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Northern Jewels of Ireland

Here we are on the West Coast of Ireland going Clockwise around all of Ireland.

On Thursday 30 October, we travelled through the rounded limestone hills of the Burren to Caherconnell and watched skilled dogs work with a farmer to round up sheep.

Limestone Hills of Caherconnel
The sheep dogs working the sheep through voice and whistle commands by the handler
The dogs working with cattle

A dolmen, also known as a portal tomb, portal grave or quoit, is a type of single-chamber megalithic tomb, usually consisting of two or more upright stones supporting a large flat horizontal capstone (table), although there are also more complex variants. Most date from the early Neolithic period (4000 to 3000 BC). Dolmens were typically covered with earth or smaller stones to form a barrow. In many instances, that covering has weathered away, leaving only the stone skeleton of the burial mound intact.
Rounded limestone hills of the Burren
Galway Bay
Eyre Square in Galway. As Galway is an ancient Norman city originally, the streets are very narrow.
The walking street in Galway
The remains of the Lynch Mansion. James Lynch Fitzstephen had been one of the most successful of the citizens in promoting commerce with Spain, which he had himself personally visited, having been received with every mark of hospitality. To make some return for all this kindness, he proposed and obtained permission from his Spanish host to take his only son back with him to Ireland. The mayor had also an only son, unfortunately addicted to evil company, but who, he hoped, was likely to reform, from the circumstance of his being attached to a Galway lady of good family. And so it might have proved had he not jealously fancied that the lady looked too graciously upon the Spaniard. Roused to madness, he watched the latter out of the house, stabbed him, and then, stung with remorse, gave himself up to justice, to his father's unutterable dismay. Notwithstanding the entreaties of the town folk, with whom the youth was a favorite, the stern parent passed sentence of death, and actually hanged him from the window with his own hand. Thus we have gained the sayings, "to lynch someone" and "lynching".

In Market Street, at the back of St. Nicholas's Church, is the "Lynch Stone," bearing the following inscription:
"This memorial of the stern and unbending justice of the chief magistrate of this city, James Lynch Fitzstephen, elected mayor A.D. 1493, who condemned and executed his own guilty son, Walter, on this spot, has been restored to its ancient site."
Below this is a stone with a skull and cross-bones, and this inscription:

Remember Deathe Vaniti of Vaniti and al is but vaniti.

Friday 31 October, we drove through Connemara to Leenane for a short catamaran cruise of Killary Harbour to view great scenery and traces of pre-Famine potato fields.
These small holdings were used to grow potatoes by shareholders before the potato blight struck....the potato famine
Killary Harbour
Mussell farming on Killary Fjord
Hills go right down to the water's edge

We toured Kylemore Abbey, a splendid mansion set on a peaceful lake with a lovely chapel. We enjoyed lunch and strolled through the Victorian gardens before returning to Galway. Kylemore Castle was built as a private home for the family of Mitchell Henry, a wealthy doctor from London whose family was involved in textile manufacturing in Manchester, England. He moved to Ireland when he and his wife Margaret purchased the land around the Abbey. He became a politician, becoming an MP for County Galway from 1871 to 1885. The castle was designed by James Franklin Fuller, aided by Usher Roberts. Construction first began in 1867, and took one hundred men four years to complete.

Kylemore Abbey is a Benedictine monastery founded in 1920 on the grounds of Kylemore Castle, in Connemara, County Galway. The abbey was founded for Benedictine Nuns who fled Belgium in World War I after their abbey near Ypres was destroyed.

Plan of the imposing Abbey and gardens
The Abbey is built on its own private fresh water lake
The lake
The walled Victorian gardens are built on an Irish bog and enclose 2.5 hectares
The gardens are planted only with plants from the Victorian period
The vegetable gardens

Later in the afternoon we drove across Connemara, a region where Irish Gaelic is spoken fluently and quite exclusively. Of course, we stopped for retail therapy and Irish coffees at Standun of Spiddal where people bought Aran Island knit ware.
Aran Island knitware

On Saturday 1 November we drove north into County Mayo to visit the pilgrimage town of Knock and in County Sligo to view W. B. Yeats’ Grave.

There is a Basilica at Knock, site of a miracle. I didn't bother to take a photo of it. Instead here is a photo of the carpark with spaces for about 100 buses.
Bus parking

Further north we came to Dumcliffe where WB Yeats (William Butler Yeats) is buried in the churchyard. William Butler Yeats (13 June 1865 – 28 January 1939) was an Irish poet and one of the foremost figures of 20th century literature. A pillar of both the Irish and British literary establishments, in his later years he served as an Irish Senator for two terms. Yeats was a driving force behind the Irish Literary Revival and, along with Lady Gregory, Edward Martyn, and others, founded the Abbey Theatre, where he served as its chief during its early years. In 1923 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature as the first Irishman so honoured for what the Nobel Committee described as "inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation." Yeats is generally considered one of the few writers who completed their greatest works after being awarded the Nobel Prize; such works include The Tower (1928) and The Winding Stair and Other Poems (1929).

Dumcliffe Church
William Butler Yeats
The grave of William Butler Yeats and his wife George

We toured the Belleek Pottery Factory, founded in the mid-19th century, to see craftspeople create the renowned fine china.
Belleek Pottery established 1857
Belleek Pottery - great product and reasonable prices to ship home
This building across this small river is in Ireland and the Belleek Pottery across the river is in Northern Ireland. Euros one side and £ on the other side.

On Sunday 2 November, we drove along the coast to view Slieve League sea cliffs, the highest in Europe. The cliffs drop straight down to the wild Atlantic waves. The cliffs at 601 metres are more than three times higher than the more well known Cliffs of Moher.

Slieve League is often photographed from a viewpoint known as Bunglass. It can be reached by means of a narrow road that departs from Teelin. The final few kilometers of this route is built along a precipice and includes several places where it turns at the crest of a rise.

Donegal Bay
The road up to the cliffs
The Slieve League Cliffs
Mountain sheep are grazed in this high country

We drove through some fairly empty country of bogs and sheep raising to visit Triona Design in Ardara for demonstrations of spinning and knitting. This was another opportunity for retail therapy with fine tweed clothing.
Weaving loom. The purple is their signature design.
The spinning wheel

We returned to Donegal town for a tour of Donegal Castle, built by the O’Donnell chieftain in the 15th century.

Donegal Castle

The ceiling of the castle uses wooden dowels in constructions therefore no nails.
Annals of the Four Masters
The square in Donegal is called The Diamond
Parking rules and stop signs are purely advisory!!!

In the morning we move into Northern Ireland with our next night's stop being in Belfast.

Posted by Kangatraveller 08:26

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