West of Ireland: Murrisk, Croagh Patrick and Achil Island

No blog last week as  my wife and I went to the west of Ireland to see our son, daughter in law and twin grandchildren who were over from Dubai. The house in which we all stayed stated on the website “wifi available”, but what it did not say was that wifi was only available from the back of the house i.e. next to the owner’s house and that the wifi connection was intermittent. So, probably worth checking this out next time you rent a house/cottage/flat. We stayed in the village of Murrisk which sits on the estuary. One of the striking features of Murrisk is the National Famine Monument which is a bronze ship. It’s only when you get close to the ship that you realise that the structure is of bronze skeletons, representing the coffin ships, on which many Irish people died when crossing to America during the potato famines in the  19th century. It’s a beautiful, if eerie, work of art. A happier feature of Murrisk is the Tavern Restaurant where we enjoyed some very tasty fish and seafood dishes and I relished the pints of Guiness. In Ireland, Guinness tastes much better than it does in the UK. This is probably due to the way it is poured. In Ireland, a pub will fill 2 or 3 glasses with Guinness and let it settle. In the UK, pubs tend to pour the Guinness into one pint glass.

Murrisk sits at the bottom of the famous Croagh (pr Croak) Patrick hill/mountain. It’s known as the Holy Mountain and each year Christian pilgrims flock to the site and climb to the top. There is archaeological evidence that this was an important place hundreds of years before St Patrick visited. It is said that St Patrick allegedly rid Ireland of snakes here, and to be fair to the man, we didn’t come across any snakes. It is a very rocky climb and you have to be constantly aware of where your feet are going next, so it’s not the most pleasant of hill walks. However, the views from the hill are spectacular – see photos 1 and 2, and there were also some impressive dry stone walls (known as dry stane dykes in Scotland) – see photo 3.

We also visited Achil Island which has many contrasting landscapes. Most of the land consists of peat and we saw many peat trenches as we passed, as well as many heaps of peat cut from the ground. The island also has some superb beaches and we stopped at Keel and walked along the wide sweep of the bay, firstly over some attractive rocks – photo 4 – and then on to the beach itself – photo 5. The tide was out but we could see quite a few surfers enjoying the waves. Achil Island is, I’m sure, a pretty bleak place in the winter, but on this fine late summer’s day, it was a great place on which to be alive.

View from Croagh Patrick

View from Croagh Patrick

View from Croagh Patrick

View from Croagh Patrick

Dry stone wall on Croagh Patrick

Dry stone wall on Croagh Patrick

Stones at Keel beach

Stones at Keel beach

Keel beach

Keel beach

 

 

 

 

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