Sunday, August 14, 2016

Day 11: Achill Island

Monday June 13
The next day was largely taken up with a tour of Achill Island.   Our first stop was Grace O'Malley's castle.  She was the chieftain of a powerful seafaring family, and became famous as a sea captain and a pirate.  

By our standards it's a pretty small castle (though she did have many other properties)- the 'castle' is a 15th century tower house.  

We followed the Atlantic coast route with a number of scenic stops.  Here's Ashleam Bay.  

Our extremely skillful driver took the bus along the appropriately named and inappropriately terrifying Sky Road.  Apparently in Ireland, guardrails are for the weak and cowardly.  Like me.

The island is remote, but there has been in the last several decades a lot of building of seasonal properties, though there are still plenty of farms.  

We stopped at Keem Bay, once the home of Captain Charles Boycott.   Boycott was said to be a cruel landlord, so much so tenants refused to work for him.  And so his name has entered the English language.  The beach is lovely, however.  JT and I and several others of the tour members could not resist going wading.  It was cool, but not so chilly as to discourage hardy swimmers.  
Our lunch stop was the lovely little town of Westport, on the Carrowbeg river.  We were charmed to see signage for a local folk and bluegrass music festival.  

We visited Doolough Valley, and heard the sad tale of the Doolough Tragedy.  
"On Friday 30 March 1849 two officials of the Westport Poor Law Union arrived in Louisburgh to inspect those people in receipt of outdoor relief to verify that they should continue to receive it. For some reason the inspection did not take place and the officials went on to Delphi Lodge – a hunting lodge – 19 kilometres (12 miles) south of Louisburgh. The people who had gathered for the inspection were thus instructed to appear at Delphi Lodge at 07:00 the following morning if they wished to continue receiving relief. For much of the night and day that followed therefore seemingly hundreds of destitute and starving people had to undertake what for them, given their existing state of debilitation, was an extremely fatiguing journey, in very bad weather.

A letter-writer to The Mayo Constitution reported shortly afterwards that the bodies of seven people, including women and children, were subsequently discovered on the roadside between Delphi and Louisburgh overlooking the shores of Doolough lake and that nine more never reached their homes. Local folklore maintains the total number that perished because of the ordeals they had to endure was far higher."
We could only imagine what it would have been like to walk this remote path on uneven roads in bad weather, for people who were already weak from prolonged starvation.  

We stopped for more photos at Aasleagh Falls, on the river Errif. 

And I walked down to the river's edge below the falls for look at the downstream view. 

We stopped in Leenane, at the top of the Killary Fjord- very striking. 

And then we finally drove to the next hotel, the Renvyle House and Resort.  We had a little time before dinner, so naturally JT and I were out of the hotel and walking out toward the beach almost as soon as we arrived.  

We had a lovely walk along the shore, trekked out to a ruined tower we spotted out off in the distance and then opted to loop around by the road and come back to the resort up the main drive (which we hadn't seen coming in, as the bus was too large, and had had to go around to the back of the hotel), and took a quick peek at the gardens- at that point we'd been out longer than we had intended, and had to hustle in to make it to dinner and the after-dinner music.  


  1. I never knew that "to boycott" was named after a person.

    You certainly have beautiful scenes on your vacation.

    1. We like pretty places, but even by vacation standards, Ireland was incredibly lovely- gorgeous scenery everywhere.

    2. We like pretty places, but even by vacation standards, Ireland was incredibly lovely- gorgeous scenery everywhere.

  2. Beautiful! I just watched a show on Grace O'Malley not too long ago.