Ross Errilly Franciscan Friary

After spending a couple hours at Aughnanure Castle, we started our adventure for the day. One of my favorite pastimes is to drive the countryside just exploring roads never seen. Well, it certainly paid off this day! Driving along taking in the beautiful Ireland scenery, we spotted a bell tower off in the distance and decided to head that way to investigate. This was the route we were following as we drove around Lough Corrib.

To our astonishment, we ran into one of the most impressive and complete Franciscan foundations in Ireland. While we were getting our camera’s situated, a nice gentleman came walking down to road to greet us. He continued to walk with us to the ruins while providing us with a wonderful historical account of the friary. We spent a lot of time here; it is very easy to do and there was so much to explore!  I would have to agree with Dan, “The structure and surrounding countryside is quite picturesque.  It is easy to image the monks living here and farming the land.”

The Franciscan friary of Ross Errilly lies on the banks of the Black River, a natural border which divides the modern counties of Galway and Mayo before it enters Lough Corrib.  One of the most impressive surviving Franciscan friaries in Ireland, Ross Errilly is located 2km North West of the Galway village of Headford.  It was founded at some point between the mid-fourteenth and late fifteenth centuries.

The church and bell tower are to the south of a small but well preserved central cloister and domestic buildings are to the north. Among these are a kitchen (equipped with an oven and a water tank for live fish from the river), a bake house, and a refectory or dining area. The dormitories are on the upper levels. One unusual feature is a second courtyard or cloister, built to accommodate the friary’s growing population.

Like many other abandoned Christian sites in Ireland, Ross Errilly has continued to be used as a burial ground by area residents. In addition to tombs that date from the friary’s active period, many graves dating from the 18th through 20th centuries can be found inside the church walls. In some cases, tombstones comprise the floors of walkways and crawlspaces. ~ monastic.ie

The decline of Ross Errilly Friary

After that Ross Abbey was occupied on and off until around 1753 when it finally had to be abandoned.  Practicing the Catholic faith was illegal under the penal laws, and the penalties were severe. It came to the stage where local support for the monks while they were living in the building was no longer viable. The monks then built huts on a small river island nearby. enjoy-irish-culture.com

Today, the ruin of Ross Errilly is maintained by the Office of Public Works and is open to the public free of charge. It has been used as a filming location for Bad Karma, The Suicide Club, Moving Target & the series Reign.

Another wonderful memory made! I was in awe of the history and character that filled this place and feel very fortunate that we had the chance to experience this site. Here is a short video Dan made while walking through a section of the ruins (do not pay attention to my geeky self) 😉

A portion of our walk through (dantraun.com)

You can see Dan’s post and images from this day here.

Have a wonderful week everyone and stay safe. Sending love to all of you; see you at our next stop!

The Town of Donegal and Donegal Castle

On our next leg of the journey, we explored the area between Dunlewey and the town of Donegal. We stayed close to the coast and followed N56, traveling through Dungloe, Lettermacaward and Bogagh on our way to our next B & B, Ardlenagh View B&B, which was a short distance from the town of Donegal. We stayed our third night and started our fourth day in Irelend in this wonderful town. After and good night sleep and fulfilling breakfast, we toured the Donegal Castle and stopped in a few of the local shops. Everyone we ran into so far on this trip was welcoming and extremely friendly.

Donegal Castle is a castle situated in the centre of Donegal Town in County Donegal in Ulster, Ireland. For most of the last two centuries, the majority of the buildings lay in ruins, but the castle was almost fully restored in the early 1990s.

The castle consists of a 15th-century rectangular keep with a later Jacobean style wing. The complex is sited on a bend in the River Eske, near the mouth of Donegal Bay, and is surrounded by a 17th-century boundary wall. There is a small gatehouse at its entrance mirroring the design of the keep. Most of the stonework was constructed from locally sourced limestone with some sandstone. The castle was the stronghold of the O’Donnell clan, Lords of Tír Conaill and one of the most powerful Gaelic families in Ireland from the 5th to the 16th centuries.

This was a fun filled day and one of the most memorable birthdays thus far! See you at our next stop.

County Donegal and the Old Dunlewey Church

After spending the morning hiking and taking in the sights of Glenveagh Castle and its grounds, we traveled the roads heading south to our next bed and breakfast and found many treasures along the way.

Not too far from Glenveugh National Park, near Gweedore in County Donegal lies a gem in ruins… The Old Church of Dunlewey. I could only imagine what beauty this church once held and would have loved to see the stained glass that adorned the windows. Constructed of white marble and blue quartzite, I am sure this building will stand for many years to come. It is a beautiful building and is a lasting memorial to a great love affair. That of James Russell, once the landlord of the Dunlewey estate in Donegal, and his wife Jane.

Nestled at the foot of Errigal (the hightest mountain in County Donegal) and overlooking the beautiful Poisoned Glen sits the beautiful ‘Old Church of Dunlewey’.

Jane Smith Russell had the church built as a memorial to her husband, James Russell, landlord of the Dunlewey Estate, who died on 2nd September 1848.  James Russell was laid to rest in a vault under the church floor.  The church was consecrated on 1st September 1853 as a Chapel of Ease to Tullaghabegley.  Tullaghabegley was the parish consisting of the present-day Gweedore and Cloughaneely parishes.

The church is built of white marble and blue quartzite which was quarried locally.  The supply of marble in the nearby quarry has now been depleted.  The red brick in the arches of the windows was produced locally.  Remnants of the brickfield are still visible near Oilean Ghrainne when the level of the lake is lowered.

Stop by and see Dan’s images if the Old Dunlewey Church: http://traun-photo.com/dan/dunlewey-church/

Chasing Ghost Stories, Faribault, MN

Dan and I enjoy photographing abandoned properties immensely.  The excitement of stepping back into history, and the wonder of what transpired in these ruins can be mind-boggling.

Research is key in finding and exploring abandoned properties.  Ohhhh, the Internet… What a wonderful place for information, sometimes.  As I was briefly searching that morning, (yes, I have to own up to this one) I came across rumors of an old abandoned asylum within an hour or so of our home.  What a find, I thought as my heart started beating faster.

Rumor, after rumor, after rumor, I read:

“I was walking through the tunnel and it leads to the old asylum”

“We even went to the other entrance by Teepee Tonka Park but did not find the tunnel leading up to the asylum”

“ Then walk through the halls.  With 5-6 rooms to the left and right.  Walk through that then it goes on another trail.  Follow it to your left, it brings you to what I though was the tunnel that people were talking about but it is just a bunker room in the hill.”

As I was reading the posts and information regarding the property, I found that there were no directions posted as to how to reach this place directly and it seemed like there was confusion as to which property they were actually writing about. It was like reading a treasure map; picking information out of this post and obtaining information from another.   No matter what we found on this photography outing, I knew that the day would be fun.  With time running out for the research portion, I gathered what I had (although confusing) and we headed off with the starting point at Teepee Tonka Park in Faribault, MN.  We did find the trail in the back corner of the park and headed on our way.  It was a beautiful sunny day; not too hot, not too cold and we were spending the day exploring as we tried to piece together the bread crumbs found on the internet.

From this trail, we did find the tunnels and ventured through them.  I could have gone the whole day without seeing the bats and spiders, but the experience and the memory made was worth it.  Dan was on his game and took every opportunity to joke with me, whether if it were the noises he made in the complete darkness of the tunnels,  or telling me that there was a bat right above me as I stopped to take a picture, or cracking a joke about how we were chancing ghost stories.  Paybacks can be fun 🙂

We might have not found the old asylum, or whatever the abandoned buildings these posts were actually talking about, and that was okay.  What we did encounter was a superb day spent together as we laughed and we joked.   We got to spend a day in the great outdoors doing what we love…  What could be better than that?  Please take some time and join us on this day as you page through the images below.

A Little Reinforcement: Why we do what we do in photography.

We started our 4th of July 2012 with a photography trip through Porcupine – an unincorporated community in Pepin County, WI.  Air temperatures were expected to approach records, and the heat index was near 110 degrees in some areas, but the sweltering heat did not stop us as we ventured out that day.  Our plan was to photograph the beautiful rolling hills of this area and to visit an old, abandoned farmhouse that Dan had photographed in the winter of 2011.

Instantly, sweat started forming on our brows as we stepped out of the air-conditioned car.  The light caught my eye as it danced across the roof of the old farmhouse and I thought to myself “This place is worth the sweltering heat” and stepped inside.  With any abandoned building there comes a story – one you may know while others are fabricated in your mind as you view what was left behind.  As I walk the floors of these abandoned buildings sometimes my mind does wander and I become lost behind my camera’s viewfinder.  Dan is usually right there bringing me back into reality when the dangers of walking into these buildings become apparent.  However, on this particular day the roles were somewhat reversed only I didn’t see the threat coming… neither did Dan.  All I heard was a crack, bang, and a rustle, followed by air escaping from Dan’s mouth.  As I turned around, I saw Dan pulling his leg out of the old floorboards.  After making sure he was okay (seeing only a few scraps and a large bruise forming on his upper thigh), I turned to hide a smile that was forming on my lips.  Sometimes, I have this problem of seeing the humor in events at the wrong time (only after making sure no one is hurt of course).  A smile did form on Dan’s face as well after the realization that he too can become engrossed in what he is trying to photograph.  Among the rickety floorboards was the sight of bird nests constructed on the old walls and the intense sound of humming from within the walls and ceilings… Yes, the vibration caused by the movement of thousands of tiny little wings was heard and felt. We left with the appreciation of Mother Nature in how it can adapt by turning the ruins of man into a shelter or temporary home.

In the winter of 2013, we again took the trip out to Porcupine Valley to visit this old farmstead only to see the ruins of its’ foundation.

d200-sunday-drive-044

We had learned later that this home was burnt to the ground in December of 2012.  To make way for new, old structures are demolished and a little piece of history is gone forever.

This is why we do what we do.

To see Dan’s work from this site, please click on the following links:
Porcupine Valley Farmstead

Porcupine Valley Farmstead – Revisited