Thomastown

Jerpoint Abbey tour

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.

Clicking on this link you will find a detailed map of the abbey.

The graves around the abbey date from centuries ago to the present time.

We visited Jerpoint Abbey on a fine sunny day. I want to share a different mood – a poem written by Waterford-born journalist Samuel Carter Hall in 1823, and a series of photographs taken on a gray and foggy morning – all of this in the article written by an author and lecturer Robert O’Byrne.

You have visited one of the finest historical places in Co Kilkenny. Our day out isn’t over yet. It continues to the next blog post 🙂

Have a wonderful weekend!

A day out with The Fox Man

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 was Pat’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 Gibbons foxes

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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.

There are some links for those who want to hear the fox story: 2014    2015   2015  2017   2018

www.inesemjphotography Have a wonderful weekend!

Hello from the Foxes

Grainne the Fox

As I was driving through Thomastown last month, I thought I could stop by at Pat Gibbons’ house and get the latest updates. Those who don’t know Pat The Fox Man, can read his story here. This story has been copied and pasted so many times that I gave up being annoyed.

Fortunately, Pat was home, we spent a few minutes visiting and went to the fox pen. It was about 4 pm, one hour before the foxes are let inside for the evening, and I didn’t want to make them upset by dragging them out for a picture. Minnie was already whining, overreacting like the drama queen she is. Nothing is ever right for poor Minnie 🙂

Minnie the Fox

It took a lot of flattering ( ‘who’s a good girl?’) and a prolonged shoulder massage to get her to lift her ‘ cheerful’ face to me for a picture. Not that I am complaining here. Minnie is all soft and lovely, and it is only a pleasure petting her thick silky fur.

Minnie the Fox

Divas are allowed to have a bad day. When she is ready, you behold a star 🙂

Pat and his foxes

Two years ago Minnie got pregnant by Henry. Pat was not in condition to care for another fox, and a woman from Kilkenny adopted the kit. I asked Pat how was the little fox doing. Visibly saddened by the question Pat said that the kit has died. He recons it was something about food. Fox is neither a dog nor a cat. Pat gives them chicken legs and beef mince, but they also have ‘extras’ like snails, worms, wild berries.

Pat speaks about commitment and dedication one must have if they plan on keeping a rescued fox. Foxes are creatures of habit and they need their routine. Every day at 5 pm Pat brings them into the house, and it has to be 5pm, sharp.

Recently their friend, the old dog Blackie, was hit by car and died. Pat got a new pup, this time a snow white one, but the foxes don’t mind the color 🙂 The pup is very playful which is just fine with the foxes.

Pat Gibbons

Henry wasn’t in a good mood and run away from us to his enclosure. A couple of month ago he bit Pat’s hand. As Pat explains, he was picking him up and accidentally pressed on his bad paw. It was just a reaction, and Henry himself was probably terrified, as he is so gentle and sweet. Pat got blood poisoning and had to spent 6 days in the hospital. No hard feelings though. Henry got 60 stitches on his head and body when he was mauled by dogs, Pat explains. He must have very sore paw as his leg never straightened out. The dogs badly mauled his jaw and his left eye.

Henry the fox

Beautiful Grainne sits in her favorite corner. Each fox has their favorite place in the pen. She is about 12, and has a lot of silver in her fur, but she is still playful, and performs her usual tricks on demand.

Grainne the Fox

Grainne the Fox

Good girl!

Grainne the Fox

This is an old picture I took of Grainne and Minnie.

Pat and his foxes

Pat often takes them out to Thomastown. Foxes walk on a leash and stop to let people pet them. Meanwhile, Pat shares his thoughts on the wild life preservation. The foxes sometimes get invited to schools. Recently they got a shop opening ceremony invitation.

After leaving the fox pen we talk for another few minutes, and hiding behind the grass, I take some pictures of Pat’s gorgeous chickens.

rooster

rooster

hen

hen

hen

hen

hen

hen

The puppy cannot wait for me to start my car – it will be the highlight of his day 🙂 Thankfully, he doesn’t jump on the road.

I hope to see them all in December.

Pat Gibbons

My other blog posts about Pat and his foxes:

https://inesemjphotography.com/2015/08/04/all-creatures/

https://inesemjphotography.com/2014/04/06/kindness/

https://inesemjphotography.com/2017/01/27/pat-and-his-foxes/

 

www.inesemjphotography.com Have a fantastic weekend!

All creatures

pat_gibbons

For those who are reading the fox story for the first time – here are two links to my previous posts – Kindness and Fox News.

This spring, I got a word that Minnie, the six-years old vixen,  was pregnant. The only “suspect” was a two-year old male fox Henry, badly mauled by dogs in his yearly days and restored to health in Pat’s care. Being very busy at that time, I didn’t come over to greet the cub and take pictures. I feel sad about that – I don’t think I will have another chance.  Now the cub is gone. Pat has too much on his hands  to accommodate one more fox, and a lady from Kilkenny was happy to give the little foxy a family and a little kit for a sibling to  grow together. I only hope for an interview in near future.

I didn’t take pictures of Henry. He was in a bad mood, and we left him in his pen. I only can tell that he looks very grown up, and his injured eye is not as teary as it was last year.

I have got a new “fox picture”, this time with Minnie.

fox

Grainne and Minnie are full of character, and are visually different.

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pat_gibbons

fox1 170

fox1 189

Minnie is not angry in these photographs, or upset in any way.  She is just being herself, playing and watching if your attention is still on her 🙂  As you know from my previous post, Minnie doesn’t like walking and prefers being carried and cuddled, and talked to all the time. I think I performed all these tasks very well, and she expected me to carry on, but Patsy thought different and Minnie had to walk to the den on her own feet.

pat_gibbons

pat_gibbons

 

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After the photo session, we all went to the garden. The weather improved, a lovely change.  All the creatures of the house joined us, and I was amazed with their friendliness and good humor: even a huge rooster didn’t mind to be photographed. Cats, chickens, dog Blackie  –  all of them relaxed and at ease with the strangers.

chicken

rooster

chicken

grumpy_chicken

dog

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And of course we talked about foxes, how important they are to the environment. Their diet consists mostly of rats and mice; if they steal a chicken it only means that the chickens were not locked properly. Wild fox killed his ducks yet Pat doesn’t blame the fox but the hole in the fencing. While opposing the fox hunting, Pat doesn’t encourage people to take a fox cub home if it has been found alone. The cub is not abandoned. Foxes belong to the wild and they will survive in the wild. Pat wishes people would just leave them alone.

We were invited for a cup of tea. Pat’s brother showed us a photograph of their parents. Calm, intelligent, beautiful faces. They have raised their eleven children well.

As I have learned, Pat is famous not only because of his foxes. While attending a hurling game, he was spotted and taken a picture of for Kilkenny People newspaper. What has drawn the photographer’s attention? A hat. Pat’s sister is knitting these hats for the match goers, in county colors. Amber and black – Kilkenny colors. I asked Pat if he had another hat for a photograph, and he brought me a Red and White, a Cork one… Didn’t feel comfortable in it… 😉  I should have replaced the colors in Photoshop… 😉

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On our way back home we took a few pictures in Thomastown.

thomastown

thomastown

A French tourism-oriented website recently posted a story about Pat and his foxes, and asked if they could use my photographs. I am delighted that more people will learn about this wonderful man and his beloved pets. They are already known in England, Scotland, and New Zealand, thanks to Grainne who is kind of a movie star, since she has several film and tourism commercial credits.

I hope you enjoyed the day with Pat Gibbons, and will visit with him in person on your next trip to Ireland.

Have a great week!

Thomastown FOX NEWS

Pat Gibbons foxes

It is my second blog post about Patsy Gibbons and his foxes. In early April, almost 4 months ago, I went live with a blog post KINDNESS, amazed with my own boldness, and having a very little knowledge about blogging rules and ethics. Still learning.

That time Pat invited us to come again in summer when the foxes look gorgeous on the green meadow. Two weeks ago a friend of mine arranged a visit, but when he rang to confirm it Pat told him that he is in the hospital waiting for admission. They kept him in from Monday to Thursday; Pat’s brother fed the foxes, but they had to stay in their pen all this time, and they also missed their bath – a day when they all walk to the pond to get bathed. Needless to say, the foxes were upset, Pat wasn’t feeling well either, so this visit was short, and I left sad and worried .

Pat Gibbons foxes

Pat Gibbons foxes

Pat Gibbons foxes

This is Gráinne. She is an easy going, clever and curious lady, devoted to her master. Back in 2007 Pat’s brother-in-law Eugene was working in a storeroom and getting the cardboard boxes ready for shredding.  To his surprise he found a fox cub inside a box, malnourished, almost dead: it could be there some 10 days without food or water. Eugene brought the cub to Pat who had helped the troubled creatures before. It is how the story started. Pat consulted with a local vet, and the cub was estimated as a 5-7 weeks old, and weighed 1 pound. It was not easy to nurse the little miracle back to life and health, but they did it! The cub got a lovely name: Gráinne.

Pat Gibbons foxes

Pat Gibbons foxes

Pat Gibbons foxes

Average life span of a wild fox is 2-3 years although a fox can live 10 years. Gráinne is in her senior age, but you would never guess it. She looks very healthy and happy on her rescuer’s shoulders; she has had a long life of mutual love, adventures and little pleasures.  Gráinne run away twice, but was back for dinner the same day. How did she run away? She just snapped the leather leash when at walk. That easy, so if she wanted she could run away any time.

Pat Gibbons foxes

This is Minnie. Minnie is a bit of a drama queen. When we came into the pen, she was whimpering and howling, and putting on these funny faces, so that she had to be petted and rubbed and hugged all the way. Minnie is 5 years old. A woman from next village brought her to Pat when she was a month-old cub.

Pat Gibbons foxes

This is Henry, he is named after Kilkenny hurler Henry Shefflin. A man  brought him to Pat a year ago after his dogs attacked and mauled him. Pat thought he would have to put him down, so bad he was. His ligaments were cut, his head was severe injured, especially his bottom jaw and left eye. Pat nursed him back to health, but it took a while. Henry is a gentle and affectionate creature. Pat calls his female foxes “girls”, but Henry he calls “son”.

Pat Gibbons foxes

The foxes have a clean den with three separate compartments for privacy. Every fox has their favorite place on the shelves. In the evening they are brought into the cottage ( they are house-trained) along with Pat’s two dogs, and enjoy the time together watching TV or listening to Pat playing his harmonica. The foxes and the dogs are cuddling together, and actually the foxes feel more at ease when they go for a walk together with the dogs. Sometimes they get a snack – a biscuit or a wine gum. They adore the wine gums.

Pat Gibbons foxes

“You all right, son?” Patsy would ask and hug his little boy.

Pat Gibbons foxes

Henry’s left eye is still sore and probably will never get better. He is enjoying a few minutes in the sun and then Pat takes him back to the pen. Now it is the girls’ turn to go outside but Minnie has her drama moment 🙂

Pat Gibbons foxes

Minnie actually needs some extra exercises for her good, but she stalls and refuses to walk.

Pat Gibbons foxes

In the middle of this drama a car stops and people start taking pictures of Pat. It happens on a regular basic but Pat doesn’t like it. He would rather they stop, get out of their car, have a small talk and then take the pictures.

Pat Gibbons foxes

Minnie gets her way.

Pat Gibbons foxes

Pat Gibbons foxes

Pat is getting his girls ready for the portrait:)

Pat Gibbons foxes

Look at Minnie’s face. What a drama! 🙂

Pat Gibbons foxes

Pat has a kind heart and angelic patience. Minnie is getting all his attention:)

Pat Gibbons foxes

Pat Gibbons foxes

Pat Gibbons foxes

Pat Gibbons foxes

Pat Gibbons foxes

We had a good chat, but look at Minnie 🙂 Her facial expression speaks for itself. Pat says that he should better take the foxes back to their pen.

I wish them many happy years together.

PS  I have found an article which says that a spokeswoman with Wildlife Rehabilitation Ireland has criticised the media for writing about Pat Gibbons and his foxes thus promoting a dangerous and irresponsible attitude towards the wild animals.  What do you think about it?

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Photography tip of the day: Karl Taylor’s  10 minutes video.

inese_mj_photographyHave a great weekend!