Ballynahinch Castle – Fly-fishing and a visit to Connemara, Co. Galway, Ireland

Ballynahinch Castle

Welcome

Welcome

View of the back and the river

View of the back of Ballynahinch and the river

Another view

Another view

The castle's affiliations

The castle’s affiliations

Front entrance to the castle

Front entrance to the castle

Our accommodations at the property were one of the new suites built connected to the original castle. It was a beautifully appointed room overlooking the rapidly flowing Ballynahinch River. The first evening, we decided on a casual dinner and drinks in the Fisherman’s Pub where two musicians (Peter Carey and Aiden Curran) were singing Irish songs while playing their guitar and accordion. It didn’t take long before our feet were tapping and hands clapping to the traditional, and sometimes contemporary, Irish folk songs. For those familiar with American folk music, you will recognize many of the tunes as folk music of the 60s as they are rooted in Irish folk songs. Much of the music was bright and uplifting, while other songs tell a tale of separation, poverty, and sorrow of generations past.

Our lovely suite

Our lovely suite overlooking the river

Sitting area with a view

Sitting area with a view

Peter Carey playing at Ballynahinch

Peter Carey playing at Ballynahinch

Aiden Curran

Aiden Curran

Fishing on the Ballynahinch River

The following morning, after breakfast in the elegant Owenmore Restaurant in the original castle building, we joined up with our ghillie and headed to the private fishing reserve.

Owenmore Resaurant (Photo credit - Ballynahinch Castle)

Owenmore Resaurant (Photo credit – Ballynahinch Castle)

View from the dining room (Photo credit - Ballynahinch Castle)

View from the dining room (Photo credit – Ballynahinch Castle)

Ballynahinch Fishery

Ballynahinch Castle Fishery

After driving 10 minutes from the castle, we arrived alongside the river and walked over the moss bogs to make our way to a small building that provided shelter from the elements. The weather that day was typical of Ireland where they say you can experience all four seasons in one day. And you can. Our early morning was cold and wet, but as the day progressed, the sun beat down warm in the afternoon. Dressing in layers and always carrying a waterproof outer cover is essential in Ireland.

Walking over the bogs

Walking over the bogs

A rainy day at Ballynahinch

A rainy day at Ballynahinch

Rock piers had been built into the river to provide casting points for visiting fishermen. Spaced far enough apart to assure adequate space for the cast, these piers jut into the fast moving river where many trout and salmon tend to stay in this highly oxygenated water. Your ghillie knows what’s best, so go with the local knowledge in selecting your rod and fly. Besides, he has cases and cases of dry and wet flies in his pocket so you can change as often as needed.

Fly-fishing rods

Fly-fishing rods

Rods and reels

Rods and reels

Collection of flies

Collection of flies

Selecting the proper flies

Selecting the proper flies

There is something almost spiritual about fly-fishing. From the art of tying the fly, the skill of the angler, the cadence of the cast, the dance of the fly on the water, the orchestration of the retrieve, the anticipation of a strike, and hopefully the impact of the fish hitting the lure, to the ensuing battle, and finally, the release to freedom. The thrill and adrenaline rush is just a flash away from the peace and serenity of being on the river surrounded by the beauty of the region.

Fly-fishing

Fly-fishing

We headed back to the castle and spent much of the remainder of the day on the river outside our hotel room. We watched as otter played in the swirling waters and fish jumped to tease us into chasing after them with our lures. I got back into cadence casting through the wind and challenged a trophy salmon to engage in a battle that has been fought on this river for centuries, but it wasn’t my day to win.

One more try for the afternoon

One more try for the afternoon

We enjoyed a late lunch in the pub surrounded by the many trophy fish taken from these waters over the years. The food was beautifully presented and prepared with many local ingredients, such as Connemara crab caught in nearby coastal waters. Relaxing and enjoying lunch with a pint of Guinness, I couldn’t stop thinking about the prospect of hooking into one of these huge salmon or trout. And I realized, there’s always tomorrow.

A trout caught in the river

A brown trout caught in the river

Connemara crab salad

Connemara crab salad

Shaved vegetable salad

Smoked chicken salad

That evening we made our way into town to listen to more Irish music. We found a pub where the musicians from the prior night were playing. The pub was full of people settled in for the show and enjoying a Guinness or Harp as Peter Carey and his group played the old familiar songs of drinking, sorrow, lost love, and the grace of times gone by.

We returned to the Ballynahinch Castle Hotel & Estate where we enjoyed one more round in the bar before retiring to our room. Thinking back on our visit, Ballynahinch provided the perfect setting to experience the Connemara region and was another memorable and spectacular adventure in Ireland.

Heading up to one of the trails

Where does this trail lead?

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For more articles on our travels through Ireland, please refer to these links:

An Ireland Roadtrip

16 Things We Learned While Traveling in Ireland

48 Hours in Dublin

Chef Gareth Mullins – The Marker Hotel Dublin & His Recipe for Rack of Lamb

What to Do and Where to Dine and Stay in Belfast, Northern Ireland

Guinness Experience at The Guinness Storehouse in Dublin

The Best Game of Thrones Tour – Belfast, Northern Ireland

The Stunning Beauty of Kilkenny, Ireland and Mount Juliet Estate

Revisiting Ireland – Sheen Falls Lodge in Kenmare

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About the Author

Roger Pratesi

The Renaissance Man of the Pratesi Clan. An active photography hobbyist that led to teaching in a local college was put aside for a career as an adjunct professor of economics, statistics, and finance at three U.S. universities. A change in life created a change in careers and corporate America was his playground for more than a decade. The rewards of teaching never passed and Roger entered management consulting, which united his business skills and teaching skills. He retired from consulting as a Partner with the Boston Consulting Group. Throughout those years, photography remained a passionate hobby. Life served up more unexpected changes and severe medical problems sidelined all careers while he focused on healing from Stage 4 cancer and heart problems. With cancer in check, life had to move forward, so he joined Gwen in her passion for food and travel. After all, he traveled the world in his prior careers and was interested in the culinary arts, but more importantly, he possessed the complimentary skill of wine and spirits knowledge as a long time collector, and consumer. Today, he combines his loves for food, wine, travel, and Gwen with his business background and passion to teach and help others while capturing the journey in photographs, videography, and the stories of the people and places along the way. And, by the way, those medical problems are all gone. Enjoy Life. You only get one. It’s all about the people and the experiences.

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