What is the best way to start all over again after a long absence? My bet is on foxes.
I have been to Thomastown a couple of times after the lockdown. Pat is busy in summer helping neighbors, looking after his chickens and ducks and his vegetable garden. We just share our pictures and news, talk about little Gorta and his latest adventures. Then a neighbor calls in and it is time to leave.
Henry, the 9 years old male fox, died this spring. He could live another couple of years, but the injuries he sustained as a cub took their toll. Henry had 176 stitches on his body and has been in pain all his life. Now all three foxes are united somewhere in the Universe where the rainbow bridges span over the land of milk and honey.
Little Gorta is not that little any more. This playful one year old fox loves cuddles and snacks and lives a relaxed life of a spoiled daddy’s boy and a video star. He is house trained and has never spent a night in the shed. Here is a link to my first post about Gorta.
As you see, his color has changed. Baby foxes have black fur when they are born. It turns grey after a month and sand-colored for another 2-3 months. Now Gorta is as red as any other grown up red fox.
One day we take Gorta to the field. He loves snail hunting.
For his own safety, Gorta isn’t allowed to run free outdoors, but as he doesn’t know any better, the chain doesn’t seem to be bothering him.
He loves a belly rub and a game “I will catch your tail” 😉 He understands the words, and is all smiles and excitement.
Life is going on.
Thank you for being so kind and understanding, my friends.
First the sad news. Sweet Minnie the fox followed her sister Grainne to the Rainbow Bridge at the age of eleven. Last time I saw her she was weaker than usual. She died in her sleep like Grainne. Both had a long and happy life.
Run free in heaven, you beautiful girls!
These are links to some of my blog posts about the Fox Man Pat Gibbons from County Kilkenny and his foxes:
Pat The Fox Man and I set off on our historical tour. Pat has never been in Jerpoint Abbey before, and it was fantastic that he had got a tour guide to himself. I and my camera were trailing behind them.
In the pictures: Pat Gibbons and his tour guide Margaret Brophy. I was delighted that Pat had such a knowledgeable guide. Their conversation went beyond the history of the abbey to the history of the whole parish.
Originally a Benedictine monastery built in 1160, Jerpoint Abbey was affiliated to the Cistercian Order in 1180. Scholars believe that Domnall I, the king of Ossory who died in 1176, was possibly the founder of the monastery. This is supported by a charter of King John to Jerpoint Abbey confirming the lands granted by Domnall. The grant happened before Strongbow arrived in Leinster in 1170.
The restoration works are on in the abbey. Some areas are fenced and the north aisle is closed.
You can see the scaffolding in the north isle, behind the arcade of pointed arches supported by large piers. There are six arches, with different design on each pier. Margaret and Pat are walking to the Romanesque west nave – the lay brothers’ choir. It is the place where the lay brothers gathered to attend Mass. The nave originally had an arcaded aisle on both sides. There is a special room in the museum where all the broken pieces of masonry – particularly the parts of arches and piers – are stored and can be viewed by the visitors.
The west nave window comprises of three round-headed lights.
The Monk’s choir is the east part of the nave.
This is what the windows look like in the morning light from the main road.
The crossing tower above the intersection of the chancel, nave and transept was added in the 15th century. Towers were not allowed by the Order’s authority at the time the monastery was built. The rib vaulting of the tower’s ceiling is well preserved. The pointed arches open to the nave, chancel and both transepts. Each transept has two chapels on the east side.
There are a tomb and funeral slabs in the crossing.
I went to the north transept to check out the chapels. And this is what I found.
Of course I stuck there for a long time watching the mama swallow and her “yellow-lipped” babies.
There is something else quite amazing in the chapels – beautifully carved tomb weepers decorating the mensa-tomb chests. In the picture below you see six weepers – the apostles who can be recognized by the attributes related to the manner of their martyrdom. From the left: St John with a chalice; St Thomas with a lance; St Simon with a saw; St Bartholomew with skin – it is believed he was flayed alive; St Paul holding a sword, and St Matthew an axe. The carvings were made by the sculptor Rory O’Tunney of Callan.
These weepers are St Catherine of Alexandria with a wheel, St Michael the Archangel in the centre, and St Margaret of Antioch wearing a ring broach and stomping on a dragon’s head.
I left the chapels and went to the presbytery to admire the ancient wall paintings.
In the image below, you see three tomb niches in the wall under the painted fragment. It is where two tomb effigies from the next picture were originally placed.
The tomb effigy in background represents Felix O’Dulany, the first Abbot of Jerpoint praised for his ‘zeal, charity and prudence’. The other effigy (foreground) possibly represents Donal O’Fogarty, another bishop of the Diocese of Ossory.
Bishop O’Dulany died in 1202. They say ‘many miracles were wrought by him’. The face of the effigy is badly worn: it was believed that pilgrims touching the face would be cured of their illnesses.
This is a 15-16th century wall painting after the restoration works. You can see the fragments of two shields with the scallop shells and wild boars – four shells and possibly four boars. Scallop shells represent St James and are the symbol of pilgrimage. I am not sure about the boars. Usually they represent ferocity and power. I should have listened to Margaret’s explanation instead of looking for birds 🙂
The abbey is famous for its large number of stone carvings untypical for a Cistercian monastery. You will find amusing figures of animals and fantastic creatures, knights, damsels, monks and smiling bishops carved on the piers. There are so many carvings that when you come again you will find something new you haven’t seen before.
The west part of the cloister arcade is reconstructed. You will find many lay and religious carvings there, and learn about the armor and clothing worn at the times.
The famous ‘man with the stomach ache’.
View of the tower from the west side of the cloister arcade.
The south part of the cloister arcade also survive.
This part of the arcade would support the roof over the buildings like refectory (dining room) and calefactory (warming house) which are long gone.
As you see in the picture, there is an upper floor that can be reached from the south transept. It is where the monks’ dormitory was located. I want to return to the abbey next year, so I leave the upper floor for my future blog post.
Beautiful Gothic east window dates from the 14 century. You can see the outer halves of two old Romanesque windows – originally a triple window.
I promised Pat Gibbons, The Fox Man, to take him to the Jerpoint Abbey some day. Pat lives outside Thomastown, five minute drive from the abbey, but he has never been there before. It took me a while, but I finally came over to pick him up a couple of weeks ago. It is when I learned that beautiful Gráinne, the fox perching on Pat’s shoulder, has died in her sleep, apparently of old age. Gráinne was twelve – it is how long the domesticated foxes can live. In the wild, however, they live 1-5 years.
Gráinne wasPat’s first fox. Pat’s brother-in-law found her dying inside a cardboard box, weighing just a pound. Since that day, Gráinne has had an amazing life – from the point of view of both a fox, and a human 🙂 She was a happy fox, never short of fruitcakes and vine gums 🙂 She starred in 12 movies!
I asked Pat if there was a grave, on which he replied that he took her from the Nature, and returned her back to the Nature. There was an old tree with a big hole under the roots, he said, so he put Gráinne’s body in that hole.
Run free, beautiful!
Pat went to the pen to get Henry. Henry’s left eye never recovered and seems blind.
We took a few pictures.
Now it is Minnie’s turn to pose for a picture. Sweet old Minnie. She is ten this year.
Pat and his brother decided that we take a family picture of Minnie and their new dog.
This was the best we could get. All the dog wanted to do was either sniff Minnie’s butt or run to the road to watch my car in case it starts moving.
I hope to see you when I come again, Minnie.
The day continues. In my next blog post, we will visit some historical places with Pat The Fox Man.
I don’t know where all these years have gone, but they have been wondrous. 233 posts, at least 2000 photographs… Happy Blogoversary to me! 🙂
The beginning was shocking. I got the WAMP and wrote a bunch of articles related to the family photography since this blog was meant to be a portfolio. I launched the blog in February, but to my horror, it got a close attention from various adult websites, and I had to delete all my articles and children photographs.
My Blogger Friends, I would quit right there if it wasn’t for your support.
I started from scratch in March.
Please, click on the photos and it will open the pages.
I wrote about myself, shared my memories and adventures. I also wrote about my friends. That year I started my annual Saltee Islands series.
I went to many street festivals, like the Durrow Scarecrow festival.
I also started Pat Gibbons and his Foxes series.
It was a great year, I blogged twice a week.
I started getting more feedback. It was wonderful. People asked questions, commissioned photographs. That year I wrote about Clonmel photographer William Despard Hemphill, and what a rewarding surprise it was to get this email:
Just a quick Thank you for your excellent blog on Clonmel and William Hemphill. I am his great great grandson and my dad has all his books and helped produce the book about his pics. His mum lived in Oakville, Dr Hemphill’s house in Clonmel and I went there once before it was demolished and the supermarket car park built. When I left school (1976) I cycled round the area taking pictures also based on Dr Hemphills…
…Thanks again for the blog. I’ll be showing it to my dad (93 on Tuesday) and he will be thrilled. Born in Carick-On-Suir he has incredible recall of the area, and your pics will bring them back again.
That year I also wrote about my travels, and as always, about birds and animals.
I didn’t forget to visit Pat and his foxes.
I did some street photography. This is Cian Finn.
He sings about life, and I wholeheartedly agree with him.
I also started Waterford Walls series that summer. In October I went to Donegal to attend Elena Shumilova’s first international workshop, and the trip resulted in four blog posts.
That year I started Anne Valley series and wrote three blog posts. Since then I regularly visit the trail.
I started Clonegam series.
I wrote about myself, and shared my opinions 🙂
I met two journeymen, and after a month, got a feedback from a fellow blogger on their further travels in Ireland.
The blog posts about Pat and his foxes were the most popular. Many websites around the world translated the story into different languages, and some of them actually asked permission. There were also some who removed my logo 🙂 It doesn’t matter to me, because the sole purpose of my blog was to spread a word. I was so delighted when my friend told me that Bored Panda website used my pictures along with the story from the Irish Examiner :). Anyway, I am happy that Pat and his foxes are getting so much attention.
I continued with the street festivals-related posts: Waterford Walls, Harvest Festival, St Patrick’s Parade, Spraoi.
I didn’t blog much last year.
I started, and will continue Follow The Vikings series, and Kerry series.
Puffins and foxes surely took all the limelight, as always 🙂 Amazing Poet RummagerRose Perez wrote a charming haiku inspired by the tiny puffin
Another lovely feedback was received last year in response to my post The Last Butler of Curraghmore.
… I am Basil Croeser’s daughter, living in Montreal, Canada. My brother… sent the link to your blog post entitled The Last Butler of Curraghmore and I just wanted to thank you so much for your lovely words and photos.
…They were really chuffed and surprised and I think it made their week!…
Thanks again and best regards,
What you won’t find in my blog:
– ANY sort of radicalism and also lies, defamation, hate, envy
What I want to ask:
– Please, link your Gravatar picture to your current page so that every blogger could easily visit your blog ♥
– Use Calendar and Archives widgets so that your visitors could access your earlier blog posts. You deserve to be heard.
I don’t know how long I will blog, but I think that all my efforts throughout these five years were worth it 🙂
Thank you so much for all the inspiration and support! ♥