The Castlecomer Plateau

The Castlecomer Plateau, seen from a distance in the above photo by Alan Vaughn from the excellent website Ask About Ireland

This is an upland area in northern Co. Kilkenny, extending into Co. Laois and Co. Carlow at its northern edge, is one of the few places in Ireland with a coal-mining history (others are in Co. Roscommon and Co. Tyrone).

Nowadays a sort of forgotten no-man’s-land between Kilkenny City, Carlow Town and the Killeshin Hills, this rather bleak area was famous from the  C17th until the mid-C20th for its working anthracite coal mines.

The Plateau stretches from the Culla Hills eastwards to the Castlecomer Hills and the Slieve Margy range. These hills are divided by the valley of the River Dinin which flows through the town of Castlecomer itself to join the River Nore to the west. The eastern section is known as the Rossmore Plateau, after the village of Rossmore, which is located at the northeasternmost extremity near the highest point on the plateau (334m) and is just 5 km from Carlow Town in the River Barrow valley below. Continue reading The Castlecomer Plateau

New Ross and Rosbercon

New Ross (Ros Mhic Thriúin) (pop. 7000), built on a steep hill on the eastern bank of the River Barrow near its junction with the River Nore, is not a particularly elegant town, but has featured prominently in Irish history. (Above image from Wikipedia.)

The town lies on the main road from Rosslare Europort to the major tourist areas of the West, and thousands of visitors pause to enjoy the excellent local travellers’ facilities each year.

Although it is over 30km from the sea, the Port of New Ross does a busy trade.

New Ross is in County Wexford, but Rosbercon, on the opposite side of the River Barrow, effectively a suburb of the town, is actually in County Kilkenny.
Continue reading New Ross and Rosbercon

Navan and Environs (Co. Meath)

Above image Navan Historical society

Navan (Co. Meath / Central)

Navan (An Uaimh – “the cave”; etymology disputed) (pop. 30,000), long a small but prosperous market hub,  replaced Trim as the administrative capital of County Meath in 1898.

Believed by some to have originally been named Nuachongbhail (“new dwelling”), and historically aka Novan and The Novane, the town was  called only by its official modern Gaelic toponym from 1922 until 1970, when residents voted (746-161) to resume “Navan”. Continue reading Navan and Environs (Co. Meath)

Kilkenny City and Environs

Kilkenny City (Cill Chainnigh – “church of Saint Canice“) (pop. 23,000), the only inland city in the Republic of Ireland, and the smallest by both area and population, is one of the most attractive towns in the country. (Photo by Andreas F. Borchert)

Situated on the banks of the River Nore at its junction with the River Bregagh,  the eponymous County capital has  a rich architectural heritage, including beautiful edifices from every era since the arrival of the Normans,  twisting streets with intriguing names, shops, museums, art galleries, craft and design workshops and public gardens. There are also several places to visit nearby.

These factors, together with a number of excellent pubs, restaurants and accommodation options in and around the town are the main reasons for Kilkenny’s popularity as a discerning visitors’ destination or base for touring Ireland. Continue reading Kilkenny City and Environs

History and five walking routes in Dublin and Environs

The city of Dublin occupies a generally flat site, bisected by the River Liffey into the South Side and the North Side. The river is spanned by ten bridges, notably O’Connell Bridge and the Ha’penny Bridge.

DUBLIN (Baile Atha Cliath) (pop. 1,002,000), established by the Vikings as a walled town in the C9th, has been the Capital of Ireland for over a thousand years. It has always been the only real city in Ireland, and was used as a base by the English from the C12th onwards to administer and “civilise” the rest of the island (with varying degrees of success!). It reached its architectural apogee in the C18th, at the height of the Anglo-Irish Protestant Ascendancy. In the C19th, it was regarded as the Second City of the British Empire, after London. It is famous for its literary and theatrical traditions and perhaps even more for its pubs. The city is full of interesting historic buildings, libraries, churches, museums and galleries. Dublin has one of the youngest populations in Europe, reflected in the vibrant music scene and lively nightclubs. The Carnival in June and the RDS Horse Show in August are summer highlights. Continue reading History and five walking routes in Dublin and Environs

Carlow Town and Environs

Above picture Carlow rowers

Carlow Town (Ceatharlach – “city of the lake” / “four lakes”), aka Catherlough until 1721, stands at the confluence of the Rivers Barrow and Burrin; tradition has it that the junction once formed four lakes.

Graiguecullen is on the western side of the River Barrow, and is thus technically in Co. Laois. Popularly referred to as Graigue, it belongs to the old Civil Parish of Sleaty, and its correct full name was Sleatygraigue until 1922, when it was renamed in memory of Fr Hugh Cullen, a much-loved local priest who died in 1917.

The combined urban entity of Carlow / Graiguecullen & Environs has grown rapidly in the last few years, and is now largely a commuter dormitory satellite for DUBLIN. Carlow’s old streets are bustling and friendly, with something of the feel of a university town. Live music is played in many of the town’s pubs.

The grassy quays and the huddle of warehouses beside the River Barrow evidence the pivotal role Carlow had for the commerce that long used this waterway. Ceatharlach Moorings is a fine modern marina below the lock. Unfortunately, the town is still subject to frequent flooding.

Carlow Castle

Carlow Castle, located at Carlow, County Carlow, Republic of Ireland.
Carlow Castle, located at Carlow, County Carlow, Republic of Ireland. Age BosmaOwn work

Carlow Castle was once one of the most impressive Norman castles in Ireland. Built between 1207 and 1213 by Strongbow‘s successor William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke, on the site of a motte erected by Hugh de Lacy in the 1180s, it appears to have been directly inspired by French examples, notably Nemours (Seine-et-Marne), completed in 1180, and may be the earliest example of a four-towered keep in the British Isles. Continue reading Carlow Town and Environs

Ireland’s Holidays, Special Days etc.

For forthcoming holidays / festive dates, festivals, fairs and suchlike events see http://www.discoverireland.ie/Whats-On/ 

Above Photo by William Murphy

Official / Public  Holidays (& Popular Festive Dates / Observances etc.)

Official public holidays include  some festive dates which have been celebrated by custom and tradition since time immemorial, sometimes called “Common Law holidays” (often ostensibly of a Christian nature but probably of much more ancient origin) and others added by legislation over the last 150 years.

Bank / Public Holidays

The term bank holiday refers to a secular public holiday in the UK and is used colloquially for any public holiday in the Republic of Ireland, where it is widely (albeit incorrectly) applied to e.g.Good Friday and Christmas Day.

The United Kingdom Bank Holidays Act 1871 established the first Bank holidays in Ireland: Easter Monday; Whit Monday; St. Stephen’s Day and the first Monday in AugustSt Patrick’s Day was added by the Bank Holiday (Ireland) Act 1903. Continue reading Ireland’s Holidays, Special Days etc.

ByRoute 1.1 Co. Wicklow – Co. Wexford (E)

This page describes sites of interest on ByRoute 1 between Bray Head on the Wicklow Fringe of DUBLIN and Wexford Harbour, Town & Environs.

Greystones & Delgany (Co. Wicklow / Northeast)

By Moptoptv - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=63817117
By Moptoptv – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=63817117

Greystones (Na Clocha Liatha)  retains a rather English air – the sort of place Enid Blyton’s Famous Five would spend their school holidays – and is still widely thought of as a seaside village despite its massive growth over the last 30 years.

Greystones takes its name from either some prominent grey rocks jutting out to sea or the pebbles on the stony beach overlooked by the crumbling cliffs of Bray Head, but derives its summertime popularity from the sandy Blue Flag beach south of the harbour. Continue reading ByRoute 1.1 Co. Wicklow – Co. Wexford (E)

Carlow town and local area.

The combined urban entity of Carlow / Graiguecullen & Environs has grown rapidly in the last few years, and is now largely a commuter dormitory satellite for DUBLIN. Carlow’s old streets are bustling and friendly, with something of the feel of a university town. Live music is played in many of the town’s pubs.

Carlow Castle was once one of the most impressive Norman castles in Ireland.

Milford is also a good place to see wildlife, including herons, wagtails, dippers, kingfishers and otters. In season, salmon run the weir on their way to spawn upstream in the tributaries of the Barrow.

Read the entire article about Carlow town and environs here.

Ireland and it's history, culture, travel, tourism and more!

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