Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether summer clothe the general earth
With greeness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

An Irish Journey - Part The First

The title of this post is chosen quite deliberately since for most of the time I was in Ireland we simply drove and drove and drove stopping occasionally for 5 or 10 minutes while everyone leaped out of the car to take photographs. Much of the time I wasn't all that sure where we were! I saw a great deal of beautiful scenery but didn't have chance to wander round and explore all the villages, tower houses and old ruined churches that we flew past. The pretty very English looking cottages above are in Adare in Co Limerick. I think the 13th century cathedral in Adare would have been worth looking round especially as it has a lovely circular columbarium (dovecote) but there wasn't time.

Our other stop in Adare was at the former Adare Manor which is now a hotel and golf club. Standing in the grounds on the bank of the River Maigue is this magnificent Cedar of Lebanon which is said to have been planted in 1645. To give you an idea of its size the two small figures on the left of the photo are my friend C and myself.

I know where this was only because I took a photo of the sign in the car park! It's Dunguaire Castle, a 16th century tower house on the shore of Galway Bay. It was once the site of the 7th century stronghold of Guaire the legendary King of Connaught. It is open to the public but it was still closed for the winter the day we were there.

This is the view over Galway Bay from the castle.

I couldn't resist this little group of cattle with the wonderful drystone wall in the background. Irish drystone walls are quite different to those in England, they are all higgledy piggledy but the end result is really attractive.

This beautiful beach is somewhere on the road between Ballyvaughan and Doolin in Co Clare. It might be Fanore but don't quote me!

This lunar landscape is part of the Burren and I would have loved to spend some time walking and exploring among the rocks. The Burren is an area of limestone pavement and has an incredibly rich assortment of wild flowers and butterflies some of them very rare indeed.

By the end of the day the weather had deteriorated drastically and by the time we arrived at the Cliffs of Moher the strong wind had been joined by a hailstorm of biblical proportions hence the rather atmospheric photographs. Just holding the camera still was nearly impossible. If you enlarge the photo you can see the hail - in fact you can see it anyway!

The Cliffs of Moher are a really stunning sight rising to over 700 feet above the Atlantic Ocean at their highest point. I am so glad that I first saw them many years ago when they were still unspoilt. Now there is a huge car park, a visitor centre, a row of shops and a cafe built into the hillside and fences and paths and steps all over the place. The first time I came it was still wild and open and you parked at the side of the little road and walked right up to the cliff edge - if you had the courage and a head for heights that is:) I'm so glad I still have that memory and I shall do my best to forget what I saw on this trip. Apart from the dramatic skies that is.

This is Caher House which was our home while we were in Ireland, it's a lovely Georgian manor house set in 300 acres and came complete with resident deerhound:) Actually the deerhound lived with the caretaker in a nearby cottage but she appeared every day looking for any food scraps that were going:) I should have taken her photo but for some reason I never quite got round to it. It was cold for the whole of our stay in Ireland so it was great to come back in the evenings and sit in front of a lovely log fire. All we had to do was light them, the caretaker cleaned them out and brought in fresh logs every day. So that was Monday and Tuesday - more scenery to come an another post:)


Jenny Woolf said...

What fabulous photos! I'm sorry you didn't have the chance to explore more thoroughly- what a beautiful place Ireland is!

Nella said...

Oh to be able to know how to construct a dry stone wall, Rowan! I love all the photos, beautiful.....and your two little grandaughters, so blessed....I am still hoping,
one day....I love all the pastoral scenes. Thank you for sharing,N.xo

Mac n' Janet said...

Our trip to Ireland was in the summer, England was Hot, so we were hopeful that Ireland would be too. HA! It was cold and rainy the whole time we were there. Looks like you had better weather. Where you stayed was beautiful.

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

A grand tour, even if you weren't always sure of your exact location!
One day I shall get to Ireland - it's a total mystery that I haven't been already.

Diane said...

It all looks so breathtakingly beautiful Rowan. Stunning. xxx

elaine rickett said...

You took some lovely pictures of beautiful scenery despite the weather - there is such a lot of history attached to Ireland isn't there - fascinating stuff.

Roy said...

Unusual rock formation D. and the lovely old Yew tree looks massive.

Louise said...

Lovely scenery and photos. What a shame you didn't have time to explore but seeing a little bit is better than nothing - I haven't been to Ireland at all, though I'd like to.

PAT said...

What a beautiful post, Rowan. Absolutely wonderful!

Janet said...

I always enjoy your trips...and this one is wonderful even though you didn't get to explore much. Beautiful photos. That limestone area looks quite interesting although a bit sad and lonely.

MorningAJ said...

What amazing scenery! I've only seen a small part of Ireland but it is a lovely place.

Cheryl said...

What a lovely trip on a wet Sunday afternoon :) Felt like I was there.

The Cedar is I love those trees.

Dry stone walls are a passion of mine. When we visit Cornwall each year, I spend more time looking at the walls than the scenery around them. I love the way the plants grow out of them and small creatures tuck themselves away. Full of mystery.......

Lovely post.....and yes log fires are the best. I have one ready to light tonight, as once again it is cold here :( Unfortunately I do not have a caretaker to do it for me :)

Kath said...

I'm very much enjoying the Irish posts, my in-laws live in co Limerick and we lived on the east coast for a year while Husband worked from his Dublin office.
I loved the Irish wolfhounds, they reminded me that when we were in Ireland, we were asked over and over, if our lurchers were Irish wolfhound puppies :-)

Mark and Gaz said...

Simply stunning!

George said...

This is going to be a great treat for me, Rowan. My paternal ancestors were Gaelic Irish and I have spent a great deal of time wandering around Ireland. The rugged west country is just magnificent. I look forward to seeing the rest of your photos and reading more of your commentary.

*Sheila* said...

Too bad you had wet days, but that's what makes Ireland green they tell me!
Your photos make me want to visit more than ever, it all looks so interesting.
Is there anything worse than being with people who never stop to actually 'see' the sights?
How frustrating for you. I know how you love to poke around and uncover the history and stories behind the scenes.
Looking forward to reading more about your trip soon .

Susan said...

Breathtaking photos Rowan! I love seeing all the greenery, and those cliffs are magnificent. The castle is amazing, too. What a trip!

Mary said...

I can almost hear Celtic music playing in the background while looking closely at the large versions of your lovely photos! You did see some beautiful scenery. A shame to hear the Cliffs of Moher have become commercialized like that! Bob's paternal grandparents were from the Ring of Kerry area - he's visited but I still have to take a trip there.

Lovely journey, thanks for sharing Rowan.

P.S. Thanks for your nice comments on my latest travels - I do appreciate you taking time to read my posts Rowan.

JoAnn ( Scene Through My Eyes) said...

The photos are lovely and the cliffs magnificent. I am sorry to hear they have been so commercialized - I thought our country was the one doing that to scenic wonders. I'm glad you had the earlier chance to explore them unspoiled.

Lovely tour - even if it was quick. Thank you.

Rosie said...

It all looks lovely! Such a shame you didn't have time to potter around some of the places you found interesting - it does sound like a whistle-stop tour. The house you stayed in looks woncerful:)

Bovey Belle said...

I remember going to the Burren. It was very atmospheric, and down between the limestone cracks were little relict plants from when there was soil there, and trees . . . I remember Wood Sage and Dogs Mercury I think.

Lovely photos.