Monday, September 14, 2015

Day 5 of the Giant Irish Adventure

Our day began traveling through North Mayo, one of Europe's least populated areas.
Driving through the town of Mayo...
Known for its fresh seafood.
We visited Turlough Park House, part of the National Museum of Ireland. The house was built in 1865 for the Fitzgerald family and remained in the same family until 1991 when it was purchased by Mayo Co, Council. It was proposed to open the house as a museum which led to the decision to locate part of the National Museum here. Another building was added to house such a large exhibit.
The museum exhibits center around the history of Irish "Country Life." Galleries depict the impact of the Great Famine, the years when Irish farmers were tenants of the landowners' lands, with no hope of getting ahead or land of their own.
When tenants raised the rent beyond what farmers could afford, there began a mass migration and a drastic drop in population as Irish families emigrated to America and other places.
We learned how important the use of natural resources was in their daily life.
Straw was used for everything imaginable.

Outside the house and museum are 30 acres of gardens and grounds remaining of what was once 8500 acres of the Turlough Estate.
There are paths and wagon roads to meander through the woodlands.
The artwork on the grounds reflects various artists' interpretations of the years of emigration....leaving families and homeland in hopes of a better life.

"Migration is Beautiful." The butterfly is the symbol the United Nations uses for migration.
"The Ones You Left Behind You"....explained below.

How it was artfully presented in the woods.
"Coming and Going" Built from recycled materials, the suitcases represent the skills and talents individuals brought with them. The signage holds the hope and aspirations for the future, and footsteps (leading up the hill), the work it takes to make it happen.
And then there was the hunt for fairies...

I found a fairy tree...

Look who I found singing in the Fairy Tree!
This thatched is a demonstration of the building of traditional cottages using sustainable, biodegradable, and renewable natural resources.  
You can see by the layers how the structure was made and what materials were used.

These are stereoscopes... instruments in which two photos of the same object taken at different angles are combined to give a three dimensional effect.
By peering in them you can imagine what this cottage may have looked like when furnished.
And then there were the flower gardens...
No time to linger though...we have more to do.
Our next stop was for a short brisk walk and a photo op here...but I forgot its significance, sorry.
There were swan boats and real swans.
Another new bird for me...a Hooded Crow.
But we have places to go and mountains to climb!
That's Croagh Patrick with its summit in the clouds. Don't worry though because Dee says we don't have time to go all the way to the top. We'll just go part way for some beautiful views.
There's a pretty good view from the parking lot.
But this is where we're headed.
We'll each make our own private pilgrimage...with good intentions anyway.
The first stop to catch our breath is at the statue of St. Patrick.  I'm still breathing while the others are going on ahead.
I'm coming! The trail is rocky. Dee says some people climb the mountain on their knees.
Parts of the trail are wet. I may be on my knees soon.
Some places you have to climb over larger rocks.
But the views are worth it.

Right about here some of us decided the views couldn't get any better, so we started back down. Some went on for one more viewpoint a little higher.

Pick your own path, but choose your foot steps carefully.
And do stop to enjoy the beauty of it all.

Maybe I should have read these signs first.

We all made it down without having to be rescued.
The rains started again as we journeyed on toward Killarey Harbour, Ireland's only fjord.
But we had a lively ride through some wild and rugged landscape and stunning landscape. Want to see what we saw? Click the video.
Looking toward Killarey Fjord.
Tina trying to wipe the fog off the window to get a picture of a waterfall.
Maybe hers turned out better than mine, lol.
But notice how the rain magically stopped when we came to this faerie tree.
And rainbow appeared. Those are oyster farms...the rows of buoys in the water.
Thank you, Faeries.
We only had time to stop for a photo op at Kylemore Abbey, one of Ireland's most beautiful buildings.
There are extensive grounds and gardens as well as the Abbey that can be toured...if there had been time.
But that's ok, because we are on our way to spend the night in Abbeyglen Castle! 

Katie tries out the throne in the entryway.
Be sure to sanitize your hands before entering the castle.
And we were treated like Royalty. 

Dinner was elegantly served.
Twinkling staircase.
They were burning turf (peat) logs in the fireplaces.
And that was the end of another adventurous day.

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