We reluctantly left behind the beauties of Lough Corrib and it's surroundings (see Day Eight Part One Here) and pulled into Cong, an idyllic town that straddles Counties Galway and Mayo. I was delighted by the tidy gardens fronting the charming houses. Below is a detail of the above picture treated to the dry brush application through Photo Shop.
There were so many houses I wanted to photograph but we had less than two hours to see all of Cong and there was just so much to see; I had to settle for a few shots on the run. Cong is famous for being the city in which the movie The Quiet Man with John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara was filmed. Much of it is still the same.
Around the corner from the house above was this view of the River Cong (or so I assume since we were on our own, i.e. tour-guideless, and this is the only river I can find a name for) which I have treated to the dry brush application.
It was difficult to decide which way to go but a riot of flowers always clears the mind.
Another darling house that I shot on the run. I so wish that car hadn't been parked out front but this is somebody's dwelling place, after all.
Finally, we decided to head for St. Mary's Church, though Public Toilets were always a popular choice of mine the entire time we were in Ireland. (Why are there two signs for the church? We don't know.)
This square tower helps to date the church back to within the first hundred years or so after the Norman Conquest in 1066. That makes this a very old church, indeed.
We walked around until we found the arched entrance.
Through one of the arches can be seen the square tower seen a few photos back.
Onward and upward.
One could smell the age clinging to the stones.
Back out in the inner courtyard was a graveyard. One of the walls was punctuated with a series of archways.
Some of the grave sites had standing tombstones or crosses while others had markers that were flat against the ground.
This archway was incredibly detailed and beautiful.
I wish I knew what this row of arches signify. They are too low for windows.
This row of arches are across the green from the ones pictured above.
A view of the far row from between the near one.
This side of the last door-sized arch is even prettier than the other. The hours of labor and skill that went into this boggles the mind.
If you look closely you can see a little face in the bottom right corner of this photo.
An archway like this is pretty enticing. So,we went through it.
What I didn't realize at the time was that I was now on the grounds of Cong Abbey. This is the Monk Fish House, or the ruins of it, anyway. Can't you just picture a monk sitting on the ledge, his sandaled feet dangling above the water?
I doubt this skiff is as old as the fish house but it made for a lovely photo. The water here was gorgeous!
So, the monks back then were kind of short. Since I have been home I have learned that one of the reasons why so many ruins in Ireland are roofless is b/c they were made of slate which is quite expensive and desirable--so they were sold (or taken).
These tree roots are reminiscent of Celtic knot work. One can see how the roots of a Yew tree prompted so much art work.
I wish I had known at the time whose face (at the top of the arch) this was meant to be.
This face marks the burial place (generally--I don't know his precise burial location) of the last High King of Ireland, (in the Gaelic) or Rory O'Connor. He is infamous for being a weak king who allowed Henry II to invade and take over. Rory was expelled from his own kingdom (he gave up the high kingship in favor of a smaller one) by his own family and died at the abbey in Cong--where he was buried. Again, if I had known, I would have looked for his grave. However, being that it happened nearly 1,000 years ago, I suspect his exact resting spot is unknown. (I'm voting for the car park.)
The back of the same wall.
The Monk Fish House through the trees.
This view is of King Rory's face again--I snapped it because all of this greenery made me think so much of Northern California where I have lived for most of my life. In fact, in most of Ireland, I didn't feel as if I were in a foreign place at all.
Mary's comment just prior to taking this photo was "This is why I came to Ireland".
At this point we were running out of time if we were going to get anything to eat. We ran across the various bridges into the town proper and ordered up ice cream cones from a store decorated with huge posters of the movie The Quiet Man. The structure had originally been the bar in which a number of iconic scenes happen. It looks totally different now, but I still wish I had taken it's photo. I had time for one more picture of the Knock Your Socks of Hydrangeas before getting on the bus and heading out.
Next time: A fishing port, a woolen mill and a gloriously beautiful graveyard.