Co Wexford

A day in the Irish National Heritage Park

The day is long gone – I visited the National Heritage Park in 2017. The park is still there, a few minutes drive from Wexford, and an hour drive from Waterford. If you travel with children this is the best place to have fun and learn about the past. If you have no children, you can do just the same thing. A very informative website and Facebook page  will answer all your questions. In a good weather you can spend there a whole day – I was there about five-six hours.

This magic entrance into The Past greets you with the scary sound effects. You are in the Middle Stone Age, 9000 years ago, surrounded with a swamp and woodland landscape. There are 16 sites altogether, taking you on a long and exciting journey through the Irish history.

This is a dwelling of a stone age hunter and gatherer. Please read the Event page. In the Park you can learn amazing skills, like basket weaving, foraging, wool felting, or building a Stone age house 🙂

These Stone Age thatched huts are a part of the exhibition. They look quite livable.

After another 3000 years the first farmers came to Ireland. They tilled the land, planted crops and kept cattle. They lived in bigger houses. About 70 Neolithic houses are known from Ireland.

The houses were divided into rooms.

This is a replica of a portal tomb.

To build such tomb, huge stones had to be moved to the site from a distance. Some of the stones can weigh many tonnes. This ‘stone’ weighs 2 tonnes. Everyone can have a go pushing it 🙂

There are also the replicas of a Stone circle and Ogham stone in the park.

This is an amazing reconstruction of a 5th century ringfort. More than 40,000 examples of ringforts were recorded in Ireland – both earthen and stone forts. Here is my favorite site for information on prehistoric Ireland.

It took some 400 oak trees to build the fort.

There are three houses in the ringfort, all thatched in different styles using reed or wheat straw.

The next site is a reconstruction of a Christian monastery.

There are more sites – Corn-drying Kiln, Horizontal Water Mill, Cooking Place (Fulacht Fiadh) –  you will have to visit them by yourself – I got a little distracted by birds 🙂

A Robin shows me the way to the crannog – a settlement that is built on top of an artificial island. Crannogs were used in Ireland from the Stone Age to the Middle Age.

On my way to the island I also saw a Dunnock …

… and a Chaffinch.

This is the crannog. The causeway was closed for some reason, and I started walking around the lake. Do you see a boat and a heron on the left from the houses? He is a part of the story I am going to tell.

So, here is that heron. I paid attention because I always pay attention to herons. All of a sudden he darted into the water and came out with something black in his beak.

He took off and headed straight to the crannog. I followed, by foot 😉

When I entered the crannog from the other side, there was no sight of the heron, but I immediately spotted something very strange and big on the ground. It looked like a snake. Slowly I moved closer. Poor creature tried to wriggle away, and looked me straight in the eye ( you can see the enlarged inset). It was a terrified eel, slimy, covered with gravel, the heron’s prey.

I only took one picture, put away my camera and tried to pick him up, but he was incredibly slimy and fell back to the ground. I felt so helpless. I did want to save his life. Somehow I managed to throw him over the palisade and was glad to hear that he hit the water. Hope he stays away from herons 🙂

Moorhen didn’t look interested 🙂

I left the crannog and walked through the tunnel to the next site – Viking Boatyard.

The barrels were used for curing fish with dry salt.

The Vikings came to Ireland 12 centuries ago. They eventually settled and built the first real towns. The first documented history of Dublin begins with the Viking raids, and Viking ports were also established at Waterford, Wexford, Cork and Limerick – which still remain the biggest cities in Ireland.

I sat in the viking long boat and watched the beautiful River Slaney flow towards the Irish Sea.

After resting my legs, I started climbing up the hill – and up the history lane.

When the Normans invited in by Dermot MacMurrough  arrived in 1169, they began building strong castles, often lime-whitened. This reconstructed castle was built beside a real site – a ringwork castle built by Robert Fitzstephen following the Norman capture of the town of Wexford. The original ditch marks the site, and two silver pennies found during the excavations are on display in the Visitor centre.

The tower you see in background is a replica of Irish round tower, built in 1857 as a monument to the Wexford men that lost their lives in the Crimea War.

The tower is overlooking Roche’s Norman Tower House and Ferrycarrig bridge. The view is beautiful, but the chain fence ruins all the photography efforts. Of course there are the ways to remove the obnoxious fence from the pictures. Read Digital Lady Syd’s fantastic blog and you will learn very useful skills.

There is a ‘time capsule’ beneath the foundations of the tower, placed in 1857. It contains coins and newspapers from that time, and the list of those who contributed to the tower’s construction.

Here ends our journey from prehistoric times into the 19th century. Time traveling isn’t that hard, right?  In my next blog post we will mingle with the local Vikings – shop and fight and have fun 🙂

Comments are closed for this post – I won’t be able to reply. Yet I will do my rounds visiting other blogs.

www.inesemjphotography.com Have a wonderful weekend!

Puffin love

Great Saltee Puffin

For all those who are in a dark place – here is some puffin love for you.

Great Saltee Puffin

Great Saltee Puffin

Great Saltee Puffin

Great Saltee Puffin

Great Saltee Puffin

Great Saltee Puffin

Great Saltee Puffin

Great Saltee Puffin

Great Saltee Puffin

Great Saltee Puffin

Great Saltee Puffin

Great Saltee Puffin

This is the puffin love story I heard ( and witnessed) on my last visit to the Great Saltee 🙂


To book a boat to Saltee Islands from Kilmore Quay, Co Wexford, call +353-53-912-9684.


Links to some of my previous posts about Saltee Islands and Puffins:

https://inesemjphotography.com/2014/06/28/saltee-islands-a-place-where-birds-rule/

https://inesemjphotography.com/2014/06/30/golden-faces-silver-eyes-and-blue-eyelids/

https://inesemjphotography.com/2015/06/23/saltee-islands-treasure-bigger-than-money-part-1/

https://inesemjphotography.com/2015/06/27/saltee-islands-treasure-bigger-than-money-part-2/

https://inesemjphotography.com/2016/07/16/saltee-island-off-to-see-the-puffins/

https://inesemjphotography.com/2017/07/22/saltee-islands-all-things-beautiful/

www.inesemjphotography.com Have a wonderful weekend!

Kennedy Arboretum, Co Wexford

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John Kennedy Arboretum in Co Wexford dedicated to the memory of the 35th president of the United States was opened in 1968 just a couple of miles from Kennedy ancestral home I recently wrote about in my blog Irish Ancestry.

For those who plan a visit – the map you will get with your ticket looks confusing in the beginning, but as soon as you figure out where you are, you won’t have any problems. To help with that, here is my edited version 🙂 Ignore the Visitor Centre drawing because it is in the wrong place.  Maple Walk takes you to the lake; the other path is for those who don’t mind walking a little longer. There are no boring walks, each of them is amazing in their own way. SHELTER on your map means a roof, and one of them has a toilet block. If you want to drive to the viewing point on Sliabh Coillte ( which I suppose has a free access) don’t take the right turn as my arrow points, but keep driving and take the first left turn, and drive until you reach the summit. I was very restricted in time and didn’t make it to the summit. I have been there before – you have beautiful countryside at your feet, and you can also see the bird’s view of the Arboretum and Kennedy Homestead.

The empty green areas are not empty at all – there are many single trees and other plants. I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed being there.

Kennedy Arboretum with Sliabh Coillte in background.

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You can also take a ride.

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There are some 4500 species and cultivars of trees, shrubs and climbing plants in Arboretum, to compare with less than 30 native tree species. Since I wasn’t commissioned to illustrate the variety and range of this collection, I just enjoyed myself photographing everything I found amusing 🙂 Like those red Fly mushrooms in my opening photograph – Amanita muscaria. In the ancient times people would dry them and mix with milk to kill the flies. Fly mushrooms definitely attract insects, but I am not so sure about the killing part. I think that insects just drowned in milk 🙂

More fungi.

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Maple Walk. We have a mild autumn this year, and the leaves haven’t turned yet except for some maple trees.

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Maple walk takes you to the lake (I didn’t take any pictures of it).

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Raining. I stood under a Beech tree for a minute.

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Wild Fuchsia is beautiful throughout the year.

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I am walking from one path to another in spite of the drizzle.

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I spotted a Quince flower deep in the bush.

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Quinces are decorative and have edible fruit.

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Green Quince is too hard for birds to eat, but they snack on the seeds.

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There is quite a variety of Quince cultivars in the Arboretum.

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Hawthorn walk is one of my favorites. Some fruit are as big as a crab apple.

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This old Hawthorn tree with the crooked branches could host a Wexford fairy –  I have recently written about another fairy that lives in County Waterford 🙂

fairy

I don’t know what these lifeless Cypress trees used to host. Their silver-white trunks glow in the dark, and strong conifer fragrance fills the air.

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Western red cedar, or Thuja, might host a dragon 🙂

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Beech tree hosts a squirrel.

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It is getting dark. I don’t trust the map and walk out of the forest plot to check on the Sliabh Coillte hill. It is a very helpful landmark.

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One more hour until the Arboretum will close. Many families and dog walkers are still there, but I have to leave.

I link this post to the lovely blogs I follow  – Derrick Knight  and The garden Impressionists, both sharing beautiful photographs of gorgeous gardens.

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Twenty two countries each sent gifts of trees and shrubs that represent their country to the Arboretum. It is a delightful place to visit in any season.

Memorial fountain made of a single block of Wicklow granite, has the words of President Kennedy engraved on it:

‘Ask not what your country can do for you… ask what you can do for your country.’

inesemjphotography Have a wonderful weekend!

Saltee Island: meet the Gannets

gannet

Visiting the Gannet nesting site was so much fun. I didn’t get the picture I wanted, but I got something really cool, anyway.

Sometimes Gannets bring in nesting materials – sea weeds, grass, any rubbish they can pick up in the water. This one had got a great catch!

His lady wasn’t impressed though.

gannets gannets

Their body language was so expressive and funny that I couldn’t stop smiling. I know, I humanize them too much, and it could be that the gift was totally accepted and relationship established. As to me, I have got many funny pictures.

The Gannet dances is something to see. I have some pictures of the courtship dances in my previous blogs, but this time I caught a single young male Gannet dancing like no one is watching.

gannets

I hoped to get a good picture of a landing Gannet, but they all landed in an opposite direction or sideways. Gannet is a huge bird that takes a whole frame to fit in, even diagonally.

gannet

gannet

gannet

gannet

I have got many ‘portraits’ and played with them in Photoshop.

gannet

This photograph of a landing Gannet is here to show you what exactly I wanted to capture: the bird ‘stalling’ in the air, its legs positioned towards the rear of the body, and its webbed feet stretched forward.  Everything like in this picture, but from the front.

gannet

Another dance.

gannet gannet

On every ledge of rock there is a nest made of seaweeds, feathers and multicolored bits of rope and fishing net. This female has a very young chick, featherless, with the dark blue skin.

gannet

This chick is at least two weeks old ball of fluffy down.

gannet

Gannets could be very aggressive, both males and females. In this picture you see two gannets trying to kill the third one. Its neck is almost snapped in half, and I don’t know about the outcome because we were leaving the colony at that time.

gannets

It is what I saw from the cliff when I turned back to look at the Gannet nesting site one more time. The main colony looks much smaller than last year. May be the sub-colony on the left side is growing bigger? I hope so. I stood there in awe – you cannot get used to the sight like this one. The air was filled with the sound of the wind, breaking waves, and the distant harsh cries of the Gannets. See you next year, beautiful birds!

gannet rock

A Youtube video for you to enjoy 🙂

Thank you for joining me in my trip!

More to follow.

inese_mj_photographyHave a wonderful weekend!

Saltee Island: off to see the Puffins

Kilmore Quay

It is the time of the year when I go to see the Puffins. I have written four blogs about Saltee Islands, and I don’t want to repeat myself writing about the birds and their biology again. If you love sea birds, you might be interested in reading the following links to my previous posts:

https://inesemjphotography.com/2014/06/28/saltee-islands-a-place-where-birds-rule/

https://inesemjphotography.com/2014/06/30/golden-faces-silver-eyes-and-blue-eyelids/

https://inesemjphotography.com/2015/06/23/saltee-islands-treasure-bigger-than-money-part-1/

https://inesemjphotography.com/2015/06/27/saltee-islands-treasure-bigger-than-money-part-2/

In the opening picture, you see the Kilmore Quay port. The red boat is our trusted An Crosán, or Razorbill in Gaelic.

I have a half an hour before the boarding to walk around and take some pictures of the fishing gear.

fishing gear fishing gear

The weather is mild and the sea is smooth. With the back wind, we make the trip in 15 minutes.

Saltee trip

A group of photographers are waiting for the boat to pick them up – they came to the island before the sunrise. It is what I am going to do next year.

Great Saltee

We walk up the steps, pass the owners house, walk to the throne and turn left. It is where I always start my walk to the Gannet cliff and back. This time I decided to explore some other parts of the island too. Later I will share with you what came out of that idea.

Great Saltee

My first Puffins this year! These birds are too young to start a family, so they are hanging out with their neighbours.

puffin

When I see Puffins, there is no force in the whole Universe that could stop me from taking pictures! I don’t own a telephoto lens, so I have to get as close as I can to the birds. For that, I sit down and slowly slide to the cliff edge, inch by inch.

puffin

saltee 1 070 saltee 1 099_1

This face is one of the funniest and sweetest faces on Earth. A grey eye looks at me knowingly and intelligently. ‘A human with a camera, another one? Want me to stay still do you?

puffin

The water changes color as the sun pops out of the clouds, all the shades of cobalt blue, turquoise  and aquamarine twinkling like precious stones.

Great Saltee

We are slowly moving along the cliff edge in the direction of the Gannet nesting site, taking photographs on the way. I like this cove and always take a picture. The cliff drops down to the ocean almost vertically.

saltee islands

Another puffin, another picture. We keep to the path away from the cliff edge and begin our climb to the highest point of the island.

puffin

On the left from the path, all is green and looks like lush grass. It is not. Most of the island is covered with ferns that can grow up to the height of 4.5 f. Between the ferns, there grow briars and brambles of all sorts. I will tell you more about that part of the island later.

Great Saltee

From here, the path climbs through the ferns up the hill almost vertically. A tiny rabbit, not bigger than my fist, springs from under my feet.

The real view from the summit is much more beautiful than any photograph I have ever seen.

Great Saltee

We turn around and resume our hike to the Gannet Cliff. The sight of thousands of nesting birds and the sound of their voices is one of the Nature’s  most magnificent  spectacles. My heart is beating in anticipation as I walk closer to the cliff edge where we start our descent down to the Gannet colony.

More to follow. Thank you for loving the Puffins! 😉

inese_mj_photography Have a wonderful weekend!