Sunday, 17 July 2022

Waterstown High Cross, Carlow

 Waterstown High Cross

Waterstone High Cross

There's a wonderfully quiet and secluded Hillock at Waterstown in Carlow which is a delight to visit. Although actually right beside a small road if feels like taking a step back in time.

Waterstone High Cross 

It's hard to explain but I found it very atmospheric, almost ephemeral as if it would soon vanish in the occasional mists.

Waterstone High Cross

On this innocuous hilly mound are to be found two beautiful Crosses. 

One an imperforate/solid wheeled High Cross and the other a later medieval Cross with damaged arms and a crucifixion scene carved on Limestone in mid relief.

Waterstone High Cross

The entrance to the Crosses is marked by two small granite posts in a roadside hedge. 

I always seem to find particular enjoyment in visiting a site where there is no carpark, Visitor Centre or signage. Places like this exude a unique charm and aura of their own.

Waterstone High Cross

They are often quite peaceful and tranquil while appearing like the title of a Tom Hardy book "far from the madding crowd". 

It seems they provide moments of sanctuary or respite however fleeting from modernity and the hustle and bustle of every day modern life.

Waterstone High Cross

There are other antiquities located both here and nearby which I didn't realise at the time of my visit.

Waterstone High Cross

 They include Saint Patrick's Well across a field, an Ogham Stone a few fields away (is a field even a recognised unit of measure) a holed stone on the hillock itself somewhere which I never saw (and which Irish Stones describes as a broken cut marked Bullaun Stone) and the base of a Cross literally 100 meters away on the roadside junction which is used as a Shrine and which I also completely missed.

Waterstone High Cross

The roadside Cross base is most likely the original base of the Cross on the hillock at Waterstown itself.

Waterstone High Cross

Interestingly enough OSI 1800's historic mapping shows the nearby junction where the Cross Base is used as a Shrine as Cloghaphuill which can be interpreted as "the holed stone".

Waterstone High Cross

 It also shows a Church and Graveyard now disappeared which were once located here by the Hillock.

OSI Historic Mapping - Waterstown

This somewhat esoteric and remote site  was apparently at some stage in the not too distant past a reasonably well frequented ecclesiastical settlement of local importance.

Waterstone High Cross

It was somewhat overcast with unusual lighting conditions under the thickets of wild brambles, nettles and shrubbery. 

My efforts at photography reflect my less than perfect skills rather than expressing the beauty of the location itself as I had intended.

Waterstone High Cross

Do take the time to visit Waterstown if you happen to ever be in the area and keep the wheels turning.

Waterstone High Cross

Coordinates here :

52°53'18.8"N 6°40'47.1"W

52.888545 - 6.679760

Library Ireland/S. Lewis/Topographical Dictionary Of Irl/Rathvilly


Waterstone High Cross

And just a short mention to say that if you throw a stone hard enough from here either North or North-West it will land in Wicklow. You are right on the Wicklow/Carlow border at Waterstown.

Waterstone High Cross

Waterstone High Cross

Waterstone High Cross

Waterstone High Cross

Waterstone High Cross

Waterstone High Cross

Waterstone High Cross

Below are just a few streestscape photographs from nearby Rathvilly.

Waterstone High Cross

Waterstone High Cross

Waterstone High Cross















 

 

Friday, 15 July 2022

Knocktopher, Kilkenny

Knocktopher 


Knocktopher, in Irish Cnoc an Tóchair, meaning the Hill of the Causeway, is a small village in County Kilkenny.

I didn't mean to end up travelling through the village but I'm glad I did. There's quite a few things to see in the village and nearby too.

The first thing of note nearby is the Ballyboodan (Kilcurl) Ogham Stone. 

Ogham stones come in all shapes and sizes although this one is unusual for its large size and almost geometrically precise rectangular shape.

Ballyboodan Ogham

The Ogham alphabet is a 20 letter old Irish alphabet consisting of groups of linear slash marks also known as the Tree alphabet.

It is believed to have originated c. 350 or thereabouts. It is about 2 Kilometres southwest of Knocktopher and well worth taking a detour to see.

Ballyboodan Ogham

In the village itself Knocktopher Abbey is not in actual fact an Abbey but a mid 1800's house built alongside part of an existing Castle and converted to Lodges. Accommodation can be rented here. I had at first glance mistaken it for an actual Abbey.

I hadn't intended to visit Knocktopher but I passed through as I was heading for nearby Aghaviller ruins and the Round Tower pictured below. It is located roughly 6 Kms away from Knocktopher. 

Aghaviller Round Tower, Kilkenny

A Mass Rock which is a relic from the days of the Penal Laws in Ireland is to be found located mounted on a plinth in at the grounds of the Roman Catholic/Carmelite Friary in the village. 

The Penal Laws were punitive measuress designed to restrict open worship of the Catholic faith and facilitate conversions. I believe the Carmelites had to leave the area c. 2017 due to diminishing numbers in the Order.

There is an interesting looking 1800's Board of First Fruit Church in the village as well but the gates were locked when I visited.

Carmelite Mass Rock, Knocktopher

Carmelite Mass Rock, Knocktopher

The beautiful west Tower of a 12th century Church is also located in the village. The main Church structure appears to have been demolished in the 1800's according to an on site information board and the Tower is all that remains of the early Church.

Knocktopher Early Church Ruins

There is a delightful Romanesque style doorway into the Tower. Inside is an effigy slab of a male and female figure believed to date to the 15th century.

Knocktopher HIstory/ Romanesque Doorway

Dotted about the graveyard are several Armorial plaques and lots of points of interest. I was pleasantly surprised by all the things to see here.

Knocktopher Early Church Ruins

Also in the Tower but locked safely behind gates are several fragmentary remains, a Cross, a possible  Wayside Cross or Cross slab/Grave marker and some carved figures, all quite interesting.

Knocktopher HIstory

All in all I was delighted to have accidentally stumbled into Knocktopher. It is a little hidden Gem in Kilkenny.

Knocktopher Early Church Ruins

There's lots to see here and a wander around the Graveyard is to be recommended. Earlier fragmentary remains from the Church are dotted here and there and all is contained in a small compact and easily accessible area.

Knocktopher HIstory

I hope you enjoy your visit as much as I did if you take the time to journey to Knocktopher in County Kilkenny.

Knocktopher Early Church Ruins


Knocktopher Early Church Ruins

Keep the wheels turning....

Knocktopher HIstory


Knocktopher HIstory

Knocktopher HIstory

Knocktopher HIstory

Knocktopher HIstory/ Romanesque Doorway

Knocktopher Early Church Ruins





Friday, 1 July 2022

Gortnaglogh Standing Stone, Laois

Just a quick post here today to post a few photographs of Gortnaglogh Standing Stone in Laois.

Gortnaglogh Standing Stone in County Laois.

It's believed this stone was also known as the Mass Stone.

Gortnaglogh Standing Stone in County Laois.

It's further presumed that Mass was held here during the times of the repressive Penal Laws when open Catholic worship was banned and priests were often hunted down and murdered for ministering to their flocks.

Gortnaglogh Standing Stone in County Laois.

The photographs were taken on a misty rainy day and it was hard to get a decent shot.

Standing Stones in Laois

Keep the wheels turning.........








Sunday, 19 June 2022

Rathdaire House/Bellgrove at Rath, Ballybrittas (or The House that Jack Didn't build)

 Black Jack (John George) Adair born 1823 was a Land speculator and Ranching magnate born into a  family descended from Landed Gentry. 

Landed Gentry as the name suggests are those of the Gentry who owned land.

 Gentry means basically anyone who had means enough that money alone could sustain a relatively indulgent lifestyle without the need for working. 

Rathdaire House/Bellgrove in Laois. Ruined 1800's Italinate Mansion

That's not to say the Gentry didn't work. Some did and some didn't hence the term "the idle rich". Many of the Gentry were far from Gents or Gentlemen as "Black Jack's" legacy aptly indicates.

Rathdaire House/Bellgrove in Laois. Ruined 1800's Italinate Mansion

This post concerns the Adair family home of Rathdaire House, also known as Belle Grove and Bellgrove at County Laois in the Irish midlands.

Rathdaire

Black Jack accumulated a Ranch of well over 1 million acres in Texas in the U.S.A. on the J.A. Ranch. He also built and owned Glenveagh Castle in Donegal.

Rathdaire 

He held substantial lands in his native Laois among his many other assets. John George Adair was obviously quite a shrewd investor and the family held at one time in excess of 10,000 acres in the County.

Rathdaire House

He had a reputation for ill manners, rudeness and ruthlessness in his business dealings. All in all he seems to have been quite an unlikeable character.

Rathdaire House/Bellgrove in Laois. Ruined 1800's Italinate Mansion

He died in 1885 and is buried in a nondescript grave at Lea Church at Rathmiles near Portarlington.

Grave of Black Jack Adair at Lea Church, Portarlington

The family seat at Rathdaire House is described as a two story over basement Italianate Mansion of c. 1835. It was burned to the ground in 1887 purportedly accidentally. 

Whether it was an accident or a deliberate act we will never know for sure and the house was left standing as the ruins that are to be seen today.

Rathdaire House/Bellgrove in Laois. Ruined 1800's Italinate Mansion

The house was constructed over a previously existing building at the site and it was considerably altered during the following decades until it became an ornate Italianate style building complete with a considerable and well designed Winter Garden and a Stables with underground passages to the House.

The lands were originally purchased by Black Jack's Grandfather John. Construction of Rathdaire House was begun under his father George's auspices in the 1830's.

Rathdaire House/Bellgrove in Laois. Ruined 1800's Italinate Mansion

 George had apparently inherited estates in the West Indies and prospered from his Sugar Plantations there.

Rathdaire House/Bellgrove in Laois. Ruined 1800's Italinate Mansion

Black Jack's wife, American heiress Cornelia Wadsworth Adair had the Church of the Ascension built near Ballyadding in County Laois in her late husbands memory. 

Church of the Ascension, Ballyadding. Hiberno Romanesque style

It is described as built in a Hiberno Romanesque style and indeed the doorway is an example of rich and intricate detail and a delight to see first hand.

Below are some of the Cobble stones still lining a tunnel which ran from the Stables under and into the house. There is also what I have been told is a large water trough for the Horses.

Rathdaire House/Bellgrove in Laois. Ruined 1800's Italinate Mansion

Rathdaire House/Bellgrove in Laois. Ruined 1800's Italinate Mansion

Rathdaire House/Bellgrove in Laois. Ruined 1800's Italinate Mansion

Rathdaire House/Bellgrove in Laois. Ruined 1800's Italinate Mansion

Many thanks are due to the present owners family for permission to photograph  in the building.

Rathdaire House/Bellgrove in Laois. Ruined 1800's Italinate Mansion

Rathdaire House/Bellgrove in Laois. Ruined 1800's Italinate Mansion

Rathdaire House/Bellgrove in Laois. Ruined 1800's Italinate Mansion

Rathdaire House/Bellgrove in Laois. 1800's Italinate Mansion

Historic mapping from the OSI showing the property at different times called both Belle Grove and latterly Rathdaire House.

Rathdaire House/Bellgrove in Laois. Ruined 1800's Italinate Mansion


Rathdaire House/Bellgrove in Laois. Ruined 1800's Italinate Mansion