Rathfarnham Castle is located in south county Dublin. It was built in 1585 by Adam Loftus, Archbishop of Armagh. This is one of the finest examples of what is described as a ‘fortified manor house’ in Ireland. It’s 4 flanker towers, instead of being square are angular (angle bastions). This site is steeped in history and had previously been the site of an Iron Age fort.
The interior of the castle was redesigned in the 18th century by two of the greatest architects of the time, William Chambers and James Stewart. Chambers designed Buckingham Palace, Kew Gardens, St James’s Palace, Trinity University, and Casino Marino and James ‘Athenian’ Stuart is best known for his pioneering role in Neoclassicism in the mid 1700’s.
Rathfarnham Castle was for a long time used as a private house and ended up being a Jesuit College before it was taken under the care of the Office of Public Works. It is now open to the public.
Today marks the Winter Solstice , nowhere here in Ireland will this moment be marks more than at Newgrange the perfect locations to gain a little understanding as to how our European ancestors both recorded and celebrated the movement of the sun and the objects of universe they lived in.
Today is the shortest day of the year, the day when at Newgrange the rising sun can be seen to travel all the way into the passage tomb at the center of the monument.
Newgrange – Winter Solstice
Sunrise at NewgrangeNewgrange is best known for the illumination of its passage and chamber by the Winter Solstice sun. Above the entrance to the passage of the mound there is a opening called a roof-box. On mornings around the winter solstice a beam of light penetrates the roof-box and travels up the 19 metre passage and into the chamber. As the sun rises higher, the beam widens so that the whole chamber is dramatically illuminated.
Access to the chamber on the Solstice mornings is decided by a lottery that takes place at the end of September each year. All are welcome to gather outside the entrance to the Newgrange mound on each of the mornings from December 18th to December 23rd inclusive, sunrise is at 8.58am. Access via the Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre or directly to the actual Newgrange monument.
The images posted here were taken this time last year at New-grange ……
Newgrange a Gallery
Ardgroom Stone Circle, County Cork, Ireland
The Ardgroomon stone circle is located on the Beautiful Beara Peninsula, county cork. It has to be one of the most magical of all the Irish stone circle, it also has the best of locations and views, sitting about the Atlantic ocean. There is something so exciting and mysterious about visiting a stone circle. The Ardgroomon circle is located in an area were there is an abundance of these historic sites, as well as wedge tombs, ring forts, boulder burials and fulachta fiadhs.
As well as being used for the Solar Spring and summer Equinox’s along with the Summer and Winter Solstice, many of these stone circles would also log the Movement of the Moon, Planets and Stars as during the year they changed their positions along the horizon. The standing stones in a stone circle would have in combination with a feature on local hill sides, have been lined up with astronomical objects(Sun, moon, planets and Stars). This would have given an almost daily measurement for months of the year.
The reason that ancient peoples needed to log the movement of the heavens was mainly for practical reasons such as farming, they needed to know when to sow seeds, bring cattle down from the mountains and bring in the crops, also they needed to know how long their store of food had to last before the new growing season started, no imports in those days.
Knockroe Passage Tomb, County Kilkenny
Knockroe Passage tomb is located in a picturesque setting on the slopes above the Lingaun River and old slate quarries which were abandoned in the early 1900’s. The site dates to around 3,000 BC and has many similarities to the far more famous examples such as Newgrange and Knowth in the Brú na Bóinne complex in County Meath.
Originally Knockroe would have been a similar tomb to Newgrange, albeit on a smaller scale. It is likely that it too would have had an earthen mound surrounded by large kerbstones. However unlike Newgrange, Knockroe has two burial chambers, located at the eastern and western sides of the feature. These tombs are exposed, and had long ago lost their earthen cover. Many of the stones lining the passageways of these tombs at Knockroe are highly decorated with megalithic art such as spirals, hollowed ‘cup marks’, and zig-zags. You can still find them in their original locations, and when you see them it is impossible not to wonder about the possible meaning of the decorations – was it purely decorative or did it have a deeper symbolism, and what messages may be in that symbolism? You can also still see the quartz which possibly would have formed a wall around the entrance to the passageways.
Also like Newgrange, Knockroe is aligned with the Winter Solstice. Every year around the 21st December people gather at Knockroe to witness the sun setting in perfect alignment with the length of western tomb.
Knockroe is one of a group of tombs located in this region, all of which are aligned with the large
mound on the summit of Slievenamon in County Tipperary. Knockroe is one of those wonderful sites that you can’t help to keep thinking about long after your visit, without being encumbered with its earthen mound, Knockroe is like the stony skeleton of a Neolithic passage tomb.
Loop Head Lighthouse, county Clare, Ireland
I have just spent a few days visiting County Clare, west Ireland, finishing with a visit to the great Loophead lighhouse. As you can see the day was very typical for a Septembers day here in Ireland, wet and windy.
It was still possible to visit the top of the lighthouse however which was great fun in the strong breeze.
I have very much enjoyed visiting some of Ireland’s lighthouses over the years from the north coast down to Hookhead, on the south coast, these remote location with their lighthouse keepers buildings that would have been both a place of work and a home, all year around and in all weather conditions, are a great reminder of the past.
A past that has almost gone but can in places like these still be felt very strongly.
Sometime back I found this video and have shared it before with other lighthouse posts, its still very much worth sharing again however as it reflects on the family life’s of Ireland’s lighthouse keepers …..
Here is a little history of the Loophead lighthouse
The first lighthouse on Loophead was one of four known Irish stone vaulted cottage type lights built about 1670. These cottages accommodated the lightkeeper and his family in two or three rooms and had an internal stone stairway between two of the rooms leading up to a platform on the roof where a coal burning brazier or chauffer was positioned. Part of the old cottage with its battered outside wall can still be seen near the lightkeepers’ dwellings.
The light must have fallen into disuse towards the end of the 17th century because it was re-established in 1720 after aldermen and merchants of Limerick petitioned the Irish Parliament in 1717 for a light on the Head.
The cottage-lighthouse with its coal fire was replaced in 1802 by a more conventional lighthouse, built by Thomas Rogers, who was also the contractor. The tower was about the same height as the present tower with four rooms and a lantern. The ground floor room was an oil store and access to the first floor or entrance room by an outside staircase of 19 steps. An internal spiral staircase connected the other two rooms and lantern. The twelve-foot diameter lantern contained twelve oil lamps, each with its own concave parabolic reflector. The reflected light shone through a 22″ diameter convex lens of solid glass, not unlike the ‘bottle glass’ or “bulls-eye” fitted into windows of modern psuedo-Georgian houses.
By 1811 the keeper was living in an adjoining cottage, rather than in the tower.
Loop Head Lighthouse, county Clare, Ireland , Gallery
The village of Cullahill, county Laois is located just over the boarder from county Kilkenny. It is home to some great old castle tower home and village chapel remains. Cullahill Castle was the principal stronghold of the MacGillapatricks of Upper Ossory built around 1425 and destroyed around 1650.
There are many places like this in the Irish republic, that have retained the remains of long lost times, this small village located on the R369 just north of Johnstown county kilkenny, is a perfect example of the way most small Irish villages would have been in the 1400’s. this small place is well worth a visit just to get a sense of old Ireland.
Held every May Bank Holiday in Yorkshire, the Skipton Waterway Festival is a 3 day canal boat event which runs every year on the 1st May day Bank holiday weekend. It is an event which is a non-profit making Festival, which solely relies on donations and sponsorship from the local community. they are also organized by volunteers from Pennine Cruisers and the local community, without these people the event would not run as smoothly as it does each year.
The 1st Skipton Waterway Festival was held in 2001 and they have gone on to grow more and more each year. The festival was originally organized by CRT (British Waterways then) and Pennine Cruisers for around 5 years, however Pennine Cruisers then took on the event, as they saw how much the local boaters and town enjoyed it. As Pennine Cruisers look forward to this event each year, it is part of their year now, as they have organized it for a long time, they say that they would be a little lost without it.
As an event they attract around 8, 000 – 10,000 visitors each year over the full 3 days. It is noticed when people/families visit the festival each and every year. They put on various entertainment, stalls from craft to charity stalls, children’s activities and an array of food/concession stalls. There is something for almost everyone.
This years Festival was great to visit with many Craft stalls and lots of Local history with the new presentation of an internet based database of all the families who worked and still work on the Leeds and Liverpool canal from the first times it was open for use.
I was only back in-front my laptop for the first time yesterday evening, uploading some of the images I captured over the Easter Holidays.
It was a great break, this year we stayed in Ireland but chose to visit many of the great locations the south east and west of the country has to offer.
The Irish National Heritage Park, was just one of these places, the Park gives you an historic journey that takes you deep into Ireland’s past, Through 9000 years of Irish History. It is a very special place where Ireland’s heritage comes alive with sights and sounds that shaped a country and helped to shape the bigger world.
Located on the banks of the picturesque River Slaney, The Irish National Heritage Park truly is the cornerstone of Ireland’s Ancient East.
With an outdoor museum depicting 9000 years of re-created Irish History situated within natural forestry & wet woodlands.
The following images are just some from the many I took on the day we visited ….