Month: November 2017

The Stag and the Dragon I

Curraghmore House

After having seen Mother Brown we are going to walk straight to the place she is looking at – the Curraghmore House.

This July I visited Curraghmore House hoping to see a portrait of Lady Florence. Unfortunately the only portrait they have is upstairs in the private quarters. Otherwise, it was an amazing visit. If you go to Ireland, make sure you contact the tour guides and book yourself a €15 tour of the main reception rooms, Shell House and the garden. I promise you, it will be the highlight of your visit.

I do my best to remember everything that our guide is telling. Photography is not allowed in the House, and for the same reason I can not give you a detailed account on what I have seen, but I still can share some stories. Like the story about the Stag and the Dragon.

Curraghmore House

Curraghmore House was built by the la Poer family after their arrival in Ireland with the Norman invasion in the 12th century. It was a tower house with thick walls, and its facade was adorned with the family crest they brought from Normandy – a sculpture of a St Hubert Stag with genuine antlers, and the crucifix. Later a new house was built around the original tower, and a new stag sculpture carved by Sir Richard Boehm.

In 1701 a girl was born, Catherine, the only child of James Power, 3rd Earl of Tyrone and his wife Anne Rickard. The Earl soon died and left her all the family lands. The Earldom discontinued and her father’s cousin was supposed to move in the house and inherit the Barony, but it came out that he was a Jacobite, and Catherine and her mother were allowed to stay for a while to deal with them later. They stayed in the house until Catherine was fifteen and then the marriage was arranged with her cousin Sir Marcus Beresford, a Protestant, Freemason and politician. He became the man of the house. They got married exactly 300 years ago, on July 16 1717.

Lady Catherine gave birth to 15 children 9 of whom reached adulthood. Their firstborn, George, was made the first Marques of  Waterford.

Curraghmore House

Sir Marcus wanted a bigger house and Catherine knew that he would eventually remove the la Poer family crest and replace it with the Beresford family crest, a Dragon head pierced through the neck with a broken spear. She convinced her husband to rebuild the house so that the front faced Comeragh Mountains, and it was where the Dragon was placed. Until these days, the guests arrive to the front of the house, which is in the back, and both the Dragon and the Stag are still here, standing back to back. But it is not the whole story.

In 1922, during the Civil War, the order was given for this house to be burned. Some men came in the middle of the night, put the straw and left to return before the sunrise and finish the job. When they came back with the torches, the clouds suddenly parted, a full moon came out and the crucifix had cast a shadow on the ground. The men were terrified that they almost burned a Catholic house. They hurried away, and burned the Woodstock House shortly after.

Curraghmore House

Curraghmore House

Curraghmore House

Curraghmore House

View of the Comeragh Mountains from the front porch.

Curraghmore House

Statues in the courtyard.

Curraghmore House

Curraghmore House

In these apartments there used to be a doctor’s surgery and a teacher’s quarters.

Curraghmore House

Retired butler is still living here.

Curraghmore House

The Stables.

Curraghmore House

Curraghmore House

Curraghmore House

Curraghmore House

Curraghmore House

Curraghmore House

Curraghmore House

Tea Rooms.

Curraghmore House

Next weekend we resume our walk around the Curraghmore House.

inesemjphotography Have a wonderful week!

Mysteries of Clonegam

Clonegam

This is one of the most peaceful views in the country. You are slowly driving uphill watching for pheasants and cars coming in the opposite direction, and when you finally reach the top of the hill you stop for a second to take in the view of the green fields dotted with ancient trees – a pastoral landscape rolling towards the Comeragh Mountains. Curraghmore Demesne, beautiful like a picture.

Clonegam

I parked my car at the Clonegam Church gate and used the stony steps to get on the other side of the wall. The whole herd of cows stopped grazing and stared at me. I crept along the wall and tried to blend with background. My target was too far away, and I didn’t want any cow companion to follow me. First I had to reach this group of trees encircled with stones.

Clonegam

If you enlarge this picture, you will see the object I was heading to in the distance.

I am getting closer.

Clonegam

Finally there. Good afternoon, Mother Brown!

Clonegam

No one really knows what Mother Brown is. She is not listed in the Archeology inventory, and majority think that she was made 300 years ago. Not me. I am sure that her presence right near the stone circle and the grove of beech trees, which make you think of druids, has a meaning. If you still believe that all of this – the Mother, the trees and the stones are a folly, you have never stood in the grove, and never looked in Mother Brown’s face.

Clonegam

Clonegam

Clonegam

Mother Brown looks down the valley at the Curraghmore House, the ancestral home of Lords Waterford. I will write about my visit to the house later in November.

Clonegam

Clonegam

I fight the temptation to touch Mother Brown. How can I be sure she won’t find it disrespectful. I also mumble my apologies when I am taking pictures of her. Wishing her well, I retire to the beech trees and step over the stone circle fighting my doubts that I might get it all wrong again. But suddenly I feel peace and know that I am not offending anyone by standing there. I pat the tree trunks and we have a small chat.

Clonegam

I take a few photographs from the grove.

Clonegam

There are many tree stumps at various stages of decay.

Clonegam

Clonegam

Some of them are quite recent.

Clonegam

I have a thing for beech trees. Not only are they majestic and beautiful, but they also feed an army of wild creatures. They are like an autonomic world, an entity that will function long after we are all gone.

Clonegam

In the picture below you see the Clonegam church I have already written about.

Clonegam

As I was walking between this point and the church, many things happened.

First of all, I came across two sheep corpses of which I took pictures but won’t display them in this blog. I am afraid that the sheep died due to the complicated labor, and wild foxes and other predators finished the job. Sad.

Then I investigated the wall trying to figure out what was that sound that scared me on my visit last year. I didn’t find any answers on this side of the wall and decided to go to the graveyard again since it was still light. I have never forgotten that knocking sound. I know that at the steps of the church there is a footprint from goat, and it is haunted. Was that the sound of goat’s hooves clicking on the stone path?

To my surprise, the back gate was closed, and there was a small horse trailer standing at the front porch. I thought that was very strange. I kept walking towards the hole in the wall to climb over to my car when just behind my shoulder, someone said “huh” twice.

I jumped in the air and turned around. There was no one.

Slightly shaken, I walked faster, and then there was another ‘huh’. This time I realised it was coming from above. I lifted up my face in horror, and saw a group of goats looking down at me.

Clonegam

Clonegam

I was never so happy to see a goat…

The goats came running to the front gate where I stood. I think they were left in the graveyard to clear it of weeds, and thought I brought them some snacks to add to their boring diet. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any goat snacks with me.

As the front gate was closed, I tried to stick out my lens between the rails, but it didn’t work well and my pictures came out ‘framed’. Still, it was a fun photo session.

Clonegam

Clonegam

Clonegam

This one was a true sweetheart. He was standing and looking at me after all the other goats left. He pressed his forehead to the rails, and I was scratching his head and patting his back, and he loved it.

Clonegam

One of the Clonegam mysteries was solved.

inesemjphotography Have a wonderful weekend!

Autumn in Mount Congreve I

mount congreve gardens

As I am away, you can walk through the Mount Congreve gardens all by yourself. These pictures were taken in early September.

mount congreve gardens

mount congreve gardens

Ancient tree with an ancient Hoof fungus on it.

mount congreve gardens

It is what a Rhododendron leaf looks like after a year on the forest floor.

mount congreve gardens

These steps take you under the thick canopy where the sun doesn’t shine and some mysterious, alien-looking things are growing.

mount congreve gardens

Strikingly beautiful plant with scarlet leaves is literally glowing in the dark. It is a Bromelia with a beautiful name Fascicularia bicolor.

mount congreve gardens

The ‘thing’ in the middle is the flower itself, or rather, a flower head which consists of many small flowers.

mount congreve gardens

mount congreve gardens

mount congreve gardens

Another alien thing. You will love the name – White Elfin Saddle.

mount congreve gardens

Well, this is too much of scary :). I advise you to click on the picture to enlarge it. It looks like this Hoof mushroom have lips!

mount congreve gardens

I think you have to get out of this dark corner ASAP.

mount congreve gardens

Hope this walk was not boring. Next week you will walk through the rest of the garden.

inesemjphotography Have a wonderful weekend!