Co Waterford

Knockmealdown mountains through the seasons II

Knockmealdowns

On a cold winter morning, shortly before the sunrise, we are traveling from Newcastle across the eastern part of the Knockmealdowns. The images below show the change of the light as the sun makes its way up in the sky.

Knockmealdowns

Knockmealdowns

Knockmealdowns

Knockmealdowns

Knockmealdowns

Knockmealdowns

Knockmealdowns

Knockmealdowns

Knockmealdowns

Knockmealdowns

More sheep.

This road will take you to the Mount Melleray Abbey .   You see it in the distance with the Knocknafallia mountain (666.5 m) in background.

Mount Melleray

In my previous post, I wrote about the other way to cross the Knockmealdowns. What links these two roads? Both of them can lead you to the famous Cats Bar where you can get a nice lunch and spend a good time in the evening. Photographs taken over the years.

cats bar

cat's bar cat's bar

Also, both of them can eventually take you to Lismore, but that’s another story for another time.

Lismore

Thank you for traveling across the Knockmealdown Mountains with me. If you are going to Ireland and travel from Tipperary to Waterford, try these two roads – R668 (R669) and ‘Unnamed’ road from Newcastle, Tipperary.

www.inesemjphotography.com Have a wonderful week!

Knockmealdown mountains through the seasons I

Last winter I posted Comeragh series to introduce my favorite mountains. Today I am taking you just a couple of miles west to the Knockmealdown range. We will cross Knockmealdown mountains twice – from Clogheen and from Newcastle, in summer and in winter. Today I will also share a few ten years old photographs from my hike across the western part of the range. Good old days 🙂

But first we have to drive through the village of Ardfinnan, and the most famous feature of Ardfinnan is not its castle, but its gaggle of geese. My former colleague, who is originally from Ardfinnan, once told me that it was his great-grandmother who left her geese to the village in the beginning of the 20th century. I cannot tell you how many generations of geese passed since their common ancestors waddled on the banks of River Suir. In winter they fly to the Marlfield lake and return by the end of February. It is a very well organised group, and you can see them crossing the road and walking around as they please.

Young goslings look very cute.

We drive to Clogheen and turn onto the road that takes us to The Vee  (V), a sharp hairpin bend. It is a scenic drive through the forest and the rhododendron bushes, up the side of the Sugar Loaf Hill. The Vee road was built after the Great Famine of 1847.

The Vee

As we are approaching The Vee, suddenly a breathtaking view opens up.

The Vee

Galtee mountains stand at the other end of the Golden Vale.

Patches of farmland change color with the seasons.

I think it is a good time for a good song about Kitty from Knockmealdown 🙂

Even better view after the switchback.

The Vee

The road goes on the side of the Sugar Loaf Hill, a mountain peak with elevation of 663 m. From the road you can see (and easy reach to) a beehive-shaped stone monument, the last resting place of the eccentric Mr Samuel R. Grubb, appointed High Sheriff of Tipperary (1855-1921). Mr Grubb came from a former Quaker family who had been cast out of the Quaker Society for their great fondness for dances and similar amusements. In his will he requested that he be buried “in a beautiful and romantic spot on the side of Sugar Loaf hills“, and his coffin be placed upright.  Tenants and employees of Mr Grubb carried his coffin to the grave.

The sheep are everywhere, adding excitement to the drive.

We stop at the viewpoint above the famous Bay Lough. Knocknalougha (Knockaunabulloga) Hill  is covered with thick rhododendron growth and looks all pink in May. As beautiful as it looks, rhododendron is an alien species, and spreads like a weed.

Why is Bay Lough famous? I will tell you everything in my Halloween post 🙂

The rest of the road looks more or less the same. On some stage the road forks: you can drive straight and visit Cappoquin, or take the right turn to Lismore.

Knockmealdowns

Here are some photographs taken during the epic hike from the Bay Lough car park to Araglin. In the picture below you see the Bianconi hut and the Grotto. The hut served as shelter for Bianconi Coaches, horse-drawn carriages that provided transportation services around the south and south-west just for 1 penny a mile.

bianconi hut

This hike took place ten years ago in September 2007.

Knockmealdowns

The highest peak of the range is Knockmealdown (794m). They say that on a  clear day the highest Kerry mountains can be seen from the summit.

Knockmealdowns

Knockmealdowns

Knockmealdowns

Knockmealdowns

Through the green tunnel, down the hill we are heading to Lismore. I will write about Lismore some other day.

Knockmealdowns

We have crossed the Knockmealdowns through the Vee Gap that is well seen in my opening picture with the Sugar Loaf on the right and Knocknalougha on the left side. Next time we are going to take the other road, and you will see what the mountains look like in winter.

Thank you for your company!

www.inesemjphotography.comHave a wonderful weekend!

Mount Congreve gardens – an unexpected run in…

Walled garden is greeting me with all shades of purple.

Mount Congreve Gardens

Mount Congreve Gardens

Numerous fruit trees will bear a bountiful harvest in a month or two.

I admire various espaliers clinging to the walls.

Mount Congreve Gardens

As I cross the walled garden I discover a fragrant rose walk in the middle of it.

Mount Congreve Gardens

Winged thorns are not the only unusual feature of Rosa sericea pteracantha : its flowers have only four petals instead of usual five.

Leaving the walled garden.

Walking around the pond.

Unhurried walk with occasional stops takes me back to the glass house.

Mount Congreve Gardens

More flowers, more colors.

Magnolia Daybreak was planted in memory of Ambrose Congreve by the staff of Mount Congreve. It has beautiful and extremely fragrant pink flowers. There are many magnolias in the garden that bear names of Congreve family members.

Mount Congreve Gardens

On my way to the field where I have parked my car I came across a lawn. I changed my lens to a wider one to take a picture of the tree. From this moment the events started developing rapidly.

I took the picture and next moment a huge, long-legged hare appeared out of the shrubs at the other side of the lawn and started lazily towards me. I stopped breathing for a moment and then began to reattach my 70-200 mm lens. When the lens was finally on I lifted my eyes and almost screamed as the hare was sitting right in front of me, and he was the size of a dog.

Mount Congreve Gardens

I guess he had lost all his senses because of his old age, it is why he almost bumped into me. Startled, he looked at me with crossed eyes.  I didn’t have time to focus and only got these two blurred pictures of him as he darted across the lawn.

I slowly walked to where he entered the shrubs, and there he was, recovering after the scare.

hare

I am glad that I can share this story with you.

www.inesemjphotography.com Have a wonderful weekend

Waterford Greenway: Ballyvoyle Tunnel

A quarter of a mile long Durrow ( Ballyvoyle) Tunnel is one of the most iconic features of the Greenway. It looks as perfect as the day it was built in 1878. I can only imagine how exciting it was to travel through the tunnel by train, at a slow speed, with the eerie sound echoing off the tunnel walls.

Once a habitat of bats, the tunnel is a busy place these days.

Bike hire

I love this tricycle. It looks very comfortable, especially if you want to stop and take a picture.

Someone has a sense of humor. Notice how far is the other end of the tunnel.

Waterford Greenway

It seems like the walls have openings, but in fact these are only wall niches with lights.

Waterford Greenway

The tunnel is lined with bricks.

Waterford Greenway

Not too successful photograph of some stalagmites growing in the niche.

Durrow tunnel

Just a few years ago this area was overgrown and flooded in some places.

An assortment of ferns and moss decorates the stone wall. Further down the path the wild plants are getting ready for spring ( photographs were taken in February)

double_exposure

double_exposure

We are approaching Ballyvoyle viaduct – the last one. There are three viaducts and eleven bridges on the railway. Ballyvoyle viaduct was constructed in 1878, blown up in 1922, and after a second thought rebuilt in 1924. In this blog you can find some bits of history of the viaduct.

The viaduct spans River Dalligan, and the barriers are almost non-existent, if you ask me 😉

Waterford Greenway

Plenty to see from here.

I stepped off the path to take a picture of a white bench that stands at a distance from the farm house. In the photograph below you see a lovely view from the bench.

Clonea Beach. I can see my favorite chipper out there, over a mile away.

In December 2015 a group of Syrian refugees were settled in the luxury Clonea Strand Hotel ( closed for the season). It was a very strange decision of the Government since there are no food stores around – the closest store is four miles away in Dungarvan. Actually, there is nothing else in winter but the sea and the beach. I don’t know what the story is, and where they are now. I haven’t been to Clonea for years.

clonea

It is getting dark. I turn around and walk back to the car park. I take my time walking through the tunnel again – want to spot a bat, but there are no bats.

Waterford Greenway

Waterford Greenway

Waterford Greenway

Thank you for your company – it is more fun to walk through a dark tunnel with a friend at your side.

inesemjphotography Have a wonderful weekend!

 

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 🙂

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 😉

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! 😉


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

inesemjphotography Have a wonderful weekend!