Ireland O’Ireland – You ARE Forty Shades of Gorgeous Green!

Ireland O’Ireland – You ARE Forty Shades of Gorgeous Green!

It was five years ago to the month in getting back to Ireland. In August of 2010 we had the wonderful experience of photographing Steve and Mary’s wedding in Ireland. Ever since then it has been our goal to get back to see more of this gorgeous isle! After a three hour flight delay leaving Chicago we arrived in Dublin ready to start our adventure. We had finally made it back to O’Ireland! We rented a car and headed west out of Dublin on the M4, destination… Ballyvaughan. The first three nights we stayed in a familiar place the Drumcreehy Country House B&B just outside Ballyvaughan. We discovered this little jewel on our last trip and we just love staying here. Bernadette is a great hostess and very knowledgable about all the local sights! The Drumcreehy House is also a perfect location to serve as a hub for seeing all things in the Burren. Having arrived late afternoon our plan was to go see the Cliffs of Moher, since we missed seeing those the last time we were there due to poor weather. Bernatte had a great little tip for visiting the Cliffs. August is a peak month for tourists in Ireland and the Cliffs of Moher draw more visitors each year than any other location in Ireland. She recommended that we wait until after 6:00 pm to go there. She said that by 6:00 pm all the tour busses will be gone and there will be lots less people there. Sure enough, on our way there we must have passed 12-15 tour busses heading in the opposite direction. By the time we got there all the buses were gone! Traveling to the Cliffs of Moher we took the N67 from Ballyvaughn through the Burren, up the corkscrew mountain, through Lisdoonvarna, and the R478. A really lovely drive through the Burren.

After three wonderful days of sight seeing and hiking in the Burren it was time to move on to see new things. So we headed north and further west. We went through Galway and ended up near the little town of Ballyconneely not far from Connemara National Park. We stayed the next two nights in the Connemara Sands Hotel near the beach. A white sand beach in Ireland, no less! I din’t know they existed in Ireland! Connemara National Park was gorgeous! 

At this point we were roughly half way through our trip and so much more to see. We got back onto the N59 heading further north with a destination of Creevagh Heights B&B in county Mayo. To get there we went around the East end of the Killary Harbor, the only fjord in all Ireland. Then continued on the N59 through Westpost to the N5 to Castlebar to the N58 and N26 though Balina then finally on the R314 out to Creevaugh Heights B&B. This place is way out in the boonies. But gorgeous boonies! By the time we got there it was almost dark with drizzle and blowing wind. The weather was just nasty but Carol and Harry could not have been more inviting and hospitable. Truly a sight for sore eyes on this night! Homemade scones, jam and hot tea. The next morning the weather had cleared which was just what we were hoping for. The whole reason why we came to this area was to see Downpatrick Head. We got up early in hopes of a good sunrise for photos and we got what we hoped for, a beautiful sunrise on the coast. What an amazing sight! The only draw back, we had sustained winds in the 25-30 knot range which made it treacherous to get near the edge of the cliffs. We had been warned about this so we kept our distance. From here it was back to Creevaugh Heights B&B for a hot breakfast. Then we packed up and went on our way to tour more of Country Mayo. We now wished that we had planned to stay longer the Creevaugh Heights B&B was wonderful.

Our next point of destination, Country Sligo and the Benbulben Farm House B&B. The third and final B&B of this trip. This was another stellar B&B and Marita was a tremendous host. The Benbulben Farm House is set at the very foot of Benbulben mountain. Gorgeous views at any time of the day. We stayed here two nights and had several day time excursions to the surrounding area. The first evening after arriving we took a short drive to the Mullaghmore Castle or Classiebawn Castle. We had a fantastic sunset which yielded amazing photos of the castle set against Benbulben mountain. The next morning we took a walk on the Benbulben loop walk and got up close photos of Benbulben. There were many other things that we saw and places where we had great meals but these were the highlights. The next day we headed back to Dublin for our flight back to O’Hare. All in all, a great trip and we hope to be able to go again. If you have never been we would encourage to to give it a try!

~mark

PS: Feel free to leave comments at the bottom of the post.

 

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Drumcreehy Country House B&B, the Burren, County Clare, Ireland

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This is the view of the Burren from across the road at the Drumcreehy Country House

To get to the Cliffs of Moher we took the drive up the corkscrew hill and through the middle of the Burren.

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The view on the way up Corkscrew Hill.

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The view on the way up Corkscrew Hill.

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The view on the way up Corkscrew Hill.

Our first evening in Ireland we went to the Cliffs of Moher after checking in at the Drumcreehy Country Hose. We had some gorgeous light during the sunset along with some really beautiful clouds.

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Cliffs of Moher

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Cliffs of Moher

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Cliffs of Moher

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Cliffs of Moher

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Looking inland in the opposite direction of the cliffs

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Cliffs of Moher

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Cliffs of Moher

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Cliffs of Moher in the opposite direction from the above photos

Below is a close-up of the point above.

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Visitors to the Cliffs of Moher

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Cliffs of Moher with a lovely sky

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Looking inland in the opposite direction of the cliffs

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Looking inland in the opposite direction of the cliffs

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Along the edge of the cliffs

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Sneaky Susan and her iPhone

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More Cliffs of Moher

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O’Brien’s Tower at the Cliffs of Moher, sunset looking due West

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First morning at Drumcreehy House

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Sheep of the Burren. Caherconnell Sheepdog demonstration.

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Sheep of the Burren. Caherconnell Sheepdog demonstration. BTW that’s not a goat.

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The Burren near the Caherconnell stone fort

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Sheep of the Burren. Caherconnell Sheepdog demonstration.

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Fuchsia in the Burren, it’s everywhere!

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Stone fence and moss, the Burren, Country Clare, Ireland

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The Burren from the Poulnabrone Tomb Park, morning fog

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The Burren from the Poulnabrone Tomb Park and more fog

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Purple flower – Bloody Cranesbill. Growing in the rock crevasses of the Burrn

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The Burren from the Poulnabrone Tomb Park

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Poulnabrone Tomb Park

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Some of Susan’s close-up iPhone photos

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Harebell, the Burren

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Rock crevasses, the Burren

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Rock crevasses, the Burren

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The Burren, second morning at Drumcreehy House

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Ragwort on the left, on the right a typical road winding through the Burren landscape

On our last day in the Burren we took a little side trip thorough the town of Quinn and on to the Craggaunowen Castle and Living History museum.

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More petunias! A Pub in Quinn, County Clare, Ireland

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Craggaunowen Castle Originally Built in 1550

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A Crannog (meaning ‘young tree’), a reconstructed lake-dwelling or artificial island on which people built houses, kept animals, and lived in relative security from enemy clans or invaders.

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Craggaunowen Forest

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Craggaunowen Forest

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Craggaunowen Forest

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Craggaunowen Forest

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Craggaunowen Forest

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Craggaunowen Forest

It’s a carpet of moss. Don’t sit down too long or it will grow on you.

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Craggaunowen Forest

After the visiting the Craggaunowen Castle and forest we went back to Quinn and did a little walking tour of our own. We stopped and had lunch at the Abby Tavern. Across the street from the Pub, where we were having our lunch, sits The Quinn Abbey. Next door to the Abbey is a Catholic church and on this day (Wednesday, apparently it’s not unusual in Ireland to have mid-week weddings) a wedding was just finishing up. As we were leaving the Pub we watched as the wedding photographer took his clients next door to this old abandoned Abby to do some photos. Being the wedding photographer that I am, I couldn’t resist grabbing a couple photos. What an interesting location, Ireland is just full of these! Irish wedding photographers don’t know how good they have it! For example look at that crazy mad sky that day!

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Quinn Abbey, County Clare, Ireland

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A private residence in Quinn, I love how it is covered by the ivy.

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Petunias Are Everywhere in Ireland!

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Loved the texture in this old garage

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Back side of the Quinn Abbey. This thing is huge.

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Last morning at the Drumcreehy Country House in Ballyvaughn

Next stop Ballyconneely, Country Galway, Ireland.

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Beach near Ballyconneely

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Beach near Ballyconneely

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Beach near Ballyconneely

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Beach near Ballyconneely

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Beach near Ballyconneely

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Beach near Ballyconneely

After checking into our hotel in Ballyconneely that evening we headed up to the small town of Clifden to make our way onto the scenic Sky drive. What an amazing view of ocean below! This was one of our favorite excursions of the trip, Sky Road.

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Sky Road, Country Galway, Ireland

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Sky Road, Country Galway, Ireland

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Sky Road, Country Galway, Ireland

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Sky Road, Country Galway, Ireland. Yellow Gorse and Bell Heather

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Sky Road, Country Galway, Ireland.

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Sky Road, Country Galway, Ireland.

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Sky Road, Country Galway, Ireland.

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Lower Sky Road, Country Galway, Ireland. Yellow Gorse and Bell Heather

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Lower Sky Road, Country Galway, Ireland. Yellow Gorse and Bell Heather

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Lower Sky Road, Country Galway, Ireland. Yellow Gorse and Bell Heather

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Lower Sky Road, Country Galway, Ireland. Yellow Gorse and Bell Heather

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Lower Sky Road, Country Galway, Ireland. Yellow Gorse and Bell Heather

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D’Arcy Castle, Clifden, County Galway, Ireland. As seen from Sky Road

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Sky Road nearing sunset

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View from Sky Road

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Sky Road at sunset. Love the depth in this photo!

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Sky Road. Bell Heather

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As we left our hotel in Ballyconneely heading for the Connemara National Park we saw these back lit lovelies that monring

This was one of our first slights on the morning that we approached Connemara National Park. The morning fog was just burning off.

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Interesting stand of trees on this tiny little island

In the short time that we were stopped the fog was clearing rapidly. A Slightly different view from the one above.177Pin SITE IMAGE________

We next took the R336 through the pass from Maam Cross to Leenaun. The terrain here is so different to the Burren that we had just left. Next destination, Kylemore Abbey.

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We stopped in the pass from Maam Cross to Leenaun for this photo opp

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One of Susan’s iPhone panoramas, love these! The pass from Maam Cross to Leenaun

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We stopped in the pass from Maam Cross to Leenaun to take this photo

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The N59 enroute to Kylemore Abbey. This is Ireland at it’s best!

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More of the N59

After visiting the Kylemore Abbey it was on to Connemara National Park.

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One of the hiking trails in the park. Susan’s iPhone photo

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Another of Susan’s iPhone photos. Hiking trail in Connemara

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Pond near the visitor center at Connemara National Park

From the Connemara Park we headed South through a 2nd pass on the R344. The local sheep often graze free and can be found walking across the road. This guy was dong this stately pose and Susan just had to get his portrait.

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Local sheep. Susan’s iPhone photo

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The view from Inagh Lough Lodge

Inagh Lough Lodge, we came back here later in the day for dinner.

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Inagh Lough Lodge

Another iPhone panorama from Inagh Lough Lodge

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The view from Inagh Lough Lodge on the R344

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The view from Inagh Lough Lodge on the R344

This is what we were treated to after dinner as we were leaving Inagh Lough Lodge.

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The view from Inagh Lough Lodge on the R344

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The view from Inagh Lough Lodge on the R344

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Last light from the R344

The last morning walk down to the beach near Ballyconneely. This light was different this morning with a big ole thunderhead forming out over the Atlantic. Then it was back onto the N59 heading north to Creevaugh Heights B&B, our second of three wonderful B&B on this trip.

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Beach near Ballyconneely

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Beach near Ballyconneely

The N59 took us along the east end of the Killary Harbor the only fjord in all of Ireland.

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On the N59 along the Killary Harbor enroute to Westport between Leenaun and Clog

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On the N59 along the Killary Harbor enroute to Westport between Leenaun and Clog

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On the N59 along the Killary Harbor enroute to Westport between Leenaun and Clog

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On the N59 along the Killary Harbor enroute to Westport between Leenaun and Clog

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On the N59 along the Killary Harbor enroute to Westport between Leenaun and Clog

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Westport Bridge, County Mayo, Ireland

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Westport Bridge, County Mayo, Ireland

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Westport Bridge, County Mayo, Ireland

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From the car park at Downpatrick Head, Country Mayo, Ireland

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Downpatrick Head, Country Mayo, Ireland

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Downpatrick Head, Country Mayo, Ireland

Isn’t this a gorgeous coastline!?

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Downpatrick Head, Country Mayo, Ireland

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Downpatrick Head, Country Mayo, Ireland

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Downpatrick Head, Country Mayo, Ireland. Another of Susan’s iPhone photos. That’s me with my hood pulled up, very windy that day!

Makes you want to live a sheep’s life, heh?

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Country Mayo coastline, Ireland

Yes, that is Susan up there on the bluff.

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Country Mayo coastline near Downpatrick Head, Ireland

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Country Mayo coastline near Downpatrick Head, Ireland

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Downpatrick Head, Country Mayo, Ireland

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Downpatrick Head, Country Mayo, Ireland

I would have liked to have gotten closer to the edge so that you could see all the way to the base but the grass was very wet from the rain the night before plus the winds were blowing at about 25-30 knots making it hard to walk at times.

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Downpatrick Head, Country Mayo, Ireland

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Downpatrick Head, Country Mayo, Ireland

My wife, the fearless one. Anything for a photo!

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Downpatrick Head, Country Mayo, Ireland

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Country Mayo coastline near Downpatrick Head, Ireland

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Country Mayo coastline near Downpatrick Head, Ireland

From Downpatrick Head it was back to the Creevaugh Heights B&B for our breakfast before heading on for the day. It was a successful morning photo shoot.

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This little stand of trees is so Ireland! Country Mayo, Ireland

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More of the Irish coastline in Mayo Country.

After checking into the Benbulben Farm House B&B we took a little evening drive not far from the B&B to the Mullaghmore Castle. We got amazing light during this sunset! That is

Benbulben mountain in the background.

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Mullaghmore Castle, Country Sligo, Ireland

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Mullaghmore Castle, Country Sligo, Ireland

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Mullaghmore Castle, Country Sligo, Ireland

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Mullaghmore Castle, Country Sligo, Ireland

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Glenariff Horseshoe, County Sligo, Ireland

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The view of Benbulben from the Benbulben Farm Hose, County Sligo, Ireland

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Benbulben from the Benbulben loop walk

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Benbulben from the Benbulben loop walk

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Benbulben from the Benbulben loop walk

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Benbulben loop walk

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Benbulben loop walk

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Benbulben from the Benbulben loop walk

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Benbulben loop walk

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Benbulben loop walk

The last place that we visited before heading back to Dublin. Parke Castle, Country Leitrim.

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Parke Castle, Country Leitrim, Ireland

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