irregular enclosure protected by a much more extensive outer brawn wall, which had five wall towers at intervals along its length, to provide a greater variety of angles from which to shoot at attackers.
Climbing Croagh Patrick was a wonderful experience and am grateful that we decided to explore that area. Fifteen miles away, we stopped to stretch our legs at Old Head Beach. We could still see Croagh Patrick in the background and if you look closely, you can see the chapel at the summit which has been there since the 5th century.
Our stomachs were rumbling so we made a pit-stop in the quaint town of Louisburgh; a small town in the southwest corner of Clew Bay in County Mayo. In Ireland, it is very common to see colorful buildings which I very much enjoyed seeing. There is so much history in these towns, if only these buildings could talk! We enjoyed our afternoon snack and pint of Guinness at the Front Bar.
I was in awe as we drove from Louisburgh to Aasleagh through the Mweelrea Mountains and around Killary Fjord. We stopped many times along the way and had even placed a Face Time call to my mother to show her the beauty while she was at home in Minnesota watching the grand puppies. We met Captain at this stop as well; such a handsome, well-mannered dog. Mweelrea (from Irish Cnoc Maol Réidh, meaning ‘bald hill with the smooth top’) and its subsidiary peaks, form the southern half of the “horseshoe-shaped” massif of the Mweelrea Mountains, which are bounded by Killary Harbour (Killary Fjord), Ireland’s deepest fjord, to the south.
The scenery never disappointed us as we drove to our destination for the night. We stayed at the Corrib View Country House and enjoyed our walks around the property and the time spent at this Bed and Breakfast.
We awoke to another gorgeous day in Ireland and the view from our Bed and Breakfast room was breathtaking. We could see our destination out on the horizon. Another traditional Irish breakfast was in order and we were on our way.
Our destination was Croagh Patrick and to experience the Murrisk Loop Walks.
Croagh Patrick overlooks Clew Bay and its 365 drumlin islands (yes, one for each day of the year!) in County Mayo, and is considered the holiest mountain in Ireland. The tradition of pilgrimage to the summit of this holy mountain stretches back over 5,000 years from the Stone Age to the present day without interruption. Its religious significance dates back to the time of the pagans, when people are thought to have gathered here to celebrate the beginning of harvest season. – Wikipedia
St Patrick is said to have spent 40 days and 40 nights on the summit during lent of 441 A.D. Recent excavations on the summit of Croagh Patrick uncovered the foundations of an early Christian oratory that carbon dating has shown to date from 430 – 890 A.D. The present church was built on the summit in 1905.
The average climb time is 3.5 hours round trip and we had agreed to take the time to experience this climb but knew it would be challenging for Dan’s bad knees. I was so proud of him as he pushed through his knee pain and even a fall on our descent – No worries, just a couple scrapes on the hand, a few bruises on his hips, and a broken lens hood- not bad at all! He did mention that the walking stick he found at the summit did help on the way down. We were told many times that we were lucky to climb Croagh Patrick on such a lovely day. The experience of the hike, the scenery, and the feeling you were on top of the world (or Ireland anyways) was priceless. This is another place that I would like to re-visit and a stop I would highly recommend!
Dan had commented on this mountain perfectly…
This is an amazingly beautiful mountain, but don’t let the that fool you – it’ll bite you if you are not careful any paying attention to the terrain underfoot. The path and trail were firm in the morning as it was slightly damp. As the day went on though; with the sunshine and wind, the surface gets dryer and loose. The path is very rocky, not smooth by any means.
Life is about the Journey; enjoy every minute of it! Have a wonderful week; see you all soon.
After spending some time hiking and exploring Slieve League with the time we had, we made our way to our next stop. Driving our way back through Donegal and following the coast heading south, we ran into some more breathtaking sights (Ireland was full of them). During our time driving, we had always decided to “just take that turn” to see what was down the road which has never disappointed us. One of these roads took us down to Mullaghmore Peninsula and we stumbled upon Classiebawn Castle. As we laid eyes on this property, I caught myself pointing to the structure with my mouth open in awe. The scenery was like a dream; post processing some of these images from this day was so much fun as I played with texture, filters, and color (which I love).
Classiebawn Castle is a country house built for the 3rd Viscount Palmerston (1784–1865) on what was formerly a 10,000-acre estate on the Mullaghmore peninsula near the village of Cliffoney, County Sligo. It was designed in the Baronial style by J. Rawson Carrol, a Dublin-based architect, and is constructed from a yellow-brown sandstone brought by sea from County Donegal. It comprises a gabled range with a central tower topped by a conical roofed turret.
One of my favorite panoramic images came from this accidental run in. To this day, this image still adorns my desk at work and it takes me back to that spot in Ireland everyday… A little escape to Classiebawn Castle!
Our last stop of this leg of our adventure was Glencar Waterfall. Again, we did not have much time, but it was worth the stop; what a tranquil sight!
Glencar Lough (Irish: Loch Ghleann an Chairthe, meaning “lake of the glen of the pillar stone”), locally known as Glencar Lake, is a freshwater lake in the northwest of Ireland. Glencar Waterfall is located near the lake’s north shore on the Leitrim side.
This was the perfect birthday full of adventure and breathtaking scenery. I couldn’t have asked for anything more. See you all soon; have a wonderful week!