Celtic Summer Camp At Slieve Aughty

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Slieve Aughty is my idea of paradise.  It’s a riding center east of Galway way out in the countryside.  With happy horses and organic meals and vegetable gardens.  And fields of cross country jumps and miles of riding trails through fields and forests.  Did I just dream this?

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A gallop on Dynamite.

Slieve Aughty is the brain child of Esther, who came to Ireland with her husband in 1978 after the lease was up on their farm in rural Holland.  When they bought the property that would become Slieve Aughty, the land was overgrown and untended. They began with organic gardens and made handcrafted cheese with milk from their own dairy cows and goats. Over the years, the farm got horsier, along with the guests. The goats are gone except for the one who hangs out with the horses.  Slieve Aughty is now a haven for riders and groups looking for a special retreat in gorgeous rural Ireland.

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One of the community buildings — lots of weddings here.

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Esther with Marina, a young summer employee from Munich, Germany who has a distinctly American way of speaking English.

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Slieve Aughty has several Irish Tinker horses. They are sweet and hard working and easy going. I rode one named Dolly. This one is ready for a show. Dolly was ready for a ride through the muddy woods.

For three days, I got to ride for hours through the green Irish countryside (and they don’t call it the Emerald Isle for nothing. One afternoon, I commented on the clear skies about five minutes before I was soaking wet.) On the last day of my visit, the trainer took a small group of us to the cross country field, which has a jumping course of logs and piles of logs and fences. Jumping is just my favorite thing and, gee, I used to do that before Gabe was born 24 years ago. So I was thrilled and also a little nervous. And I did fine for awhile. And then I fell off as I came off the jump because my helmet fell over my eyes. It’s true! It was an equipment malfunction! My sports injuries were minor — a swollen thumb and a little embarrassment.  We were all rewarded with an amazing dinner of salmon in dill sauce, potatoes and salad from the garden, a plate of local cheeses and freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies.  What could be better?

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School kids visited for horse fun

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Monroe is hoping someone will put something good to eat through the hole in the wall of his stall. The horses spend most of their time roaming free in gorgeous green pastures but a little handful of oats would be nice.

“The grace of God is found between the saddle and the ground.”
Old Irish saying

 

 

3 comments

  1. What a great find for you! Sounds and looks glorious!

    I’m certainly glad you didn’t incur more serious injury from your fall… but then, you have practice at falling!

  2. Horse noses and great organic food!! My favorite things in the whole wide world like you Kimmie. I have missed some posts and didn’t realize that you were in Ireland. The place sounds amazing and must go on my bucket list. Love you!

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