A city with Celtic history
In the very north of Lake Corrib begins the county of Mayo, which continues further north to Ireland along the west coast and is also one of the pearls worth visiting. Unfortunately, it has the disadvantage that without a car, traffic here is really complicated. On our way back from Connemara, bypassing Lake Corrib, we reached the town of Cong, located in this picturesque landscape. Here you will find the ruins of the abbey, the old Celtic cemetery, Ashford castle, a forest park with a lookout tower. In addition, The quiet man was filmed here.
The city of Cong is not big, on the contrary, so just a few steps from the parking lot you enter the area of the former abbey.
The ruins of the abbey
The ruins of a former Augustinian abbey date mostly from the 13th century and have been described as some of the best examples of medieval ecclesiastical architecture in Ireland.
The abbey also includes an old cemetery with Celtic crosses, so typical of the whole of Ireland with its history. The abbey is also known as a refuge for the last few years of the life of Rory O'Connor, the last Irish king before the Norman invasion of the empire.
Monk's Fishing Hut - Monks' fishing lodge
Walking through the abbey and further towards the forest park, you will come across the ruins of a monks' fishing lodge, which sit on pillars directly on the river leading to Lake Corrib. Behind the cottage, we continue across the pedestrian bridge through a stone gate to the entanglement of footpaths in the forest park.
The Natural Forest Park behind the abbey, which belongs to Ashford Castle, is open to walkers, cyclists and horse riders alike, as they also have a riding school. There are several circuits, so you can choose according to your own time or physical possibilities. It only bursts with green shades of color, especially at the turn of spring and summer. Each tree is overgrown with ivy and both are still covered with moss. The forest resembles a walk through an elven forest.
Guinness Lookout Tower
Roughly in the middle of the forest park, after about a 15–20 minute walk, you can come across a stone lookout tower – the Guiness tower, which was, to our surprise, freely accessible.
At the top, it is not very clear that this is a viewpoint, because the surrounding trees are as high, if not higher than the tower itself, which, according to its name, was built by the Guinness family in 1864.
One of the largest and best-preserved castles in Ireland is Ashford Castle, built by the Guinness family and currently serves as a luxury hotel. The castle is located on the shores of Lake Corrib and the river flowing into it. Of course there is the possibility of a romantic boat ride. The surrounding adjoining gardens are beautifully landscaped and the estate includes both the entire forest park and a nearby riding school, which offers rides in the woods.
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