Almost unique geological feature
A 'Tur lough' is a rather unusual feature of the landscape of Ireland west of the Shannon. They are quite common around this area of county Galway. So, what is it ? Well, its a lake that won't appear on any maps. This is because it is a seasonal phenomena, whereby the exposed limestone creates a shallow lake during the winter months. To be fair, they seem to stick around during the summer around due to the solid monsoon season that lasted from May to August this year.
One fine example can be found on a road leading south from the village of Moylough. There is a fine view from the road, which also has some information boards that talk about the geology, the plantlife and the birdlife that can be seen on this almost unique habitat. There is only one example elsewhere - ant it's in the UK.
The Tur lough above is also affected my methane deposits which means that it can sometimes have a kind of weird luminescent quality to it. I've yet to witness this, but I hope to.
Walks around Mountbellow
The village (or is it small town ?) has developed a number of walks through the surrounding woods.
A short circular walk begins by the bridge and extends alongside the riverbank over a number of small bridges (all of which have trolls living under them according to my son). It is a very pretty walk, especially in the autumnal sunshine - it almost beats New England in the 'fall'. The only downside is the view of the building supplies depot on the other side of the river
There is also a longer walk of a couple of miles that is also wheelchair accessible. It extends from the small car park at the forge museum through the woods, a bridge over the river and finishing at the back of the church in the town. A very easy, but rewarding walk.
- Hiking and Walking
A wonderful ruined abbey. I had my wedding photos take there. If you want the history find it on a website as i'm not going to type it all out for a place that is so small you can't find it on the VT search system. So this recommendaion goes down as the first ever tip for Monivea.
See the St Bernard's
This tip does not refer in any way to the dog's of the same name.
The most striking natural feature of the landscape around here is Knockroe Hill. There is a far more famous one elsewhere in Ireland, but a walk up this one is still very worthwhile.
The view from the top is quite impressive, and you will also find a number of small shrines and a well up there which is known as 'St Bernard's well'. the parish church is also dedicated to this saint, and on his saint's say (August 20th) a pilgrimage is organised to climb the hill.
it's not exactly strenuous, so you are unlikely to need the services of one of those cuddly dogs with the minature barrel of Brandy.
- Religious Travel
Ballyglunin stataion aka Castletown
The famous arrival scene of the John Wayne 1952 film 'The Quiet Man' was filmed here. I think the real name is much more evocative that what Hollywood named it, but I can't do much about that.
I understand the station is currently being converted into a restaurant run as a community project.
If you then get a video of the film you can clearly see how little has changed apart from the sad fact the trains don't at present run here. If the transport plans come to fruition then trains could run from here again in a few years time.
- Arts and Culture
Monivea's answer to the Taj Mahal
This really is something of a hidden gem. Follow the brown tourist signs to Monivea woods and you will hit on some delightful woods that have been recently developed with paths and signage.
Apart from a good woodland walk they also contain two points of interest. The Monivea Mausoleum is the main draw. Built in 1896 by a devoted daughter, this castle-like structure contains the remains of Robert percy Ffrench (yes, that is spelt correctlt, and no he didn't have a stutter). It must have cost a packet at the time, but with an estate here and 55,000 acres in the steppes of Russia the family wasn't short of a few bob. Their story is recorded on the following website, an excellent piece and worthy of a good weepie film. Also note the grave to a later sister - she was a catholic and thus couln't be buried inside.
I rather like the fact that the infomation board says that a key is available from the village, but be careful it is the original. Doesn't say who you ask - but be assured it does work...both the key and the key holding system. Just ask in a local business and they will point you in the right direction. remember to do this before you walk there as you will have a 'double trip' to fetch the key.
There is also an ice-house in the woods. This is basically a pit with a semi-circular mound on top. Not a great deal to see, but kids will live scambling over it.
I would throughly recommend this walk if you have about 1-1 and a half hours spare.