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A Drive in the Countryside to See Ashford Castle

Posted by on September 2, 2018

We left the city life of Galway behind and headed for the remote Irish countryside on our road-trip around Ireland.

Our scenic drive took us along Lough Corrib, the largest lake in Ireland, to the quaint town of Cong. If you are a John Wayne fan, you might recognize this picturesque spot as the fictitious town of Inisfree in the movie. We can see why director John Ford picked this location, it is one of the most beautiful areas we have seen so far on this trip.

Enviously, I watched as a few fly-fishermen cast their lines into the Cong River in search of salmon. A young girl walked by with her father caring a salmon almost as long as she was! I really wanted to get my rod and real and go after one, but unfortunately I left them back in the U.S. Oh well, just one more reason to come back to Ireland.

We strolled through the ruins of Cong Abbey. Apparently, the local monks used to fish in the river for their supper. Lucky guys! I guess they didn’t have a problem recruiting some men to their ranks.

We crossed the river and continued through an old stone arch to a nature trail that meandered through the woods. About a mile into the wood, we saw a sign for Ashford Castle, so, of course, we had to investigate. The path opened up onto a large well-manicured green lawn. Across the yard was an imposing dark grey stone castle. Elijah and I realized straight away that we were not supposed to be here. Mish, however, wanted a better look. We hung back on the edge of the wood as Mish boldly walked out across the lawn. Sure enough, a dapper dressed castle guard driving a golf cart came out of nowhere in pursuit. Elijah and I bid a hasty retreat back into the safety of the wood. I really hoped Mish did not get detained. Luckily, she shortly came back giving us a very disapproving look. We’re not cowards, just more cautious.

We decided to keep to the woods and follow the path. Deeper in we found Guinness Tower. This six story stone structure was built by Benjamin Guinness, who was the grandson of no other than the legendary Arthur Guinness himself, as an observation platform. It sits alone in the dark forest as if it is not supposed to be discovered. There is definitely a fairy tale quality about it. We climbed the old steps inside to the top, where we were rewarded with a view of the forest canopy. Only in Ireland can you stumble across old castles and ruins when out for a short walk.

We climbed down and went back into town. We had worked up an appetite so sat down for a late breakfast in The Hungry Monk. We all had eggs with fresh salmon. The meal was delicious and the servers were very friendly and welcoming. It doesn’t get more authentic Irish than this!

To top of a lovely morning, we came across a Guinness truck parked in the middle of the street. Can it get any better?

Our next stop is Kylemore Abbey. I have seen many pictures of this castle and am very anxious to experience it in person. So, I will let everyone know if it is as impressive as the pictures.

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