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June 26 - 27

June 26 - 27 Sligo Town; Isle of Innisfree; Carrowmore; Carrowkeel; Aughanure Castle; Connemara; Kylemore Abbey.

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 Sligo Town

Sligo Town Quiz: The maroon car in the foreground is... A.) an American tourist driving down the wrong side of the road. B.) double-parked on the wrong side of the road. C.) a drunk driver who had been in J. McLaughlin's Pub too long. D.) driving down the wrong side to avoid hitting me standing in the street because I had been in J. McLaughlin's Pub too long.

Answer: I can't remember, but it's gotta definitely be A, B, or C!!

Sligo Town J. McLaughlin's Pub in Sligo Town. I hear it's got good refreshments and live music nightly.

Tell Joe and the gang that Grant sent 'ya.

 Isle of Innisfree

Isle of Innisfree Famous Irish poet William Butler Yeats b.1865, lived in Sligo and wrote this poem The Lake Isle of Innisfree in 1892 about his favorite memory in Lough Gill near Sligo.

I WILL arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honey bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a-glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.


Carrowmore Carrowmore megalithic cemetery has over 60 stone circles and passage tombs, making it one of the largest Stone Age cemeteries in Europe. The passage-tombs at Carrowmore are at least as old as the large one at Newgrange (3200 B.C.) but small in comparison. This dolmen -- before it collapsed somewhat -- had five upright stones , two at each side and one at the back, all supporting a roofstone. An 8-inch brochure was placed by it for size perspective.

Carrowmore This excavated dolmen, known as Listoghil is the largest at Carrowmore.


Carrowkeel Feeling adventurous, I receive directions at Carrowmore to a remote Stone Age cemetery about 15 miles away named Carrowkeel. Carrowkeel is situated in the Bricklieve Mountains on steep hillsides. I park my car after driving about a mile up.

Carrowkeel The view from here is great but I need to continue to climb quite a bit further. I grab my camera, a flashlight, and my Indiana Jones canteen.

Carrowkeel After climbing straight up over a couple ridges, I see a couple rocky cairns up ahead.

Carrowkeel The first cairn has an entrance to the exact south. Most of the entrance is below the ground in front of it, however I can see inside because there is about a 12-inch gap in front of the entrance to a large flat rock standing in front of it like an open door. Notice the curious horizontal slit created by the flat rocks above the entrance. Is this a similar setup to Newgrange, where the sun's rays will pass through the slit at some point during the calendar year to illuminate the interior of the passage-tomb?? And what might be inside -- the Ark of the Covenant, perhaps? The holy grail?

The air is still, a warm fog is rolling in. I move on to the next passage tomb cairn, cautiously on my guard for invading forces, lone mercenaries, and sheep dung.

Carrowkeel "AHA!", I say out loud and scare myself because it is so still. I hear a responsive "Baaa" in the distance from within the mysterious fog. This cairn also has an entrance pointing exactly south. And it is quite open for inspection! I creep forward...

Carrowkeel This passage tomb is quite a bit different from the quartz-decorated Newgrange. It is covered with sharp rocks, with large flat boulders creating the framework of a passage to the inside. There is no apparent slit above the entrance for illuminating the inside.

I kneel down on the rocks in front of the entrance...

Carrowkeel The entrance is about 2 feet wide at the bottom, the sides sloping up to about 2 1/2 feet wide at the top and about 3 feet in height.

Carrowkeel I try illuminating the inside with my flashlight and camera flash. I see that the passage inside goes in at least 15 feet and maybe further, and I know what I have to do. I have to go inside and check it out... my own personal tour, just like the larger Newgrange tour.

Carrowkeel There is only one way to do it, I decide... feet first. I squeeze my 6' 3" frame into the entrance. And back and down I go, dragging my camera in with me.

Carrowkeel Slowly, I enter the passage tomb and it widens-out as I back further into it.

Carrowkeel I stretch out my legs down the passage way. The ceiling of the passage is large, flat, sturdy (I hope) boulders. The passage continues back and down slightly for quite a few more feet that I can see.

Carrowkeel I'm able to swing my legs around in front of me and almost sit up straight in the passage. It is cool but not damp inside with an earthy smell. I sit there quite a while and press here and there (but not too hard) on the rocks to the side and above me, hoping for a secret compartment to open with treasures. After I think about how amazing it is to be sitting in a man-made structure that's been sitting intact on an Irish hillside for 5000 years, I decide it's about time to get out.

Carrowkeel I squeeze slowly head-first back into the Irish countryside. Unlike Indiana Jones, I have no treasures in my hand and I didn't have to come tumbling out while being chased by rolling boulders and doors closing behind me. Instead, the fog has lifted, birds are singing, and my next adventurous destination is beckoning me. Adventure, all in a day's work -- I say, as I take a swig of water out of my canteen and start down the hillside.

 Aughanure Castle

Aughanure Castle To the west of Galway City is a 16th-century Irish castle named Aughanure. The O'Flaherty clan controlled this region from this fortress for hundreds of years after they fought off the Normans. This view is looking west, in front of the drawbridge.

Aughanure Castle This painting depicts the castle's grounds in the 16th-century. There are inner and outer walls and a round watch tower in the center.

Aughanure Castle Looking south towards the river. Most of the inner walls are gone.

Aughanure Castle Looking to the east with the river on the right, the watchtower to the left. The watchtower served as a guardhouse and ammunition store.

Aughanure Castle An outside corner tower.

Aughanure Castle Inside the corner tower. Every building in the fort has many wide-angle holes and slits in the walls...

Aughanure Castle ... like this one. You can safely get a good shot with bow & arrow or gun in many directions when defending the castle.

Aughanure Castle The main floor of the residence tower has a loft, a secure side room for "uninvited guests", and many places from which to defend the castle.

Aughanure Castle A spiral staircase brings you to many different levels of the castle's tower and has some good defensive vantage points. It must have been a very draftly house to live in.

Aughanure Castle The upper level with a large fireplace and vaulted stone ceiling.


Connemara Even with a light drizzle falling, the mountains of west Ireland in the Connemara region turned out to be my favorite picturesque area of Ireland.

Connemara The bogs (peatland) of Ireland are still a great source of fuel. As done throughout the centuries, the bogs are cut into bricks...

Connemara ... then the bricks of turf (peat) are piled to dry for several weeks before collecting and burning.

 Kylemore Abbey

Kylemore Abbey Tucked into the northern mountains of the Connemara region is Kylemore Abbey. Kylemore was built in 1867 as a neo-gothic mansion for the English businessman Mitchell Henry.

Kylemore Abbey Kylemore had magnificent gardens, a Turkish bath, and cement tennis courts.

Kylemore Abbey Inside the mansion there was a billiards room, an armory, and a ballroom. The Henrys lived at Kylemore only 6 years due to the death of of Henry's wife, Margaret.

Kylemore Abbey Since 1920, Kylemore has been a Benedictine Abbey for girls.

Kylemore Abbey A short walk away is the neo-gothic Memorial Church built in 1881 by Mitchel Henry in memory of his wife, Margaret. It is a "cathedral in miniature" incorporating elements from great English cathedrals of the 1180 to 1215 era.

Kylemore Abbey The beautiful and finely-detailed church used marble from all seven provinces of Ireland.

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 Main Index

June 19 - 21 Hill of Tara; Donaghmore Tower; Slane Hill; Newgrange; Monasterboice; Mellifont Abbey; My Rental Car; Ireland's Roads.

June 22 - 23 Newry, County Down; Mountains of Mourne; Belfast; Carrickfergus; Glens of Antrim; Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge; Giant's Causeway; Dunluce Castle.

June 24 - 25 Arboe High Cross; Tullaghoge Fort; Ulster American Folk Park; Redcastle; Inishowen Peninsula; Grianan of Aileach.

June 26 - 27 Sligo Town; Isle of Innisfree; Carrowmore; Carrowkeel; Aughanure Castle; Connemara; Kylemore Abbey.

June 28 - 29 Cliffs of Moher; The Burren; Poulnabrone Dolmen; Rothe House; St. Canice's Cathedral; Black Abbey; Kilkenny Castle; Jerpoint Abbey; Rock of Cashel.

June 30 - July 2 Browne's Hill Dolmen; Glenart Castle Hotel; Arklow Beach; Greystones; Powerscourt Gardens; Dublin.