Ireland

It has been four years

My Fourth Blogoversary is approaching, and it makes me sad that I have to take a break. I will resume posting in June.

Today I am sharing some ideas for my future posts. There will be birds, as always.

There will be animals. This bunny crossed the road in front of my car and just sat there. The picture was taken through the dusty windscreen, but it is the only picture I have as the rabbits don’t usually pose for you like that.

There will be some trips to beautiful places. This white cloud landed on the mountain ridge in Killarney.

Of course we will go to the Comeragh Mountains and explore some more.

I will also share my adventures in the Heritage Park.

I hope to make it to Saltee Islands again, and I also have a family history trip planned for a blogger friend. This year is supposed to be better than the previous one. Sorry for this long break, it didn’t work out like I expected it would, but I will still be around. If you want to read something on this blog, there is an Archives button and a list of blog posts from February 2014 to February 2018.

Thank you for your friendship and understanding.

www.inesemjphotography.com Love and best wishes to all!

Life of a donkey

Donkey Sanctuary

Donkeys are the most misunderstood and abused animals around the world.

  Bonnie Jo Campbell


Last summer I visited The Donkey Sanctuary farm in Liscarroll, Co Cork. The farm is a home for 127 donkeys ( the number might have changed), but the Sanctuary has over 1800 donkeys in their care, about 500 of them re-homed. How did it happen that so many donkeys had to be rescued? Sadly, in order to claim agricultural subsidies many farmers use donkeys as a low-cost means of reaching the minimum stocking density required. The cost of castrating the young males is far higher than their value, and the donkeys that are left to fend for themselves in the fields would breed all the year round. Also, if a donkey gets sick it is often cheaper to buy a new donkey than to take it to the vet. On Done Deal website you can get a donkey for as little as €50, and often “to a Good Home free”. All of this contributes to the high numbers of neglected and abandoned donkeys nationally.

Donkey

I came to the sanctuary on my way to Killarney and had less than an hour to look around and enjoy the company of sweet donkeys. I have always had a soft spot for goats and donkeys.

There is a cute picnic area in the farm, and everything is tidy and homey.

Donkey Sanctuary

In this building you can buy some donkey-related souvenirs and make a donation. You can adopt a donkey for a donation of €25 a year.

Donkey Sanctuary

After I made a donation, Margaret and I had a lively conversation about the Sanctuary. There are three more donkey farms in Ireland, she said, but only this one is open for visitors. They are not a breeding farm, but sometimes they get a pregnant female. No baby donkey this time though.

This cat deserves a picture. His eyes were permanently wide-opened which has probably something to do with his busy schedule as the mouse hunter in the farm.

Over the years, I have taken many donkey pictures. I often make them black and white to express the sadness I feel about the life of a donkey.

Donkey

Donkey

Donkey

Donkey

I have seen them careless and playful too.

Donkey

Daddy, mommy and a little photo-bomber in background.

Donkey

With his mommy a couple of months later.

Donkey

Some facts about donkeys:

There are five main breeds and cross-breeds of donkey in Ireland: Grand Noir du Berry ( black donkey);  hinny, the offspring of female donkey and a male horse; mule; miniature donkey, and a shaggy Poitou donkey.

Donkeys can live up to 50 years. They are social animals and it is not good to keep a donkey as a lone animal. Donkeys are stoical by nature and won’t show that they are in pain. Proverbial stubbornness of the donkey can indicate that the animal is simply afraid. Being safe is important for donkeys.

Donkey

The Donkey Sanctuary was founded in 1972. Many things have changed since, and many donkeys have crossed the Rainbow Bridge, but there is a 40 years old donkey still living in the farm. The average age of the other donkeys is 10 years, which is an indication of an economic downturn in Ireland a decade ago.

Katie is a volunteer from The Netherlands. She is a donkey whisperer 🙂 Katie explained me the ‘mystery’ of the yellow and red collars: red means a boy and yellow a girl. And there are the names written on the collars!

Donkey Sanctuary

Donkey

Donkey

Donkey Sanctuary

Donkey

I found a video on YouTube, Castletown Donkey Derby, 1994. It is fun but still I am sorry for the donkeys.

 

When a donkey brays, the other donkeys listen.

Donkey Sanctuary

Jason the donkey brays his heart out, and I am delighted to hear his performance.

Donkey Sanctuary

A humble man’s helper, donkey costs almost nothing to keep. A little bit of care is all he needs – hoof trimming, shelter, access to water. Civilization has used the poor donkey badly, and as if it is not enough, donkey’s meat and hide are the subject of trade in some countries.

I wish we lived in an ideal world where nobody is hungry, cold and lonely, and the ability to hurt others is erased from human genome.

Donkey

Thank you for reading and bearing with me.

www.inesemjphotography.com Have a great week!

Hope

Kilkenny Castle

The opening picture was taken from Kilkenny Castle window this summer. Its extensive front lawn stretches for about half a mile and blends into the park. I have been there numerous times. Years ago you would see dozens of grey squirrels over there, but someone set traps and killed 75 squirrels just before my other pictures from this blog were taken. On that particular trip I only saw one squirrel munching on peanuts deeper in the park.

I took these pictures on two foggy days in January and November 2010. In January I went to see the Angels – Beacons of Hope exhibition created and coordinated by Dublin based artist Nollaig Fahy, and in November I went there frozen with grief after my friend’s funeral, all hope gone.

You probably won’t find much information about these two events in the internet any more, so I decided to write a few words about the Angels. We need hope in 2017 as we did in 2010.

Kilkenny Castle

Kilkenny Castle

Kilkenny Castle

Kilkenny Castle

More than fifty colorful, eight foot tall angels lined the castle courtyard to bring the message of hope before they continued their nationwide tour.

Kilkenny Castle

Angels - Beacons of hope

Angels - Beacons of hope

Made from a single mould they had been created to be a blank canvas. Invitations had been sent to a variety of artists, sport stars and other celebrities, some schools and prisons to paint an angel. For the general public the street angels were available so that people could leave a signature or a thumb imprint.

Angels - Beacons of hope

One of the angels in the picture below, the one with the Jedward brothers painted on it, was designed and painted by a freelance artist Sara Sheridan. She and her team painted some of the ‘big name’s’ angels.

Kilkenny Castle

One of my favorites, the Rose of Hope angel was designed and painted by Irish fashion designer Lisa Fitzpatrick.

Kilkenny Castle

Some other names that could be mentioned are Uma Thurman, The Edge, Irish novelist Neil Jordan, actors Brendan Gleeson, Colin Farrell and Cillian Murphy, comedian Des Bishop, broadcaster Ryan Tubridy, designer Budd Holden, professional golfer Padraig Harrington, rugby player Brian O’Driscoll and his colleague from Australia Rocky Elsom.

Padraig Harrington’s angel.

Kilkenny Castle

This is a short video where Nollaig Fahy tells the story about the angel painted in a woman prison.

 

 

After they had toured around Ireland, the angels returned to Dublin for auction. I have read that The Hope Springs Eternal angel designed and painted by Irish impressionist Gerard Byrne was purchased by Chris de Burgh and went to Glencree Centre for Reconciliation in Co Wicklow. I don’t know if all the angels were sold, and where the other angels are now. They are somewhere in the world anyway.

Artist Nollaig Fahy says in his video:

I really would like to change the national conversation from one of doom and gloom to one of hope.

Kilkenny Castle

“Paint your angel”, make the world brighter. Hope v Gloom –  I put my bet on hope.

inesemjphotography Have a wonderful week!

The Stag and the Dragon II

Curraghmore House

As I already said in my previous post, July is a special month to visit the Curraghmore House as it marks the union of the Stag and the Dragon – the marriage of Catherine de la Poer to Sir Marcus Beresford. Sir Marcus was 23 and Lady Catherine 15 at that time, 300 years ago. Despite of different religious upbringing, by the end of the 18th century they produced the most powerful political dynasty in Ireland, raised a large family and rebuilt this beautiful house and gardens. There is a very important lesson to learn from the story about the Stag and the Dragon: we are much better off when we realise that our differences make us strong only when we are united.

During the reign of Catherine and Marcus the best architects and craftsmen were summoned, among them John Roberts ( a very interesting person, worth to look up) who later went to build both the Catholic and the protestant Cathedrals in Waterford. The great courtyard was built, the medieval part of the house was redesigned and restyled. Creative and artistic, Lady Catherine carried out a splendid project. She designed and decorated the Shell House – a small quatrefoil building with curved walls all covered with seashells.

Curraghmore House

Curraghmore House

Exotic and rare shells from the distant beaches along with the local clams and cockles adorn the walls creating sophisticated patterns of color and texture. Lady Catherine personally visited the Waterford Harbour and commissioned the captains of ships to collect shells for her. This project took 261 day to complete.

Curraghmore House

Curraghmore House

Curraghmore House

Curraghmore House

A fine marble statue of Lady Catherine, commissioned by her loving husband and sculpted by John van Nost, stands in the middle of the house. It shows Catherine holding a shell and a piece of parchment with the inscription: “In two hundred and sixty one day these shells were put up by the proper hands of Catherine Countess of Tyrone, 1754”. Lady Catherine was in her fifties at that time.

Curraghmore House

They died in 1763 and 1769 respectively. There is a large group portrait in the House, painted in 1760, depicting Sir Marcus and Lady Catherine surrounded by their nine adult children. The beautiful monument below was erected in the Clonegam church in their memory. A hundred years later, another beautiful monument was erected at the opposite wall – the one dedicated to Lady Florence.

Let’s take a walk around the gardens.

Curraghmore House

From here, the hunting parties would leave the courtyard.

Curraghmore House

Curraghmore House

Curraghmore House

The tranquility of this place is surreal – you know that there are people somewhere not far from you, but the sounds feel muted and distant.

Curraghmore House

Curraghmore House

Curraghmore House

Curraghmore House

A monstrous gall on the tree trunk has to be photographed 🙂

Curraghmore House

From the other side of the pond we look past the House. Somewhere there on the hill slope Mother Brown is looking back at us.

Curraghmore

Someone is looking at us right here too…  😉

Curraghmore House

I hope you like the story of the Stag and the Dragon. More about the Curraghmore House and the Beresford family some other time.

www.inesemjphotography.com Have a wonderful week!

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!