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. There’s nothing quite as beautiful as a heron taking flight! At least to me. Another walk in Ireland I hope to take someday although horseback looks nice as well!

    1. I love watching herons. They fold their long necks in flight, stretch their legs and have such a determined look about them. Thank you for walking along!

  2. Beautiful Inese!
    What a shame Tickincor Castle is left to such ruins. Imagine what it would be like restoring this beautiful house to its former glory – would love to take on a project like that!
    Your Heron photos are gorgeous!

  3. Oh my! The path before and after. The before shot is so inviting instead of a concrete jungle path. It lost all the charm. All the building are a much delight abandoned or not. The hotel is impressive for the building to be massive for that time. The birds are a deligh as well and you have such history unlie here where they consider a heritage site over 100 years old. Just doesn’t cut the mustard. Have and excellent end of weekend and the beginning of a new week. Again thank you for a wonderful tour. ❤

    1. Thank you so much for walking along, Joseph! I wholeheartedly agree with you about the paving of the towpath. We have a 46 km Greenway nearby. There was no need to cut mature trees and pave the path all the way long. Now they want to destroy the other two rivers. I think this one is enough.
      Many historical buildings were burned down in the 1920’s, or blown up in the 1960-70’s. The Malcolmson’s mansion in Portlaw didn’t survive – https://tinyurl.com/y4pckx74 Minella was lucky to get a buyer who had money to invest.

      If you guys take care of your 100 years old heritage buildings, they will be there in 300 years 🙂 Good job!

      Hope you have a place where you can walk, Joseph. I guess the fall colors are beautiful at this time of the year. We have very little colors this year. Just a tree here and there. Have a great week, my friend. Stay safe. ❤

      1. Yes, I do have lots of places to walk. There is seven beaches one can walk on the shores. Many forest trails. Inundated with nature.
        Our building in my city doesn’t take care for its historic building. The want new and shiny and development not conservation. Sad but true.
        The fall colors where I live is a dot of color here and there and unlike back east where I am from there is many trees turning different colors.
        Its too cold back there for me to want to go back. Take care

  4. I am not sure most of Ireland look like these or not but these places strongly remind me of few places that I had seen while I had a short visit Ireland. The places are charming green field with old castles show up in the middle here and there.

    1. Thank you so much! Yes, the old ruins are everywhere in Ireland, especially close to the rivers. The land is mostly farmed here in South-East. You have been to Galway – there are more rocks and bogs, and long stone walls.

  5. How lovely. Thank you for posting, now I know a little bit more about Ireland.

    I agree with the lady in the linked article that the tow path should not be hard paved. I cycled myself for many years and whilst I appreciate a good surface, tarmac should be left for the roads.

    Hard surface create more runoff in the rain and as the river already floods what’s the point in adding to it?

    1. Thank you! I couldn’t agree more. As a driver, I am happy that cyclists are off the road, for everyone’s good, but we already have a 46 km Greenway for that purpose! It is so very selfish towards the Nature to cater for our own wants only. They should stop and let the other two beautiful rivers be.

    1. Thank you Derrick! I hope your sweet Nugget returns! Some robins live up to 7 years. It depends. They are tiny birds, exposed to elements and predators. I have seen many robins badly infested with parasites. Some had ticks as big as their eye. Parasites and diseases weaken the birds, and they don’t survive wintering.

  6. As usual, I got lost in those images, each of which pulled me in like a magnet. I am yet to follow the links you have provided, but for now I’d rather retire with the mood the trip invoked.

    1. Thank you, Uma! I am looking through my old pictures and remember how it was. Haven’t been to the river walk since winter.
      Hope all is well.

  7. Another magical walk, I had no ideas the dear robins only lived such a short time, And all the more enjoyable when we in Melbourne, Australia can only move 5kms from our homes at the moment. Thank you for the wonderful photo’s too.

    1. Thank you so much for walking along. 5 km is OK if there is a nice place where you can walk… I guess Melbourne is mostly concrete and asphalt, as any big city… At the moment, we can travel within a county. I have plans for this Wednesday, and hope they won’t need to change it to the 5 km just yet.

  8. Thank you, Inese!
    Your posts are always a treat: beautiful pics, wonderful history and a true taste of Ireland.
    My fave pic is the galloping ponies. Brilliant!
    Hope you and yours are well during this trying time.
    Much affection,
    Resa

    1. Thank you so much, Resa! Funny the Reader chose the pony picture 🙂 The real thing was much more spectacular than the picture. These little devils appeared from nowhere and galloped like lunatics along the river and into the field. Good I had my camera at hand.

  9. So beautiful, Inese. I love the old bridges and the ruins (though I hope someday they are cared for).The history is fascinating and your photos make everything look so peaceful. Amazing photos of the herons. Someday when I visit Ireland… ❤

    1. Thank you so much, Diana. Plenty of history for a 15 miles stretch, and I had to skip some places too. It is interesting how all these landmarks are related. Ireland is a small country.

      I am reading your book, Diana. It has so many parallels with our life that I can only pray for a happy ending… Brilliant, as always. Look forward to a sequel ❤

      1. Thanks so much, Inese. I’d love to take a month-long walk through Ireland. Perhaps that’s in my future. ❤ I can't imagine a better way to get to know a country.
        And thanks so much for reading!! Should you want to continue, the 2nd book is out and the last one will be out at the end of the month. Hugs. 🙂 ❤

    1. Thank you so much, Janet! I remember the time they put up the wall. It was after a bad flood when the water reached the 4 meters mark. The wall was so alien-looking… Glad it is not permanent.

    1. Thank you! These are old pictures. I only went to the river once this year… I have some walking opportunities within my county though. We are not allowed to visit other counties at the moment.

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