Into the West ... Part 3

Cong Travel Blog

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Lough Corrib

Due to the failing light on the first day, and our tendacy to spend longer than expected at various places (Ireland does that to you with it's sheer beauty) we didn't get to see everything so our day trip went into a second day. It was more local to where I grew up and concentrated on the area of Cong and the surrounds. The Quiet Man, directed by John Ford, was made in Cong and the surrounding area in 1951.

Cong is picturesque village lies on the shores off Lough Corrib, just within County Mayo. It is on the edge of Connemara. Cong, (in Gaelic Cung) means isthmus, the village lies on the strip of land between Lough Corrib and Lough Mask.

The pebble beach at Lough Corrib
Like previously mentioned with Ballinrobe it's a haven for anglers, cyclists and walkers.

Cong may be small but it's packs a punch. There is a lot of history in the area and some places to see. Chief amongst them would have to be the world renouned Ashford Castle. Ashford is built right on the shore of Lough Corrib. was built in the 12th century by the Anglo Norman family, the De Burgo’s. The following generations added and expanded the castle and in 1715 the Oranmore and Browne family founded the Ashford Estate. Over a hundred years later in 1852 Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness (The Guinness Brewery family) purchased the Ashford Estate. His son Lord Ardilaun inherited Ashford in 1868 and is responsible for the numerous woodland areas on the estate. On his death in 1915 the Ashford Estate went to the Iveagh Trust.

View over Lough Corrib
In the late 1930's it return to private hands and was converted into a hotel. It's changed hands a couple of times since and each owner has added there little aspects. The castle has had a long list of famous and distinguished guests, from US presidents to rockstars and movie stars. Pierce Brosnan filmed an Episode of he TV show Remington Steele at the Castle, fell in love with the place and returned to have he wedding there. The hotel’s parkland covers three hundred and fifty acres where activities such as golf, tennis, archery, shooting, horseback riding, and fishing can be enjoyed as well as many walks through the gardens and woods. You can also take boat trips around Lough Corrib from here

Just outside the castle estate is Cong Abbey.  The Abbey was erected on the site of an old monastery (built in 623 by St Feichin) by Turlough O’ Connor, the King of Connaught in 1106.

The Quiet Man Cottage
It was used as a center of education throughout the following years. Rory O’ Connor, the last High King of Ireland spent his last twelve years in seclusion in the abbey and on his death he was buried at the abbey but was later exhumed and buried with his father Turlough O’ Connor at Clonmacnoise. Sir Benjamin Guinness the owner of Ashford began to rebuild the abbey in 1860. He employed renowned local stonemasons to complete the masonry. There are three beautiful carved doorways, which illustrate some of the outstanding work. The Gothic doorway consists of columns, brilliantly carved capitals and gothic arches; it is probably the Abbey’s finest feature. The local parish used the abbey grounds as a burial site. One of the oldest tombstones is dated 1709 AD.

Another resident of Cong was Oscar Wilde.

Ashford Castle
Sir William Wilde, father of the famous writer, was a surgeon and antiquarian. He was the author of "Wilde's Loch Coirib", published in 1867, and which gives a very instructive account of the history and archaeology of the area. The Wilde family spent long periods in their country home at Cong, Moytura House which was built by Sir William.

A little out from the village, maybe two miles or so on the Cornamona road there is a turn of the the left that takes you up a narrow lane to the woods to a beautiful area overlooking Lough Corrib. It's hard to find as it's not signposted but ask the locals. It's a wonderful spot for a picnic. You can walk a path through the woods to a small peeble beach on the lake. There is a little stone hut built there that you can sit in and gaze out onto the lake for hours in the total peace and quiet watching the odd boat go by with fishermen.

Ashford Castle
Sometimes during the summer months a floating platform is put in the lake about 100 metres from the beach that you can swim to if you feel the need.

We completed our day with a drive a around the lake. Lough Corrib is big. It's the secons largest lake in Ireland and the drive around it is scenic as it take you into Connemara through the mountains etc.

I have to say, I never really appreicated the area where I grew up when I was younger. Since I moved away to work and live in the city, and I guess as I've matured, I've found a new and greater appreication of it. On trips like this one describes when you are with someone who is seeing it for the first time and you see their reaction and sense of awe at seeing the natural beauty of the place it makes you feel proud of the place and really appreicate it. I love being able to jump in my car any weekend drive a few hours and be in what to me is a totally different world. I hope if you make it to Connemara/South West Mayo you enjoy it as much as I do everytime I go back there.

PhinsAndGills says:
Great blog! Thanks for sharing!
Posted on: Feb 19, 2008
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Lough Corrib
Lough Corrib
The pebble beach at Lough Corrib
The pebble beach at Lough Corrib
View over Lough Corrib
View over Lough Corrib
The Quiet Man Cottage
The Quiet Man Cottage
Ashford Castle
Ashford Castle
Ashford Castle
Ashford Castle
Ashford Castle
Ashford Castle
Fishing on Lough Corrib
Fishing on Lough Corrib
The castle wall at Ashford Castle
The castle wall at Ashford Castle
60 km (37 miles) traveled
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photo by: maithanfear