The actual Castle is 1/2 mile away and there's a Land Rover available to run you back and forth.
We repeated several of our activities from our last visit, but added some.
As we visited the Castle we noticed that there were statues of Irish wolfhounds beside the door. We asked the doorman (in his top hat of course) why they were there. He offered that we could help walk the wolfhounds the next morning at 8:00AM.
So the next morning we turned up at the Castle (in the Land Rover) and joined a small crowd to go walk the dogs. We were led to a 6 ft. gate nearby. The dogs were inside in a van. James Knight, the handler, cautioned us not to feed them and released them. They were HUGE!
Their names are Cronan And Garvan. When he went around the crowd asking where we were from we answered "Memphis." He then explained that the wolfhounds were there because Stanley Tollman, the owner of Ashford Castle, had visited the Peabody in Memphis and was enthralled by the ducks in the lobby fountain. Upon his return to Ashford Castle, he began a tradition of having the wolfhounds presented in the lobby daily.
The walk lasted about 45 minutes and the dogs performed all the necessary functions.
We had the falconry experience again this time with our daughter and granddaughter. It is a walk through the nearby forests with the Harris Hawks foraging for food. When they would return to the girls, they would swoop down with their huge wings extended.
Afterwards we got to visit with the family of ferrets. One pair was named Charles and Camilla. I'll let you speculate why. That was a big hit with the girls.
The manager of the falconry is Debbie Knight, James' wife. Here's a good article (archive.org) on James and Debbie.
Our younger granddaughter had just turned 6 so we had lunch in the drawing room of the Castle followed by cake and ice cream as we had done for our older granddaughter on the previous trip. They sang "Happy Birthday" and took photos. The younger granddaughter enjoyed exploring the Castle.
After lunch, the girls had a trail ride through the grounds.
The reception staff at the Lodge had made all the arrangements for us and everything came off perfectly.
For dinner, we drove up to Cong and explored the ruins of the Abbey and played on the banks of the river.
Incidentally, the Lodge is in County Mayo and the Castle is in County Galway.
Interestingly, our guide for the falconry shared with us that many of the words and phrases associated with falconry have made their way into the everyday English language.
- Under your thumb Refers to tightly gripping the bird’s tethers to keep it under control.
- Wrapped around my little finger Falconers wrap the tethers around their pinky to prevent the bird from flying away.
- Fed up When a bird has eaten its fill, it will no longer hunt.