Tuesday, 25 April 2017

DUCKS CROSSING

I have spent over twenty-five years criss crossing the Slieve Blooms in Co. Laois looking at what it has to offer me and taking great enjoyment from all that I have seen. The other day while driving along a country road with fields on either side we turned a corner and received a very pleasant surprise.

Ducks, thousands of them and all made of plaster. Well, we just had to stop and take photo's to share with you all. Hope that you leave this blog post feeling happy with a smile on your face.



















Oliver Delaney
The Duck Master.


Oliver's private guard lest you be tempted
to remove the ducklings.







Thursday, 13 April 2017

DISAPPOINTMENTS and SURPRISES.

We left home early the other morning to journey to the village of Ballaun. We wanted to see a stone, decorated with Continental Celtic designs, known as La Tène carving. Such pieces are very rare in Ireland. 
Lunch was taken alongside Lough Rea on the outskirts of Loughrea town, where it rained constantly so consequently there are no photos.
After a false start with directions that Mrs H had copied from a web site, I suggested that herself made enquiries at a fuel depot. This was done and off we went, straight in through the gateway of the establishment where the Turoe Stone is sited.

I stayed in the car with Toby whilst herself took photos of the stone. Within a few minutes she returned with two ice creams and a look of disappointment on her face. The famous stone had been taken to Athenry for cleaning.  A black mould had grown all over the stone so that the carvings were no longer discernible.
The ice creams were definitely not the best either so we were disappointed but at least the dog was happy.

 TUROE STONE


Rather than return the way we’d come we took a different road home, one that put us on the western side of  Slieve Aughty, a range of mountains that is shared between county Clare and Galway. Fortunately by then the weather had greatly improved and we could take in the scenery.
Driving along I noticed  a ‘pile of stones’ so we stopped. When I hopped out of the car to explore further I discovered it was Cloghan Castle!




Please view the link



Mrs H is mad keen on viewing sacred wells so our next distraction was Peterswell. Peterswell is confusing because it is also known as Kilthomas.

“Kilthomas is the name of both a civil parish and a Roman Catholic parish in South Co. Galway. 
The RC parish of Kilthomas is also sometimes known as Peterswell or Peterswell/Kilthomas”

We didn’t see the well either but continued on, up and up, towards Hollymount until we ran out of tarmac. Here we found a place to park and take photos.

You can tell when you are up high, when the blades look 
as if they are cropping the grass.

Lough Cutra and the continuing range of the Aughty Mountains


Our route off the Mountain took us to the townland of Ballycahalane and at a T junction 
I spotted the 1916 - 2016  commemorative plaque to the Irish Volunteers of the Easter Rising and beyond.





The Liam Mellows Monument


A close up of the plaque.

For information about Liam Mellows please link 


We shall be returning to explore the Slieve Aughty Mountains [Slíab Echtge] when skies are clearer. I hope to discover more of its’ historic sites and perhaps Mrs H will find her sacred well.









Saturday, 8 April 2017

WOODFIELD - Garden Centre , Birr


Details of Woodfield Café

Now here's a bargain !

Attractive pinky purple flowers ?


A great array of plants and pots, Mr Pig is my favourite.


The yellow ones look like cowslips but they are not
and 
the blue ones look like something else that I ought to know..


As my drama teacher said to me once "All is rhubarb, rhubarb when on stage"


This magnificent Wisteria is a wonderful sight to see and perfume is scintillating
to the senses.


The executives peruse plants.


Mister Puss on patrol.


The tall pink flower caught my eye ?


A splendid array of flowers and catching the management working.


The Peking Cockerel
He enjoys being in the limelight
and photographed.

I have to confess that I am not a gardener and I do not have green fingers, having said that I greatly admire those who are gifted and knowledgeable in such matters. More importantly I really enjoy
looking at colourful flowers and all of nature.








Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Curios of Counties Galway & Roscommon

Sunday 2nd April saw us once again on the road. This time our destination was to Drum in the south-west corner of County Roscommon and a good few kilometres from home. Fortunately the day held promise for the weather, when we left, was sunny and bright. Thankfully it stayed that way for the whole day.

Our route took us through the large town of Athlone  [Baile Átha Luain, meaning "town of Luan's ford]which sits astride the river Shannon like a mother duck. A good place for shopping with numerous stores that cater for everyone - ladies please note. We did not stop but pressed onwards through Monksland [Fearann na Manach] to Drum [Droim’ meaning ridge or hillock]. We followed the brown signposts towards the our destination - a megalith named Meehambee Dolmen, meaning yellow meadow from the Irish word Míothán buídhe. 
When the British Crown ruled Ireland they changed Irish names into what they thought were easily pronounceable place names. The consequence of this action was that the geographical meanings of  place names were obscured or lost and the Irish language was outlawed. Today we have English gobble de gook on some sign boards, though in places the original Irish is also displayed.


The Ice House

As we drove along a very narrow road that undulated and twisted left and right for several kilometres towards Míothánbuídhe, I noticed a rectangular hole in an embankment wall amid some stone heaps.  This suggested that we were passing a ruined building so we stopped and took photos. At home later my research told me that the hole was what is known as an Ice House where meats were preserved - rather like a fridge. The building is believed to be the former home place of the Ó Lionáin family, other names being O'Lennan, O'Lonain and both translate as Lennon.



A few minutes from the Ice House and we reached a small parking place. 
Here was the start of an old bridleway bordered by dry stone walls on either side, which looked to be very inviting. It proved to be a very pleasant stroll to the megalith, the majority of the plant life being fresh Ransom (Allium Ursinum), wild garlic in leaf, the scent of which faintly perfumed the air. On the way was a large hill fort known as Rath of the Wren which sadly it was fenced off, although I suppose doing so prevents it from being damaged.

Reduced headroom under a natural arch
of Whitethorn and Ivy


A blue fairy has just come out of the dolmen to take photo's !


Yours truly.



At the end of the bridlepath the Abhainn na Crannain
flows gently along

After our visit to the megalith we decided to make our way to Tuam in Co Galway for there is a particular Well there that Mrs H wanted to visit. Whenever time allows we always use the by-roads those whose designated number is preceded by an R or an L, rather than the large fast roads with a N or M. It is the scenery which interests us, that and the convenience of stopping for coffee and sandwiches which we always carry on tours such as these.


The bridge over the river Shevin at Ballinamore, Co. Galway.

Suddenly, I saw what appeared to be a castle wall in the distance complete with crenellations and yet there was no mention of this on the map. As we got closer I saw that it was a river bridge with a fortified high wall on one side only. Later research informed me that it was built in the mid 1800’s and I am guessing that it may well have been part of a famine relief scheme. Similar works were undertaken across the country, the idea being that money for food must be earned rather than given freely to those in need. 


We eventually arrived in Tuam, Tuim a burial mound, and although we knew the area where St Jarlaith’s well was situated we failed to locate it. So another journey must be undertaken armed with more detailed information. 
We turned for home with our route taking us through Athenry, Baile Áth na Ríogh, meaning "Town of the Ford of the Kings” and famed for the well-known song ‘The Fields of Athenry’.



The Dubliners-The Fields Of Athenry- HQ

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The Dubliners--The Fields Of Athenry Lyrics By a lonely prison wall I heard a young girl calling Michael they are taking you 



Wednesday, 29 March 2017

The Cockerel, Mouse and Fly.

On Mother's Day we took ourselves off on an adventure to southern Laoise [pronounced as Leesh] and in particular to the picturesque village of Timahoe.

Timahoe, derives its’ name from Saint Tigh Mochua, 
there the houses are built around a large, central piece of common land known as the Goosegreen.  
St. Mochua established a monastery at Timahoe in the seventh century which burnt down in 1142, later it was re-established by the O’Moores.  
A 12th century round tower standing 96ft high is located close by Mochua’s Abbey and there was a monastic community here as late as 1650. It was then that the Franciscan friars were murdered at a spot known locally as "Boher a wurther" or the murdering road, by Colonel Hewson and Cromwell’s army. 

Along the road to Timahoe.

The locals call it 'Goosegreen'

Looking East the River Bauteogue

Looking West along the River Bauteogue

The round tower stands in a lovely setting accessed by a footbridge that crosses the River Bauteogue, Báiteóg, meaning ‘a swamp’. Originally access to the tower and Abbey was via a ford.



Drawing from Laois County Council archive
Detail of the towers entrance.


The Round Tower 
St Mochua had a reputation as a healer, and is said to have cured two other abbots – St Colman Elo of a sudden loss of memory and St Fintan Munnu of ‘leprosy’.
Mochua died in the year 657.

St. Mochua's companions


St. Mochua lived as a hermit without worldly goods except for three pets – a rooster, a mouse and a fly. The rooster wakened him for the hours of Matins; if he didn’t wake up or dozed off during the day weak from his vigils and prayers, the mouse would nibble at his ear not letting him sleep more than three hours a day or night. The fly would walk along each line of his Psalter as he read and when he became tired, the fly would stop at the point where the saint had broken off until he could return again to resume reading the Psalms.


The Little Pets of St. Mochua

When St. Mochua knelt to pray
Each morning at the break of day
There always was about the house
A rooster, fly and little mouse

Three willing slaves to serve him well
And share his solitary cell
The rooster every morn would crow
And waken him for matins, though
When he slept too sound to hear
The mouse came forth and nipped his ear

And though he never had a clock
The mouse would call him or the cock
And if he had to leave a book
From out some dusty hidden nook
A fly, with patience and with grace
Would sit for hours and mark the place.

 © John Irvine


I very much hope that your appetites have been whetted sufficiently enough to make a visit to this breath taking place. Where a on a sunny warm day you can lose yourself in peaceful surroundings and enjoy some wonder filled dreams.










Wednesday, 15 March 2017

To “A Road Across The Sea”

Last Sunday saw our first day trip of 2017. 
As usual the pull of the West and the sea took us to the coast. Now the weather forecast was not good and the temperature was in single figures, 8 deg C. It was overcast with fine rain, however experience has taught me that in Ireland forecasts are not that accurate because of the various factors involved, so we went off regardless. 
When we left the wind was blowing from the North-east and by the time we were half way it was from the South.


Our first stop was Portumna Forest Park where Toby (dog) and Mrs H stretched their legs and I opened up the picnic box for brunch and a cup of coffee. 
It was here that my eyes fell upon this delightful Silver Birch which seemed to glow in the sunlight.



The second stop was to photograph the flooded fields that lie in front of Lydacan Castle - Carnmore, Co. Galway.
Lydacan was an O'Heynes fortress in South Galway from the 14th century and Lydacan or Lydican Castle was the residence of the Lynch family in the 1770s. The Ordnance Survey records that the building was the “substantial residence of Mr. Gunning" in the 1830s. Lydacan Castle was purchased by Martin O'Flaherty in the mid-19th century and was subsequently sold by him to James Greated. It was burnt in 1922 and left in ruins. 

Our final destination, Traught Strand near Kinvara, in Co. Galway was reached and a chill wind blew strongly under a clear blue sky. After a brisk walk to watch the waves it felt good to be sitting in a wind proof vehicle, hot coffee in hand, looking out on the ever changing views of distant Connemara, Barna and Salthill.


The notice board reads:
“A Road Across The Sea”
Young St. Ciarán studied under St. Enda on the Aran Islands. 
Once ready to establish his own monastery, he and his monks travelled along a miraculous road which opened up on the seabed to Traught Beach.
Ciarán later travelled inland to the banks of the river Shannon in what is now County Offaly and founded Clonmacnoise, which became one of Irelands’ most famous seats of learning.

In the past pilgrims spent the eve of Garland Sunday praying besides St. Cairáns Bed behind the beach. In the morning the crawled on hands and knees to wash themselves in the sea before enjoying music, dancing, singing and boat racing.”


Here he is that bold young lad
St. Ciarán


On the horizon is Connemara

I love the ever changing colours of the sea.



Three brave and daring wind surfers entertained us oldies as we watched from the warmth and safety of our cars!



************************************************************************************
Finally before signing off I wish to draw your attention to 
Rescue 116 helicopter tragedy that took place off shore of Co Mayo
in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Capt Dara Fitzpatrick, and her crew Mark Duffy, Ciarán Smith
and Paul Ormsby.
Were lost.
Please hold them and their families in your thoughts.