The Easter holidays are always a great time to do some different activities and visited some locations I had on my list for sometime.
One of these locations was Dunmore caves in the north of county Kilkenny, the caves are some of the most spectacular – located here in Ireland, with a large entrance hall and a great mix of tunnels and caverns. This time was a great visit, there have been some great guides over the years but our female guide over the weekend was clearly into the geology and environment of the area and of the caves themselves along with the Pagan and Viking (history, myths and beliefs) based around the long time use of these caverns.
One local myth in Kilkenny county revolves around the belief that there is a tunnel that goes all the way from the caves into the center of kilkenny city, possibly used for escape in times when the city was under attack. This tunnel has been searched for many times but never found, so maybe it is just a story but the search goes on.
Dunmore caves facts and History
Dunmore Cave (from Irish Dún Mór, meaning ‘great fort’) is a limestone solutional cave in Ballyfoyle, County Kilkenny, Ireland. It is formed in Lower Carboniferous (Viséan) limestone of the Clogrenan Formation. It is a show cave open to the public, particularly well known for its rich archaeological discoveries and for being the site of a Viking massacre in 928.
Dunmore Cave was designated a National Monument by the Commissioners of Public Works in 1944, but development as a show cave with visitor centre and tours didn’t begin until 1967, at the behest of respected archaeologist and spelaeologist J. C. Coleman. The cave was closed in 2000 for archaeological work and redevelopment, and reopened in 2003.
The earliest historical reference to the cave is to be found in the Triads of Ireland, dating from the 14th to the 19th century, where “Úam Chnogba, Úam Slángae and Dearc Fearna” are listed under the heading, “the three darkest places in Ireland”.The last, meaning the “Cave of the Alders,” is generally thought to be the present Dunmore Cave, while the first two translate as the caves of Knowth and Slaney. It is not known which exact system of caves/passage tombs near the river Slaney is being referred to, with the most likely, those at Baltinglass. Other sources translate the listed locations as Rath Croghan, the cave or crypt of Slane and the “Cave of the Ferns”.
In the Annals of the Four Masters, dated to the 17th century, Dearc Fearna was recorded as the site of a great Viking massacre in 928 AD:
“Godfrey Uí Ímair, with the foreigners of Ath Cliath, demolished and plundered Dearc Fearna, where one thousand persons were killed in this year as is stated in the quatrain:
Nine hundred years without sorrow, twenty-eight, it has been proved, ‘Since Christ came to our relief, to the plundering of Dearc-Fearna.”
Gofraith, ua h-Iomhair, co n-Gallaibh Atha Cliath, do thoghail & do orgain Derce Fearna,
airm in ro marbhadh míle do dhaoinibh an bhliadhain-si, amhail as-berar isin rann,
Naoi c-céd bliadhain gan doghra,
a h-ocht fichet non-dearbha,
o do-luidh Criost dár c-cobhair
co toghail Derce Ferna.
While the human remains found in the cave are thought to be victims of the Viking massacre, this has not been reliably confirmed. Many of the remains belong to women and children, and it is hypothesised that they are the bodies of people hiding in the cave who were unable to leave when the Vikings tried to smoke them out, dying from asphyxiation.
The earliest writings on the cave of an archaeological nature came from the bishop George Berkeley, whose report dated 1706 detailed a visit that he made to the cave as a boy. The essay was not published until 1871. In 1869 Arthur Wynne Foot, a physician, made an archaeological visit to the cave with Rev. James Graves and Peter Burtchaell and discovered large quantities of human remains, which they collected. In his reports, Foot meticulously documented his findings, and culled references from the writings of researchers over the preceding 120 years.
In 1999, a hoard of 43 silver and bronze items was discovered in a rocky cleft deep in the cave. Archaeologists dated this hoard, consisting of silver, ingots and conical buttons woven from fine silver, to 970 AD.
Well I am back on my Blog following a great Easter holiday, spent visiting much loved family and friends. It was great to see them and to visit some great locations and share some time with, food and drinks and chat.
My Aunt lives near the town of St Anne’s Lancashire, located in the north west of England.
I can remember visiting the town as a kid and one of the most exciting locations was the Pier.
Half way through this last visit I took an evening walk to the Pier and took this series of images.
These days the Pier looks a little less visited than I remember when I was younger but its looking in great condition and it was perfect to see in just as the sunset out at sea…..
St Anne’s Pier, St Anne’s-on-the-Sea, Lancashire, UK
St Anne’s Pier is a Victorian era pleasure pier in the English seaside resort of St Anne’s-on-the-Sea, Lancashire. It lies on the estuary of the River Ribble. The pier, designed by A. Dowson, was completed in 1885 and was one of the earliest public buildings in St Anne’s, a 19th-century planned town. The pier was originally intended to be a sedate promenading venue for the resort’s visitors, but attractions were later added. Changes made to the estuary channels to improve access to Preston Dock left the pier on dry land and ended its steamer services to Blackpool and Liverpool.
A Tudor-style entrance was built in 1899. Early 20th-century additions included a Moorish-style pavilion in 1904 and the Floral Hall in 1910. The Moorish Pavilion was destroyed by fire in 1974, shortly after the town’s centenary; the Floral Hall burned down in 1982. Originally 914 feet (279 m) long, the pier was reduced to 600 feet (180 m) by the demolition of the seaward end. English Heritage has designated the pier a Grade II listed building.
St Anne’s-on-the-Sea is a planned seaside resort on the Fylde coast, at the mouth of the River Ribble, in Lancashire. It was developed in the 19th century, largely by the St Anne’s Land & Building Company. The company was formed in 1874 and leased land for the new town from the estate of the local Clifton family. Towards the end of the 19th century, pleasure piers became a common feature of English seaside resorts, and by the 1870s there were already two piers in nearby Blackpool, one in Southport and one 3.5 miles (5.6 km) away in Lytham. The wording of the land company’s original lease indicates that a pier was probably planned for St Anne’s from its beginning. A subsidiary, the St Anne’s-on-the-Sea Pier and Improvements Company was formed in 1877. The company directors believed that a pier at St Anne’s would offer visitors better conditions for fishing and boating than those at neighbouring resorts.
St Anne’s Pier, a Sunset walk beach walk : Image Gallery
Easter(Ostara) time and Hawthorn flowers
In my last post I hinted that I was going to take a little time off over the Easter holidays, sometime away from my phone or laptop and get outside as much as possible, its spring time here and after all our winter storms the landscape is returning to life with colour and wildlife in full flow.
Yesterday I took some time to do some long walks, just myself and Molly our Golden retriever, around many of county Kilkenny’s paths and country lanes.
Each Easter here one of the first signs of Spring and Summer is the Hawthorn flowers, Hawthorn is a very popular form of hedging in the county and all the road side and field hedges turn to white as the flowers bloom.
The images here I hope show just how white and full these flowers are, its a wonderful sight each year and really lets you know that summer is only just around the corner..
Hawthorn Flowers : Gallery