20 Years From Now...

"20 YEARS FROM NOW," Mark Twain said, “you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than the ones you did.”THIS online journal is dedicated to our next 20 years!

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way: Killarney National Park to Achill Island

The final leg of our Irish adventure took us through Killarney National Park

This expansive park of more than 25,000 acres includes one of the few areas in Ireland that has been continuously covered by woodland since the last ice age.

Its scenic lookouts, even on an overcast day, are stunning.

While still in the park we visited O'Sullivan's Cascade that is surrounded by yew woodlands.

Continuing further north we visited the village of Cong.

Cong Abbey was founded in 623 AD and it is considered one of the best examples of early architecture in all of Ireland.

Sadly, the monastery was suppressed during the reign of Henry VIII and fell into ruin.

In the 1850s Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness, owner of Ashford Castle, decided to restore the monastery. Although it is no where near functional the rubble and debris was removed and once again people from all walks of life can stroll through this historic site. 

I'm standing a few yard away from the fishing house monks used during the winter months. They lit a fire inside to keep warm while catching their daily meal.

The monastery grounds also includes a large wooded area with redwood trees - something we certainly did not expect to see in Ireland!

Back in the village proper there is lots to see and plenty of photographic opportunities.

A lovely thatched cottage alongside the Cong River.

I have no idea what kind of potted plant this is, but it was about three feet tall and sat outside one of the shops.

Cong has Hollywood connections that still linger today. In 1951 John Ford's movie "The Quiet Man" starring John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara and Barry  Fitzgerald was filmed here. Visitors can visit The Quiet Man Museum or take a selfie with the bronze statue of Wayne and O'Hara. 

Ryans Hotel (below) served a delicious lunch.

We sat on the outdoor patio that overlooked the Cong River.

Then, to walk off a few of those extra calories we walked around town.

Heading further north to the beautiful Achill Island. We'd first hear about the island from the bikers we met at the beginning of our Irish adventure and were fortunate to have two final days to see it for ourselves. It seemed that on Achill sheep outnumbered vehicles.

The yellow coloured shrub is gorse, a thorny evergreen shrub that thrives in this climate.

Barren vistas.

Another sheep traffic jam that brought us to a stand still. (The baa-ing was thunderous!)

Travelling as far west as the narrow, windy road would allow we drove past more sheep who ignored not only our presence but the car itself.

No guard rails here.

What a view to sit a spell. These guys know a good thing when they see it!

Keem Beach is at the end of the road and we were so lucky to see it in bathed in sunshine.

Heading back to our hotel the views continued to impress.

Our final night in Ireland we stayed at the lovely and welcoming Achill Island hotel before returning our rental car to the Knock West Ireland Airport and flying to Gatwick. We covered a great deal of ground during our 12 days in Ireland and look forward to a return trip to explore the rest of this fascinating island. 

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