3 Athenry Castles Trail Revisited: A Magical Mystery Tour through east Galway

Michael Keaney with the cycling group in front of Castle Ellen
The recent Three AthenryCastles looped heritage cycle tour as part of Galway Bike Week 2015 was truly a magical mystery tour across the bogs and botharíns of east Galway. Some of the participating cyclists knew the route and individual castles and villages that we were going to be travelling too. But this time each of us at each stopoff encountered something different, something exciting and at times even exotic. 
The Emerald Isle Express at Ceannt Station, Galway
From our arrival at Galway’s Ceannt Station where we gazed in awe at the classical Emerald Isle Express steam engine and luxurious rail carriages with its international clientele that was straight out of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express; to the food fair market with its mix of food, beverageg and crafts stalls that preceded by a guided tour of the hugely impressive medieval castle with its battlements, keep and towers in historic Athenry; then on the road pass small fields, bogs and the village of Newcastle before we came to view the carnivorous Venus Flytrap plants  and frogs of Monivea Bog; then down into the underground vaults of the aristocratic ffrench family castellated mausoleum with Russian, Maltese and Anglo-Irish coat-of-arms that lays deep in a forest to look at the lead coffins still decked with a wreath of flowers that was placed there in 1938. 
Coffin of Kathleen ffrench, ffrench Mausoleum
Then it was a journey through the woods to look at owl boxes positioned high in the trees by Norman Clune and his friends from the Monivea Wildlife group. In the McGann hostelry of the nearby colonial plantation village, we were served up a fine country spread of sandwiches and teas. 
MacGann's pub in quaint village of Monivea
After being thoroughly refreshed and energised, we cycled on through a picturesque landscape of traditional stone walls and fields populated with sheep and cattle to the Georgian splendour of Castle Ellen to be greeted by the ebullient Gaelic lord of the manor himself Michael Keaney. Every time we visit his historic demesne we encounter some new treasure. This time Michael brought us into a 19th century garden ‘folly’, comprising a maze of arches and pathways. 
Alexandre Herman in Arch's Bar, Athenry
Our final stop was the new Arch Bar in Athenry which has been transformed into a fine trendy crafts beer and dining establishment. 
Cycling group in front of Athenry Castle
We look forward with anticipation to our next journey on this trail!
Athenry Food Market
Botharín in Tiaquin

Venus Flytrap, Monivea Bog

ffrench's Mausoleum, Monivea

Sculpture of Robert Percy ffrench, ffrench's Mausoleum
German Stain Glass windoww, ffrench's Mausoleum
Victorian era Folly (paths and arches), Castle Ellen
Details of our previous Three Athenry Castles Heritage Cycle Tour in August 2014 are here

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