Glendalough Monastic Site – County Wicklow, Ireland

Glendalough (Gleann Dá Loch, meaning “Valley of two lakes”) is a glacial valley in County Wicklow, Ireland, renowned for an early 6th century monastic settlement founded by Saint Kevin. The area is absolutely stunning, and the monastic “city” was on our list of places to visit while in Ireland.

The ancient ruins of Glendalough include several churches and an impressive 30-meter-high round tower. The valley stretches for approximately 3km in an area of outstanding natural beauty. Glendalough’s Upper Lake was the original site of the monastic settlement and features Reefert Church, Temple-na-Skellig, Saint Kevin’s Cell, Saint Kevin’s Bed, the Caher, and several high crosses. ~discoverireland.ie

The most impressive building that could be seen for miles was the Round Tower

The most famous of all the landmarks in Glendalough is the Round Tower which stands 33 meters above the ground. It was built almost 1000 years ago by the monks of St. Kevin’s monastery. The conical roof had to be replaced in 1876 when it was struck by lightning. The towers were called “Cloigtheach”, meaning bell tower, suggesting their main use. The towers were sometimes used as a place of refuge for monks when the monastery was under attack. They also served as both as lookout posts and as beacons foe approaching monks and pilgrims. ~ visitwicklow.ie

St. Kevin’s Kitchen (Church)

St. Kevin’s Church better known as St. Kevin’s Kitchen is a nave-and-chancel church of the 12th century. It is called St Kevin’s kitchen because people believed that the bell tower was a chimney to a kitchen but really no food was ever cooked there. This stone-roofed building originally had a nave only, with entrance at the west end and a small round-headed window in the east gable. The belfry with its conical cap and four small windows rises from the west end of the stone roof in the form of a miniature round tower. ~ visitwicklow.ie

I wish we would have been able to stay longer in the area and hike in the glaciated valley… Maybe next time!

To view Dan’s post from this leg of out trip, click HERE

Killarney National Park, a Ladies View, and a Haunted Church

 

We continued our drive through Killarney National Park and found many treasures along the way. From a Ladies View, a haunted church, multiple leprechaun sightings, and of course, more sheep 😉

Ladies View

Ladies View is about 12 miles from Killarney on the N71 road as you go towards Kenmare. The view here is probably the best known of Killarney and is a major attraction for visitors. Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting visited here during the royal visit in 1861. They were so taken with the view that it was named after them. The Irish Times ranked Ladies View as one of the most photographed places in Ireland

A Haunted Church

Derrycunnihy Church is 120-years old and sits about halfway between the famous tunnel and Ladies View on N71 in the heart of Killarney National Park. The old church has long since been abandoned but is currently going through renovations. Many years ago, a girl died when she was knocked off her bicycle outside the church on her way home.  It has been mentioned that a young girl dressed in white can still be seen wandering around outside the church late at night and if you ask the locals, they’ll tell you that she’s still trying to make her way home. There have also been many reports over the years that the ‘girl in white’ appears INSIDE passing cars. We did not meet this little girl, but we did manage to capture images of this stunning church.


Killarney National Park and Leprechaun Crossings

While hiking this area, we found quite a few breathtaking views which of course, included more sheep 😉

I hope you enjoyed the stop! I am thankful for my family and friends; stay safe everyone!

To visit Dan’s Blog about this area click –> here

Cliffs of Moher, County Clare

Vaughan’s Anchor Inn

I have to agree with Dan when he said, “The food at Vaughan’s Anchor Inn was divine. Prior to the main course, the chef brought out a sample of his parsnip puree; absolutely scrumptious. Vaughan’s Fish and Chips dinner consisted of Cod in a 9-year-old (starter) batter served with homemade tartar sauce, chips that were steamed, then fried in beef drippings and Pea Puree….Wow! One of the best fish and chips we had experienced on our trip.

After a wonderful meal, we made our way to the Cliffs of Moher. The visitor center closed, and all the tour buses had left for the night so there were not many people around.  We did manage a lengthy hike before the sun set under the horizon; first to O’Brien’s Tower and then back South along Burren Way. The path was easy, and it was shaping up to be a beautiful evening. We made our way south on foot towards a site where we could take in the sunset with O’Brien’s’ Tower in the background.

We were serenaded by the wind as it hit the fence along the path much in a way that a lover would play music in the night under the window of his loved one.

At the end of the 16th to early 19th centuries, young nobles would embark on grand tours of Europe and Irish travel journals around the time of 1780 give many descriptions of the beauty of County Clare and the Cliffs of Moher. Cornelius O’Brien (1782–1857), a descendant of the first High King of Ireland, made many improvements to the area which included the construction of a tower that was erected in 1835 (now referred to as O’Brien’s tower).  He believed that the development of tourism would benefit the local economy and to this day, he was right!

Situated in County Clare along the wild Atlantic Way, the Cliffs of Moher have majestically faced the Atlantic for over 350 million years and their beauty is incomparable. The cliffs reach 214m (702 feet) in height at their highest point; the sheer scale and their dramatic impact never ceases to amaze and will delight in equal measure. The Cliffs of Moher are Ireland’s most visited tourist attraction; when you visit, you will understand why. – cliffsofmoher.ie

I would highly recommend a visit to Ireland’s top tourist attraction, the breathtaking Cliffs of Moher.

Cliffs of Moher Walk

Click here to see Dan’s images from that area.

Our Drive Continues – Cong, Ireland

Our sixth day in Ireland was a full one; this post is just the half of it.  We started off at Aughnanure Castle and drove part way around Lough Corrib to Ross Errilly Franciscan Friary.  We continued our loop around the lough to the North and arrived in Cong. The city is situated on an island formed by a number of streams that surround it on all sides and is known for its underground streams that connect Lough Corrib with Lough Mask to the North.

Cong Abbey

The ruins of the former Augustinian abbey mostly date to the 13th century and have been described as featuring some of the finest examples of early Gothic architecture and masonry in Ireland.

The Monk’s Fishing House is located on the former grounds of Cong Abbey. This ingenious structure was built sometime in the 16th century on a platform over the River Cong. A small arched opening allows the river to flow underneath the floor of the building and a trapdoor allowed the monks to drop a net to catch fish. A line was then connected to the kitchen in the monastery to alert of a fresh catch. The house also had a chimney and a fireplace to keep the monks nice and warm whilst fishing.

The day was still young; we made our way West toward the next destination, Roundstone and beyond. See you all there!

Click here to view Dan’s post from that day.

Aughnanure Castle

We woke to yet another beautiful day full of sunshine. After our delicious traditional Irish breakfast, we said our goodbyes to the owner of the B & B and started our daily adventure. A very short distance away from the B & B, stood Aughnanure Castle. Of course we had to take in a tour!

The name Aughnanure comes from the Gaelic, Achadh na nIubhar – the field of yews.  One very old specimen remains nearby the gates.

The uses and mythology of the Yew Tree are quite interesting:

  • Yew timber is incredibly strong and durable. Traditionally, the wood was used in turnery to make long bows and tool handles. One of the World’s oldest surviving wooden artifacts is a Yew spear head estimated to be around 450,000 years old.
  • Anti-cancer compounds are harvested from the foliage of Taxus baccata and is used in modern medicine. Eating just a few leaves can make a small child severely ill and there have been some deaths linked to yew poisoning. All parts of the tree are poisonous.
  • Yew trees are associated with churchyards and there are at least 500 churchyards in England which contain yew trees older than the buildings themselves. It is not clear why, but it is thought that yew trees were planted on the graves of plague victims to protect and purify the dead, and also in churchyards to stop ‘commoners’ from grazing their cattle on church ground as yew is extremely poisonous to livestock.

Aughnanure Castle and grounds

The castle, which stands on what is a rocky peninsula, is a particularly well preserved example of an Irish Tower house. Though the castle did finally succumb to superior cannon power, the O’Flahertys knew well enough how to protect themselves. The great rectangular Tower House is protected inside two alls or enclosures. The inner enclosure is wedge-shaped with walls pierced with gun-loops. The remains of a gatehouse and drawbridge are at the northwestern corner. On the northern side, the Drimneed River adds a natural defense line. the outer ward consisting of a large irregular enclosure protected by a much more extensive outer brawn wall, which had five wall towers at intervals along its length, to provide a greater variety of angles from which to shoot at attackers.

You can view Dan’s post about this site here.

This was our morning stop; I cannot wait to share more of this day with you. See you all very soon!

Glenveagh National Park, County Donegal

We would have loved to stay longer in Northern Ireland and will definitely be back one day. Onward to our next stop…  Ardlenagh View B&B  near the town of Donegal in the Republic of Ireland. There is much to see in County Donegal such as, Donegal Castle, Glenveagh, Slieve League (one of my favorite areas), the Atlantic Way, and many others. We made our way around the northwestern tip of the Republic of Ireland and stopped to see the sights that Glenveagh National Park has to offer.

Glenveagh Castle was built between 1870 and 1873 by Captain John George Adair. It stands within the boundaries of Glenveagh National Park, near both Churchill and Gweedore in County Donegal, Ireland. It is built in the Scottish Baronial style and consists of a four-story rectangular keep, surrounded by a garden, and a backdrop of some 40,000 plus acres of mountains, lakes, glens, and woods complete with a herd of red deer. The Irish Gleann Bheatha (Bheithe) translates into English as “Glen of the Birch Trees”.

One could easily spend the day exploring Glenveagh National Park. There are many hiking paths to take in the beauty of this remote wilderness.  We didn’t have much time to spend in the park, but wanted to see the castle and the surrounding garden.

See you at our next stop! Cheers!

Downhill Demesne and the Mussenden Temple, Part 4/4

The Mausoleum was built a distance away from the Downhill Castle to the South. Constructed in 1783 in honor of his lordship’s elder brother George, 2nd Earl of Bristol, who died in 1775.  In 1839, a hurricane damaged the structure which has laid in ruin ever since. The mausoleum stands between the Lion’s Gate and the Bishop’s Gate.

The Lion’s Gate was one of the access points to the property; Bishops Gate is the other access point.

We were not able to visit all areas of the property since time was ticking and we had to be on our way to the next area of exploration in the Republic of Ireland.  We very much enjoyed Northern Ireland and will be back someday.

 

Downhill Demesne and the Mussenden Temple, Part 3/4

Downhill Demesne

The Bishops House at Downhill Demesne (also known as Downhill House or Downhill Castle) is an immense and impressive structure. This image of the structure will provide you with insight in how large the ruined structure is and will help provide scale to the images in the gallery below.

The Downhill Castle was built in the late 18th century for Frederick, 4th Earl of Bristol and Lord Bishop of Derry (popularly known as ‘the Earl-Bishop’), at Downhill, County Londonderry. Much of the building was destroyed by fire in 1851 before being rebuilt in the 1870s. It fell into disrepair after the Second World War.

During World War Two, the house was used to billet Royal Air Force servicemen and women. The Bruce family continued to own the house until 1946. By 1950, it had been dismantled and the surrounding land sold. The house was acquired by the National Trust in 1980 whereas the Mussenden temple had become a Trust property in the 1940s.

Downhill Demesne and the Mussenden Temple, Part 2/4

Mussenden Temple

Just the night before, we were standing on Downhill Strand which is the stretch of beach below this gorgeous structure.

This morning we decided to visit the Mussenden Temple up close and personal.

Named in honor of his cousin Mrs. Frideswide Mussenden, whose beauty he greatly admired, this was the Bishop’s library. Its walls were once lined with bookcases. A fire was kept burning constantly in the basement. This and its enclosed flue meant that, even in this very exposed location, the books never got damp.

“I intend to build a Grecian temple in Frideswide’s honor…I intend to build it on the edge of a cliff. It will give employment to the poor, to the district and employment.” The Earl Bishop was clearly heart broken when Frideswide died.

Over the years the erosion of the cliff face at Downhill has brought Mussenden Temple ever closer to the edge, and in 1997 The National Trust carried out cliff stabilization work to prevent the loss of the building.

The inscription around the building reads:

Suave, mari magno turbantibus aequora ventis
e terra magnum alterius spectare laborem.

“Tis pleasant, safely to behold from shore
The troubled sailor, and hear the tempests roar.”

Downhill Demesne and the Mussenden Temple, Part 1/4

Downhill Castle was built by the eccentric Frederick Hervey, 4th Earl of Bristol and Lord Bishop of Derry. The building of this massive structure began in 1772 which continued with the rear courtyards until the early 1790s.

Downhill Demesne, the Mussenden Temple, the grounds encompassing the temple, and its manor house (Downhill Castle) is now a National Trust property and is open to the public all year, from dawn to dusk. I would highly recommend a stop if ever in the area; the grounds and what it holds are beyond beautiful.

In the feudal system, a demesne was all the land which was retained by a lord of the manor for his own use and occupation or support, under his own management, as distinguished from land enfeoffed by him to others as sub-tenants.

The Demesne also includes a dovecote, walled gardens, a belvedere, or summer house, built for the Earl-Bishop’s daughter and a mausoleum dedicated to his brother George, 3rd Earl of Bristol, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. Travel along with us as we get closer to the remarkable structures that the property contains.