Saturday, 24 September 2016

Where a Viking Sleeps.

On a recent day out we visited St James Church, Castledermot, Co. Kildare.

The original foundation and dedication of this Christian Church was as the hermitage of St. Diarmada [Dermot] in 812. In later years it became a monastery and was twice raided by the Vikings and was burned down in 1106.
In the present church, now dedicated to St James, there is a list of The Church of Ireland incumbents dating from 1605 to the present day.

In the foreground is a reconstructed Hibernian-Romanesque arch detailing the original entrance to the old church.

An artists impression of what the original hermitage may have looked like.

The only Scandinavian hog back grave marker slab in Ireland - beneath which is possibly 
a sleeping Viking.

One of two existing 9th century High Crosses, 
there were once three.

Opposite the entrance to the church is a well kept and attractive tree lined walkway 
connecting to a main thoroughfare.

The Pledging Stone.
Similar stones were used by lovers who would place their hands into the hole 
and make their pledge to each other. 
From this practice came about the phrase ‘being set in stone’.

The round tower dates to the 10th century and was the monastery bell tower. 
The tower has some unusual features to other similar constructions. Here the entrance is only slightly above ground level and it is situated to the north of the church, normally towers were built to the west with access 15 feet or more above the ground. 
There are two arched vaults inside the tower, one over the second storey and the other at the top, with the tower itself constructed mainly of granite blocks with small pieces of limestone used as fillers. 
At sometime during it’s history the original stone capping was removed from the top and replaced with a castellated top which looks very odd - I have heard it likened to that of an electric torch stood on it’s end!

For further information :-

Sunday, 18 September 2016


On my full spoon sits a portion of delicious Rocky Road sundae, while in the foreground
looking delicious and untouched is Mrs H's Salted Caramel sundae !
So here we are again enjoying ourselves by massaging our taste buds with an orgasmic mix of chocolate and ice cream at The Chocolate Garden, Rathwood, Co. Wicklow.

I know of at least one other person who will be tormented by reading this and I am not at all ashamed :-)

We needed after having quietly consumed and sated ourselves. A leisurely modicum of gentle exercise and so in warm sunshine we drove a couple of miles to the East and a walk
around Rath Gael. Actually walking was the last thing my body was calling for it said
"Sleep, sleep you would enjoy some pagan dreams amid these old stones" I denied my eyes and merely sat listening to the grass growing.


Sunday, 4 September 2016


Yarn Bombers have been busy in the small Co. Laois town of Mountmellick,
it is also rumoured that the men of the town will be suffering 
from cold feet this winter.
Well done to the Women of Mountmellick!

Thursday, 1 September 2016


The building of Shannon Harbour took place in 1803 in the townland of Clononeybeg or in Irish, ‘Cluain Uaine Beag’, meaning the small enclosed meadow.It was a purpose built settlement, constructed to meet the requirements of the Grand Canal Company. Situated on the western end of the Grand Canal it forms a confluence with the River Shannon and the River Brosna. 
On completion it became a thriving, vital place having a bonded warehouse, a customs and excise post, a large R.I.C. barracks complete with holding cells, a Harbour Masters House, boat and barge repair dockyard with two dry docks, a small school, a smithy and livery. As well as many cottages in the town there was also the Grand Hotel and several taverns. At its peak over 1,000 people lived in Shannon Harbour and its’ hinterland. 

The construction of any canal is a feat of civil engineering. The Grand Canal venture was no less and has to have been a headache at times for the engineers, especially when cutting through the many acres of bog lands between Shannon Harbour and Dublin. The work was all done by hand and over three thousand navvies were on site, for the mechanical digger had yet to be invented. Putting in puddled clay bottoms thirty-six inches deep and up the bank sides to a thickness of ten inches was not always sufficient to prevent seepage through its peat banks and in many areas the fibrous material of peat had to be removed and replaced with other materials, such as stone and clay soils. A spectacular opening ceremony, complete with a military band, was planned for the completion of the Grand Canal however, this had to be cancelled when the bog banks collapsed between Shannon Bridge and Tullamore.

During it’s commercial life over 250,000 people were believed to have used the canal, many of them were on the emigration route to countries such as America, Canada and Australia. 
Today less than 30 people live in the village and the Harbour Masters house is now a well appointed three star B&B 

Now seeing this gave me a surprise!

I wonder how this twinning came about ?

This is the penultimate lock or the second depending on which way you are going.

The house peeping out from behind the trees was the Lock Keepers Cottage

The First or Last Lock of the Grand Canal.

I hope that you have enjoyed the mini tour as much as I have.

Where we go next is in the lap of the Gods!

Sunday, 28 August 2016

East of Griffiths Bridge

This time we view the activities at the eastern side of the bridge
which are very different, from my first visit of twenty-five years ago
and am pleased to see the new berths with the modern services.
The sturdy road bridge at Shannon Harbour called Griffith’s Bridge was named after Richard Griffiths one of the directors of the Canal company who built the
Grand Canal.

This beautiful steam launch named Maggie caught my eye and I would very much liked to have removed the cover and viewed her details, which I imagine are excellent.

Nice touch to see a bucket of flowers at the end of the pontoon!
 Look at this beauty with her almost vertical stem and bulwarks along with a pulpit rail.
Once again my admiration goes to her owner for having such a ship-shape craft.
Having mentioned the pulpit guard rail there is an error in believing that a stern guard rail is a pushpit rail, this completely wrong for both are pulpit rails and pulpit means a place where a person may lean on a speak from - ok lecture over.

Further upstream all manner are craft are moored along the bank.
Those tall buildings (ruin) are all that remains of the Grand Hotel that was built to accommodate travellers and patrons of the Grand Canal in late 19th century.

More moored boats !

I have not yet finished with Shannon Harbour as you will
see in my next blog post.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016


A quare blog post to make you smile!

THE BOG MAN of PULLAGH, Co. OFFALY  carved out of Bog Oak.

Looking at the map and also at the road signs it would be easy to believe that there are two places with similar names next to each other, for just over Plunkett Bridge which strides the Grand Canal is POLLAGH and the reasoning for this is something for which I know absolutely nothing about. Last night I read a survey compiled by Offaly County Council hoping to find an answer - unfortunately they described it all as being PULLAGH !

The carpark at Ballinahown, Co. Westmeath.
with a Bog Oak structure which was once a fountain.

The reflection looks better with a root stock emerging from
a stony pond and somehow more meaningful ?

These miniature iconic models or perhaps garden decorations
caught my eye.

I think that this fellow is supposed to be a

Thursday, 18 August 2016


The title says it all, for the Slieve Blooms are beautiful, especially when the heather is out. This year it carpets the land with a purple blanket that burns the eyes. We are very fortunate to be living where we do close to Sliabh Bladhma [Irish name]. 
This photo was taken from The Ridge of Capard looking towards the east and on the skyline several ancient sites sit in equal splendour. Different to us in that they are on the tourist route; I am never quite sure whether it would be good to have the same number of visitors as they do or not, it would bring about changes and they are not always beneficial.

The quiet and almost secret mountains.

Part of the Ridge of Capard is an area of scientific interest, to allow access board walks have been laid to prevent damage.

Here I captured two female photographers unaware of my actions.

A proud Grandpa with his Grandson.

A significant full moon marked the end of our family
holiday together and the eve of my daughters' birthday.
We celebrated with Prosecco, gifts and talk that went on past midnight.