Thursday, 2 July 2020

Seefin Passage Tomb, Wicklow

In County Wicklow close to the Dublin border lies Seefin Passage Tomb.

Seefin Passage Tomb, Passage

At one time it was little known and seldom visited but with the rise in outdoor activities and Hill walking it has seen a lot more visitors over recent decades.

Seefin is in a class of archaeological monuments known as Passage Tombs, its better know relations being Newgrange in Meath and Loughcrew.

Seefin Passage Tomb, Cairn

Seefin Passage Tomb can only be accessed by walking cross country and uphill for about 20 minutes and it isn't on any tourist trail. 
Hiking boots are recommended.

Seefin Passage Tomb, Cairn

Unlike Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth, Seefin lacks detailed intricate Rock Art however its location, and weather permitting, views across the countryside from its mountaintop location more than make up for this. 

It is stated in various places that there are small amounts of Rock Art here however I haven't seen it myself so perhaps I just need to look closer.

Seefin Passage Tomb, Cairn

On the hilltop next to Seefin is Seefingan which also has a large Passage Tomb on it but it has never been excavated or breached so its secrets still lie buried within it until such time as archaeologists investigate it.

Seefin Passage Tomb, Chambers

Irelands Neolithic period 
(stone age) 
is generally given as 4500 to 2500 B.C. so Seefin is at least 4500 years old and perhaps older with 6500 years ago being taken as the start of Ireland's Neolithic era.

To enter the Passage tomb at Seefin you can either crawl through the passage itself or drop down through the hole in the damaged roof. 
Normally I would advise against climbing onto the tomb cairns however the roof at Seefin has been opened up to the elements.

Seefin Passage Tomb, Cairn

The passage leads to the inner chamber which has five side chambers, some damaged. There were never valuables in Passage tombs during Neolithic times. 
Initially only cremated human bones were buried inside them. These remains were placed onto large urns/bowls and housed in the side chambers.

Seefin Passage Tomb, Entrance

No remains were found at Seefin when it was investigated so it could have been previously raided in a misguided search for booty or loot. Perhaps the people moved out of the area and took the remains of their dead with them, we will never know for sure. 

Seefin Passage Tomb, Chamber

Early archaeological investigations of Passage Tombs were often hurried and destructive affairs as those who were excavating were usually in a hurry and hoping to find valuables, worked stones or semi precious stones perhaps carved or ground into jewellery however nothing but cremated human bones were ever buried in Passage Tombs by Neolithic peoples.

Seefin Passage Tomb, Corbelled Roof

It does seem however that later cultures reusing the Passage Tombs possibly added things into their burials as votive offerings such as beads and jewellery.

The huge flat stones used for roof corbels would have to have been picked, sorted, and carefully positioned while the many stones used to build the cairn all had to be moved by hand. 

All this was done without machinery and on the top of a mountain as well. Quite a feat of craftmanship and engineering. When they were sealed up these tombs remained perfectly dry for thousands of years.

Who were the people who built these monuments to their dead, where did they come from, and why did they put such a huge effort into building these Stone age Passage Tombs?

We can but wonder and look at them in awe..........

Coordinates here :
53°11'10.8"N 6°23'40.8"W
53.186330 - 6.394656




Monday, 8 June 2020

Saint Fintans Well, Laois

Cromogue in Laois is about 3 or 4 Kms from Shanahoe which itself is not far from Abbeyleix.

Saint Fintans Well, Cromogue, Laois.

It's a very rural, quiet and tranquil spot and the Holy Well here is carefully maintained and looked after. 

Saint Fintans Well, Cromogue, Laois.

Saint Fintan is closely associated with Clonenagh near Mountrath where he is reputed to have established a Monastery in 548.

Saint Fintans Well, Cromogue, Laois.

There's a nice little Bullaun Stone by a little stream which runs from the site and the water in the Well is very clear and looks like it is coming straight up from a spring.

Saint Fintans Well, Cromogue, Laois.

There is a nearby early medieval church ruin which is belived to have originally been constructed in the 12th Century although most of the present church would be of a later date. 

Saint Fintans Well, Cromogue, Laois.

The church is dedicated to Saint Fintan and it's understood that an ancient road or Togher once ran from here to the Monastery at Clonenagh near Mountrath.

Saint Fintans Well, Cromogue, Laois.

The doorway into the church is believed to date from the 12th Century and beside it is the ruin of a tower. A lot of the headstones in the graveyard date from the 1700's.

Saint Fintans Well, Cromogue, Laois.

It's believed that Saint Fintan lived at Cromogue before he left and established his Monastery at Clonenagh.

Saint Fintans Well, Cromogue, Laois.

Saint Fintan's feast day falls on 17th February and although I'm not sure I believe that services or worship are held here on that day.

Saint Fintans Well, Cromogue, Laois.

The roads to Cromogue are small and rural and very quiet, perfect for a cycle on a nice summers day. The name is often spelled both Cromogue and Cromoge on maps.

There was also a Well dedicated to Saint Fintan at Clonenagh and another at Durrow in Laois. The Well at Clonenagh dried up and at Durrow I couldn't locate it although it may be there somewhere under loose vegetation.

Coordinates here:

52°57'27.4"N 7°24'54.4"W
52.957618, -7.415098

Saint Fintans Well, Cromogue, Laois.







Thursday, 4 June 2020

Clonmore

Hidden away in county Carlow is the tiny hamlet of Clonmore which was an important early Christian site. 

It's about 17 Kms from Tullow or 30 Kms from Carlow town and a wonderful place to visit, full of natural beauty and tranquility.

Clonmore

What I really like about places like Clonmore is that more often than not they aren't awash with crowds of visitors so they are really peaceful places to visit. 

Clonmore

No queues, no entry fees, no crowds and no traffic jams, just nature and the historical environment. 
Often you come across places like this quite by accident just wandering around in rural Ireland.

Clonmore

In the 6th Century Saint Mogue (Maedoc) founded a Monastery here and the remains and evidence of a strong ecclesiastical tradition are to be found throughout the area.

Clonmore

I spent a couple of hours in this tiny area but if time had permitted I could have relaxed here for the day enjoying the sights and sounds around me.

Clonmore

Saint Mogue's High Cross is a large undecorated granite High Cross situated in the grounds of Saint Mogue's Church of Ireland.

Clonmore

There is a huge Bullaun stone by the bridge over the stream which runs through Clonmore and it was probably moved to its present location from the nearby fields. There are three big depressions in the Bullaun and a smaller fourth depression in it as well.

Clonmore

The Cemetery contains a huge amount of Christian Cross Slabs, both recumbent and upright. 
I think these Cross Slabs may probably date from the mid Christian to late medieval period but not being an expert I can't be sure of the dates for them.

Clonmore

One stone in particular has a date from the 1800's marked on it and several words in Irish as well as many unusual markings which actually looked a little like Bronze Age cup and ring marks although I have no idea what those markings actually are and they are not recorded as such.

Clonmore

There is also the head of a huge High Cross included in a group of Slabs gathered together and the cross it came from must have been very large and impressive when it was originally in one piece. 

Clonmore

A lot of the smaller Cross Slabs at Clonmore are very similar to Cross Slabs I have seen in Ballymore Eustace and other areas in Wicklow and Carlow.

Clonmore

There's an Ogham Stone here as well, pictured above. Ogham was an old Irish 20 letter alphabet originating around c. 350 AD and consisted of groups of linear slash marks. 

It's chiefly found in Ireland but also in parts of Britain and very occasionally uses other languages other than old Irish or Gaelic.

The Ogham inscription on the stone isn't visible any more and has now been worn away, or at the least my eyes couldn't make it out if it's still on the stone.

Clonmore

There are several bits and pieces of ancient masonry work scattered around the site and something which looked like a water trough though probably isn't, yet still very interesting to look at. 

Clonmore

There's also an upright Grave Stone which looks like it's made from Schist and has a hole in the middle worn or cut through it and I couldn't but wonder did it have an association with a later local tradition of some sort.

Clonmore

There's a beautifully maintained little Well, Saint Mogue's Holy Well and a small pond and manicured grassy area which are really nice to relax at beside the Church.

Clonmore

Clonmore Castle is nearby and a 2 minute walk from the Church. It is a large Anglo Norman Castle ruin mooted as originally dating from the 12th or 13th Cty with some later modifications.

Clonmore

I don't know a huge amount about Castles so I'll leave it's dating to the experts. I believe there are no records of it's initial construction. The structure would have been quite compex and has numerous, in technical parlance, "Snazzy" windows so it looks too well designed to be a 12th Cty construction although they could have been added later I suppose.

The Castle would benefit from conservation work to ensure no further damage is caused by the elements and weathering. 

It would be nice to think it would still be there a century from now rather than it fell down over the intervening years.

Clonmore

As a place to visit, enjoy and explore, Clonmore ranks highly in my book and no doubt when things get going again in 2020 I look forward another visit.

Coordinates to Clonmore : 

52°49'38.2"N 6°34'11.5"W
52.827265, -6.569846

On a side note I've used the term cemetery in this post where really to be true to fashion the preferred reference to a burial place attached to a church is graveyard. Likewise I often use Portal Dolmen when the proper usage is Portal Tomb....Hopefully it's not a hanging offence.
Keep the wheels turning.

















Friday, 29 May 2020

Cast Iron Water Pumps

There's a nifty little thing that was once probably the most valued thing in any town or village. 

Cast Iron Water Pump

Ballitore, Kildare.

Cast Iron Water Pump

Unused now they are to be found dotted throughout the country in most areas and they were once a focal point of everyday life..... The old Cast Iron village Water Pump or Hydrant.

Cashel Cross, Laois.

Cast Iron Water Pump

Clonygowan, Offaly.

Cast Iron Water Pump


These little relics of the 1800's are often well cared for and brightly painted. Occasionally some are still functioning but more often than not they are just nice reminders of times gone by.

Laois.

Cast Iron Water Pump

Cadamstown, Offaly.

Cast Iron Water Pump


I often pass them by at times without even noticing they are there but whenever I do take the time to actually take note of them I wonder at just how much effort must have went into making them.

Laois.

Cast Iron Water Pump


Laois.

Cast Iron Water Pump


I don't know a lot about metals but mass produced steel is simply Iron with all the carbon removed and then a very specific percentage of carbon must be reintroduced to produce steel. 

Carlow.

Cast Iron Water Pump


Cast Iron Water Pump


Most of these pumps were made in the days before we were technologically able to produce steel on a large scale. There was Pig Iron, Cast Iron and Wrought Iron available for use.

Aughrim, Galway.

Cast Iron Water Pump

Lea, Portarlington.

Cast Iron Water Pump

The old water pumps are generally made of Cast Iron as far as I'm aware.

Ballaghmore, Laois.

Cast Iron Water Pump


Laois.

Cast Iron Water Pump


Foundries and Iron works sprang up all over Ireland in the 1800's in order to meet demand and produce industrial, agricultural and domestic goods.

Clonbullogue, Offaly.

Cast Iron Water Pump

Laois.

Cast Iron Water Pump


The village pumps predate our modern houshold running water and plumbing systems. 

Rhode, Offaly.

Cast Iron Water Pump


Just imagine that not so long ago you had to go back and fort each day into the village square for a bucket of fresh water if you didn't have a nearby Well or live beside a river or stream.

Cast Iron Water Pump at Pollagh, Offaly.

Cast Iron Water Pump


Below is an unusual water pump which is encased in a wooden surround at Timahoe, Laois.
 
Cast Iron Water Pump

Quite a lot of the old water pumps have the Foundry or Iron Works names embossed on them and a few have various features such as Lions heads or flags etc. etc.

Water Pump at Ratheniska, Laois.

Water Pump

Hopefully these ubiquitous little pumps will continue to brighten up the landscape for years to come and serve to remind me that thankfully, when I need to put the kettle on I don't have to walk into town to refill the bucket of water.............

Water Pump

Old Water Pumps at Bob's Bar in Durrow, Laois. Lots of eclectic history here.

Cast Iron Water Pump

Cast Iron Water Pump

Old Water Pump


A pump on the Village Green at Freshford, Kilkenny and another in the area. It looks like it was a type of fire hydrant water pump.

Old Water Pump

Old Water Pump

Water Pump at Stradbally Laois.

Old Water Pump

Old Water Pump

Old Water Pump

A well maintained Wooden Water Pump at Masslough, Laois.

Wooden Water Pump

Wooden and Cast Iron type Water Pumps at Ballinakill, Laois.

Wooden Water Pump

Cast Iron water Pump

Water Pump, Mountmellick, Laois.

Cast Iron water Pump

Cast iron water Pumps at Shanahoe, Laois.

Cast Iron water Pump

Cast Iron water Pump

A bright yellow Water Pump near Abbeyleix, Laois.

Cast Iron water Pump

And last but not least another at Mountmellick, Laois.

Old Cast Iron Water Pump



LIMERICK IRON FOUNDARIES 1806-1989 by Patrick McDonnell