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Curraghmore House and Gardens – a hidden gem

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One of the bonuses of working part time at the moment is that I get to see some of the historical sights that our lovely county of Waterford has to offer at off peak times.  I had never heard of Curraghmore House so when a friend suggested a trip there I was curious, and a group of us headed out there for a Sunday drive.

I didn’t bring the camera as I haven’t charged it in about three years, so any photographs I’ve taken below are with my Samsung Galaxy A5.

Curraghmore House

Currently the home of the ninth Marquis of Waterford and his wife, Lady Waterford, Curraghmore House and Gardens is in the process of being revamped with plans to develop the estate and promote tourism. Plays have been staged on the lawns and Mary Black has played a concert there.

The house is situated just outside Portlaw.  From the gates at the main road, the driveway to the house winds through the tree lined estate, passing a training ground for horses on one side and the Clodagh River on the other. The driveway ends at another set of gates that open onto a huge courtyard surrounded by buildings that include a café, and toilets.

One of the immediately striking features of the house is the stag atop the house with a crucifix mounted on his head.  St. Hubert’s stag is apparently a very lucky family emblem as it saved the house from being burnt by the IRA one night in the 1920s.  The story goes that when the moon came out from behind the clouds and lit up the stag and the cross, it was seen as a sign and the house was left alone.

Curraghmore House Courtyard

Similar statues to the one below can be seen all around the courtyard.

Statue in Courtyard Curraghmore House

The grounds are immaculately kept.  These stone carvings on either side of the steps leading from the right hand side of the house into the garden are fascinating.

Curraghmore House Boar and Wolf

Curraghmore House Lake

Curraghmore House

Curraghmore House

One of the most interesting features of Curraghmore House is the shell house in the garden built in 1754 by Catherine Countess of Tyrone.

Curraghmore House Shell House

Inside, the walls and roof are inlaid with thousands of shells of all different varieties.  It apparently took 261 days for Lady Catherine La Poer to build the shell house and she found the time to have fifteen children too.

Curraghmore Shell House Roof

This is where I would have needed my Canon camera as the quality of photos from my phone just isn’t as good.

Curraghmore House Shell House

We were lucky with the weather.  The sun stayed out for an hour as we walked around the gardens admiring the layout and the colourful blooms of tall lupins,  the crocus chrysanthus spread like carpet under the trees, and the eye catching blue of the hydrangeas outside the shell house.

Curraghmore House Gardens

Curraghmore House Hydrangea

Curraghmore House

Curraghmore House

Curraghmore House Stag

Curraghmore House

Curraghmore House

Dragon Fly at Curraghmore House

Although we took a tour of the house we couldn’t take any photographs inside.  That’s ok.  It’s also the home of Lord and Lady Waterford, and who wants a bunch of strangers taking photos of your home and putting them up on the internet?

The tour of the house is well worth taking and very interesting.  The tour guide is the ex-butler of the previous Marquis and he has a genuine interest in the history of the house and the family, and is more than willing to answer any questions that visitors have.  The original house is 800 years old.  Its interior was developed by James Wyatt, English architect, and the plaster ceilings and walls were painted by Peter de Gree.  Family portraits adorn the walls, and the most fascinating objects and memorabilia are collected on marble benches and wooden tables throughout the rooms. Items such as elephant tusks and feet, a huge glass display box with three white lions’ heads, and a Victorian pushchair with moving horses are just some of the unusual items to be seen.

The tour of the house and gardens costs just €15 but you can avail of an afternoon tea as part of a three day Belmond Grand Hibernian Train Journey at a cost of €3,000 if you’d prefer an extended luxury break.

Photos from Abbey Island, Caherdaniel

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Following on from our visit to Glasnevin Cemetery a few weeks ago, and our tour of Daniel O’Connell’s crypt, I thought it would be a nice idea, while we were in Kerry on holidays, to visit Abbey Island and the burial place of Daniel’s wife, Mary O’Connell.

Derrynane House

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Rock of Dunamase

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If you’re driving the M7 from Dublin to Portlaoise and you’ve an interest in photographing old ruins, then you could do worse than to take a detour out to the Rock of Dunamase.

At the top of the rock are the ruins of Dunamase Castle.  The castle dates from the 12th century although the rocky outcrop was the site of a fort that was originally constructed in the 9th century.

Rock of Dunamase

I’d been threatening to visit the site for as long as I can remember seeing the signpost for it pointing off the M7, and I finally got the chance a few weeks ago as I was on my way back from Dublin. Continue reading

Bunmahon Copper Mine, Waterford

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We went for a spin last weekend and took in some of Waterford’s Copper Coast which I always thought was named after it’s beautiful sandy beaches.  I never knew that there was an entire copper mining industry in the area in the 1800s.  Maybe I can be forgiven for this considering I’m technically a ‘blowin’.

Driving through an area called Tankardstown we came across these buildings, which are the remains of the old copper mine that operated there from 1850 to 1879.

Bunmahon Copper Mine

The Dublin Mining Company had moved their operations to Tankardstown in 1850 and business reached its peak in 1865.  This however was followed by a steep decline and eventually in 1879 all the engines were sold for scrap and the buildings fell into disrepair. Continue reading

An Irish mile

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While we were staying in beautiful Mannix Point Camping in Kerry a couple of weeks ago, Bláthnaid and I ventured out to Ballycarbery Castle on foot.

The Castle didn’t look too far from the campsite and we thought (or rather I thought) that it would be a nice stroll.

Mannix Point 

The castle was a lot further away than we (I….’I’, I am reminded….) thought it would be, and I had some job to keep Bláthnaid going, after she deemed my statement of ‘It’s only around the corner’ to be an untruth.

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Mannix Point Camping – a gem in Cahirciveen, Kerry

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A few weeks ago I was searching for somewhere in Ireland to take a week’s holidays.  Just a change of scenery for myself and himself, and the two girls (16 and 20).

Camping is our preference. Also important is peace and quiet at night. And scenery. And close proximity to shops and night life (just in case we get fed up with the peace and quiet). Oh…and a beach – daughter number one had placed great importance on the presence of a nice sandy beach.

Not an easy task to find a campsite in Ireland that ticks all the boxes, as I soon found out.

A campsite that we’d been to a couple of years ago in Kilmuckridge was ruled out as there weren’t many shops around.  Another one in Cork was also crossed off the list for the same reason.  Our favourite campsite in Killarney didn’t fit the bill as there was no sandy strand within walking distance. Mayo was deemed too far as we were only going for one week. One by one, potential sites were eliminated from a list that I’d compiled from various camping websites and recommendations on forums.

Mannix Point

Mannix Point

I came across the website for Mannix Point camp site during my search and thought the place sounded lovely. I liked the warm, personal welcome from Mortimer Moriarty in the ‘About’ section of the website. I loved the pictures in the photo gallery of the pitches beside the water, with yachts sailing by.  And the music sessions in the camper’s sitting room with turf fire sounded just perfect. And on a discussion forum that I consult on an occasional basis, another user who was in Mannix Point at the time, recommended it.

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Abandoned – Waterville Beach (Reenroe) Hotel

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Driving from Cahirciveen to Sneem or somewhere last week, we passed through Waterville.  From the main road I could see this derelict building in the distance and was curious to know what it was. So we turned off the road, towards the coast, to get a closer look (because, as you know, I’m nosey like that), and parked the car beside the beautiful sandy beach nearby.

Reenroe Hotel

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O’Shea’s ‘Next Pint, New York’

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It’s good to be back home!

I’m just back from a week in the beautiful Kingdom of Kerry, bringing home a mountain of photographs that will take me an eternity to process, and a massive laundry pile of sheets, sleeping bags, towels, clothes, etc., etc.  Camping is great, but it has its teeny disadvantages.

This evening I was skimming through the images I took, when I came across this one of a small pub on Valentia Island.

O'Sheas - Next Pint New York

It’s a fascinating place, in off the coast, and I had visions of it being the last glimpse of home for many people before they set sail from the Iveragh Peninsula for America during the famine years .

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40 of 365 pix – Boulick Tower and Cemetery

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Boulick Tower

Heading for Glengoole after turning off the M8, there’s a sign to the right for Boulick Burial Ground. I’d been there once before but it wasn’t such a great day for photos. Driving home from Durrow last weekend I decided to stop by again.

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Glasnevin Cemetery

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Browsing through Twitter at the weekend I came across the hashtag #gcmbloggers being tweeted from a group of Dublin Bloggers visiting Glasnevin Museum and Cemetery.  The tweets reminded me that I’d told the girls that, during the summer holidays, I’d take them to Glasnevin to visit the resting place of their great grandparents. So yesterday (Monday) we push-started the car, which was having one of its (many) moments, and took a spin up to Dublin.

Glasnevin Church

Glasnevin Church

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