Monthly Archives: October 2010

A Tour of Ireland ~ Episode 8

Tour of Ireland ~ Episode 8

Apologies for alack of links at the lower half of this Post. We had a major broadband problem on Friday/ Saturday, although it seemed to be sorted I had the same problems again Saturday night into Sunday and most of the G**gle searches I made for links seem to have been hacked.  Anything linked here was working when I checked.

Today moving inland we cover the five counties of Tipperary, Kilkenny Carlow Kildare and Laois.


Tipperary town is surrounded by a broad plain of rich farmland and is bordered by mountains to the north and south. Hunting, fishing and walking are popular activities in the region.  Tipperary town is an important dairy farming centre and today is a thriving market town.  The major point of interest in the town is St Michael’s Church, Gothic in design and noteworthy for its fine lancet windows and west door.

Last week we finished our journey at Lismore in County Waterford.  Travelling in a northerly direction the road from Lismore to Cahir, County Tipperary, climbs and twists through the Knockmealdown Mountains through a pass called The Vee (I mentioned it last week).  The Vee  provides stunning and extensive views of the Golden Vale of Tipperary.  A stone cairn marks the burial spot of Samuel Grubb.
The road then descends to Clogheen, continuing on to Cahir.

In Cahir you will find one of Ireland’s best preserved castles, with its massive great hall, grim dungeon, and thick protective walls, it is a superb restoration of the 1142 castle set on a rocky islet in the River Suir.  Furnishings in the residential apartments are authentic reproductions of the period.  The Articles ending the long Cromwellian wars were signed in the castle in 1652, and in modern times it has served as a setting for the films Excalibur and Barry Lyndon.

Swiss Cottage, a delightful cottage orné built in the early 1800s by Richard Butler, 1st Earl of Glengall to a design by the famous Regency architect John Nash. Its interior contains a graceful spiral staircase and some elegantly decorated rooms. The wallpaper in the Salon manufactured by the Dufour factory is one of the first commercially produced Parisian wallpapers.  Situated on an elevated site with access by stone steps. Please note that this is a very busy site and visitors may experience a delay during the Summer months.

A few miles north on the road to Tipperary town is the road to The Glen of Aherlow, now a secluded place that was once a major route between Tipperary and Limerick.

12 miles due north of Cahir is Cashel.  Dominating the landscape for miles around is a limestone mound topped by the awe-inspiring Rock of Cashel which soars 60m above the surrounding plains.  The 2-acre summit site has since ancient Celtic times been connected with royalty and mysticism.  Cormac’s Chapel. The Round Tower (30M high) , St Patrick’s Cathedral, and a replica St Patrick’s Cross ( whose base may actually have been a pre-Christian sacrificial alter), are among the impressive ruins.  At the foot of the Rock, a visitors’ centre of  stylised Celtic design presents traditional Irish entertainment.

15 miles southeast once more is Clonmel, the main town of County Tipperary where the world’s first public transport system was established by Charles Bianconi in 1815, based at Hearn’s Hotel in Parnell Street.

The Hayes Hotel in the Anglo-Norman town of Thurles was the setting for the founding of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) in 1884.  This makes it virtually akin to a religious site in the eyes of many Irish sports fans.  Today it is a busy, well laid out marketing centre for the surrounding agricultural area.


From Cashel the R692 passes through Fethard, Co Tipperary, and Callan to Kilkenny.  It is a thriving, prosperous town with much of its history still housed in original structures and one of the most highly regarded craft centres in Ireland.  Kilkenny Castle, built in 1391, is set on high ground above the river Nore.  It retains the lines of a medieval fortress with three of its four original corner towers intact.  It was once the principal seat of the Butler family, Earls and Dukes of Ormonde.

The Rothe House in Parliament Street was built in 1594 as a home for a prosperous Tudor merchant,  It now houses the Kilkenny Archaeological Society Museum and Library which displays fascinating relics of historical and cultural significance.

Other fine buildings include Shee’s Almshouse in Rose Street and The Tholsel in High Street.  Kilkenny Design Centre, located in old stables and coach houses across from the castle, is home to designers and craftspeople who produce outstanding contemporary and classical designs in textiles, ceramics, glass-ware, jewellery and metals.

Kilkenny was the home of Ireland’s most famous witches  In 1324 Dame Alice Kyteler was the owner of Kyteler’s Inn in St Kieran’s Street.  A beautiful woman who had become wealthy following the successive deaths of her four husbands, she was accused of witchcraft and condemned to a public whipping, followed by burning at the stake.  She escaped, leaving her maid to be burnt in her place and was never seen again.  She is said to haunt the house still.

Travelling south towards the market town of Thomastown, on the banks of the river Nore, follow the signpost to Mount Juliet It was once one of Ireland’s largest private estates covering 1,411 acres of woodlands, pastures and landscaped lawns.  Now a luxury hotel, the grounds provide an exceptionally beautiful drive off the main roads, and its public rooms are open to non guests.

3km south of Thomastown is Jerpoint Cistercian Abbey, founded in 12th century it is  one of Ireland’s finest monastic ruins.  The extensive remains are awe-inspiring with the original Romanesque pillars, a fine chancel and the most decorative cloister arcade of any Irish church.  The detailed secular and religious carved figures are an accurate portrayal of the armour and clothing of 15th and 16th century Ireland.  A Visitor Centre provides information on the abbey’s long history.

The minor R703 road takes leads to the little village of Graiguenamanagh. It provides tremendous views of the River Barrow and the long ridge of the Blackstairs Mountains and the 516m Brandon Hill to the south.   Graiguenamanagh was once a place of great ecclesiastical importance.

The Abbey of Duiske built between 1207 and 1240, it was suppressed in 1536, but some determined monks stayed on for many years.  It was abandoned by 1774 it stood in ruins and the tower collapsed.  A large part of the church was reroofed in 1813 and Catholic services were resumed in 1970s.  Today the abbey is completely restored and serves as the parish church.


Moving northward we come to Carlow, Ireland’s second smallest county.  The west wall and the two flanking towers of the 13th century Carlow Castle can be seen near the bridge across the river Barrow.  The Norman castle was destroyed by a Dr Middleton in 1814 when he tried to convert it into an insane asylum, he tried to reduce the thickness of the walls with explosives, leaving it a dangerous shell, most of which had to be demolished for safety reasons.

There is a pleasant walk in town along the banks of the River Barrow to the junction with the Burrin tributary.  The meeting of the two rivers forms an attractive four- angled lake.

At Browne’s Hill Demesne 3km east of the town, is one of the largest Cromlechs or  ancient dolmen dating from 2000BC.  The giant capstone, the largest in Ireland, weighs 101 tonnes.


In the heart of Ireland’s horse breeding and training industry, Kildare sits on the edge of the vast Curragh plain.  East of the town, horse racing has reigned supreme for centuries at the Curragh, headquarters for the sport in Ireland, and home to the Irish Derby in June each year.

The Curragh Camp, handed over to the Irish army in 1922, has been an important military station for a century, and there you can see the famous 1920 armoured car ‘Slievenamon’ that carried Michael Collins to the fatal ambush in 1922.

2km east of Kildare off the N7 is the National Stud at Tully. NO! Mayo, not that kind of Stud!! Some of the world’s most renowned racehorses have been bred and trained on these grounds. You can also visit the stables and watch thoroughbreds being exercised and groomed.  It is an important centre for equine research and there is a museum depicting the history of the horse in Ireland.


Port Laois for many years at the centre of the junction of the Dublin/Limerick and Dublin/Cork main roads, is now relieved with a by pass.  The town is home to Ireland’s national prison.  A brighter note to the town is the collection of antique cars and other forms of transport in the veteran Car Museum.

Emo Court gardens, are probably the premier attraction of County Laois.  The grand house was designed by the celebrated architect James Gandon.  It is open only to special interest groups, but the grounds are open to all and contain an imposing lake and hundreds of specimen trees, shrubs and flowering plants.

Abbeyleix is an attractive town with tree lined streets. The de Vesci Demesne, known as Abbeyleix House dates from 1773.  The house is not open to the public, but the grounds which include formal terrace gardens to the west of the house, a ‘wild garden’ (called the Paradise Garden) that is carpeted with bluebells in spring, an American garden with magnolia trees, and a magnificent avenue of lime trees.

Bits ‘n Bobs

I once knew a fella called Bob…. He was always in bits!

I was almost in bits last night as I sat to write a Post for today.

The broadband connection died yet again.  So I went on the ritual journey of disconnecting this, unplugging that, finding the old fashioned cable etc., you know the story.  It is almost as repetitive as the fifteen rosaries muttered on the walk around the Basilica in Knock!

At one stage I was almost tempted to try the wire coat hanger method.  Well it worked for years on Irish cars to gain a signal for the radio!  I am sure if I shoved the end of the coat hanger in my ear …….Oh, never mind!

Switching off and unplugging all access to the internet, I contented myself with planning ideas for posts to keep me busy ’til years end!  So before I hit the hay I had 17 posts planned and ready to pull over to the blog when required.

While researching for my posts I found an old manilla folder with a million scraps of paper – mostly old cuttings from magazines or hand written notes with recipes, house hold hints etc.   A couple of the recipes will be added on to my planned list once I have tried them again.

Something useful I came across was a handy tip for dealing with broken glass.

Use a thick slice of bread to pick up broken glass, it safely takes in the splinters and you won’t need to rince it out like a sponge!

Another heading made me smile….

Indulge in a Fool

I know  one or two… and indulging is not what I have in mind for them! 🙂

Oh, it is good to be back!


Magpie 11 set the homework for this weeks edition of the Loose Bloggers Consortium.  He has a weird and wonderful mind with which he temps and teases us on a regular basis.
Without further ado our Topic is…..

Wacky Ideas: Things

Two tin cans ready to go in the recycle box.

I know!  I know!  Magpie 11 said Things and not tins, but tins are things so sit down quietly for a minute and pay attention!

As I rinsed out these tins I thought of all the uses I put empty tin cans to long before we heard of this modern day recycling.


  • Punched a hole in the base of two cans and connected them with a piece of fine string to make ‘telephones’!
  • Several small sized tins with tops and bottoms removed, were sunk into the lawn to make the holes for pitch ‘n put.  At one stage when we were growing up three of these strategically placed tins gave us a nine hole course!
  • A large fruit can was sliced across the middle to make two small round cake tins of a size not available in the shops.  NB: If you try this be careful when cutting and using the tins as the edges may be very sharp!
  • Small holes were punched in the base of several tins and they were used to grow seeds.  I am talking Ould God’s time here, before we heard of those biodegradable seed trays or folded newspaper rolled in rings to hold seedlings.

We were not the first to use old tins and barrels.

Large 55-gallon oil drums was used to make lead steelpans from around 1947.

The pan is a chromatically pitched percussion instrument, in fact, drum refers to the steel drum containers from which the pans are made; the steeldrum is correctly called a steel pan and is not technically regarded as a drum.  Steelpans (also known as steel drums or pans, and sometimes, collectively with musicians, as a steel band) is a musical instrument originating from Trinidad and Tobago. Steel pan musicians are called pannists.

The pan is struck by a pair of straight sticks tipped with rubber; the size and type of rubber tip is unique to the class of pan being played. Some musicians use four pansticks, holding two in each hand. This skill and performance has been conclusively shown to have grown out of Trinidad and Tobago’s early 20th century Carnival percussion groups known as Tamboo Bamboo. Pan is the National Instrument of Trinidad and Tobago.

A Sample of the sound can be heard here.   Gosh the energy of that guy!

Thursday Special ~ Just three words

A woman was sitting at a bar enjoying an after work cocktail with her girlfriends when Steven a tall, exceptionally handsome, extremely sexy, middle-aged man entered. He was so striking that the woman could not take her eyes off him.

The young-at-heart man noticed her overly attentive stare and walked directly towards her (as any man would). Before she could offer her apologies for staring so rudely, he leaned over and whispered to her, ‘I’ll do anything, absolutely anything, that you want me to do, no matter how kinky, for $20.00……

On one condition’

Flabbergasted, the woman asked what the condition was.

The man replied, ‘You have to tell me what you want me to do in just three words.’

The woman considered his proposition for a moment, and then slowly removed a $20 bill from her purse, which she pressed into the man’s hand along with her address. She looked deeply into his eyes, and slowly and meaningfully said….

‘Clean my house.’

The Lunch Box

When miss Elly went to school at first she carried a school bag.

In those early days the bag contained a pencil case, jotter, a small purse with her dinner money and spare tissues.

There was only one day in the week where she really enjoyed the school lunch and that was when they had Irish stew.  Even the teachers queued up that day for some stew.  It quickly became obvious that the cook had five recipes each repeated on the same day every week.  Elly was fortunate, she loved her food and with a good breakfast to start the day and a full dinner each evening, I looked on the school lunch as a snack.

Very soon I was asked if she could bring a packed lunch instead of the school dinner.  I asked why?

“When we have packed lunch, we go to a different room and can start eating it straight away.” she told me, adding: “Then we can go out to the playground and have more time to play football!”

“If you promise me that you will eat all the lunch, then I don’t mind.” I said.  She promised.

That is how the Lunch Box started.

I made a round of sandwiches, cut in four and covered in food-wrap.  Next was a banana, a bag of crisps, and one of the following [apple, satsuma, peach, plum, pear or bunch of grapes] leaving room for a carton of juice, a paper napkin, wet wipe and a small piece of paper.

Remembering my own school days when we brought our lunches to school, we had no school dinners, I began to feel sorry for Elly.  Packed lunches were the only area where mammy fell down.  I suppose having to make so many, made it more of a chore.  My lunch must have been a nuisance for her since it had to be made without butter and needed some other moisture added to stop the fillings falling out!

So Elly’s lunch box became larger and I had to use my imagination to add variety.  The fruit content, crisps and juice were always there, but the sandwich was where I rang the changes.

On random days I……

  • filled a bap.

  • packed a pitta pocket

  • gave her a whole loaf or two of bread (mini loaves sliced thinly and made into sandwiches!)

  • made 64 sandwiches

Now stop laughing.  I can hear you!  I know you didn’t believe me.

I tucked in the note. and the wipes and set the napkin on top before closing the lid.

Individual wet wipes, napkins and a note.

What’s that?  You want to know what the note said?

I Love You

Food Monday ~ Eve’s Pudding

Cooking apples (tart not sweet) were a constant in our larder when I was growing up.  They appeared in apple cake, tarts, sauce, stuffing, and even in cored rings grilled with bacon, sausage and tomato.

If mammy needed a dessert in a hurry, I was asked to make an egg sponge mixture and it was poured over sliced or stewed apple in a pie dish.  We called it:

Eve’s Pudding
Preheat the oven to 180°C

675g cooking apples, peeled, cored
50g sugar

For the sponge:
3 medium eggs
75gcaster sugar
75g self raising flour

Grease an ovenproof dish. thinly slice the apples and layer in the base of the dish and sprinkle with the sugar.

Break the eggs into a bowl and whisk lightly, add the sugar and whisk well until thick, creamy and almost white in colour.  Lightly fold in the flour using a metal spoon and a figure eight movement.  Pour over the apples, tilting the dish gently to spread the sponge.  Bake for about 30 minutes.
Serve warm with Whipped cream or ice cream.

A Tour of Ireland ~ Episode 7


Last week we stopped at Hook Head and today I lead you north from the lighthouse past Duncannon and Arthurstown to Ballyhack where a Car Ferry operates a continuous service across the River Suir linking the villages of Ballyhack in Wexford and Passage East in Waterford.

Waterford is a walled city of Viking origins, it retains much of it’s medieval character.  Although it is easily explored on foot, do take note that it is a hilly city so even though the distance covered may not be great you may well feel tired from all the up and down climbing. Thoughtfully placed benches along many public routes provide places for sitting and catching your breath every now and again.

The city’s landmark building is also Ireland’s oldest urban civic building, Reginald’s Tower.  It has been has been used for many things, today it is a civic museum.

Waterford Museum of Treasures – Located on Merchant’s Quay, it is the city’s primary museum which features artefacts from 1,000 years of Waterford’s history.

South Quay – This quay was once called the “noblest quay in Europe,” and stretches about a mile along the River Suir. It is a lovely introduction to the city.

World famous Waterford Crystal was originally founded in the city in 1783 by George & William Penrose it produced extremely fine flint glass. However, their company closed in 1851.  In 1947, Czech immigrant Charles Bacik, established a glass works in the city, due to the superb reputation of the original glassware.  By the early 1950s it had been taken over as a subsidiary of the Irish Glass Bottle Company, and later it became Waterford Wedgewood plc but went into receivership in 2009.  Waterford Crystal is still produced in other locations throughout Europe, notably Germany and the Czech Republic, by the company WWRD Holdings Ltd.
The crystal factory Visitor Centre is about ten minutes from central Waterford, but the tour is worth the trip if you have any interest in glass-making or art in general, or if you are shopping for a special gift for someone back home.

A Walking Tour of Waterford’s Historic Quarter

The administrative capital of the county is set on Dungarvan Bay and is the starting point for three lovely, contrasting drives, the Gaeltacht & Galltacht Drive, Dungarvan & Copper Coast Drive and the Comeragh Mountains & Nire Valley Drive.  The town owes its foundations to the Anglo-Normans in the 12th century, but was substantially reconstructed by the Duke of Devonshire in the 19th century.

Built on the banks of the Blackwater, the town has been a hub of Irish life since medieval times when St. Carthage founded a monastery here in 636. It later became a celebrated international school. Henry II chose his site for a castle here in 1171 and the growth of Anglo-Norman influence during the late 12th century marked the decline of the monastery.  Lismore Heritage Centre occupies the old Courthouse.

Lismore Castle is the private home of the Dukes of Devonshire, but Lismore Castle Gardens are open to the public.

Lismore & The Vee Drive (One of my favourites) is a spectacularly beautiful drive where the scenery climbs and dips and changes constantly.  Highlights include The Vee viewpoint, the gardens and pet farm round Clogheen, Mount Mellary Abbey and Cappoquin House & Gardens.

The Noise

I was busily going about my household chores the other morning when I became aware of a loud noise.

It was an alarm.

The sound of alarms going off are ten a penny these days.  Car alarms will sound if you as much as look at them, and as I discovered to my cost a couple of years ago, a spider set off my house alarm by walking over a PIR.  Nearly every house nowadays has a house alarm.  It is a far cry from the days when I went down the town and left all the windows open.  Do you remember those days Elly?

Back to the noise.  It was a house alarm and so deafening that it had to be close by.  I went to investigate, but not before I put my own house keys and mobile phone in my pocket.  Closing my own front door I followed the sound…

It was a house across the street.  I knew the couple were at work and the children at school. It looked fine at first glance so I opened the side gate and went around the back of the property.  There was no sign of disturbance, the windows and patio doors all seemed secure.  Returning I closed the gate behind me.

With the way the house is situated both the main front and kitchen/utility room doors face my house.  The latter is in direct view of my window.  It is the door used by all the family.  Only visitors seem to go to the main front entrance.

I walked across the front of the house and it was as I reached the main door that I realised it was ajar.  What to do?  I know the couple well enough for me to go inside their house on such an occasion.  To be extra careful I called 999 and spoke to the Police.  I was told they would send a car, but had no idea how long it would take.

Unable to contact the young couple at their places of employment I phoned ‘granny’ – my neighbour’s mother, for the alarm code.  She did not know it, but would make a call and get back to me.

I decided to go inside and take a look.

There I found a bunch of keys in the lower of two door locks.  I will not describe the locks for security reasons.  The bunch of keys were not the usual that you would carry about in your pocket.  Had an intruder found the spare set and already made off with his booty?

My mind was working faster than an Olympic Sprinter.  Was he/she still inside.  I had nothing to defend myself, so I picked up the nearest weapon I could find.* Sallying forth with new strength I walked from room to room. Nothing seemed amiss to me so I decided nothing could be done until I got the number to switch off the alarm or the police turned up.

The call came with the alarm code, so I was able to shut off the noise.  Almost immediately the Police arrived and were quickly followed by the granny.  We went indoors once more.  The police man and the granny moved from room to room and decided that nothing had been taken and that with the keys on the inside of the door….. it was an inside job!

I secured the house and we all went home.

It was later that evening I discovered the culprit.

No, not really, culprit is the wrong word.  it was my youngest Toyboy (age six) who unlocked and opened the door to let his sister’s school friends in, early that morning.  He pushed the door home but not firmly enough to close it properly. He never thought to tell his mum in the hustle and bustle of preparing for school and work, what he had done.  A strong gust of wind later that morning was enough to open the door and set off the alarm!

Since the family usually exit by the Kitchen door for work, school or play, the mum never thought to check the front door.

It was a good lesson all round without injury or damage to property.

What do you do when you hear an alarm?  Do you ignore it or go and investigate?

* Miss Marple has nothing on me……. Would you like to see the weapon I picked up?

It was one of these.  My Toyboy must have been playing with it in the morning and left it in the hallway. 🙂 At least it made the police smile.

P.S. Elly if you ever need to call the Emergency Services to scrape me up off the floor, please give concise directions!  The Police had to call me back to find out where to send that car, since we didn’t show up on their map or whatever they use…..  other variations did!  You will know exactly what I mean.  I have only lived here for 33 years, the listed places were still green fields back then!