Ballynahinch Castle, Ireland

A little after the sun disappeared below the horizon, we packed up the car and headed to our stop for the night, Ballynahinch Castle.

Ballynahinch Castle is a former Irish country house and estate, built on the site of a former castle, which is now a luxury hotel set in a private estate in the Connemara region of County Galway, Ireland. It is one of Ireland’s finest luxury hotels and is located on a private 700 acre estate of woodland and rivers. The castle overlooks the hotel’s famous salmon fishery with a backdrop of the beautiful 12 Bens Mountain Range. We had a relaxing night and woke early enough to take in the sunrise and explore the grounds.

It is mentioned on the hotel’s website, “a visit to the Owenmore Restaurant is a treat for the senses”. I can attest, there was a tremendous buffet which left us completely satisfied for the day. If in the area, I would highly recommend a stay! Ballynahinch Castle.com 

We followed the coastline and stopped many times to stretch our legs. Of course, we ran into beautiful scenery and friendly critters. We even found some Leprechaun poo on the beach 😉 Ok, ok… The piles found in the sand were Lugworm casts.

Our next stop was to explore the Cliffs of Moher. We were close to the area and decided to stop to find a Bed & Breakfast for the night. The owners of Sea Crest Farmhouse were extremely friendly and had given us recommendations for visiting Cliffs of Moher plus mentioned a few good restaurants. We had a wonderful supper at Vaughan’s Anchor Inn. Their Fish and Chips consisted of Cod in a 9-year-old (starter) batter, chips steamed then fried in Beef Drippings with homemade tartar sauce and Pea Puree.  Wow!  I would agree with Dan when he said, “One of the best fish and chips I experienced on our trip”.

Click here to view Dan’s post on Ballynahinch Castle.

See you at our next adventure, Cliff of Moher.

 

A Sunset to Remember

The Irish Countryside

We made our way toward Clifden and the Sky Road for a sunset shoot; eventually ending up at Ballynahinch Castle Hotel for the evening.

I would have to agree with Dan’s statement, “Cong to Roundstone via Maam Cross is a beautiful drive through the Irish countryside.”  Maam Cross, meaning “the burned house”, is a crossroad in Connemara, County Galway, Ireland. With several peat bogs around the area, we now have a sense of the smell burning peat gives off; it is quite unmistakable.” The images below are sites we saw along the road as we traveled towards our sunset location.

Roundstone

Today, Roundstone is a popular holiday resort renowned among artists and naturalists for the remarkable beauty of the surrounding mountains and seascapes.

In Roundstone you will find a busy harbour where local fishermen prepare and return with the day’s catch, featuring a mix of Lobster, Crab, Shrimp, Mackerel, Cod plus a variety of other fish. The town itself boasts a good choice of Bars and Seafood Restaurants crammed full of locally caught seafood.  -http://www.roundstone-connemara.com

We stopped to stretch our legs and have dinner at O’Dawd’s of Roundstone. As we walked around the harbour, a couple out walking their dog had stopped to chat. They provided some history of the city and some information on the daily catch.  The pup certainly enjoyed chewing on a few crab legs!

We could not have asked for a more beautiful sunset to end this incredible day. We traveled a portion of the Sky Road as we headed west out of Clifden. Part way around the loop is a car park where we decided to stop and take in the sunset. We set up our cameras and enjoyed the views over Clifden Bay. As we watched the sun drop lower and lower on the horizon, we noticed some movement on the hill behind us. To our amazement, we watched a cow slowing walk to the edge and stand there seemingly watching the sunset with us; almost like it was a daily routine. Not long after the first cow appeared, another one joined. The two cows greeted each other and watched the sunset together. Their actions truly warmed my heart and brought imaginative stories to my mind of how these cows lovingly took the time to watch the beauty mother nature can provide. I think of that memory often.

The videos attached will provide you with additional insight into the area we were traveling in during this part of the trip… Enjoy!

Embrace the Wild Atlantic Way of Life

Soundtrack of Embrace the Wild Atlantic Way of Life by Walking on Cars  (My favorite band)– check out their CD – Everything This Way

Soaring over the Wild Atlantic Way

To see Dan’s post from this portion of our trip click on the following links:
Roundstone
Clifden

I hope this finds you all safe and healthy. See you at our next stop!

Our Drive Continues – Cong, Ireland

Our sixth day in Ireland was a full one; this post is just the half of it.  We started off at Aughnanure Castle and drove part way around Lough Corrib to Ross Errilly Franciscan Friary.  We continued our loop around the lough to the North and arrived in Cong. The city is situated on an island formed by a number of streams that surround it on all sides and is known for its underground streams that connect Lough Corrib with Lough Mask to the North.

Cong Abbey

The ruins of the former Augustinian abbey mostly date to the 13th century and have been described as featuring some of the finest examples of early Gothic architecture and masonry in Ireland.

The Monk’s Fishing House is located on the former grounds of Cong Abbey. This ingenious structure was built sometime in the 16th century on a platform over the River Cong. A small arched opening allows the river to flow underneath the floor of the building and a trapdoor allowed the monks to drop a net to catch fish. A line was then connected to the kitchen in the monastery to alert of a fresh catch. The house also had a chimney and a fireplace to keep the monks nice and warm whilst fishing.

The day was still young; we made our way West toward the next destination, Roundstone and beyond. See you all there!

Click here to view Dan’s post from that day.

Ross Errilly Franciscan Friary

After spending a couple hours at Aughnanure Castle, we started our adventure for the day. One of my favorite pastimes is to drive the countryside just exploring roads never seen. Well, it certainly paid off this day! Driving along taking in the beautiful Ireland scenery, we spotted a bell tower off in the distance and decided to head that way to investigate. This was the route we were following as we drove around Lough Corrib.

To our astonishment, we ran into one of the most impressive and complete Franciscan foundations in Ireland. While we were getting our camera’s situated, a nice gentleman came walking down to road to greet us. He continued to walk with us to the ruins while providing us with a wonderful historical account of the friary. We spent a lot of time here; it is very easy to do and there was so much to explore!  I would have to agree with Dan, “The structure and surrounding countryside is quite picturesque.  It is easy to image the monks living here and farming the land.”

The Franciscan friary of Ross Errilly lies on the banks of the Black River, a natural border which divides the modern counties of Galway and Mayo before it enters Lough Corrib.  One of the most impressive surviving Franciscan friaries in Ireland, Ross Errilly is located 2km North West of the Galway village of Headford.  It was founded at some point between the mid-fourteenth and late fifteenth centuries.

The church and bell tower are to the south of a small but well preserved central cloister and domestic buildings are to the north. Among these are a kitchen (equipped with an oven and a water tank for live fish from the river), a bake house, and a refectory or dining area. The dormitories are on the upper levels. One unusual feature is a second courtyard or cloister, built to accommodate the friary’s growing population.

Like many other abandoned Christian sites in Ireland, Ross Errilly has continued to be used as a burial ground by area residents. In addition to tombs that date from the friary’s active period, many graves dating from the 18th through 20th centuries can be found inside the church walls. In some cases, tombstones comprise the floors of walkways and crawlspaces. ~ monastic.ie

The decline of Ross Errilly Friary

After that Ross Abbey was occupied on and off until around 1753 when it finally had to be abandoned.  Practicing the Catholic faith was illegal under the penal laws, and the penalties were severe. It came to the stage where local support for the monks while they were living in the building was no longer viable. The monks then built huts on a small river island nearby. enjoy-irish-culture.com

Today, the ruin of Ross Errilly is maintained by the Office of Public Works and is open to the public free of charge. It has been used as a filming location for Bad Karma, The Suicide Club, Moving Target & the series Reign.

Another wonderful memory made! I was in awe of the history and character that filled this place and feel very fortunate that we had the chance to experience this site. Here is a short video Dan made while walking through a section of the ruins (do not pay attention to my geeky self) 😉

A portion of our walk through (dantraun.com)

You can see Dan’s post and images from this day here.

Have a wonderful week everyone and stay safe. Sending love to all of you; see you at our next stop!