Today we had another long-ish day of driving on narrow twisty roads. We went North of Galway to the Connemora area to see Kylemore Abbey and then headed back by way of Cong, a village with a claim to fame as being where The Quiet Man was filmed, starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. Gail is a big fan of John Wayne and old movies in general so we thought it would be a good stop to make.
We stopped at Kylemore Abbey first.
The story goes that after honeymooning in Connemore in 1850, Margaret and Mitchel Henry fell in love with the area and wanted to have a home there. Henry returned and purchased the property (which had a hunting lodge on it at the time), which included 15,000 acres of land and then built a beautiful home for Margaret.
Tragedy struck when Margaret died after contracting dysentery in 1874 during a family holiday to Egypt. She left 9 children behind –the youngest was 3. Mr. Henry brought her body home and laid her to rest in the mausoleum on the property.
A few years later in 1877, Mr. Henry began building the miniature gothic cathedral as a tribute to his wife.
In 1903, the Abbey was purchased by the Duke and Duchess of Manchester. The Duchess made many changes to the home that are still visible today. They lost Kylemore to foreclosure around 1914. In 1920, the home became a Benedictine Abbey and in 1923 the nuns opened a girls’ boarding school, which operated until 2010. There are still nuns in residence to this day, but the property is now in trust.
We walked back to the house and were able to see a few rooms inside.
Also on the property is a large stone that looks like the top half of an iron.
The brochure says that there is a legend that the stone was tossed back and forth by two other on Mweelin Mountain mythical legends – Cu Chulainn and Fionn Machuail –one standing on Duchrauach Mountain. Evidently one of them didn’t toss it hard enough and it landed on the grounds of Kylemore. The signs said that you’ll get your wish if you stand with your back to the rock and throw a stone backwards over your head and it goes over the rock too. Mike and Gail were successful, but didn’t tell us what their wishes were.
A few random pictures from the day:
While sitting in the car in the parking lot waiting for Laura and Gail to finalize their purchases at the gift shop, I was reviewing my pictures on my camera and saw one that needed deleting. I thought I was pushing the correct buttons to delete ONE picture- only to see the message… ALL PHOTOS DELETED! WHAT??? NOOOOOO!!!!!!! I lost all my pictures from Kylemore + the last couple of days. Thank goodness that Laura and Gail are even more enthusiastic picture takers than I am because many of the pictures you’ll see for this trip are from them.
We got our parting shot of Kylemore and drove more twisty and windy roads to get to Cong, our next stop.
Cong doesn’t really have much of a claim to fame other than the Quiet Man being filmed in the area. Even so, Cong turned out to be a charming little village –and I only realized it is actually a small island about half-way through the visit.
We grabbed lunch, shopped a bit and did a bit of exploring.
There are ruins of an abbey at Cong, known as the Royal Abbey of Cong. There has been a church on the site since the early 600’s, but there is a long history of attacks and rebuilding over the years. The last abbot of record died in 1829.
We checked out the Quiet Man statue and Gail and Laura visited the Quiet Man Museum.
While they were in the museum, I noticed a village map, which was when I realized that it is an island.
Then we were off for Galway. After we arrived in town we walked through the shopping area there looking for dinner.
The Claddagh Ring has been produced in the Galway area since the 1700s (possibly earlier). It represents love loyalty and friendship.
Part of the legend is that you wear the ring in different ways to signal your status. Worn on the right hand with the heart pointing toward the fingers means you’re looking for love. The other way indicates you’re not looking. On the left hand, the heart facing the fingers means you’re engaged and the other way signifies that you’re married.
Two places in Galway had been recommended to us for dinner, but we only had one night left. We checked out the menus at both and chose the Pie Maker. It was sort of what we know as a pot pie, but served with mashed potatoes, mushed peas and a sweet red cabbage sort of salad and gravy-all in one bowl.
We celebrated our last night in Galway with a nightcap at the hotel bar before settling down early. There was another long drive back yo Yvonne’s on the itinerary for the next day.
Categories: Kylemore Abbey and Cong Village