Co Kilkenny

Update from Pat The Foxman

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What is the best way to start all over again after a long absence? My bet is on foxes.

I have been to Thomastown a couple of times after the lockdown. Pat is busy in summer helping neighbors, looking after his chickens and ducks and his vegetable garden. We just share our pictures and news, talk about little Gorta and his latest adventures. Then a neighbor calls in and it is time to leave.

Henry, the 9 years old male fox, died this spring. He could live another couple of years, but the injuries he sustained as a cub took their toll. Henry had 176 stitches on his body and has been in pain all his life. Now all three foxes are united somewhere in the Universe where the rainbow bridges span over the land of milk and honey.

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Little Gorta is not that little any more. This playful one year old fox loves cuddles and snacks and lives a relaxed life of a spoiled daddy’s boy and a video star. He is house trained and has never spent a night in the shed. Here is a link to my first post about Gorta.

As you see, his color has changed. Baby foxes have black fur when they are born. It turns grey after a month and sand-colored for another 2-3 months. Now Gorta is as red as any other grown up red fox.

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One day we take Gorta to the field. He loves snail hunting.

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For his own safety, Gorta isn’t allowed to run free outdoors, but as he doesn’t know any better, the chain doesn’t seem to be bothering him.Ā 

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He loves a belly rub and a game “I will catch your tail” šŸ˜‰ He understands the words, and is all smiles and excitement.

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Life is going on.Ā 

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Thank you for being so kind and understanding, my friends.

www.inesemjphotography Have a wonderful week! ā¤

New brother

First the sad news. Sweet Minnie the fox followed her sister Grainne to the Rainbow Bridge at the age of eleven. Last time I saw her she was weaker than usual. She died in her sleep like Grainne. Both had a long and happy life.

Run free in heaven, you beautiful girls!Ā 

These are links to some of my blog posts about the Fox Man Pat Gibbons from County Kilkenny and his foxes:

https://inesemjphotography.com/2015/08/04/all-creatures/

https://inesemjphotography.com/2014/07/26/thomastown-fox-news/

https://inesemjphotography.com/2017/01/27/pat-and-his-foxes/

 

And here is another little soul who needed love and care. Meet Gorta, a 14 weeks old cub named after the famous Kilkenny hurler Martin Comerford’s nickname. In Irish, Gorta means Famine.

Gorta is different colour than the other foxes. He is peach-and-silvery grey with red goggles.

We are sitting outside and Gorta is sniffing the air and perking his ears. His nose never stops moving.

He smelled the ducks grazing in the garden and licked his lips.

A passing car startled him…

…so he did exactly what any other scared baby would do – reached for safety and pressed his little body to Pat.

A universal picture of love and trust.

No matter who or what you are.

Ā  Have a happy week!

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 –Ā  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’.Ā  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 šŸ™‚

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 šŸ™‚

Have a wonderful weekend!

Philip and the National Reptile Zoo

With St Patrick’s Day nearing, I though I would share a reptile-related post, just to be fair to the expelled snakes and to let you know that some of them have repatriated back to Ireland.

This is my beautiful green buddy Philip. He hatched out in the end of 2007, and this picture was taken in 2010. He is a Water Dragon.

Shortly after he was adopted, his parents went for holidays and left him with me. He was as big as a pencil. Every morning he would standĀ on his hind legs in his terrarium and look at me. He knew the ritual. I would pick him up, hold him to my face, and go to bed again for another ten minutes, talking to him and kissing his little head. Then he would goĀ back to hisĀ terrarium until evening.

He was a different shade of green at that time.

I didn’t see him for another few years. Things happen, and in 2013 Philip’s parents separated. He was 6 year old, about 3 feet long, and lived in a 5 x 9 feetĀ terrarium by then. There was no one ready to commit to having him. They had to make a heartbreaking decision to give Philip away. The only reasonable place for him to stay would be a zoo, but first he had to endure a 6 month long quarantine in the Reptile Village in Gowran, Co Kilkenny. Herpetologist and Director of the Reptile Village James Hennessy picked him up. He said that they already had a male Water Dragon, but the Dublin Zoo would be happy to take Philip.

When I came to visit him after a week, he looked scared. On the top of his terrarium there was another glass cage with a dying female of the same species. This was the place where people dumped their reptiles when they could not cope with caring for their ‘pets’ anymore. Ā A lesson for those who decide to buy a reptile just ‘ because it is cute’. I left in tears.

To make a long story short, Philip is alive in the Dublin Zoo. At least he was when I talked withĀ Mr. Hennessy over theĀ phone in 2015.

I revisited the Reptile VillageĀ inĀ December. Now it is called The National Reptile Zoo, it has expanded since 2013, and it is amazing.

These Green Iguanas,Ā and some other reptiles live in a separate Tropical Walk-Through Dome outside the main building. The dome is 6Ā m in diameter andĀ over 3Ā m high.

National Reptile Zoo

Isn’t it sweet that you can touch a lizard. I don’t know if they exactly enjoy this, but the visitors definitely love the experience šŸ™‚

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Waking up after a napĀ šŸ™‚

National Reptile Zoo

First things first šŸ™‚

National Reptile Zoo

Sun basking is another favorite activity of Iguanas. It is hot and humid inside the dome, and the live plants make it look like jungle. The lizards and tortoises roamĀ free and feel home.

National Reptile Zoo

National Reptile Zoo

Rhinoceros Iguana in the main building loves his veggies. Philip preferred crickets.

National Reptile Zoo

This is what lizards do most of the time.

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The most impressive part of the tour Ā are Animal Encounter Sessions that are carried out by trained reptile wranglers.

National Reptile Zoo

Christina begins thisĀ session by introducing a Burmese Python, and asks if we know where exactly his tail is.

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I wanted to take a picture of the tail, but it Ā came out blurred. In this picture, half of the tail is hidden behind Christina’s hand. The tailĀ is only Ā 5-6Ā inches long. The throat takes up one third of the body, and the rest is stomach.

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Everyone lovesĀ the Python.

Reptile Village

Reptile Village

Blue Steel,Ā a huge albinoĀ Burmese Python I wanted to meet, was nowhere to be seen. Pearl, another albino, the biggest snake in Ireland, was not out of quarantine yet at that time – now she is on exhibit, so I have to go to the ZooĀ again. Female pythons are just a little bit longer than males, but much sturdier. I hope to take pictures of Pearl some time in summer.

This is Rosie, a gorgeous Chilean Rose tarantula. I don’t knowĀ if it would beĀ a good business idea to open a Spider Zoo, but here Rosie is a star šŸ™‚ Ā I think I have also seen a scorpion somewhere in the Zoo, but it might be just a food item that simply escaped.

National Reptile Zoo

National Reptile Zoo

The National Reptile Zoo celebrates its 11th Anniversary in March. I think Rosie is the same age as the Zoo.

National Reptile Zoo

There are more than 150 animals of 50 species in the Reptile Zoo, and I will share more pictures next week. Stay tuned, and please don’t wear any St. Patrick’s day accessories when you are reading this blog šŸ˜‰

www.inesemjphotography.comHave a wonderful weekend!

Pat and his foxes

Pat Gibbons

On my way back from an assignment I turned off the main road and drove under theĀ canopy of old trees to the house of my favorite people. I wrote about Pat Gibbons and his family in these blog posts : in 2015Ā  and 2014Ā It has been a while since I last visited, and I didn’t call in advance. I saw that the door was half open, and parked at the side of the road. Another car slowly approached, and parked across from me. I didn’t plan to take any pictures and knocked on the door just to say hello, but Pat was about to take the foxes outside for a minute anyway, so I went to pick up my camera. Meanwhile, aĀ family got out of the other car and asked me if it was the Fox Man’s house. The word spreads šŸ™‚

Pat is always happy when someone shows up to see his foxes. ‘It is why they are here’ he says. He told the visitors about where the foxes come from and about GrĆ”inne’s career as a movie star. She is as beautiful as always, just with more silver in her fur.

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Minnie is soft and shy – nothing has changed here šŸ™‚

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It is the time for hugging.

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GrƔinne is tired.

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She does a bit of posing for pictures.

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Pat is askingĀ GrĆ”inne to perform her famous trick.

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We walk to the pen to visit with Henry. He is not in the mood to go outside this time.

In a couple of hours they all will go to Pat’s house and enjoy theirĀ evening together cuddling and watching the TV.

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I know you all love this post and the foxes šŸ™‚ Thank you for stopping by!

inesemjphotographyĀ Have a beautiful weekend!