Country Living, Sheebeen and Hunger Walk

With another irish breakfast under our belts and seaweed soft skin, we headed out for another day.  Our first stop was the only museum of our trip, the Museum of Country Life at Turlough Park in Co. Mayo. And what a museum.  Very well done, modern, with interactive displays and very interesting.

Gina and I had stopped to look at the exhibit of hurling balls, and struck up a conversation with the curator of the exhibit, a young Irish lass by  the name of Clodagh Doyle.  She told us she had been “living and breathing” hurling balls for 5 years.  One of the earliest balls found was made over 800 years ago, and preserved in a bog.

Another exhibit I found interesting was about Irish Travelers.  The origins of this ethnic group are unclear, but the group has been identified as far back as the 12th century.  They are often mistaken for gypsies, but are not related to the Romany Gypsies.  Many have immigrated to the United Stated over the centuries,  there are estimated to be as many as 10,000 living in the States.  I have a very distinct childhood memory, sort of like a faded old snapshot, of a Tinker, as they are sometimes called, in my very small hometown in Kentucky, his horse drawn wagon parked at the bottom of the hill downtown next to the railroad tracks, selling his wares.  (Contrary to what you might think, motor vehicles were prevalent at this time in Kentucky, the Traveler’s cart just happened to be horse-drawn.)

The Country Life Museum was a worthwhile stop, a beautiful setting as well.  And this couple certainly added to the setting:

Rob and kristinia

Down the stairs at the museum


And how was your day, son?

And how was your day


The Turlough Round Tower, visible from the museum grounds.

Tower of turlough


After leaving the museum, Gina and Mother Mary Lou shared a laugh.

Gina and mary llou


After a fine lunch at Cronin’s Sheebeen,  we visited  Croagh Patrick, the holiest mountain in Ireland.  Here, at the statue of Saint Patrick, Jeannie adopts the appropriate pious stance:

Jeannie at croag patrick


The beauty and the beast at Croagh Patrick.

Wes and gina at croag patrick

Several of the group wanted to pay homage by walking up to the top of the Shrine on our knees, but Sean, our intrepid guide, said we didn’t have enough time.  Some information on Croagh Patrick. 


We then drove to the Doolough Valley, the path of the tragic hunger walk where, during the famine of the 1840s, up to 400 poor Irish died on a stormy night after walking from Louisburg to the Delphi Lodge to get an allotment of food.

This is a lovely valley, and the Black Lake looks like a jewel in the valley.

Doolough soft colors


But on a dark and dreary day, you can almost hear the souls of the lost Irish calling out from the depth of the lake and the unmarked burial spots along the road.

Doolough sinister

It was a terrible time for Ireland, made much more difficult by the uncaring British overlords who were exporting food from their estates while the Irish starved.  The small shrine below commemorating the tragedy.

Doolough shrine


This interesting plot next to the shrine provided some mystery until Kristinia and I decided that it was the burial spot for the favored hound of the Lord of the Delphi Lodge.

Doolough dog burial plot


The weather had turned gloomy while we were at the Black Lake, but as we drove to the Connemara National Park, things brightened considerably.

Pond at connemara park


Sean demonstrated his seesaw abilities to Kathy, for which she was quite grateful.  In the background, Doug with his BIGGER camera is racing to get a shot of this historic occurrence.

Sean and sawhorse


I think the Connemara region is one of my favorite spots in Ireland, just behind the Co. Antrim coast.

View from connemara national park 1

View from connamara 2

View from connemara 3


The picture below is that of a neolithic circle of stones Rick and I discovered.  After some study, we determined that the ancient Celts used the circle for religious purposes, including the sacrifice of Irish virgins to mollify the gods.

Connemara sacred cicrle


After this remarkable discovery, We all loaded up and headed out for a night at the Abbyglen Castle Hotel, outside the town of Clifton, Co. Galway.

Another full day and a great dinner at the Abbyglen, we retired for a much needed night sleep.  In case you hadn’t guessed by now, our days were very full and there was no problem sleeping.

Dinner at the Abbyglen

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