Luxury Guided Tour of Ireland's Hidden Gems with Irish expert Susan Byron - New Tour Dates announced for 2018 - 2017 Tour Dates Sold Out

Hawk Walk at Ashford Castle

Apparently it takes a life time to become a falconer, to be able to walk the talk of falconers and their birds of prey. But you can dive or swoop right in with an hours Hawk Walk at Ashford Castle with the Irish School of Falconry, if you want to try your hand, literally at falconry. They say you never forget the first time a hawk lands on your arm and believe me this is one for your Bucket List if you are planning a Trip to Ireland, in fact I would rate it as one of the Top 10 Things To Do in Ireland as it is such an unique experience. While technology is obviously great and necessary, most of us would readily admit to having become a tad bored, never mind overwhelmed at the rate at which it seems to have taken over our lives. Digitally overloaded and constantly connected 24/7 there are very few opportunities to connect with a force that is at once wild and powerful, beautiful and primeval....

Hawk Walk, Ashford Castle, Ireland

There are 23 hawks at the falconry at Ashford Castle, each with charming names, including the Irish Samradh (Summer) Fomhair (Autumn) etc. The bird I was introduced to and would take on a Hawk Walk was 2 year old Inca, a Peruvian Hawk and keen hunter. Anya the handlier explained the history of falconry and the different hunting techniques between hawks, which swoop down on their prey and the peregrine falcons who take their prey in the air, before deftly transferring Inca to my glove. I felt slightly fearful but immensely privileged to be up close and personal with this beautiful and powerful bird which had me fixed with her beady yellow rimmed eyes and gripped with her powerful talons.....

Inca with handler Anya at the Irish School of Falconry, Ashford Castle

We then walked up to the long tree lined vista that runs down to Ashford Castle and after a couple of minutes I was launching Inca who would fly off up into one of the trees and then return to land on my arm whenever I turned and raised my glove. It sounds simple and indeed it was, each movement has to be slow and deliberate so as to not confuse the bird (or me) which had the effect of being in slow motion and was like stepping back in history to perhaps Maid Marian’s time (I know wishful thinking) but the rest of the world ceased to exist for that hour. It was just me, Inca (and okay the handler at a safe distance) walking and working together in the most beautiful of settings in the grounds of Ashford Castle on a sultry summer afternoon. Life doesn't get much better than that....

Sadly the fairy tale ended all too soon and our time together was up, fortunately I had booked an extended Hawk Walk which includes flying a superb (and heavy) eagle owl called Dingle, who was a gift to his owner Deborah. He is now 19 years of age (they can live up to 70, talons crossed) so he only flies once or twice a day. With all due respect to Inca this was the highlight of my day and it was all I could do to resist the urge to pet him, but they secrete a special oil which cleans their feathers so if you touch them it can mess up the balance. However, one feather did drift down as he was set back gently on his perch which I kept as a reminder to go back and fly these wonderful creatures again.....

You can watch a video of me flying Dingle here.... 

Here's Mel on a training exercise with Lima....

For more information or to book a Hawk Walk online please click here.

For more information about Ashford Castle please click here.

For more information about the Lodge at Ashford Castle please click here.

Irelands Hidden Gems