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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Kade

Killarney to Oughterard

Long drive from Killarney to Oughterard.

Roads are marked L- for local; R- for regional N- for national or M- for motorway. Our journey took us mostly on R or N roads today. The L roads were quite interesting to travel on, though.

L Road It is a one lane road. Yes, that is a sheep walking down the road. The one in the forefront heard the car and stepped off to the side. There was grass growing down the middle of the road further down. This is a 50KM per hour road.

R Road The speed limit is 80 KM per hour. You must slow down to 50KM when you enter the town.

N Road Speed limit is 100 KM per hour. At least they have signs that tell you to slow down.

M Road Speed limit is 120 KM per hour. Certain M roads charge a toll. You only have to download the app and pay the toll by 8 PM the next day.

Love the houses with daffodils planted beside the long driveways. The landscape is greening up faster in this part of the country.

We have not seen many homes, businesses, etc. using solar power but we have seen on some wind turbines.

It is so easy to spot crows' nests high up in the trees.

Sheep seem to have more space to graze on. Cows can be seen in large numbers and on small plots of land.

We are staying in Oughterard, which is known as the wild trout capital of Europe.

Oughterard (Irish: Uachtar Ard) is a small town on the banks of the Owenriff River close to the western shore of Lough Corrib in County Galway, Ireland. The population of the town is 1,305. Located some 26 km northwest of Galway on the N59 road. Oughterard is the chief angling center on Lough Corrib and is also known as the 'Gateway to Connemara' as it is on the border of Connemara.

Three kilometers outside the town stand the ruins of Aughnanure Castle, a well-preserved example of a Norman tower house. Much of the surrounding area was occupied by the O'Flaherty clan, but was taken over by Walter de Burgh, 1st Earl of Ulster, in 1256. The original castle was probably built by the Earl during this time but was re-conquered by the O'Flaherty Clan by 1300.

By 1569, Aughnanure Castle and surrounding lands were declared to be property of the crown and in control of Murrough na Doe O'Flaherty was named chief, undermining the rightful chief, Donal an Chogaidh. This decree split the tribe and the eastern portion of the property, including Aughnanure Castle, were controlled by Murrough and the western portion remained with Donal. For 60 years, the castle remained in possession of the crown and was used as a stronghold against attacks from Galway during Cromwellian times.

In 1630, Roderick O'Flaherty petitioned to have the castle returned and the scholar and writer was successful in, once again, retaining possession. It, however, in the difficult years to come, with Roderick being a Catholic, the castle suffered the poverty which he eventually died in.

In recent years, the castle was bought by the Office of Public Works and was fully restored.

The castle was built beside, and at some positions straddling, a small river, the Drimneen, that has cut intriguing caverns in the stone below it. The building consists of a small (probably) guard look-out, a lower floor for storage and two upper floors - one for used for living quarters (containing a secret room) and the other for sleeping. At the top of the castle, there is an area to take in the fabulous views of the surrounding area.

Outside the castle are two courtyards, one original and one that was added at a later period. There is well-known fable that there was once a trap door where unwelcome guests could be dropped into the river flowing below the courtyard.

The water by the castle was extremely dark in color. I asked that question of the girl whom was the cashier at the castle. She stated they had quite a bit of rain lately and the soil has washed into the stream making the water look blood. The fish love when this happens as many nutrients get washed into the water.

The girl working at the Aughnanure was so helpful in giving us many suggestions of what to do for the remainder of the afternoon. There weren't any visitors while we were there so she passed the time talking with us.

She also told us some interesting facts. Languages spoken the most. 1. English 2. Polish 3. French 4. Irish. Would you have guessed that?

We are staying at the Riverwalk House Bed and Breakfast. Ann and her dog, Panda greeted us upon our arrival. She is such a nice person! When you go to a B&B, she is the type of host you want: hospitable, informative, willing to give suggestions of places to visit and places to dine. For each of the three bed and breakfast homes, we have occupied room number 8. Do you think it is time to play the lottery? Also, this is the second Ann.

Riverwalk House is an award winning 4 star Failte Ireland approved B&B. Situated in the picturesque village of Oughterard bordering on Connemara, it is an elegant Irish home offering unique and relaxing guest comfort and service. The B&B is a 3 min walk to the village by the Owenriff river path, where you will find a wide choice of high quality restaurants and pubs to sample.

One of Ann's suggestions was the Breathnachs, pronounced "Bran Knocks". She was spot on! We were greeted by the owner and immediately made to feel very welcome. Breathnachs is a lovely country pub that serves great food. The food was fresh and prepared to perfection. Michael and I both started with the fish chowder. I'm from New England and I know "chowda". This beats anything I have had in New England. The chowder had many different varieties of fish and there were no potatoes used as filler. For the main course, I had the delicious Irish stew and Michael had the fish and chips. The owner told us they were going to have live music starting at 10 o'clock. It is just a little too late as we had a tiring day driving those narrow county roads.

Wishing everyone and their families a very Happy Easter. Hope the Easter Bunny also stops by your house and leaves you a basket of goodies!

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