Thursday, September 24, 2015

Burnchurch Castle

Burnchurch Castle is a 15th Century Norman tower house that has aged very well.
Built by the Burnchurch branch of the Fitzgerald family, little of the history of the castle is known.  
The castle is six storeys high and was originally connected to a walled courtyard.
The turret like tower to the left of the castle still has part of a wall showing at the base.  

The interior has a vault under the castle with the main chamber built above it.
Access to the upper floors is via a curved staircase, which is built inside the walls.
Also within the walls are a number of passages which include a secret room on the fourth floor.

The castle was occupied until 1817 and came into state care in 1993 and is now listed as a National Monument.

Access - The site although very close to the road is located on a bad bend.
Parking can be found to one side of the entrance (on a working farm), leaving a small walk to the castle.


Friday, September 11, 2015

The Kilnasaggart Pillar Stone

The beautiful inscribed stone of Kilnasaggart can be found in a very quite and peaceful hedged enclosure.

The stone is over 2 meters in height and is said to be one of the oldest inscribed stones in Ireland.

There are a total of 13 crosses on the stone's faces and it carries the inscription (roughly translated to be) "This place bequeathed by Temoc, son of Ceran Bic, under the patronage of Peter, the Apostle".

The death of Temoc is recorded around 714 which would date the stone in the early 700s.

Excavations of the site in the 1960s uncovered a number of stone built graves close to the stone, the enclosure has many of these stones lying around.

Access  - The site is a short drive from the Jonesborough exit from the N1.
Parking can be found at the cattle gate.
You will have to walk through two fields to reach the enclosure (cattle may be in the fields). 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Kilree Round Tower Church and High Cross

The Round Tower of Kilree could not be in a better setting.
A short drive from the M9 brings you to this peaceful slice of early Christianity.

The round tower which is capless is 28 meters in height.
The doorway is under 2 meters from the built up level of the graveyard.
The tower has 7 windows with 4 located in the bell storey.

The high cross is located at the back of the tower and graveyard, just a short walk across a field.
The cross is made of sandstone and is 2.75 meters in height.
Although well worn you can still see how beautifully the cross was once decorated.

The history of the site is somewhat unknown with both the tower and high cross thought to date back to the 9th Century.
Of the more recent history the Dean of Ossory  transferred the lands to the nearby Priory of Kells in the 13th Century.

Access - Parking is the real problem as the road beside the site is quite narrow.

Kilree is just one of those sites that makes you want to spend some time, so quite and with a really nice atmosphere.      


Friday, August 7, 2015

Gurteen Stone Circle

The superb but badly overgrown circle of Gurteen is even allowing for its present state a must see.

Eleven of the original twelve stones still stand.
This Circle also has a boulder burial stone as its centre piece.
The circle is just over 10 meters in diameter.
The stones in the circle vary in height from over 1 meter to just over 2.5 meters.

The location of this site really makes it special with scenic views all round and during my visit total silence.

Access The Circle is quite easy to find compared to other sites close by.
Park at the cattle gate (climb over) and walk up around the corner the circle will be on your Left.

Beware if visiting after rain as the ground around the site gets very bogey and cattle sometimes graze close by.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Kilcash Castle

Kilcash Castle is a fortified tower dating from the 16th century.
The five stories high tower has recently undergone some long running restoration (so the ruin is now scaffolding free for the first time in a long time).
The ruins of the adjoining hall were added at a later unknown date.

The castle is mostly associated with the Butler family who were very prominent in the surrounding area.

The castle at one stage was occupied by Lord Castlehaven a noted Confederate Catholic Commander in the 1641 - 52 war.

These days the castle is most associated with the song Caoine Cill Chaise (A Lament for Kilcash) which mourns the death Margaret Butler (1744).

Kilcash had fallen into ruin by the mid 19thCentury.
The trustees of the Ormond  estate sold the castle to the State in 1997 for £500.

The castle is signposted from the N24 (and can be seen clearly from the road).
The site as of a couple of weeks ago is still closed off - you can get up close but the castle itself is locked up very securely.   

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Three Friars

The Three Friars of County Kilkenny can be found standing high on a hill overlooking a crossroads of the same name. The area's name derives from the murder of 3 friars by Cromwell's soldiers in 1651.

The three granite stone alignment is just under 5 meters in length.
The tallest of the stones is over 1.2 meters in height.
All three stones are whitewashed not uncommon in Ireland for single or stone pair stones, but to my knowledge this is unusual for a stone alignment.   

Access  - The stones can be spotted quite easily from the main Mullinvat to New Ross road (R704). A good marker for the alignment is the wind turbine farm located close by.
Enter the field beside the holy well and a short climb brings you up to the stones.
Also in the field is a boulder burial.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Ballyquin Portal Tomb (Mothel Dolmen)

The setting for Ballyquin Portal Tomb aka Mothel Dolmen really could not be better.
The site can be found in rich pasture land at the bottom of a valley with a stream running close by.

The tomb although now only resting on its two front portal stones still has a great look about it.
The large capstone is over 4 meters in length and 2.5 meters in width, the depth of the capstone is close a meter.
The two portal stones are 1.5 meters in height.

A short distance away from the tomb stands a lone stone (bottom image) that is 1.5 meters in height.
This stone is thought to have belonged to another tomb that was close by but not in the present stones location.

Access - The tomb can be seen from the road, parking can be found opposite the Holy Well (the other side of the stream). The field sometimes has cattle keeping guard of the site.