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Mountjoy Square Park

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According to the Dublin City Council’s website:

Located in the centre of Mountjoy Square, once Dublin’s premier Georgian area, and comprising 1.8 hectares, this park was originally created by the Developer of the Square, Luke Gardiner, Lord Mountjoy around 1800, as part of his grand concept which envisaged the great sweep of Gardiner Street down to the Custom House.

While the Square was upgraded in the late 1980’s, its full potential as a Georgian Park must await the relocation of the existing all-weather sports area currently under active consideration by the City Council.

Funny thing is, I don’t know where the pitch or the people who use it would/ could go if the all weather pitch was relocated, that is assuming the park is for the people. That said, I would also like to see it returned to its original concept. But then that’s all very good for me to say. Either or I like the park, although there are bits of it I simply just didn’t get. That said I was happy to be there and enjoyed my stroll. Sincerely.

I didn’t like the fact that the gates weren’t open on all sides and the Dublin Bikes Scheme stand was empty. The pottery around some of the trees baffled me but then that was balanced by some new planting and what appears to be a corner of the park for leaf mulch. The play ground was being used when I was there. The more junior nippers were in one area whilst the not so juniors were in the one next to it. The people were friendly and as tourists watched with maps from outside one Mom explained to me how the electronic dance game worked with a quick Mother Daughter demonstration.

I liked the rambling paths. The sculpt in the middle made me walk up to it… but I’ve no idea what it represents. Sometimes it’s better that way. I liked the piles of raked leaves and wanted to kick them everywhere…. the trees were all pruned and crown raised above head height so one could see everywhere from anywhere in the park. I saw wallflowers freshly planted and the hedges nicely cut screened the football area.

The park does need some extra added attention in no specific area and it seems, at this moment there’s a bit of everything there, which is good, but aesthetically it doesn’t do it justice. That said, I’d be quite proud to have this park on my doorstep.

Wikipedia gives some really interesting facts on Mountjoy Square

Mountjoy Square (Irish: Cearnóg Mhuinseo), one of five Georgian squares in Dublin, Ireland, lies on the north side of the city just under a kilometre from the River Liffey. Planned and developed in the late 18th century by the second Luke Gardiner, then Viscount Mountjoy, the square is surrounded on all sides by individual terraced, red-brick Georgian houses. Construction began in the early 1790s and the work was completed in 1818

Mountjoy can boast being Dublin’s only true Georgian square, each of its sides being exactly 140 metres in length. While the North, East and West sides each have 18 houses, the South has 19, reflecting some variation in plot sizes. Though each side was originally numbered individually, the houses are now numbered continuously clockwise from no. 1 in the north-west corner. While its North and South sides are continuous from corner to corner, the East and West sides are in three terraces, interrupted by two side streets, Grenville Street and Gardiner Place to the West and Fitzgibbon and North Great Charles Street to the East. Gardiner Street passes through the West side of the square, while Belvidere Place and Gardiner Lane run off the North- and South-East corners.

Although some of the original buildings fell to ruin over the 20th century, replicas have been built in their place, so the square still maintains its consistent Georgian façade.

View more images of Mountjoy Square Park

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Boyle Abbey, Boyle, Co. Roscommon

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Take a listen….

Whilst I was in Boyle, Boyle Abbey was on my must do list of places to go. The reason is quite simple. This time next year the full restoration of the abbey will have taken place and I don’t want to be looking at pictures of the great work the OPW did – past tense.

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More than that – it was free in. Eugene, the gentleman who works there was an absolute gentleman and gave me a lot of history on the place. Thanks Eugene. I went to the park as you recommended 😉

BTW when it re-opens the entry charge will return. I’m told it should be about 2 or 3 euro’s. I’ll gladly pay it based on what I saw existing, in progress and in drawings for the future.

View more images of Boyle Abbey

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Courtesy Wikipedia

The Cistercian abbey was founded in the 12th century under the patronage of the local ruling family, the MacDermotts and is one of the best preserved in Ireland. It was colonised from Mellifont in 1161. The building of the chancel and the transepts with their side-chapels probably began shortly after this date, though the lancet windows in the east gable were inserted in the 13th century. There is a combination of rounded and pointed arches in the transepts and crossing. The existing large square tower formed part of the church from the beginning, though it was raised in height at a later stage. The five eastern arches of the nave and their supporting pillars were built at the end of the 12th century, and have well-preserved capitals typical of the period. Although built at the same time, the arches of the northern side of the nave are different in type, and have differently shaped columns and capitals. The three westernmost arches in the south arcade which have leafed and figured capitals, were built after 1205, as was the west wall, before the church was finally consecrated in 1218. Nothing remains of the cloister, but on the eastern side there are two doorways of c.1200, now blocked up. On the west side there is a two-storey gatehouse, which acts as an interpretative centre. The rest of the buildings surrounding the cloister are largely 16th or 17th century. The Abbey was one of the most important in Connacht, and was invaded by Richard de Burgo, Maurice Fitzgerald, and Justiciar, in 1235. In 1659, the Cromwelliansoccupied the monastery and did a great deal of destruction. Though mutilated during the 17th and 18th centuries when it was used to accommodate a military garrison, Boyle Abbey is one of the best preserved structures of its type, and attracts many thousands of visitors per year. A restored gatehouse 16th/17th century vintage houses an exhibition. The Abbey is now a national monument in state care and admission is currently free while restoration work is being carried out. There is a Sile na Gig hidden above one of the central Romanesque arches in Boyle Abbey. It can be seen from ground level, just at the top of the column, where the arch begins.

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Lough Key Forest

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This actually comes under the [web] title of Lough Key Forest and Activity Park. Which includes a lot under its banner. I chose to go camping there for 4 days and try and experience as much as possible within the beautiful town of Boyle in Co. Roscommon. That’ll come later on the weblog.

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Lough Key camping

I arrived on a Thursday evening. The campsite reception was closed, but I had called in advance and so I just went ahead and pitched my tent. The next morning I went down paid my €22 per night. Overall the campsite is good. I chose it mainly because of the forest. There was a water tap nearby but that’s about as good as the right by your tent facilities got. Not a problem.

Whilst there were some queries over the cleanliness at the cooking and preparation facilities, more importantly and for those with kids, there are tumble dryers and washing machines in the main area [require tokens] and the showers [also token] were hot and clean as were the bathrooms and washing areas.

I liked the fact that the security man came by at night time to make sure no sticks were being burned from the forest and warning the dangers of. A more polite way for everyone to note that he was around.

The great thing about the forest surrounding the campsite really is the fact that one could go for a wander through the woods. For those with families this is a great way to keep the kids entertained and dry-er when the rain really does fall. There are many dry spots to be found under shelter from the trees. Whilst that was the ultimate for me and no one minds a tree that fell over or gave rebirth to another, it would have been nice if greater attention could be paid to the rubbish within the woods. That said the setting is brilliant.

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Activity Park

The activity park is an odd one depending on who you talk to. There is a €4 charge on the barriered car park which most avoid and simply park outside. For me it was simply a short walk from the campsite.

Inside there are options to pay for a tree canopy walk, an activity challenge called boda borg and a [paid] play ground. There is also a coffee shop/ restaurant.

On one hand if you are camping you get discount on these activities with a pass given from the camping reception. On the other, if you are on a budget it can easily mount up. That said whilst there is a free playground and picnic areas outside the children tell me the pay for play area is really good. Adults obviously go in free. The tree canopy walk I chose not to do but it also got good reports.

The reality is though that for me to come here for a weekend is one thing. The flip side is when it is right on your door step…. and on this fact alone I’m inclined to disagree with Lough Key on the €4 car park charge. They can say it goes to the forest maintenance – but I don’t know any park or outdoor variant in Dublin that charges for this.

The Forest Park and Lough

The walk through the surrounding park is brilliant. Brimmed with history, watching the boats, feeding the ducks… I could literally walk and sit here for days and if I were living in Boyle it would be free [apart from the car park of course].  But, from a campers point of view it is the reason I went there and for that alone I am so glad that I did.

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Overall

I thought it was great. Absolutely brilliant for families. Would I go again ? 110% in the morning. In fact I actually had that moment where I wanted to stay the extra night[s]. The down and upsides, were my little gripe with the car park. There is also the option to buy imported bottled water in the café but/ and at the same token there is free water in the coffee shop where they also supply free bread to feed the ducks.

The campsite needs a little tlc – but after that it is camping and it is amazing. As to the paid for activities, well I guess as long as you know in advance you now have an option to do or not to do so.

Either or Lough Key as always was made for me by the people I met, those who chose to sit and talk with me and of course the natural surrounding setting which are absolutely amazing. Go there. Visit. Camp. Stay. Lets the kids run wild. Run wild yourself while you are at it. I did. I loved it. I will return.

More to follow.

View more images of Lough Key Forest

Courtesy Wikipedia:

Situated just off the N4 is Lough Key Forest Park, a fantastic parkland area that has been tastefully revitalised by an addition of a Visitor Center and Activity Facilities including Boda Borg, a puzzle solving activity centre which is a Swedish concept originally unique to Irelandbut now has locations in Sweden and plans to expand Worldwide[7]. The park covers 800 acres (3.2 km²), and was formerly part of the Rockingham estate. The Moylurg Tower, standing on the site of the old Rockingham house, now stands overlooking the wonderful lake to the north and impressive lawns to the south. This was the seat of the Stafford-King-Harman[8] family until 1957, who at the end of the nineteenth century owned over 30,000 acres (120 km²) in north County Roscommon and County Sligo. The impressive Rockingham House itself was badly damaged in a fire in 1957 and was demolished in 1970.

There are many interesting islands on Lough Key. The impressive Castle Island is a well-known visual icon of this area. Trinity Island contains the ruins of a chapel, linked to the Cistercian monastery in the town. There are two trees growing on the island with interlinked branches, said to mark the graves of Una Bhan Mac Diarmid and Tomas Laidir Mac Coisdealbhaigh, two ill-fated lovers, celebrated in the poem Una BhanUna Bhan is a standard text on the Irish school curriculum.

Dublin [Rose] Festival ?

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Fresh from the rose festival here are my thoughts….

This is what I got from the Dublin Event Guide

DUBLIN ROSE FESTIVAL – ST. ANNE’S PARK; RAHENY
The Dublin City Rose Festival will be held on the 17+18 July from 10:30-18:00 in St.Anne’s Park, Raheny, Dublin 5. Apart from the horticultural aspect of the festival (the Rose Trials on Friday from 10:00-14:00), a variety of entertainment will also be provided on both days including guided walks of the rose garden, live music, food stalls, a farmer’s market, a picnic area, and children’s entertainment with face painting, Viking re-enactments, t-shirt workshops and lots more. Despite many years of this festival and probably because the organiser is Dublin City, there is still no proper website for the festival, so timetables for the live entertainment etc are top secret, it seems. Year after year, for the third year now I get frustrated with Dublin City. The events are really great and there is a lot of variety, but getting the word out and providing detail is a disaster.
http://www.dublin.ie/calendar_details.aspx?eventid=2323

View more images of the dublin rose festival – not great but it’s all I’ve got.

Please note, the grounds staff at St Annes Park do a really great job and I shall review this park later. These are just my thoughts on the event that is The Dublin Rose Festival.

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St Audoens Park, Dublin

Located on the corner of High Street and Cook Street [just on past Christ Church] St Audoens Park is, I’m glad to say, another of Dublins little gems. According to Dublin City Councils website:

St. Audoen’s Park, although less than 0.5 hectares in size, is quite significant in historical terms.  Located adjacent to St. Audoen’s Church (1300 A.D.), it incorporates the first stone city wall dating from about 1100 A.D.; St. Audoen’s Arch, the last surviving entrance to the old city; and Fagan’s Gate.

The City Wall was restored in 1976 as part of Architectural Heritage Year and the park development of 1982 won a prestigious civic award.  Audoen was a 7th – century Bishop of Rouen (France) and the nearby church named after him is reputedly one of the oldest still used for regular religious services.

As a park, it is extremely relaxing and a great little getaway from the hustle and bustle. The fact that it has so much from a heritage point of view is something that maybe is overlooked a bit too often… But maybe there’s a little of The War Memorial Park versus The Phoenix Park going on here with Christs Church only a stones throw away [?].

That said I like it. Nicely laid out. Clean and tidy. There was even a gardener in trimming the lawn edges on the day I visited. I also like the fact that there’s a Dublin Bike Scheme collection point right outside. I cycled right up from Exchequer Street. The beds were a little empty but I’ll simply put that down to the time of the season… still no leaves on the trees 😉 A note should go also to the stone work cobbles that so often are not in keeping with the surroundings.

Go take a look. Enjoy. Well worth it.

more picture of St Audoens Park