Photography

Kilfane Church

The day out with Pat the Fox Man continues.

After leaving Jerpoint Abbey, Pat asked me if I ever been to Kilfane Church. I haven’t, so off we went.

Medieval parish church of Kilfane, now in ruins, is located on the other side of Thomastown, some 15 minutes drive from Jerpoint Abbey. The adjoining structure is a presbytery – a stone house where the parish priests resided in the upper floors.

The graveyard alone deserves a separate blog post.

Good timing! Inside the church we met a very knowledgeable man who makes a living doing what he loves – an archaeologist, author and photographer Chris Corlett. Chris kindly answered my questions, and as we walked around the church he pointed out many things I would have overlooked. I left the men to chat and went to take some pictures for this blog post.

The biggest (literally) attraction of the ruins is an eight feet tall effigy of a knight in full armor made from a slab of limestone. The knight wears a mail hood and body armor, a surcoat, and a sword on a sword belt. He also wears spurs which means he had fought on the horseback.

The coat of arms on the knight’s shield reveals his identity. It is the Cantwell family coat of arms: annulets and a canton ermine.

The Cantwells were a Norman family, originally from Suffolk. They came to Ireland in the end of the 12th century and were made Lords of Kilfane for their loyal service to Theobald Walter, the first Chief Butler of Ireland. It is believed that the effigy depicts Thomas Cantwell who died in the 1320-s.

Cantwell Fada – The Long Man – is the largest effigy of its kind in Britain and Ireland.

In contrast to the smiling knights and bishops of Jerpoint Abbey, Thomas Cantwell’s carved face looks gloomy and unhappy. The story goes that the reason of his unhappiness and death was his marriage to Beatrice Donati whom he met while on crusade. Beatrice soon bored of her life with Cantwell and befriended the ‘Kilkenny witch’ Alice Kyteler. Both were arrested. Beatrice was held in Kilkenny dungeon but escaped and hid for five month in a monastery. Her husband eventually captured her and killed her accomplice, but Beatrice managed to fatally stab him in the heart with a gold bodkin.

When the church was taken over by the Protestants, the effigy was buried, but later was dug up again. There are four copies of it made in 1852.

The hole in the wall is actually a door to the ground floor room of the presbytery – a sacristy, where the vestments and articles of sacred rituals were kept.

The sacristy.

The stairs go up to the priests’ residency. At the top of the stairs there is a trap door. A hall is on the right.

The trap door.

A toilet.

The floors are gone but you can see where they used to be.

I couldn’t resist climbing the narrow stairs.

One floor up.

Another floor.

I keep climbing.

Finally on the top!

I had to stick my camera out of the narrow window to take this picture.

Back on the ground again. There is so much to see – it is simply amazing.

The bell tower has its own staircase, but it is damaged and too narrow anyway.

Both walls feature original ogee headed doorways.

Ogee arches were introduced to European cities from the Middle East. They were a popular feature of English Gothic architecture in the 13th century when Kilfane church was built.

Stone seats for the priest and his assistants in the south wall – sedilia.

Sedilia still have some ancient red paint residue on the carvings.

Another amazing find is the fragments of the consecration crosses on the church walls.

A new constructed church had to be consecrated, or made into a sacred place of worship. The Bishop would bless the building and anoint it making the sign of the cross with his thumb dipped in consecrated oil. Typically, twelve such crosses were created on the inside walls, and twelve more outside on door frames and corners. Each of these crosses would have been incised and painted afterwards.

You can see two incised circles and a cross incised and painted within the inner circle.

In the end of the 17th century, the church was taken over by the Protestants and the consecration crosses were concealed by plastering over them. When a new church was built just across the road (c. 1825), the roof was taken off the old church.

The plaster is falling off, thus revealing the old consecration crosses. Chris Corlett is sure about another few places where the crosses would have been placed, but you can read about everything in his own publications.

One last look at the church and the Long Man.

I ate in The Long Man pub once … It is ‘closed for renovations’ these days. I just drove over there to take this picture.

Thank you for joining us on this day out, dear readers! County Kilkenny is full of history, and I hope to write more about it in the future.

Have a wonderful weekend!

 

Jerpoint Abbey tour

Pat The Fox Man and I set off on our historical tour. Pat has never been in Jerpoint Abbey before, and it was fantastic that he had got a tour guide to himself. I and my camera were trailing behind them.

In the pictures: Pat Gibbons and his tour guide Margaret Brophy. I was delighted that Pat had such a knowledgeable guide. Their conversation went beyond the history of the abbey to the history of the whole parish.

Originally a Benedictine monastery built in 1160, Jerpoint Abbey was affiliated to the Cistercian Order in 1180. Scholars believe that Domnall I, the king of Ossory who died in 1176, was possibly the founder of the monastery. This is supported by a charter of King John to Jerpoint Abbey confirming the lands granted by Domnall. The grant happened before Strongbow arrived in Leinster in 1170.

The restoration works are on in the abbey. Some areas are fenced and the north aisle is closed.

You can see the scaffolding in the north isle, behind the arcade of pointed arches supported by large piers. There are six arches, with different design on each pier. Margaret and Pat are walking to the Romanesque west nave – the lay brothers’ choir. It is the place where the lay brothers gathered to attend Mass. The nave originally had an arcaded aisle on both sides. There is a special room in the museum where all the broken pieces of masonry – particularly the parts of arches and piers –  are stored and can be viewed by the visitors.

The west nave window comprises of three round-headed lights.

The Monk’s choir is the east part of the nave.

This is what the windows look like in the morning light from the main road.

The crossing tower above the intersection of the chancel, nave and transept was added in the 15th century. Towers were not allowed by the Order’s authority at the time the monastery was built. The rib vaulting of the tower’s ceiling is well preserved. The pointed arches open to the nave, chancel and both transepts. Each transept has two chapels on the east side.

There are a tomb and funeral slabs in the crossing.

I went to the north transept to check out the chapels. And this is what I found.

Of course I stuck there for a long time watching the mama swallow and her “yellow-lipped” babies.

There is something else quite amazing in the chapels – beautifully carved tomb weepers decorating the mensa-tomb chests. In the picture below you see six weepers – the apostles who can be recognized by the attributes related to the manner of their martyrdom. From the left: St John with a chalice; St Thomas with a lance; St Simon with a saw; St Bartholomew with skin – it is believed he was flayed alive; St Paul holding a sword, and St Matthew an axe. The carvings were made by the sculptor Rory O’Tunney of Callan.

These weepers are St Catherine of Alexandria with a wheel, St Michael the Archangel in the centre, and St Margaret of Antioch wearing a ring broach and stomping on a dragon’s head.

I left the chapels and went to the presbytery to admire the ancient wall paintings.

In the image below, you see three tomb niches in the wall under the painted fragment. It is where two tomb effigies from the next picture were originally placed.

The tomb effigy in background represents Felix O’Dulany, the first Abbot of Jerpoint praised for his ‘zeal, charity and prudence’.  The other effigy (foreground) possibly represents Donal O’Fogarty, another bishop of the Diocese of Ossory.

Bishop O’Dulany died in 1202. They say ‘many miracles were wrought by him’. The face of the effigy is badly worn: it was believed that pilgrims touching the face would be cured of their illnesses.

This is a 15-16th century wall painting after the restoration works. You can see the fragments of two shields with the scallop shells and wild boars – four shells and possibly four boars. Scallop shells represent St James and are the symbol of pilgrimage. I am not sure about the boars. Usually they represent ferocity and power. I should have listened to Margaret’s explanation instead of looking for birds 🙂

The abbey is famous for its large number of stone carvings untypical for a Cistercian monastery. You will find amusing figures of animals and fantastic creatures, knights, damsels, monks and smiling bishops carved on the piers. There are so many carvings that when you come again you will find something new you haven’t seen before.

The west part of the cloister arcade is reconstructed. You will find many lay and religious carvings there, and learn about the armor and clothing worn at the times.

The famous ‘man with the stomach ache’.

View of the tower from the west side of the cloister arcade.

The south part of the cloister arcade also survive.

This part of the arcade would support the roof over the buildings like refectory (dining room) and calefactory (warming house) which are long gone.

As you see in the picture, there is an upper floor that can be reached from the south transept. It is where the monks’ dormitory was located. I want to return to the abbey next year, so I leave the upper floor for my future blog post.

Beautiful Gothic east window dates from the 14 century. You can see the outer halves of two old Romanesque windows – originally a triple window.

Clicking on this link you will find a detailed map of the abbey.

The graves around the abbey date from centuries ago to the present time.

We visited Jerpoint Abbey on a fine sunny day. I want to share a different mood – a poem written by Waterford-born journalist Samuel Carter Hall in 1823, and a series of photographs taken on a gray and foggy morning – all of this in the article written by an author and lecturer Robert O’Byrne.

You have visited one of the finest historical places in Co Kilkenny. Our day out isn’t over yet. It continues to the next blog post 🙂

Have a wonderful weekend!

A day out with The Fox Man

I promised Pat Gibbons, The Fox Man, to take him to the Jerpoint Abbey some day. Pat lives outside Thomastown, five minute drive from the abbey, but he has never been there before. It took me a while, but I finally came over to pick him up a couple of weeks ago. It is when I learned that beautiful Gráinne, the fox perching on Pat’s shoulder, has died in her sleep, apparently of old age. Gráinne was twelve – it is how long the domesticated foxes can live. In the wild, however, they live 1-5 years.

Gráinne was Pat’s first fox. Pat’s brother-in-law found her dying inside a cardboard box, weighing just a pound. Since that day, Gráinne has had an amazing life – from the point of view of both a fox, and a human 🙂 She was a happy fox, never short of fruitcakes and vine gums 🙂 She starred in 12 movies! 

I asked Pat if there was a grave, on which he replied that he took her from the Nature, and returned her back to the Nature. There was an old tree with a big hole under the roots, he said, so he put Gráinne’s body in that hole.

Run free, beautiful!

Pat Gibbons foxes

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Pat went to the pen to get Henry. Henry’s left eye never recovered and seems blind.

We took a few pictures.

 

 

Now it is Minnie’s turn to pose for a picture. Sweet old Minnie. She is ten this year.

 

Pat and his brother decided that we take a family picture of Minnie and their new dog.

This was the best we could get. All the dog wanted to do was either sniff Minnie’s butt or run to the road to watch my car in case it starts moving.

I hope to see you when I come again, Minnie.

The day continues. In my next blog post, we will visit some historical places with Pat The Fox Man.

There are some links for those who want to hear the fox story: 2014    2015   2015  2017   2018

www.inesemjphotography Have a wonderful weekend!

Spraoi 2019

Spraoi 2019 hit the streets. Most of people are merry, but not the Morbid family. Business is dead! People are too fit and healthy, they are not dying any more! Family is struggling.

The son is starving!

The last chance would be to open a pop up funeral shop and offer a funeral demo with the slogan “Buy now, die later”.

A school teacher Lisa got the privilege to demonstrate her best ‘dying face’. I think it is very impressive, and Lisa has secured a discount funeral with the Morbid & Sons for the future.

As always, I am amused by the reaction of those in the audience. The younger generation looks a little bit scared, and some are openly bored. What would they care of the discounted funerals, anyway 🙂

But the Morbid family look very hopeful. Teacher Lisa returns to the world of living with the promise of future ‘perks’, and another show – and a new customer – is just 15 minutes away.

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With the Waterford Crystal House in background, The Tamarros marching band from Italy look very appropriate flashing their disco ball baton.

Old tunes and old jokes are fun and get a lot of applause.

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Unfortunately I didn’t have a chance to watch the Roaring Clubsters show from Berlin because of the huge crowd, but I caught a glimpse of the spectators, and, as always, watching the different reactions was very entertaining.

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Now, this is something new. A Russian Baba Yaga is roaming the streets in her automated mortar, and her little cottage, Izbushka, is trailing behind on its chicken legs. A tag on the cottage states that it is for sale, but don’t believe what you see. Baba Yaga wants to look legal while hunting for children to cook them for dinner. The pack of salt tied to the mortar speaks volumes…

Be aware, little children.

Checking for lice nits 🙂 She wants her food organic 🙂

Smart children escaped being cooked. Baba Yaga keeps trying.

We wouldn’t wish her luck, would we?

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Charming show and a great music – the Los Rabinovich brothers from Mallorca! Musical clowns who don’t utter a word, but unite the hearts.

Even the rain didn’t stop the brave travelers. They are determined to stay in this city for the Bank holiday weekend and see what comes out of it.

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There sits the Always Drinking marching band from Barcelona, very sober and focused: the show is about to start in a minute. The Spraoi brochure states that their name refers to the “Mediterranian way of life – socializing in the streets, hanging out with friends in the squares, having some beers and tapas”. Sounds much better than “sitting alone, staring at computer screen” to me.

Always Drinking productions is a company of musician, artists, clowns, jugglers – name it. The guys in yellow were the stars of the festival.

Mila von Chobiak, the actor, kept his finger on the pulse of the crowd.

The show was seamless and very professional – they instantly grabbed their audience’s attention and held it to the end of the show.

It didn’t take long to make them all dance.

The band even auditioned a new conductor!

When the 30 minutes long show was over, the band played another extra 15 minutes! Brilliant band, I hope to watch their show again next year. They are so attuned to the spirit of the festival, because it is what Spraoi is about – to have fun together!


Thank you for visiting Waterford 🙂

Here are more links to some of my previous posts about Spraoi:  2015, 2017, 2018.

www.inesemjphotography Have a great weekend!

Kilmore Quay

Kilmore Quay, Co Wexford, is a fishing village from where you would take a boat to travel over to Great Saltee.

Seabirds here are foraging around the fishing vessels and chippers. See who is lucky today? This Great black backed gull got a crab, and the Herring gull – a chunk of battered fish.

Before we begin our walk, please watch this 2 minute ‘bird eye’ video, and visit this web page to look through the colorful pictures 🙂

We will take a short walk just to see a glimpse of what Killmore Quay has to offer, and I plan on writing more blogs in the future.

At low tide we walk east from the marina along the shingle beach to St. Patrick’s Bridge, a natural bouldery gravel causeway, glacial deposit where the real St. Patrick has probably never set foot – though legends say different. He was chasing the Devil who took a bite of a mountain in Tipperery, The Devil’s Bite mountain. I am planning to go there this year as a part of a project. Anyway, the Devil quickly realised that he had bit more than he could chew and spat the Rock of Cashel, but St. Patrick kept chasing him and throwing rocks at him until he was gone under the water. It is how the Bridge and Saltee islands were formed.

A product of the last Ice Age, St. Patrick’s Bridge is believed to be a moraine. The boulders you see in the picture below are so-called erratics, very large boulders of a rock type that is not found locally, which means they were carried by the ice. The biggest erratic is seen on the left, and has a name – St. Patrick’s Rock. Naturally 🙂

In the 18th century, local fishermen started building a safe haven to moor their boats. They collected the rocks from St. Patrick’s Bridge and transported them to the village where the rocks were piled to create an L-shape barrier – a predecessor of the harbour we know today. The first pier was constructed in the mid 19th century, and the major redevelopment took place in the 1990s.

Centuries pass by but St. Patrick’s Bridge still curves out to Little Saltee, and they say that “no stones are washed from it”.

I spotted a Ruddy turnstone on my way back to the marina.

There are two different formations in Kilmore Quay which are often confused one for another in photographs. St. Patrick’s Bridge is the one on the right (East) from marina, and the Forlorn Point causeway is on the left (West).

Storm Ophelia that hit Ireland in 2017, unearthed an ancient body at Forlorn Point. The body was once buried there, not washed up by the sea.

A herring gull landed on the old boat.

Unnamed C.92 is navigating the sea of grass these days.

Past Forlorn Point, overlooking Ballyteigue Bay there stands a sculpture depicting a grieving couple. The stretch of sea from the Hook Head to Tuskar Rock, is called Graveyard of a thousand ships. And not only ships. Aer Lingus flight 712 went down into the sea off Tuskar Rock when en route from Cork to London on 24 March 1968, killing all 61 people on board. A cause of the crash was never determined, and only 14 bodies were recovered.

Remembrance Garden is dedicated to the memory of those lost at sea. Some families have no graveside to visit. They can come and grieve for their loved ones here, in this beautiful peaceful place.

The garden incorporates a propeller blade from the SS Lennox sunk off the Saltee Islands in 1916. Her crew was saved by the Kilmore lifeboat.

When the promenade ends, we step on a path that takes us to Ballyteige Burrow – a natural treasure of County Wexford.

I didn’t have much time that day. At the first opportunity I crossed the dunes towards the sea and after 50 min was back at the Remembrance Garden. This map is to show you all the 9 km of the narrow coastal townland consisting of a series of sand dunes and hollows, and circled is the part I have walked across.

Ballyteige Burrow dunes are 2000 years old.

Why ‘burrow’? The townland was managed as a rabbit warren for over 600 years. Rabbits are not native to Ireland. The Normans brought them as a source of protein for their armies.

The sand dunes include embryo dunes, shifting dunes and fixed dunes, each with their own type of vegetation. Coastal flora is diverse, even though it doesn’t look so from the first sight because many plant species are tiny and hidden in the grasses. March orchid is the most spectacular flower that will catch your eye.

Sea bindweed is different from the familiar Field bindweed – the leaves are small and fleshy, and the trumpet is vivid pink. They call it The Prince’s flower.

In this picture you also see the green stems of Prickly saltwort.

On my way I take many photographs and make a few compositions that will be put to use in the future.

Sea carrot is hosting a wild Red soldier beetle party.

I wouldn’t notice the tiny Burnet rose, not higher than 4 inches, if not for the bright shiny hips.

The path is not paved, but it is distinct and probably used by both humans and wildlife. It doesn’t go straight to the sea. Instead, it is winding between the dunes, up and down. Breathless I get to the top only to see another dune. Well, even if we get lost, the longest we have to walk is 9 km ( 6 miles). Phew 😉

We can see far away from the top of a high dune. Ballyteige Castle in the picture below was built by Sir Walter de Whitty, a Norman settler. It is a typical tower-house built to protect the household. Members of the Whitty family managed the rabbit warren at Ballyteige Burrow.

The roofs of Kilmore hidden behind a fixed dune.

Marram grass.

Vegetation is changing, and we can feel the fresh breeze – the sea is near, at last.

This view is so Wexford!

The beach looks deserted apart from a small tent pitched in the sand. Some other time we will walk all the 6 miles, but today we turn east and walk back to the marina car park.

A huge piece of kelp with rhizoids washed up in the sand. Here is a good website Galloway Wild Foods for those who is interested in foraging. I am too tired to pick up the heavy kelp.

The Forlorn Point looks close but it takes another 15 minutes to get there – walking on soft sand is, well, hard.

This picture was taken from the Great Saltee. The seagull’s bill points straight to the Forlorn Point, and the beach and dunes are on the left hand side.

This is the Great Saltee as you see it from the Forlorn Point. Our trip is complete, at least for today.

One more bird shot before we leave Kilmore Quay.

Here is the last video to summarize your day 🙂 Thank you for joining the walk. See you in a week at Spraoi 2019 street festival!

 

www.inesemjphotography  Have a wonderful weekend!