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Sunday 18th June 2017

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Published: June 20th 2017

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Woke up to dull morning with mist on the hills. It was an early start at 8:30. The driver gave us a running commentary all the way, some interesting and some nonsense but very entertaining! We drove towards Connemara. First stop was at Cnoc Suain, no idea how you pronounce it. A couple had taken over a plot of land just outside the village with several run down old traditional cottages. Their idea was to do up one cottage to live in, with no facilities and young children, and live in the old traditional way. They did up all the cottages and rent some out to those who want to get away from mobile phones, wifi etc. They also educate groups on how people used to live and the old traditions of the language and music etc. The west coast is where most Irish speaking people live. Gradually the language is being extended to schools to keep it alive. The husband told us all about the peat bogs and how people cut it and prepared it for fuel. They always put the top layer back which preserved the peat but when it started being cut by machines the top layer went

in with the rest and the peat bogs became unsustainable. They are now gradually teaching people how to preserve the bogs. The peat made of sphagnum moss absorbs carbon dioxide so is valuable for preserving the environment.

In the mist we went out and looked at the place where the peat had been cut. Then his wife took over and showed us how to make soda bread. This is what I will have a go at, there’s no yeast to prove and no kneading to do, my sort of bread! She then told us about the herbs and plants they grow and how they are used for cooking, medicine and care treatments. She said when she was a child she was brought up to speak Irish and she sang us a song to show us how it sounded.

Then we were taken to a musician who told us of the history of Irish music. Of course a lot of their musicians emigrated to America so a lot was lost and the music was not written down for a long time. When they had no instruments they sang the music for weddings etc which we joined in after a

demonstration. Then he played songs on the accordion and a penny whistle, first made by a Mr Clarke in England.

The session finished off with an Irish dance performed by some volunteers in the group! an interesting morning.

The driver then took us to a remote pub for coffee or Irish coffee before we made our way over the mountains to Kylemore Abbey. On the way we saw Ireland’s only fiord, loughs and lots of mist on mountains. At one point we could see windmills just the bottom and then just the arms when they were down but gradually disappearing into the mist. We did see quite a few Connemara wild ponies.

Kylemore Abbey was lovely set in the mountains. The couple who owned it built the house which is now an abbey and set up a walled garden. It is all laid out in Victorian design, flowerbeds and vegetables. A wonderful garden in a beautiful setting. All very well restored. Then we went back to the house to have a look round. Some of the main rooms are on show but the rest is used by the nuns. In the past it became a school. Then

we walked through the woods to a chapel built in memory of the owner’s wife who died young, and then the mausoleum. On the way back the sun came out and we stopped at a beach to look at some seals. Back at the camp site it had been hot and sunny all day! Typical!


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