By Hook or By Crook

Hook Peninsula is the “Hook” in “By Hook or by Crook.”  Hook and Crook are the names of headlands on either side of a bay by Waterford, Ireland.  Hook Head and Crooke are on opposite sides of the Waterford channel.

Loftus Hall

As we traveled along Hook Peninsula toward Hook Head, we passed Loftus Hall.  Loftus Hall is a large mansion built on the site of the original Redmond Hall. It is said by locals to be haunted by the devil and the ghost of a young woman. In most recent times, the house was ran as a tourist attraction with haunted guided tours; I would have loved to see the inside. The Lodgers, a 2017 gothic thriller, was also shot at this location. For those of you that are interested, the mansion is on the market for $2.87 m.

Hook Head Lighthouse

The lighthouse is situated on Hook Head at the tip of the Hook Peninsula in County Wexford, in Ireland. It is one of the oldest lighthouses in the world and the second oldest operating lighthouse in the world. It is operated by the Commissioners of Irish Lights, the Irish Lighthouse Authority, it marks the eastern entrance to Waterford Harbor. Hook Lighthouse is one of the most fascinating examples of medieval architecture in Ireland. The tower stands four stories high with walls up to 4m thick. The current structure has stood for 849 years as of 2021. ~ Wikipedia

We wandered the grounds of this astounding lighthouse and our breaths were again taken away by the beauty of this location. Looking out to the sea, it was hard to image the ships this lighthouse has warned of the dangerous rocks in the area and brought them to safety. While looking out to the sea, we thought we saw a person at first in the cold Atlantic, but then it was gone as quickly as it appeared. Looking out again, we saw the head appear and we might have thought, “did we just see a mermaid perhaps?” 😉 Nope, not a mermaid, but we had a very curious seal keeping an eye on us. It was fun to watch for a while, but we needed to head on our way.

To see Dan’s post from this leg of our trip, click HERE

See you at our next stop!

 

The Gap of Dunloe, County Kerry – Republic of Ireland

I agree with Dan when he said, “The Gap of Dunloe in an absolute jewel of the Emerald Isle”.   The Gap of Dunloe or the Valley of Echoes was formed 25,000 years ago during Ireland’s last ice age as a result of a “glacial breach”. This is where a glacier in the Black Valley which was part of the Templenoe Icecap, estimated to be over 500 metres deep, broke through the Head of the Gap and moved northwards carving out this magical U-shaped valley. The glen is a place of enchantment and full of legend and lore. It was an old tradition to ‘wake the valley’ by blowing a horn. One of the most famous local horn-blowers was Paddy Boyle with his magic bugle. It would have been wonderful to hear that bugle, instead we gave it our best “Woohoo”. There are five lakes within the Gap of Dunloe.  Coosaun Lough, Black Lake, Cushnavally Lake, Auger Lake, and Black Lough; all connected by the River Loe. Between the first two lakes is an old arch bridge called the Wishing Bridge. Locals claim that wishes made while upon it are destined to come true. The bridge was a beautiful piece of architecture that has probably lasted for hundreds of years.

The abandoned Arbutus Cottages sit at the base of the gap and have been left in ruins. Of course, Dan and I had to stop for pictures. We have learned so many times to stop and capture these sites. Sometimes you can almost hear the stories they have to tell as the wind blows through the open windows. The light that shines through these ruins can definitely add character and atmosphere.

We must have passed through the Gap of Dunloe a handful of times but never during the day from roughly 10am-4pm as it is quite the tourist attraction.  The road is open to the public and locals use it often, but they even try to stay off the road during the busy hours. With our B & B on the other side, we needed to travel the very narrow road and we were never disappointed.  Since the road is very narrow (mostly one lane) and there is high pedestrian and carriage traffic, I would recommend hiking this beautiful area or supporting local business and taking a ride on a horse-drawn trap.

As we made our way back to the B & B, we decided to stop for Dinner at Kate Kearney’s Cottage and walk around the town for a wee bit. During our walk, we were approached by a local who asked if we would like a ride on the horse drawn trap and we accepted. The ride was a wonderful experience, and we feel fortunate that this lovely man had approached us even though most were done for the night. His pony, Lucy, was absolutely stunning and was very well mannered – Thanks Paul and Lucy; you provided a memory that will last a life time!

A popular form of transport for tourists is the horse-drawn trap, a cart where up to four occupants sit facing each other. The traps are guided by men from families that live in and around the Gap. These ponymen use a rotation system called the Turn which determines who takes the next customers. The Turn has been in existence since the 1920s and is passed down in the families to the next generation. – Wikipedia

You can see Dan’s post and images from this area here:

Dan Traun – Gap of Dunloe – Part 1

Dan Traun – Gap of Dunloe – Part 2

I hope you enjoyed this area as much as we did. See you on our next adventure!

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!

Aughnanure Castle

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.

You can view Dan’s post about this site here.

This was our morning stop; I cannot wait to share more of this day with you. See you all very soon!

Mweelrea Mountains and Killary Fjord – Enjoy Ireland!

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.

Killary Harbour

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.

View Dan’s blog here: Mweelrea Mountains & Killary Fjord – County Mayo_Galway

Thanks for coming along on this trip with us! Enjoy your day and be well, I will see you all very soon.

Just Take That Turn

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!

Downhill Demesne and the Mussenden Temple, Part 4/4

The Mausoleum was built a distance away from the Downhill Castle to the South. Constructed in 1783 in honor of his lordship’s elder brother George, 2nd Earl of Bristol, who died in 1775.  In 1839, a hurricane damaged the structure which has laid in ruin ever since. The mausoleum stands between the Lion’s Gate and the Bishop’s Gate.

The Lion’s Gate was one of the access points to the property; Bishops Gate is the other access point.

We were not able to visit all areas of the property since time was ticking and we had to be on our way to the next area of exploration in the Republic of Ireland.  We very much enjoyed Northern Ireland and will be back someday.

 

Downhill Demesne and the Mussenden Temple, Part 1/4

Downhill Castle was built by the eccentric Frederick Hervey, 4th Earl of Bristol and Lord Bishop of Derry. The building of this massive structure began in 1772 which continued with the rear courtyards until the early 1790s.

Downhill Demesne, the Mussenden Temple, the grounds encompassing the temple, and its manor house (Downhill Castle) is now a National Trust property and is open to the public all year, from dawn to dusk. I would highly recommend a stop if ever in the area; the grounds and what it holds are beyond beautiful.

In the feudal system, a demesne was all the land which was retained by a lord of the manor for his own use and occupation or support, under his own management, as distinguished from land enfeoffed by him to others as sub-tenants.

The Demesne also includes a dovecote, walled gardens, a belvedere, or summer house, built for the Earl-Bishop’s daughter and a mausoleum dedicated to his brother George, 3rd Earl of Bristol, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. Travel along with us as we get closer to the remarkable structures that the property contains.

A Beautiful Morning with the Giant

Dan and I had already experienced so much and this, our third day, did not disappoint. We woke up early and drove to our next area on our must see attractions in Ireland. We parked the car and walked the road down to take in this beautiful site… The Giants Causeway. It was a beautiful morning and we had the area to ourselves. The rock formations and basalt columns in this area were formed over 60 million years ago by volcanic activity. Most of the columns are hexagonal, although there are also some with four, five, seven or even eight sides and tallest columns are roughly 39 ft high. While I know the interlocking columns were formed as the result of ancient volcanic activity, but I prefer the story of legend.

The story goes that the Irish giant Fionn mac Cumhaill (Finn MacCool), was challenged to a fight by the Scottish giant Benandonner. Fionn accepted the challenge and built the causeway across the North Channel so that the two giants could meet. Fionn hides from Benandonner when he realizes that his foe is much bigger than he is. Fionn’s wife, Oonagh, disguises Fionn as a baby and tucks him in a cradle. When Benandonner sees the size of the ‘baby’, he reckons that its father, Fionn, must be a giant among giants. He flees back to Scotland in fright, destroying the causeway behind him so that Fionn would be unable to chase him down. Across the sea, there are identical basalt columns (a part of the same ancient lava flow) at Fingal’s Cave on the Scottish isle of Staffa.

We didn’t not have much time to explore as we needed to move on to our next location. We will definitely be back as there is so much more to see and hike. Some of the best-known sights include, but are not limited to, the Harp, the Organ, the Wishing Chair or Throne, the Chimney Stacks, and the Camel, who served as Finn McCool’s horse. Can you spot the Chimney in the background of some of the images?

An Irish Sunset #DiscoverNI

After a nice supper, Dan and I headed back to meet Brian, our wonderful host, at Kilmail Country Chalet. Brain had offered to take us to an overlook to watch the sunset and we graciously accepted.  We would have never experienced the wonder of this place without him. Our first stop was Downhill Beach. We proceeded to drive onto the beach and headed closer towards the Mussenden Temple where one could see the train coming from or going to Coleraine passing through the mountain tunnel.

Downhill Beach is used in the filming of Game of Thrones as Dragonstone, where the Seven Idols of Westeros were burned and Melisandre, as flames dancing into the night sky, proclaimed: “For the night is dark and full of terrors.”

From Downhill Strand, we traveled along a twisting road (The Bishops Road) to higher ground to take in the sunset. This location, Binevenagh Mountain, was very much off the beaten path and not on our itinerary.  We were lucky to have Brian there who shared countless facts and history about these places. The mountain also holds another gem, a statue of a Celtic sea god, Manannan Mac Lir. In the tales, he is said to own a boat named Scuabtuinne (“wave sweeper”), a sea-borne chariot drawn by the horse Enbarr (“water foam”), a powerful sword named Fragarach (“the answerer”), and a cloak of invisibility (féth fíada). He is seen as the ruler and guardian of the Otherworld.

I will be introducing you to giants on our next stop! See you soon.