Kilfane Church

The day out with Pat the Fox Man continues.

After leaving Jerpoint Abbey, Pat asked me if I ever been to Kilfane Church. I haven’t, so off we went.

Medieval parish church of Kilfane, now in ruins, is located on the other side of Thomastown, some 15 minutes drive from Jerpoint Abbey. The adjoining structure is a presbytery – a stone house where the parish priests resided in the upper floors.

The graveyard alone deserves a separate blog post.

Good timing! Inside the church we met a very knowledgeable man who makes a living doing what he loves – an archaeologist, author and photographer Chris Corlett. Chris kindly answered my questions, and as we walked around the church he pointed out many things I would have overlooked. I left the men to chat and went to take some pictures for this blog post.

The biggest (literally) attraction of the ruins is an eight feet tall effigy of a knight in full armor made from a slab of limestone. The knight wears a mail hood and body armor, a surcoat, and a sword on a sword belt. He also wears spurs which means he had fought on the horseback.

The coat of arms on the knight’s shield reveals his identity. It is the Cantwell family coat of arms: annulets and a canton ermine.

The Cantwells were a Norman family, originally from Suffolk. They came to Ireland in the end of the 12th century and were made Lords of Kilfane for their loyal service to Theobald Walter, the first Chief Butler of Ireland. It is believed that the effigy depicts Thomas Cantwell who died in the 1320-s.

Cantwell Fada – The Long Man – is the largest effigy of its kind in Britain and Ireland.

In contrast to the smiling knights and bishops of Jerpoint Abbey, Thomas Cantwell’s carved face looks gloomy and unhappy. The story goes that the reason of his unhappiness and death was his marriage to Beatrice Donati whom he met while on crusade. Beatrice soon bored of her life with Cantwell and befriended the ‘Kilkenny witch’ Alice Kyteler. Both were arrested. Beatrice was held in Kilkenny dungeon but escaped and hid for five month in a monastery. Her husband eventually captured her and killed her accomplice, but Beatrice managed to fatally stab him in the heart with a gold bodkin.

When the church was taken over by the Protestants, the effigy was buried, but later was dug up again. There are four copies of it made in 1852.

The hole in the wall is actually a door to the ground floor room of the presbytery – a sacristy, where the vestments and articles of sacred rituals were kept.

The sacristy.

The stairs go up to the priests’ residency. At the top of the stairs there is a trap door. A hall is on the right.

The trap door.

A toilet.

The floors are gone but you can see where they used to be.

I couldn’t resist climbing the narrow stairs.

One floor up.

Another floor.

I keep climbing.

Finally on the top!

I had to stick my camera out of the narrow window to take this picture.

Back on the ground again. There is so much to see – it is simply amazing.

The bell tower has its own staircase, but it is damaged and too narrow anyway.

Both walls feature original ogee headed doorways.

Ogee arches were introduced to European cities from the Middle East. They were a popular feature of English Gothic architecture in the 13th century when Kilfane church was built.

Stone seats for the priest and his assistants in the south wall – sedilia.

Sedilia still have some ancient red paint residue on the carvings.

Another amazing find is the fragments of the consecration crosses on the church walls.

A new constructed church had to be consecrated, or made into a sacred place of worship. The Bishop would bless the building and anoint it making the sign of the cross with his thumb dipped in consecrated oil. Typically, twelve such crosses were created on the inside walls, and twelve more outside on door frames and corners. Each of these crosses would have been incised and painted afterwards.

You can see two incised circles and a cross incised and painted within the inner circle.

In the end of the 17th century, the church was taken over by the Protestants and the consecration crosses were concealed by plastering over them. When a new church was built just across the road (c. 1825), the roof was taken off the old church.

The plaster is falling off, thus revealing the old consecration crosses. Chris Corlett is sure about another few places where the crosses would have been placed, but you can read about everything in his own publications.

One last look at the church and the Long Man.

I ate in The Long Man pub once … It is ‘closed for renovations’ these days. I just drove over there to take this picture.

Thank you for joining us on this day out, dear readers! County Kilkenny is full of history, and I hope to write more about it in the future.

Have a wonderful weekend!


Visiting Kilkenny Castle

Kilkenny Castle

Kilkenny Castle is a popular tourist destination and place worth to visit, especially since photography is allowed.

The history of Kilkenny Castle dates back to the 12th century. As my previous post was dedicated to the Vikings, let’s start from there.

First recorded raid by Norwegian Vikings happened in 795. Among the attacked monasteries was the one on the Skeillig Michael Island – the star location of The Last Jedi movie, and home for a Puffin colony. In 902 Irish kings joined forces to expel the Vikings from Ireland but it didn’t happen until the 12th century when they took control over the Viking towns and wisely decided to let them flourish as centres of international trade. The descendants of Vikings are last mentioned in the Irish historic records in 1311.

The Kings had disputes between them. In 1167, notorious King of Leinster Dermot MacMurrough was deprived of his kingdom by the High King of Ireland Rory O’Connor and fled to France. To recover his kingdom he gained the military support of the Earl Richard de Clare, known as “Strongbow” who agreed to lead his army to Ireland, took control over the East coast, and in exchange for his aid married MacMurrough’s daughter Aoife in August 1170, the day after the capture of Waterford.

In 1172, Strongbow built a wooden tower overlooking the River Nore. It is when the history of Kilkenny Castle begins.

Twenty years later, his son-in-law William Marshal erected the four towered stone castle on the site, of which three towers still remain.

I just have to tell a few words about this remarkable man. A younger son of a minor nobleman, William had to make his own way in life. He began his training as a knight at the age of twelve, and was knighted eight years later. He married Aoife and Strongbow’s only daughter Isabel when she was 18 and he was over 40, and their marriage was long and happy. Thanks to the marriage, he inherited vast amount of land in Wales and Ireland and became one of the richest and most powerful men. William had served five kings as a military advisor praised for his wisdom and honesty, survived many battles and died a Knight’s Templar, aged 72. Archbishop of Canterbury called him the greatest knight who had ever lived.

In 1317, the de Clare family sold Kilkenny Castle to Hugh Despenser who unfortunately got himself hanged, drawn and quartered. In 1391, the castle was seized by Richard II and sold to the Butler family who occupied the castle from 1391 until 1935. After the Butlers sold all the furnishing in 1935, the castle began to fall into disrepair. In 1967, James Arthur Butler, 6th Marquess of Ormonde, sold the castle to the city of Kilkenny for 50 pounds.  At the key handover ceremony, young Mick Jagger made appearance dressed in some sort of cape. There is a photograph of him and a young lady, both holding paper plates with snacks.

Here you can read about the development of the castle under the Butler family.

I am sharing a few photographs to showcase amazing restoration work done to bring the castle to life again.

The Dining room.

Kilkenny Castle

The Withdrawing room. The ladies withdrew from the Dining room leaving the men to enjoy their port and cigars.

Kilkenny Castle

The Library.

Kilkenny Castle

The Tapestry room.

Kilkenny Castle

Blue bedroom.

Kilkenny Castle

This remarkable item is much bigger than the modern ones. It dates from 1904 and is original to the castle.

Kilkenny Castle

The Victorian Nursery. This room had remained unopened to the public since used by the Butler family in the 1950s, until 2014.

Kilkenny Castle

Looks creepy to me 🙂

Kilkenny Castle

I don’t know what is the name of this room, but I love the aquamarine furniture and wallpaper.

Kilkenny Castle

Couldn’t miss taking a bird view picture of the Castle back yard with St Canice’s Cathedral and Black Abbey in background.

Kilkenny Castle

The Moorish Staircase, on the way to the Picture Gallery.

Kilkenny Castle

And this is the magnificent Picture Gallery built in the early 19th century.

Initially the gallery was built with flat roof that started leaking shortly after its completion. The new roof was criticized for its Byzantine looks, but I don’t see any problem with that 🙂

Kilkenny Castle

Original picture collection consisted of almost 200 ancestral and royal paintings and pastoral landscapes. I didn’t take photographs of the paintings because they were artificially lit and the light reflected from the surface creating spots. I wonder if such light can be damaging.

In the gallery there are some pieces of furniture, tapestry and a beautiful marble fireplace.

Kilkenny Castle

All the information about the ticket prices and hours you can find on the Kilkenny Castle website that will be timely updated, unlike this post 🙂

And this is what Kilkenny Castle looks from the other side of the lawn.

Kilkenny Castle

I hope you enjoyed the excursion.

PS The images of the castle interior used in this post are not for sale. Have a wonderful weekend!


Kilkenny Castle

The opening picture was taken from Kilkenny Castle window this summer. Its extensive front lawn stretches for about half a mile and blends into the park. I have been there numerous times. Years ago you would see dozens of grey squirrels over there, but someone set traps and killed 75 squirrels just before my other pictures from this blog were taken. On that particular trip I only saw one squirrel munching on peanuts deeper in the park.

I took these pictures on two foggy days in January and November 2010. In January I went to see the Angels – Beacons of Hope exhibition created and coordinated by Dublin based artist Nollaig Fahy, and in November I went there frozen with grief after my friend’s funeral, all hope gone.

You probably won’t find much information about these two events in the internet any more, so I decided to write a few words about the Angels. We need hope in 2017 as we did in 2010.

Kilkenny Castle

Kilkenny Castle

Kilkenny Castle

Kilkenny Castle

More than fifty colorful, eight foot tall angels lined the castle courtyard to bring the message of hope before they continued their nationwide tour.

Kilkenny Castle

Angels - Beacons of hope

Angels - Beacons of hope

Made from a single mould they had been created to be a blank canvas. Invitations had been sent to a variety of artists, sport stars and other celebrities, some schools and prisons to paint an angel. For the general public the street angels were available so that people could leave a signature or a thumb imprint.

Angels - Beacons of hope

One of the angels in the picture below, the one with the Jedward brothers painted on it, was designed and painted by a freelance artist Sara Sheridan. She and her team painted some of the ‘big name’s’ angels.

Kilkenny Castle

One of my favorites, the Rose of Hope angel was designed and painted by Irish fashion designer Lisa Fitzpatrick.

Kilkenny Castle

Some other names that could be mentioned are Uma Thurman, The Edge, Irish novelist Neil Jordan, actors Brendan Gleeson, Colin Farrell and Cillian Murphy, comedian Des Bishop, broadcaster Ryan Tubridy, designer Budd Holden, professional golfer Padraig Harrington, rugby player Brian O’Driscoll and his colleague from Australia Rocky Elsom.

Padraig Harrington’s angel.

Kilkenny Castle

This is a short video where Nollaig Fahy tells the story about the angel painted in a woman prison.



After they had toured around Ireland, the angels returned to Dublin for auction. I have read that The Hope Springs Eternal angel designed and painted by Irish impressionist Gerard Byrne was purchased by Chris de Burgh and went to Glencree Centre for Reconciliation in Co Wicklow. I don’t know if all the angels were sold, and where the other angels are now. They are somewhere in the world anyway.

Artist Nollaig Fahy says in his video:

I really would like to change the national conversation from one of doom and gloom to one of hope.

Kilkenny Castle

“Paint your angel”, make the world brighter. Hope v Gloom –  I put my bet on hope.

inesemjphotography Have a wonderful week!


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
A blaa /blæ/ is a doughy, white bread bun (roll) speciality; particularly associated with Waterford, Ireland... 12,000 blaas are sold each day.  
There are four bakeries making blaas, two of them in Waterford city – Hickey’s Bakery, and M & D Bakery. The Waterford blaa has been around three hundred years, since the Huguenot settlers introduced this simple bread to the locals. Never cut a blaa with a knife! It has to be torn apart by hand and eaten with butter or any filling of your choice, like rashers or chicken filet.
A student who preferred to stay anonymous, kindly gave me permission to take a picture of his blaa and rashers.
Blaa has a very special place in the heart of  Waterford people.
The graffiti in my opening photograph is not a blaa advertisement though. The other side of the river Suir in Waterford – Ferrybank – mostly belongs to County Kilkenny, and traditionally, some Kilkenny people risking their lives leave teasing graffiti on The Flour Mills or on the high vertical cliff behind the railway station to annoy  Waterford folks.
The Flour Mills, as they look in my photograph from 2015, don’t exist anymore. This summer the grain silos were taken down first, and the derelict buildings followed.

There are a few more photographs of the Mills taken in November 2015.

waterford mills

waterford mills

waterford mills

waterford mills

waterford mills

Tall Ship Festival 2005. Russian four-masted barque Kruzenshtern with the Flour Mills in background. Happy days.


The Mills were always there, ruining pictures 🙂

tall ships 2005


The nine storey building constructed in 1905 and listed in the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage as ‘an imposing building of national importance’, has been preserved.


The rest of the mill will have to go.


There is another ghost on the other side of the river in Waterford City –  the Ferrybank Shopping Centre on Kilkenny/Waterford border, that was completed in 2008 and has never opened. Its cost is € 100M.


And one more ghost is hidden behind the Joe Caslin’s mental health artwork – abandoned Ard RĂ­ hotel.

waterford walls

Ta-da! This picture was taken in 2005 with Ard RĂ­ already abandoned five years prior.

tall ships 2005

But the ghosts are not easy to rid off. Especially in the internet. There still is a booking page for Ard Rí! 🙂

Hope this beautiful Sumac that grows in Ferrybank brightens the story of this less fortunate suburb of Waterford city.

And here is my latest picture of Ferrybank on the other side of the river Suir – with the Supermoon shining through the clouds 🙂 I didn’t have enough enthusiasm to camp by the river and wait for the clouds to clear away.


Thank you for walking around Ferrybank with me! I link this post to Milford Street , Equinoxio  and Geezer 94 – the blogs that are often showcasing history and old buildings. Please visit and follow.

inesemjphotographyHave a wonderful weekend!

Sheela na gig

three castles

Shortly before my holidays I had some business to attend in Kilkenny, and used this as an opportunity for a detour through the countryside. I took the Freshford Road and turned right to Three Castles. This is a beautiful road with some very nice spots for photography. Because my friend used to live there, it is a ‘memory lane’ to me as well. The first picture was taken from Martin Campion pub doors.

According to the Lonely Planet, there is 0 things to do in Three Castles, Ireland. I object to that. There is a castle, church and graveyard, and some day I will put up a post about them. This time I only took one picture of the castle, from the road – I think it looks nice in b&w.

three castles

Also, there is a beautiful limestone bridge, dated 1790. I walked a little bit further and found a roadkill – a huge pine marten. I was very sad for the unfortunate animal. Wildlife in Ireland is scarce. I took a picture but didn’t feel like posting, because the carcass was badly damaged.

threecastles bridge

After driving through Three Castles, I turned to Ballyragget. The village of Ballyragget was named after le Raggeds who had lands here in the 13th century. This castle was built in 1495 and belonged to the Mountgarret Butlers who lived here until 1788. Richard Henry Piers Butler, 17th Viscount Mountgarret, died in 2004. He served in Irish Guards – well, some of the Mountgarrets were in opposition to the crown in the 17th century and distinguished themselves by defense of Ballyregget castle.

There is no access to the castle grounds, so I just took two pictures from the road.



Oh, how could I forget! I bought a 99 in Ballyragget!  If you happen to drive through Ballyragget, buy one in the local store –  they are the best in the world.

After enjoying my 99, I left Ballyragget and turned to Lisdowney, a tiny village on the border with Co Laois [ lee-sh]. I have fond memories about the place and the church where I once helped with the Christmas music rehearsal. Some day I will share more pictures and stories.

These pictures of the countryside don’t need much comments.




Irish graveyards are special. If you are interested, you might check the link – a friend of mine takes part in the project Historic Graves. This is St Bridget’s, Aharney,  graveyard.


You probably wonder, why this title, and where is Sheela? Now we are getting there! 🙂 My plan was to drive to Cullahill and take a hike through the forest. When I approached the village, I took this picture of the Cullahill castle ruin. I zoomed it to see what kind of bird was sitting on the electrical wire, and then I noticed something interesting on the castle wall!


A Sheela! There was a Sheela na gig on the castle wall! I didn’t have a longer lens – you can have a closer look if you open the link.

There are a few theories why people placed the sheelas on the churches and castles – I guess they had some benefits from doing that. It is amazing how this one survived the centuries and the destruction. They say there are 101 sheelas found in Ireland, but most of them in museums.


I was so delighted about the sheela, and so proud that I got the picture.

This is the Northern wall of the castle, badly damaged by cannons of Cromwellian forces in the 17th century. The hill of Callahill – where I was heading – is hidden right behind the castle.


Across the road from the castle there is a ruin of a chapel.


My hike was over before it even started. I was driving that extremely narrow road to the hilltop, mortified with the thought that someone might drive downhill and knock me off the road to my death. When I reached a parking spot, I quickly turned around and drove back even more horrified, because this time the abyss was on my side of the road. There was one car parked, and fortunately no one else felt like hiking that afternoon. I even didn’t take any pictures of the hill.

On my way back  I took a picture of this property near Freshford. It is for sale. Thatched roof looks so cute.


The sky finally cleared and  I drove home.


Thank you for taking the trip with me!

inesemjphotographyHave a wonderful weekend!