s a n d y f e e t . e x p o . e u r o p a . 9 8

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castle camping

I have carved literally thousands of sand castles but until this journey had never seen one up close and personal. It has long been a fantasy of mine to spend a night in a real castle and was delighted to discover that this particular fantasy lived up to all my expectations in its realization.

Cregg Castle lies about 9 miles north of Galway City on the west coast of Ireland. It dates back to the 18th century and is owned and maintained by a lovely Irish couple. It cost me and my companion about $75 for a spacious room with a comfortable bed and a full breakfast the next morning - you can find more tech stuff on the castle web-site.

These are some pictures from my stay...

Irish whiskey in front of a roaring fire in the great hall

cregg castle
Cregg Castle

We arrived mid-afternoon. Russell was pretty pooped from his driving duties so he took a short snooze while I worked on my Irish web page in our room.

Then we took a tour of the common rooms. At right is the dining room where we were to enjoy a tasty full breakfast cooked to order (which means I got my egg scrambled well -done for a change.)

dining room

At right is a rather bad picture of the great hall with its gorgeous marble fire place.

Below is a giant lock with Russell's hand to give you some idea of just how giant it is.


great hall 

We popped over to a nearby pub for a fish and chips supper and a bottle of Irish Whiskey to go. At right is a picture of Russell negotiating the deal.

No, I don't often drink whiskey but it just seemed to be the thing to do here.


It was a cold and rainy night in Ireland - not so unusual from what I hear - but it was warm by the fire and the whiskey didn't hurt, either.

As the evening progressed more of the guests wandered in - including a handful of Americans and some Irish artists. We really enjoyed meeting this diverse bunch and appreciated the opportunity to exchange stories and opinions into the wee hours.

a toast!

Another really bad picture - this of our hosts performing traditional Irish music on a drum thing and some sort of Irish pipe that I was never quite able to catch the name of. It was powered by some sort of bellows squeezed in the armpit and sounded like a bagpipe and fiddle all at the same time.

[A visitor to this site sent me the following message: "Popped by and read your piece on the Castle visit to Galway. Glad you enjoyed yourself. For what it's worth the pipes the guy was playing are called Uileann Pipes (pronounced.  ILL-IN). The 'drum' is a bodhran (pronounced BOW-...as in COW..R-ON, BOWRON). The Scots have the bag-pipes, we have the Uileann pipes. The bag-pipes sound like a cat being strangled.... the Uileann pipes sound similar but the strangulation is done with kindness!!!!" Thanks, Joe, for clearing this up.]

I purchased one of the 3 tapes available of their music and we listened to it all the way back to Wales.

Cregg music
russell looks

After a good night's sleep (if this castle has ghosts they are very quiet ones) we took a walk on the castle grounds. The cemetary was lovely and quiet and is well worth investigating. At left Russell found something quite interesting in an alter-like structure. What he is looking at is pictured below - a star in a pentagram that looked to be somehow inset in one of the rocks -- leading us to wonder if perhaps the structure had been used in some sort of pagan rite before the Christians arrived...

rock star

Dates on the stones ranged from very old (late 1700's) to quite recent (1995). Lots of Celtic Crosses and lovely wildflowers. cemetary

The castle grounds are teeming with all sorts of creatures, including the friend I made (below) and lots of frolicking sheep.

cregg cat

cregg sheep

There is plenty of enchanted forest here - very lush and green and a sight for sore eyes for a Texan coming from the drought-stricken Rio Grande Valley.

Can you spot the leprechoun in this picture?


From Castle to Caravan:

We really would have liked to stay another day or two but had a ferry to catch, so after a quick stop in Galway - all we saw was the inside of the local cybercafe - we beat a path back to Rosslare where our first hostess was taking good care of my VISA card. Our ferry was not scheduled to leave until the next morning and - it being the weekend - Dungara was all full. However, the lovely Ms. Stack most kindly offered us the use of her trailer (caravan) for our night's accommodations and even furnished us with some tea and toast for breakfast. She is really a sweet lady and the nicest I have met on my journey thus far.

next.... racing across England to miss the next ferry to Holland
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