Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Enemy territory!- the lovely village of Cong, Ireland

Lough Corrib, Cong, Ireland

  Enemy territory! Yes, Cong on the Galway/Mayo border (where the John Wayne film The Quiet Man was filmed,) was enemy territory for Kilkenny folk on Sunday, the 9th of September, 2012; it was the All-Ireland hurling final of Galway vs Kilkenny. 

  But as we had won a Secret Sunday package from Lisloughrey Lodge, located by Lough Corrib, we braved the sea of Galway flags and had a 24 hour visit to this lovely part of Ireland.

Settling in for the hurling match
The match was kicking off at 3.30, and we arrived at the lodge in time to settle in to their Quay Bar in a prime telly-viewing position. The remaining guests from the last night's local wedding were still around and started filtering in.Yep- Galway supporters.
Our room was just getting the final touches, so we could only drop off our bags; there was no possibility of hiding our Kilkenny cheering by watching in there. Uh oh! Ahh, no- actually I'm just being dramatic; we've always found hurling fans to be quite respectful of the opposing supporters. And so it was at this match- we all enjoyed great banter with each other. The match was exciting & close the whole way through, and ended in a draw! It was win-win for us, really, as we didn't have to feel rude celebrating if Kilkenny won, or feel dejected while all around us celebrated if Galway won. Perfect. Plus, the pints in The Quay Bar were good :-)

Lough Corrib, down from Lisloughrey Lodge

After the match we went for a little wander before dinner at Lisloughrey's Wildes restaurant. (Which turned out to be our top dinner of 2012! I MUST do a post..) You can see the lough from the lodge, & we headed down to the small quay there, snapped photos, & made a note to do the historic Lough Corrib cruise in the morning. (365 days a yr,trips 2 times a day.) Then we drove the few kilometers into Cong village.

I wasn't sure what to expect, thinking the village might just be touristy tat about The Quiet Man, which neither of us had seen, although Terry's Dad had actually worked on the movie. In fact, he had a spooky experience during that work, when he stayed in Ashford Castle. Have a listen to what happened:
 Well! Luckily for us, Cong was quiet enough, but not spooky or lifeless! As it was the evening, there were no tourist buses, but there were some folk enjoying the nice weather & the outdoor seating at the many inviting pubs. The village itself  has had a bit of a spruce up thanks to the local folk in Tidy Towns, according to Susan at Lady's Buttery Irish art & crafts shop, and Cong really is gorgeous! There were flowers in boxes, baskets & beds- and not just bedding plants- beautiful & bee-friendly perennial plants, too. Many of the old houses & buildings that were empty had been painted cheerful colours & decked out in flowers, so that before speaking with Susan we'd had no idea they were empty. Well done! 
Look how the water goes right under the building in the middle pic!
Generally, myself & Terry are not peeps who do much shopping, but we got a few things in Cong at Lady's Buttery (named after a cave where local women used to store butter.) The owner Susan was happy to let us take a few photos of the shop, where her husband Robert also sells his paintings. He was also involved in the painting of the buildings mentioned above; I wonder can we entice him to Graig ;-) Speaking of Graiguenamanagh, I only bought 1 book in Cong's intriguing Rare & Recent Bookshop because our Town Of Books Festival is on in 2 weeks. Me buying more books is like bringing coals to Newcastle! Though I was tempted, especially by the nature & travel/adventure books from the 1950's on back, my weakness...
Lady's Buttery, full of treasures & Terry modelling his Aran jumper purchase

Robert let us know that a good coffee was to be had next door to their shop, at The Hungry Monk Cafe. (Always good to get the inside scoop!) He was right; they had nice coffee, and a lovely fresh scone, too. What was also very nice was the big warm 'Hello!' we got upon entering the cafe, even though the place was quite busy. (We did our shopping visit in the morning, so this was about 11.15am--it seemed to be just about the time the tour buses start arriving, so if you want to avoid the bus crowds, it seems early morning or later afternoon are quieter.)
We liked what we saw of Cong on our short visit, & we also fit in a wander around the atmospheric Cong Abbey- which I'll tell you about in another post! 
lovely scone & coffee at The Hungry Monk, Cong, Ireland

I think Cong deserves more than a flying visit; there are walks, Ashford Castle, the Lough Corrib cruise that we we too full of breakfast to take (!) and more in the area besides. The village is charming, especially with the sprucing up that was done, and it would be a pity to just rush around it bumping into people. Head in early, stroll slowly around and enjoy the scenery & history, pop in to the wee shops and museums that interest you, and then stop & enjoy a coffee or pint as you watch the world go by or chat with people. Cong is a slice of charm (ok, idealized, perhaps, but still charming) and is nice to just relax into it & not rush off. Save the rushing off for the middle of the day in summer, & escape any bus tourist hordes by doing a hike or walk further afield. The tourist office is helpful, and I believe they have a booklet or such to guide you to places associated with The Quiet Man if you are into the movie. There are lots of gently charming places in Ireland, it is true, and Cong is certainly one of them- so think about it if you are considering visiting the Galway/Mayo area. 
Yes, we only did a flying visit :-) Must go back for the falconry ;-)
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  1. Hi Susan, I love the enemy territory line very funny and true,
    thanks for your as always lovely post.

    1. Thanks Brian, am on a bloggers tour of Waterford harvest fest yest and today; have a photo I think you will appreciate - hope to have post done on wkend. :-)

  2. I loved Cong and wish we could have spent more time there on our last trip to Ireland. Funnily enough, I was enchanted by the same house- the one built over the river ( )- and had some delicious Sticky Pudding at Crow's Nest.

    1. Hi Jody, some house, isn't it! Would love to have a snoop round in it! I must have a look at your photo. Sticky pudding sounds good to me, too!
      Thanks for stopping by my blog :-) Susan


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