Sunday morning was a good day for a walk in the sunshine, being neither too hot nor cool. I chose to revisit one of Ireland's ancient forests which stands about 9 miles north of our home. The forest woodland consists of 400 -1,000- year old oaks, birches and copper beech trees and many interesting species of plants.
The Pedunculate oak - Quercus robur Is less common than the Sessile Oak and is not as popular for use as commercial timber . In Charleville Wood, Co. Offaly the famous Pedunculate ‘King Oak’ is said to be between 400-800 years old. Four of its lower branches touch the ground, with the longest of its branches stretching 76 feet from trunk to tip. The family who lived in the nearby castle were under the impression that when a branch fell off the King Oak a member of the family would die, so as a preventative steel supports were put under the lowest branches!
The Castle, designed in 1798 by one of Ireland’s leading architects of the day, Francis Johnston was not finally completed until 1812. Unlike many gothic castles built later by the Victorians, Charleville Castle is quite compact rather than a rambling edifice with many wings. True to its time, it is basically a large scale Georgian house with added castellations and towers.
This magnificent building was almost lost through vandalism for it stood vacant from 1912 and by 1968 the roof had been mostly removed. The turn around came in 1971 when the restoration work was started and is still proceeding.
The Grotto quote: ' an artificial grotto formed for the purpose of giving employment
during a season of scarcity' ref quote: A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland in two volumes by Samuel Lewis MDCCCXXXV11 (1837)
A few years ago access to the grotto was easy gained by a doorway which has now been blocked off. Which I daresay was done for good reason as it is quite dark in side and large stones that make the roof do protrude downwards restricting the headroom in places and can give the unwary a hard knock on the head.
I managed to get this photo of the inside the grotto by putting my arms through the gaps between the window bars and taking several chance shots and this is best one.