Month: August 2016


Woodstock garden

My heart goes out to the people of Italy affected by the tragic earthquake. It is heartbreaking to see the devastation and loss of life. My deepest sympathy and love to you, brothers and sisters.

Some places have their secrets. When you take a road up the hill to the Woodstock gardens, Inistioge, you have these bushes and trees on your left, and you don’t expect anything else to be there. Then suddenly there is a gap between the trees through which you see the river Nore and the bridge, and the whole world behind them, just for a second, and you keep driving, stunned, unsure if it was for real.

Woodstock is a place loaded with history. This is a ten years old photograph from the gardens. I wonder how many secrets were shared while walking under the canopy of the Yew trees.

Woodstock gardens

Famous Noble Fir Walk in 2005. Not all the trees survived the devastating storm in 2014 when Woodstock gardens lost 120 trees altogether. This alley feels like a temple.

Woodstock gardens

The gardens are designed to surprise. As you walk, there is a surprise or a hidden secret around the next corner… like the Monkey Puzzle Walk that was initially planted in 1845. Historical estate drainage system made it possible for these trees to grow in the area, but they obviously cannot reach their expected age of 1000 years.  Recently, many young Araucaria araucana trees were brought from Italy and planted to replace the fallen giants. Araucarias can be traced back to the Mesozoic era, and they know all the secrets of the dinosaurs.  Araucaria araucana is native to the Andes, and was introduced to Europe in the end of the 18th century. It got its name Monkey Puzzle from a gardener in Cornwall. This magnificent Monkey Puzzle Walk  is  the oldest and longest in Europe. There are some other tranquil walks in the wooden area of Woodstock I have yet to explore, and I also want to see the 300 years old Oak trees that grew there long before Woodstock estate was developed.

Woodstock gardens

I love Poppy flowers. I marvel at the way their petals are crumpled in the bud, at their elegant fruit with its beautiful cap (stigma disk, unusual in the blossom world), and seed chambers. When I grew up, we had plenty of opium poppies in our backyard garden. The seeds were collected and used for poppy seed muffins and other pastry, so they were considered food, and using the flowers as princesses and cutting the pods to learn their anatomy was not approved. Still, if we happened to live in some other country, like Australia or the USA, we might end up in jail for cultivating a source of drugs 🙂 . Sigh.

I took pictures of these beautiful poppy blossoms in the Woodstock walled garden. I haven’t seen a humble opium poppy for years, but on a few occasions I enjoyed a slice of poppy seed roll. These gorgeous cousins of opium poppy took me back to the happy days of the flower princesses and simple pleasures of my childhood.

Here is an Old World Poppy Seed Roll recipe.

Woodstock gardens date to the 1740’s. The restoration works that started in 1998 are slow, but steady. I will visit the gardens again and post more pictures in the future. Besides the walled garden, there are rose garden, rockery garden, conservatory, many woodland walks, and many secrets I have to learn.

Exochorda (Pearlbush) and Rhododendron – two beautiful shrubs in bloom. Exochorda, native to China, was introduced in Europe in the 19th century.

Giant Sequoia and Japanese Thuja – straight and crooked 🙂


Japanese Thuja

If you are interested in the history of Woodstock and surrounding lands, you can find more in this article. The history and the people of  Woodstock are very interesting to learn about.

In 1737, the twenty-six-year-old Sir William Fownes inherited the estate and commissioned an elegant mansion, completed in 1745. His only daughter Sarah inherited Woodstock after her parents’ death. She married William Tighe of Rossanagh, member of Parliament, and since then Woodstock House has been the home to the Tighe family.

Richard Tighe crossed the Irish Sea in the 1640s – he was a contractor who supplied Cromwell’s army with bread.  A century later, Jonathan Swift would persecute his grandson Richard ( Dick) with stinging satire under the title of Dick Fitz-Baker. The Privy Councillor Richard Tighe was also called Dick a maggot, Clad all in Brown etc for making a mistake of informing upon Swift’s good friend.

Dick’s son William had three sons William, Edward and Richard, and a daughter Theodosia who became a mother to a romantic poet Mary Tighe. Mary began to write poetry as a child. In 1805, her six-canto Spenserian allegory Psyche was privately printed. Mary died in Woodstock from ‘consumption’. Asthma was hereditary in the Tighe family, as probably was tuberculosis accompanied with depression. Mrs. Tighe used all the profits from Psyche to built and extension to the Orphan Asylum in Wicklow. This article about Mary Tighe is a great read.

Mary married her first cousin, but it is her brother-in-law I want to mention here – William Statistical Tighe. He was so named because he was the author of ‘Statistical observations relating to Co Kilkenny in 1800-1801’. Statistical was one of the wealthiest landowners of that time; he inherited both Woodstock and Rossanagh. He was very well educated and had traveled around Europe and even to Russia. In 1793, Statistical began extensive works at Woodstock house and added two single-story wings.

Edward’s son George Tighe and his wife were good friends with Mary Shelley who adored their daughter Laurette and even wrote a story for her. This story had been lost for 150 years, and finally discovered in 1997 by an Italian lady in an attic of her Tuscan home.

Dick’s eldest grandson William was the one who married Sarah Fownes and started the Tighe dynasty in Woodstock.

Many gardens and walks were added between 1840 and 1900 by another William Tighe and his wife Lady Louisa Lennox. When Lady Louisa was 12 years old, she was allowed to stay with her godfather, the Duke of Wellington, at the Eve-of-Waterloo Ball, and helped him to buckle on his sword when the festivities were terminated with a call to arms. Lady Louisa set up a lace industry in Inistioge, and lived to the remarkable age of 97. She died in Woodstock in 1900.

In 1911, the next heir Edward and his wife Viola Tighe lost their seven years old son to asthma. The grief-stricken couple left Woodstock and settled in London. They moved most of the furniture, artworks and family heirlooms to London, except the library. In 1917, Captain Edward Tighe was murdered with a fire poker in their London home. The motive to this murder remains unknown. Their son Bryan was killed in 1940 in the battle of Dunkirk.

In 1921, the Woodstock house was burned to the ground by republican forces. The locals quickly removed whatever was left in the house before the fire started. Most of the library was destroyed in blaze, but the locals saved some old, leather-bound books that were taken away by horse and cart. The fire continued to burn for two days. The East wing of the house survived the fire and the Tighe’s former house keeper lived there for a number of years.

Old Cypress tree stretches its branches to touch the wall. It is unlikely that the tree was there when the house succumbed to the fire. Unlikely but not impossible. What if it was there, a seedling that survived the catastrophe?

Woodstock gardens

The outstretched branch looks somewhat spooky. What is it trying to reach?

Woodstock gardens

And there it is. The big dark secret. Look in the middle window.

Woodstock Gardens

I abandoned my initial plan to walk through the woods to the river Nore and take a picture of the other side of the bridge because I wasn’t sure that the figure in the window wouldn’t follow me. I briskly walked to my car and left.  You might ask why would I want a picture of the other side of the bridge? I already had this one.

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This is why. The sides of the bridge are different! In Inistioge, everything has a secret 🙂


Beautiful ten-arches bridge turns 250 this year. By the way, it is chronicled that a mermaid was found downstream of the bridge in 1118.

That’s enough secrets for today 🙂

inesemjphotographyHave a wonderful weekend!

Overcast sky from Dunmore East to Passage East

Dunmore East

This wasn’t the same day, even the same year when I took all these pictures, but the weather in Ireland hasn’t changed for years, so let’s presume we hop in the car and take a  short photo-drive from one village to the other, with one stop in the middle.

We start our trip from the Dunmore East Port  that is situated at the western end of Dunmore village.  As I walked on the pier to the lighthouse that was established in the end of 1825, the grey drizzling sky suddenly broke open and gave way to a wonderful silvery light. It lasted no longer than a minute, and the scenery quickly returned to its usual grey self.

Dunmore East

Construction works around the lighthouse obstructed the view and I turned back. Two young gulls on the rope made me smile – why did they have to stand there is such an awkward position? Maybe it was a dare? 🙂

Dunmore East port

Regardless of the weather the cliffs are always beautiful. This is an old coastguard station, the most photographed (and then over-dramatically enhanced) building in the area.  If you keep walking to the west, after half an hour you will reach the Portally Cove. It is a cliff walk, but not too close to the cliffs, actually.  This time I didn’t walk that far.

Old Coastguard

The silky grass is slippy. I like walking alone, but I believe in taking precautions.  Two years ago a cow fell from a cliff in the water, but was rescued.

Dunmore East

You can see the Hook Lighthouse on the other side.

Hook Head

This picture of Dunbrody was taken many years ago from the same cliffs.


To get this picture, you have to walk to the park, cross it and walk to the cliffs. The previous picture is taken from the same place – on the left, there is the port where we just came from.

Dunmore East

I leave the park and walk down to the village centre. During the winter storms, some giant waves reach the buildings.

Dunmore East

This is where we are heading, in the direction of Waterford Harbour and Passage East village, our final destination. Waterford Harbour is formed by the estuary of three great rivers: River Suir, River Nore and River Barrow.

Dunmore East

In the Google Earth image below, I have mapped the most significant strands on our way. Geneva strand is a great place for bird watching, but this time we will only stop to visit the oyster farm you see when you enlarge the picture. I don’t know how large is this particular farm (headquarters in Dunmore East), but some farms measure many hectares.

Google Earh

This is what Waterford Harbour and Woodstown beach look like at high tide. The photograph was taken after the sunrise from The Saratoga pub, “#1 of 1 Restaurant in Woodstown”, according to TripAdvisor. Fair enough.


This is the same beach at low tide.


The oyster farm workers are waiting for the other tractor to return.

oyster farming

Here it is, coming from the middle of the harbour.

oyester farming

The higher poles of the fishing weir measure about 3-4 m in height – something like two-human height. I recon the water can reach up to 2-2.5 m at high tide, or even higher. I have never seen it myself, but I have heard that the water in the harbour is leaving and coming very rapidly, as if someone is opening and closing a gate.

The oyster farm is so fascinating that I decide to come another day and check it out. To tell that I have no doubts about this adventure would be a lie. I am terrified, but my curiosity takes over, as usual.

It is a ten-minute walk in the soft, wet sand, between the pools of water. Sometimes my feet sink in the sand, and my heart sinks too. I keep closer to the poles, but have no idea how it would help if the sand swallows me. I just hope the poles are marking a safe path.

I have a longer lens, so I don’t have to come too close, and can take my pictures from a distance. The workers are doing something with the mesh bags full of oysters – inspect them, and flip them over. They don’t pay any attention, except for an older man, who looks in my direction a few times, and then speaks something. I wave to him and try to listen to what he is saying. I would love to interview him for this blog. Then I hear “… shove that camera in your face…” and quickly realise that my time has expired. With the broadest smile, I wave to him again, take a few more shots and walk back.

oyster farming

With no interview, I had to look up the oyster farming in the internet. Here is what I have learned.

In Ireland, they cultivate Irish native flat oyster, available from September, and Pacific Gigas, available all year. The Gigas was introduced in the 1980s, and from what I have seen, this particular farm cultivates exactly the Gigas species.

The tidal waters of Waterford Harbour are flushing the oysters twice a day, providing them with natural food. Bag-cultured oysters mature more quickly than those that are beach grown, it is why the bags have to be regularly thinned and flipped over, otherwise the oysters will develop a wrong shape.

The Gigas oysters take about three years to reach market size ( about six years for the native Edulis species). Oysters are cultivated to the size of spat first, to the point at which they attach themselves to a substrate. Then they are set out to mature.

There were many empty trestles that made an interesting picture.

oyster farming

These are the oyster bags. The holes are very small, but I could say that the oysters were the size of a half-palm.

oyster farming

oyster farming

On my way to the shore, I take some pictures. The distance is quite remarkable.

woodstown beach

I am trying not to step on the coiled castings of lugworms. Nearly there!


oyster farming

I found a broken oyster bag in the sand after a storm last year. I didn’t know how long it was there, and were the oysters still alive or already dead, so I let them be.

oyster farming

What made me sad, was the pattern of mesh on the shells.

oyster farming

We are leaving Woodstown, and drive another 5km. Passage East is a tiny village, but it is very important to the locals because of the ferry service between Co Waterford and Co Wexford.

Passage East

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Passage East

I have already mentioned Passage East village in my blog post Goats and Monkeys. A huge herd of goats is living in the hills, and sometimes they come down and cause a traffic jam. This billy goat is the leader of the herd. His diabolic looks are quite impressive.

Passage East goat

Here is the ferry, and some day we will cross the river and go to visit places around the Waterford Harbour.

Passage East

Thank you for taking a risky hike to the middle of Waterford Harbour with me 🙂 In my next blog post, we will travel up the River Barrow, and then up the River Suir.

inese_mj_photographyHave a wonderful weekend!

Meanwhile in the streets

Gottfried Helnwein

Visiting Saltee Island was a pleasure, but it is the time to return and check out what we have missed while we were away. There are some street scenes and the events that took place in Clonmel and Waterford.

Clonmel Junction festival is the most eventful week in July, filled with live music, street performance, theatre and visual art. Installations of the works A Child for sale by a world renowned artist and Kilsheelan resident Gottfried Helnwein could be seen in various places in the streets of Clonmel.

In my blog post Cry for the Last Child, I wrote about Gottfried and his beautiful castle. His granddaughters Croí and Éala are regular models for his paintings.

Gottfried Helnwein

Lords of Strut  – very talented and very positive comedians from Cork gave a brilliant performance in Clonmel.

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‘Over styled and under dressed’, silly but charming  characters Strut brothers Sean and Seamus,  won the hearts of young and old with their hilarious show, acrobatics, satire and dance.

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The streets of Waterford were not always as deserted as you might think after looking at this picture.


Historical reenactment of 1916 Easter Rising gathered quite a crowd and took us a hundred years back.





There is a video of the Reenactment I found on Youtube – I even caught a glimpse of myself in it 🙂


All sorts of transportation in The Quay, side by side. I love this street, and I think that most of my Waterford pictures were taken there.


Irish United Nations Veteran meeting was held in Cathedral Square, just a minute walk from The Quay. Thank you for your service!

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Waterford Spraoi festival is one of a kind. Theatre, music, art, dance and much more is happening in the streets of Waterford on the first weekend of August. Here is my Spraoi 2015 post. I will share only a few pictures this time.

Spraoi orchestra string quartet.


Morbid&Sons, a brand new undertaker business. Way to go, guys!


Tango for all! Dance until dark!

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aspraoi tango f 137

The sun is setting down and it looks like we are having a rainy day tomorrow 🙂


Melting gold of the setting sun flows behind the horizon. Darkness comes instead.


It is a perfect time to see the famous Spraoi monsters in the streets of Waterford City…


… and listen to the monster style music 🙂


Don’t be afraid of Spraoi monsters. They are a little bit crazy, but all they want is to have fun.  The only really scary and ugly thing in this world is hate.

Thank you for stopping by and for your interest in Ireland. In my next blog post, we will return to the Ocean and take a very unusual walk 🙂

inesemjphotography Have a wonderful weekend!

Saltee Island: big adventure 2016


Sweet puffin looks at me with his wise grey eye.  Another hour on the island and the boat will come to pick us up. I don’t want to leave. I want to stay there, on the edge of the cliff, and see what he sees.


The aquamarine blue water turns a shade darker.


There is a dark cloud coming from the East, and it means rain.


Before long it was raining lazily, and the raindrops sat on the puffin’s back and head, like diamond beads.

puffin puffin

I have had a fabulous time and took many photographs. I photographed birds perched on the cliffs, and in flight, from the front and from behind, …



… single and in groups.


We even saw a family of partridges and a rabbit.


It is time to leave.


Enjoy this short video from Saltee Islands website .

We take the stairs down to the rocky shore, and walk along the water edge taking photographs of everything that lies around.

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Huge thanks to the Neale family who have turned the islands into the bird sanctuary, and set up a shelter for those who might get stuck on the island overnight.

saltee islands

Our boat arrived with more photographers on board. This group will stay until the dark to take pictures of the sunset. The rubber dinghy is speeding towards the shore. It is also named after a bird. Guess which? A Puffin! 🙂


This is Declan Bates, the captain of  An Crosan, The Razorbill. Last August Captain Bates spotted an overturned boat that capsized near Great Saltee Island. Ten people had been in water for five hours. They were rescued and taken by An Crosan to Kilmore Quay. Nine of them survived.

Thank you for the safe trip, captain!

Captain Declan Bates

I do hope you enjoyed this trip, extended over so many blog posts 🙂

Don’t lose connection with the beautiful things of the world. Everything else won’t last long.

inesemjphotography Have a wonderful weekend!