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!

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 🙂

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!

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.

mm 237

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

mm 218

Mount Melleray

mm 217

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.

mm 246

This beautiful path takes you to the graveyard.

Mount Melleray

This road takes you nowhere – it 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 – Melleray 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 – the 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 – I 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.

church

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’.

churc

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.

church

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 🙂

inesemjphotography  Have a wonderful weekend!

Fenor Bog boardwalk

Fenor bog


This is my last post from abroad 🙂 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.

robin

A pink touch of Ragged Robin.

flower

Red Campion, a close relative of Ragged Robin.

flower

Cuckooflower is sacred to the Fairies.

fenor bog

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

menyanthes

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.

bumblebee

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

bumblebee

bumblebee

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.

dragonflie

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

dragonfly

Speckled Wood butterfly. Their caterpillars are bright green.

butterfly

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?

Blackberry

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.

2016- 432

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

Fenor

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!

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.

digitalis

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 🙂  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 🙂

 


inese_mj_photography Have a wonderful weekend!

Overcast sky from Dunmore East to Passage East

Dunmore East

This wasn’t the same day, even the same year when I took all these pictures, but the weather in Ireland hasn’t changed for years, so let’s presume we hop in the car and take a  short photo-drive from one village to the other, with one stop in the middle.

We start our trip from the Dunmore East Port  that is situated at the western end of Dunmore village.  As I walked on the pier to the lighthouse that was established in the end of 1825, the grey drizzling sky suddenly broke open and gave way to a wonderful silvery light. It lasted no longer than a minute, and the scenery quickly returned to its usual grey self.

Dunmore East

Construction works around the lighthouse obstructed the view and I turned back. Two young gulls on the rope made me smile – why did they have to stand there is such an awkward position? Maybe it was a dare? 🙂

Dunmore East port

Regardless of the weather the cliffs are always beautiful. This is an old coastguard station, the most photographed (and then over-dramatically enhanced) building in the area.  If you keep walking to the west, after half an hour you will reach the Portally Cove. It is a cliff walk, but not too close to the cliffs, actually.  This time I didn’t walk that far.

Old Coastguard

The silky grass is slippy. I like walking alone, but I believe in taking precautions.  Two years ago a cow fell from a cliff in the water, but was rescued.

Dunmore East

You can see the Hook Lighthouse on the other side.

Hook Head

This picture of Dunbrody was taken many years ago from the same cliffs.

Dunbrody

To get this picture, you have to walk to the park, cross it and walk to the cliffs. The previous picture is taken from the same place – on the left, there is the port where we just came from.

Dunmore East

I leave the park and walk down to the village centre. During the winter storms, some giant waves reach the buildings.

Dunmore East

This is where we are heading, in the direction of Waterford Harbour and Passage East village, our final destination. Waterford Harbour is formed by the estuary of three great rivers: River Suir, River Nore and River Barrow.

Dunmore East

In the Google Earth image below, I have mapped the most significant strands on our way. Geneva strand is a great place for bird watching, but this time we will only stop to visit the oyster farm you see when you enlarge the picture. I don’t know how large is this particular farm (headquarters in Dunmore East), but some farms measure many hectares.

Google Earh

This is what Waterford Harbour and Woodstown beach look like at high tide. The photograph was taken after the sunrise from The Saratoga pub, “#1 of 1 Restaurant in Woodstown”, according to TripAdvisor. Fair enough.

Woodstown

This is the same beach at low tide.

Woodstown

The oyster farm workers are waiting for the other tractor to return.

oyster farming

Here it is, coming from the middle of the harbour.

oyester farming

The higher poles measure about 3-4 m in height – something like two-human height. I recon the water can reach up to 2-2.5 m at high tide, or even higher. I have never seen it myself, but I have heard that the water in the harbour is leaving and coming very rapidly, as if someone is opening and closing a gate.

The oyster farm is so fascinating that I decide to come another day and check it out. To tell that I have no doubts about this adventure would be a lie. I am terrified, but my curiosity takes over, as usual.

It is a ten-minute walk in the soft, wet sand, between the pools of water. Sometimes my feet sink in the sand, and my heart sinks too. I keep closer to the poles, but have no idea how it would help if the sand swallows me. I just hope the poles are marking a safe path.

I have a longer lens, so I don’t have to come too close, and can take my pictures from a distance. The workers are doing something with the mesh bags full of oysters – inspect them, and flip them over. They don’t pay any attention, except for an older man, who looks in my direction a few times, and then speaks something. I wave to him and try to listen to what he is saying. I would love to interview him for this blog. Then I hear “… shove that camera in your face…” and quickly realise that my time has expired. With the broadest smile, I wave to him again, take a few more shots and walk back.

oyster farming

With no interview, I had to look up the oyster farming in the internet. Here is what I have learned.

In Ireland, they cultivate Irish native flat oyster, available from September, and Pacific Gigas, available all year. The Gigas was introduced in the 1980s, and from what I have seen, this particular farm cultivates exactly the Gigas species.

The tidal waters of Waterford Harbour are flushing the oysters twice a day, providing them with natural food. Bag-cultured oysters mature more quickly than those that are beach grown, it is why the bags have to be regularly thinned and flipped over, otherwise the oysters will develop a wrong shape.

The Gigas oysters take about three years to reach market size ( about six years for the native Edulis species). Oysters are cultivated to the size of spat first, to the point at which they attach themselves to a substrate. Then they are set out to mature.

There were many empty trestles that made an interesting picture.

oyster farming

These are the oyster bags. The holes are very small, but I could say that the oysters were the size of a half-palm.

oyster farming

oyster farming

On my way to the shore, I take some pictures. The distance is quite remarkable.

woodstown beach

I am trying not to step on the coiled castings of lugworms. Nearly there!

 

oyster farming

I found a broken oyster bag in the sand after a storm last year. I didn’t know how long it was there, and were the oysters still alive or already dead, so I let them be.

oyster farming

What made me sad, was the pattern of mesh on the shells.

oyster farming

We are leaving Woodstown, and drive another 5km. Passage East is a tiny village, but it is very important to the locals because of the ferry service between Co Waterford and Co Wexford.

Passage East

2015 -09 027

Passage East

I have already mentioned Passage East village in my blog post Goats and Monkeys. A huge herd of goats is living in the hills, and sometimes they come down and cause a traffic jam. This billy goat is the leader of the herd. His diabolic look is quite impressive.

Passage East goat

Here is the ferry, and some day we will cross the river and go to visit places around the Waterford Harbour.

Passage East

Thank you for taking a risky hike to the middle of Waterford Harbour with me 🙂 In my next blog post, we will travel up the River Barrow, and then up the River Suir.

inese_mj_photographyHave a wonderful weekend!

Hawthorn Fairy

fairy

After writing about the Fairy doors and Fairy Raths, it is the time to speak about the Fairies themselves. In Ireland, fairies are associated with Hawthorn trees, especially the solitary ones or those growing together with the oaks and aspens. In May and early June all the countryside is swathed in the white garlands of blooming hawthorn: fairy season comes to Ireland. The Fairy tree holds strong magic forming a portal to the fairy realms in the Otherworld, and there is nothing I love as much as a good old portal 🙂

Hawthorn tree is respected, and has always been sacred to mankind. Farmers work around them, and no one in their right mind would fell a lonely hawthorn tree or anyhow damage faerie property. In the 1990-s, the upgrading of the National Route from Limerick to Galway was delayed for a nearly ten years, and the Ennis bypass was eventually rerouted to accommodate a lonely hawthorn tree and avoid disturbing the little folk. Fairies can be vindictive. You wouldn’t like a bad luck accompany you for the rest of your life, would you. They say that even in the 1950, rural people would shout warnings before throwing water out the door lest a fairy should be passing.

thorn

If you have the Hawthorn in your hedge, you can use the flowers to make a good tea (mix them with some other herbs because of their strong effect), the leaves to add to your salad, and the berries (haws) to make jelly or jam. That would help you reduce your blood pressure, stimulate your heart and act as a mild sedative.

There are some pictures I took of a Hawthorn fairy to illustrate this blog post.

fairy

I saw the fairy at the shore of Ballyscanlon lake, Co Waterford.

fairy

It is a beautiful lake with clear water an peaceful surroundings.

ballyscanlon

The Hawthorn tree in question grows very close to the lake. Fairies wouldn’t like to cross a stream, but there are many fairies that live near the water.

fairy

If you click on the picture to enlarge it, you will see a flock of tiny mosquitoes sitting on the rock near the flower.

stream

Fairies know everything that is happening in their realms. Nothing goes unnoticed.

fairy

This little Robin knows her well: fairies use birds to fly from place to place 🙂

2015-06 108

The Sun goes up, and it is the time for the Fairy to use her magic and return to her Otherworld realm.

fairy

Hope to see you again some day.

fairy

Gateway to the Otherworld opens, and in a blink of an eye the fairy is gone.

fairy

Thank you for visiting Ballyscanlon lake with me today. May the fairies bring you all the best luck you need!

inese_mj_photographyHave a fantastic weekend!

Anne Valley – Walk through the Fairy Door

dunhill

Dunhill village is a home for Anne Valley Walk, a 2.5 km trail that travels from Ballyphilip bridge to Dunhill Castle. This beautiful trail through the Anne Valley was officially opened in 2013 and took a huge amount of voluntary work to complete. The blue patches on the map are the man-made ponds that transformed the area from a marshland to a comfortable walking environment. The route takes some 50 minutes to complete if you don’t want to see the castle ruins.

anne river walk

The Fairy doors are at the other end of the trail – cute and very inviting. I am sure the fairies find a shelter here on their travels, and I feel like I walk through the doors too.

fairy doors

If you have worries, there is a place to leave them. The tree stump will sort it out for you.

Annes river trail Annes river trail

This menhir stands in the pond and looks authentic. I couldn’t find any information, probably the stone was standing in the bog before the ponds were made.

high stone

I don’t know anything about these either.

high stones

This one looks mysterious, it is difficult to spot from the trail. The picture was taken in early spring before the foliage obstructed the view.

annes river

Anne River is gurgling under the bridge, reflecting the sky.

anne river

In the late afternoon, the sun makes everything look golden, and the air is filled with musty fragrance of golden gorse.

annes river

Flora of the marshlands is still present. Birds use the silky seed hairs of Reedmace (Cattail) for lining their nests.

I have seen most of these birds. Best time for bird-watching is early morning, before the dog walkers scare them away. I have read that there is a kingfisher living somewhere. I hope he is. Of the mammals, I saw an otter one evening.

Swans, herons and egrets are the biggest birds seen around Anne River.

heron

This photograph looks funny and I am not sure if I should have posted it. Because of the darker feathers on his chest, the heron looks like a sticker cut off with scissors and glued to the picture. It is the same heron. Two photographs were taken within just a few seconds.

heron

European robin is one of my favorite birdies. This one was very friendly and sang me a song.

robin

robin

I wonder if this is the same bird.

robin

anne river

I met these ducks just minutes before a tragedy struck their family. Have a closer look. Some ducklings are light-grey and have big, round heads like their mama, and the others are dark brown and have a dark stripe across the eye. The brown ones look like Mallards, but the grey ones are different. Anyway, twelve ducklings had hatched, but the day I took the picture there were just seven.  They were picking on something in the grass, and their mama was watching.

duck

I took some pictures and walked away. After a moment I heard a duck quacking in distress, then came a loud splash, and then, with loud quacking and splashing and wing flapping, the ducklings run in the water towards me. Little legs got tired very quickly and they finally stopped running and swam – it is when I took this picture. They didn’t make any sound, but swam very fast.

duck

Mama duck started quacking again, and the ducklings quickly ran past me. The darker ones seemed stronger and the lighter ones were left behind. Tall weeds didn’t let me see what was happening, but I ran behind the ducklings to the bridge. Finally mama duck flew past me too, quacking like crazy. From the bridge I saw them all gather together, mama duck still quacking. I counted the ducklings – there were six. One didn’t make it. The ducks swiftly swam away but I was still standing and waiting for that one. He never showed up. Anne River has her dark secrets.

ducks

These strings of Water crowfoot plant look like something woven by river Nymphs. White flowers seem fluorescent under the dark canopy.

anne river

A river doesn’t have to be deep and wide to be beautiful and important.

anne river

I will write more about Anne River and Dunhill in my next two posts. Thank you so much for taking a walk with me.  More adventures to follow.

inese_mj_photography Have an amazing weekend!