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.

County Donegal and the Old Dunlewey Church

After spending the morning hiking and taking in the sights of Glenveagh Castle and its grounds, we traveled the roads heading south to our next bed and breakfast and found many treasures along the way.

Not too far from Glenveugh National Park, near Gweedore in County Donegal lies a gem in ruins… The Old Church of Dunlewey. I could only imagine what beauty this church once held and would have loved to see the stained glass that adorned the windows. Constructed of white marble and blue quartzite, I am sure this building will stand for many years to come. It is a beautiful building and is a lasting memorial to a great love affair. That of James Russell, once the landlord of the Dunlewey estate in Donegal, and his wife Jane.

Nestled at the foot of Errigal (the hightest mountain in County Donegal) and overlooking the beautiful Poisoned Glen sits the beautiful ‘Old Church of Dunlewey’.

Jane Smith Russell had the church built as a memorial to her husband, James Russell, landlord of the Dunlewey Estate, who died on 2nd September 1848.  James Russell was laid to rest in a vault under the church floor.  The church was consecrated on 1st September 1853 as a Chapel of Ease to Tullaghabegley.  Tullaghabegley was the parish consisting of the present-day Gweedore and Cloughaneely parishes.

The church is built of white marble and blue quartzite which was quarried locally.  The supply of marble in the nearby quarry has now been depleted.  The red brick in the arches of the windows was produced locally.  Remnants of the brickfield are still visible near Oilean Ghrainne when the level of the lake is lowered.

Stop by and see Dan’s images if the Old Dunlewey Church: http://traun-photo.com/dan/dunlewey-church/

The Dark Hedges

Dan and I had the opportunity to visit Ireland a few years ago and I am finally getting around to working on the numerous albums that were created during our visit.  Revisiting these images (there are thousands of them) has been a treat but has made me miss Ireland even more 😉 What can I say about Ireland? It was a magical experience. The people were friendly, the lodging and hospitality was perfect and the beauty of this country is just stunning, absolutely stunning. I cannot wait for the day that we return as there is so much more for us to explore.

We stayed at this lovely bed and breakfast the first two nights we were in Ireland. The owners of this beautiful home (Kilmail Country Chalet) were wonderful hosts, the lodging was extremely comfortable, and the food was AMAZING! We chose this particular bed and breakfast because if their close vicinity to Giants Causeway and The Dark Hedges (The Kingsroad). We were lucky enough to visit the Dark Hedges twice during our stay. After a brief hail shower in the morning of the second day, we headed out to photograph this national treasure again. The comments noted below and the image of the delicious traditional Irish breakfast was taken from Dan’s blog:

The beech tree-line road is one of the most photographed natural landmarks on the island of Ireland.  This tourist attraction recently achieved global prominence after it appeared on the hit HBO series Game of Thrones.  In January 2016, Storm Gertrude damaged several of the 200+ year old trees.  The site is still a vision to behold, but it is a fraction of what it once was; only 90 of the approximately 150 trees remain standing.

We had two opportunities to shoot this natural wonder.  Our first view of this natural marvel was the morning of day 2 of our trip after a hearty traditional Irish breakfast while we waiting out a brief storm where a wee bit of hail fell.   When we arrived at The Dark Hedges it was everything but dark.  The sky was bright and full of clouds; the remnants of the earlier hail shower still lingering.  The harsh sun cast deep and heavy shadows.  You can easily see the gaps that Storm Gertrude made in some of these images, 

Kilmail Country Chalet Breakfast
Kilmail Country Chalet Breakfast

More of Dan’s work can be seen at www.traun-photo/dan/.com

Here are my images of the Dark Hedges from two different days – Enjoy!