I can’t believe we have been in Ireland for ten days! In some ways, it feels like longer than that, but in others, it feels way shorter. I blame jet lag and one too many pints of Guinness (but it’s so delicious).
Ginger count: as far as I’m concerned, the Ginger Army is 10,000 strong.
The day’s agenda: Taking a walk with the resident Irish Wolfhounds, horseback riding, falconry, dinner in the Dungeon restaurant.
Dani and I were up and fed by 08:30 to go for a walk with some giant beasties. Their names were Cronin and Garvin (or something like that). They are owned by the estate but taken care of by a gentleman who is besotted with the two beasts. Garvin was the larger of the two and weighs in at well over 150 pounds. That’s more than a Miranda after too much ice cream!
They were both hysterical, especially Cronin, who was prone to random bursts of energy followed by periods of plodding along beside us looking like a tired Eeyore.
Our walk was in a lovely forested part of the estate. All of the forests on the property are young-planted around 150 years ago when Lord Ardilaun (a member of the Guinness family. They are and were everywhere!) owned the estate. The western part of Ireland was stripped of all its trees long ago by settlers and inhabitants, so the property was mostly green fields separated by stone fences. Lord Ardilaun decided he wanted to attract more birds to the estate, so he planted a crap ton of trees. Nowadays the forest is quite stunning.
After walking the dogs, we headed over to the Equestrian Centre for our three-hour trek. We signed our life away on the waiver sheets and were evaluated for our riding ability before heading out onto the paths. Sadly, I forgot my camera at the stables during our ride. We were treated to lovely views all around, even going up onto the highest point nearby to see a breathtaking view of Lough Corrib. It has clear waters and over three hundred islands, most uninhabited, but a few were home to some magnificent ruins from abbeys and such.
We also traveled by Ballykine Castle, which was truly spectacular. The Castle is situated in the middle of a relatively dense forest and is blocked off due to its dangerous state of disrepair. If I hadn’t been on a horse, I would have hopped the fence to explore it more. From what I read, a small part of the castle, more a small fortress really, predates the rest of the structure by some 900 years. How cool is that??
For the ride, I paired with a big hairy cob named Guinness. At first, I thought he was going to be a dull, push-button horse, but he turned out to be quite lovely! He was quite responsive to my cues once he realized I knew what I was doing and was very solid and dependable. It’s always nice as a rider to be able to relax in the saddle while on vacation but also have a mount that will get up and go when asked. Guinness had lovely gaits, and I would have been more than willing to take him home with me after the end of our ride. Dani got her wish and rode a pony named Rosie who was an adorable Welsh Cob Section B mare.
After riding we were supposed to partake in falconry, but I was feeling like crap, so I went back to the room and slept for several hours until Dani sat on me to wake me up for our dinner reservations. We ate in the Dungeon, which is pretty much just a dining hall down in the basement of Ashford Castle with really cool decorations. The atmosphere was excellent, except I upended a beer (a craft beer from Galway Bay Brewery called Stormy Port, sad day) onto my lap, so I smelled like beer for the entire meal. Oh well, the food was still delicious.
After dinner, Dani and I decided that we would have an early night and put on our pajamas and watched Outlander. Because who doesn’t love a girl’s night?