Waterford

Little Island I

If you are looking for a unique place to stay in Waterford, you might think about the Waterford Castle hotel and Golf Club on the Little Island. I borrowed this aerial view image from the Golf Open Competitions website – you can also click on the image to view the page. It is a very good site, covering all the golf events in the country.

I put three marks on the map: the ferry point, the castle, and the guide beacon – a tower standing on the sand spit. We will walk the perimeter of the island – it will only take an hour of brisk walk and two blog posts 🙂

This is a Google map with the same marks.

Little Island is located on River Suir just 2 miles from the estuary, and encircled by the Queens and Kings Channels. The strategic position of the island has always attracted settlers. The island changed hands several times. First came the monks, then the Vikings, and finally the Normans.  The FitzGerald family being the cousins of Strongbow were awarded this land for their part in the Norman Invasion. They built a Norman keep around which the rest of the current castle was built over the centuries. The island was connected to the mainland by wooden boats, but the residents would also use the stepping stones to cross the north channel ( then called the Ford) to attend the mass. Obviously, the channel wasn’t navigable as there was a depth of only two feet at low tide. In the first quarter of the 19th century, the channel was cleaned and deepened.

The FitzGeralds owned the ‘Lytle Yland’ for almost eight centuries. The land was farmed by the lord and rented out to tenants to be used as pasture, and to grow crops. Pay and conditions were good. By the 20th century, the island developed into the self contained community. If you are interested, here is a link to an absolutely fascinating article by Tom Dooley on the history of the Little Island, found on the page #49.

The Little Island was first leased and sold in 1958. After that it changed owners another couple of times. The castle was turned into hotel in 1988, and 48 three-and four-bedroom garden lodges were added in 2007. I won’t share any reviews. I only help you discover the island and have a pleasant time walking around. Isolation and ambiance of the island are worth the money – you can also book a whole lodge for the price of a room in the castle if you travel with your family and want to save a little. By the way, they say you might see ghosts in the castle and fields. Is it why I never met another walker in the remote part of the island?

Mary Fitzgerald‘ ferry takes us across the King’s Channel which is the old natural bed of the river Suir. One-way winding road goes up the hill to the castle car park through the green canopy full of wildlife. We won’t see the castle until the last minute – it is hidden in the high trees.

We drive past grazing deer.

This one is very inquisitive.

A young song thrush tries his voice.

A red squirrel with a white tail and white ear tufts is digging in the grass at the side of the road.

Suddenly the main entrance of the castle appears on the left.

When we are done with our walk, come in and ask for a cup of tea and a cake. Even if you are not a resident and didn’t make a reservation, there is a good chance you will be served.

You can walk around the castle and count the cute gargoyles.

A tiny garden offers tranquility and mystery.

To follow our plan, we take a trail that starts at the car park, and walk through the patch of trees. Some lucky residents have seen badgers and hedgehogs around the castle, but this happens early in the morning or late at night. We just see more deer 🙂

A grey squirrel resides in this part of the island – there is enough food for both species.

These pictures were taken in August – the Butterfly Month in Ireland.

Our path reaches the river. There is a patch of thistles, a favorite spot for butterflies. Let’s have a look.

This is a brand new Peacock butterfly, the most spectacular of the Irish butterflies. It will overwinter in a tree trunk or another dark place, and resume activity in March.

Small tortoiseshell is a very common butterfly also known for its hibernating habits. Every February-March I find one or more in my kitchen where they overwinter somewhere behind the cabinets.

Meadow brown female is not as hairy as her colorful cousins.

This is Red admiral, a beautiful migrant from Southern Europe.

Red admirals are not shy. One lands on my shoulder, stays there for a couple of minutes and then returns to the thistles.

Butterflies have a variety of predators. This one has been in a fight for his life 🙂

After admiring the butterflies, we walk west towards the Islands Edge. Little Island is a nesting place for herons, and you will see many of them at the water edge and in the fields.

A group of Godwits inspect the muddy riverbed.

Various waders can be seen picking lugworms : Curlew, Godwit and two almost identical Lapwings.

We walk past the castle and enter a wooded area.

We walk to the point where the path merges with the road that brought us to the castle. As we are not leaving the island yet, let’s walk back to the castle, have a cup of tea by the fireplace in the Great Hall, and get ready for our next adventure..

Here are two links to my favorite websites where you can read more about history and sailing specifics of the Little Island.

https://eoceanic.com/sailing/harbours/27/little_island

https://irishwaterwayshistory.com/tag/little-island/

We resume our walk in two weeks.

Have a wonderful weekend!

 

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Star Flyer lifts adrenaline lovers to the heights of 40 m (131 f). I can hear their screams from a distance 🙂

Unhurried Christmas Train is fun in its own way. Winterval is in full swing in Waterford – there is fun for everyone.

When the moon goes up and the streets become silent, it is the time for memories.

My train of thoughts is slow like the Winterval Express, and it is off the rails sometimes.

I will start from Spring. I remember it was lovely.

Birds saved the summer.

I left autumn behind and found December.

It was my first walk in a while, and I suddenly felt like someone was watching me.

And sure it was 🙂

A little symbol of Chinese New Year. A Rat!

Fear and curiosity fought, and curiosity won. I wish I knew what the little fella was thinking about me.

Then we were joined by a Robin who landed behind the rat and startled him.

Yet, he resumed his position and kept watching me. So did the Robin who didn’t want to miss anything. I took my pictures and wished them both well.

Hope you have a very Merry Christmas, and a happy new year of the Rat that starts in the end of January.

, with love ♥!

Spraoi 2019

Spraoi 2019 hit the streets. Most of people are merry, but not the Morbid family. Business is dead! People are too fit and healthy, they are not dying any more! Family is struggling.

The son is starving!

The last chance would be to open a pop up funeral shop and offer a funeral demo with the slogan “Buy now, die later”.

A school teacher Lisa got the privilege to demonstrate her best ‘dying face’. I think it is very impressive, and Lisa has secured a discount funeral with the Morbid & Sons for the future.

As always, I am amused by the reaction of those in the audience. The younger generation looks a little bit scared, and some are openly bored. What would they care of the discounted funerals, anyway 🙂

But the Morbid family look very hopeful. Teacher Lisa returns to the world of living with the promise of future ‘perks’, and another show – and a new customer – is just 15 minutes away.

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With the Waterford Crystal House in background, The Tamarros marching band from Italy look very appropriate flashing their disco ball baton.

Old tunes and old jokes are fun and get a lot of applause.

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Unfortunately I didn’t have a chance to watch the Roaring Clubsters show from Berlin because of the huge crowd, but I caught a glimpse of the spectators, and, as always, watching the different reactions was very entertaining.

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Now, this is something new. A Russian Baba Yaga is roaming the streets in her automated mortar, and her little cottage, Izbushka, is trailing behind on its chicken legs. A tag on the cottage states that it is for sale, but don’t believe what you see. Baba Yaga wants to look legal while hunting for children to cook them for dinner. The pack of salt tied to the mortar speaks volumes…

Be aware, little children.

Checking for lice nits 🙂 She wants her food organic 🙂

Smart children escaped being cooked. Baba Yaga keeps trying.

We wouldn’t wish her luck, would we?

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Charming show and a great music – the Los Rabinovich brothers from Mallorca! Musical clowns who don’t utter a word, but unite the hearts.

Even the rain didn’t stop the brave travelers. They are determined to stay in this city for the Bank holiday weekend and see what comes out of it.

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There sits the Always Drinking marching band from Barcelona, very sober and focused: the show is about to start in a minute. The Spraoi brochure states that their name refers to the “Mediterranian way of life – socializing in the streets, hanging out with friends in the squares, having some beers and tapas”. Sounds much better than “sitting alone, staring at computer screen” to me.

Always Drinking productions is a company of musician, artists, clowns, jugglers – name it. The guys in yellow were the stars of the festival.

Mila von Chobiak, the actor, kept his finger on the pulse of the crowd.

The show was seamless and very professional – they instantly grabbed their audience’s attention and held it to the end of the show.

It didn’t take long to make them all dance.

The band even auditioned a new conductor!

When the 30 minutes long show was over, the band played another extra 15 minutes! Brilliant band, I hope to watch their show again next year. They are so attuned to the spirit of the festival, because it is what Spraoi is about – to have fun together!


Thank you for visiting Waterford 🙂

Here are more links to some of my previous posts about Spraoi:  2015, 2017, 2018.

www.inesemjphotography Have a great weekend!

Two hours in Medieval Waterford

If you are visiting Waterford and after taking a Crystal House tour still have two hours left, I recommend you to cross the street, walk up the steps and set off on a Medieval treasure hunt. Hope this blog post will help you with ideas.

The best place to start is  Medieval museum. The Cap of Maintenance of Henry VIII in my opening picture is one of the items you will find. It was a gift to the Mayor of Waterford in 1536. The Cap was worn under the crown that makes it a very important item.

Speaking about Mayors. There is a free Mayor exhibition on the ground floor which you can visit before your guided tour in the museum. The names of 650 Mayors of Waterford are listed up to the present day since the first known Mayor Roger le Lom (1284-85). Among many other amazing pieces there is a Mayor’s Chair ( you can sit in it and take pictures). It was made of American oak from the very first bridge across the River Suir – the Timbertoes bridge.

American bridge builder Lemuel Cox designed the bridge and construction began in 1793. The bridge was opened a year later. Until then, ferries were the only way to cross the river – for 800 years!

This is a painting by Thomas Sautelle Roberts depicting the Timbertoes bridge. The bridge served until 1910.

You can also find the painting screened over the scene in the Theatre Royal – just ask at the reception desk and they will assist you.

On your way to the main exhibition, don’t miss this set of golden dentures with the real human teeth. It is not medieval though. It was found during the construction of the building in 2012.

This is my favorite tour guide.

There are two exquisite exhibits in the museum. One is The Royal Charters of Waterford, of which I hope to write more in the future,

The other is the set of 15th century Benediction copes and High Mass vestments. They are made from Italian silk woven in Florence. Depicted on the embroidered panels are scenes from the Bible. The set consists of three copes, two dalmatics and a chasuble.

(The photographs were taken through the glass case)

The High Mass vestments consist of a chasuble, dalmatic and tunicle.

A dalmatic is T-shaped garment with open sides. It is worn by bishops and deacons.

Semicircular Magi Cope.

The hood is the most spectacular part of the cope. It depicts three scenes: the visit of the Magi in the centre, and two scenes from The Old Testament.

The vestments were buried in 1649-50 to save them from the Cromwellians, with the secret of their hiding place so well kept, that they were accidentally discovered only 125 years later, after the Norman Gothic cathedral was demolished in 1773. Famous Waterford architect John Roberts designed the present cathedral which was completed in 1779. The Christ Church cathedral belongs to the Church of Ireland.

The current building is actually the third church on this site. The first was built by the Vikings in 1096. In that church Aoife and Strongbow got married in 1170 – I wrote about that important wedding before.

So, where the precious vestments were hidden? I would say – in plain sight.

In this spot exactly, on the right from the altar. To make sure that I get it right, the tour guide moved away the seats for me to take pictures.

The church welcomes visitors of all beliefs to visit and appreciate the beauty.

There are many memorials in the church, but this tomb of James Rice, eleven time mayor of Waterford, is special. It depicts a badly decayed corpse, crawling with worms and frogs. The inscription says : I am what you are going to be, and I was what you are”.

The architect of the Cathedral John Roberts built both Catholic and Protestant cathedrals in Waterford city. I mentioned him in my blogs before, since he designed many historical buildings in our county. I want to point out an important detail of the interior. A symbolic image of the sun contains the Tetragrammaton, the Hebrew letters YHWH that stand for Jehovah, reminding of Christianity’s roots.

Old and young visitors of the cathedral.

An Epic Tour guide with a group outside the Cathedral.

The building regularly gets updated, the clock was changed last year. No more hidden treasures found though.

On the right from the Cathedral is the Bishop’s Palace, another museum. You can get a combination ticket for both, and the Cathedral is free to visit. The architect was – you can guess – John Roberts 🙂 What a man! In this museum you will find many treasures dating to the 17th century. Don’t miss the Mourning Cross of Napoleon Bonaparte with a lock of his hair.

When the new Bishop’s Palace was completed, the bishop gave a lease of the old Bishop’s Palace to Roberts. Here in this building, John Roberts, his wife and children lived for over fifty years. They had 22 children, but only eight of them lived into adulthood.

Reference: Waterford Treasures by Eamonn McEneaney with Rosemary Ryan

Thank you for reading! Sorry the comments are closed for this post. I won’t be able to reply. Talk to you in two weeks!

www.inesemjphotography  Have a wonderful week!

Tall Ships in Waterford

lord nelson 2019

Tall Ships’ Races 2019 began in Aalborg, Denmark this morning, Sunday 16 June!

Last Friday, while walking along the river, I was very pleased to see Lord Nelson berthed near the bridge. At home, I went through the old pictures and decided to put up a blog about the tall ships – for a change.

Waterford hosted the Races twice – in 2005 and 2011, and has the honour of being the first Irish city to host the start of the Tall Ships’ Races with almost 90 ships in 2005 and 45 ships in 2011. This is Lord Nelson in 2011.

lord nelson 2011

A mile long Waterford Quay was packed in 2005. It was the most colourful festival Waterford had ever seen. A whole fleet of ships were berthed on both sides of the river, and it was quite a hike to get around all the people queuing to board and receive a stamp in their souvenir passport. Some ships were docked by two, and the crew members from the outside vessel had to walk through the other vessel to get to town. This also made photographing difficult. Besides, the weather was not great for photography with just a few sunny spells in five days.

Ireland was represented by three ships. This is a famine ship replica Jeanie Johnston.

jeanie johnston

jeanie johnston

The other replica famine ship is Dunbrody. You can visit her in New Ross, just 15 minutes drive from Waterford city. Patrick Kennedy, JFK’s great-grandfather, set off to America from the New Ross quays in 1848.

dunbrody

In the picture below, you can catch a glimpse of the Pride of Baltimore II. The first Pride of Baltimore was lost at sea returning from the Caribbean on May 14 1986. She was possibly struck by a white squall, and her captain and three of the crew died. In September 2005, only two month after docking in Waterford, the Pride of Baltimore II sailed in a squall in the Bay of Biscay and suffered a complete dismasting. No one died, thankfully.

pride of baltimore II and artemis

Pride of Baltimore II, docked behind Tenacious.

tenacious and pride of baltimore II

As the focus of the races is on training, at least 50% of any crew has to be between 15 and 25 years old, but of course there are some much older trainees, and also trainees with disabilities. The SV Tenacious is a British wooden sail training ship, specially designed to accommodate people of all physical abilities to sail side by side as equals.

This is the figurehead of SV Tenacious.

tenacious

Below, Russian three-masted training ship Mir in 2005.

mir 2005

I finally got on board of Mir in 2011, with a friend of mine. I was in awe.

mir 2011

Not being able to swim a full lap in the local swimming pool, I love all things water and can successfully navigate a paddle boat. I have been on Stena Line ferries, but there is nothing like standing on a sail ship and looking out at the water ahead.

mir

This young cadet is barely sixteen. Hope he has a successful career.

mir 2011

I checked the trackerMir is currently taking part in the races. Wishing them best of luck!

Another legend  – the barque Eagle, formerly Horst Wessel, one of four sailing ships that were distributed by drawing of lots with the allies after the end of the World War II. A smaller vessel with the colourful sails is a three-masted schooner of the Uruguayan Navy – Capitan Miranda.

eagle and capitan miranda

Magnificent Sagres, a school ship of the Portuguese Navy has a long history. Indonesian three-masted barquentine Dewaruci moored behind her was ‘adopted’ by Waterford city following the devastating earthquake and tsunami in 2004.

sagres and devaruci

A young sailor from Sagres.

sagres I

Dewaruci‘s figurehead.

dewaruci

It was so sad to see Dewaruci leave the quays. The dancing crew gave their last performance which was truly spectacular.

dewaruci

Another friendly and fun crew that left fond memories were the young sailors from the Omani Royal Navy barquentine Shabab Oman, which can be translated as Youth of Oman.

Originally named the Captain Scott, the ship was built as a schooner, and refitted as a barquentine after she was sold to Sultan of Oman. She is constructed of wood and looks charming. In 2014 she was replaced with a new ship of the same name and remains moored at the Royal Navy base in Oman. I wish I took more pictures…

shabab

shabab oman

The weather was perfect when we came to Waterford for a day in 2011. I was delighted to take pictures of Norwegian Sørlandet, the world’s oldest full rigged ship still in operation.

sorlandet 2011

sorlandet

Magnificent Europa, a three-mast barque registered in the Netherlands, was originally built in 1911, but there was little left of her when a Dutchman bought her from Germany in 1985. She was fully restored, and what a beauty she is!

europa

europa

Another beautiful ship from the Netherlands, Eendracht. She is Holland’s largest three-masted shooner designed for training young and inexperienced sailors.

eendracht

Gorgeous figurehead of Christian Radich, a Norwegian full-rigged ship, has a blush on her cheeks, probably because of the fresh breeze. Christian Radich is a remarkable ship – she took part in the very first races in 1956, and came the second. Merchant and captain, Radich died in 1889 and left 90,000 Norwegian kroner to build a training ship. The current Christian Radich is the fourth ship to carry the name.

christian radich

My young friend and I visited Colombian three-masted barque Gloria, and took a ton of pictures with the crew.

gloria

We also took some pictures of the interior.

gloria

gloria

This is the figurehead of Gloria.

gloria

Russian four-masted barque Kruzenshtern, (length 114.4 m, or 375 ft) was built in 1926 in Germany as Padua, and given to the Soviet Union as war reparation. I was very surprised to see her in Waterford in 2005, because I wouldn’t imagine this kind of ship fit in our river. It was amazing. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to get aboard, only had a small chat with two young cadets.

kruzenshtern

kruzenshtern

kruzenshtern

I did want to know the purpose of those ‘cats’, and learned that these are the guards preventing the rats from walking up the mooring lines and getting on board.

kruzenshtern

Amazing job done by our tugboats!

kruzenshtern kruzenshtern

kruzenshtern

The tall ships set off to Cherbourg.

kruzenshtern

I want to share a 2005 video. It is very imperfect and long, but it gives you a unique chance to see the tall ships sail out of the Waterford harbour. It wasn’t a good day for sailing since there was no wind at all and the race had to be delayed. The video begins with an interview with a person from the Kruzenshtern – the guy you see in my picture. There was another nice video, but I decided against it because of the Titanic theme they used 🙂 Not the best choice I would say.

Thank you for reading!

www.inesemjphotography Have a wonderful week!