Gottfried Helnwein

Blue way of County Tipperary IV

I don’t want to leave the village of Kilsheelan yet! Today’s walk is about a half of a mile long. We will be mostly standing and looking at things through all four seasons of photographs.

George Henry Bassett, an editor of the New York Times with an interest for writing, left his account about Kilsheelan in his Guide and Directory, 1889:

“… Kilsheelan is a station on the Waterford and Limerick railway… The land is good for pasture and tillage… The Waterford county border is separated from Kilsheelan by the river crossed here by a substantial stone bridge. Near it there is a quay for discharge of goods dispatched by boat from Clonmel, Carrick-on-Suir and Waterford. At the verge of the river, close to the bridge, there is an ancient moat. It is now quite bare, but down to fifteen years ago, had a good covering of trees. The ruin of an old church between the village and the river, is one of the striking objects seen from passing trains…”

We will find these object – and some more- 130 years later.

Elegant yet sturdy Kilsheelan Bridge spans the river since 1820. The bridge has three large arches and one additional dry arch for pedestrian use and boat towing. The bridge was repaired and expanded in the late 1930-s.

The bridge in November 2019.

This is the place where the quay used to be.

Another object from the book is the famous ruin of Kilsheelan Old Church. To get there, we walk past the Butterfly Garden.  It is a lovely place to meditate and enjoy the sun. The Garden got a new gate last summer, beautifully decorated with the otter, swan, salmon and kingfisher wood carvings.

Kilsheelan means ‘the church of Síoláin’, an early saint who died in 608 or 610. All photographs of the ruin look the same, so I was glad when a black & white kitty came into the frame and added some ‘color’.

Kilsheelan Old Church ruin dates from the early-twelfth century. The west gable and the south wall are pre-Norman. 

The bell cote and this ogee headed window were added in the 15th century.

The east gable.

In the north wall, there is a carved Romanesque doorway – usually such doorways face West. You can read about a fine example of Romanesque doorway in my blog about The Saint Lachtain’s Church of Freshford.

The Church was probably abandoned in the 16th century, but the graveyard guarded by ancient yew trees is still in use. There are many 18th century tombstones and headstones.

The opposite bank is bursting with life: I have seen otters, kingfishers, water rails, dippers, and of course there is always a heron.

There is also a lot to see at the village end of the bridge.

First of all, the majestic Slievenamon, sometimes covered with snow. This beautiful mountain is always in view. On the right side of the image there is another interesting object – a Norman motte, an earth and timber fortification.

A grotto was built into the north side of the motte in 1948.

This is the latest addition to the village’s image.

The views from the bridge, downstream and upstream.

There are two mature birch trees between the motte and the river. Treecreepers can be seen there spiraling up the trunks, completely ignoring a human and her camera.

Former moat still isn’t entirely bare, looking lovely in autumn colours.

We walk upstream from the bridge to get to Castle Gurteen de la Poer before the dark.

The owner of the castle is Gottfried Helnwein , an Austrian-Irish artist. He resides there with his family.

My plan was to ask the residents of both Poulakerry and Gurteen if they ever walked, cycled or kayaked all 21 km of the Blueway. I didn’t have an opportunity to see the Poulakerry folks, but I asked my question to Cyril Helnwein – fine art photographer, motorcycle enthusiast and the resident of Gurteen de la Poer. Yes, they have done it many times as a family, he says. Both cycled and kayaked. They sure love ‘wind in their hair’. This Sunday Cyril is riding solo in The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride, and those of you who are passionate for bikes can visit Motowitch Collective website his wife Kojii Helnwein hosts since 2018.

We are moving closer to the end of our walk. Only 8 kilometres left, and I hope we make it to Clonmel in two weeks. Thank you for being my walking companions!

Here is a link to one of my blogs about Gottfried Helnwein’s work.

  Have a happy weekend!

Meanwhile in the streets

Gottfried Helnwein

Visiting Saltee Island was a pleasure, but it is the time to return and check out what we have missed while we were away. There are some street scenes and the events that took place in Clonmel and Waterford.

Clonmel Junction festival is the most eventful week in July, filled with live music, street performance, theatre and visual art. Installations of the works A Child for sale by a world renowned artist and Kilsheelan resident Gottfried Helnwein could be seen in various places in the streets of Clonmel.

In my blog post Cry for the Last Child, I wrote about Gottfried and his beautiful castle. His granddaughters Croí and Éala are regular models for his paintings.

Gottfried Helnwein

Lords of Strut  – very talented and very positive comedians from Cork gave a brilliant performance in Clonmel.

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‘Over styled and under dressed’, silly but charming  characters Strut brothers Sean and Seamus,  won the hearts of young and old with their hilarious show, acrobatics, satire and dance.

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The streets of Waterford were not always as deserted as you might think after looking at this picture.


Historical reenactment of 1916 Easter Rising gathered quite a crowd and took us a hundred years back.





There is a video of the Reenactment I found on Youtube – I even caught a glimpse of myself in it 🙂


All sorts of transportation in The Quay, side by side. I love this street, and I think that most of my Waterford pictures were taken there.


Irish United Nations Veteran meeting was held in Cathedral Square, just a minute walk from The Quay. Thank you for your service!

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Waterford Spraoi festival is one of a kind. Theatre, music, art, dance and much more is happening in the streets of Waterford on the first weekend of August. Here is my Spraoi 2015 post. I will share only a few pictures this time.

Spraoi orchestra string quartet.


Morbid&Sons, a brand new undertaker business. Way to go, guys!


Tango for all! Dance until dark!

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The sun is setting down and it looks like we are having a rainy day tomorrow 🙂


Melting gold of the setting sun flows behind the horizon. Darkness comes instead.


It is a perfect time to see the famous Spraoi monsters in the streets of Waterford City…


… and listen to the monster style music 🙂


Don’t be afraid of Spraoi monsters. They are a little bit crazy, but all they want is to have fun.  The only really scary and ugly thing in this world is hate.

Thank you for stopping by and for your interest in Ireland. In my next blog post, we will return to the Ocean and take a very unusual walk 🙂

inesemjphotography Have a wonderful weekend!

A Cry For The Last Child

In autumn 2008 I was feeling unwell and didn’t do any photography. That particular day I was limping across the bridge from the Plunkett train station in Waterford to catch a bus to the hospital, all soaked in drizzle and focused on my own misery. When I turned to The Quay I met the eyes of a giant girl looking at me from the Old Flour Mills over the river. I didn’t have any camera on me, neither was I planning to return to Waterford soon. I looked at the girl with regret and she looked at me with sorrow.

“I now see that sorrow, being a supreme emotion of which man is capable, is at once the type and test of all great art.”
De Profundis by Oscar WIlde

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Controversial, as some people say, artist Gottfried Helnwein was born in 1948 in war-torn Vienna, Austria. You can read his biography on his website ( all the links open in separate windows), and not only the biography. I have read his interviews and quotes, and also translated some from German, for good measure, and I advise you to do so to know all by yourself who he is, what he is trying to tell, and why.


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Many people get confused when they encounter unfamiliar aspects of art; they tend to interpret the meaning based on their own culture, and get confused even more. They might even call this confusion “shock”. My daughter and I went to The Body World 3 exhibition in Salt Lake City a few years ago. The generosity of the donors’ last gift was humbling. Was this exhibition shocking? No. It was educational. Shock is something that locks, not opens. When one says that something is shocking, they stop thinking and learning right there.


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My Father was a POW from 1941 to 1945. I only know from my Mother that he escaped, jumped in the sea and swam, but was reported by a local farmer and imprisoned again in a different camp.  He would sit on the sofa with me to watch a cheesy war-related love story on TV, but start crying after a few minutes; he just wasn’t able to bear the mention of the war. What terror had he gone through? You think it will never come back? You think that Fascism is a ghost of the past? Think again.


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“There are times when sorrow seems to me to be the only truth. Other things may be illusions of the eye or the appetite, made to blind the one and cloy the other, but out of sorrow have the worlds been built, and at the birth of a child or a star there is pain.”
 De Profundis by Oscar Wilde

Why children?

There are some blood-chilling statistics for you to think about.  In the wars during the 80s-90s more children were killed than soldiers.

School shootings. Did you hear about gun control in the 19th century? Yet from 1800 till 1900 there were only about 50 school shootings registered in the USA, mostly as revenge against the teachers, or accidental ; about 190 cases in 20th century and 145 cases  from 2000-2013. Statistics include also dormitory and drive-by shootings near the school buildings, and this information is only for the United States.  You can also check which goes for International Journal on Violence in Schools.

How about home violence, genocide, starvation, children sex tourism? How about the gruesome  discovery in Tuam, Ireland?  I can go on and on about all the children who came into this world to be betrayed.  Do you still consider the paintings of Gottfried Helnwein “shocking”?

“I feel there is a strong bond between artists and children and all other sacred fools”
Gottfried Helnwein in an interview with Yuchi Konno for Yaso, Japan

When I think about Gottfried Helnwein’s personality,  the only thing that truly matters to me is Family. He is a family man who raised his family well. Over fifteen years ago he bought a castle near where I live. Gurteen de la Poer castle. He resides there with his family, his children and grandkids. I wanted to know what their safe haven looks like; to see what the artist sees when he is with his own, away from the media and curious eyes. I contacted his son Cyril and asked if I could take some photos around the castle grounds.


Isn’t it beautiful? They even have some ducks there, one named Donald. If you read the biography you will know that it is symbolic.



I was invited inside. It is so delightful and homely there, with the afternoon sun beaming through the green vines covering the gothic windows. And you know what? I actually got to see all the images from that Waterford 2008 installation because Cyril kindly gave me a copy of the book The Last Child!

Having this peaceful home why would one bother crying warnings?

Any of us can make our home a castle: we can barricade ourselves from the world, protect our children from bad influences, home-teach, train in marital arts, life-coach them to be always on the safe side, you name it. And say you succeed when the rest of the world is falling apart. But let’s see it this way: do you want your child to be the last child on the planet?

inesemj_photographyHave a great weekend!