Day 06 - Friday, September 14, 2018 - Visit Connemara; Walk the Marconi Bogs; Kylemore Estate & Abbey Tour; Area History Presentation
It was a balmy day, 52 degrees and overcast with potential for rain by mid morning. Today was an outdoor day so we crossed our fingers for the Irish weather gods to smile on us.
Thomas changed our itinerary a bit and we drove to Kylemore Abbey first to avoid the large crowds that gather later in the day. On the way we drove past lakes, bogs, and Irish mountains, the highest being about 1,000 meters or 3,280 feet.
As usual, we had a little history lesson about the area, the people, and the famine that devastated the population. After the train station was built, the town of Clifden prospered and English tourists started to visit Connemara.
The land was very rocky, not suitable for crops but there were more flocks of sheep and grazing horses. Piles of peat or turf that had been harvested were drying, ready for fuel for the winter.
Patches of fall purple heather brightened the green fields. Fluffy white sheep dotted the hillsides. The ground was covered with yellow blossoms of the gorse, hated by the farmers and sheep ranchers because the sheep get the thorns tangled in the wool.
We were one of the first buses in the parking lot to visit Kylemore Abbey. The property was originally a hunting lodge and then purchased by an English lord, Mitchell Henry, who built the church and castle for his wife in 1868. She died tragically on a trip to Cairo, Egypt.
The 1,000-acre estate was held by the Mitchell Family and then sold to the Benedictine community and used as a convent and prestigious girl’s school. It is no longer a school, but a small group of the Nuns of Benedictines still live in the abbey.
Joe and Marjorie from Long Island/Florida were celebrating their 50 wedding anniversary on this trip and they chose to renew their vows in the chapel. Their four friends from New York (who also attended their wedding), and the rest of us witnessed this momentous occasion. Happy 50th Marjorie and Joe!
After the “wedding” we walked to the abbey and visited the restored rooms and enjoyed stepping back in the time of opulence. We hiked to the six-acre, walled Victorian Gardens and admired the beautiful fall foliage. A shuttle bus took us back to the visitor’s center where we had soup and a box lunch that was included in our admission ticket. Our designated meeting time was 1:00 and everyone was on time again.
Richard drove us back to town, but Thomas asked him to take the scenic route over the narrow path leading to Clifden Bay and the Sky Road Overlook. The view of the Atlantic Ocean covering the horizon was amazing as were the small homes and fishing boats waiting for the tide to lift them.
At 2:35 twelve of us met Thomas and trekked the strenuous 3.1 mile hike through the Derrygimlagh Bog Complex on The Marconi Boardwalk. The site marks the place where Marconi set up his wireless station and electrical generator that produced the power for the high frequency radio transmissions to St. John, Newfoundland.
The huge generating station was near the site where British pilots John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown crashed-landed in the bog in 1919 after completing the world’s first transatlantic flight. A memorial to their achievement also is located on the site.
We had about an hour to organize our photos and work on the journal until 6:00 when we met Donald a local historian who presented a slide show of old photos of Clifden and the surrounding area.
Dinner was on our own and we had most of our uneaten boxed sandwiches for dinner. There was a nearby grocery store so we walked over to get an apple and some chips to go with our sandwiches.
All in all it was a great day of learning and discovery. And we had no rain to spoil our parade. The Luck of the Irish is ours!
Accommodations: Clifden Station House - Meals included: B & L
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Beautiful country!!! Wish we were with you.
Another lovely day with many great memories. Love the renewal of the vows part.
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Loved Kylemore - Have a picture of my cousin and I there as my Facebook picture. Sounds like a great trip - wish we had done it with OAT! So enjoying Spain!!
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