November 18, 2013

Cong, Ireland: Take a walk with a hawk at Ireland’s School of Falconry on the grounds of Ashford Castle; things to do

Take a walk with a hawk at Ireland’s School of Falconry on the grounds of Ashford Castle

Ireland’s School of Falconry  Though its origins are not certain, falconry is believed to have begun in Mesopotamia at around 2000 B.C. and is believed to be the oldest sport in the world.  By 1228, when Ashford Castle was built, the sport was well established in Ireland, among both the nobility as sport and the peasants as a way to secure food.  Now, Ireland’s original School of Falconry specializes in Hawk Walks but also is home to eagles, owls, and falcons.  All of the birds fly every day.  Peregrine falcons have been clocked at 246 m.p.h. and are the fastest living things in the world.  They are employed by airports to keep birds and pests away from runways, and indeed just their presence is a deterrent. 

Dingle, an amber-eyed female Eurasian eagle owl--the largest species of owl in the world--is housed here. 

According to our guide, Conal Dixon, “Dingle is the only bird we ever had that never caught anything.  Fully imprinted as a baby bird, he thinks he’s human.” 

Our Hawk Walk was with Inca, the first Peruvian hawk in Ireland.  Conal pointed out that she has “lovely hearts on her knickers feathers.”  It was thrilling to witness her flying from a tree to perch on my arm as we walked with her through a dense and beautiful forest.  I highly recommend that you add the experience to your bucket list. 

Though operating on castle land, this school is an independent facility.  It is not open for visits except by appointment for a walk or lesson.

meet Inca the hawk:

More things to do in Cong.

More information about Ireland.

More castles.
Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular local and foreign getaways.  
videos c2013 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 


  1. My grandson is going to love this - he still wants to be a falconer, after ten years dreaming about it.


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