Yes. You read that right. I spent last Sunday taking a falconry lesson at Ireland’s School of Falconry. Located within the forested grounds of Ashford Castle in County Mayo, Ireland’s School of Falconry was the first institution of its kind in the country. Here skilled falconers practice the art of hunting using raptors – hawks, owls, and falcons. Human beings have employed these mighty hunters for more than 3000 years, and the practice is found in every corner of the globe.
The Gypsy’s Essentials
- Location: on the grounds of Ashford Castle
- Price: the price varies depending on how many people are in the group and which program you choose, but for the two of us, the Hawk Walk cost €70 per person.
- Who will love it? older children (ages 8+), teens, and adults
- Arrangements: guests of Ashford Castle can make arrangements through the hotel’s concierge, but the school is open to anyone in the area, and reservations can be made directly with the school. Reservations are necessary, but they generally can be made with little notice.
- Notes: be sure to bring your camera!
- No poking or touching the birds.
- Keep the gloved hand down or the bird will view it as an invitation to land on you.
- The birds are wild animals. They don’t always cooperate.
A Hawk Walk is appropriately named. You and your instructor set off with a hawk for an amble through the castle’s grounds. Jason started off with Killary, but quickly he turned him over to my traveling companion who had the first turn at casting and receiving the hawk. She proved to be a natural. I was a little more unnerved, and it took me some time to relax into the stances. Each time I saw Killary’s eyes trained on my arm, my stomach did a little flip. I can only imagine what a mouse feels!
At Ashford Castle
Cong, Co. Mayo, Ireland
Tel: 094 954 6820