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Caher Bridge Garden, Clare.

caher bridge garden (6)

I was in the beautiful County of Clare for work reasons about 6 weeks ago. And via introduction through the very lovely Maureen of Clare Tourism, one of the double whammy’s of my working stay there was my meeting with Carl Wright and my visit to the absolute wonderland he has created that is Caher Bridge Garden.

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Natural History Museum, Dublin

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I visited The Natural History Museum Friday, 8th October 2010. When I turned to their website yesterday I found these opening lines….

This building is now open again following a major restoration project.

Our exhibitions have changed very little in over a century…..

The second line pretty much summises the musty building interior and the scent and feel about the place.  It’s a nice building but there’s a linger of something more Friedrich Miescher as versus Watson and Crick. Maybe it’s the old glass with what I can only assume is formaldehyde preserving collections. Maybe its the leather that covers those insects at the end of the ground floor to protect them from the light. But then, the oft referred to Dead Zoo, has been collecting deadies since 1792 and has been in the same spot since 1857.

That said it what it is and for some reason I liked it. A lot. It continues….

….The ground floor is dedicated to Irish animals, featuring giant deer skeletons and a variety of mammals, birds and fish. The upper floors of the building were laid out in the 19th Century in a scientific arrangement showing animals by taxonomic group. This scheme demonstrated the diversity of animal life in an evolutionary sequence.

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The first floor is the main reason I went there. I wanted to see the collections of Irish slugs and more… but that sort of thing, in detail. I wanted to see Irish birds, the garden pests, the helpers the bugs, the spiders and the prey. Up close and motionless. And I did. I put in my ear phones and spent maybe two hours there. Entry is free and the art gallery nearby does decent coffee, a necessary for me to ingest regularly.

But there’s a problem. The guys were supposed to get a bag of cash from the boys next door. They didn’t. And for that I’m personally glad. There was talk of a new wing, a coffee shop etc. Lets put this in context,  my Beatles For Sale vinyl, in mono, has a big scratch on it – but I know when and where I need to lift the needle. More importantly I know why the scratch is there…. my own fault for breaking up with her while she was changing to side B. My point, we have history.

I shall continue on – the second floor one can’t get to the upper galleys which would be nice. Some health and safety crapology doctorite decided on that one – and so they remain closed off. A shame, yes, but I’ll settle for it.

For me, I liked loved The Natural History Museum. I can see why a younger mind may be bored senseless. I know the upper of upstairs is closed off. I find it rhetoric that it’s next to Leinster House where the people who run our country make decisions [?] But I personally hope it never gets the funding it was told it would get.

It’s a great place to go, in a beautiful part of Dublin City. Argue all you like regarding upgrades and changes – but similar to, I wish Irelands roads were toll free.

If you do intend go there, watch out for exhibition and event dates if you want some peace and quiet like I did. Also the staff there are amazing, brimmed with information and were more than willing to answer all of the questions I had and point out of pieces of interest they thought I might like.

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In the front lawn is a gentleman called Thomas Heazle Park.

Surgeon-General Thomas Heazle Parke (1857—1893) was an Irish doctor, explorer, soldier and naturalist, born in 1857 at Clogher House in Drumsna, County Leitrim, Ireland, and was brought up in Carrick-on-Shannon, County Leitrim. He graduated from the College of Surgeons in Dublin and was appointed to a post in Ballybay, County Monaghan.

In 1881 he joined the British Army and served in Egypt as a surgeon. Parke fought to Khartoum in relief of General Gordon in 1885.

He became the first Irishman to cross the African continent. During the expedition Parke bought a pygmy girl. They travelled together for over a year and she nursed him through malaria. In the end he was forced to leave her behind because her eyes could not adapt to sunlight after the darkness of the forest.

When Parke returned home he received an Honorary Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and was awarded gold medals from the British Medical Association and the Royal Geographical Society. Among his published works are My Personal Experiences in Equatorial Africa (published in 1891) and A Guide to Health in Africa. He died in Scotland in 1893 and his coffin was brought back to Ireland and drawn on a gun carriage from the Dublin docks to Broadstone station. He was buried in Drumsna.

On the granite pedestal is a bronze plaque depicting the incident on August 13, 1887 when Parke sucked the poison from an arrow wound in the chest of Capt. William G. Stairs to save his life. He is also commemorated by a bust in the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.

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View More Images of The Natural History Museum. One is permitted to take photographs, just not with the use of flash.

Opening Hours:

  • Tueesday – Saturday 10am -5pm
  • Sunday 2pm – 5pm
  • Closed Mondays [including Bank Holidays]

UPDATE: 7th January 2011

Whilst I was at the Museum I filled out the comment form. I can’t remember what I said exactly now to be honest. But I just got this email today.

Peter

Thank you for taking the time to fill out a comment card during your visit. To answer your query about access to upper floors, the National Museum of Ireland has prepared a plan to build a new structure beside the Natural History Museum that will include a lift and provide universal access. This was allocated €15M in funding under the National Development Plan but this funding has since been withdrawn and the Department of Tourism, Culture and Sport is not able to fund the development at present. The structure would allow us to remove any modern intrusions (e.g. the shop) into a separate space and reinforce the Victorian style, allow access to all floors and provide spaces for education and proper visitor services that are sorely needed.

Balcony access is not possible at present due to the lack of emergency exits from these upper levels. The solution, once funded, would have minimal impact on the historic interior. The Natural History Museum Staff are working on virtual access to areas of the museum and its collections that are not physically accessible to all.

I share your disappointment in the lack of access, unfortunately until funding is made available for this work the upper floors will remain out of reach for many visitors. Funding for the National Museum of Ireland is the responsibility of the Minister at the Department of Tourism, Culture & Sport.

Nigel
Mr Nigel T. Monaghan,
Keeper,
Natural History Division,
National Museum of Ireland,
Merrion Street,
Dublin 2,
IRELAND

Boyle, Co. Roscommon

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St Patrick’s visit to the town in the year 435 was the first definite recording of Boyle’s existance. On this visit St Patrick noticed that there was very poor accommodation for travellers and he suggested to St Attracta, the abbess of Kilaraught, that she should provide a hostel. This she did and the town grew up around it. Boyle owes much to the fact that the great [Boyle] abbey was founded beside the town.

If ever there was a county in Ireland – nee – a town I would recommend one visit, Boyle is just that. My college head and nice guy from Kildalton Michael Conlon was from this town. I met his brother driving a Bus Eireann bus once. Long story. Nice guys. I can still hear Micks wry laugh when I told him. Not the reason I went there, but I think he’d be smiling knowing that I was visiting parks on my first ever summer holiday [albeit of 4 days only] as a horticuluralist. 😉

These are the posts I have done so far on the places I visited and can highly recommend:

What I wanted to get to [that I heard of but missed out on] and will return to see:

Necessary supplies and really kind people along my journey were found in:

  • W.J. Sloans [established 1863] hardware store on main street. You can literally find everything there. And I mean everything. I was camping – this shop is a mecca
  • Kellys Gala Express – vittles and culinary supplies. They do free range duck eggs here. The girl serving me on saturday had a smile and a laugh. I liked their window boxes too.
  • John Cryans Pub. erm… necessary supplies 😉 and an absolute gentleman. Also one of the nicest pints of guinness I have ever tasted.
  • Oliver & Peter of Loughkeyboats.com – they really did themselves proud and looked after this tourist. You can’t buy kindness and the stories Peter has in that brain are a million unwritten books combined. Go and say hello. Take a boat out. You’ll thank me for it.

That aside, the village and the peripherals are beautiful and well worth a visit. I’d reckon I spent a good four hours during the day, on each day, just pottering and wandering about and pondering the scenery.

The only thing I didn’t like…. the millenium water feature was turned off. Fix it lads. Doesn’t cost that much. Other than that 5* star rating. Love it. They say its the people that make a place. How very true. See you all again soon.

Anything I have missed out on or places I should visit…? leave a comment below and let me know.

Also, I loved the flowers in the town centre. There’s a chess players stone table and chairs right beside it. Next time I’m there, that’s were I’ll be seated. Happy days.

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View some more random images of Boyle

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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Castle Island, Lough Key, Boyle, Co. Roscommon

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A huge thanks to Peter Walsh [and son in law Oliver] of Lough Key Boats for doing this podcast with me, books are one thing, but a voice tells the story so much better.

How do you get there ? I stayed in Lough Key camping. After that, one can rent a paddle boat to get out – when the weather is slightly calm-er, but I would highly recommend the pleasure cruise tour of the entire lough. That said, I was absolutely honoured to get a personal tour by Oliver of Castle Island and Trinity Island where, his ceremony of marraige to Peter’s daughter took place.

Go to Lough Key and have a chat with the lads. 😉

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View more images of Castle Island.

I’ll do a seperate post on Trinity Island later.

For the moment – thanks again Oliver mate. So very much appreciated.

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Courtesy Lough Key Boats:

Castle Island has passed through the ownership of two famous families the Mc Greevy’s and the Mac Dermots.

The island is sometimes referred to as Mac Dermots Island to this day. We first hear of a castle Island when the Annals of Loch Cé report that it was burned down in 1187 by lightning.

A 1792 print shows the original castle tower (see right)

The castle featured in the final act of the conquest of Connacht in 1235, by Richard de Burgo whose army included 500 mounted knights. The castle came under siege, first by a raft-mounted perrier (catapult), and then by fire ships comprising wood stripped from the nearby town of Ardcarne. The combination of rocks and flames proved too much for the castle garrison, forcing Cormac MacDermot, King of Moylurg to surrender.

The castle is mentioned frequently in the ancient annals, being a focus for both fighting and partying. A poem addressed to Tomaltach-an-einigh MacDermot (King of Moylurg 1421-58) tells the story of the Hag of Loch Ce who used (or abused) Cormac MacDermot’s (1218-44) hospitality by staying on the Rock for a full year, and laid upon the MacDermot family the obligation of perpetual hospitality.

Brian of the Carrick, Chief 1585-92, is the last head of the clan who lived on the island.

A poem by Eochaidh O hEoghusa, written about 1600, laments the castle’s uninhabited and ruinous condition:

…Thy bright fair form has changed, gone are thy gold-rich dwellings from thy fair comfortable long-walled enclosure, nor does the lime-white adorning of thy frontal remain…

Lord Lorton built a folly castle in the early part of the 19th century, as one of the adornments to the estate whose centrepiece was Rockingham House.

Isaac Weld, writing in 1832, describes as part of “the castle proper” 2 rooms, one above the other, each 36 feetby 22 feet, with walls of 7.5 feet thickness. It is not clear whether this refers to part of the original castle, or the later construction. The folly castle, used as a summerhouse, was gutted by fire shortly before the Second World War.