Riding Vacation in Ireland: Day 7

| © Cross Country International

Saturday, February 14, 2004
Oh my, can these Irish throw a Ball!

The greatly anticipated evening began with an elegant champagne reception for the guests of Cross Country International hosted by the dashing Con Ryan, owner of Kinnitty Castle. We were escorted to Con’s private residence on the grounds of the castle. Con Ryan’s “Castle away from Castle” is a magnificently appointed “Stone Cottage.” We spent about an hour sipping champagne and mingling with Con’s friends. Then we watched a short video clip produced in America that traced the history of the castle from 1209 through its use as a monastery to its final restoration as a world-class hotel. The film focused on the well-documented ghost of a former occupant–the Monk of Kinnitty Castle–who has been spotted walking the stone-lined halls and is known to inhabit several rooms in the castle.

From Con Ryan’s residence we were chauffeured to the drawing room of Kinnitty Castle for more champagne and for the opportunity to meet many of the Irish gentlemen who had come to the Bachelor’s Ball to find …love?

Upon entering the drawing room the high level of excitement was unmistakable.The anticipation of a fabulous night eating and dancing in the Great Hall of the O’Carrolls was palpable. And no one was disappointed.

After a sumptuous dinner, the tables were cleared away and Con Ryan and his fellow Irishmen took over to provide an evening of lively foot-stomping music.


The stones in the castle walls were shaking to the beat of Irish dancing music. These boys know how to throw a party. No one sits–everyone dances.. and sings… and laughs–a lot!

It was pretty amazing to see the owner of Kinnitty Castle on an instrument similar to a banjo, the owner of Leap Castle next to him on a tinwhistle, and the other musicians who are equally important men in the area entertaining themselves and a group of a couple of hundred party-goers. They played for five hours song after song without a break–because they loved what they were doing. And they were fabulous!!

I knew that when I went on this vacation that there was a chance my legs might be tired from riding all day. But the truth is my cheeks hurt from laughing, and my body is aching more from one night of partying than five days of riding.

Most of the “singles” were in agreement that it was one of the best times they had ever had.

I’ve discovered that in Ireland the party doesn’t end until the last person says its over. That did not occur until around 10:00 a.m. the next day.

I can’t say (no, I mean I really can’t say–because a few of these people know where I live and they will “get” me if I divulge too much!) whether everyone found love…but I can say that I saw some serious attempts. I will let you know if I hear of anyone redeeming Con Ryan’s offer of a free wedding and reception to couples who fell in love at the ball. It is one reception that I would not want to miss.

And this is one week that I would not have wanted to miss either.

It was lovely, grand and brilliant…just brilliant.

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