Sligo Rocks with the Wild Westies

Carrowmore Yesterday I went off exploring with Wild West Irish Tours.  The first place we went to was Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery.  Although I have already been here it’s great to see Sligo through ‘new eyes’ and to be able to share the beautiful places we have with visitors.

Cows rock Carrowmore is the largest cemetery of megalithic tombs in Ireland and is also among the country’s oldest, with monuments ranging from five and a half thousand to six and a half thousand years old.

Michael from Myths and LegendsWe were given a guided tour by Michael of Sligo Myths and Legends, he told us some fascinating stories and pointed out all the mountains we could see from the cemetery with a bit of history about each one.

KnocknareaExploringWild Westies After the tour of Carrowmore we headed to Tobernault Holy Well.

The Holy WellThe minute we arrived the Wild Westies got a taste of the true Ireland when the heavens opened and in minutes the road started to flood.  Poor Michael who runs Wild West Irish Tours got drenched.

Walking in the rain Quiet contemplationWe had a very brief look around the Holy Well before escaping to shelter.

DSCF3635 Once again I had a lovely time with Wild West Irish Tours, it was lovely to be invited to tag along again. The rest of my photos from the day are here.

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Exploring with the Wild Westies

Wild WestI had a lovely morning tagging along with Michael, Leo and the Wild West Irish tour group.  We went exploring parts of Sligo I’d never seen before, it was really interesting.

SealAs we arrived at our first location one of the locals came to welcome us! I was delighted, it’s not often I’ve seen a seal so close to the shore.

Splash!I can’t believe how blue the sea was, you’d never think we were in Ireland.

Sligo rocksAfter our walk around the beach and the rocks we headed to a field but not just any old field.

MooThere were cows but not just cows, they shared their field with a portal tomb.

Portal tombThe tomb is overlooked by both Knocknarea and Benbulben mountains.  It’s a really scenic place, very nice for the cows to be looking at these views every day.

Leo and the tombSolitudeMy thanks to Wild West Irish Tours for inviting me to tag along.  The rest of my photos from the day are here.

The Rose of Innisfree

Today I once again joined the Wild West Irish Tours for the day, thanks to Michael for inviting me to tag along. Today we went on The Rose of Innisfree and took a cruise around lovely Lough Gill. We were joined on board by Mary Kennedy who was filming for RTE’s Nationwide.

George was a wonderful Captain and told us all about Lough Gill and W. B. Yeats as well as reciting poems and getting us to join in.

We sailed alongside the Isle of Innisfree. It’s a very small island and I’m inclined to believe that W. B. Yeats was writing about another island possibly Beezie’s or maybe Church Island. I suppose we’ll never know for sure.

We also got to see Dooney Rock and Slish Wood. I was very grateful that the boat was calm and I didn’t have a repeat performance of the last time I joined the Wild West Irish Tours to Inismurray Island.

There was only one thing I didn’t like about the tour of Lough Gill and that’s St. Angela’s College. I think it really is a blot on an otherwise beautiful landscape and I don’t know how they got permission to build it there.

My thanks to Wild West Irish Tours for letting me join them. The rest of my photos are here.

Inishmurray Island

Yesterday I joined joined Wild West Irish Tours for a day. I’m always interested in following them on Facebook and seeing where they have been and what they have seen. They take their visitors to see the ‘hidden Ireland’, which I always find fascinating. I had never been to Inishmurray so when Michael from Wild West Irish Tours asked me if I’d like to join them I jumped at the chance.

We met up at the statue at the top of the page which is located in Rosses Point, Sligo. The statue is called ‘Waiting on the shore’ and is dedicated as a memorial to the Rosses Point men who lost their lives at sea.

We met Daryl from Ewing’s Sligo Boat Charters and he took us to Inishmurray Island. We got to see some wonderful sites along the way.

The first was the ‘Metal Man’. Daryl told us he is the only man in Rosses Point never to have told a lie. There are only two of these in Ireland. The other one is in Waterford. Is it bad that I think he looks like Elvis? 😉

The start of the journey was lovely. The sun was beating down (which is nothing short of a miracle) and the sea was calm. I was thinking this is the life.

Daryl took us along side a seal colony which I thought was wonderful. So nice to see the seals up close. They are lovely creatures. Anyway after me thinking how wonderful the boat trip was we turned a corner and the sea got very choppy. I don’t think I will ever make a sailor! I was delighted when we reached the island, I felt so bad I was tempted to swim part of the way!

Michael from Wild West Irish Tours is the man in the Coast Guard top. The other people are all visitors from America. It was lovely to meet them all and have a chat. I had only ever talked to Michael on Facebook so it was great to talk to him in person.

Now to Inishmurray Island. Well what can I say, what a magical, atmospheric place. The last inhabitants of the Island left in 1948. So the buildings now are all ruins apart from the school-house.

It’s very sad to see these former homes left to decay and fall down. It made me think about the families that would have lived there and although I’m sure there was a great community spirit it must have been very bleak at times especially in the Winter when the wind and sea would have battered the island.

Above are the remains of an early Irish monastic settlement. St Molaise founded a monastery here in the 6th Century which was attacked by Vikings in 807. Remains of the 4.6 metres high by up to 3 metres thick wall can be seen enclosing the settlement which still contains some of the ecclesiastical buildings such as a stone-roofed oratory, two churches, a clochan, a bee-hive hut and other engraved slabs of stone such as what are rumoured to be “cursing stones”.

This is Michael with the cursing stones….if only they could talk.

I had a wander around the island on my own and it really was magical. You could almost hear the voices of the ghosts that had long departed. Although in reality it was only the seagulls crying but after a while they do sound like people.

The statue above was in The Womens Church, were only the women of the island are buried. It’s well worth having a look at this map of the island. I’m also in the process of reading Island Voices by Joe McGowan of Sligo Heritage. It’s a very interesting book with some wonderful photographs.

I thought it was very sad to see the last inhabited house on the island. The family have painted their names on their house. Dan Brady was the last person to leave the island, he emigrated to the U. S. in November 1948.

The only creature I saw apart from the birds was this lovely rabbit. Isn’t it amazing that the rabbits have the whole island to themselves. After a lovely few hours Daryl and the boat returned to pick us up. He had taken some other people to fish…whatever they caught they took home for their dinner. I was dreading the journey back and to be honest it was as bad (if not worse) than I expected so sadly that’s my first and last trip to Inishmurray Island.

As always I took way too many photos. You can see them here. A big thank you to Michael and all on the Wild West Irish Tours for including me on their trip and also to Daryl from Ewing’s Sea Angling and Boat Charters.