Blue Way of County Tipperary III

We have walked 11 kilometres and deserve a break. Today’s walk is only 1 km long. The season is Autumn.

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The Poulakerry Tower House is often called a castle, which is fine. There is no need to be over-specific when we speak about a 600 years old building that still stands and is lived in. You can also call it a keep.

The tower house was built by the Butler Fitzwilliams family to guard the crossing over the river, demand tolls, and who knows what else as they had a reputation of ‘robber barons’. During the Cromwellian invasion, the house was taken and its defenders killed. Majority of castles and keeps suffered from sieges and were left in ruins. Excellent location saved the Poulakerry tower house: it was repaired and used as a garrison. Over the centuries the house changed hands and was restored in the 1970s to become a family home.

The river makes an S-bend at the tower house. Peaceful fields lay on the north bank and the steep wooded slopes of the Comeragh Mountains rise on the south.

Robins here are fearless. You can stand pretty close with your camera and admire their Christmas Card cuteness.

Landscape House is another landmark. Built in the 1790-s as a part of the Mount Congreve Estate it was extended over the years. Somehow this property is associated with Captain Charles Cunningham Boycott, a British land agent, whose name became immortalized after he issued eviction orders to his tenants in Co Mayo. Nowadays evictions are not a novelty anymore, and no new words have been created… The Captain leased a farm in Tipperary, it is all I know. If I learn more about the ‘association’, I will update this post.

A legendary horse trainer and rider Phonsie (Alphonsus Septimus) O’Brian and his wife bought the house in the 1970’s after the sale of their Thomastown Castle property. You might also know their daughter’s company name – Lily O’Brien’s. Both the House and the chocolate & desserts company were sold in 2018.

This is the most beautiful stretch of the river.

The lower slopes of the Comeraghs adorned with yellow and red foliage.

Majestic Slievenamon stands on the opposite side of the river.

A couple of swans are glowing in the afternoon sun.

Not only the swans – myriads of mayflies are glowing like little lanterns (early September).

Another robin enjoying the warmth of sunlight.

The sun rolled behind the hill. Two egrets call it a day and depart for the trees.

Pied ( or Water) wagtail is a resident at the Poulaberry and Kilsheelan Bridge parts of the river.

We stop before the Garden and the bridge – more about these landmarks in my next blog post when we will walk to Gurteen de la Poer Castle you see under the bridge arch.

Thank you for reading and walking with me ❤

  Have a wonderful weekend!

Blue Way of County Tipperary II

We continue from Dove Hill Norman Tower, and I hope we make it to Poulakerry Tower House. The season is spring.

We see a glimpse of several ruins as we walk. River Suir was the main access route, and has been used by the early Christians, the Vikings, the Normans and everyone else over the centuries. The four-storey Dove Hill tower house has been changing keepers since it was erected in the 14th century. The Earl of Ormond is listed as the proprietor in 1640 when the tower was described as “a small castle wanting repaire“.

This is a closer look. The ivy-clad ruin stands right across the road from the Dove Hill Irish Design Centre.

Suir Blueway was officially launched in May 2019 and the path was paved in 2018. Before that the path looked like in the pictures below, and I loved it much more than its paved version. In fact, it makes me sad when I see all that paving, drainage or tree cutting in the wildlife habitats intended to accommodate our selfish wants. There are very little habitats left in Ireland, and very little wildlife.

Now and then we see an angler. River Suir is still rich in salmon and has the distinction of producing Ireland’s record rod-caught salmon that weighed 57 lb ( 25.9 kg) and was taken on a fly by Michael Maher in 1874. .

We walk some 2-3 kilometers and there is no other sound than the buzzing of bees and chirping of birds.

Then suddenly we hear a ‘white noise’ that grows louder as we walk – it is the sound of the rapids.

Nothing dramatic here, just the shallow water and the rocks, but the sound is impressive.

I take a slow shutter picture of the water.

River Suir is not deep along the Blueway. All the navigation takes place to the south of Carrick-on-Suir.

We walk another kilometre in solitude. There is MSD biotechnology company site somewhere at this stretch of the riverwalk, but they make themselves invisible, and they are a good employer anyway…

We pass so-called Glyn Castle – the house with a rich history built on the site of an ancient castle.

Waterford- Clonmel railway comes close to the river at this point.

More walking.

There are birds – robins, wrens, green finches.

Heron makes a comical takeoff.

The beautiful vistas of the green Irish countryside provide a lovely ending to our 6 km long walk.

Some more birds as we approach the outskirts of my favorite village.

We made it to the Poulakerry tower house!

In my next blog we are going to stay in the village of Kilsheelan and walk between the Poulakerry tower house and Gurteen Castle.

  Have a happy week!

Blue Way of County Tipperary I

Today we are off to the River Suir again, ready to start a glorious 21 km (14 mile) walk which I have completed in the past, not in a single go, though. I also recommend Treacy’s Blueway Bike Hire for those who prefer cycling…

Suir Blueway is a 53 km kayaking trail from Carrick-on-Suir to Cahir and a 21km walking and cycling trail from Carrick-on-Suir to Clonmel along the river Suir.

A few words about the history of the trail. The Greenways are built on the former railway lines. The Blueways are built on the former towpath for horse-drawn boats.

Carrick-on-Suir has a long history of river transport. From the mid-eighteenth century until the early 1900-s horse-drawn boats were a familiar sight. The boats were often towed in pairs with a team of twelve horses yoked together, four men in charge. An old photograph below is linked to the blog post you might enjoy reading. The photograph was taken from the Gashouse Bridge, Clonmel.

You will see a good few remarkable buildings and ruins along the walk. Davin’s tower in the opening picture is a folly built by Lord Waterford in 1820-s. It is overlooking the Davin’s salmon weir – the science of constructing such weirs was brought to Ireland by the Franciscans. 

I have arranged my pictures by location and season. In today’s blog we start out in Carrick-on-Suir, and the season is Summer.

River otter is a common resident. A family of otters live at Carrick-on-Suir marina which is quite a busy place. River otters usually enter water only to hunt or travel. These three otters looked like they were traveling with a purpose.

I hope these cute ducklings escaped the sharp teeth…

We might sit down and rest our feet. Some of the benches have plaques – “In memory” or “Donated by”.

Birds are always present – robins, wrens, stonechats, thrushes and finches. Highly territorial Kingfishers can be seen once in a while. I have never got a photograph.

Heron is hunting in the shallow water. I always smile at his prehistoric looks and unnecessary panic with which he takes off: he is in the middle of the river and we humans don’t fly. Tainted conscience of a predator? Guilty of eating little ducklings, may be? 😉

Swans don’t panic. They have a vegetarian diet and clean conscience. They move with dignity and mind their own business.

We are almost halfway to Kilsheelan at this point. Hope you enjoyed the walk.

The Carrick-on-Suir Clancy Brothers Art Festival takes place on the June bank holiday weekend each year. Here is an hour long concert for you to listen while you are getting ready for the next leg of our adventure.

See you soon!

 

Have a happy week!

Cheekpoint

I have written about River Suir before. Two latest Little Island posts gave me idea of following the river a little further. On the map below you see the Little Island pointing to the green chunk of land with the river coiled around it. It is the point where the rivers Barrow and Nore meet their sister Suir and together start their final journey to the sea.

I don’t even have to write much – Cheekpoint has a resident blogger and author Andrew Doherty 

You see a couple of pins on the map. They mark the places where my pictures were taken from. I will add some commentary, but most of the information I am going to share with you has come from Andrew’s blog Waterford Harbour Tides and Tales.

To get to Cheekpoint, we make a right turn from the Passage East Road, Waterford, and keep to the left under the bridge. The first thing you notice is a ruin surrounded by trees and ivy that is not marked on my map. The ruin is not a tower or castle but a mill that ceased to operate in the 1930-s.  Delahunty’s Mill is a silent relic of the industrial past of the land.


After Strongbow arrived in Waterford harbour in 1170, Henry II landed in Passage East the following year and granted strategically important lands surrounding the harbour to Juvenis Aylward, a merchant from Bristol who provided financial support to the expedition. The lands remained in the Aylward family for 450 years and went to the Cromwellian ‘officer of Dragoons’ Captain William Bolton in 1667. His descendants had been farmers, politicians and businessmen who built Faithlegg House, established Cheekpoint village, port, cotton manufactory and hofiery ( read about the Stocking Frame here), lime kilns and mills. They planted a forest, drained and walled salt marshes, improved the roads; Cheekpoint Packet Station run by Captain Thomas Owen commenced in 1787 and flourished until the end of Napoleonic Wars.


When we emerge from under the bridge, there is an old building on our left, Jack Meade’s bar. Their beer garden looks very attractive, and they also have two 19th century lime kilns and an ice house in the grounds. The bar dates back to 1705 and belongs to the present family since 1857.

We follow the Cheekpoint road and turn left after a couple of miles to Faithlegg Golf Club .

Cornelius Bolton inherited the Faithlegg estate in 1779. Being a prominent Waterford businessman and politician he built a stately house ( the architect is believed to be John Roberts). Unfortunately, with the end of Napoleonic Wars most of his investments failed and he had to sell the house to Nicholas Power and retire to his Waterford residence. Nicholas adorned the House with his family crest – the Stag head. In 1935 the House was sold and became a De La Salle college; in 1998 – a golf club and hotel.

We return to the main road and stop at the Faithlegg Church and graveyard. There is a ruin of a nave and chancel of the church that was possibly built in the 13th-14th century, however there are written records of this church in the 12th century. The difference in masonry of the front and back part of the ruin indicates that there are indeed two churches – one built in Romanesque style, and the other in a later Venetian Gothic style. The ruin is preserved by the efforts and financial help of community.

There is also a newer church that dates from 1826 and is still in use. This is a 1928 image of it from https://tidesandtales.ie/old-faithlegg-churc/. The spire was erected by Nicholas Power. The church looks pretty much the same except for the shrubbery and ivy which are gone now.

In the church graveyard there is a number of remarkable graves, like the grave of William Doyle who sailed the globe with Captain Cook. There is also Thomas Francis Meagher family vault.

We continue along the Cheekpoint road and turn left, up the Minaun Hill. A short walk from the car park takes us to the top. The views are spectacular. Dunbrody Abbey in the picture below is just a couple of miles away, but they say you can see seven counties from here on a clear day.

Numerous steep trails take you around the hill so that you have a 360° view. This is Port of Waterford.

This is the Faithlegg House with Little Island in background. You can see the black&white tower if you zoom closer.

A massive piece of volcanic rock  – The Cromwell’s Table – is a popular viewpoint. If you are tall enough you might see Saltee Islands from here. In the picture below you see the estuary and the village of Passage East. We will get there in the end of this blog.

The Rhododendron Walk is another beautiful and mysterious place. It stretches on the north part of the Minaun, closer to the Waterford port on the other side of the river. I had a blood-chilling experience while walking there alone in twilight last year. I even have a horror video from that walk, but cannot figure out how to post it in WordPress. So I will keep this story for the future use.

After all the walks and sight-seeings we finally reach the Cheekpoint village. This elegant red brick building, now a family home, used to be another Cornelius Bolton’s enterprise – a Coaching Inn. Daisybank House has a long history of which you can read about in Andrew’s blog.

Here are some pictures of Cheekpoint port and strand taken in different years.

The following eight pictures are taken from the strand.

Fog is a frequent occurrence in Cheekpoint.

Cheekpoint fishing weirs have a long history. Here you can learn the difference between Head weirs and Scotch weirs, and read about the Weir Wars.

Barrow railway bridge was opened in 1906 and closed in 2010. Nearly mile long, it has 13 spans one of which opens to let the yachts pass under the bridge. Sad that this beauty has no practical use anymore, but being an important landmark it is very appreciated among photographers.

A flock of Godwits are picking lugworms at low tide.

With SMARTPLY manufacturing site in background, we walk to the end of the strand towards the Rookery.

All the buildings in the Rookery are unique. The time has stopped there long ago.

This house was built by Cornelius Bolton junior in 1786-1800. The house comes with the quay, dock and walled garden. I have read that the fishing weirs used by the owner’s family were built by Cistercian monks in 1177.

The house was for sale at the time of my visit, so I went to the quay and took this picture.

This is the dock and remains of the ancient fishing weirs. I fell in love with the place. I think it has been sold by now 🙂

Here are some closer pictures of the Barrow Bridge.

This is what Cheekpoint and Minaun Hill look like from the opposite bank.

In the picture below you see the Russian Side – the east part of Cheekpoint. The twin stacks on the right belong to the Great Island power station sitting across the river like a sore thumb. In my previous pictures I made sure to keep it out of frame. The picture was taken from the Wexford side of the river. I don’t know the story of the abandoned boat. You can see it in Google Earth.

Besides photography, there is another cool thing you can do in Cheekpoint: ship watching.

Up to twenty ocean liners used to visit Waterford annually. Only the larger ones drop anchor at Dunmore East – the other ships continue to the Port of Waterford at Belview, passing Cheekpoint on the way.

On my last visit in September I was lucky to observe Pacific Princess departing from Port of Waterford. I was on my way home when I caught a glimpse of the liner through the gap between the trees. I took a few pictures and hurried to Passage East.

For those who remember the name – it is not THAT Pacific Princess. The ship featured in the romantic comedy series The Love Boat was purchased by Turkish shipbreaking company Cemsan in 2012 and obviously ceased to exist. This Princess was built in 2002.

Princess Cruises have a history of ‘deliberated pollution’ – illegal waste discharge, but it seems that Pacific Princess has no major problems with environmental compliance.

I arrived to Passage East just in time to hear the ship horn blast as she passed the village and continued through the estuary to the Irish Sea. The passage from Belview to the sea is approximately 1.5 hours.

Thank you for joining me on this walk around Cheekpoint and Faithlegg. We will return to River Suir to walk the 20 km long Blue Way, this time in County Tipperary.

  Have a happy week!

 

Saluti, Maestro!

I knew you wouldn’t live forever, but the loss hurts so bad. The world has been listening to your music yesterday. Yesterday I was a better person than I usually am because I had my earphones on most of the day listening to your ‘energy, space and time’. Thank you for being there these 50+ years of my life, Maestro.