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Lough Derravaragh, Co. Westmeath

Lough Derravaragh or Loch Dairbhreach is pretty much famed for it’s relation to The Children of Lir (Oidheadh Chlainne Lír) old Irish fable where after being turned into swans, the four children of King Lír, not by choice, spent 300 years there.

A little like being able to picture a child inside a giant peach, I find some grown ups will get why I could sit here all day and let my imagination run away with itself. For those who maybe think that sounds a little outlandish, not so far away from Lough Derravaragh lies Lough Ennell and Johnathan Swift Park ~ the spot where Swift first dreamed up Gulliver’s Travels (1726) sitting right by it’s side. A well known refuelling spot for the daydreamers it seems.

Back to the great outdoors and good to know for the tent lovers, my stay by was by way of camping [Lough Derravaragh Camping – phone: 044-9371500]. I chose to pitch my tent right at the back of the lake. All things told there are few things in life more beautiful than watching the sun go down on such a stunning location.

Note to campers – If it’s available, pick the wee pitch by the wee bench underneath the tree. I don’t believe my fresh ground caffeine has ever tasted so good….

Also nearby in the town Multyfarnham is the wonderful 17th Century Estate of Mornington House, home to so very wonderful Anne and Warwick O’Hara. A real must visit if you are in the area. If however you don’t wish to travel that far, at the end of the avenue of Lough Derravaragh Camp site is the Donore Woodland Walk.

On a slight side note, I don’t know whether wee 2 and a half year old Ella understood the story Dad told her of the swans when we saw them. And though, I did change a line or three hither dither, a little of me is hoping she did. One thing is for sure, I know I’ll return there again when she and I are a little taller.

For all of the descriptions I may hold – gardener, horticulturist, landscaper and lover of the great outdoors – Lough Derravaragh quite simply ticks every single box and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

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Multyfarnham Country Fair – April 17th 2011

The Multyfarnham Country Fair takes place Sunday 17th April 2011.


The audio is with thanks to Anne O’Hara of Mornington House who has featured on the garden blog before and also on the garden radio show.

Not to be confused with The Multyfarnham Field Day, there will be a stall raising funds for the Community Hospice but otherwise it’s all private enterprise.

Never heard of Multyfarnham before ?

Multyfarnhamor in Irish – Muilte Farannáin, meaning Farannain’s mills is one of the most beautiful parts of Ireland I have ever visited. The town first came up on my radar whilst I was studying horticulture in Kildalton [Piltown, Co. Kilkenny]. Multyfarnham had an agricultural college and in the pre-google-able days of old, there weren’t [even fewer today] too many of them about.

I was thinking to myself that some may read fondly this post, in the sense that it may be nice to go to the Country Fair, but they may also be thinking would it fill or be worth a day trip there ?

Wikipedia tells me this much which may just change your mind for the better:

The Irish Franciscan friars (O.F.M.) still maintain a presence in the ancient monastery here which was founded in 1268. During the Tudor reconquest of Ireland (the Nine years War) it was raided six times and twice burnt out by the Crown forces battling the forces of the ‘Irish of Meath’. In 1646, there were 30 friars in residence here. By the middle of era of the Penal Laws there were as few as seven friars, five of whom were of advanced age. The church was unroofed from 1651 and remained so until to 1827. In 1839 a new friary was rebuilt in the grounds. The Franciscan College, Multyfarnham was opened in 1899. There were four pupils enrolled for the first year. This school later became an recognised Agricultural College in 1956, and continued to teach until 2003.

Around the picturesque monastery grounds, among the lawns, around the church and the college buildings, there are 14 elaborate life size Stations of the Cross. This is a focal point for special devotions. It is regarded as one of the finest outdoor shrines in Ireland, and draws many tourists. The college is now used as an educational and seminar centre. It also hosts an arts centre.

Multyfarnham railway station opened on 8 November 1855 and finally closed on 17 June 1963. [It is now a private dwelling]

I like the picture Anne O’Hara paints in the audio. It makes me want to drop by and have afternoon tea and burn peat in the summer time whilst leaning over a half door in an arron sweater. The funny thing is, some talk about promoting Ireland and our greatest assets. Ireland for me was always about being in Dublin [for example] and finding or even better knowing, when your company didn’t, that The Winding Stair Bookshop also had really great coffee. It was knowing the best trad session is in Ballyboughal and knowing it is worth the journey. More than that and to quote Anne:

It was when the community came together…. and you do it for the fair rather than on an ongoing commercial basis

To the bit as to why it appears on the gardeners weblog, like I said before if this encourages you to see a little of Ireland and its great outdoors. Maybe you might just ask Anne how she makes her chutneys. Put that into a calculator and press the square root button. The answer of which will necessitate the planting of an apple tree 😉  Maybe you might just pop by and see Mornington House & gardens. If you do… be sure and tell Anne and Warwick I said hello.

That reminds me…. been too long since I was at Locke’s Distillery ahem… of course I mean Tullynally Castle Gardens 😉