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Dromoland Castle’s Hawk Walks at The School of Falconry

Dromoland Castle’s Hawk Walks at The School of Falconry

CASTLES, IRELAND

Falconry is an ancient sport that has been accredited to both the Mongolians and the Persians some 3,000 years ago. Ireland adopted falconry sometime in the seventh century, however, most records of the practice itself date from the 19th century onward. A sport mostly monopolized by the nobility, Brehon laws were developed to protect the raptor birds that were so highly prized. Today, falconry is still very popular, and anyone who tries it is sure to love this singular experience!

 

Falconry at Dromoland Castle

Dromoland Castle grounds

 

At Dromoland Castle, we met with our falconer on one of the many bright green lawns in front of the lobby. Perched on her gloved hand was our bird of prey for the day: Bomber, a striking Harris Hawk. For those who have never practiced falconry before, you can barely feel the added weight of them sitting on your hand. Everyone is provided with a glove while handling the bird to ensure that those powerful talons don’t leave any marks!

 

Bomber a striking Harris Hawk at the School of Falconry at Dromoland Castle

School of Falconry at Dromoland Castle

Gloves at the School of Falconry Dromoland Castle

 

Our falconer gave us each multiple turns to hold Bomber before allowing him to fly around for a bit. Sometimes, he would zoom off several yards away and land on a tree. If he didn’t respond to her whistle, she would place a piece of meat on one of our gloves (a little gross but at least we didn’t actually have to touch it!). She then instructed us to extend an arm, signaling Bomber to fly back and eat the meat right off of the glove! The entire experience is incredible for anyone who wants to get up-close with these amazing animals.

 

Holding Bomber, a striking Harris Hawk at the School of Falconry Dromoland Castle

Holding Bomber, a striking Harris Hawk at the School of Falconry Dromoland Castle

Holding Bomber, a striking Harris Hawk at the School of Falconry Dromoland Castle

 

The aviary has any amazing assortment of bird species including owls as well as different types of hawks and falcons.

 

The aviary at the School of Falconry Dromoland Castle

One of the hawks at the School of Falconry Dromoland Castle

Bomber the Harris Hawk at The School of Falcony

 

Our favorite was undoubtedly a tiny barn owl named Pickles who eagerly jumped on our gloves when presented with an extended arm. Unlike some of the larger birds of prey, Pickles enjoyed being petted and cooed over. In contrast, there was an enormous eagle owl whose head swiveled to keep intimidating eye contact with anyone near him.

 

Pickles the owl at The School of Falconry   Eagle Owl at The School of Falconry Dromoland Castle

 

Each bird had its own distinct personality, and the falconers let guests take their time to get acquainted with the friendly ones and observe the less social birds from a safe distance.

 

Holding Pickles the owl at The School of Falconry Dromoland Castle

The School of Falconry at Dromoland Castle

 

Our falconer was knowledgeable about each bird and expertly taught us the basics in a way that made everyone feet safe while also giving our hawk some freedom. We all loved it and highly recommend to anyone who has the opportunity to discover or re-experience falconry at Dromoland!

For more information:   Dromoland Castle’s The School of Falconry or emaildaveatkinsonfalconry@gmail.com 

Reference: http://www.iaf.org/HistoryFalconry3.php

About the author

Carmen Edelson is the Founder and Senior Editor of Carmen's Luxury Travel. Carmen has been traveling the world for over a decade. Our travels allows her the opportunity to pursuit her itch to travel to the best luxury destinations, and experience those first class tastes from around the world.

22 Comments

  1. Penny Sadler
    March 5, 2016 at 10:13 am
    Reply

    Wow! I’d never think of doing this but now I want to. What a cool experience.

    • Carmen
      March 5, 2016 at 10:17 am

      I had read about it before we went, and the kids were really excited about trying it. We learned a lot about the birds, and really enjoyed the walk.

  2. Debra Schroeder
    March 5, 2016 at 10:53 am
    Reply

    That looks like a lot of fun. Falcons and owls are such beautiful birds.How long did you get to “hold” the falcons?

    • Carmen
      March 7, 2016 at 5:23 pm

      We had a hour or so walk and each of us had our turns to hold it. I got to hold it a few minutes at a time.

  3. Tami
    March 5, 2016 at 2:35 pm
    Reply

    Great post! I once attended an Eagle Scout Court of Honor where they brought birds so the boys could have a similar experience. I found it just fascinating! I love the video of the owl following you with its eyes!

    • Carmen
      March 7, 2016 at 5:24 pm

      I thought it was a great experience, especially for the kids to get up close with them. The owl was very funny how it turned its head to keep an eye on us.

  4. Francesca @onegrloneworld
    March 5, 2016 at 8:27 pm
    Reply

    How cool! You’re really brave actually! I think I’d be way too scared to allow any kind of bird, let alone one so powerful, to land on my arm! Even with a glove. You got some great photos though and they didn’t bite you so I guess there isn’t really anything to be afraid of!

    • Carmen
      March 7, 2016 at 5:26 pm

      The gloves are very think. I was worried about its nails which were very long, but it wasn’t an issue with the gloves. What’s a little scary is when they want to fly away and your holding on to them.

  5. Erica
    March 5, 2016 at 11:26 pm
    Reply

    Wow this is such a unique experience! Those Falcons and owls are so glorious! I’d love to experience something like this.

    • Carmen
      March 7, 2016 at 5:27 pm

      I would love to try it again if we have the opportunity and so would the kids.

  6. Rosemary
    March 6, 2016 at 2:35 am
    Reply

    What a unique experience. Would never have thought of such an experience. Love your pictures. So beautiful like the falcons and owls. Fascinating read!

    • Carmen
      March 7, 2016 at 5:28 pm

      The falcons and owls are very photogenic. If you’re ever in Ireland, it’s so worth it.

  7. melody pittman
    March 6, 2016 at 2:17 pm
    Reply

    Carmen, you look like such a natural! What fun! And so Harry Potter-ish. 😉

    • Carmen
      March 7, 2016 at 5:29 pm

      Hi Melody, Funny that you say that because my oldest is a huge Harry Potter fan and mentioned the owl in the movie when we were taking turns holding it.

  8. Megan
    March 6, 2016 at 6:12 pm
    Reply

    Looks like such an interesting experience. Would have never thought about exploring a falconry. Might have to add it to the list. Thanks for sharing.

    • Carmen
      March 7, 2016 at 5:36 pm

      We learned about it before we left for Ireland when I was looking into activities that were being offered at the castle. It’s truly an amazing experience.

  9. Vicky and Buddy
    March 6, 2016 at 9:51 pm
    Reply

    Pickles is SO cute! I would have loved to pet her. What an awesome experience! 🙂

    • Carmen
      March 7, 2016 at 5:30 pm

      Pickles was my favorite. She was very calm and didn’t mind us holding her at all. I loved her eyes especially.

  10. Jennifer Melroy
    March 6, 2016 at 11:07 pm
    Reply

    I would love to get to pay with some hawks while in Ireland. When I was in the UAE, I went to the falcon hospital and learned about falconry in the Middle East and got to hold a few falcons but didn’t get to see any fly.

    • Carmen
      March 7, 2016 at 5:32 pm

      They gave us a piece of meat to hold in our glove and it would fly right back to the glove to eat the meat. That’s great that you got to go to a falcon hospital and learn about the birds. I’m sure we would of enjoyed visiting a hospital too.

  11. Lindsay Nieminen
    March 7, 2016 at 11:58 am
    Reply

    this looks awesome! i have a friend who is a bird nut and would love to get this close to them!

    • Carmen
      March 7, 2016 at 5:34 pm

      If they are a bird nut then they would really get a kick of walking around with the hawks, and owls.

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