Ireland April 22nd to April 29th
On leaving Kinsale we were told to visit the Castle at Cahir, it is located on a rocky island on the River Suir in the centre of town, it is one of Ireland’s largest and best preserved castles.
An imposing 13th -15th Century structure, Cahir Castle was skilfully designed by Conor O’Brien to be a state-of-the-art defensive castle. Appearing to grow from the actual rock on which it stands, the castle has been the scene of sieges and bombardments for centuries. It has two cannon balls stuck in the side as witness to its sieges.
The powerful Anglo-Norman family, the Butlers, came into the possession of the castle in 1375. The castle was captured three times in its history: it fell to Devereux, Earl of Essex, in 1599 after it had been battered for three days with artillery; it surrendered without a fight to Inchiquin in 1647; and again to Cromwell in 1650. Over the centuries the Butlers considerably rebuilt and extended their stronghold. However, by 1599, the castle had reached its present appearance, with the only subsequent alterations taking place in the 1840s.
In 1961, the last Lord Cahir died and the castle reverted to the State. The castle retains its impressive keep, tower and much of its original defensive structure.
We were also told to visit the Swiss cottage, Swiss Cottage, a delightful ornamental cottage, was built in the early 1800s by Richard Butler, first Earl of Glengall, probably it was more comfortable than the castle. We ran out of time to do the tour so just took a photo through the back gate.
We travelled on to Cashel our next two night stay. Cashel was not the most interesting of towns, but for me the tour of the Rock of Cashel was one of the best we did. We may have been extremely lucky with the weather (no wind very rare). Our guide was so excited that there was no wind she added an extra 30 minutes onto the 45-minute tour. She was funny, knowledgeable and interesting. The site was first a castle for the Irish kings who brawled over it for years. Then one of the winners decided that while it was of strategic importance it was too cold (the wind) and miserable to live there. He could not just leave it, one of the other Irish chiefs would have taken it and deposed him, he was very crafted and gave it to the church thereby solving his problem.
The church build a cathedral (between the original church and the tower fort). The Archbishop also thought it was too cold and never lived in the tower built for him as it does not contain a garderobe (toilet). The cathedral was built facing in the wrong direction as that was the only way it would fit between the old church and the tower fort. Some of the Bishops were interesting men one of them managed to become the Bishop in the south for the protestants and the bishop in the North for the Catholics, quite a feat. Our guide also thinks he stole the effigy which is above his grave.
The Cross at the front of the cathedral is said to stop all toothache if you can touch your fingers around it. Ross could, I could not; still he has more tooth trouble than me!! The other thing is if you hop around it you will be married within the year. Our guide assured us that this does not work as she said she has been hopping around it for years.
Stopped a couple of days in Dramineir. Very lovely countryside and a chance to rest and recuperate from all our travels. The local pub was really local - Biddy from across the road was walked over and home every night by the landlord. She has a couple of brandy's and something to eat. The night we were there she was a little slow with her brandy and had not finished when the landlord came to take her home. He said to take the brandy with her "then you will be worrying me for the glass back" she replied, but I noticed she took it anyway.
Kilaloe was a lovely town we visited on the river Shannon. It had a very long one lane bridge across it which cause traffic disruption throughout the whole town. We parked as soon as we could and walked around.
Roscommon and Fr. Norman
I must of course tell you about is our trip to Castle Donamon. This is one of the oldest inhabited Castles in Ireland, the original castle was built in 1100, but was razed a few times I think the one there now was built in 1600’s. It is the home of the Divine Word Missionaries and Father Norman is a friend of my family. He invited us to stay.
The castle is magnificent it has towers and turrets, a ghost of course and is 4 floors high. Unfortunately, only 4 Priest’s live there, so they rattle around a bit. They have a wheelchair holiday house in the grounds which used to be the seminary (they had 80 priest’s training in the 60’s) and a printing press where 8 people work. The press prints cards and they sell them throughout Ireland, this is the Priest’s income stream.
The castle is for sale, if anyone has a few (probably about 20) million dollars floating about, as although most of the Castle is in good condition it needs a lot of work on the roof and to repair the damage done by the leaking water. If I had the money I would buy it like a shot and allow the Priests to stay in a wing, run their press etc.
It was so nice staying with the Father’s and they looked after us very well. Fr. Norman is the eldest at 96 and is in fine form, he is recovering from surgery on his leg to remove an aneurism, but seemed to get better every day. He has his Golden Jubilee of his priesthood this year. On 15th August. All the Fathers have worked as missionaries and have fascinating stories Fr. Pat and Fr. Norman were in Papua New Guinea and Fr. Jerry was in Timor. I think Fr. Michael was in Africa. We were very sorry to say good bye when we left.
Knock - and Basilica
An interesting place we saw with Fr. Norman was the village of Knock. It was here in 1879 that 15 people saw and apparition of Our lady, Joseph and St John with a lamb on an altar, the apparition lasted 2 hours in the rain. During all rain the wall the apparition was on did not get wet. Our Lady did not speak which is unusual, Fr. Norman feels she was there to show the people she cared during the difficult times they were living through. The old church has been preserved and a cathedral has been built on the site. The cathedral was elevated to Basilica status by Pope John Paul. Very interesting. It is the most beautiful church and has an amazingly peaceful feel to it. A huge tapestry is on the wall depicting the Apparition and it looks almost real.