Waterford Greenway: Kilmeadan

Waterford Greenway

There might be some truth in that Carriganore myth about the hidden treasures because the end of the rainbow is right there by the river bank. We leave the rainbow behind and resume our walk to Kilmeadan station.

River Suir makes a sharp bend. The pink froth you see among the trees on the other side of the bend are Magnolias from the Mount Congreve gardens, in some 15 minutes walk from here.

Waterford Greenway

But first we walk through the Magic Wood where Fairies and Leprechauns live happily together ūüôā

There is a whole city in the trees with lovely little houses, ladders and bridges. It is well hidden in the summer but now the fairies are in the open, and have to pretend that they are not real, otherwise the passers-by will annoy them with questions. I would advise you to make a wish as you pass by without disturbing the fairies. I made a mistake of entering the Woods for these pictures. When I climbed down to the road, I heard a sound of breaking plastic in my pocket. I was terrified, I thought it was my car key, but it was only a plastic barcode tag from the Applegreen petrol station. I have a spare one, but the fact is that I had it for years, and it broke exactly when I was exiting the Fairy Wood. Did I get a¬†warning from the Fairies? Just don’t tell me it was¬†a coincidence ūüėČ

Waterford Greenway

Waterford Greenway

Finally we reach the Mount Congreve garden wall. The gardens are massive – 70 acres of planted woodland and 4 acres of walled garden with impressive 16 km long net of paths. ¬†They say it will be possible to enter the Gardens from the Greenway: for this purpose there is a long platform under construction. I don’t know why people would go to the Gardens from the Greenway if there is a main entrance, but may be someone will.

There are many different magnolia trees that you can see from the railway.

Some of them are very high.

Beautiful huge petals cover the path. I took a double exposure picture of one adorned with the dew.

Kilmeadan Castle stands by the River Suir junction with a tributary, on the site that was granted to the Power family (le Poers) in 1307 but was apparently destroyed during Cromwell invasion. I wrote about the Power family in my blog about Dunhill castle which they also owned.

This structure was built on the foundation of the old castle later in the 17th-18th century. The site looked different then, beautifully landscaped, surrounded with plantations of timber trees, canals and gardens.

Waterford Greenway

Bridge across the tributary, still in the process of reconstruction.

Waterford Greenway

A closer view. You can see the ruins of the Courtyard. The structure that looks like a tower is not actually a tower anymore – just two walls with a gap between them.

Waterford Greenway

The railway tracks take us further to our destination – Kilmeadan station.

Waterford Greenway

Two roads cross the railway over the old stone bridges.

Waterford Greenway

Waterford Greenway

Finally we reached Kilmeadan. Here is some useful information if you want to take a ride.¬† The photographs in their website were taken before the construction of The Greenway, and there is a sad but necessary change of scenery since the jungle has been¬†cleared to accomodate¬†the cyclists. I don’t know if it makes me happy though. Too many species of birds lost their habitats and were scared away.

Kilmeadan station was closed to passengers in 1967 and beautifully restored by Suir Valley Railway  Heritage group 35 years later. A Simplex locomotive pulls two open carriages travelling at a grand speed of 15 km/ hour. Enough to enjoy the ride.

Railway carriage serves as a ticket office and shop. There are indoor tables and a picnic area. The railway tracks don’t go any further.

Waterford Greenway

This is where we finish our walk. Next time I will drive you to Kilmacthomas to visit a very exciting stretch of the Greenway. Thank you for walking with me. Stay fit! ūüėČ

To the blogging community – thank you for your patience, I will catch up next week.

inesemjphotography Have a wonderful weekend!

Waterford Greenway: River Suir

Walking downhill to the tunnel I heard familiar gentle, somewhat melancholic whistles. My heart skipped a beat¬† – Bullfinches! First time this year! I looked around and saw three birds, two males and a female, quite afar, and in the blinding sunlight. I took pictures, and stood there with a huge smile on my face. I so love these birds, their stocky bodies and unhurried manners. They don’t have the¬†cheerful voice and funny curiosity of Robins, but their quiet presence is so soothing and comfortable ūüôā

We meet again and resume our walk along the River Suir. This tunnel was built under the bypass to facilitate the railway. Notice the combination of a steep downhill gradient and a sharp curve.

Donovan tunnel

Dan Donovan supervised the laying of this railway track.

A look back at the River Suir Bridge.

Waterford Greenway

Beautiful views on the both sides of the track – lush green countryside and tranquil River Suir, charming at any season of the year.

Gorse bushes are in bloom and smell like honey.

This is one of the sharpest curves on the line.

Waterford Greenway

Here the cycling path deviates from the railway track. I walked both.

It was fun walking on the tracks between the river and the thick wild growth of brambles, thorny bushes and reed grass. I felt like I was cut off from the rest of the world.

Waterford Greenway

Dry yesteryear reed grass was making calming rustling sounds – actually there were no other sounds, and I didn’t see any birds.

The reed grass jungle looks more beautiful in winter than in summer, especially when it is bending in the wind and has that silvery silky look.

I took some double exposure photographs – one of dandelions…

… and one of a wild plum blossoms.

Looking at the new growth I thought about the wildlife in the area. These gentle weeds that are poking through the track bed will grow and obstruct the path. Will the maintenance team use herbicides? My thoughts went to the little Robin.

Another  look back. The buildings in the background belong to the new campus of Waterford IT. The campus is situated on the banks of the River Suir in Woodstown and Carriganore, or Stone of Gold in Irish. Woodstown is the site where numerous Viking era artifacts were found when the area was inspected before building the motorway. There were no indications that the Woodstown site could have any historical importance, but there has always been a myth  that Carriganore was the place where the merchants of Waterford buried their treasures hiding them from Cromwell. Finally, 39 test trenches were excavated in Carriganore in 2007 but nothing significant was found, only a few pieces of broken pottery ( 19th-20th century).

On the right side of the tracks there are old lime kilns. When putting up this blog I realised that I have never taken a single picture of them, because they just look boring, and they are also obstructed with some construction materials. You see many lime kilns when you travel around Ireland. The practice of burning lime was very common in the last century. The lime was used as fertiliser. The wood for fuel was brought from across the river by boat.

I have got a word that there is a Barn owl living in the kilns. I am not sure whether it is still living there with all these construction works, cyclists and dogs.

Waterford Greenway

This is where I parked my car. Next week we will resume our walk from here.

Waterford Greenway

Thank you for joining me for this walk.

Due to special circumstances,¬†I am closing comments on this post and also on some of my future posts. I am very sorry and hope you will bear with me ‚̧

inesemjphotography Have a wonderful weekend!

Magic road to the Mahon Falls

mahon falls

It was a sunny day elsewhere, but Mahon Falls greeted me with a perfect rainbow towering over the mountains. This picture was not retouched – all the colors are natural. I parked at the bottom of the Magic Road and held my breath. I used a wide lens for this picture, but in fact the rainbow was so close that I could see the colors on the grass just a few meters away.

I drove under the rainbow and turned around the corner wondering what the Falls look like today, and sure there was a good reason for the rainbow to appear because the Coum Mahon was hosting a huge cloud. I found a spot, parked my car and fearlessly walked into the cloud.

mahon falls

I did it three times and had to return half way because the rain and the wind made it impossible to take any picture of the waterfall.

This was the worst moment. The lens got all wet and foggy, and I had to give up.

mahon falls

On the other side of the car park the weather was beautiful and even my windscreen was dry. I parked so that I could see the ocean and the rainbow.

mahon falls

I didn’t get to see the Falls that day, but other photo opportunities were literally running around ūüôā

mahon falls

The cloud was still there but the rest of the world was dry and sunny.


The sheep decided to migrate, and it was fun to watch them

mahon falls

There was nothing else to see and I went home to return in two weeks.

This time the sky was blue with no clouds and¬†rainbows. I approached the Magic Road, took this picture, drove a little bit further down the hill, and because there were no cars around, I did what everyone else does in this place:¬†put my car in neutral, and rolled UPHILL with lively speed and style.¬†This is a magic road after all ūüôā

magic road

Some people say it is an optical illusion and there is no elevation. Look by yourself. This car was rolling backwards on neutral from where I stand. The family inside it were so excited that the driver forgot to use his steering wheel and almost drove the car in the ditch. There definitely is an elevation, and I actually started even further down the hill. You can watch a good few videos on Youtube about this road. Fairy magic, if you ask me.

magic road

These Hawthorn trees should give you a clue of where the magic comes from.


Coum Mahon in all its glory. The path to the waterfall is about one mile long, and there is no climbing necessary. The path¬†is wheelchair accessible almost all the way down to the Falls. Coum Mahon¬†is V-shaped, unlike the other coums (hollows) in the Comeraghs that are U-shaped. By the way, the word Comeragh, or Cumarach¬† in Irish, means ‘full of hollows’. Many of the hollows¬†nestle lakes.

mahon falls

Semi-wild sheep are perched on the edge of the cliff.  If you are lucky, you might see a herd of feral goats around the Coumshingaun ridge nearby.

mahon falls

Black slug is a common sighting. The slugs are quite big and alien-looking.

With very little rain this winter, the Falls don’t look too impressive, but nevertheless it is the most visited and loved place. It is advertised as a picnic area, with which I totally disagree. The wind is usually very strong here, and if everyone¬†decided to bring¬†a takeaway with them, the place would be littered in no time. If you come to visit Mahon Falls, please eat in your car with the doors closed.

Mahon Falls are a 80 m high series of cascading waterfalls. River Mahon begins her jorney from the high plateau of the Comeraghs, falls down the steep back wall and continues to the village of Bunmahon where she drains into the Celtic Sea.

It is possible to ascend the slope quite close to the waterfall. The most popular is the right hand side route, but I have also seen people climbing the left hand side of the Falls. In both cases you have to be very careful. In 2014, two people got trapped on a steep cliff at 45 m with no way down. Luckily, they were able to call rescue services, and were lifted off the cliff by a helicopter crew.

This is a closer view of the lower cascade. I was planning to climb to the upper cascade, but I saw¬†a photographer set up his tripod in the middle of the falls, ¬†and didn’t want to bother him. I climbed to the flat rock over which the water flows down, continued half way to the upper cascade, and returned to the valley.

mahon falls

Lower cascade.


Upper cascade. I would love to climb along the gorge and take pictures of entire waterfall, but the surface was quite wet and slippy, and I didn’t even have hiking footwear, just a pair of Skechers boots.

mahon falls

A view from the top of the lower cascade.

mahon falls

River Mahon heading south ūüôā The blue stripe at the edge of the picture is the Celtic Sea.

mahon falls

A long walk back to the car park. The sky looks washed out because there is not a single cloud in the sky, and the valley is in the deep shadow.

My plan was to continue driving to take more pictures of the other parts of the Comeraghs, but when I reached the tiny upper car park, I was absolutely blinded by the sun and had to reverse and drive back to where I came from. The contrast between the bright sun and deep shadow was striking. In the picture below you see Majestic Knockaunapeebra lit by the bright sun.

mahon falls

So, that was my latest trip to the Mahon Falls. Here are some photographs of the Hawthorn trees. This one was taken on that stormy day when the rainbow was hanging over the mountains for all the duration of my visit.

mahon falls

This one was taken on my way home after the second trip.

And this is the most famous rag tree that is guarding the Magic Road.

rag tree

If you are interested in climbing the Comeraghs,  read the De La Salle Scout group website.

Thank you for enjoying the magic of Mahon Falls with me. What do you think about the Magic Road and Fairy Power? ūüôā

Here are links to my previous Comeragh blogs -1- , -2-  and  -3-

inesemjphotography  Have a wonderful weekend!



Seasons and horses

This post was written in May 2015, but something new came up, and the post was left in draft until I found it this week, and rewrote it, and added some new pictures to fit the season. The opening photograph was taken in Kilmokea Country Manor House, the best place for event photography around here.


The real horses belong to Kildalton Agricultural college. The college offers 18 courses, including Farm Management, Horsemanship, and my favorite Plant Identification & Use. I took the pictures in spring Рthe time of rejuvenation of life.





This Wisteria grows in beautiful College park.


I am not sure if the rapeseed field is a college property, but it lays right across the road.


Short Irish summer is not worth to mention ūüôā


You wouldn’t notice a difference between July and October anyway ūüôā


This horse is posing in front of a cottage in Connemara in the end of October.


These two snack on hay in the paddock at the foot of Slievenamon mountain in December.

The last leaves are still hanging on.

Sometimes an occasional sun beam breaks through the fog…

… but ¬†‘Winter turns all the Summer’s love to grey… Winter takes what the Summer had to say’


Seasons come and go.

I took pictures of a semi-wild horse in winter. These are less fortunate Рhairy horses with narrow eyes live outdoors most of the year.


This post is supposed to be about horses, as the title says, but you know how it is with the internet Рmany titles are misleading, and many contents cannot be trusted.

The truth is that there are other farm animals grazing¬†on the mountain slopes. Like cows. Some of them spend nights under the roof in a warm shed, but some stay outdoors for almost a year. The ‘wild’ cows grow a coat to stay warm.


These cows live at the foot of the Comeragh mountains in Clonmel, and walk up and down the steep slope every day.


There are also sheep in the mountains, white dots. They look so very lonely in this picture, taken in the middle of February.


I used to hike for hours, but I have never seen different kinds of animals fight with each other. I mean, I have never seen a horse kick a sheep, or a cow attack a deer, or a sheep give chase to a rabbit. If it is not food, they let it be.


I wish all of us were wise enough to control our tendencies towards hate and aggression; towards being irritable, demanding and petulant. I wish we didn’t waste our time on being a smaller individual than we have the potential to be.

I also wish that all political leaders demonstrate the best in  judgment as they govern their countries, and never encourage their people to raise a hand against another human being, regardless of their race, political views, or anything else.

www.inesemjphotography.comHave a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend! xx

Kennedy Arboretum, Co Wexford

John Kennedy Arboretum in Co Wexford dedicated to the memory of the 35th president of the United States was opened in 1968 just a couple of miles from Kennedy ancestral home I recently wrote about in my blog Irish Ancestry.

For those who plan a¬†visit – the map you will get with your ticket looks confusing in the beginning, but as soon as you figure out where you are, you won’t have any problems. To help with that, here is my edited version ūüôā Ignore the Visitor Centre drawing because it is in the wrong place. ¬†Maple Walk takes you to the lake; the other path is for those who don’t mind walking a little longer. There are no boring walks, each of them is amazing in their own way. SHELTER on your map means a roof, and one of them has a toilet block. If you want to drive to the viewing point on Sliabh Coillte ( which I suppose has a free access) don’t take the right turn as my arrow points, but keep driving and take the first left turn, and drive until you reach the summit. I was very restricted in time and didn’t¬†make it¬†to the summit. I have been there before – you have¬†beautiful countryside at your feet, and you can also see the bird’s view of the Arboretum and Kennedy Homestead.

The empty green areas are not empty at all – there are many single trees and other plants. I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed being there.

Kennedy Arboretum with Sliabh Coillte in background.

You can also take a ride.

There are some 4500 species and cultivars¬†of trees, shrubs and climbing plants in Arboretum, to compare with less than 30 native tree species. Since I wasn’t commissioned to illustrate the variety and range of this collection, I just enjoyed myself photographing everything I found amusing ūüôā Like those red Fly mushrooms in my opening photograph – Amanita muscaria. In the ancient times people would dry them and mix with milk to kill the flies. Fly mushrooms definitely attract insects, but I am not so sure about the killing part. I think that insects just drowned in milk ūüôā

More fungi.

Maple Walk. We have a mild autumn this year, and the leaves haven’t turned yet except for some maple trees.

Maple walk takes you to the lake (I didn’t take any pictures of it).

Raining. I stood under a Beech tree for a minute.

Wild Fuchsia is beautiful throughout the year.

I am walking from one path to another in spite of the drizzle.

I spotted a Quince flower deep in the bush.

Quinces are decorative and have edible fruit.

Green Quince is too hard for birds to eat, but they snack on the seeds.

There is quite a variety of Quince cultivars in the Arboretum.

Hawthorn walk is one of my favorites. Some fruit are as big as a crab apple.

This old Hawthorn tree with the crooked branches could host a Wexford fairy – ¬†I have recently written about another fairy¬†that lives¬†in County Waterford ūüôā


I don’t know what these¬†lifeless Cypress trees used to host. Their silver-white trunks glow in the dark, and strong conifer fragrance fills the air.

Western red cedar, or Thuja, might host a dragon ūüôā

Beech tree hosts a squirrel.

It is getting dark. I don’t trust the map and walk out of the forest plot to check on¬†the¬†Sliabh Coillte hill. It is a very helpful¬†landmark.

One more hour until the Arboretum will close. Many families and dog walkers are still there, but I have to leave.

I link this post to the lovely blogs I follow  РDerrick Knight  and The garden Impressionists, both sharing beautiful photographs of gorgeous gardens.

Twenty two countries each sent gifts of trees and shrubs that represent their country to the Arboretum. It is a delightful place to visit in any season.

Memorial fountain made of a single block of Wicklow granite, has the words of President Kennedy engraved on it:

‘Ask not what your country can do for you… ask what you can do for your country.’

inesemjphotography Have a wonderful weekend!

Halloween special


It was one hour before sunset when I reached Hook Head. I wanted to take a few pictures of¬†¬†Loftus Hall and Hook lighthouse for this blog. I mentioned Hook Lighthouse in my blog post about Dunmore East and the oyster farm, because¬†it is visible from there, and also in my Saltee Island posts – ¬†for the same reason. Great location for a lighthouse, isn’t it?

But you have never heard from me about Loftus Hall before.


Loftus Hall is haunted. The origins of paranormal activity go back to 1350 when the prominent Redmond family built the Redmond Hall in this exact place. You can do a quick calculation, and yes, it was 666 years ago.

Centuries later, the unfortunate events took place. After Cromwellian confiscation, the Redmonds were evicted and the Loftus family moved into the house in 1666. The mansion was renamed Loftus Hall. Another century later, Charles Tottenham, whose first wife was Anne Loftus, resided in the house with his second wife and his daughter from his first marriage, also named Anne.

During a stormy night, a young man came to the house to seek shelter, and was offered hospitality. Young Anne was charmed and the relationship between the two progressed into something more prohibited.

One night they were playing cards and Anne dropped a card and bent to pick it up. It is when she saw that her lover had a cloven hoof. When his identity was discovered the young man went up through the roof leaving a hole that could never be repaired.

PS Similar story has been told about another haunted place, notorious Hellfire Club hunting lodge situated on Montpelier Hill near Dublin. Guess what?  The Loftus family also owned a hunting lodge on Montpelier Hill РDolly Mount.

loftus hall

After discovering that Anne was pregnant, the family locked her away in the Tapestry Chamber, where she died in 1675, refusing to take neither food nor water. They say that skeletal remains of an infant were found hidden between the walls when the house was rebuilt. There were many seeings of Anne’s ghost and all kind of paranormal attacks on innocent people reported over the years, and several unsuccessful exorcisms were performed. The most successful was Father Thomas Broaders who, at least, ‘banished the Devil from Loftus Hall’.

loftus hall

Loftus Hall changed hands many times. In 1870-71, the old Loftus Hall was heavily rebuilt by the 4th Marquess of Ely, and the present mansion took its place. In 1917, it was bought by the Sisters of Providence and became a convent. I saw a photograph with a group of happy nuns at the front entrance. The Hall was sold after two nuns mysteriously died on the stairs. In 1983 the Deveraux family bought the place and reopened it as Loftus Hall Hotel that was closed in less than ten years. All the hotel interior, pretty vandalised and decayed, is still there. In 2011 the place was sold to its current owners, the Quigley family who are running the haunted house tours. As far as I understand, many rooms still remain unused.

loftus hall

The gate is locked unless it is a tour day.

loftus hall

No, I didn’t take the tour. My friend did, I think she paid¬†‚ā¨60, no photography allowed. Why would I need a tour without being able to take pictures! She had a crucifix pendant on her and didn’t feel anything paranormal :). Her then boyfriend did feel some paranormal presence. They had some sort of¬†s√©ance to communicate with spirits,¬†and it was quite impressive. Overall, she was happy with the tour, just thought it wasn’t worth¬†‚ā¨60 for an hour or something. Well, it was her fault, she shouldn’t bring that backup crucifix if she wanted to get scared ūüôā

I couldn’t come any closer, just took some pictures on my way to and from the Hook Head. I don’t know if it means something, but I have already seen exactly the same cloud formations over the Loftus Hall in the photographs I found in Google. Also, when you click on the picture to enlarge it, you will see the drapes hanging from an opened window. Creepy ūüôā

loftus hall

If you are brave, you can watch this Youtube video about Loftus Hall, but if you are not sure, then you better watch this¬†short video taken in 2014. If you are still getting a message that you cannot watch¬†the video in your country, try this one. If all of this fails, just put Loftus Hall in your search, but don’t miss the chance to see it all with your own eyes ūüôā

There are many well-preserved ruins in the Hook Peninsula, and also many abandoned rural houses. I took pictures of some. This is a ruin of a church and a Roman tower in Templetown village. Henry II granted the church to the Catholic Military Order of Knights Templar in 1172. The Templars held a large chunk of land around the Waterford harbour until 1307 when they were suppressed and their property and land transferred to the Knights Hospitaller who themselves were suppressed in 1541. You can read an intriguing story about Irish Masonic history in this website.

hook head

William Marshal, a Knights Templar known as the Greatest Knight, built the lighthouse tower in the 13th century to guide the ships through the Waterford Harbour and to his port Ross. The monks looked after it until the dissolution of the monasteries. The lighthouse was already there since 1172, built by a Norman Raymond le Gros who used a mixture of mud and bullock’s blood to hold¬†the limestone together. There is a legend that a Welsh monk St Dubhan built the first warning beacon in this site in the 5th century.

The tower was restored and repainted over the centuries. In the 17th century it came into the possession of the Loftus family, but in 1706 Henry Loftus leased the tower to the authorities. In 1860 three red bands were painted on the tower, but later changed to black and reduced to two. The cannon gun was fired during fog, later replaced by a hooter, then by rockets. In 1972 a foghorn was installed, but decommissioned in 2011.

In 1996 the lighthouse was automated and the light keepers left after almost 800 years of service.

hook lighthouse

The evening was very warm and still with¬†no breeze whatsoever. ¬†These two chairs wouldn’t be left here in¬†stormy weather: the sea spray can reach as high as the balcony of the lighthouse¬†in a bad storm.

hook head

After wandering around the lighthouse I was on my way to the parking lot and saw the chairs again.

hook head

Then I saw this baby with California license plate. How on earth? ūüôā

I walked to my car, and took a picture because I think it looks quite cool too ūüėČ

When I was already heading home, I took a wrong turn and came to the Slade harbour in the dark. Slade castle belonged to the Templars, Hospitallers and the Loftus family at the different stages of its existence. Now the ruin looks quite out of place in the changed landscape.

I took pictures of some abandoned creepy buildings with a hope to find a ghost in them. No such luck.

hook head

However, I have managed to take a picture of a ghost when it was¬†the least expected ūüôā

Happy Halloween! These dark tulips are hosting a tiny spider which makes them an appropriate gift for the occasion. At this special time of the year, please visit and follow sweet monster Dead Donovan and mystical and charming Poet Rose.

Eat candy, have fun, stay safe!

inesemjphotography Have an exciting weekend!


Beautiful poetic response to the image and story of Lady Waterford by Mike Steeden.



Inspired by a true, sad story unearthed with only scant timeline facts left in historical record and subsequently the subject of a post by the wonderful photographer and lovely gal, Inese ( ) Her exquisite photo heads this ‚Äėalmost poem‚Äô. Plainly, I have availed myself of poetic licence in penning this.¬†


Only within an enchanted island of gemstone green carpet

where a chivalrous white mist serves to guard from harm

the innocence of a new rainbow’s inviting curve

where if you listen hard enough you will hear forgotten

castle ruins whisper their darkest secrets

could the knife of Divine betrayal

cut so deep a wound

that the inevitable contagion that is grief

spreads far and wide

hunts down the blameless

loses track of the hideaway guilt

of purist happenstance

‚ÄúNo chance of a mother and child reunion, this side of eternity?‚ÄĚ

the last utterance…

View original post 332 more words

Lady Florence and Clonegam church


After I posted this photograph in my blog ¬†Abbeys and Churches, Mike Steeden, a fellow blogger, brilliant poet and a beautiful soul who is always advocating for the gals, looked up Lady Florence in Google and found¬†a¬†sad story of her short life. I also link this post to my favorite author¬†Shehanne Moore’s blog¬†because her heroines are not afraid to¬†travel between the worlds in the name of love. Please visit and follow these¬†amazing blogs.

Sometimes we find information where we least expect it.  I found mine in the Henry Poole & CO website in their very impressive customer list. This website is as classy as their exquisite bespoke tailoring. I checked out some genealogy websites, took a few pictures and here is another blog post about Lady Florence, Lord Waterford and Clonegam church. Clonegam church is a part of Curraghmore demesne. It has always been a family burial place for the De La Poer Beresford family, and Curraghmore has been their ancestral home since 1167.

Florence Grosvenor Rowley was born in Truro, Cornwall, in 1856 to Major George Rowley of the Bombay Cavalry and Emily Isabella Honner. She married Captain John Cranch Vivian in 1861 and had three daughters with him.

(The images are linked to the source)

by Camille Silvy, albumen print, 1860

Florence Grosvenor Rowley (by Camille Silvy, albumen print, 1860)


John Cranch Vivian

John Cranch Vivian


John Henry Beresford

John Henry Beresford 

John Henry Beresford was born in 1844 to John de la Poer Beresford and Christiana Leslie. In his youth, he was said to be ‘one of the handsomest officers that ever wore the uniform of the Household Brigade’. Lord John was also a fearless horseman. Sir William Schwenck Gilbert, a famous author of fourteen comic operas¬†he wrote in collaboration with Sir Arthur Sullivan, refers to Lord John as ‘reckless and rollicky’ in Colonel Calverley’s song from Patience.

I don’t know how they met, but I am sure¬†it was all over the papers at that time. In 1869 John Henry Beresford, 5th Marquess of Waterford, absconded to Paris with Florence Vivian, the wife of Captain John Vivian. Outraged husband pursued the couple to the Hotel Westminster, but his wife refused to return with him and attempted suicide by swallowing chloroform. Captain sued for divorce.

The Marquess and Florence married in 1872. They lived at 7 Upper Brook Street in London and at the Curraghmore house. In April 1873 Florence gave birth to a stillborn child, and died three days later at 27 Chesham Place, that was home of Marquess of Waterford at that time.

The 5th Marquess remarried in 1874 and had four children. His wife Lady Blanche Somerset, daughter of the 8th Duke of Beaufort later suffered from severe illness that left her paralyzed. She had a special carriage to carry her around the Curraghmore estate.

In 1883 the 5th Marquess of Waterford had suffered a spinal injury after being thrown from his horse on the way home from¬†a dining party. He spent the rest of his life in the wheelchair, ‘silent and depressed’. On October 23, 1895 he was found dead in the library of Curraghmore house with a bullet in his head. He died by¬†his own hand at the age of 51, 121 year ago tomorrow. His wife died two years later. Lord Waterford was succeeded in Marquessate by his only son Henry.

On Henry Poole & CO website, National Library of Australia website and also here¬† you can read about¬†an¬†impostor who wrote to¬†Lord¬†Waterford shortly before his death and claimed to be¬†his legitimate son with Lady Florence, named George Tooth. He tormented the family for years and took the case to court in 1917 but didn’t succeed. There were witnesses who testified that the baby was dead and buried before his mother died, and the impostor is not ‘the missing Tooth’.

This is a look at the Clonegam church if you are coming from Portlaw.


The back gate of the church yard. In the distance, you see the lake and arboretum, but Curraghmore house itself is hidden in the trees.


This cross was erected in memory of Henry De La Poer 6th Marquis of Waterford and his family members.


Peaceful view from the church yard. I took this picture two years ago.


To take this picture I am standing on the other side of the wall. It is quite dark, and I have a feeling that I am pushing my luck again ūüôā


Sunset comes early around here because of the mountains on the west.


The back gate is opened and I sneak to the graveyard. Looks like I am not the only one ‘trespassing’.


I walk around the church taking pictures of the gravestones and sheep. Suddenly I hear a soft knocking sound, and it is quite unnerving. The sound continues. I start slowly backing out, my heart is pounding and I forget to breathe. I am already close to the back gate when the sheep start leaving the graveyard too, swiftly and soundlessly.


I run through the¬†gate and make a big circle to keep a distance from the church wall. Yet, I have to get to my car that is parked right next to this lovely house adorned with pale ghostly looking fuchsias…


Mentally exhausted, I drive up the hill, and down the narrow road to Portlaw, praying that no tractor comes in the other direction.


Thank you for reading about Marquesses of Waterford and running from¬†ghosts with me ūüôā In my next post¬†I will write about the most haunted place I know, because it is Halloween!

inesemjphotography Have a wonderful weekend!

Abbeys and Churches

Mount Melleray

Today I want to share photographs taken over the years in some of Co Waterford and Co Kilkenny Abbeys and Churches that you might put on your itinerary.

Mount Melleray Abbey near Cappoquin Co Waterford was established in 1829-1832. Sir Richard Keane of Cappoquin offered some land at the foot of the Knockmealdowns to Cistercian monk Dom Vincent, and the Abbey was built on this site. The foundation stone was laid in 1833 by Sir Richard, but only one hundred years later, in 1933, the present Abbey church was built using the limestone blocks of the burnt and demolished Mitchelstown Castle. The church was completed in 1940.

The Abbey is open for photographers, worshipers, and people who are looking for peace.

Mount Melleray

Mount Melleray

Mount Melleray

I cannot be sure, but I think the name tag on the Confessional is of Father Francis Carton who entered the Cistercian Order at Mount Melleray Abbey in 1951 and died in 2014.

Mount Melleray

Stained glass window reflecting cheerful Christmasy light.

Mount Melleray

This window has unusual look.

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The sacramental wine in the wonderfully elaborated chalices is ready for the mass.

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Mount Melleray

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If you want to learn more about the monks of Mount Melleray Abbey, please read this blog post . It belongs to Gerry Andrews, famous Irish photographer from Limerick.

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This beautiful path takes you to the graveyard.

Mount Melleray

This road takes you nowhere Рit ends just behind the trees. You can travel to the Abbey from Newcastle or Clogheen crossing the Knockmealdown mountains (both very spectacular routes), or from N 72 and R 669 if driving from Waterford or Cork. There are two places you can stop by, just two kilometers from the Abbey РMelleray Grotto and The Cats Bar where you can have a meal.

Mount Melleray

Another famous Cistercian abbey lies  in ruins at the side of the Old Waterford road near Thomastown, Co Kilkenny.  It is Jerpoint Abbey, originally founded in 1180 on a nearly three acre old monastic site, and closed in 1540, after the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII.  Beautiful and majestic, it has been in protection of the Office of Public Works since 1880 when it was declared a National Monument. There is a new Visitor center and a paid parking lot Рthe only available parking lot. Outside the opening hours, you might have a problem to stop your car even for a simple snap through your car window.

Jerpoint Abbey is famous for its ancient stone carvings that deserve a separate blog post.

Jerpoint Abbey

Jerpoint Abbey

This building¬†is also a National Monument, but it is not completely in ruins, and it is not an abbey. It was built on the site of the early Christian monastery in 1269 AD, just a century after Jerpoint Abbey, and functioned as a Collegiate Church, which meant that it was administered by a college of priests. In the 14th century a tower and expansion were added, but the church was left to decay after the Dissolution. Only in the 19th century, the part on the left from the tower was rebuilt, and since then half of the building¬†is in use¬†as a Church of Ireland parish church of St Mary’s. This absolutely beautiful and well preserved ruin stands surrounded by the manicured landscape in the Main Street of Gowran, Co Kilkenny.

Mary's Church

Gigantic walls, arches and naves, fine stonework and many interesting tombstones are truly fascinating and will keep you busy taking photographs for a good while.

Mary's Church

Clonegam church stands away from the busy roads and villages and has one of the most beautiful vistas in front of it РI will return there for more photographs some day. The church was built in 1741 and renovated every 50 years until 1893. Inside it resembles a family mausoleum rather than a regular church, and I was very hesitant to share the pictures of the church interior I have got.


I will only share two of my photographs, because I have seen similar photographs on the internet¬†before, so I won’t be the first person to expose them to the public.

In this photograph, the first monument, the one in granite, as the epitaph says, is to the memory of ‘The Most Noble Henry de la Poer Beresford third Marquis of Waterford, who died in 1859 aged 47’. ¬†The marble tomb is a monument to ‘The Rev. John de la Poer Beresford fourth Marquis of Waterford, who died in 1866’.


The monument in this photograph is very special. It provides most of the light in the church as it is lit by a skylight in the roof. The monument is dedicated to the wife of the fifth Marquis of Waterford, Florence. She died in childbirth, and her grief stricken husband commissioned this monument made from Kilkenny marble.


Thank you for taking this historical walk with me. After admiring¬†majestic architecture, fine masonry and sculptures,¬†I think I will share photographs of some cute creatures in my next blog post ūüôā

inesemjphotography  Have a wonderful weekend!

‘Auf der Walz’ – The Journeymen


An exclusive reblog! The famous journeymen Simon and Benjamin found a job in Co Cork, and here is their story I got a permission to share, and many photographs of them and their work. I am so very happy! Please visit and follow the Roaring Water Journal for more stories from Ireland.

‘Auf der Walz’ – The Journeymen

I am always happy to find longstanding customs and traditions still going strong, especially when they are as relevant today as they have been over countless generations. This summer we chanced upo… Continue reading on Roaring Water Journal 

Source: ‘Auf der Walz’ – The Journeymen

Irish ancestry


I was watching this video on a vintage TV set for the first time in my life. The Visitor Centre at the Kennedy Homestead was reopened in June 2013, fifty years after the President John F. Kennedy’s visit to Ireland in June 1963, and this TV set and the tea cups belong to the era. A cup of tea, salmon sandwiches, and a huge cake – it is what his cousin Mrs. Ryan, with the help of¬†her neighbors, cooked for the occasion. President Kennedy was accompanied by his sisters Eunice and Jean, and they met fifteen of their Irish cousins! In the picture below you see Patrick Grennan, Mrs. Ryan’s grandson. He is a curator of the Kennedy Homestead, the birthplace of their ancestor Patrick Kennedy, a great-grandfather of the President.


It was the second day of his four day tour when the President traveled by helicopter to Mary Ryan’s farm in Dunganstown, Co Wexford. He had been there before. In 1947, he came to Ireland to visit his sister Kathleen who was staying at Lismore Castle. Kennedy and the other guests borrowed a station wagon and went looking for his relatives in Dunganstown. That¬†is¬†¬†how he met his third cousins for the first time. He said that his visit was ‘filled with magic’.


Patrick Kennedy emigrated¬†in 1848 – being¬†the third son, he had no chance of running the family farm. More than a century later, in his speech at the quay in New Ross from where his great grandfather left for¬†America, JFK joked that if his great grandfather¬†hadn’t emigrated, he himself might now¬†be working for¬†the Albatross fertilizer¬†Company, or perhaps for John V. Kelly shop down the road.


The Kennedy Homestead¬†museum has a unique collection of the Kennedy family’s artifacts including the rosary beads that was in the President John F. Kennedy’s pocket when he was assassinated in Dallas. Jacqueline Kennedy brought her children to visit and gave the rosary beads to Mary Ann, the late President’s¬†cousin and Patrick Grennan’s aunt.

Exposition also includes documents, photographs, audio-visual display, and plenty of space to walk around and contemplate.



This dress is a replica of a simple linen dress Jacqueline Kennedy wore for her official White House portrait that was painted in 1970 by Aaron Shikler. The dress was made by the Irish designer Sybil Connolly.

The astronaut spacesuit is a replica of the spacesuit worn by John Glenn during project Mercury, the first US manned space program.


I was told that decorative rugs, like this one, were popular in the 1960s. The rug is a gift to the museum.


More artifacts and photographs.


‘I’ll be back in the springtime’ ¬†– these were the last words President Kennedy¬†spoke before leaving. His ambition was to serve two terms as President and then appoint himself as Ambassador to Ireland. His sister Jean was to fulfill this ambition. She visited Kennedy Homestead as Ambassador on the 30th anniversary of his 1963 visit, in June 1993. Twenty years later, Caroline Kennedy, the President’s daughter, and Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny opened this new Visitor Centre and Museum.

In 2004 I was in Kennedy Arboretum, and on the way back we stopped by the Homestead, but didn’t go in, so I just took some pictures from the road. The Arboretum is a unique place itself and some day I will go there again to write a blog post.


My personal connection with JFK? Definitely it is this picture with Patrick Grennan taken with assistance from¬†two lovely ladies, Mary and Eimear…


… and my smooth landing at¬†JFK airport a few days later ūüôā


Just a word about another two famous Americans with Irish roots whose ancestors were not that lucky, and their names are fading away from the old gravestones in the littered and overgrown Clonmelsh graveyard, Ballyloo, Co Carlow.

Pierce Butler, one of the Founding Fathers, was born in Co Carlow, the 5th Baronet of Cloughgrenan, a younger son unable to inherit his family fortune. Butler joined the British Army and was sent to America, where¬†eighteen years later he signed the American¬†Constitution as a South Carolina’s representative to the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia.

Many of his ancestors are lying here in Clonmelsh.

butler graves

Walt Disney’s ancestors left Ireland to travel to New York in 1834, and now the Disney Corporation is worth billions. Three of his ancestors are buried in Clonmelsh graveyard, and the Council is cleaning rubbish in this ‘all star’ graveyard every six month just to keep it in¬†presentable¬†state.




There are many election-related blog posts published these days, some of them very hateful. I do care about this election, because it is a big deal globally, but I don’t see how a blog¬†post that is spitting hate can actually help. So, I just want to finish with a¬†quote I copied¬†from Facebook. I do respect this man who has never forgotten his roots, who loved the land of his ancestors and left a¬†legacy of identity to his children, and a legacy of hope for his country.¬†Don’t get me wrong though. I know that John Fitzgerald Kennedy was just a man, as imperfect as a man can be, but do you realise that there is no perfect man who would come and clean up our mess. So, why not to listen to the words of this redhead President that make so much sense? He had inherited Cuba, Vietnam, and Civil Rights problems, something one cannot resolve¬†overnight, but he had started working on that, and there was progress, there was improvement, one step at a time, and it is how it works. One tiny step at a time. Those who promise a quick solution, lie. Only step by step, without¬†trying to fix the past, but with aspiration to build the¬†future.


Thank you for reading!

inesemjphotography Have a wonderful weekend!

Fenor Bog boardwalk

Fenor bog

This is my last post from abroad ūüôā I am going back home soon, so¬†I am spending every minute with my family and apologize for delayed replies to your wonderful comments. Thank you so much for bearing with me.

Fenor bog lays right behind the church in Fenor village, Co Waterford, overlooked by Ballyscanlon Hill. They say that 225 species of plants, birds, insects and animals have been recorded there. 500m long boardwalk allows visitors to enjoy serenity and beauty of this unique piece of natural heritage.

When I go to Fenor, I circle the bog at least five times, full of expectations for some unusual bird or reptile seeings, but nothing ever happens. I guess the best time is a very late afternoon, just before the sunset. Last time I saw a lizard who showed itself for a split second and then disappeared under the boardwalk. Still, something to remember.

What does this sign mean, I don’t know. I have been looking up Druid signs, but couldn’t find anything similar. Looks like an eye to me, which makes sense: enter the site, look around, don’t miss¬†the marvels and secrets of Nature.

Fenor bog

Little Robin is looking for something to eat. These birds ¬†don’t mind being photographed. In the bog, I have also seen wrens, blackbirds, field sparrows, chaffinches, starlings, and some birds I couldn’t identify.


A pink touch of Ragged Robin.


Red Campion, a close relative of Ragged Robin.


Cuckooflower is sacred to the Fairies.

fenor bog

  Menyanthes, or Bogbean, is one of the prettiest wildflowers.


Marsh Cinquefoil’s red petals are not petals at all. They are sepals. The petals are dark and tiny. A cloud of tiny bumblebees are working the flowers. I change my settings to manual and¬†patiently wait for the opportunities.


Sorry for posting three similar pictures РI like them all, and cannot decide which one I should post :). Bumblebees look so cute with the pollen baskets on their knees.



I make a full circle and start walking the bog again.

Fenor bog

This time I am lucky with Damselflies. I don’t recall ever seeing this one, with a red belly. It is a Large Red Damselfly.


Banded Demoiselle, male. Males and females differ in color and look like different species to those who don’t know.


Speckled Wood butterfly. Their caterpillars are bright green.


This flower confused me. It is some kind of Blackberry, and it is supposed to have five petals. How is it that it has eight?


At noon, the church bells start ringing. It seems that the bells are recorded and played over loudspeakers. After I finish my walk, I go to visit the former Sacred tree which is now transformed into The Angel of Fenor  by a local artist. The monument is towering in the church graveyard, attracting tourists.

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I like this detail of the monument – the hands and the bird.


You can look up a controversial priest Fr. Michael Kennedy who used to minister in the Dunhill/Fenor parish, and had¬†taken an administrative leave from his post in 2006 after the allegations of misconduct ( I don’t know where he is now, but they say he was a well-liked man). ¬†He is a third cousin of JFK, and retains close connections with the Kennedy clan. So, my next post is about JFK.

Thank you for visiting Fenor with me.

inese_mj_photographyHave a wonderful weekend!

Marlfield village, Clonmel

Marlfield village on the outskirts of Clonmel might be just a small dot on the map, but at least three most visited – and loved – places are there, and it is where I am going to take you this time. In the first picture, you see the St Patrick’s Well site as it looks¬†after¬†the major remodeling and landscaping that took place in the 1960s. The works were¬†funded by the generous donations from the Mayor of Los Angeles Sam Yorty whose mother was native of Clonmel, Mr Arman Hammer and the Irish Israeli society from South California.

This is how¬†the place looked 100¬†years ago. A large ash tree was¬†growing at the side of the well that could be accessed by walking on the stones through the marshy land ( click on the image to see the source). To be honest, I do like the original look…


Tear-shaped stone wall surrounds the well. The sight of ripples on the surface of the water both in the well and in the pool makes you look up and check if it is raining. The water is bubbling up from hundreds of tiny springs, and it is so clear that you can bring a cup with you and drink it right there.

St Patrick's Well

Spring water¬†flows¬†from the well through the hollowed stones. Similar¬†medieval design is to be seen in St Brigid’s Well, Co Kildare.

St Patrick's Well

A simple sandstone cross is dated to the 5-8th century. The parish church was built in the 17th century, on the site of a much earlier monastic building Р some fragments of it are visible in the masonry of the walls.

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Inside the chapel there is an altar tomb of Nicholas White who died in 1622, and the White family Coat of Arms. The tomb was brought here in 1805, and there is no body inside it.

St Patricks Well

A flight of stone steps connects this mystical place with the rest of the world, and it is also great for taking photographs from different angles and vantage points.

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More images and stories about St Patrick’s Well in my blog from last year.¬†

This is the road between the holy well and the village. We will walk this road all the way down to the banks of River Suir.

Marlfield road

This picture was taken from another favorite place – Sandybanks. Well, a former favorite place, because a couple of years ago Clonmel City Council announced their decision to withdraw¬†the summer Lifeguard Service from this very popular bathing spot. It was a shock to the locals¬†when they learned that their favorite traditional bathing area ‘was not suitable for swimming’. Somehow they suspected that the decision had more to do with cutting costs than with the quality of the water.

River Suir

No bathing, so we just take a picture and walk back.

Just a minute walk from the Sandybanks there is an old church that is friendly shared between both Roman Catholics and Church of Ireland. Beautiful avenue of Horse Chestnut trees and the red door always attract photographers.

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Sometimes I walk around the graveyard and read gravestones, but the main reason is that I check on the old Yew tree.

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There is that tree, in the back of the graveyard. It takes three people to put their arms around it. I am coming to check on it once a year. It is quite scary to walk there – the reason why¬†I converted the pictures to¬†B&W ūüėČ

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Marlfield church was built in 1818 on the site of the 12th century Cistercian Abbey. St Patrick’s Well and the church also belonged to the Abbey until it was dissolved in the 16th century. This beautiful window on the back wall of the Marlfield church¬†is the only remnant of the original Abbey that was incorporated into the newer building.

Marlfield church

After the Siege of Clonmel in 1650 the lands of Marlfield, successfully farmed by Cistercian monks for centuries, were bought by the Bagwell family. Marlfield House was completed in 1785 by Colonell John Bagwell. The house was rebuilt after the fire in 1923. The central part of the house is used as an apartment complex, and there is also a conference hall that too can be rented.

Marlfield House

The magnificent conservatory was built by Richard Turner who designed the Botanic gardens in Belfast and Dublin.

Marlfield House

Last but not least favorite is Marlfield Lake. The lake covers six hectares in size, and the water is flowing into it from the St Patrick’s Well, where we began our tour.

Marlfield lake

Generations of local residents have been coming here and feeding generations of the waterfowl since the late 1700s when the lake was developed from a swamp by Stephen Moore.



Many species are breeding here, some ducks I have never seen before. There are many swans. The cygnets are shy, but the older birds often start a fight.

swan signets



When a visitor with some bread shows up, have your cameras ready.


There is a tiny picnic area, but you have to keep in mind that the road along the lake is just a regular road, and it can be quite busy.


These photographs were taken over the years, in different seasons.

Thank you for visiting Marlfield village! Hope you enjoyed the walk.

inesemjphotographyHave a wonderful weekend!

Carey’s Castle: a hidden gem at the foot of the Comeraghs

carey castle

Just about a mile off the Clonmel to Dungarvan road, at the border between Tipperary and Waterford counties, stands the most loved and visited castle in the area.

The castle is located in the beautiful mixed woodlands close to the Glenary River, a tributary of the River Suir. Centuries ago the place was known as Glenabbey. It was a small monastic site that belonged to the Cistercian monastery in Innislounaght, Clonmel, but was abandoned in the 16th century as a result of the Dissolution of the Monasteries initiated by Henry VIII. The ruins of the old buildings and walls can still be seen.

After the monks moved out, the site was granted to Edward Gough, an alderman of Clonmel. There is no record that something remarkable had been happening in the site during the next 200 years, but in the beginning of the 19th century the Carey’s castle was built. At that time, the site was the property of¬†the Carey family, the wealthy schoolmasters who loved history. It is believed that they were the ones who built the castle, because it is a mixture of architectural¬†styles and eras. You see an ancient¬†Irish Round Tower, medieval Norman hall, Romanesque arches and Gothic windows. There was also a walled garden facing the river.

The Careys sold the site in the 1840s when they emigrated to Australia. The next owner was Colonel Nuttall Greene, who soon became bankrupt, and his property was sold off in the Estates Court. The site was abandoned and became derelict.

Carey castle

Carey castle

Carey castle

Carey castle

Carey castle

I always thought this building was an ice house, but now I know it is a chapel :). I love to receive feedback and learn new things.

Carey Castle

This is the other side of the chapel and the path that approaches the site from the east.

Carey castle

This is the path you would walk on from the parking lot after you take a right turn down the hill. The main path continues straight through the woods. It is also beautiful and worth to explore.

Carey castle

This is what you see when you walk down that path. In summer, the view is obscured by the tree branches.

Carey castle

Here the path makes a loop and returns to the woods. A different view from this point. On the right, you see the walled garden.

Carey castle

All the parts of the path are mystically beautiful. You see many ancient ruins who knows how old.

Carey castle

Glenary River is a treasure itself. Quite deep in some places, she even hosts fish. Local teenagers come for a swim in the icy-cold pool, just five minutes walk to the east from the castle.

I walk along the Glenary River out of the woods to the main road. It is quite dark here, and suddenly there is an opening between the trees, and the sheep appear like pale ghosts out of nowhere, startling me.

I hurry up, and in a couple of minutes the sun is shining again, and there are no ghosts anymore. Thistles and Foxgloves are stretching tall to get out of the thick wall of nettles guarding an old farmstead.


I take some pictures of the gate and old roof, and walk to the parking lot.

Carey Castle is a unique place, open to everyone. How sad it is that people leave all their litter there after having picnics and walking their dogs. Once a year, a local Slovakian/Polish family hosts a Gulash Party in the castle grounds. A huge saucepan¬†of stew is cooked, and families with children stay in the site all the day, and some even over night, sleeping in the tents. Everyone can come if they are well-behaved ūüôā ¬†Before the party begins, the hosts are combing the area and picking up all the rubbish left there during the rest of the year. After the party, the place is tidied up again.

There is another Carey’s Castle in the world, a cave-like dwelling in the end of a magnificent trail¬†at¬†the South-West corner of Joshua Tree National Park, USA. Both sites are not officially recognized as tourist destinations, and remain ‘hidden gems’.

Thank you for visiting my favorite place!

Just to let you know. ¬†We have a wee¬†addition to¬†our family ūüôā


inese_mj_photography Have a wonderful weekend!


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 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 ūüôā . 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 ūüôā


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 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 ūüôā


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 ūüôā

inesemjphotographyHave a wonderful weekend!