Skint, but wanting to do something nice with my 6 year old, I am excited when I see the Facebook photos of a friend who has recently visited the Eagles Flying in Ballymote, Sligo with her kids.
Fifty euro is my budget and that includes the price of the petrol to get there from Galway city.
Entry times are at 10.30am and 2.30pm and we arrive at 2.15pm.
At the entrance there are lots of sheep and donkeys to be seen and also some wild Canadian geese. This is a lovely spot for photos or even a picnic and we could easily have spent an hour or two here.
When the gate opens we pay our admission and buy two cartons of feed for a euro each which say ‘please return’ on the side of them and I am immediately infused with a sense of environmental consciousness.
Eagles are all around on their perches as we follow the path to the show area and then suddenly we are set upon by ponies who greedily come to ticklishly gobble feed right out of our hands. At this I feel pity for those that didn’t buy the feed as they are missing out on a truly delightful experience. There is also a wide variety of other animals including geese, pigeons, chickens, and a ferret.
The main show is next and is presented by infectiously enthusiastic zoologist Lothar F. Mushchketat. It is extraordinary. He is a true entertainer and kids and adults alike are laughing before the show even gets properly underway.
A cheeky heron is one of the first birds we are presented with and we are told that he arrived at the centre due to injury and was released back into the wild but decided to move back in, bringing with him a girlfriend with which he has made many babies on the grounds. He is the most charismatic heron I have ever encountered.
Educational facts blended with birds of prey thrillingly swooping close over everyone’s heads is what the show consists of.
Lothar skirts through the crowd and makes sure everybody gets to hold and/or touch the birds, especially the delighted children.
Once the show is over we all head to a petting area where there is an assortment of reptiles, foxes, rabbits, goats, and the biggest pig I have ever seen.
The people working there are extraordinarily pleasant and enthusiastically answer any questions we have.
Far-too-soon it is all over and me and the wee boy depart with a veritable sense of enchantment and thoughts of returning again soon.