Monday, September 7

Into Co. Mayo, and other places

I was at Carrick On Shannon farmer's market with Dana, from California, who is staying at Carrowcrory for a few days.


While there she mentioned she wanted to get some wool blankets as gifts for friends.

As the morning was misty and drizzling I was not sparked to suggest going to the woollen outlets of Co. Donegal so I suggested that the nearer Foxford Mills in Co. Mayo should be suitable.

On the way to Foxford, Dana talked to me about her love of old windmills ... so it was promptly a diversion to Elphin Windmill ...


After some chat and storytelling from the community keeper there we made our way to Swinford, Co. Mayo and onto Foxford Mills.

I did not take any pics at Foxford Mills but we had a good lunch and Dana found a bunch of good wooden items that she also arranged to ship home plus got excepted from VAT.

I thought that was our mission for the day accomplished and we would return to Carrowcrory Cottage ... but Dana does not have much more time in Ireland so I thought a trip to Westport would be nice as the town is only just over 30 mins from Foxford.

As we entered Westport words like 'touristy' came out from Dana ... so I kept going through and out of the town, headed west  and stopped at St. Patrick's Well not far past the Croagh Patrick, Reek, climb start. There is no sign here.

This well is in an old graveyard and could easily be missed there. It is at a lower level than the graves.


It was dry today, no water at all.

The view of The Reek from the graveyard, still somewhat misty but the top not covered yet ...


and there are several small holly trees scattered among the graves ...


From here we carried on to one of my favourite places in Ireland, Old Head, where an ancient oak forest meets the beach ... so here is a beach view looking at The Reek ...


A more moody close up of The Reek ...


I love to take pics of this tree by the beach, always looks a bit oriental ...


We did take the woodland walk for awhile too ...


but I did not take any further pics of there this time.

I like the ice cream from the ice cream parlour here,


but that is already closed after the season.

I looked at the time and the day was still young, so I suggested to Dana that we take a road trip through the mountains, through the Doolough Pass to Leenane and Killary Harbour as she may not see other mountain ranges like this while in Ireland.

On the way to the pass I took a short detour to a wedge cairn I was familiar with, Sraith Bhui Wedge Tomb ...


A rear shot ...



This is the sign beside it ...


This is obviously Site 13. It's cap stone top was used as an alter for Mass during penal times.

From here, it was off into and through the Doolough Pass we did go ...


This is the route of an awful famine tragedy that I find does not make sense and should never have happened. We are reminded of this by a cross monument in this valley ...


On 30th March, 1849, Westport Poor Law Union officials were to meet with hungry people in Louisburgh to inspect claimants of food relief to judge who qualifies. For some reason these officials arrived at Delphi Lodge, at the other end of the pass. Instead of travelling to Louisburgh they insisted the hungry people travelled through the pass during the night through awful weather on that night.

Though 12 miles walk in distance, which many of us could walk with fair ease, these people were very weak and some died on the walk there, and more died on the walk back.

Another question I ask is that the nearby seashore by Louisburgh is full of shellfish, seaweed and nearshore fish. How did this not feed people too?

This human tragedy that should never have happened is revered each year though people walking this pass on 30th March and often led by people including Desmond Tutu, Dunn Stores Strikers and others ...


We passed Delphi Lodge, over the hill to go around the shore of Killary Harbour, and a quick tour around Leenane, but no pics taken during this time.

Leenane has had quite a revamp over the last couple of years. Famous for being the site of The Field movie it seemed to be going downhill for awhile.


Today it seems only two pubs have survived. Of course, these are Hamilton's and Gaynor's.


There are suddenly several dining places here that were former pubs, grocery stores and gift shops.

The once quaint Leenane Hotel seems to have expanded a lot


and how it once looked ...


and now features a Seaweed Baths facility too.


I doubt if B&B rates are €40 per person any more :-)

Turning towards home we went cross country to include a visit to Aghagower to include taking a pic of the elusive Sheela na Gig there.

I still could not get a decent photo ...


A look at the two dried up holy wells here ...


A sign over one of them ...


It was getting dark now ... so time to go home to Carrowcrory Cottage after a very full adventure day ...