Irish Music

And A Dead Chicken

John McKinney

After moonwalking in Ireland, our trip took us north to Westport. I began loading up the car with our luggage at our B&B when I heard the host’s small dog, a Shih Tzu I believe, begin barking and running down the porch. A chicken from the neighbor’s pen had gotten out and the dog started chasing it. For about 5 minutes the dog chased that chicken around. Into the coup area, out of the coup area. Into the bushes, out of the bushes. Around in a circle, behind a small wooden building. I had stopped paying too much attention at this point when I heard loud “bagawk” noises from the bushes. The chicken had run back to the bushes and the Shih Tzu had followed. The noises continued and then feathers began flying out of the bushes. I was completely awestruck and didn’t know what to do. A moment later, it didn’t matter. The “bagawk” noises had ceased and the Shih Tzu pranced out from the bushes. The chicken was dead.

I stood there for a few more minutes, not knowing what to do next. I had been the only person outside when this happened. I put the last jacket in the car as the B&B host walked out to bring the dog inside. She saw all the feathers and went to investigate. We were driving away as she was talking with the neighbor next door who was holding the recently deceased chicken.

I’m not really sure how to transition from that smoothly so…moving on!

Ashford Castle

Our first stop of the day was to Ashford Castle. My wife’s ancestor had been a gardener at Ashford a few generations prior. Ashford Castle is a massive estate set on Lough Corrib. It’s now a hotel resort with gorgeous sprawling gardens, a falconry school (which I learned was a thing), a golf course, and a number of beautiful trails. If you are not staying at Ashford Castle there is a small entrance fee to explore the grounds. The gardens alone are worth the stop as you head north from Galway City.

There are multiple garden areas at Ashford each with their own feel. In addition, the trails here lead you along the lake and through beautiful grounds. There is even a castle wall lookout you can climb up into. We thoroughly enjoyed our stop here.

800 Years Of History

Our next stop was at Ballintubber Abbey in the village of Ballintubber, County Mayo. When we visited the church, which is still in active use today, it was celebrating its 800th year. While there we explored the “themed” landscaping. They use the landscaping and statues to depict various moments from Jesus’s life. They have a cave in with a manager scene inside for His birth, a crucifixion scene for His death, and an empty tomb for the resurrection as well as many more. I would recommend stopping by if you are on your way to Westport from Galway.

Good Irish Beer & Music

Westport, a small city, an hour and a half north of Galway, was a wonderful place to stay a few nights. Small enough to walk around but big enough to not do so within 30 mins like Portmagee or Kenmare. After grabbing a delicious dinner in the Westport Quay area at a restaurant called The Helm, we made our way to the famous Matt Molloy’s to listen to traditional Irish music. The music was not supposed to start for a little over an hour but we had read Matt Molloy’s is extremely popular so we figured we would get there early. We assumed this would be early enough to get a seat…we were wrong. The place was packed with no real place to even stand. So instead, we moved one door down to another pub, The Porter House Bar.

We were able to grab a seat at a table just a few feet from where the musician would be playing. We couldn’t have asked for better seats or a more fun atmosphere. We first shared a table with two ladies who had come to Ireland from the States but had made no plans. They were going from town to town figuring out what to do as they got there. They were essentially vagabonds. As much as I love being spontaneous, I do like having at least a rough idea of a few things to see when visiting a place as incredible as Ireland. Had we vacationed like them, we never would have been able to experience the Skellig Michael.

After they called it a night, 2 German men joined our table. They were in enthralled with the music, clapping and singing along (not well but who cares). Many began to pack the bar throughout the evening. We met a man who was backpacking through Ireland and loved traditional Irish music more than anyone I’ve ever met. We got to know many around us, it was a very friendly and social atmosphere. Many said they were at Matt Molloy’s but came over due to how packed it was there. They said they enjoyed Matt Molloy’s but that this music was just as good and the atmosphere was better. If you’re looking for great music and struggle to find a seat in the always busy Matt Molloy’s, definitely check out The Porter House Bar next door.

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