Earlier this week I wrote about staying at Dromoland Castle in Newmarket-on-Fergus, but while that post talked mostly about the castle itself – including my thoughts on our room, the common rooms, and the grounds – I didn’t talk about the activities that were available to us as guests for the long weekend.
Set on 450 acres of parkland in the peaceful Clare countryside, the sprawling Estate has much to offer. The gardens, which are based on designs by Andre Le Notre, who also planned the gardens at Versailles, include a formal rose garden and a lily pond dating from 1812. The Castle overlooks Lough Dromoland and is excellent for trout fishing. Deer, pheasant and other wildlife roam the grounds surrounding the Castle, creating a natural ambience. Within the Estate, you can also enjoy falconry, archery, boating, clay pigeon shooting, tennis, walking and mountain biking. The 18-hole championship golf course is a par 72, slope 126, measuring 6845 yards.
We’re not really golfers, the weather was being uncooperative for boating or fishing, I failed to make spa appointments in time, and the last time I picked up a tennis racquet was in high school so that unfortunately limited the activities that were available to us. Clay pigeon shooting is something I’ve always wanted to do so after talking it over we signed up for an introductory session on our second day at the castle. We got up, showered & dressed, ate a large breakfast in the beautiful dining hall, and then made our way to reception to meet up with our instructor for the late morning session. As we climbed into the car the rain started again so not knowing what to expect I was a bit worried for how the session would proceed. I needed have.
After driving through a muddy road leading through the estate we came upon a few small cabin-looking edifices and pulled over. Our guide set up the beginners one and then invited us to join him while he explained the safety precautions and how to use the gun. Alan was given a .22 caliber double barreled gun while I was given the smaller, more petite .12 gauge model. Thank the lord too because even using the less powerful gun had my shoulder sore for a few days afterward. That was plenty of kickback for me, thankyouverymuch!
Alan went first and while he had a few early misses, the rest of the outing was pretty much spot on for him. So much so that our instructor set up the harder shots in the next structure over. He aced those as well. Me? Well, let’s just say my old Eagle Eyes moniker pretty much only applies to catching errors in press releases and not being able to shoot down moving targets. (I’m also pretty good at spotting wildlife from far distances, although not being able to identify said wildlife due to bad vision.) Still, despite my bad aim and the pain in my arm the following two days, this was something I’ve always wanted to do and it turned out to be a blast. And really, if you’re going to go clay pigeon shooting shouldn’t you do it while pretending to be an aristocrat while staying at a fancy castle in the country?