Waterford Greenway

Waterford Greenway: Ballyvoyle Tunnel

A quarter of a mile long Durrow ( Ballyvoyle) Tunnel is one of the most iconic features of the Greenway. It looks as perfect as the day it was built in 1878. I can only imagine how exciting it was to travel through the tunnel by train, at a slow speed, with the eerie sound echoing off the tunnel walls.

Once a habitat of bats, the tunnel is a busy place these days.

Bike hire

I love this tricycle. It looks very comfortable, especially if you want to stop and take a picture.

Someone has a sense of humor. Notice how far is the other end of the tunnel.

Waterford Greenway

It seems like the walls have openings, but in fact these are only wall niches with lights.

Waterford Greenway

The tunnel is lined with bricks.

Waterford Greenway

Not too successful photograph of some stalagmites growing in the niche.

Durrow tunnel

Just a few years ago this area was overgrown and flooded in some places.

An assortment of ferns and moss decorates the stone wall. Further down the path the wild plants are getting ready for spring ( photographs were taken in February)

double_exposure

double_exposure

We are approaching Ballyvoyle viaduct – the last one. There are three viaducts and eleven bridges on the railway. Ballyvoyle viaduct was constructed in 1878, blown up in 1922, and after a second thought rebuilt in 1924. In this blog you can find some bits of history of the viaduct.

The viaduct spans River Dalligan, and the barriers are almost non-existent, if you ask me 😉

Waterford Greenway

Plenty to see from here.

I stepped off the path to take a picture of a white bench that stands at a distance from the farm house. In the photograph below you see a lovely view from the bench.

Clonea Beach. I can see my favorite chipper out there, over a mile away.

In December 2015 a group of Syrian refugees were settled in the luxury Clonea Strand Hotel ( closed for the season). It was a very strange decision of the Government since there are no food stores around – the closest store is four miles away in Dungarvan. Actually, there is nothing else in winter but the sea and the beach. I don’t know what the story is, and where they are now. I haven’t been to Clonea for years.

clonea

It is getting dark. I turn around and walk back to the car park. I take my time walking through the tunnel again – want to spot a bat, but there are no bats.

Waterford Greenway

Waterford Greenway

Waterford Greenway

Thank you for your company – it is more fun to walk through a dark tunnel with a friend at your side.

inesemjphotography Have a wonderful weekend!

 

Durrow viaduct after the sunset

robin

I put up this blog post on March 27, almost two months later than the other Greenway posts. I knew that one beautiful stretch was left unexplored, and it was bugging me. That day I was feeling unwell and decided to do something silly – like leaving home shortly before the sunset and heading west. When I turned towards Stradbally, to my surprise the road was busy as never before. At the Greenway car park two uniformed men were trying to regulate the traffic. What could have happened on the quiet country road? Trucks, buses – why they were there? I checked the news and learned that a small airplane crashed 200m off the Cork road, and the traffic was diverted.

I parked and walked into the sunset. Cheerful little Robin, painted pink by the setting sun, greeted me with his song.

Waterford Greenway

Soon I reached the old Durrow/Stradbally station, now a home to a noisy family of Jackdaws, and probably, some ghosts.

Waterford greenway

There I also found a model of a tunnel we will visit next week.

Waterford Greenway

As I kept walking, the beautiful golden light painted the evening.

Waterford Greenway

It started getting darker. Telephone pole from my childhood emerged from the bushes.

Waterford Greenway

Finally I stood on the top of a little brother of the Kilmacthomas Viaduct – the seven arch Durrow Viaduct built in 1878.

Durrow Viaduct

It doesn’t look impressive – just another bridge.

Durrow Viaduct

As the sun went down I had to hurry back. I wanted to take a picture of the viaduct from the road beneath.

The sun set the sky on fire one more time.

I stop to take a picture of an old shed that looks quite spectacular. In the 1940’s- 1950’s the shed used to be a dance hall run by Willie Cronin, and later it was a carpenter’s workshop.

The hawthorn trees don’t look friendly in twilight.

Finally I drove to the viaduct, parked next to someone’s driveway, and walked towards the sound of gurgling stream. A special thing about this viaduct is that it spans a road, a river, and a bridge across the river.

durrow viaduct

River Tay, squeezed between the rivers Mahon and Dalligan, is rushing to the Celtic Sea and joins the big waters in Stradbally Cove. I got a word that raw sewage flows into the river in Stradbally. I still love the Cove and think that it is a great place to visit, but I never take my shoes off when walking in the sand.

Blue twilight and slow shutter speed add a bit of mystery.

river tay

I finished photographing the river and turned back. My initial plan was to walk to the other side and check out an abandoned house I spotted from the top of the viaduct, but after seeing the evil-looking tree peeking from behind the stone pillar, I thought I was fine and ready to run back to my car, asap.

Durrow Viaduct

My last blog post about the Waterford Greenway is out next weekend.

inesemjphotography Be well!

Waterford Greenway: Kilmacthomas Viaduct

Kilmacthomas

We skip 13 km of railway  between Kilmeadan station and Kilmacthomas  –  I hope to return there later when I am in a better form.

My car is parked in the Old Workhouse car park. The Workhouse buildings are very interesting and full of history. I probably have to write about this place again some day. Actually, you have already been there, visiting Marlfield Birds of Prey 🙂 You can also hire a bike there, and I think there is a restaurant too.

Leaving the car park, we approach the Kilmacthomas crossing. There was never a bridge before. The footbridge was put in place overnight in July 201 – a mighty and beautiful structure weighing 50 tonnes.

Waterford Greenway

Kilmacthomas Railway Station.

Waterford Greenway

Waterford Greenway

Village of Kilmacthomas under our feet.

Waterford Greenway

One of the most spectacular structures of the Greenway is a curved eight-arch railway viaduct that was built in 1873 and spans the River Mahon at the height of almost 100 f.

Waterford Greenway

Waterford Greenway

Lovely smiling couple gave me permission to take their picture.

Some views from the viaduct. I just love to stand there and look around.

Waterford Greenway

River Mahon has powered two mills since the late 1700’s. The Flahavan family are running a mill and an oat flaking facility. Flahavans Porridge and other products are the local favorites.

Kilmacthomas Viaduct

The path goes through the woodland.

Here and there you can see the remains of old railway infrastructure.

Waterford Greenway

Waterford Greenway

Waterford Greenway

Croughaun Hill on our right. The pictures were taken in early February, on a dull gray day. No decent view of the Comeraghs this time. The path goes to Durrow, our next destination.

Waterford Greenway

On the way back, I take a picture of a pigeon on the roof beneath the path.

After crossing the N25 again, we explore the Kilmeadan stretch of the former railway – before it gets too dark.

Old Semaphore Signal overtaken by Nature.

Waterford Greenway

Evening fog starts to settle down.

kilmacthomas

Very suspiciously looking Hawthorn trees must be full of lurking fairies. Time to walk back.

The Hawthorn trees are already stretching their branches towards me, but fortunately a lone cyclist scares them away.

I wonder what the Greenway looks like in complete darkness.

Waterford Greenway

Durrow Viaduct is our next destination. Thank you for walking along with me.


To the blogging community: Thank you for all your support. I will post another two scheduled Greenway blogs, and after that I will rewind a few of my old posts until I am back on track in June xx

inesemjphotography Have a wonderful weekend!

Waterford Greenway: Kilmeadan

Waterford Greenway

There might be some truth in that Carriganore myth about the hidden treasures because the end of the rainbow is right there by the river bank. We leave the rainbow behind and resume our walk to Kilmeadan station.

River Suir makes a sharp bend. The pink froth you see among the trees on the other side of the bend are Magnolias from the Mount Congreve gardens, in some 15 minutes walk from here.

Waterford Greenway

But first we walk through the Magic Wood where Fairies and Leprechauns live happily together 🙂

There is a whole city in the trees with lovely little houses, ladders and bridges. It is well hidden in the summer but now the fairies are in the open, and have to pretend that they are not real, otherwise the passers-by will annoy them with questions. I would advise you to make a wish as you pass by without disturbing the fairies. I made a mistake of entering the Woods for these pictures. When I climbed down to the road, I heard a sound of breaking plastic in my pocket. I was terrified, I thought it was my car key, but it was only a plastic barcode tag from the Applegreen petrol station. I have a spare one, but the fact is that I had it for years, and it broke exactly when I was exiting the Fairy Wood. Did I get a warning from the Fairies? Just don’t tell me it was a coincidence 😉

Waterford Greenway

Waterford Greenway

Finally we reach the Mount Congreve garden wall. The gardens are massive – 70 acres of planted woodland and 4 acres of walled garden with impressive 16 km long net of paths.  They say it will be possible to enter the Gardens from the Greenway: for this purpose there is a long platform under construction. I don’t know why people would go to the Gardens from the Greenway if there is a main entrance, but may be someone will.

There are many different magnolia trees that you can see from the railway.

Some of them are very high.

Beautiful huge petals cover the path. I took a double exposure picture of one adorned with the dew.

Kilmeadan Castle stands by the River Suir junction with a tributary, on the site that was granted to the Power family (le Poers) in 1307 but was apparently destroyed during Cromwell invasion. I wrote about the Power family in my blog about Dunhill castle which they also owned.

This structure was built on the foundation of the old castle later in the 17th-18th century. The site looked different then, beautifully landscaped, surrounded with plantations of timber trees, canals and gardens.

Waterford Greenway

Bridge across the tributary, still in the process of reconstruction.

Waterford Greenway

A closer view. You can see the ruins of the Courtyard. The structure that looks like a tower is not actually a tower anymore – just two walls with a gap between them.

Waterford Greenway

The railway tracks take us further to our destination – Kilmeadan station.

Waterford Greenway

Two roads cross the railway over the old stone bridges.

Waterford Greenway

Waterford Greenway

Finally we reached Kilmeadan. Here is some useful information if you want to take a ride.  The photographs in their website were taken before the construction of The Greenway, and there is a sad but necessary change of scenery since the jungle has been cleared to accomodate the cyclists. I don’t know if it makes me happy though. Too many species of birds lost their habitats and were scared away.

Kilmeadan station was closed to passengers in 1967 and beautifully restored by Suir Valley Railway  Heritage group 35 years later. A Simplex locomotive pulls two open carriages travelling at a grand speed of 15 km/ hour. Enough to enjoy the ride.

Railway carriage serves as a ticket office and shop. There are indoor tables and a picnic area. The railway tracks don’t go any further.

Waterford Greenway

This is where we finish our walk. Next time I will drive you to Kilmacthomas to visit a very exciting stretch of the Greenway. Thank you for walking with me. Stay fit! 😉


To the blogging community – thank you for your patience, I will catch up next week.

inesemjphotography Have a wonderful weekend!

Waterford Greenway: River Suir

Walking downhill to the tunnel I heard familiar gentle, somewhat melancholic whistles. My heart skipped a beat  – Bullfinches! First time this year! I looked around and saw three birds, two males and a female, quite afar, and in the blinding sunlight. I took pictures, and stood there with a huge smile on my face. I so love these birds, their stocky bodies and unhurried manners. They don’t have the cheerful voice and funny curiosity of Robins, but their quiet presence is so soothing and comfortable 🙂

We meet again and resume our walk along the River Suir. This tunnel was built under the bypass to facilitate the railway. Notice the combination of a steep downhill gradient and a sharp curve.

Donovan tunnel

Dan Donovan supervised the laying of this railway track.

A look back at the River Suir Bridge.

Waterford Greenway

Beautiful views on the both sides of the track – lush green countryside and tranquil River Suir, charming at any season of the year.

Gorse bushes are in bloom and smell like honey.

This is one of the sharpest curves on the line.

Waterford Greenway

Here the cycling path deviates from the railway track. I walked both.

It was fun walking on the tracks between the river and the thick wild growth of brambles, thorny bushes and reed grass. I felt like I was cut off from the rest of the world.

Waterford Greenway

Dry yesteryear reed grass was making calming rustling sounds – actually there were no other sounds, and I didn’t see any birds.

The reed grass jungle looks more beautiful in winter than in summer, especially when it is bending in the wind and has that silvery silky look.

I took some double exposure photographs – one of dandelions…

… and one of a wild plum blossoms.

Looking at the new growth I thought about the wildlife in the area. These gentle weeds that are poking through the track bed will grow and obstruct the path. Will the maintenance team use herbicides? My thoughts went to the little Robin.

Another  look back. The buildings in the background belong to the new campus of Waterford IT. The campus is situated on the banks of the River Suir in Woodstown and Carriganore, or Stone of Gold in Irish. Woodstown is the site where numerous Viking era artifacts were found when the area was inspected before building the motorway. There were no indications that the Woodstown site could have any historical importance, but there has always been a myth  that Carriganore was the place where the merchants of Waterford buried their treasures hiding them from Cromwell. Finally, 39 test trenches were excavated in Carriganore in 2007 but nothing significant was found, only a few pieces of broken pottery ( 19th-20th century).

On the right side of the tracks there are old lime kilns. When putting up this blog I realised that I have never taken a single picture of them, because they just look boring, and they are also obstructed with some construction materials. You see many lime kilns when you travel around Ireland. The practice of burning lime was very common in the last century. The lime was used as fertiliser. The wood for fuel was brought from across the river by boat.

I have got a word that there is a Barn owl living in the kilns. I am not sure whether it is still living there with all these construction works, cyclists and dogs.

Waterford Greenway

This is where I parked my car. Next week we will resume our walk from here.

Waterford Greenway

Thank you for joining me for this walk.

Due to special circumstances, I am closing comments on this post and also on some of my future posts. I am very sorry and hope you will bear with me ❤

inesemjphotography Have a wonderful weekend!

Waterford Greenway: do it the green way

I absolutely believe that every child should have the experience of riding a train. I don’t remember my first train ride. I was only two weeks old then. The trains have changed a lot since, and most of the railways have been closed.

The first public railway in Ireland was opened in 1834 between Dublin and Kingstown ( now Dún Laoghaire ) despite local opposition. The railway line between Waterford and Dungarvan was built in the 1870’s to link up with the Lismore and Mallow railway. The stations along the route were Kilmeadan, Kilmacthomas and Durrow. It was a very expensive line to be built at the time, with a 418 feet long tunnel, three stone viaducts, two causeways, a number of bridges and three road crossings. The railway line was officially opened in August 1878 with the first train departing Waterford at 10.10.

The first pedal-driven bicycle arrived to Ireland in the 1860’s. It was heavy and uncomfortable, and didn’t impress most of the population. The things changed in the 1880’s with the introduction of the chain-driven bicycle and Dunlop’s pneumatic tyres. Cycling became a part of the everyday modern life, however the ladies wearing trousers caused quite a stir and often faced verbal abuse.

St Patrick's Parade

The Waterford-Dungarvan railway line was closed in the 1960’s as part of a major program of line closures. The last passenger train left Dungarvan for Roscrea in 1967. The tracks were removed in the 1990’s, but later Kilmeadan-Waterford section of the route was leased to the Suir Valley Railway group, and the tracks were restored. The Waterford & Suir Valley Heritage route was opened to the public in 2004. The route operates from April to September, and also during Christmas holidays, midterm etc. At the same time, a Kilmacthomas to Dungarvan section of the railway was developed as a walkway/cycle path.

Some facts and anecdotes from the Waterford railway history can be found in this link.

Railways are declining. Cyclists are thriving 🙂

St Patrick's Parade

In 2013, the Deise Greenway group handed over 7000 signatures of support to the Mayor of Waterford County and the Major of Waterford City for the Greenway bicycle route  to be developed in the place of the disused railway line from Waterford to Dungarvan. In 2014 the project was approved.

 

Complete route has been launched today, yet construction works are still in progress. I have walked the Greenway on many occasions, and decided to put up four blog posts with photographs from different sections, so that you know how many photo opportunities the route can offer 🙂 These are all early spring pictures.

We start the route from Gracedieu, Waterford.

waterford

Waterford Greenway

The most beautiful feature on this stretch of the road is the Red Iron Bridge.

Red Iron Bridge

The bridge was constructed in 1906 to link the port of Rosslare to Cork and Kerry as a route for ‘boat trains’ and faster transatlantic mail delivery. Local children used to walk across the bridge to get a can of coke from a shop on the other side. It was a beautiful nine span bridge with the central span opening  for shipping. It still has its control cabin from where powerful hydraulic mechanisms were operated to lift and lover the central span.

Red iron bridge

red iron bridge

Now the central span is removed and the bridge looks gap-toothed…

The bridge has always attracted the local youth. To get to the bridge you have to walk a muddy path. If you walk off the path you step on a wobbly surface that used to be a local kids favorite fun.  It is quite scary, but probably exciting for the kids to walk on the wobbling ground ( I did it). Teenagers used to come here and drink some beer. I don’t know if someone is still coming here, I have to go and check out. This photograph was taken in 2005.

On the opposite side of the river there is a group of derelict buildings and abandoned boats. It was a busy area in years gone by.

Newrath

waterford

Newrath

We keep walking along the Greenway path ( watch for the dog poop) and leave the Red Iron Bridge behind. I always hope to see birds, and lucky me – there is a Robin.

robin

The Robin is inspecting the cracks in the wooden sleepers.

robin

His body language is so cute 🙂

robin

robin

After a quiet conversation with a neighbor they both take off.

robin

Another landmark is The River Suir Bridge – a cable stayed bridge with a length of 475 m (1558 f)  that was opened in 2009. I drove over this bridge twice with no reason, just for fun. This bridge has the same purpose as the abandoned railway – to connect the port of Rosslare to Cork and Kerry.

Waterford Bridge

Waterford Bridge

On the opposite side there is a green field, tangled brambles, ferns and ivies. I imagine how beautiful this all looks in summer.

I love the silhouettes of dry plants still standing as if there was no winter.

This walk took one hour. There is a tunnel around the bend, and next week we will start from there.

inesemjphotography Have a wonderful weekend!