Wednesday, 13 July 2016

The Return to Innisfree - Day 5


Maam Cross

Cong                                                                              Ireland

Tuesday 10th June 2014

A lovely sunny day welcomed us all in the morning which was a hell of a lot better from the rain these past days. It was good timing too as today was the day I would take part in clay pigeon shooting and archery. They were both located at the equestrian centre on Ashford castles grounds. So after breakfast my parents and I headed into Cong where we later parted ways taking the peaceful walk towards Ashford castle on my own. On my way to the equestrian centre I caught sight of something incredible in front of Ashford castle. There were 5 helicopters on the helipad field which were amazing to see as I had never seen anything like it before. I was tempted to get close to one and possibly get in and fly off but I didn’t want to be tackled by the formally dressed guards with their golden buttons. I headed through a quaint woodland area until I finally arrived at the centre just before 10am to begin my activities. I showed up a bit too early though so in the meantime I had time to explore the stables admiring the horses which were enjoying my company. I also had a nice chat with an Australian couple about how far they had to travel to get to this beautiful place stating that they came all this way because of the film ‘The Quiet Man’. It was amazing to see how far people would travel for this classic film thinking that my journey seemed like a short trip compared to theirs. As we were still talking about Cong, my instructor showed up for my first activity of clay pigeon shooting. After shaking hands and leaving behind the Australian couple, he led me through a small forest trail to where I would be shooting. It was at this moment my adrenaline kicked in realising what I was about to do becoming excited. He then opened his small van and got out a double barrel shotgun and ammunition which was a thing of beauty. The gun was quite heavy too but manageable as I was being taught how to stand, place the gun and aim for the clay pigeons correctly. With a small bit of training I gained some control of the weapon and readied myself for the orange clay pigeons to be thrown high in the air by a machine. I had a goal to hit at least one clay pigeon in order to go home happy as I had high expectations so when the first clay pigeon flew up into the air, I pointed, aimed with no hesitation and shot the clay. It was an amazing feeling to watch the orange clay disintegrate into smithereens and the bang from the gun was immense with quite a kickback as the gun pushed hard into my shoulder. There were times I would miss but not lose focus on the next one ready with my stance and aim. Then something funny happened towards the end of the session. There was a duck that landed in the shooting area which seemed as though it had nerves of steel as when I was shooting, it wouldn’t fly off. It even had the instructor laughing as we finally came to the end of the session. I was really happy when I found out that I hit 11 out of 25 clays which was a higher expectation than I thought I would get. The instructor and I parted ways as I headed back to the stables to take part in archery. My instructor for archery was already waiting on me with a set of bow and arrows. As soon as I had seen the bow and arrows, I was raring to go with the thought that I was Robin Hood. My instructor was a German woman who was teaching me about stance, aim and firing correctly. I also had a French woman watching at the fence with her dog which added pressure onto my concentration. All the while we were making good conversation about where we all came from and why we were over here in Ireland. Even with the accent barrier causing awkwardness at times, it did not stop our laughter of me missing now and again. The target was about 15 metres away which was perfectly fine for me as a start. I spent well over an hour firing shots with each time improving as I was hitting closer to the centre target feeling great that I was actually hitting it. I could start feeling my muscles straining too with pulling the string back but I definitely got the hang of it towards the end. It was a challenge though when she moved the target back another 5 metres and stuck a balloon on the target for me to pop it. After countless times trying to hit it, I eventually heard the pop we were waiting for. It was a relief to behold as I fist pumped the air with great excitement. It must have been a relief for the instructor too as she must have became tired with watching me miss the target. We all parted ways thanking her for her training as I headed back into Cong to find my parents. Along the way I was constantly thinking about what I had just done today. Both activities were amazing experiences to take part in and when I finally returned to my parents, they could see in my face I had a brilliant time. We still had quite a bit of time to spare before it was time to turn in for the night so I drove us all to a place known as Maam cross. This place was home to one of the main film locations on ‘The Quiet Man’ which was the ‘White o Morn’ cottage where Sean Thornton lived. As we had been to this place on previous trips, we knew exactly where to stop the car as it was very difficult to find. Along the way though we were driving along the most scenic view we had came across in Ireland so far on this journey. It was the majestic Lough Corrib and my god it was beautiful to drive along as the sun was bouncing on the calm lake with small woodland islands scattered across the whole of the lake and hills disappearing in the distance. It was very interesting remembering that there are 365 islands on Lough Corrib which meant that there was an island for each day of the year. A moment later we finally arrived at our destination and as soon as we all seen this place, memories came flowing through our minds as me and my mother left the car heading towards the cottage. The first thing we came across was the small stream running in front of the cottage where in the film there were  stepping stones spread across the stream; Now there was nothing there. Then we had seen the small bridge which Sean Thornton and Michaleen Oge Flynn stood upon overlooking the cottage. The one thing that did change dramatically from the film was the cottage itself. The cottage ceased to exist but there was still a lot to make it noticeable. What was left though was a ruin with scattered grey stones around the small cottage outline. It was a shame as a lot of tourists would take the stones away to resell them back home or keep for themselves because of its history. Despite this it was truly amazing to be back there along with the beautiful scenery of Lough Corrib. It was definitely time to head back to Corrib view villa for the night especially after a long and incredible day. On the way back from Maam Cross though we pulled into a car park next to the water’s edge of Lough Corrib and we all left the car and sat in silence hearing completely nothing. The pure silence along with the breath-taking views of the calm lake was absolutely astounding. I also felt a sudden peace in my heart staring out across the lake feeling a sense of freedom. As we were closing in on Corrib view villa, I was constantly thinking of how this day would stay in my memory for a good long while; especially the wonderful sunset hiding behind the green hills of Ireland.

White O Morn Cottage Bridge Now

White O Morn Cottage bridge `The Quiet Man` 1952 - forgive the quality of the picture


 
White O Morn Cottage and Stream Now


White O Morn Cottage `The Quiet Man` 1952


Helicopters in front of Ashford Castle

Woodland track to Equestrian Centre

Cong River and Ashford Castle


Maam Cross

Maam Cross

Maam Cross - Steam in front of cottage

Lough Corrib

Lough Corrib

Lough Corrib

Me at Lough Corrib

Me at Lough Corrib

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