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  • Day37

    The wonderful Achill Island

    August 29, 2017 in Ireland ⋅ ☀️ 12 °C

    Our full day exploring Achill Island started in the mist. Our B&B owner said that the day would clear - he was right. We decided to circumnavigate the island in a clockwise direction. Our first stop was the castle of Grace O'Malley - the pirate queen of Ireland. I found this story amusing -

    "In 1593, when her sons and her half-brother, were taken captive by the English, Grace sailed to England to petition Elizabeth I for their release. Elizabeth I famously sent Grace a list of questions, which she answered and returned to Elizabeth. Grace met with Elizabeth at Greenwich Palace, wearing a fine gown, the two of them surrounded by guards and the members of Elizabeth's royal Court.

    She refused to bow before Elizabeth because she did not recognise her as the Queen of Ireland. Apparently Grace sneezed and was given a lace-edged handkerchief from a noblewoman.

    She apparently blew her nose into the handkerchief and then threw the piece of cloth into a nearby fireplace, much to the shock of the court. Grace informed Elizabeth and her court that, in Ireland, a used handkerchief was considered dirty and was destroyed. Their discussion was carried out in Latin, as Grace spoke no English and Elizabeth spoke no Irish."

    Achill Island is popular for cycling and road running events, there were drinks stops placed all along the roads. The scenery is incredible - huge hills, perfectly neat Irish Country homes, rugged sea cliffs and challenging country roads, oh and sheep ... sheep everywhere - but they are good with cars, they just ignore you.

    There a handful of villages - just what you would expect in Ireland - but a little more focused on holiday makers - and water sports - even surfing. We went the the furthermost place west - Keen Bay where they used to net Basking Sharks for their oil, the basking shark are the largest fish in the North Atlantic, and they once swam off Achill in abundance - almost 10,000 were caught between the 1950s and 1980s. The sharks had a liver that was 25% of their body weight - so they could get 400kg of oil from each shark - they used the oil for street lamps - makes you think ?

    We went to the Deserted Village at Slievemore which consists of some 80 – 100 stone cottages located along a mile long stretch of road on the southern slopes of Slievemore mountain. While some of these dwellings were occupied as summer ‘booley’ homes within living memory, the area itself is rich in archaeological artifacts including megalithic tombs dating from the Neolithic period some 5,000 years ago. Its hard to find out why the village was abandoned, it seems to have happened before the famine, who knows why?

    A fun day on Achill Island was completed by me having a fish platter - eight different types of shell and scale fish - all cold - a real treat.

    Tomorrow we head back to Dublin to get ready for our flight to Venice.

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