To get to “Castle Burke” the best starting point is “Corleys” pub which is directly opposite “Ballintubber” abbey. If you keep the pub on your left, there is almost immediately a fork in the road. Take the road to the right and continue straight on.
After 5 minutes or so on your right you come to a floral display with “Castleburke” carved onto a stone. Take a right here and follow the road all the way down a tree lined avenue. The ruins of “Castleburke” will come into view behind a farm fence.
This tower like castle is believed to have first been associated with the name “O`Flaherty”, when it was known as “Kilfeynell” castle. It was rebuilt by the “De Staunton`s” in 1238 AD .
In 1338 AD this same family were involved in a terrible murder and were forced to change their name to MacEvilly. Other notable owners were Tibot na Long (1611 AD) son of the pirate Queen Grace O`Malley.
It fell into ruin and was largely intact until a storm in 1990. A number of walls collapsed leaving it in its present condition.
If you go through the gate you will come down to a small jetty with a number of small boats moored here. Though there are cows and sheep on the land it is a public right of way and you are free to park your car here. Don`t forget to close the gate !!!
On my arrival I was met by a large number of cows. They did not seem in anyway intimidated by the car and a number of them used the window and rear as scratching posts.
As a city dweller I constantly read of cows trampling to death their owners, so I gave them plenty of time to move on. There did seem to be a lot of juvenile males and what looked suspiciously to me like an adult male.
It was not long before I was off. I was a little bit nervous but soon relaxed as the stability of the craft became apparent.
The first island of note was “Church Island”, which has an association with St Patrick. It is said he banished the “9 Goblins” here when he was converting the local population. It was supposed to be an important druidic centre and the kings of the local area “Partry” are said to be buried here also.
On a sadder note the remains of 4 adults and 15 children from famine times were found buried in and around the church.
It was very peaceful on the water and I stopped a number of times to soak in the view.
I took some photos of yellow lake lilies, which I have never seen in their natural environment. Irish folklore associates this flower with purity of the heart. I struggled to take some photos in the wind and current. I guess more work in this area is needed for me !!!
I snapped some other beautiful flowers on the route. I am not great on flowers. I think they are “meadowsweet” and possibly a type of orchid ?. It is said that the finest examples of orchids in the country, are to be found around Lough “Carra”
The grey limestone rocks that are a striking feature of the lake were formed by the fossilisation of ancient corals and sea creatures.
The land mass of Ireland was then near the equator and was surrounded by shallow tropical seas. This rock was then brought to the surface by tectonic action, creating a layered rectangular effect.
These rocks are protected in the lake by its neutral PH. However above the surface they become pitted by rain which is slightly acidic.
The wind picked up drastically after this and it became quite challenging to paddle through the swell. If you did not face into it, there was a real danger of being overturned. I was also “shipping” a lot of water and becoming quite cold.
I decided I had enough for this day, which was about 6 hours in the water. It took a long time to get back, fighting the wind and swell.
I was glad to see “Castleburke” and happy, that my first day kayaking had proceeded without incident. A quick shower, some food then “Corleys” pub would be welcoming my presence !!!