Monday, April 16, 2018

Last Day in Ireland – Wandering Toward Dublin

We were a little down as this was our last day in Ireland before flying home to the USA.  Still, I was determined to get as much out of the day as possible and that was challenging because it rained hard off and on during our drive.

When we left our bed and breakfast in Cong, I headed north and a little east on R345 and R334 to the village of Ballinrobe.  In Irish Gaelic, it’s Baile an Roba, meaning “town of the (river) Robe”.

Ballinrobe dates back to 1390 and it’s reputed to be the oldest town in County Mayo.  In 1606, King James granted the town a Royal Patent which allowed the town to hold fairs and markets.  Obtaining a market charter was an important step in the economic development of a town.  Today, Ballinrobe has about 3,700 residents.

Every now and then we were rewarded with a burst of sunshine…and we took the opportunity to take this photo of these colorful flowers.

Ireland provided workhouses during the potato famine under the country’s Poor Laws.  Ballinrobe suffered greatly during the Great Famine of 1845 – 1849.  At the height of the famine, the vastly overcrowded workhouse/poorhouse was jammed…with 2,000 inmates!  To quote The Mayo Constitution, “…the workhouse is in the most awfully deplorable state, pestilence attacking paupers, officers and all.  In fact, this building is one horrible charnel house, the unfortunate paupers being nearly all the victims of a fearful fever, the dying and the dead, we might say, huddled together.”  During just 1 week in April of 1849, 96 people died in this workhouse…

If you needed proof that we stayed on the back roads in an effort to see as much of the Irish countryside as possible, this cow ‘roadblock’ should provide enough evidence to support my claim!  Of course, the road wasn’t exactly a superhighway…narrow at best.

After a few minutes of following the cows and the farmer up the road, he directed them into a lush field… The experience for the cows and the people grew a touch more ‘interesting’ when we encountered a truck coming the other way.  The cows squeezed by on one side…and all was well.

From Ballinrobe, I’d followed a series of country roads almost due east.  After a bit we came to the village of Ballindine.  The Irish post offices in these small towns and villages are quaint and the green really stands out.

In Irish Gaelic, Baile an Daighim, means “Town of the Fortress.  The remains of a possible fort are located in a field next to the school.  Folklore states that the town got its name from this ancient fort. 

…yet another burst of sunshine showing off the Irish countryside.  In this part of west central Ireland, mountains and major hills give way to a pastoral look, pleasant but not dramatic.

We just had to take a photo of these ruins.  I wonder about the stories that these old stone walls could tell!  I’m not sure if it was a home or some kind of business back in the day…

Shortly after passing the ruins shown in the previous photo, we noted this dilapidated tower castle near the town of Dunmore.  

Located on a small hillock, the first castle on this site was built by the Anglo-Norman de-Birmingham family so they could defend themselves (not always successfully) from area native Irish forces.  After a last assault in 1315, the castle was largely rebuilt.  Much of the current structure dates from the early 1300s.  It is accessible to the general public. 

Then we found ourselves driving though Dunmore itself.  This street was a tad bit narrow, don’t you think!?

The area around Dunmore came under the rule of Ui Conchobair in the 1100s.  For a period of time, it was the capital of the King of Connacht, Tairrdelbach Ua Conchobair who died here in 1156.  Tairrdelbach, (Anglicized O’Conor or O’Connor), was King for 50 years!  He dominated Irish politics and led armies and navies all over the island subjugating entire kingdoms.  At the battle of Moin Mor in 1151 his forces inflicted 7,000 enemy casualties…  

Laurie took this photo just to show a picture of a nice little home in the Irish countryside…

This is a nice partially sunny view along our backroad route toward Dublin.  The countryside was still very appealing if not as dramatic as in the west of Ireland.

We continued on passing through the villages of Glennamaddy, Creggs and Athleague along the way.  Some of the small villages were obviously in decline…something we didn’t see in the tourist focused areas.  Farming is tough everywhere…

Creggs is also known as Costa Brava.  Even though it only has a population of around 100, it has 3 public houses/bars.  It used to have 7!

This is the Old Church of Ireland in Athleague County Roscommon.  This old stone church is surrounded by stone walls.  It was built in 1841 but from what I’ve read, these days the handsome old church is the home of the River Suck Athleague Angling Center.   

The sunshine stayed with us…and then we entered the big town of Roscommon.  

At the time, if I’d spotted Molloy’s Bakery and Fine Food Emporium, (orange building), we would have come to a screeching halt!  We love a good bakery…a little too much.  They bake 21 different types of bread and rolls and they serve food too!   Molloy’s has been in business for 96 years as of this year!  Check out their website at

We spotted a big church or cathedral in the distance so we circled the area in an effort to gain access.  Like most towns in Ireland or Scotland, the streets wander in all direction…straightforward street grids just don’t occur! 
My efforts to locate the church paid off…for Laurie.  She was out of the car with our camera and talking to these horses ASAP.  She got an instant ‘horse fix’!

Some of the horses were a bit standoffish but she did make a friend with this one.  If only she had some sugar cubes in her pocket!

This very large and impressive house of worship is the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in the town of Roscommon.  This parish has 1,500 families, 5 priests and 2 deacons!   This parish church was built in 1903 with the tower being added in 1916. 

The architectural design of this church is referred to as being ‘flamboyant’.  I’d never heard of ‘flamboyant’ as a design style so I had to look it up.  It was the name given to a florid style of late Gothic architecture that was popular in France from about 1350 until it was superseded by Renaissance architecture in the early 1500s. 

To match the flamboyant style of the rest of the exterior of this church, the freeze over the front doors of Sacred Heart is both impressive and beautiful.  The interior of this big church is pretty stunning too.  If you’re interested in seeing more, you can check out some terrific photos at

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit… FYI, my next post from Ireland will be the last. 

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

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