Last year, in May, I volunteered at The Kerrygold Ballymaloe Litfest. I had a great time and would have been happy to do it again this year but the dates didn’t fit in with my schedule. When I arrived home last year I found on the door mat a Thank you from Ballymaloe along with a ‘voucher’ to enjoy a day at the school to include a garden visit, lunch and a cookery demonstration. I realised that I could make this fit into my plans and booked for Thursday 9 June. Upon arrival I was given a badge and garden plan and after a cup of tea had a wander around the fascinating grounds surrounding the Cookery School.
Earlier this year I read and enjoyed Thomas Pakenham’s ‘The Company of Trees’. Thomas Pakenham wrote the book as a form of diary for the year 2013 mainly about his interest in conserving trees on his estate at Tullynally Castle in Ireland and collecting seeds for further propagation from distant areas in in the world. During that year he travelled to Tibet and China and the Andes. He peppered the diary with other information about the gardens/arboretum at Tullynally and much more personal information besides. In this was it differed from his previous tree books – Meetings with Remarkable Trees; Remarkable Trees of the World; In search of Remarkable Trees; The Remarkable Baobab.
Last September when I met up with my online book group friend sherry in Marion, Massachusetts she presented me with a copy of Elizabeth Bowen‘s ‘The Shelbourne Hotel : an enchanting account […] of the hotel that for more than a century has been at the heart of Irish life’. Tucked inside the book was this postcard (no date, but probably early 20th century) :
On our last day together in Ireland Monique and I were staying at Howth Harbour overlooking Dublin Bay. We had decided to take a walk round the Head following the Bog of Frogs Loop and Purple Arrows. Here is adapted the website description interspersed with my own photos. And here is a map of the route taken. Continue reading
Last year on my final day in southern Ireland I travelled up to County Fermanagh in the north via Bru na Boinne or Newgrange the designated UNESCO World Heritage Site in Co. Meath. I approached the site from the west and toddled a long a very quiet road, turned into the car park and was stunned to find it full of cars and coaches. Apparently from the other direction traffic comes directly from the M1 Dublin-Belfast motorway.
The ancient ecclesiastical site of Clonmacnoise, located south of a beautiful bend in the River Shannon in Co. Offaly, is one of the most popular in Ireland. Consequently, a visit on Sunday afternoon proved fairly busy and we only just managed to find a parking space. However, 4pm was a good time to arrive as the crowds were beginning to leave.
River Shannon Below Clonmacnoise
Last year I wrote about the Gate Lodges of Ulster and selected a few that I had come across during my brief, but very enjoyable, stay in the Six Counties. I was due to stay in a further Gate Lodge in Northern Ireland this year but a last minute call from the Irish Landmark Office lead to a change of accommodation, and even country.
It seems this year that my trip to Ireland could be divided into two ‘themes’. We visited several ancient sites and also many gardens.
Approaching Cairn T
“Bloomsday is a celebration that takes place both in Dublin and around the world. It celebrates Thursday 16 June 1904, which is the day depicted in James Joyce’s novel Ulysses. The day is named after Leopold Bloom, the central character in Ulysses. The novel follows the life and thoughts of Leopold Bloom and a host of other characters – real and fictional – from 8am on 16 June 1904 through to the early hours of the following morning.
Celebrations often include dressing up like characters from the book and in clothes that would have been the style of the era. One of the hallmark fancy dress items of Bloomsday is the straw boater hat. Celebrations come in many different forms like readings, performances and visiting the places and establishments that are referenced in the book. The Bloomsday Breakfast is another common celebration, which involves eating the same breakfast as Leopold Bloom consumes on the morning of 16 June. This includes liver and kidneys alongside the typical ingredients of an Irish fried breakfast.”
Joyce’s Table set for Breakfast at The Martello Tower Continue reading
It’s beginning to seem like every place in Ireland has ancient connections and that this thread will run and run. But here is another walk description of the ancient port of Youghal (pronounced Yawl), Co. Cork. My walk was a guided one with local town crier, Clifford, in his full town-crying regalia. But it more less followed the suggested Town Walk in this leaflet which I have abbreviated here.