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Day 7 Ashford Castle

As we pulled up to our next destination, our jaws dropped to the floor.  Ireland must have known that King Foster was coming, because they prepared a castle for such an occasion.  Ashford Castle is a medieval castle turned five star luxury hotel near Cong on the Mayo/Galway Border in Ireland.  The castle was built in 1228 by the Anglo-Norman de Burgo family.   It remained in their possession for the next 3 centuries until a fierce battle would force the Castle to be turned over to English rule under Lord Bingham.  The castle changed owners 6 more times, until it made it to it’s final owners.  It is hard to put into words how breath-taking this place is.  There really is not a bad view from this magnificent structure.  Ashford Castle  even has a little bit of Hollywood in its veins.  In 1951, the movie “Quiet Man” was filmed in the neighboring city of Cong, and John Wayne stayed in this very Castle.  Since then, many famous movie stars have stayed in the hotel.   If you remember correctly, our visit to the Cliffs of Moher led us to a very wise bear, who told us to come to Ashford to find Jose.  He had told Jose to come here for a little rest and relaxation.  Well you will never guess where we found that rascally bear.  GETTING A MASSAGE IN THE SPA!  It turns out that he was so worn out from his travels that he decided to take it easy for a bit and come here.

 After we found Jose, we decided to take him to do a little falconry.  We thought he might like to try his hand at bird flying.  Falconry is the taking of wild hawks and/or falcons and training them to catch game.  Given the right conditions, a hawk or falcon can catch rabbits, hares, squirrels, geese, ducks, and even wild turkeys.  Falcons can live into their mid teens, with larger hawks living longer.

Before the birds can be flown, they must be weighed.  If a bird is overweight, he or she will be too heavy to fly and will be disinterested in doing so.  If a bird in underweight, it would not have the strength or energy to fly from tree to tree.  Therefore, there is an ideal weight for each bird in the pack.  Shown below are the birds’ weights for today.

 We decided to weigh Jose and see how he measured up to the pack of hawks.  He weighed 2 pounds, which was about the same as a hawk.


There is a difference between a falcon and a hawk.  The falcon has smaller talons and a heavy beak.  We flew hawks, and you may notice from the pictures that our guide, Keelin, was unafraid to have the hawks peck from her hand.  Hawks have a lighter beak and longer and sharper talons.

It is very hard for a trainer to show affection to a falcon or hawk.  When we talked to the falconer, she said that she has tried to “pet” the falcons before and they instantly show resistance.  Not only do the falcons not like being petted, but petting them ruins their waterproof coating on their feathers.

We get some of our everyday sayings from falconry.  The term “fed up”, to us, means that someone has had enough of something.  In falconry, it means the bird has had enough food and is not fit to fly.  The saying “hoodwinked” comes from the little hood put over a falcon’s eyes before a flight.  The term “eyes like a hawk” means that you have excellent eyesight, just like a hawk!



4 Responses to “Day 7 Ashford Castle”

  1. nsmith says:

    WOW!!! What a place!!! I definitely think this needs to be on my list of travels. Very interesting where the term “watching you like a Hawk” came from.

  2. cmcknight says:

    Zoe wants to know, how tall/big is the castle?
    Elizabeth thinks the castle looks like it’s made of coquina; what is it made of?
    Kinley asks if Jose was scared when he tried to hold a falcon.
    Jake wants to know what would have happened if Jose would have been picked up by a falcon and flown away!!
    Did the hawk bite Mr. Foster?
    Josh knows how fast the Perigen falcon dives; how fast can those falcons dive?
    Patrick asks how big the falcons can get
    What is the weight that would be too heavy or too light to fly? Also, did Mrs. Weaver and Mr. Foster weigh themselves? How much did they weigh?

  3. mjcassette says:

    You guys must be so relieved that you found Jose!
    We really liked learning about falconry. We do have a few questions:

    What is a baby falcon called?
    How big are falcons when they are born?
    Do they stay with their parents when they are babies? If so, for how long?
    Where you scared to hold the hawks?
    Did you see them catch anything?
    Does it just catch the animals and bring it to the owner or does it eat it?

    Safe Travels Back! We’ve missed you!
    Mrs. Cassette’s Class

  4. terryp says:

    6th grade:

    What did the hawks hunt/catch on your outing?
    What was the name and how much did the hawk you were holding weigh?
    How fast do the hawks fly?
    What has been your favorite thing on the trip so far?

    Have a safe trip back! We miss you! Can’t wait to hear more about the trip when you get back.

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