Photography

Little Island I

If you are looking for a unique place to stay in Waterford, you might think about the Waterford Castle hotel and Golf Club on the Little Island. I borrowed this aerial view image from the Golf Open Competitions website – you can also click on the image to view the page. It is a very good site, covering all the golf events in the country.

I put three marks on the map: the ferry point, the castle, and the guide beacon – a tower standing on the sand spit. We will walk the perimeter of the island – it will only take an hour of brisk walk and two blog posts 🙂

This is a Google map with the same marks.

Little Island is located on River Suir just 2 miles from the estuary, and encircled by the Queens and Kings Channels. The strategic position of the island has always attracted settlers. The island changed hands several times. First came the monks, then the Vikings, and finally the Normans.  The FitzGerald family being the cousins of Strongbow were awarded this land for their part in the Norman Invasion. They built a Norman keep around which the rest of the current castle was built over the centuries. The island was connected to the mainland by wooden boats, but the residents would also use the stepping stones to cross the north channel ( then called the Ford) to attend the mass. Obviously, the channel wasn’t navigable as there was a depth of only two feet at low tide. In the first quarter of the 19th century, the channel was cleaned and deepened.

The FitzGeralds owned the ‘Lytle Yland’ for almost eight centuries. The land was farmed by the lord and rented out to tenants to be used as pasture, and to grow crops. Pay and conditions were good. By the 20th century, the island developed into the self contained community. If you are interested, here is a link to an absolutely fascinating article by Tom Dooley on the history of the Little Island, found on the page #49.

The Little Island was first leased and sold in 1958. After that it changed owners another couple of times. The castle was turned into hotel in 1988, and 48 three-and four-bedroom garden lodges were added in 2007. I won’t share any reviews. I only help you discover the island and have a pleasant time walking around. Isolation and ambiance of the island are worth the money – you can also book a whole lodge for the price of a room in the castle if you travel with your family and want to save a little. By the way, they say you might see ghosts in the castle and fields. Is it why I never met another walker in the remote part of the island?

Mary Fitzgerald‘ ferry takes us across the King’s Channel which is the old natural bed of the river Suir. One-way winding road goes up the hill to the castle car park through the green canopy full of wildlife. We won’t see the castle until the last minute – it is hidden in the high trees.

We drive past grazing deer.

This one is very inquisitive.

A young song thrush tries his voice.

A red squirrel with a white tail and white ear tufts is digging in the grass at the side of the road.

Suddenly the main entrance of the castle appears on the left.

When we are done with our walk, come in and ask for a cup of tea and a cake. Even if you are not a resident and didn’t make a reservation, there is a good chance you will be served.

You can walk around the castle and count the cute gargoyles.

A tiny garden offers tranquility and mystery.

To follow our plan, we take a trail that starts at the car park, and walk through the patch of trees. Some lucky residents have seen badgers and hedgehogs around the castle, but this happens early in the morning or late at night. We just see more deer 🙂

A grey squirrel resides in this part of the island – there is enough food for both species.

These pictures were taken in August – the Butterfly Month in Ireland.

Our path reaches the river. There is a patch of thistles, a favorite spot for butterflies. Let’s have a look.

This is a brand new Peacock butterfly, the most spectacular of the Irish butterflies. It will overwinter in a tree trunk or another dark place, and resume activity in March.

Small tortoiseshell is a very common butterfly also known for its hibernating habits. Every February-March I find one or more in my kitchen where they overwinter somewhere behind the cabinets.

Meadow brown female is not as hairy as her colorful cousins.

This is Red admiral, a beautiful migrant from Southern Europe.

Red admirals are not shy. One lands on my shoulder, stays there for a couple of minutes and then returns to the thistles.

Butterflies have a variety of predators. This one has been in a fight for his life 🙂

After admiring the butterflies, we walk west towards the Islands Edge. Little Island is a nesting place for herons, and you will see many of them at the water edge and in the fields.

A group of Godwits inspect the muddy riverbed.

Various waders can be seen picking lugworms : Curlew, Godwit and two almost identical Lapwings.

We walk past the castle and enter a wooded area.

We walk to the point where the path merges with the road that brought us to the castle. As we are not leaving the island yet, let’s walk back to the castle, have a cup of tea by the fireplace in the Great Hall, and get ready for our next adventure..

Here are two links to my favorite websites where you can read more about history and sailing specifics of the Little Island.

https://eoceanic.com/sailing/harbours/27/little_island

https://irishwaterwayshistory.com/tag/little-island/

We resume our walk in two weeks.

Have a wonderful weekend!

 

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Star Flyer lifts adrenaline lovers to the heights of 40 m (131 f). I can hear their screams from a distance 🙂

Unhurried Christmas Train is fun in its own way. Winterval is in full swing in Waterford – there is fun for everyone.

When the moon goes up and the streets become silent, it is the time for memories.

My train of thoughts is slow like the Winterval Express, and it is off the rails sometimes.

I will start from Spring. I remember it was lovely.

Birds saved the summer.

I left autumn behind and found December.

It was my first walk in a while, and I suddenly felt like someone was watching me.

And sure it was 🙂

A little symbol of Chinese New Year. A Rat!

Fear and curiosity fought, and curiosity won. I wish I knew what the little fella was thinking about me.

Then we were joined by a Robin who landed behind the rat and startled him.

Yet, he resumed his position and kept watching me. So did the Robin who didn’t want to miss anything. I took my pictures and wished them both well.

Hope you have a very Merry Christmas, and a happy new year of the Rat that starts in the end of January.

, with love ♥!

River Suir burst its banks

I apologize for the silence.

To keep the blog looking updated, I add some more November pictures of a spectacular flood of the River Suir.

On the following day the rain ceased and the flooded area slightly shrank and was disconnected from the river. It will eventually dry up in summer.

The river remains swollen and the walking trail flooded.

Heron doesn’t mind.

Thank you for your kind support.

Have a wonderful week!

Halloween special: Ghosts from the 1970’s

Portlaw Tannery makes a good setting for a ghost story, but there have not been reported any supernatural appearances. Yet. As you already know from my previous Halloween post, another building in the premises isn’t exactly ghost-free. I could go there again and perhaps get some material for another story, but… my instincts tell me to stay away from the Mayfield House and explore the factory buildings instead. As there are no known ghosts, I have to make up a ghost story myself.

Early in the morning I walked around the factory looking for inspiration.

Many things seemed suspicious there, including a tailless pheasant. Even the horse found him strange. Was he a pheasant at all? I started getting nervous.

I entered the ground floor and found a burned car. It made more sense than the tailless pheasant. Portlaw Tannery is a favorite place for drifting.

I kept walking. This derelict building reminded me of something long forgotten…

When I walked out of the building on the other side, I saw THIS, and everything clicked – a whole building, its empty windows, repetitive architectural elements, holes, shadows and reflections – everything reminded me of Atari Breakout in black & white: the ghosts of Space Invaders have stolen all the colors!

I decided to walk to the top floor. May be I can find more evidence there.

The top floor on my side of the factory has no roof anymore, and it looks like a forest. The other side still has a roof which makes it more dangerous as the roof can collapse at any moment.

The floors are covered with the THINGS that fell down from the ceilings and walls. The weeds are creeping in from outside.

Found some evidence of the stolen red and orange color…

… and some yellow too!

Found an evil face. This could be a ghost that escaped from Pac Man

I could use an elevator, but the shaft is empty all the way down.

These used to be the elevator cabin doors.

I press the shutter and hurry away. This picture looks somewhat disturbing… like a Bosch painting rather than computer game…

The walls are tagged by artistically inclined Zombies.

THINGS keep falling from the ceiling and the above floors. Dripping water is making sad ghostly sounds.

Because of that, I am afraid to walk across the open space, and prefer to stay near the wall. I can see some photographs on the green board on the other side, but no way I would walk across.

All of a sudden, a piece of styrofoam insulation fell down from the ceiling, but remained in the air…

Another hanging piece of armature began rotating…

I hurried down the stairs only to face a black Pac Man ghost and many other strange faces staring at me from the walls.

Another floor. Is it a Star Raiders ship up there, collided with the wall?

Finally I am on the ground floor, but on the wrong side.

I am trying to get out, but all the exits are overgrown with weeds. I think I have found an abandoned Death Race car there…

I finally see the light.

Have to get out before the Space Invaders regroup and attack me in this real life game field.

Found a black angel feather… Well, may be not…

The drifting is on. Sometimes the tires blow up, and the ‘feather’ is probably just a part of the tire. Nothing to worry about.

In the cloud of smoke, a passenger is taking selfies on the go. No one has noticed the drama unfolding in the factory building.

Galaxian ship has been taken down…

A veteran PC didn’t have a chance…

And what about the cunning Space Invaders? They changed identity and went underground. Literally.

Thank you for visiting scary places and reading my 70’s video games inspired story 🙂

Have a happy and safe Halloween!