INISH BEG GARDENS SKIBBEREEN

On the road between Skibbereen and Baltimore, West Cork, there is a most beautiful garden, it is the Inish Beg Estate and recently Ian and I visited it together with my daughter and my five grandchildren, it was a lovely afternoon and being the month of May so many flowers were in bloom, the gardens were looking so very beautiful, the many trees with fresh green foliage, the Rhododendrons, all varieties, were flowering. From a herb and kitchen walled garden, to a fairy house among the trees, everything is thought of.  The children enjoyed it very much too, running along the paths and discovering all sorts of things including sticks which they then ended up comparing with Ian’s walking stick.  And of course they loved the fairy houses.  These gardens comprise 97 acres of woodland, organic pasture and farmland, formal gardens including a the before mentioned walled  garden.  There is an orchard, a bamboo grove and a sunken garden.  And something I did not know about but is mentioned in the brochure of the ‘West Cork Garden Trail’ is that there are 4km of carriage drives.  There is a lot more to this garden and it would be worthwhile to look it up on-line if you are coming to visit West Cork I think.  We just enjoy it as it is so close to where we live.  The birds were singing their hearts out, everything was so very peaceful and beautiful.  We were lucky with the weather, I think that this is Ireland at its best.

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FANLIGHTS IN CORK CITY

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A fanlight is a feature of Georgian architecture, it is found of course in England, but it is also found in Ireland, and I think it is a beautiful feature.  It is a semicircle window above a main door, it is called a fanlight because several panes radiate like a fan outwards.  While it is a useful addition to any hall, it is also very decorative and in Ireland efforts are made to preserve these features in the many Georgian style houses.

While I was in Cork city the other day, I took some photos with my mobile phone.  I think these features are so nice and interesting.  I had to go and look up information on them and did not even know that they were called fanlights, I only knew that you see these features a lot in Irish cities.  Fanlights originated in England during George I (1714), and fettered by the year 1901. But in Ireland, the use of these fanlights lasted longer. Especially in the eighteen hundreds though they were a frequent architectural feature to be seen in Dublin, also in Cork and other cities.

During the nineteen seventies a poster was produced featuring some of the beautiful fanlights in Dublin, it is very popular to this day.  There are still many Georgian houses found in Dublin, also quite a few in Cork, fanlights only being one of it’s Georgian features of course.  Many of these houses are now neglected and some are almost derelict, efforts are being made to restore them, many, however have been demolished in the past.  But equally many have been restored and there still remain quite a variety of fanlights and they are very appealing to the eye.  It is also good to know some of the history behind it.  The fact that they started out as a useful feature, then became a decorative feature and remain like that today.  What I see today in modern doors is that the idea of a fanlight is actually build into the door and in this way throws light into the hall, that is, of course, not half as beautiful (just my thought).

I took my photos along the Dyke Parade in Cork city.  At some future date I would love to explore the city much more and make many more photos.

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A BLESSED SUNDAY IN RURAL IRELAND

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Harry Clarke is well known for his use of the most beautiful colours, deep blues especially delight the eye.  This is one of the stained glass windows in St.Barrahane’s Church in Castletownshend, Ireland, there are three windows designed by Harry Clarke in this little church. We spent some time here last Sunday as my latest grandchild was being christened.   Because of the week that was in it there was not much work done in the garden, apart from the hedge cutting.  I went on an outing with my daughter and grandchildren one of the days, we did some shopping but also walked along the estuary and bird sanctuary at Timoleague and saw the ruins of an old abbey there (http://www.timoleague.ie/abbey/default.html).  And on Friday we had a crafts day with the two oldest girls, we made a treasure box from scrap items which they thought was great fun!  Then on Sunday there was yet another outing to the christening, and a stroll along the country road where the starlings were making a racket but otherwise all was very peaceful.

Meanwhile it is the second of November and still the weather is mild and a golden sun burnt away the grey skies this morning.  So far we have been really blessed with the weather here which we gratefully accept after a rather cool and sunless summer.
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Sts Louis IX and Martin of Tours – stained glass window by Harry Clarke.
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Sunday stroll around the old pub where we had lunch, an old farm door took my interest.
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Magically recreated soap powder boxes.  And deep pink hydrangeas along the Irish country roads.
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Starlings gathering in the trees, and autumn leaves all along the hedgerows.

AN INTERESTING DIG IN SKIBBEREEN

We recently had an archaeological dig here at Skibbereen in West Cork. The work was undertaken by students of the university of Maryland in US, under the supervision of their professor Stephen Brighton and Drew Webster.
Seems that during the 19th century there was a lot of activity going on at the site of the  Rock, which towers above the town of Skibbereen behind the town hall and the houses of North street and High street. It was called Windmill hill. Prior to the structures hewn out from the rocks being used as houses, six of them, the place was probably used for industry, perhaps related to the windmill. The houses would probably have had grass roofs at first Dr S.Brighton told me, you can see where timbers had been inserted into the rock. It’s a very interesting site. By the time I reached it and made photos, the students were filling in the sights again after six weeks of excavations. Artefacts were found at the site, like potsherds and other bits and pieces. Please visit the Facebook site for more photos and information. And also the WordPress.com site at:
Archaeology of the Irish Diaspora and Modern Ireland

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Where the dig is situated above the town of Skibbereen

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Seen here are what is thought to be indentations where timber would have been fitted, probably for industrial purposes when these sites were used previous to when people were living here in the 19th century.

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More indentations seen in the rocks and pieces hewed out.  This site has been filled in again by the students.

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The type of rock found here, slate or shale.  And students at work.

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More sites of the houses, there were six in total.  The floors of the houses consisted of flat rock, and a drain would have been hacked out in the ground to allow water running from the rock behind to drain away from the house.  It must have been uncomfortable living quarters.  Who lived there?  It’s quite an exposed area of Skibbereen, but high up and far away from the flooding which sometimes afflicted the town.  Then again as there was a windmill a few meters away from this site, there must have been work available for people.  A lane (Windmill lane) is there still today and one wonders if this lane linked up to other boreens (Irish for lane) in the area.  The houses were inhabited at the time of the Irish potato famine 1847-49, one can only wonder at what tragedy played out here among these rocks as the famine claimed so many lives here.

It’s all very interesting and I will hope to find out more.

PLACE WHERE THE WINDMILL USED TO STAND - ON THE ROCK

This overgrown site is where the windmill would have stood.  It is only a few meters away from the ruins of the houses.

COAST ROAD FROM EYERIES TO ALLIHIES

Views of one of the most beautiful peninsulas in Ireland, the Beara peninsula. We went there once again the other day, and this time we travelled from the mountain village of Eyeries, along the coast road with the most incredible sea views looking towards the Kerry mountains and the open Atlantic, and inland towards the Slieve Miskish Mountains.  After a beautiful journey we arrived in Allihies. I would like to share some of the photos I took along the way, even though the day was hazy and this does not make for clear photography.

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Looking towards the Kerry mountains, the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks, with Carrantuohill as the highest peak in Ireland.

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The open Ocean and a misty view of the Cow and the Calf islands.

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Typical Irish traditional cottage along the road.

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The road winds along the coast with very rocky views looking inland.  I think that the main rocks are slate and shale, but there could also be some old red sandstone.

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Sheep are the main farm income around here, and they grace the landscape with their presence.

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I found these cliffs fascinating and the way the waves were crashing into them!

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Looking back at Allihies village far in the distance, with the ancient copper mines behind it.

THE BIG CITY TO THE EAST

The big city to the east of where I live is called Corcaigh (in Irish) or Cork, it’s a city with a population of roughly about 120,000. It’s a beautiful city too, with an interesting history. Some of the original wall of the city can be seen at the Peace Park. Originally a monastic settlement, it then got discovered and became an important trading town of the Vikings who were also settling at other ports along the coast of Ireland. But I don’t know very much about the history of Cork, and of course there is a lot more to say about it, some day I would like to explore that properly and take many photos, but right now, I just enjoy it when I go there, which is not often. I took these photos today as I found the sight so lovely. Cork was built on the river Lee which divides into two channels making it that the centre of the town is like an island so to say.  So this is the river Lee.
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One the way up to the city we had some snow, it was early in the morning, and then I saw this lovely large orange ball coming up over the horizon and it was the sun!  Glorious morning though cold.  Cork can be a few degrees colder than it is in West Cork. (due to the gulf stream which brings with it warmer air).

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The old disused railway viaduct in a light dusting of snow.

A WALK AT DUSK AROUND THE TOWN

First walk around the town for a long time, the ring road is quite a lovely walk with lots of shrubs and the river Ilen, making it interesting. Normally it would only take about 15minutes but I took over half an hour, was taking some photos also. It was lovely and mild this evening and the walk was very pleasant. The town of Skibbereen (in Irish called An Sciobairín), is not very large, originally a market town, it’s got quite a bit of history.

I find it fascinating that the by-gone days of this little town can be traced back to medieval times when survivors of the black dead, mainly members of the McCarthy’s clan, to whom most of the land belonged in those days, settled near a hamlet, at the site of the present town, this in the 14th century.
In the 17th century many refugees from the little seaside village of Baltimore (about 12km towards the sea coast) fled to Skibbereen town after Baltimore was sacked by the Algerians.
During 1845-49 Ireland was plagued with a terrible famine. In Skibbereen’s local cemetery there is a mass grave where around 10,000 victims lay buried. This decimated the town and area once again.

The present town is doing fine, though very much affected by the austerity and emigration since 2008. Many young people leaving to find work, and quite a few businesses having to close down. The Farmer’s market is thriving, and there is still a nice, relaxed buzz about the town. A brand new state of the art Art Gallery is about to be opened to the delight of us all. But I could go on and on…. I did enjoy my walk, that is for sure. Here a few pics taken with my mobile phone.

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RURAL IRISH ROADS

A look back at a journey taken last September along the roads of West Cork, and the lovely surprise when we came across some forest, some very old trees, lots of beautiful Ferns also lined the road, there was an old gate, and a large ruin, but I am not sure what the history of it was, and now I am not even sure if it was the road between Bandon and Macroom, but I think that it was. It being September, it was autumn still, the road was littered with lovely shades of coloured leaves. It made this journey magical and beautiful.
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THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS

My partner and I always have a sit down leisurely breakfast, it’s that time of the day when both of us are in a philosophical mood, and have long conversations. The conversation this New Year’s Day morning centred on kindness, and the fact that when all is said and done most humans have actually have got kind hearts.  This came about because of two situations in the last two days.

The first was a program we watched on TV about an organisation to help special needs people, called ‘Enable Ireland’, where expert teams endeavour to work with individuals and their families, from childhood to adulthood, planning for each life stage.  They have centers in 40 locations in Ireland.  Anyway, this TV program showed the story of one of these centers which needed a facelift very badly, and it went on to show how people from all over Ireland came to voluntary help make this place real special giving of their time and resources, many business people donated the materials and even the appliances.  It was so very impressive and heartwarming to see the reaction of the recipients of all this work, these special needs people, all young and all trying to do the best with the hand they had been dealt with were so very happy and appreciative with the work done.  It was beautiful to see, and the volunteers themselves felt so nourished by the whole experience, some of the big sturdy, and hard working men were in tears, so touched by the happiness they caused in those young people.  It was very heartwarming to watch this, you see so many of these same or similar situations where people will help people, and very importantly it leads to thinking that humankind, even with all its flaws have got kind hearts, and that the world despite all the horror stories we hear, of war and crime, still is not such a bad place to be.

The second situation took place the night before last.  I had to go to the emergency department of hospital in the big city, this was because of a slight accident which befell me and which the local doctors could do nothing about.  So my partner drove me all the way to the nearest city which is about 80 km away, and this at night.  When we arrived there was a very long queue, this is normal in Ireland.  We were sitting on a chair for several hours (5.5hrs) before I was put on a trolley in a cubicle.  It was another few hours before I got treatment, but meanwhile I had been monitored by nurses and seen a doctor.  What has struck me once again about this whole episode, is how friendly and caring people are around here, the nurses could not have been kinder, the doctors were also very friendly and focused.  But even the people in the waiting room smiled at you and most people talked to each other, though total strangers.  I’m all right since, but I have carried away another assurance that basically human beings are kind, and kindness is such a blessing.

And so I want to start this new year with this thought in my mind, that not only am I planning to take more notice of other people’s kindness, I am also going to try and put it on top of my own planning in awareness and action.

And with this in mind I would like to wish each and every one of you, my new friends and followers, a new year full of blessings and goodness, and kindness.  I look forward to reading many stories in your enjoyable and beautiful blogs.

HAPPY NEWYEAR!

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