Cong is a lovely little Irish village on the border of Mayo and Galway. For such a small place there is plenty of things to keep you busy for the day, with remains of it’s medieval past at every turn. One of my favourite things about Ireland, is how there are so many unexpected hidden gems around, and I think Cong is one of those.
Continue reading to see all there is to do in Cong.
The ruins of a 12th-century Augustinian abbey can be found right in the centre of the village. I am so fond of vising old ruins and normally they out in the countryside. It is really striking to drive into the village and see these ruins standing high beside the shops and houses.
The Abbey served as a hospital for the sick, shelter for the poor as well as being a place of learning for scholars. If you walk across the grounds, you will come to the monks fishing house on the River Cong. It is believed that there was a trap door where a net was used to catch fish while the monks sat beside the fireplace waiting. Crazy to think it is still there.
Note: The Abbey is free to explore. Yay
2. Cong Wood
Cong wood has two trails to choose from – the Cong Nature Trail (3 Km) and Cong Loop trail (Cong Loop Trail). They lead you through beautiful forest. It is pretty amazing to have such a beautiful park and woodlands right in the village. An perfect escape from the busy streets. As well as a grounding walk through the woods, there are sites to look out for on your way.
2.1 Guinness tower
Standing an impressive 20 m high, it looks so striking amongst the trees. Surprisingly, it is open to the public who can trek to the top. There is a narrow spiral stone staircase. You are free to wind your way up through the tower, lit only by the light of the odd slit of a window. Although the view isn’t all that impressive, as it stands level with the tree tops, it is pretty cool to climb up an old tower dating back to the 1800s.
Note: Free to enter.
Image of The Pigeon Hole. Credit: CHARLES RANGELEY-WILSON
Hidden among the towering trees are some splendid caves.
“Teach Aille”, which can be found at the foot of a small cliff, and “The Pigeon Hole” cave which goes deep into the ground.
2.3 Christmas tree
For all those whovillins out there, you might just come across a decorated Christmas tree on your stroll in the woods. The excitement was real when I randomly saw some baubles twinkling in the sunlight and followed them right to this tree. See if you can find it too!
3. Ashford castle
Photo credit: Yasmon - Muchlovexox
Once a medieval castle, Ashford castle is now one of Ireland’s top 5 star hotels. With a long list of awards, Ashford Castle has elegant traditional rooms and has everything you could ever want, from amazing dining experiences, to a luxurious spa. From the lavish red velvet cinema, to zip lining, fishing, and off roading.
Note: If you’re not lucky enough to be staying there (sadly I wasn’t!), it is 5 euro to visit and explore the grounds.
4. The Quiet man Museum.
Shot in the 1950s, “The Quiet Man” was one of the first colour films shot outside of America. Cong is one of the most famous filming locations. It is now home to the Quiet Man Museum, the Dying Man House as well as various other locations from the movie. Although it was once said ‘It will never make a penny,’ it earned over triple what it cost to make
Although I’ve not seen it, I will definitely have to put it on the list now.
5. Be in two places at once.
Just because you can, why not be in two places at once?! The border between Galway and Mayo runs right through the centre of the bridge in the village.
- The village has free public toilets which I am always happy about.
- The tourist office is right in the village.
- Plenty of shops and restaurants.
Cong is such a lovely village, don’t forget to just walk around and take in all the scenery. From looking very traditionally Irish, to being pulled back into the Middle Ages, there are plenty of historic sites around. And when you’ve had enough of that, there are acres of woodland to explore.