Since the sun rose at 5:30 AM, we once again enjoyed an early breakfast,this time in the Gray Gables lovely sun-room. Our hostess asked where we were headed. Bunratty Castle, which was only 20 minutes down the M1 highway. ” Don’t go that way though.” she urged. She handed Matt and Tom some brochures listing the local sights of interest, Quinn Abbey, Knappogue Castle and Craggavnowen. So,once more, we amended our destination and made a right out of the B & B parking lot, towards Quinn.
Quinn was the castle of the Norman Lord De Thormond from around 1270. But after years of the local Irish attacking and burning the castle, he departed and left it to the McNamaras. The McNamaras built a new castle close by named Knappogue. They turned the original castle into an abbey for the Franciscan Monks. Then, King Henry VIII closed the Catholic abbey, but he graciously allowed the ” few useless, old men to end their lives there”. It is now a part of the Irish parish of St. Mary’s. They have utilized the ruins as their parish graveyard. We found grave markers from the 1800’s and early 1900’s.
We could not get into Knoppogue Castle, it is no longer a royal residence but a catering venue. But the formal gardens were worth the effort despite the heat and humidity! Sally found an unusual bumble bee there. We soon found out it was a thatching bee!
It took some zig-zags to find the farmland marked as Craggavnowen – The Living Past Project. By now the sun was high up in the sky,so it was nice to wander down shady treed paths to the 3 exhibits.
The Neolithic Village, complete with moat. The Iron Age Village surrounded by earthen embankments and a hidden escape tunnel. Finally the St. Brendan Canoe exhibit. This was in a glass enclosure with the leather canoe used in the 1980s to prove the possibility of St Brendan’s legendary travel to the New World.We ended our visit in their gift shop, of course! It was not our fault though, the Irish sites all have the tourists exit through the gift shop!!
By now we were starved, so down the road we went. We made a brief stop in the tiny village of Sixmilebridge for lunch along the river overlooking a 20′ bronze of ” The Miller Returns”.