Waterford Harbour

Halloween special

halloween

It was one hour before sunset when I reached Hook Head. I wanted to take a few pictures of  Loftus Hall and Hook lighthouse for this blog. I mentioned Hook Lighthouse in my blog post about Dunmore East and the oyster farm, because it is visible from there, and also in my Saltee Island posts –  for the same reason. Great location for a lighthouse, isn’t it?

But you have never heard from me about Loftus Hall before.

HookHead

Loftus Hall is haunted. The origins of paranormal activity go back to 1350 when the prominent Redmond family built the Redmond Hall in this exact place. You can do a quick calculation, and yes, it was 666 years ago.

Centuries later, the unfortunate events took place. After Cromwellian confiscation, the Redmonds were evicted and the Loftus family moved into the house in 1666. The mansion was renamed Loftus Hall. Another century later, Charles Tottenham, whose first wife was Anne Loftus, resided in the house with his second wife and his daughter from his first marriage, also named Anne.

During a stormy night, a young man came to the house to seek shelter, and was offered hospitality. Young Anne was charmed and the relationship between the two progressed into something more prohibited.

One night they were playing cards and Anne dropped a card and bent to pick it up. It is when she saw that her lover had a cloven hoof. When his identity was discovered the young man went up through the roof leaving a hole that could never be repaired.

PS Similar story has been told about another haunted place, notorious Hellfire Club hunting lodge situated on Montpelier Hill near Dublin. Guess what?  The Loftus family also owned a hunting lodge on Montpelier Hill – Dolly Mount.

loftus hall

After discovering that Anne was pregnant, the family locked her away in the Tapestry Chamber, where she died in 1675, refusing to take neither food nor water. They say that skeletal remains of an infant were found hidden between the walls when the house was rebuilt. There were many seeings of Anne’s ghost and all kind of paranormal attacks on innocent people reported over the years, and several unsuccessful exorcisms were performed. The most successful was Father Thomas Broaders who, at least, ‘banished the Devil from Loftus Hall’.

loftus hall

Loftus Hall changed hands many times. In 1870-71, the old Loftus Hall was heavily rebuilt by the 4th Marquess of Ely, and the present mansion took its place. In 1917, it was bought by the Sisters of Providence and became a convent. I saw a photograph with a group of happy nuns at the front entrance. The Hall was sold after two nuns mysteriously died on the stairs. In 1983 the Deveraux family bought the place and reopened it as Loftus Hall Hotel that was closed in less than ten years. All the hotel interior, pretty vandalised and decayed, is still there. In 2011 the place was sold to its current owners, the Quigley family who are running the haunted house tours. As far as I understand, many rooms still remain unused.

loftus hall

The gate is locked unless it is a tour day.

loftus hall

No, I didn’t take the tour. My friend did, I think she paid €60, no photography allowed. Why would I need a tour without being able to take pictures! She had a crucifix pendant on her and didn’t feel anything paranormal :). Her then boyfriend did feel some paranormal presence. They had some sort of séance to communicate with spirits, and it was quite impressive. Overall, she was happy with the tour, just thought it wasn’t worth €60 for an hour or something. Well, it was her fault, she shouldn’t bring that backup crucifix if she wanted to get scared 🙂

I couldn’t come any closer, just took some pictures on my way to and from the Hook Head. I don’t know if it means something, but I have already seen exactly the same cloud formations over the Loftus Hall in the photographs I found in Google. Also, when you click on the picture to enlarge it, you will see the drapes hanging from an opened window. Creepy 🙂

loftus hall

If you are brave, you can watch this Youtube video about Loftus Hall, but if you are not sure, then you better watch this short video taken in 2014. If you are still getting a message that you cannot watch the video in your country, try this one. If all of this fails, just put Loftus Hall in your search, but don’t miss the chance to see it all with your own eyes 🙂

There are many well-preserved ruins in the Hook Peninsula, and also many abandoned rural houses. I took pictures of some. This is a ruin of a church and a Roman tower in Templetown village. Henry II granted the church to the Catholic Military Order of Knights Templar in 1172. The Templars held a large chunk of land around the Waterford harbour until 1307 when they were suppressed and their property and land transferred to the Knights Hospitaller who themselves were suppressed in 1541. You can read an intriguing story about Irish Masonic history in this website.

hook head

William Marshal, a Knights Templar known as the Greatest Knight, built the lighthouse tower in the 13th century to guide the ships through the Waterford Harbour and to his port Ross. The monks looked after it until the dissolution of the monasteries. The lighthouse was already there since 1172, built by a Norman Raymond le Gros who used a mixture of mud and bullock’s blood to hold the limestone together. There is a legend that a Welsh monk St Dubhan built the first warning beacon in this site in the 5th century.

The tower was restored and repainted over the centuries. In the 17th century it came into the possession of the Loftus family, but in 1706 Henry Loftus leased the tower to the authorities. In 1860 three red bands were painted on the tower, but later changed to black and reduced to two. The cannon gun was fired during fog, later replaced by a hooter, then by rockets. In 1972 a foghorn was installed, but decommissioned in 2011.

In 1996 the lighthouse was automated and the light keepers left after almost 800 years of service.

hook lighthouse

The evening was very warm and still with no breeze whatsoever.  These two chairs wouldn’t be left here in stormy weather: the sea spray can reach as high as the balcony of the lighthouse in a bad storm.

hook head

After wandering around the lighthouse I was on my way to the parking lot and saw the chairs again.

hook head

Then I saw this baby with California license plate. How on earth? 🙂

I walked to my car, and took a picture because I think it looks quite cool too 😉

When I was already heading home, I took a wrong turn and came to the Slade harbour in the dark. Slade castle belonged to the Templars, Hospitallers and the Loftus family at the different stages of its existence. Now the ruin looks quite out of place in the changed landscape.

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I took pictures of some abandoned creepy buildings with a hope to find a ghost in them. No such luck.

hook head

However, I have managed to take a picture of a ghost when it was the least expected 🙂


Happy Halloween! These dark tulips are hosting a tiny spider which makes them an appropriate gift for the occasion. At this special time of the year, please visit and follow sweet monster Dead Donovan and mystical and charming Poet Rose.


Eat candy, have fun, stay safe!

inesemjphotography Have an exciting weekend!

Overcast sky from Dunmore East to Passage East

Dunmore East

This wasn’t the same day, even the same year when I took all these pictures, but the weather in Ireland hasn’t changed for years, so let’s presume we hop in the car and take a  short photo-drive from one village to the other, with one stop in the middle.

We start our trip from the Dunmore East Port  that is situated at the western end of Dunmore village.  As I walked on the pier to the lighthouse that was established in the end of 1825, the grey drizzling sky suddenly broke open and gave way to a wonderful silvery light. It lasted no longer than a minute, and the scenery quickly returned to its usual grey self.

Dunmore East

Construction works around the lighthouse obstructed the view and I turned back. Two young gulls on the rope made me smile – why did they have to stand there is such an awkward position? Maybe it was a dare? 🙂

Dunmore East port

Regardless of the weather the cliffs are always beautiful. This is an old coastguard station, the most photographed (and then over-dramatically enhanced) building in the area.  If you keep walking to the west, after half an hour you will reach the Portally Cove. It is a cliff walk, but not too close to the cliffs, actually.  This time I didn’t walk that far.

Old Coastguard

The silky grass is slippy. I like walking alone, but I believe in taking precautions.  Two years ago a cow fell from a cliff in the water, but was rescued.

Dunmore East

You can see the Hook Lighthouse on the other side.

Hook Head

This picture of Dunbrody was taken many years ago from the same cliffs.

Dunbrody

To get this picture, you have to walk to the park, cross it and walk to the cliffs. The previous picture is taken from the same place – on the left, there is the port where we just came from.

Dunmore East

I leave the park and walk down to the village centre. During the winter storms, some giant waves reach the buildings.

Dunmore East

This is where we are heading, in the direction of Waterford Harbour and Passage East village, our final destination. Waterford Harbour is formed by the estuary of three great rivers: River Suir, River Nore and River Barrow.

Dunmore East

In the Google Earth image below, I have mapped the most significant strands on our way. Geneva strand is a great place for bird watching, but this time we will only stop to visit the oyster farm you see when you enlarge the picture. I don’t know how large is this particular farm (headquarters in Dunmore East), but some farms measure many hectares.

Google Earh

This is what Waterford Harbour and Woodstown beach look like at high tide. The photograph was taken after the sunrise from The Saratoga pub, “#1 of 1 Restaurant in Woodstown”, according to TripAdvisor. Fair enough.

Woodstown

This is the same beach at low tide.

Woodstown

The oyster farm workers are waiting for the other tractor to return.

oyster farming

Here it is, coming from the middle of the harbour.

oyester farming

The higher poles measure about 3-4 m in height – something like two-human height. I recon the water can reach up to 2-2.5 m at high tide, or even higher. I have never seen it myself, but I have heard that the water in the harbour is leaving and coming very rapidly, as if someone is opening and closing a gate.

The oyster farm is so fascinating that I decide to come another day and check it out. To tell that I have no doubts about this adventure would be a lie. I am terrified, but my curiosity takes over, as usual.

It is a ten-minute walk in the soft, wet sand, between the pools of water. Sometimes my feet sink in the sand, and my heart sinks too. I keep closer to the poles, but have no idea how it would help if the sand swallows me. I just hope the poles are marking a safe path.

I have a longer lens, so I don’t have to come too close, and can take my pictures from a distance. The workers are doing something with the mesh bags full of oysters – inspect them, and flip them over. They don’t pay any attention, except for an older man, who looks in my direction a few times, and then speaks something. I wave to him and try to listen to what he is saying. I would love to interview him for this blog. Then I hear “… shove that camera in your face…” and quickly realise that my time has expired. With the broadest smile, I wave to him again, take a few more shots and walk back.

oyster farming

With no interview, I had to look up the oyster farming in the internet. Here is what I have learned.

In Ireland, they cultivate Irish native flat oyster, available from September, and Pacific Gigas, available all year. The Gigas was introduced in the 1980s, and from what I have seen, this particular farm cultivates exactly the Gigas species.

The tidal waters of Waterford Harbour are flushing the oysters twice a day, providing them with natural food. Bag-cultured oysters mature more quickly than those that are beach grown, it is why the bags have to be regularly thinned and flipped over, otherwise the oysters will develop a wrong shape.

The Gigas oysters take about three years to reach market size ( about six years for the native Edulis species). Oysters are cultivated to the size of spat first, to the point at which they attach themselves to a substrate. Then they are set out to mature.

There were many empty trestles that made an interesting picture.

oyster farming

These are the oyster bags. The holes are very small, but I could say that the oysters were the size of a half-palm.

oyster farming

oyster farming

On my way to the shore, I take some pictures. The distance is quite remarkable.

woodstown beach

I am trying not to step on the coiled castings of lugworms. Nearly there!

 

oyster farming

I found a broken oyster bag in the sand after a storm last year. I didn’t know how long it was there, and were the oysters still alive or already dead, so I let them be.

oyster farming

What made me sad, was the pattern of mesh on the shells.

oyster farming

We are leaving Woodstown, and drive another 5km. Passage East is a tiny village, but it is very important to the locals because of the ferry service between Co Waterford and Co Wexford.

Passage East

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Passage East

I have already mentioned Passage East village in my blog post Goats and Monkeys. A huge herd of goats is living in the hills, and sometimes they come down and cause a traffic jam. This billy goat is the leader of the herd. His diabolic look is quite impressive.

Passage East goat

Here is the ferry, and some day we will cross the river and go to visit places around the Waterford Harbour.

Passage East

Thank you for taking a risky hike to the middle of Waterford Harbour with me 🙂 In my next blog post, we will travel up the River Barrow, and then up the River Suir.

inese_mj_photographyHave a wonderful weekend!