Waterford

Viking Heritage Day at Woodstown

This “fierce viking face” is here for reference only. No photographer was harmed in the making of this picture.

In fact, the day in Woodstown was very pleasant and fun.


Waterford city was established by Vikings in 914, but a separate party of Norsemen settled 9 km upstream and built a longphoirt – Irish word for a ship harbour –  in the middle of the 9th century. During the testing related to the construction of the N 25 bypass in 2003, two lead weights were discovered which was the beginning of archaeological excavations at Woodstown that uncovered an early Viking settlement on the bank of River Suir. The bypass was amended and re-routed following the discovery. Woodstown Viking settlement was declared a national monument.

You can admire the archaeological discoveries from the dig on display in the Reginald Tower in Waterford city.

Take these steps to the second floor that is dedicated to the Woodstown Viking settlement finds.

Among many other finds, over 200 weights were found in Woodstown, which indicates that it was a trade centre where merchants and craftsmen could trade for goods or slaves. They used coins too, but by their weight in silver rather than their denomination. There were many centres like this established by Vikings. Some of them made new cities – Dublin, York, Novgorod. Woodstown Viking settlement didn’t continue into a bigger city and lasted not more than 100 years.

When I arrived in Woodstown, I met James Eogan, Senior archaeologist at Transport Infrastructure Ireland, executive editor of the book Woodstown: A Viking Age Settlement in County Waterford. I joined his guided walk which was a great success.

Mr. Eogan took us to the site – or rather to the part of the Greenway where the site is situated behind the fencing. The site has only been partially excavated (5%), but digging will continue if funded. From archaeological evidence it is clear that Woodstown settlement was a Viking trading centre and a home to craftsmen and their families, but its location was not practical for Viking needs. We learned about the site map, defense trenches, discovery of the stand alone burial site, and many more interesting facts and theories about this unique place.

The site is not accessible to the public yet, but hopefully some information boards will be installed along the Greenway.

The Woodstown book has a fantastic free audio guide that can be found on this page or, hopefully, accessed through this embedded link:

Today I am sharing some Viking pictures of our own very talented Vikings from Déise Medieval and their friends from other countries. From my previous Viking  post you already know about the Vikings and their legacy. Let’s see them in action 🙂

I was fascinated with the work of this beautiful weaver. We used to make a very simplified form of bookmark in Primary, and I still remember the joy 🙂

A charming Viking lady has a terracotta horseman that catches my eye.

A Byzantine physician (my guess) is offering potions and spices.

Another fascinating stand – Viking cutlery and all sorts of knives (The Catfire Forge)

Endless choice of pendants and a beautiful merchant – alone and deep in thoughts.

This lovely lady has a collection of Viking weaponry for sale.

She explains the great qualities of the battleaxe to her customer, and even shows where to aim 🙂 The other Vikings are hanging around, just in case. Safety first.

Day to day life in a Viking camp looks relaxing and wholesome.

And this is no doubt my favorite picture 🙂

Speaking about love. John of Wallingford, a Benedictine monk, complained about the Vikings and their ways to lure the local ladies from the straight and narrow. It came out that the invaders were a big hit with the local women because ‘they combed their hair every day, bathed every Saturday and had many frivolous devices about their person’.

Walking around the camp I take a few candid pictures of the Viking warriors. There is a battle between two Viking clans scheduled today.

Let’s the fight begin.

I am rooting for the redhead Viking lady.

No luck this time.

“Call upon the dead to rise! ”

And another fight begins. Then another.

The winners cannot hide their excitement.

Finally the war is over.

Thank you for reading about Irish history and camping with Vikings. Check your DNA – you might be surprised.

Have a wonderful weekend!

An Coinigéar, part II

One more blog from my long walk. You can watch a video about the Cunnigar in my previous blog post

Centuries ago, An Coinigéar was owned by the Duke of Devonshire, and was the site of the first golf course in West Waterford where the Duke and his prominent buddies used to come and play. In the 1861, the strip of land was bought by John R Power. The tenants of the only dwelling house on An Coinigéar were the Walsh family. As it was so far off the road, the local postman was paid some extra cash for every time he delivered a letter.

It looks like there were trees growing on An Coinigéar in the past.

Michael Sheehan, Irish priest, educator and scholar of the Irish language, was a young boy when he first came to An Coinigéar to play croquet with his schoolmates. They somehow moved fencing out of its place, and the son of original Mr. Walsh came out of his house and gave them a piece of his mind. Young Michael in astonishment asked his friends what language was the man speaking. Irish, was the answer. Michael was so impressed that he dedicated the rest of his life to studying and promoting the language of his ancestors, and was the author of many books in Irish.

I am glad that there is no golf course on An Coinigéar these days. My favorite coastal plant Sea holly can grow undisturbed, and feed armies of different insects.

Male Common blue butterfly is added to my list of species discovered on An Coinigéar 🙂

This Sea holly is hosting a party – male and female Common blue, and an unidentified wasp.

Female Common blue.

I love the fragile beauty of these little pieces of sky.

Another form of unhurried life.

I noticed the recent presence of cows on the Cunnigar, but didn’t see them. They probably crossed from west to east  behind the dunes that are several metres high. Finally I saw a herd moving towards The Ring in the low water some two hundred meters from the shore. Two cows – a huge pregnant and a young one – were way behind the herd, but the incoming tide didn’t seem to bother them. This is a heavy zoomed picture. The cows looked like two dots to me.

The western part of the estuary began filling up too, forcing the birds to relocate.

The tide was well in when I reached the dunes.

I crossed to the eastern part and was pleasantly surprised to see this male Wheatear. You can see the hallmark tail pattern. Wheatear has one of the longest migration routes of any songbird. I have read that the birds breeding in north-eastern Canada fly almost non-stop across the northern Atlantic to North Africa. My main resource of information about birds is this page.

The dunes on An Coinigéar are beautiful. I wish people were mindful about these fragile ecosystems and didn’t walk off trail. I took some pictures of birds from a distance – Pipits and Linnets.

There were seven Herons standing on the other side of a marshy area, but when I tried to sneak up closer, five of them took off. I got a couple of good pictures of herons in flight, and already used one in my New Years post.

Finally I reached the Point! Dungarvan quay doesn’t look too close. At low tide, the distance is much closer, and it is possible to walk across.

Here is a link to the Dungarvan Hillwalking club website where you can learn more about the annual event of the Cunnigar Crossing, and possibly join it some day. Last year, 359 people took part and €1961 was raised for charity. If you think you might do the crossing, check out the Hillwalking Club homepage and join their Mailing list. The Crossing event will take place in July or August.

The photograph from the website is linked back to the page.

In bygone days, An Coinigéar served as a shortcut from the Ring peninsula to Dungarvan, and women went to market with their baskets on their heads, and some students crossed to attend school.

In the 1880s, it was proposed to build a bridge, but thankfully it never happened, and the automobile era put an end to the use of An Coinigéar as a shortcut.

In later years, a local family run a ferry service to take the picnic-goers over in two rowing boats. If you needed the ferry, you stood at the point and waved a white handkerchief.

On my return journey I watch the birds and enjoy being surrounded with water.

Summer is almost over, but I find some samples of coastal flora.

Near the car park I see the herd and immediately spot the brave mama.

Good bye, An Coinigéar. It was good to spend time with you 🙂

Thank you for joining me on this walk.

 Have a wonderful weekend!

White Christmas

Waterford got plenty of snow last winter. Everything looked so neat.

In the beginning, the falling snow melted after touching the ground. After a month, it started to stay longer and longer.

I am pretty sure that this House of Waterford Crystal employee didn’t have ‘shoveling snow’ in his job description.

After a couple of days like that, people started storing bread and milk.

Then the storm came.

The following morning Waterford was all white and desolate.

I walked right in the middle of the former streets.

South Kilkenny on the other side of River Suir also looked quiet.

I walked past the Rice bridge with my bag of bird seed and apples, cleared the snow from the places with the bird tracks, and tossed a good few handfuls on the ground. Two bridges were barely visible through the falling snow.

Back in town, I learned that Centra across the bus station was the only shop that was open. By the size of the queue outside the shop I could tell that people ran out of bread already.

Reginald Tower has seen snow before. At least in 1987.

When I tried to walk through the smaller streets, sometimes I had to turn back – the drifts were higher than my knees. I know it sounds pathetic to the readers from Canada or Norway.

The other half of my apples went to the flock of cute visitors from Iceland – Redwings.

The storm doesn’t calm down, and I am sorry for the little Redwings. On a day like this, it is nice to be inside, cuddled up with an old friend 😉

I didn’t have enough confidence to build a snowman in the street, but after returning home I could not resist anymore and built a tiny snowman on my windowsill. Snow in Ireland is a rare occurrence. You never know if you live to see another snowfall.

My baby cacti plants are obviously excited about the snow and both sprout flowers.

Unfortunately, these are events of the past. White Christmas is still a dream this December.

Today the streets look as normal – no snow, no excitement.

Of course we have decorations, pony rides, carousels and Ferris wheels, like we always have had at this time of the year, but we are so missing those crystals of frozen water!

I guess we have to be happy with what we have.

Merry Christmas, Friends!

Hope you always find peace, and give your heart to everything you do.

 

PS: More music on Thom’s blog The Immortal Jukebox – C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S Alphabet throughout December.

December

Waterford

Something exceptional happened, worth to mention. We have got a snowfall in Waterford.

It didn’t last long though. When I finally got downstairs and limped out in the street, there was almost nothing to see. I had to use a slow shutter speed to make the falling snow visible in the pictures.

Waterford

Aoife and Strongbow endured the snowfall well, despite their old age. Their marriage took place in August 1170, the day after the capture of Waterford by the Norman forces sent by Henry II and led by Strongbow who at that time was called Richard fitz Gilbert de Clare.

Waterford

But the Vikings came here first. They arrived in the 9th century and created a town in 914. The history of their reign is very complicated and violent, but so where the times.


As we are speaking about the Vikings – here is a link to the blog run by hamsters   of amazing author who wrote one of my favorite books  – The Viking and the Courtesan. Shehanne Moore, thank you for your fantastic books! Please visit Shehanne’s blog!


A local artist John Hayes envisaged a giant Viking sword carved out of a whole tree.  John Hayes is a well known carver, and I have already posted photographs of some of his other work: Greenway train  and   The Angel of Fenor.    You can read about the  Viking Sword     and here is a video I found on YouTube. You can come to Waterford to marvel at the carvings as the work is completed and the sword has been placed on Bailey’s New Street, in so-called Viking Triangle. The street starts from the Reginald Tower where you can find the source of inspiration – a Viking sword made in the 9th century in Norway.

 

 

And this is the sword itself. It is 20 m long and carved out of a single Douglas fir. A viking house in background is the place of the virtual reality show King of the Vikings. Don’t miss it on your visit to Waterford. You will find yourself  barely escaping arrows and axes, fire and deep waters, right in the middle of the Viking Invasion. Very fun 🙂

Waterford

Hopefully, John’s sword will be recognised as a world record.

Waterford

By the way, John Hayes also built this giant post box for the letters to be delivered to Santa. The box stands under the mirror roof of the Apple Market.

Waterford

I am not sure what I think about this roof, but I do love the reflections in the mirrors.

Waterford

The days are very short in December. In early hours of the morning when the lucky people were supposed to watch the Geminids, I was driving through the slashing rain to pick up my prescription. As much of an optimist as I am, I took my camera with me. To my surprise, outside the city the sky was clear and the thin waning crescent  Moon was so pretty with Jupiter below and Mars on the right. I had to crop Mars out because it was quite far and didn’t add to the picture, but I included the Waterford bridge. It was at about 6.30 in the morning. I saw two shooting stars while driving, but nothing major, no balls of fire or anything like that. I wish I had more time so that I could stand there until the dawn.

Waterford

This picture was taken 12 hours later.

Waterford

Last night I ventured out again to see if I can get some more pictures for this blog. There was a charity event in the Holy Trinity church and the gates were open. I used the opportunity and took pictures of churchyard and tombs.

The horse ride must be fun. Except, I think the carriage full of people is too heavy for two horses. I remember there were four horses in the previous years.

I set up my camera to take pictures of the Waterford Eye. I am not sure if I should take a ride. I might, but may be another day 😉 I am playing with the shutter speed – don’t want to get just a monochrome blurred disc. This picture was taken at 10 seconds, as the wheel is quite slow. The light show gives me the opportunity to get very different patterns which is really fun. The passing cars leave a red line in the picture.

Last December I took pictures of the smaller Vintage Ferris wheel. I might try out a ride on that one 😉

I walk to the other side of the wheel and take more pictures. Then I start experimenting with zooming the lens with a slow shutter speed after every three seconds ( shutter speed minimum 5 seconds; I didn’t want a completely blurred disc). I like the results 🙂

But what about Christmas? I didn’t see a single item that could be attributed to Christmas… until I looked down… wait, what is it there, under the porch, way lower than the pavement? A Nativity set! Tiny figures hidden from the people’s eyes, with the background made of garbage bags. Merry and bright it was. Sort of.

Political correctness is frowning at the use of the C-word, but I have never cared of anything political. It is the holiday I celebrate. What do you celebrate? Awesome! I already love your holiday, and your recipes 😉 Let’s celebrate together, and let’s hope your holiday will never get into the Political Correctness Naughty List 😉

www.inesemjphotography.com Have a wonderful week!

Harvest festival in Waterford, 2017

As we crossed the Knockmealdowns and returned to County Waterford, why not to visit Waterford city again, especially on a Harvest festival weekend.

Harvest festival is a lot about eating and being merry. Parnell street is turned into an outdoor restaurant, live music is playing, some people are cooking and all the other people are eating.

Cuisine from around the world.

And cakes, cakes and more cakes! I got a bag of delicious homemade marshmallows – passion fruit flavor, yum.

Apple juice from the award winning Clashganny organic Farm. 

Banana bread from Dunmore East Amish Mennonite community bakery.

Organic vegetables from GIY Waterford, which stands for, of course, Grow It Yourself.

This is Síona from GROW.

She and her colleague are running the Grow Cook Eat stand, and I can see that it is popular and many people stop by to get a brochure. GIY is a not-for-profit enterprise dedicated to supporting, educating and inspiring people to grow some of their own food.

I am a huge fan and supporter of the GIY idea. It is not only about food. It is one of the aspects of carers mentality. Care for the Earth, resources, health, life.

GROW headquarters in Ardkeen offer a great variety of classes and workshops, including yoga and mindfulness meditation, chicken and bee-keeping, fermented drinks and beer brewing. Just everything.

I am moving from one location to another looking for some craft workshops, but cannot find any. Last year there were plenty – some of them were featured in my blog.

Honey harvest stand looks and smells beautifully.

This man is selling miniature Standing Stones. They look cute and I would love to talk about them with the artist himself, but I am afraid he doesn’t like photographers 😉 As far as I know the artist’s name is Peter Atkins, from Waterford. The replicas he makes are really cute 🙂

But this beautiful lady from Ballybeg Greens likes photographers. Good for her!

I spot a pair of donkey ears in the painting. Carol Murray’s works are here as a part of the outdoor exhibition Art on the Railings where young and established artists of different mediums can hang their artwork in the Viking Triangle.

And look who is here! My ‘friends’ from Dunmore East 🙂

Of course these two gentlemen had nothing to do with the incident at the oyster farm 🙂 They were nice and didn’t mind to be photographed.

These poor creatures deserve a word of mention. They had to wear heavy wigs and thick garb, and those creepy ride-on costumes with fake legs… No wonder they looked so sad. They didn’t even have a proper walking staff to keep their balance and had to use tree branches …

… while there were hundreds of beautiful Shillelaghs!

I just couldn’t take my eyes off all those cute animals.

I hope you enjoyed the festival. Next week we are going to Dublin.

inesemjphotography Have a wonderful weekend!