The Kilt Rock Of Skye

Sep 23, 2014 by


Located on the Trotternish Peninsula of the Isle of Skye, Kilt Rock is an impressive 200 foot high sea cliff in the Scottish Highlands.

The cliff gets its name from the vertical basalt columns (the pleats) and horizontal dolorite rock strata (the pattern) which combine to give the appearance of a traditional Scottish tartan kilt.

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Kilt Rock, on the Isle of Skye, Scotland    Image:Nicolas Valentin

 

Fed by the waters of Loch Mealt, the Mealt Waterfall freefalls over Kilt Rock into the Sound of Raasay below.   The winds around the cliff are often incredibly strong, sometimes turning the waterfall to mist before it can even reach the sea below.

 

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Mealt waterfall over Kilt Rock in Scotland. Image: TuVeuxMaPhoto

 

Kilt Rock’s location on the beautiful Isle of Skye in Scotland makes it a popular tourist destination. There is ample parking nearby, as well as an observation platform that allows good views of Kilt Rock and the waterfall.  Rock climbers challenge Kilt Rock on a regular basis, so don’t be surprised to see people moving up and down the rock face.

 

 

As is true with real kilts, spectators should approach Kilt Rock with extreme caution, as trying to get too close of a view can prove hazardous to your health.

 

 

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Inishdooey Island An Irish Bargain

Sep 21, 2014 by

Inishdooey Island, three miles off the northern coast of Donegal, shows that you don’t need to be a celebrity to own a private island.

The original asking price for Inishdooey Island (Inis Dhubhnach) was around a million dollars, a bit steep for a location that can only be reached by boat or helicopter, and even then only in good weather.  The owner has now reduced the price to £140, ooo, or about $230,000, depending on exchange rates.  That price is practically a steal in today’s economy, especially when you consider that the island offers 94 acres of beautiful, unspoiled Irish land, the ruins of an ancient monastery and numerous caves to explore.

 

 

Inishdooey Islanddonegal

Inishdooey Island, which lies of the coast of Donegal in Ireland. Image: Vladi Private Islands

The island’s name comes from Saint Dubhthach, a 6th century saint who was the ninth Bishop of Armagh and allegedly the driving force behind the monastic settlement built on the island.  Although Dubthach is referred to as saint in the Annals of the Four Masters, a medieval text of Irish history, his feast or veneration day is not noted and there is little information about his life.  All that remains of the monks’ settlement on Inishdooey Island are the ruins of stone walls , a few small huts and a small stone church.

 

 

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The remains of a monastic settlement on Inishdooey Island. Image: PBBase, Roger Curry

 

 

Inishdooey Island is part of a string of four islands called the Donegal Archipelago, which includes Tory Island, Inishboffin and Inishbeg.   Here’s a video tour of Inishdooey Island via kayak–note how clear and blue the water is in some of the caves, almost like a Caribbean or Mediterranean island:

 

 

According to the island’s owner, Mark McClafferty, it will probably cost around $300,000 to build a home on Inishdooey, mostly because all the materials will have to be flown or ferried in to the island. National Parks and Wildlife Service Regional Manager, Dave Duggan, however, told the Donegal News that Inishdooey Island is best suited as a haven for nature conservation:

“From a nature conservation point of view it is a fine island.
“It is designated under a number of habitat directives – SAC, SPA – which would make the chance of getting planning permission to build on the island practically zero.”

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Wildflowers and blue waters on Inishdooey Island  Image: Vladi Private Islands

Well, even if you can’t build on Inishdooey Island, you would have the satisfaction of knowing that your purchase was a positive step in preserving wild Ireland.

Plus, you could always lead nature tours of your very own Irish island!

 

 

 

For more photos of Inishdooey Island, see Roger Curry’s gallery of the island HERE.

More videos of the island are available HERE and HERE.

 

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Gwrych Castle

Sep 16, 2014 by

Gwrych Castle is a 19th century Welsh folly near the small village of Abergele, overlooking the Irish Sea.

This fairytale castle was last open to the public in 1985 and has been a derelict property since that time.  Gwrych Castle is now being renovated as a luxury hotel and will be opened to the public for one day, September 21, 2014, for the first time in thirty years.

According to local history, the first castle built at Gwrych was erected by the Normans in the 12th century.  After seizing the timber castle in 1170, Welsh prince Rhys ap Gruffyudd rebuilt the fortress in stone.  Cromwell’s army destroyed the stone castle during the English Civil War in the 17th century.

The current castle was built as a Gothic folly between 1812 and 1825 by industrialist Lloyd Hesketh Bamford-Hesketh. In 1878, Hesketh’s granddaughter Winifred (sole heir to the estate) married the 12th Earl of Dundonald, a Scottish nobleman, and Gwrych Castle became home to the Dundonalds until 1924.  It was an arranged marriage and the couple spent most of their time apart-he in scotland, she at her family home in Wales. When Winifred died in 1924, her will stipulated that Gwrych should pass to King George V and the Prince of Wales; the gift was refused and the castle was then given to the Venerable Order of Saint John, a royal order of chivalry.

In 1925, Winifred’s husband, the Earl of Dundonald, bought the castle back. Unfortunately, he had to sell all of the contents of Gwrych Castle to cover the cost of the purchase. The Earl sold the castle in 1946 and it was opened to the public for the next 20 years. Gwrych changed hands several more times, and was once used for medieval festivals that included jousting:

The castle was closed to the public in 1985 and was purchased by an American businessman in 1989, who planned to turn it into a hotel. His plans failed and the property was vandalized and looted until the Gwrych Castle Trust facilitated the sale of the castle to Clayton Hotels in 2006. In 2009, the developers went bankrupt and the castle was sold to yet another hotel developer, which is now working with the Trust to restore Gwrych and open it as a five star hotel.

On September 21st, the Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust will hold public tours to show recent renovations to the castle, as well the future plans for the site. This historic event will give visitors a chance to see the inside of this once proud manor home for the first time in 30 years.

If you cannot attend the public festivities, you can still help save this unique Welsh landmark by joining or donating to the Gwrych Castle Trust — click HERE.

 

Gwrych Castle, which once had 128 rooms, beautiful stained glass windows and a magnificent 52 step marble staircase, deserves another chance at glory.   It truly is one of the most splendid castles in Wales– hopefully, it will soon return to the ranks of outstanding Welsh places to visit.

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Lough Na Fooey, Galway’s Glacial Gem

Sep 14, 2014 by

Lough Na Fooey is a beautiful glacial lake that lies along the border between Galway and Mayo in Ireland.

Known as Loch na Fuaiche in Irish Gaelic, this small lough is set between the rugged Galway Mountains to the south and Mayo’s Partry Mountains ( Sliabh Phartraí ) to the north.

 

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Western end of Lough Na Fooey, with the Partry Mountains on the right and the Galway Mountains on the left.

The lough is in the heart of Joyce Country (Dúiche Sheoighe), a region of Galway and Mayo that takes its name from a Welsh family who settled in the region during the 13th century. We discovered this pristine lough when we drove to Finny from Westport in Mayo to see a sheep herding demonstration at Joyce Country Sheepdogs, which lies right beside Lough Na Fooey.

 

Lough Na Fooey donkeys

The donkeys of Joyce Country Sheepdogs graze on hillside overlooking Lough Na Fooey

Lough Na Fooey is fed by numerous mountain streams, as well as the River Fooey, Abhainn na Fuaiche.  Not nearly as large as nearby Lough Mask, Lough Na Fooey is just half a mile wide and about 2.5 miles long. It has a soft, sandy beach on the western end which is ideal for a family picnic, boating or fishing for trout and pike in the cold waters.

 

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Sunlight falls through the clouds near the sandy beach of Lough NaFooey.

The Joyce Country area was hit hard by the Great Famine (an Gorta Mór), and you’ll see several abandoned stone cottages near Lough Na Fooey. The harsh terrain of the mountains made travel difficult in the mid 1800s, but those who could leave probably tried to do so, to save themselves and their families. I can only hope that some lived and simply decided to make do in another part of Ireland rather than return to their farms at Lough Na Fooey.

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Abandoned farmstead on the banks of Lough Na Fooey, County Galway, Ireland.

If you plan to travel through Mayo and Galway, making a stop along Lough Na Fooey is well worth the slight detour off the main road. Have a picnic on the beach or hike up one of the surrounding mountains for a better view of this remote, beautiful area of Ireland.

 

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The blue waters of Lough Na Fooey, a glacial gem in the Joyce Country of Ireland.

 

Just remember to slow down and watch for the many Scottish Blackface sheep (a tough breed ideal for hilly areas) inhabiting the nearby farms–they tend to pop up quite unexpectedly!

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Scottish Blackface sheep guarding the mountains around Lough Na Fooey.

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Funny Scottish Independence Videos

Sep 13, 2014 by

The campaign for Scottish freedom has been super heated in the countdown to the September 18th referendum, so I thought I’d lighten the mood with a few funny Scottish independence videos I’ve come across.

Freedom for Scotland is serious business and I’m seriously in favor of a YES vote, but it never hurts to take a wee break and view the independence issue through the prism of comedy.

 

 

funny scottish indpendence cows

Every Scot needs to be herd…er, heard.

 

First of the funny Scottish independence videos is from The Simpson’s resident Scotsman, Groundskeeper Willie. Our Willie is verra much in favor of Scottish independence, and not only because “we make a fine damn whisky and we spell WHISKY right, too!!”:

 

Funny Scottish independence videos sometimes offer unique ways to ensure the split from Britain, like rebuilding Hadrian’s Wall:

 

Some funny Scottish independence videos turn on the cuteness to win you over to their side. Don’t want to give too much away, but watch for the Scottish sword carried à la Mel Gibson in Braveheart:

 

Everybody wants to get on the Scottish independence bandwagon these days, so much so that even non-Scots will pretend to be Scottish:

 

One of the best of the funny Scottish independence videos is this mash-up created by Sky News.  Several important political figures are featured, but my favorite is David Cameron singing We Are Never, Ever , Ever Getting Back Together:

 I’m predicting Scotland will tell Britain, David Cameron and the Bitter  Better Together campaign “no thanks, we want to rule ourselvesand we won’t be getting back together.”

  Like, ever.

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The Peel Car Turns 50

Sep 11, 2014 by


Long before the Prius or the Smart Car, a small company on the Isle of Man was producing the Peel car, a three-wheeled, energy efficient microcar. 

In the early 1960’s, the Peel Engineering company began making the Peel car, with fiberglass construction—a pioneering use of that material— at a facility near Peel Harbor on the Isle of Man (IOM).  The P50, the first model of the Peel car, rolled out in 1964 , was produced for just a few years, but it is still highly popular with collectors and car fans around the world.

 


Designed as a city car, the Peel car P50 was advertised as capable of seating “one adult and a shopping bag”.  The vehicle’s only door was on its left side, and equipment included a single windscreen wiper and one headlight. The available colors were Daytona White, Dragon Red, Capri Blue and Sunshine Yellow.  The 1963 model retailed for £199 when new (about £1,400 in 2010, or $2,200 USD).

50 of them were produced, and only 27 of them are known to be still in existence.

 

 

The Peel Trident featured a clear bubble top, red or pale blue paint and either two seats or one seat with a detachable shopping basket.   This Peel car was marketed as a “shopping car” and said to get 83 MPG.  Approximately 82 Tridents were produced between 1964 and 1966.  TIME magazine has the Peel Trident on its list of the 50 Worst Cars of All Time, noting

“The Trident is a good example of why all those futuristic bubbletop cars of GM’s Motorama period would never work: The sun would cook you alive under the Plexiglas. We in the car business call the phenomenon “solar gain.” You have to love the heroic name: Trident! More like Doofus on the half-shell.”

 

Peel car peel trident

1965 Peel Trident, the two seater Peel Car

 

IOM was once ruled by Vikings and has a unique blend of Celtic and Viking culture, place names and government structure.  Thus, it should come as no surprise that the next Peel car to be made had a Viking name.

The Peel Viking Sport, which was soon renamed the Peel Viking Minisport, debuted in 1966.   About 22 examples are thought to have been built before production ended in 1970, and only seven are believed to still exist.

 

1964 Peel Car Peel Viking

1964 Peel Viking, a Peel car worthy of Emma Peel

 

2014 is the 50th anniversary of the intro of the Peel cars and IOM held a big celebration last month.

The Peels to Peel Festival was organized by Peel car owners and enthusiasts in partnership with The Manx Transport Museum:

 

The IOM post office joined in by issuing a special limited edition stamp depicting the micromini cars.

 

peel car anniversary stamp

Commemorative stamp set issued in honor of the Peel car’s 50th anniversary

 

The Peel P50 was and still is street-legal in the UK, as well as the US, surprisingly.  The Manx Peel car still holds the record for world’s smallest production car.

The original company has been out of business for years, but an English company (also called Peel Engineering) began producing replicas in 2011.  That’s right, you can now CUSTOM order your own Peel car–with prices starting at $21,530. Take a look at this little purple number designed for Cadbury’s Joyville campaign:

 

FYI: the ORIGINAL Peel cars, depending on condition, can command prices of $100,000 and more at auctions.

Too hefty a sum for such a tiny car? Maybe, or perhaps paying that much for a Peel car is just a worthy amount for a rare piece of Manx heritage.

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Scottish Folds, Not Fat

Sep 6, 2014 by

Don’t call this sassy cat fat–those are just Scottish folds on this Scottish Fold, ye ken.

 

 

scottish-folds

Scottish folds, not fat

Scottish Folds are a recently developed Scottish cat breed. In 1961, William Ross spotted a cat with folded ears on a farm near Dundee, Scotland. He proceeded to develop the Scottish Fold breed from a kitten of that cat, named Susie.

Scottish Folds are quite popular, and proud owners are only too willing to share their Scottish feline beauties with the whole world:

To be fair, Scottish folds aren’t really as…ahem…”fat” as they may appear at first glance. These lovable, funny Scottish kitties have stout, short bodies, fat cheeks and lots of fur–hey, don’t judge!

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Yes Scotland : Proclaiming For Freedom

Sep 3, 2014 by

The historic drive for Scottish independence, led by Yes Scotland, is coming down to the final days as the September 18th referendum draws closer. 

The anti-freedom groups, mostly composed of non-Scottish residents, have had no trouble commanding attention from the mainstream press or in raising funds.  In fact,  Better Together, (BT) the notorious cabal behind the negative side, has been forced to say no to more cash from the deep pockets funding their alarmist ads.

Yes Scotland has a groundswell of popular support inside Scotland, amongst Scottish citizens.  Happily, they also got a big financial boost this week from the popular Scottish band, The Proclaimers.    Twin brothers Charlie and Craig Reid, the band members, donated £10,000 to Yes Scotland, saying  that the cause of Scottish independence was ” a matter of principle” for them.

 

The Proclaimers, best known for their song I’m gonna Be (500 miles), have long been pro Scottish independence. Yes Scotland supporters recently began a campaign to have Cap In Hand, The Proclaimers’ 1988 anthem to Scottish freedom, top the musical downloads charts.  Well,  Yes Scotland supporters got a big YES from Amazon yesterday: Cap In Hand moved to Number One on the Amazon singles chart.

Click HERE to hear Cap in Hand with the lyrics and HERE to purchase the single for 99 cents and show support for Yes Scotland.

 

Yes Scotland supporter

You’re Scottish, not British: Say Yes, Scotland   image: THE

 

A recent poll shows a surge of support for independence, good news for Yes Scotland.  After all the scaremongering by the no side and British politicians, that is a huge accomplishment.  Hopefully, it’s also a sign of good things to come for Scotland on September 18th.

In the interest of fairness, I must admit I’m ABSOLUTELY, COMPLETELY in favor of independence for Scotland–have been for years.  I’m an American and don’t get to cast a vote, but my Scottish ancestors would cast me out of the clan if I opposed it.

I will ALWAYS say YES, Scotland.

 

And, just because I like to stir things up– click HERE to see funny Twitter responses to BT’s patronizing ad aimed at Scottish women.

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Old Welsh Dog Proverb

Aug 29, 2014 by

 

Many a promising romantic relationship has ended because one partner just cannot tolerate the other partner’s pet. Statistically speaking, the offending creature is usually a cat, but dogs can also be a problem. Perhaps that’s why the Celts of Wales created this old Welsh dog proverb to prevent any misunderstandings about who would or would not not be welcome at the family hearth.

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Old Welsh Dog Proverb

The folklore  behind the old Welsh dog proverb says that the popular Welsh Corgi breed was originally a gift from the fairies to two wee Cymry (Welsh) who were herding cattle on royal lands. The children brought the pups home, thinking they might be foxes, but adults quickly corrected that misunderstanding. These small dogs, said the elders, are the mounts of fairy warriors, who ride them into battle. The wise men of the group showed the children the markings on the corgi, said to be evidence of where the fairies placed their saddles on the dogs.  Such dogs were considered honored guests in Welsh households and proved their worth time and again as herding dogs.   Anyone who refused to have such a magical dog in their household was surely destined for ill fortune.

The less mythical origins of the Corgi in Wales is that Flemish and Viking invaders brought their native dogs and cross bred them with the Welsh dogs, resulting in the breed we know and love today. The new breed proved adept at handling livestock and was quite loyal to its family. The Welsh dog proverb, however,  still applies.  Again, if forced to make a choice between keeping a dog who was helpful around the farm in so many ways versus a wife(usually) who didn’t want dogs dirting her home, I think the farmer was likely to heed the old Welsh dog proverb and give the boot to the wife.

After all, women are always available to a good farmer, but great farm DOGS are harder to come by.

 

For more info about the two Corgi breeds, the Pembroke and the Cardigan, click on these sources:

History of the Cardigan Welsh Corgi

Cardigan Welsh Corgi Rescue

Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club of America

Pembroke Welsh Corgi Rescue

 

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Celtic Shock And Awe, With KILTS

Aug 16, 2014 by

Celtic shock and awe, using kilts, is usually a winning tactical move. Whether on ancient battlefields of old or in modern sports arenas, kilts have always provided maximum impact.

 

Celtic-shock-awe-kilt

Shock and awe, Celtic style

Just how effective is this type of Scottish “regimental” campaign on the field of battle? William Lawson’s Scotch answers in a popular and funny video featuring a traditional Celtic war challenge in response to a Maori haka rugby dance:

 

 That takes the Celtic intimidation factor to a whole ‘nuther level, ye ken.

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The Callanish Standing Stones of Scotland

Aug 12, 2014 by

 The ancient Callanish Standing Stones of the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland are among the most photographed megalithic monuments in the world.  Erected 4500-5000 years ago, the Callanish standing stones are laid out in a rough Celtic cross-shaped pattern, consisting of 13 large stones in a circle with lines of stones radiating from the circle to the east, west and south.  Two lines of stones form the approach from the north, ending in a large solitary monolith in the center of the circle. Its exact purpose is unknown, but most scholars think the Callanish standing stone circle represents an astronomical observatory based on lunar patterns. It was abandoned about 1000 years after it was built and left uncared for until 1885, when the stones came into the care of the Scottish government.

 

 

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Callanish Standing Stones — Image: Jim Richardson

 

In Gaelic, the Callanish standing stones are called Tursachan Chalanais[Toor-sakh-khan Khalanish] or Calanais Stones. Scholars believe the name Tursachan is related to the Old Norse word Tursa, which meant giant, because the stones, especially the central ones, do tower over people.
Local Scottish tradition says that giants who lived on the island refused to be converted to Christianity by Saint Kieran and were turned into stones as a punishment.

Callanish-standing-stones-distant-view

A distant view of the Callanish standing stones: the circle, stone rows and part of the northern avenue. Image: Netvor

There are several smaller monuments near Callanish as well, including Cnoc Ceann a’Gharraidh, a circle of eight stones (three of them fallen), and Cnoc Fillibhir Bheag, a double circle with eight stones in the outer ring and four in the inner ring.  Whatever the purpose, the site was clearly important to its ancient builders, and the Callanish standing stone circle remains one of the most mysterious and magical places in Scotland.

Callanish-standing-stones-northern-lights

Center stone in the Callanish circle, with the Northern Lights overhead. Image: Colin Cameron, colincameronphotography.co.uk

 

Sources:
Historic Scotland

Callanish Visitor Centre

Sacred Sites

Wikipedia

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The Uragh Stone Circle of Kerry

Aug 10, 2014 by

Today we visited the Uragh Stone Circle on the Beara Peninsula in County Kerry, in Tuosist. The location is a bit remote and requires a bumpy ride to get there, but the views are spectacular and worth every pothole, dip and hairpin turn we passed through on our way. Of all the megalithic monuments on the Beara Peninsula, the Uragh stone circle is the one you absolutely must see, especially if your time in Kerry is limited.

 

Uragh stone circle megalith Ireland

The ancient Uragh stone circle on the Beara Peninsula, County Kerry, Ireland.

The Uragh stone circle is close to the bustling market town of Kenmare,  or An Neidín, “little nest”, as it is known in Irish.  Take R571 west out of town, towards Ardgroom; about 14 kilometers down the road, you’ll take a left at sign pointing you towards Uragh. It is on private property, but accessible for a small fee.  Follow the road til it ends at gate, open that gate ( and shut it after you get inside), and drive across the narrow bridge down to the parking area. The bridge crosses a lovely stream flowing down to Lough Cloonee Upper, one of the two lakes near Uragh.

Once you reach the parking spot, you’ll meet meet a nice older gentleman farmer, who grew up on the Uragh land which his son now farms. He charges two Euro for entrance–a pittance for access to this magical place– and is a joy to talk to, willingly answering all your questions about the site, the weather and Ireland in general.

 

Uragh stone circle site with stream

Water flowing down to Lough Cloonee Upper at Uragh stone circle site.

There is a short hike up to the Uragh stone circle, but the path is well maintained and the incline is manageable. As I mentioned earlier, the stone circle sits on private farm land, so don’t be surprised if you have a close encounter with the farm’s hardy sheep.

uragh-stone-circle-sheep

Sheep are unimpressed by visitors to the Uragh stone circle.

The stone circle is just over the crest of a hill, rising up against the backdrop of the stunning Kerry mountains and lovely Lough Gleninchaquin ( aka Inchiquin, the second lake in the Uragh nature reserve surrounding the circle)). There are five stones in the small circle, but the most impressive is the huge outlying monolith that is almost 10 feet tall. This stone is aligned radially with the circle on the NE-SW axis.

uragh-stone-circle-monolith

Monolith stone at Uragh stone circle is aligned on NE-SW axis of the circle.

The stones in the circle are in good shape for their age (several thousand years), although one of the two portal stones directly across from the monolith is starting to lean.  Numerous smaller stones surround the circle and may have been part of the original design.   There is a shallow sunken spot in the center; I’m not sure if something has been removed from that area or if it is a naturally occurring depression.

uragh-stone-circle-mountain-view

The Uragh stone circle is an important piece of ancient Irish history.

There are many wonderful sights to see any where you go in Ireland, but if you want to immerse yourself in the wild Irish landscape and reach back to ancient Ireland and its peoples, then you must go to the Uragh stone circle in Kerry. Stand next to the stones and watch cloud shadows race across the mountains, feel the strong winds buffet you and whip the waters of the lake, and just let the moment sink into your soul. There’s no souvenir stand at the Uragh stone circle, but you will take away a memory of Ireland that will be with you always, as a touchstone for all your future journeys, physical and spiritual.

For more info on the Uragh stone circle and the surrounding area, click on any of these links:

Megalithic Ireland–has exact coordinates for Uragh, plus a wealth of info on other sites in Ireland

Megalithics.com–info on Irish sites, and ancient sites throughout Britain

Kenmare.ie--official site for the town of Kenmare, with info on local sites

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The Altar Wedge Tomb of Toormore Bay

Aug 7, 2014 by

On our second day in County Cork, we drove down to Mizen Head, and stopped along the way to see the Altar wedge tomb. This late Stone Age tomb is easily accessible from R592, about seven km west of Schull–just pull off into the well-marked parking area, walk a few feet and there it sits, facing out towards Ireland’s lovely Toormore Bay.

Altar wedge tomb

Altar Wedge Tomb on the Mizen Peninsula

The location of the tomb, facing southwest towards Mizen Peak, seems a bit like a Disney exhibit to some visitors because of the tomb’s carefully mown verge, its close proximity to a busy road and its endless stream of visitors. It is very much an ancient sacred site, however, with evidence showing it was used by Stone Age, Bronze Age and early Celtic peoples as a ritual site. Archaeological work in the mid-1990’s found burnt human remains dating back 2000-3000 years ago. Between 1250 and 500 BC, shallow pits were dug inside, probably to hold food offerings, and ancient Iron Age Celts filled a pit inside the tomb with seashells and whale bones, some time between 124 and 224 AD.

 

Altar Wedge tomb

Entrance to Altar Wedge Tomb, on Ireland’s Mizen Peninsula

The rise of Christianity in Ireland brought an end to the ritual use of the Altar wedge tomb site. In the 18th century, the tomb was used as a Mass altar by local priests who had been forbidden by English authorities from conducting Mass in a church, giving rise to the stone structure being called the Altar Tomb.

Altar Wedge Tomb view

View to Mizen Peak and Toormore Bay from the Altar Wedge Tomb in Ireland

If you’re in west Cork, you should consider a trip down to Mizen Head to see the Altar wedge tomb. It’s easy to find, easy to access and the views out to the bay are phenomenal– a marvelously megalithic moment in Irish history, preserved in stone for the ages.

 

For more info on the Altar wedge tomb and other ancient sites in Ireland, try Megalithic Ireland’s website HERE.

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Ballabuidhe 2014: Day One In Ireland

Aug 5, 2014 by

I’m currently on vacation in Ireland, and Day 1 was all about the Ballabuidhe 2014 Races in Dunmanway, Ireland. This ancient three day racing event in County Cork is currently in at least it’s 399th year–the first written references to Ballabuidhe are in the year 1615.   Many long-time attendees will tell you that these races date back more than a thousand years.

Ballabuidhe 2014

Ballabuidhe 2014

The Ballabuidhe (pronounced BALLA-bwe) races draw more than 300 horses, including trotters and pacers (and donkeys!) for the sulky races, and ponies and horses for the flat races.  In the flat races,the ponies and horses (usually Thoroughbreds that are too small to compete at regular tracks) are generally piloted by young, aspiring jockeys, eager to prove their skill.  The best of these young men go on to careers in professional horse racing.

 

Ballabuidhe 2014

Crossing the finish line at Ballabuidhe 2014

Ballabuidhe is very much a family friendly event, with people of all ages sitting side by side on the grassy embankment above the turf track. Many families are also active participants, bringing their own horses to race each year, with fathers and sons sometimes competing against each other on the track. I saw women involved in almost all aspects of the equine event–from grooming and harnessing the horses to receiving the ribbon in the winner’s circle. I didn’t, however, see any female jockeys or sulky drivers.

The last day of Ballabuidhe is a huge horse fair and horse show held on the streets of Dunmanway town. I’ll post some pictures of that event after I attend it. I’m looking forward to talking with the wily horse traders again!

For more information on Ballabuidhe, click on their official website HERE or HERE for a short news article about the races.

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Starz Releases Outlander Episode One

Aug 1, 2014 by

The long wait is over, Sassenachs!!

Starz will release Outlander Episode One on August 2nd at 12 am EST on Starz.com, Starz Play ( their phone app), on your television via On Demand service and on the Starz Youtube channel.

At last, we’ll see author Diana Gabaldon’s  Outlander come to life, complete with Jamie Fraser, Claire Randall and all the glory and beauty of the Scottish Highlands.

  Are ye ready?

Starz Releases Outlander Episode One

Starz releases Outlander Episode One at midnight, August 2.

 

 

Here are the pertinent details to ensure you get to see the first episode of Outlander as soon as it’s released:

This complimentary episode is FREE, FREE, FREE-no subscription needed.

It is the full 1st episode, uncut and commercial free, but it is available to US VIEWERS ONLY, no other countries.

The official premiere is still August 9th for subscribers and the rest of the season will be available to Starz subscribers only. Starz is betting that after you see the first episode, you’ll be hooked and become a subscriber so you can see the entire series. Considering the legions of fans garnered by the Outlander book series, I’d say this is a safe bet on the part of Starz.

For all the details, click HERE to go to the Starz Outlander site.  You’ll find links to download the phone app, a list of cable providers offering the show via On Demand service and what devices you can use to view the episode.

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