Blue Way of County Tipperary V

The last leg of our walk begins. The season is early spring. Some old, pre-Blueway pictures from the other seasons are added just because I have hundreds of them 😉

I stop and look both directions down the winding path.

That’s how it looked only a few years ago. It was a refuge for the stressed-out humans and nesting place for birds. I loved it.

Fragrant Meadow Sweet used to grow waist-high at the water edge. It probably was there for millennium. A sacred herb to the Celts, it was used in potions to treat skin problems, and as a floor covering for warmth and hygiene.

And there are birds, of course. Chaffinches, robins and starlings are year-round residents in Ireland. Chaffinch is a long-living bird, and raises one brood each year.

Robin and starling live only 2-3 years, often even less, and raise three broods a year. I have seen robin fledglings in early October.

Halfway to our destination, there is a ruined church and graveyard we will visit some other day. The graveyard is the resting place of Catherine Isabella Osborne, an Irish artist and patron. She was interested in photography and supported William Despard Hemphill’s photography projects. He dedicated his collection of photographs of Clonmel to her in 1860.

Killaloan church looks timeless with majestic Slievenamon in background.

At the opposite side of the river, heather-clad slopes of the Comeraghs come into view. River Suir runs all the way along the Comeraghs and turns north near the village of Newcastle at the foot of the Knockmealdowns.

We walk past a memorial stela and stone bench. The memorial was erected by the family of Peter Britton who along with his climbing partner Colm Ennis died in a fall in the French Alps in 2014. Mr. Britton was the Senior Roads Engineer with Tipperary County Council remembered for his role in the Blueway project.

River Anner, a tributary, slips under the bridge into River Suir.

It is not unusual to see Clonmel Riding Club members on the towpath…

…but the galloping ponies on the opposite bank came as a surprise.

We are approaching another beautiful landmark – Sir Thomas’s Bridge. This six-arch humpback bridge was built in 1690 by Sir Thomas Osborne who had lands on both sides of the river. He resided in the three-story Tudor style house built almost a century earlier by Alexander Power.

This is a closer look at the house. It is often called Tickincor Castle and has been in ruin since the 19th century.

A view of Sir Thomas’s bridge from the opposite bank. The same as Kilsheelan bridge, it has a dry arch for pedestrian use. The bridge has never been widened or altered in any way.

Another interesting fact about Sir Thomas’s bridge is that in the times of horse-towing, the whole team had to enter the river to pass underneath the arch. Accidents happened and the boats got wrecked there.

Another view from the opposite bank. You can appreciate the height of the arches.

Clonmel river walk existed way before the Blueway was launched.

There is a set of weirs on this stretch of the river, some of them overgrown. They used to supply the water wheels for the number of mills. Here is a poem about the Gwendoline boat accident at the long Dudley’s weir.

A heron took off, slipped on landing but regained his balance. Funny bird, I never get bored watching them.

Hotel Minella is another landmark. The central building (1863) was built for Thomas Malcolmson of the famous Malcolmson family I mentioned in my blog before. The Malcolmsons represented the finest example of capitalism in action. As per The Irish Times, August 18, 1865, Mr. David Malcolmson shared his thoughts about the self reliance and welfare: ‘The best mode of preventing emigration would be to provide proper dwellings for the peasantry, and to give every labourer a savings’ bank outside his own door in the shape of an acre or half an acre of land.’ 

This is the flooded Clonmel in 2009. The five-arch Gashouse bridge (1825) has two already familiar pedestrian dry arches – one on each side of the river, but there is also a dry path for the horse-towing under the navigation arch. Very interesting features are the bollards I have circled in red in the picture. They are made of cement, and have deep rope marks.

The towpath ends here. We will walk a little further.

This is where our walk ends – the Old Bridge, Clonmel. Actually the Old Bridge is a group of bridges spanning two existing branches of River Suir and one former branch which is dry now.

A view from the bridge during the 2009 flood.

After that flood the wall was built. No, it doesn’t stay this way all the time, thankfully.

Beautiful River Suir – walled, paved, but not tamed.

I am sharing a link to one of my favorite blogs. Here you can watch a slideshow to find out what the river looks like from a boat. Thank you Brian for all your fantastic articles!

Here is an article about a person who doesn’t support the development of the Blueways, and I clearly see her point. It is about River Barrow, one of the ‘Three Sisters’ – Barrow, Suir and Nore. What happens next is still uncertain. The owners of the local businesses are the strongest supporters, but in my opinion, South-East doesn’t need more Blueways. River Barrow in its natural beauty will attract even more visitors in the future. Maintaining the grassy towpath and leaving all the mature trees be is the best investment one can make. Mr. Malcolmson would approve 😉

Thank you for being such wonderful walking companions!

Have a happy weekend!

71 comments

  1. I love the historical as much as the nature photos you include in your posts, Inese, Both are all around us, and in these five posts you’ve presented the overall beauty of the Blue Way of Tipperary so well. I agree, that many footpaths an byways are rarely improved by the addition of tarmac, or even sand and gravel. The photo you showed of the pre-Blueway path shows that all too clearly. I appreciate the need to make such paths safer and more accessible to invalidity scooters, pushchairs and such, but I can’t help hankering after the way they used to be

    1. Thank you, Millie. The river is still beautiful 😊 Sad about the trees they had to cut down, and also the vegetation that was a habitat for insects.

  2. You’ve really highlighted the brilliance of nature walks – sights to see when you get out and enjoy nature, granted I think Tipperary V is a bit special. I could never imagine walking along in the States and finding a view such as the Killaloan church or Slievenamon in background 🙂 The photos you capture are something else ~ both a modern and historical feel, Inese. And then you cap it off with herons, who are as majestic as the historic buildings along the way but in such a different manner. Cheers to happy autumn hikes 🙂 Take care ~

    1. Thank you Dalo! Every country is so unique, it is such a delight to go somewhere and find a new facet of culture and life in whole.
      They sure knew how to build the bridges back then! Unfortunately, as soon as roof is gone, the building won’t be salvageable.
      No long hikes this year, Dalo. But I have tons of pictures and stories 😉 Take care wherever you are in the world these days.

    1. Thank you, Andrea. He does look like he is dancing because he slipped on landing, but quickly regained his balance , and ta-da, he pretended that everything was under control.

  3. Darling Inese, I enjoyed our virtual walk with the sceneries so crisp and beautifully captured by you. Poor Nell; lost from the Gwendoline tragedy! At times, I feel like we’re all adrift on the Titanic. Crazy times. I hope you’re doing well, my friend. Much love ❤️

    1. Rose, my friend, so good to hear from you. Please hold to any floating device you can put your hands on! Who knows how long we are going to drift in the dark … Stay safe, you and your loves. Thinking of you and sending love ❤

  4. Totally enjoyed the blog as usual Inese! I love Herons too – we have many in my neighborhood. Had one almost fly into the windshield of my car – he was looking for an updraft I think but it sure got my attention!

  5. Cloudy days are tough to me to photograph, the colors are splendid, Inese ^^ I loved much the frame in Sir Thomas’s bridge; the paths, they are so gentle with the landscape, the heron seems painted by the brushes of an oriental artist. Things are well here, I hope there too, dear Inese.

    1. Thank you! There is no path on the other side, only weeds, but they clearly knew their surroundings. They must have broken out of their enclosure, little devils.

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