Today we were spoiled for choice.
Some of us opted for a trip to world famous Lismore Castle and Gardens. The trip gave them the opportunity to pass through some of Ireland’s most scenic countryside, looking its best in early-summer with lush green fields sprinkled with Elder bushes covered in large white blossoms. Lismore itself has won a number of heritage awards and was looking radiant in the sunshine. The castle itself is steeped in history. Built by Prince John of England in 1185, it was once owned by, among others, Sir Walter Raleigh who sold it to Richard Boyle, first Earl of Cork. His son Robert Boyle, considered by many to be the father of modern chemistry, was born in the castle in 1626.
The rest of us opted for a 5am start and a landing on Great Saltee Island where we spent 10 hours amidst tens of thousands of seabirds with close-up encounters with Atlantic puffins, razorbills, guillemots (common murre), black-legged kittiwakes, and choughs. Apart from the stunning scenery, we spent time at the island’s gannet colony which, while not the largest in Ireland, is probably unrivaled in northwestern Europe for the experience at such close quarters. Those who visited Lismore did not miss out on a landing at Great Saltee with an evening trip to the island.