The most important horse and the cliffhanger.

Map 29

Tuesday, July 29th 2019

I woke up this morning, feeling energized and well rested. I had slept well. I think, although because I was sleeping, I’m not really sure.

I packed up camp, and decided to head all the way back up to the Downpatrick Dun Briste Sea Stacks. In truth, I had tried to wake up really early, so that I could get there and photograph the sunrise. Unfortunately, when I woke up at 03:30 am, there were no stars to be seen because of the clouds, and there was a light drizzle coming down. So, I decided to do the most intelligent thing I could think of and go back to sleep. Sometimes I sabotage myself thinking I’m being smart, but in reality, I’m just being lazy. I could easily have gotten up and cycled over to Downpatrick, but I managed to convince myself, and quite easily I might add, that it would be a waste of time.

Either way, I woke up feeling fresh and raring to go.

On my out of the Belleek Park Caravan & Camping grounds, I saw a sign for Belleek Castle and couldn’t resist popping in. This was actually a way for me to help ignore that little voice calling me lazy for sleeping in, because, as I told myself, if I had gotten up when I awoke at 03:30am and left to the sea cliffs, I would not have had the opportunity to visit the castle.

When I got to the grounds, I found the sun peeking through the clouds while I explored some magical, beautiful, lush, emerald green forests.

Cart in a Forest at Beleek Castle from the lawn in Ballina County Mayo - sunrays
Forest at Beleek Castle from the lawn in Ballina County Mayo - sunrays
Path through the woods to stairs at Beleek Castle County Mayo
People on Path through the woods to stairs at Beleek Castle County Mayo - 2

I followed the road until I came upon this magnificent structure centered in a clearing in the forest, and strategically placed on a small hillock on a large expanse of Irish green grass.

Beleek Castle from the lawn in Ballina County Mayo - pano
Beleek Castle in Ballina County Mayo - Front - original
Beleek Castle in Ballina County Mayo - BW
Aerial - Beleek Castle from the air in Ballina County Mayo - birds eyeview
Aerial - Beleek Castle from the air in Ballina County Mayo

I didn’t realize that Belleek Castle had become a luxurious hotel. I walked in through the main doors and explained to a lady behind the counter what I was doing, and asked politely if I would be allowed to roam the castle and photograph it. I was told that the only way to do that would be to pay for a guided tour which would take place in 2 – 3 hours. Needless to say, I didn’t have luxury of spending that time waiting, and asked which areas I could roam through on my own.

She graciously allowed me a few rooms worth of roaming, so off I went to explore. And in true Irish fashion, the first room I found was filled with delights for the senses. A pub.

Beleek Castle bar in Ballina County Mayo - 2
Bottles - Beleek Castle bar in Ballina County Mayo
Beer taps - Beleek Castle bar in Ballina County Mayo
Coat of Arms in Beleek Castle bar in Ballina County Mayo
Corner - Beleek Castle bar in Ballina County Mayo

The next room I came to was actually off-limits, but they allowed me to peek my head in and take a few photos. This was the main staircase leading up the guest bedrooms.

Staicase looking up - Beleek Castle in Ballina County Mayo - Sunrays
Staicase - Beleek Castle in Ballina County Mayo - sunrays

Before leaving the actual castle, I stopped to photograph the main entrance room. All I can say is it was grand!!

Inside of entrance hall Beleek Castle in Ballina County Mayo - 2 - BW
Inside of entrance hall Beleek Castle in Ballina County Mayo - BW

I then ventured into the forest around the castle, and found a fascinating monument.
Sir Arthur Francis Knox-Gore lived at Belleek Castle with his wife Sarah and his 9 children until his death in 1873. According to his wishes he was buried in Belleek Demense. A striking Neo-Gothic Monument, designed by James Franklin Fuller, now marks his grave and is situated in the middle of Belleek Woods. It is said that both his wife and his favourite horse are both buried beside him. There are also rumours that his dogs are buried there as well.

Neo-Gothic Monument - James Franklin Fuller wife and horse grave - Belleek Woods
Aerial - Neo-Gothic Monument - James Franklin Fuller wife and horse grave - Belleek Woods

After walking through the forest and finding out that someone had been buried with their horse, I decided to leave and head off on the rest of my days planned itinerary.

Being that I’m a sucker for Irish bridges, I stopped off to photograph Palmerstown Bridge in County Mayo.

Palmerstown Bridge - County Mayo

And so, off I went back to whence I came from. On the day before. And to where I should have gone much earlier in the morning, Downpatrick Dun Briste Sea Stack.

As I was getting closer, I saw the skies were gray and overcast with the feel of static in the air of impending storms, but I was lucky that the rain was kept at bay.

Dun Briste waves on the shore and cliffs - North County Mayo
Downpatrick Head metal Sign

If you look closely at this next photo, you will see my trusty steed parked up against the old watchtowers wall. And no, I don’t plan on being buried with my bicycle.

Downpatrick Dun Briste Sea Stack and WW2 hut- North County Mayo - movie
Downpatrick Dun Briste Sea Stack with bokeh grass in front - North County Mayo
Waves on rocks at the bottom of further cliffs Downpatrick Dun Briste Sea Stack - North County Mayo
Waves on rocks and cliffs Downpatrick Dun Briste Sea Stack - North County Mayo
Water crashing into cave at Dun Briste - County Mayo - closer

Go ahead and caption this next photo in a message to me 🙂

Seagulls squaring off on the cliffs of Dun Briste Sea Stack - North County Mayo - 4

I left the mighty and impressive cliffs, and started on the long road to my campgrounds for the night. On the way, I stopped to get hydrated at a small convenience store, and happened to see an abandoned house with an air of desolation, but also with an unmistakable charm right on a waterfall on Dunneill-River in County Sligo. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find out any information on this abandoned house.

Old house and Dunneill River Waterfall - County Sligo
Dunneill River Waterfall - County Sligo

I arrived at Strandhill Caravan & Camping Park in County Sligo just before sunset. I got to set up camp, and still get to the beach to photograph a serene and beautiful sunset.

Sun setting on beach of Strandhill Caravan & Camping Park - County Sligo - wooden wall - back OOF
Sun setting through lifeguard ring on beach of Strandhill Caravan & Camping Park - County Sligo
Sun setting on beach of Strandhill Caravan & Camping Park - County Sligo - 3

After this beautiful, fun-packed day, I very gratefully climbed into my sleeping bag, and fell asleep before my head hit the pillow.

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