When doing a spot of pre-travel research I came across one distinct place to go and visit in county Mayo – Ballintubber Abbey. It is a royal abbey founded by King Cathal Crobdearg O’Connor in 1216. It is evidently the only church in Ireland founded by an Irish king that it still regularly used. Actor James Bond Pierce Brosnan was married here and the abbey marks the beginning of Tochar Phadraig which is the ancient pilgrimage route to Croagh Patrick 18 miles away.
The boat trip took us there and back to the island of Inchcolm on the estuary. It is a very small island and the main feature is this former Augustinian Abbey. Although the island is inhabited the ferry service does stop to let people off and then pick them up an hour later. We chose not to get off although I would like to have seen more of this fascinating island. As the ferry continued back to South Queensferry. The total round trip took just over an hour and a half and was well worth the time and effort – I would definitely recommend it.
After an interesting but relative un-photogenic drive up the east coast of Fife we ended up at the beautiful town of St. Andrew’s. After phoning my friend Steve to find out where I needed to visit I was was told to check out the cathedral. I did and I was very impressed. It was a shame that the weather was so overcast but as you can see the cathedral is largely ruinous, but the fact it was finished in 1318 says a lot. I only spent about 2 hours in the town and didn’t get much chance to see the famous golf courses but I am definitely planning a trip back up to this area of the world in the next 12 months.
Driving towards Edinburgh on the scenic route was very long but interesting. We decided to get out of the car and stretch out legs at the town of Melrose. I saw some ruins of what looked like a castle in near the car-park and went to investigate. It was going to be £3.50 for me to go in, I originally decided not to go in but I’m glad I did because as soon as I did recognized the Abbey. Melrose Abbey was founded in 1136 by Cistercian Monks. The guided audio tour was surprisingly good and informative and I would definitely recommend it as one of the top places to see in Scotland.