Ireland Travel Stories – Post Two

We’re in no rush to get going on our second morning in Ireland. After such a busy first day,  we take the time to relax and have a slow start. It’s 11 am by the time we leave. For a morning person, like me, that’s half the day gone, but I’m okay with it. There’s something expansive about not having a fixed schedule. We’ve some ideas about what we want to do, but we’re ambling into the day with openness, curiosity and the understanding that we’ll be flexible. It’s quite relaxing.

Along the road to Kylemore Abbey

We take the narrow, winding, sometimes tree-covered roads, over a stone bridge, towards Kylemore Abbey. I’ve chosen this destination. That is fairly new for me. Chris is a confident and experienced traveler who researches our trips well in advance. Often I just show up, passport-ready and willing to participate. This trip, I’ve done some research myself and picked some places I want to go. This makes a nice change for Chris, I’m sure, and I’m enjoying it too.

Along the road to Kylemore Abbey – beautiful stone bridge
Along the road to Kylemore Abbey – narrow and tree covered

 Kylemore abbey looks like something out of a fairy-tale or a fantasy novel. Nestled at the foot of a mountain, and reflected in the dark lake, I can imagine Gandalf riding up on Shadowfax. We don’t actually see Gandalf, but the white Connemara ponies are charming.

Kylemore Abbey
Connemara Pony

I’m captivated by the mossy stone walls and huge number of different trees. I love trees, and green and water. I’m in my happy place. I don’t spend much time inside Kylemore Abbey itself. It’s too crowded and I’d much rather sit and look out at the lake.

Mossy Wall at the Kylemore estate

We amble along the extensive pathways, through forests with moss covered trunks. We end up at a large triangular shaped rock which is part of the local folklore. It’s said that a giant hurled it at another giant and it landed there. We enjoy watching a woman standing with her back to the Ironing Stone (as it’s known) and trying to throw pebbles over the top (also part of the folklore that you can make a wish if you throw the pebbles over). They keep bouncing back at her as she’s not throwing them high enough.  We laugh and smile as Chris teasingly tries to encourage her to throw higher while still keeping her back to the stone. It’s a friendly interaction.

Cú Chulainn and Fionn McCool are two of Ireland’s best known mythological heroes and legend has it they often fought each other on the Connemara mountains. Fionn McCool resided on the distinctive mountain know as ‘The Diamond’ which faces the Kylemore Abbey from the South. It is known as the diamond as much of its quartz stone is exposed. When the sun shines on the mountain, it sparkles – like a diamond.

Cú Chulainn lived on the opposite side of the valley on the mountain known as ‘Dúchruach’ meaning ‘Black Stack’ which sits directly behind Kylemore Abbey. It takes its name from its unusual black stone and stands out from all the other mountains in the area. The giants were hot tempered and regularly didn’t see eye-to-eye. One day, during one of their heated arguments, Cú Chulainn picked up a massive stone and threw it towards Fionn McCool. The stone narrowly missed Fionn McCool and landed at an unusual angle on the Kylemore estate where it lies today. The shape of the stone resembles a traditional iron used for ironing clothes and is?known locally as ‘The Ironing Stone’ or the ‘Smoothing Iron’. Local children use it as a wishing stone. If you stand with your back against the stone, make a wish and throw a small pebble back over the stone three times, that wish will be granted. It is bad luck to wish for money but you can wish for love!

We visit the formal, walled, Victorian garden which is cultivated on a bog. It’s beautiful and fascinating to see that they’ve integrated vegetables and flowers together – there’s a beetroot border to the flower bed! It’s the only time I’ve seen trees trained to grow up a wall (aside from in Holland where it’s incredible to see what can be grown in a small space.)

Victorian Walled Garden with fruit trees growing flat against the wall.

We eventually decide we’re hungry and ready to leave Kylemore.  Chris has a rather interesting idea about where to eat.

To be continued … (the next post is about food and music done exceptionally well.)

In the next month I’m planning to post 8 times. This is in order to complete a project for Toastmasters – Level 4 in the Innovative Planning Pathway. 8 times in a month feels like a really tall order. It is requiring some thought and planning to figure out what to blog about with that kind of frequency. I’ve decided to post about our recent trip to Ireland. You can expect posts twice a week to tell stories about what I saw or experienced on the trip. This is the second post. You can find the first one here. I hope you enjoy.

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