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For me its been an incredibly busy week with the QVC broadcast coming from Ashford Castle on St Patrick’s day . However, the castle is located right next to the pretty village of Cong in County Mayo , so on Thursday morning the weather was fair , so I took a stroll through the village and I would like to bring you along with me.
Its mild and there is no wind, so you don’t need more than a sweater !
Its about a ten minute walk from the Castle that brings us through woodlands, and as we emerge and cross the bridge we find ourselves in the village.
The name Cong comes from the Irish “ St Feichin’s narrows “ as the nearby abbey was founded by the Saint in the seventh century , and in fact the first thing we will see are the ruins of the building, so lets go inside for a look .
Cong abbey is considered one of the finest examples of ecclesiastical architecture in Ireland. Having been founded in the 7th Century it was renovated several times over the centuries, and what we see dates mainly from the 13th Century when the abbey was run by the Augustinian monks. Lets admire the carved archways, the ancient cloister gardens and the time worn tombstones. In fact the cross of Cong used to be housed here – it was a processional cross and its considered the finest example of 12th Century decorated metalwork, and nowadays is housed in the National museum in Dublin . The building was in fact renovated in the 19th Century by the Guinness family who at that time owned the nearby Ashford Castle.
The narrow streets are formed in a circular layout, so lets take a lap around the village, and take a look at some of the buildings .
What really put Cong on the map was the movie “ The Quiet Man” , starring Maureen O’ Hara, John Wayne and Barry Fitzgerald that was filmed in the area in 1952. Lets have a look at the life sized bronze statue of Wayne and O Hara enacting a scene from the movie; and we can see that many of the actual buildings in the village were featured in the movie.
Take a look at the Pat Cohan Bar , the dying man house and the quiet man cottage – all of which you can see in the movie. But in addition , take a look at the old courthouse, now the tourist office , the old phone box and lots of other pretty buildings.
Standing in the main street is a an odd looking cross ; in fact the base and the broken shaft come from the original high cross that was constructed and placed here in the 13th Century, and on the top is perched a modern topping that dates from the 19th Century . Of Course everything is closed right now due to the pandemic, and hopefully it wont be too long until the village is re opened and packed with visitors.
We are now back where we started , and its time for me to head home.
I hope that you enjoyed todays walk, and take care until next time.

Sláinte , Stephen.

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