Thursday, July 24, 2014

Ross Castle

Ross Castle must be the most photographed castle in Ireland as on the morning of my visit there had to be upwards of two hundred people all milling about and all seemed to have cameras. Extreme patience was required to get the above shots.

The castle is considered to be a typical example of the type of stronghold of an Irish Chieftain during the Middle Ages.
Probably built in the late 15th century by one of the O'Donoghue Ross chieftains.
The castle is better known for its association with the Browne's of Killarney who owned the castle most recently.

The four storey square keep is built on a rocky outcrop on Ross Island by the shore of Lough Leane.
The castle is surrounded by a square defensive wall with two of the four original corner towers surviving today.

Ross Castle is said to be the last stronghold in Munster to hold out against Cromwell.
It was eventually taken by General Ludlow in 1652 - when it was fired upon from the lake.

The castle has been much altered in the intervening years.
It came into state care in the 70s and was restored by the OPW.
Allowing for the major restoration of the castle it still has plenty of its original character.

Access -  the castle is only a couple of minutes drive from Killarney town.
Parking is not a problem.
The inside of the castle can be viewed as part of a guided tour. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Garrane Stone Row / Alignment

The superb stone row of Garrane is along with the many other stone row alignments in county Cork well worth the effort of checking out.

The four stone row stands North East - South West.
Sadly one of the stones has fallen.
The three stones that still stand range from the tallest at a massive 4.5 meters with the two smaller stones an impressive 3.5 and 3 meters in height.

By the look of the stones this site has been flooded quite badly recently.

Despite a pretty dire day for my visit, this took absolutely nothing away from getting to see Garrane stone row up close. The sheer size of the stones make Garrane very special.

Access - The alignment is on private land and is hard to spot from the road.
Travelling from the Mallow direction via Dromahane you will pass a farm on your right - the stone row is directly behind the next house.
Visiting Garrane would be best advised in the summer - preferably after a dry spell.
The fields in and around the stone row are used for grazing cattle.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Ballintober Castle

Ballintober Castle is thought to date back as far as the 13th Century.
The original building of the castle is claimed to be the work of William de Burgo.
The castle fell into the hands of the O'Connors in the 14th century and remained in their possession for many centuries.

The castle was surrendered to Red Hugh O'Donnell in 1598, the walls of the castle were breached in this attack as cannons were fired upon them.

The castle became a centre for Catholic resistance in 1641, and as a result it was confiscated in 1652.

The O'Connors regained possession in 1677 and remained in residence until 1701, when it was abandoned.

The castle consists of large polygonal towers in the corners, the remains of a gate house can be seen in the East wall.
Inside the vast internal area is about 3000 square meters.

The castle was originally surrounded by a wide moat, part of which can be seen in the lead image.

Access - The castle can be pretty much seen from all roads that lead into Ballintober. 
Parking is not a problem as a small residential estate is opposite the castle. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Ballynageeragh Portal Tomb

These shots are the result of a re visit to Ballynageeragh, as on the previous occasion I was not happy with the way the images turned out.
Ballynageeragh tomb to be honest is a bit of a mess as it has been reconstructed quite badly.
Some of the people responsible for this even saw fit to put their name to the work (you can find it on the cavity blocks at the back).

The tombs capstone is over 4 meters in length and close to 2.5 meters in width.
It has a nice angle which gives the tomb a bit of character.
The wall stones are at funny angles and look all wrong, but even they don't prepare you for the work of
P Murray & Sons which can be seen in all its glory at the back of the tomb.

Ballynageerargh is part of Waterford's Dolmen trail.
You will find much better tombs close by like Gaulstown and Knockeen.
But this tomb is still very much worth a visit as despite the work carried out this tomb when viewed from the front looks pretty special.

Access - The tomb is located in a very large field,
The field is opposite a working farm and has a narrow lane way that brings you down to the site, there is room for parking. 
From where you park the tomb will look a bit on the small side, but when you climb the cattle gate and get up closer you will see this is not true as the tomb has a nice size to it.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Glinsk Castle

Glinsk Castle may have been one of the last castles (or even the very last) built in Ireland.
Built in the 17thCentury it was the main residence of Mac David Burke lord of Clonconway.

The setting for this very striking ruin could not be better.  Built on a rise over looking all around with the river suck providing a loud soundtrack in the background.

The castle is located on the site of an earlier castle, which was thought to be a tower house.

Glinsk is typical of Norman castles built pre the 1641 rebellion. Which incorporates spacious living quarters with the means to defence when needed.

The castle is three stories high and is built over a raised basement.

Gutted by fire not long after being built (date unknown), what remains today is a very striking ruin.
The two large chimney shafts which each have five stacks dominate the castle and give the ruin great presence.

Access - Located at the lower end of Glinsk village, parking can be found as you cross the bridge on your right.
A stile is there to help you climb down into the castles field, but beware cattle may be in that same field.       

Friday, June 6, 2014

Aghaviller Round Tower and Church

The tower and church of Aghaviller can be found a short drive from exit 10 of the M19.
Built from sandstone the tower is just over 9.5 meters in height.
The doorway is set 4 meters from ground level.
The tower rests on a square stone plinth which is a feature that can only be found at one other tower (the near by Kilree).
The ground level doorway is a much later addition, added for help in the installation of a bell.
Dating of the tower is unknown, but the site has close ties with St Brennain

The church is dated 12th Century but was greatly altered in the 15th Century when a
residential tower was added.
The top of the church can be accessed via a stairway.
Mass was celebrated at Aghaviller as recently as 2008.

Access - The site is located just off the R701 on a very bad bend.
The church is very visible from the road and parking can be found driving up the lane way to the site.
This is a quite and peaceful graveyard but the proximity of the dense forest to the site can make it a little unsettling at times.
Aghaviller is probably the least well known of Kilkenny's round towers but should be added to your itinerary along with the others.    

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Cloch An Phoill (Aghade) The Holed Stone

The Cloch An Phoill is a large flat granite stone.
This huge stone has a hole that has been pierced through it.
The stone is believed to have been a part of a megalithic tomb, with the hole used to pass food to the dead (after the sealing of the tomb).
The hole is about 30cm's in diameter.

The more recent history of the stone claims that Niall of the nine hostages tied up an enemy called Eochu with the use of a chain that was run through the hole.
The manacled Eochu managed to get free and exact revenge on Niall by taking his life in 405 AD.

The stone was also used for it's healing powers in the 18th Century, sick infants were passed through the hole in belief that this would aid the restoring of the infants health.

This is a very impressive stone which would be even more striking if it were upright in a field like Hurlstone Standing Stone Co Louth .

Access - The site is just a short drive from Tullow town (N81).
The stone which is well signposted can be found on your left in a field on a very bad bend so take care.