Gillick's World: Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way Re-published August 2015 - Page 13

been entirely under water. We rode on the firm sand, trotting a bit through the water with only the sound the horses hooves and a flutter of wings as a flock of ducks and some black and white seagulls cleared a path for us. Noreen Higgin at Oliver’s in Cleggan The Cleggan Riding Stables are just a short distance away. My ‘guide’ for the afternoon was Siobhan and once my horseback riding level was determined (a bit more than beginner, a bit less than a confident intermediate), I was assigned to Henry, a very passive Irish Cobh. Equipped with helmet, and riding boots, I signed the “I think I know what I’m getting into” waiver, and then we headed off with Henry and me following Siobhan and Cathy, her Welsh Cobh. We clip-clopped on small meandering country roads past houses and school kids and were greeted by curious horses, braying donkeys and gawking cows, and after an hour, came to the land bridge leading to Omey Island. At this time of year (mid-January) the tide goes out at 10:30 am and does not come in again until 11:00 pm. It was now about 1:45 pm and the first car had just set out on the sea bed to cross over to the island. During high tide the car would have Omey Island was the site of a monastery and settlement dating to the 6th century and founded by St. Feichin. The name Omey is derived from Gaelic and means ‘St. Feichin’s bed or seat’. We wandered on the beach, through the thick beds of seaweed and around some boulders but pretty well stayed near the shoreline, chatting about tourism and the attraction for many travellers to experience silence and reflection: just what a day of horseback riding way off the beaten track will accomplish. But all things must come to an end and as the sun started to set, we slowly headed back to the stables. I bade farewell to Henry and returned to my car, ready to exchange the serenity of Cleggan and the joy of riding to Omey on horseback, for the Friday night restaurants, pubs and trad music of Galway. Horseback riding in Cleggan is listed as one of the “Secrets of the Wild Atlantic Way”. With Galway only 90 minutes away, this is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon: slow, enjoyable, relaxing, great conversation, lots of photos and of course, the fresh air. Siobhan on Cathy, as we return on the land bridge from Omey Island to the stables