Images of Cong captured in new book

Staying In

LANDMARK Abbey Bridge is one of the local landmarks to feature in ‘Cong’.

Oisín McGovern

THE sights and surrounds of Cong have been captured in a new book by local photographer Elizabeth Toher.
Lovers of rich, detailed landscape photography will be given an insight in the stories, lore and legends associated with the picturesque village straddling the border of Galway and Mayo.
The majestic Ashford Castle, as well as The Royal Abbey of Cong, Lady Buttery’s Cave, The Banshee Footprint and Giant’s Grave are just some of landmarks captured in this new 160-page book, which is simply titled ‘Cong’.
Amongst the many sites of Cong, readers will recognise familiar names such as Guinness and Saint Patrick and learn how each left their mark.
A well-known wedding photographer in the west of Ireland, Elizabeth Toher is also the resident photographer for Ashford Castle and Estate.
The book marks the fulfilment of a lifelong dream for Elizabeth, who still lives in Cong with her husband and three children.
Having been left without work for long periods during the pandemic, Elizabeth decided to finally pursue her ambition after returning from a walk from around the Lisheen area during the dark days of January.
Having gathered many photos of the area in previous years, she used the February snowfall to add to her already large collection.
Elizabeth says her intention was to shine a light on the village’s lesser-known landmarks and many hidden gems.
“As I got a bit older, I genuinely believe I was born to live here. I’ve never left here and I hope the good Lord Jesus will let me live to 102 if I’m lucky. It’s just incredible,” she says.
“Some people pass through Cong and they know The Quiet Man statue or Ashford or they’ll have quick look around the Abbey, but there’s so much more to it,” she adds, citing places like the Lisheen, the Banshee Footprint and the site of an old hedge school.

Fond memories
With many fond memories of playing around Ashford and Cong Abbey as a child, Elizabeth insists that her appreciation of her native place grew after she became a mother.
“My outlook on life did change and I started to see things slightly differently. All of a sudden, I’d be bringing the kids in and saying: ‘Wow, this is actually so special’,” she says.
“I’ve always been very vocal in my love of Cong and trying to support it in any way I can. I’m very proud of this book, I truly want it to be my legacy that long after I’m gone someone will say: ‘God, that lady really did love Cong.’
“It’s just a fantastic place to live. I’ve lived my life here. I’m genuinely content here. At 47 years of age, I can still go into Cong and go: ‘Wow’”.

‘Cong’ will be officially launched in The Lodge at Ashford Castle on November 7. The book will also be available through Elizabeth Toher’s online gallery,