Archive | May, 2014

Early morning in an Irish country garden.

31 May

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It is early morning…6.3o to be precise…a bit earlier than usual for me to be up and about but I didn’t sleep very well. Probably due to being on antibiotics and steroids for an upper respiratory tract infection. Hopefully the drugs will do the trick and in a few days I shall be tickety boo again.

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The only sound to be heard is the early morning birdsong. All the different voices merge together beautifully like a well rehearsed choir. So uplifting…

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A wheelbarrow full of grass clippings sits as testament to yesterdays unfinished jobs. The first chore today will be to mulch amongst the Blackcurrants with cardboard and these grass clippings.  But thats for later…

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By the pond Flag Irises are just showing their yellow flowers…

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and the Newts are up and about.  Must be hundreds of Newts in the pond. I wonder if Newts ever sleep?

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I can see little flower buds on the Water Lily.

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Everything feels so alive and vibrant. The growth is so strong that the scene changes from one day to the next. A  privilege to be able to observe it…I am thankful.

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As the Sun starts to emerge it is time to go indoors and get the kettle on for coffee.

A new day has begun…

Bards in the Woods at the Cavan Burren.

26 May

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Yesterday our Bards in the Woods gathering was at the newly opened Cavan Burren park. We had been to the park previously but it is now much improved with new roads and pathways and an unmanned interpretive  centre. There’s even some very clean public loos…

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and a covered picnic area.

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Spirits were high as we set off. Usually the views from here are amazing but yesterday was a very mizzly (mix of mist and drizzle) day.  A lot of money has been spent here…almost a million…and it’s still free to the public. Great new path here to this previously inaccessible area.

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Soon we were at Tullygobban Hill Wedge Tomb.

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Soon the bards and singers were in fine voice. Poems and songs came thick and fast. First class entertainment. In between there was lots of chatting…about the history and folklore of the place and of course catching up with people we hadn’t seen in ages.

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Our next stop was at the Boulder Grave. Archaeologists have discovered evidence of cremated remains here. Ancient rock art on the front of this huge stone.

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Lots of other huge boulders here too. These are glacial erratics which would have been dropped by the receding ice as the Ice Age came to an end. There’s also a spring well nearby.

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Interesting rock art here too…

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plus some dodgy looking fertlers hanging about. Only kidding! That’s my husband Andy and Tony Cuckson who played guitar and sang as we all had our picnic later. Such a beautiful voice he has too. The dog is called Obe. He is deaf and is reputed to be able to see the fairy folk.

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At this point the group split in two. Some people went on the steep climb up to the Giant’s Grave while the rest of us went to the more accessible Calf House Dolmen.

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The name calf house is because this was used at one point to house small farm animals. Originally the large slab would have sat on top of uprights to resemble a table. This monument is also known as the Druid’s Altar.

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Here Jan entertained us with a wonderful story about a witch called Alys.

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People are said to have lived in this place continuously until the 1960s.

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Beautiful stone walls here. I wonder how long since these were constructed? Lovely Beech trees too.

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Another shot of Tony and Obe the fairy dog.

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Hart’s Tongue Fern.

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This sinkhole has only been discovered recently. It is well fenced off for safety.

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After a couple of hours we were feeling peckish so back to the picnic area where a great spread was laid. Everyone brings a contribution for the picnic table. We had salad, sandwiches, hummus, olives and a multitude of sweet offerings. I made an Orange and Almond cake which you can see in the pic. It was all devoured gratefully in the midst of chat and song. A fitting end to a lovely afternoon at this special place.

The Cavan Burren Park is part of the Marble Arch Global Geopark and is recognised by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation). It comprises 124 hectares on the slopes of Cuilcagh Mountain. Megalithic tombs, hut sites, rock art, stone walls and glacial erratics survive here from pre-historic times.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The May garden.

18 May

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The Spring flowers have retreated  and the early Summer flowers have taken centre stage. These Aquilegias or Granny’s Bonnets as the are commonly known are short lived but so pretty right now.  Dead heading will keep them flowering a little longer but by high Summer their time is over. They are easily raised from seed or from division of the clumps.

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Rosa Rugosa is about to show it’s first fragrant blooms. It will continue to produce them right up to Autumn followed by large bright red hips. These are very high in Vitamin c and can be used in jellies and syrup.

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There’s been a lot of rain this past week so everything is looking beautifully fresh and green. Purple Alliums add a lovely dash of colour. Must do a bit of weeding here…pretend you don’t see those Dandelion heads.

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Valerian is waiting in the wings. I love it’s tall gangly habit that allows one to see through it to the plants behind . Nice pink flower too. I do tend to have a lot of pinks and purples in the garden. Purple is my alltime fave colour.

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It’s looking good for some Blueberries later on in the season. One of my fave fruits…nothing to do with them being purple!

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In the conservatory Geraniums (or  are they Pelargoniums) are producing lots of flowers.

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In the polytunnel all the new season crops are in. The Swiss Chard had to come out to make room for Courgettes and Beans. I’m always reluctant to take out crops that are still producing but this would have gone to seed soon anyway. Salads and Spring Onions are cropping now. There’s nothing like those first salad pickings. Broad Beans will be ready soon.

Outside the Setanta potatoes have been planted. These are supposed to be blight resistant and very floury. Kale, Red Cabbage and Onions are also in the ground.

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Round the pond Andy has built a dry stone wall. Doesn’t it look good?

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On the lane all is fresh and bright and green once again.

 

 

 

 

 

Clogher stone fort.

10 May

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After our explorations at Coolavin House (see previous post) we decided to visit Clogher Stone Fort. Just down the road it is on the lands of the Coolavin Estate.

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The entrance is under the stone arch and through this lovely iron gate. I believe this is called a kissing gate.

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A short walk through an area with some lovely trees…mostly Beeches…brings one to the fort.

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Sitting atop the hill in all it’s glory is the ancient fort.

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The walls are 15 feet thick and about 10 feet high. It would have taken a lot of labour to build this so it would have belonged to a fairly wealthy family. It is estimated to have been built about 2,000 years ago.

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It would have been built for defensive purposes. ..the family  living in huts within the compound. Amazing to think that 2,000 years ago our ancestors would have been climbing these steps to survey the countryside for friend or foe on the horizon.

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There are 2 souterrains within the fort. Souterrains are believed to have been used to store perishable foodstuffs and as hiding places during raids. These ones are also said to lead on to tunnels which emerge about a mile away.

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We really had a lovely time here amongst the trees and the stones…two of my favourite things.

 

 

 

 

Exploring.

9 May

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Whilst driving to Sligo from Ballaghaderreen a few weeks ago I spotted the above sign.  A Victorian Gothic Mansion for sale! Had to be checked out! A few enquiries revealed that the house was empty. The last resident had passed away a few years ago.

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With my friend Justine in tow off we went to check it out. Well if I won the lottery I could be a potential purchaser!  Isn’t it just beautiful? Built in 1850 Coolavin House is  in great repair even though it looks like not much has been done to it since it was built. Even the windows are original…

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and all the beautiful cast iron gutters are intact.

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Beautiful archway and front door.

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Lots of lovely antiques visible through the windows.

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This stuffed bird has seen better days.

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If only old places could tell their stories. I’m sure this place has many a tale to tell.

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Really enjoyed looking round this old place. Could even imagine living there…

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but the reality is I didn’t win the lottery…actually as usual I forgot to buy a ticket…and the place is already sale agreed. C’est la vie!

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