May 25, 26
The next morning I had french toast for breakfast and Mike had a cheese omelette. Our hostess, Noreen, we found to be a little less welcoming than our other hosts. Mike thought it was because she had a big place but only two sets of guests. But our room was nice and the breakfast was good.
Unfortunately,as we left The Arches, it started to rain and it rained most of the way down to Westport, Mayo. First, though, we stopped at Streedagh Beach in County Sligo, another Armada site. It did stop raining while we were there.
Carrowmore Megalithic Site was next on the list. There were some interesting cairns there but it started to rain and it was cold, windy and miserable. We didn't stay as long as we might
We drove up to Knocknarea as I wanted to see Queen Maeve's cairn but you need to walk up the mountain. With the rain and wind and cold, we really didn't have the desire to do that so we continued on our way. So we only had a photo of the cairn from far away since you couldn't see it from the car park.
As we drove to Westport, we stopped at the National Museum of Country Life in County Mayo. It had some interesting artifacts showing traditional rural life. Across the road was a ruined monastery with a intact round tower. This was the first round tower that Mike saw. ( I saw some on an earlier trip in 2008.)
When we got to Westport, we found it very confusing to find the right road to take us through town and along the road to Murrisk. We were staying at a B&B near the foot of Croagh Patrick. We finally found Bertra House B&B on the Bertra Beach road. The the north is a view of Clew Bay. Behind the house is a view of the mountain.
Margaret was very welcoming and showed us two rooms to choose from. We chose the one with the sea view.
We went to supper at The Tavern, a pink coloured pub. It was in Murrisk and it meant we didn't have to drive into Westport. I had a hot chocolate and club sandwich. Mike had vegetable soup and fish & chips. The food was good and we sat near the fire. €31.30
Well, it started to get really windy during the night and we could hear the rain lashing against the window. We woke up to a totally overcast and foggy morning, and it was starting to rain again. I felt very depressed. We had not had one day without rain and wind and this was day 20 of our trip! Was it ever going to get better?
Well, we got up and had breakfast. I had scrambled eggs, toast and fruit salad. Mike had a full Irish. Margaret said she heard the weather was supposed to get better, so we decided to stick with our plans for the day. I had planned for us to explore Achill Island. I had heard it was beautiful. So Margaret told us how to get through Westport and we made it through without getting lost. It had stopped raining by the time we started off.
Our first stop was at a ruined abbey outside Newport (Burrishoole Abbey).
Then we found Rockfleet, Grace O'Malley's castle. She was a powerful woman in the area in the 1500's and came to the attention of Queen Elizabeth I, whom she later met. Unfortunately, the castle was covered in scaffolding, so the photos aren't to good. It is a tower castle,not huge. I had read a good book about her by Morgan Llewellyn called Grania and was interested in seeing the area where she lived.
We went on the Atlantic Drive on the penninsula just before Achill Island. We were a little confused, because I thought we were already on the island, but we weren't. It was very pretty and we got great views across Clew Bay and of Croagh Patrick, although it was somewhat hazy. The sun was trying to come out, though. We saw some blue sky!
We went over the bridge onto Achill Island, driving across and up to the deserted village. It wasn't quite what I had pictured it. It just looked like lots of piles of rocks. Unfortunately the weather wasn't the greatest when we arrived and it was very windy, so we weren't as inclined to check it out more thoroughly.
We continued on to Dooagh where we ate lunch at The Cottage. We had seafood chowder which was very good. €15.60 Across the road from The Cottage is where we parked and it looked over a beach and the ocean.
There was a kestrel hunting and he would hover in the wind. I was able to get some photos of him, although they aren't the best since he is so small. It was hard holding the camera steady in the strong wind.
We drove down to the bottom of Achill Island, where I knew Grace O'Malley had another tower castle. We found it and were able to go inside. It's hard to believe that it was big enough for a family and servants to live in. There were 3 or 4 stories originally, but each floor would only have been one room, I think. There was a floor with a vaulted roof and trap door up to the top of the tower.
We headed back towards the mainland. Just before crossing the bridge, we stopped at a store and Mike picked up a pair of gloves. I had brought a pair from home, but he didn't and his hands were cold most days.
We got lost going through Westport again! Both days we ended up going through at the same time of day, when the schools let out and everyone seems to be driving through town. We would have liked to stop and explore town but all the parking spot were used up. When we arrived back on the road for the B&B, we went to the end of the road to see the beach. I got some photos of oystercatchers. It was still very windy so not good for strolling. We stopped at the ruined Murrisk Abbey as well.
We liked our supper at The Tavern the night before, so we returned. I had tried Mike's vegetable soup the night before and liked it enough to get it this night. Then I had a chocolate brownie with sauce for dessert. Mike had soup and a burger.
We decided to go to Croagh Patrick. The centre was closed for the day, so now the parking was free. It was too late to climb up to the top, and by this time I didn't have the energy. But I climbed up to St. Patrick's statue and got some good views over Clew Bay, which is what I wanted. I would have had some better ones if I had gone higher, but this was good enough. The sun was glowing nicely so we stopped to take photos of a boat along the shore.