Whether you’re looking for a couple’s getaway, or taking a mid-winter break, February is the month to plan travels worth sharing. If you’ve never experienced the romance of train travel, climb onboard the Belmond Royal Scotsman. We also invite you to explore the latest in cruising, which has hit new heights of luxury and excitement.
Erika Reategui and Fernando Gonzalez
Take a page out of Harry Potter at Ireland’s School of Falconry – the country’s oldest. On the grounds of historic Ashford Castle in western Ireland, guests (and non-guests alike) can experience the thrill of this ancient sport of kings. We asked Deborah Knight, the school’s owner, what to expect.
First off, can you give us a brief intro to the sport?
It’s considered the oldest sport in the world. Dating back 4,000 years to the Far East, it began as way to catch food before bows and arrows or guns. It spread to Ireland around the 7th century. By 1228, when Ashford Castle was built, falconry was well established, not only among the nobility, but by commoners too.
What is a Hawk Walk?
It’s our introduction to falconry. No experience is required. Guests are greeted by their instructor and shown our 35 birds of prey. Within minutes, they are gloved and introduced to their hawk before setting off with the falconer. As they fly their hawk around Ashford Castle gardens and woodlands, the hawk will closely follow them, flying from tree to tree, before swooping down and landing on their gloved fists. The instructor will explain and demonstrate the hawk’s exceptional skills and training. No one ever forgets the magical moment when their hawk first swoops down from the tree and lands back on their gloved fist.
What are some interesting facts about Birds of Prey?
There are too many to list! They are designed and honed to perfection by nature. Their remarkable eyesight, their hearing, their speed and lightening reflexes. They are the fastest living thing. And they have 10 times the power of an average man.
What is the greatest takeaway from the Hawk Walk?
I think it’s the extraordinary connection and mutual trust that must exist for the partnership to work. There is nothing else like it. Over the course of a Hawk Walk, guests can experience a palpable connection with their hawk and can tune in to the hawk’s energy.
Is the class appropriate for children?
Yes, they are suitable for families and children ages 7 years on. The Hawk Walk is a private experience. Guests will have a hawk or team of hawks all to themselves and there is no charge for spectators to accompany participants. The Hawk Walk lasts an hour or so.
Contact your F1S specialist to book a stay at Ashford Castle and Hawk Walk at Ireland’s School of Falconry.