Tuesday, October 17, 2017


Never learned anything about these old ruins near the river. The bricks and stones are now greatly overgrown with ferns and vines--very Fangorn-like. I've been wondering how the friends I made in the area fared as Hurricane Ophelia passed.

Monday, October 16, 2017


"Fangorn Forest was said to be humid, and trunks and branches grew thick where very little light penetrated the forest. Similarly, Fangorn was said to be a dangerous and evil place like Mirkwood (where huge spiders roamed the forest and other evil creatures lay), but this was not the case following the events of The Lord of the Rings. The forest was home to many different kinds of trees. Huorns also lived in the forest, similar to Ents but more discreet. Most lived deep in the Forest of Fangorn. The Ents and Huorns drank from the river Entwash, and from it the Ents brewed their legendary drink, the Ent-draughts" (Wikipedia).

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Crimson & the Yellow

Now that I've learned the difference (I hope!) between Gorse and Scotch Broom, here's a few lines devoted to the latter:
Oh the Broom, the yellow Broom,
The ancient poet sung it,
And dear it is on summer days
To lie at rest among it. 
I know the realms where people say
The flowers have not their fellow;
I know where they shine out like suns,
The crimson and the yellow. 
I know where ladies live enchained
In luxury's silken fetters,
And flowers as bright as glittering gems
Are used for written letters. 
But ne'er was flower so fair as this,
In modern days or olden;
It groweth on its nodding stem
Like to a garland golden. 
And all about my mother's door
Shine out its glittering bushes,
And down the glen, where clear as light
The mountain-water gushes. 
Take all the rest; but give me this,
And the bird that nestles in it;
I love it, for it loves the Broom -
The green and yellow linnet. 
Well call the rose the queen of flowers,
And boast of that of Sharon,
Of lilies like to marble cups,
And the golden rod of Aaron: 
I care not how these flowers may be
Beloved of man and woman;
The Broom it is the flower for me,
That groweth on the common. 
Oh the Broom, the yellow Broom,
The ancient poet sung it,
And dear it is on summer days
To lie at rest among it.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Lessons from the Gorse

Mountain gorses, ever-golden.
Cankered not the whole year long!
Do ye teach us to be strong,
Howsoever pricked and holden
Like your thorny blooms and so
Trodden on by rain and snow,
Up the hillside of this life, as bleak as where ye grow? 
Mountain blossoms, shining blossoms,
Do ye teach us to be glad
When no summer can be had,
Blooming in our inward bosoms?
Ye, whom God preserveth still,
Set as lights upon a hill,
Tokens to the wintry earth that Beauty liveth still! 
Mountain gorses, do ye teach us
From that academic chair Canopied with azure air,
That the wisest word man reached
Is the humblest he can speak
Ye, who live on mountain peak,
Yet live low along the ground, beside the grasses meek! 
Mountain gorses, since Linnæus
Knelt beside you on the sod,
For your beauty thanking God,—
For your teaching, ye should see us
Bowing in prostration new!
Whence arisen,—if one or two
Drops be on our cheeks—O world, they are not tears but dew.
 Lessons from the Gorse by E. B. Browning

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Presence

It was the most curious thing. As I was walking in the woods I soon sensed I was being followed. But each time I turned around to see who or what was following me, I saw nothing until "the presence" and I emerged from the woods onto an open path.

After following me for a while, I thought surely the cat would lose interest and return to the woods; but, no, it kept following me as if it was safely escorting me back to where I was staying.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Deep Wood

As the sun set, I found myself gliding along a path in a deep and almost magical wood bordering the River Stick. More tomorrow about the magical part.
Are you bowed down in heart?
Do you but hear the clashing discords and the din of life?
Then come away, come to the peaceful wood,
Here bathe your soul in silence. Listen! Now,
From out the palpitating solitude
Do you not catch, yet faint, elusive strains?
They are above, around, within you, everywhere.
Silently listen! Clear, and still more clear, they come.
They bubble up in rippling notes, and swell in singing tones.
Now let your soul run the whole gamut of the wondrous scale
Until, responsive to the tonic chord,
It touches the diapason of God’s grand cathedral organ,
Filling earth for you with heavenly peace
And holy harmonies.
 Deep in the Quiet Wood by James Weldon Johnson

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Local Flavors

An 8:00 a.m. breakfast! Really? Shoot! I'm ready for breakfast by 5 a.m.

Said to be the oldest pub in Ireland, dating to the 1690s. 

Friday, October 6, 2017

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Kinsale Harbor

As uncomfortable as I'm sure life in Charles Fort was, it did and still does have a wonderful view of Kinsale harbor. The ruins you see in the above picture belong to James Fort just across the River Bandon from Charles Fort.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017


These walls, I seem to remember Brandon telling me, once were part of the barracks where enlisted men were housed at Charles Fort. I'm not sure they were any more inviting even when new. Without too many obvious evidence of interior heating, I'm guessing they also were incredibly drafty and cold in the winter.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017


"Built in the 1670s to guard Kinsale Harbour, [Charles Fort] was in use until 1921, when much of it was destroyed as the British withdrew. Displays explain the typically tough lives led by the soldiers who served here and the comparatively comfortable lives of the officers" (www.lonelyplanet.com).

Monday, October 2, 2017

Charles Fort

Meet Brandon, my guide through Charles Fort near Kinsale. I enjoyed his unique blend of historical knowledge and genuine Irish humor.

"Charles Fort (Irish: Dún Chathail) is a star fort located on the water's edge, at the southern end of the village of Summer Cove, on Kinsale harbour, County Cork, Ireland. First completed in 1682, Charles Fort was sometimes historically referred to as the "new fort" - to contrast with James' Fort (the "old fort") which had been built on the other side of Kinsale harbour before 1607. The fort is now operated as a heritage tourism site by the Heritage Ireland arm of the Office of Public Works" (Wikipedia).

Sunday, October 1, 2017


"One particularly vexatious argument concerns the lack of uniform spellings between British and American English. The simple reason for this is that England and America went their separate ways before anyone became unduly rigorous about spelling words the same way every time. The firm nailing down of language happened in earnest during the 1800s, on both sides of the Atlantic, and thanks largely to the reforming zeal of American lexicographer Noah Webster, it was with markedly different results in the U.S. than in Victorian Britain. . . .

So while British English still insists on a c in the word defense, Webster changed it to an s. Theatre and centre were simplified into theater and center. Plough became plow, axe became ax, catalogue became catalog, and flavour, honour, savour, saviour, candour, behaviour, colour, armour, demeanour, glamour, harbour and all the rest lost their u" (www.bbcamerica.com)

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Castle Gardens

"Surrounding the castle are extensive gardens. 

There are paths touring the grounds with signs pointing out the various attractions such as several natural rock formations with fanciful names such as Druid's Circle, Witch's Cave and the Wishing Steps" (Wikipedia).

Friday, September 29, 2017

Castle Grounds

I think that if I was to return to Blarney Castle, I would reserve the better part of a day just to wander the grounds and to visit the many splendid gardens. As it happened, I visited in May at just the time when many plants were beginning to come into their own, including the alliums shown above (at least that's what I think they are).

Also, I read where there is a secret (maybe not so secret anymore) passageway leading from the castle to a cave that then opens to this stream and provided the castle's occupants a means of escape in case of attack. Seems like the owners thought of most everything. They were, though, I'll have to say, still a very long way away from a Starbucks. Happy National Coffee Day everyone! :-)

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Going Down

Actually, the piper never left. I think it's his job to welcome folks to Blarney Castle. I took these two photos from the castle stairs as I made my way back down to the castle's gardens.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017


Even if you don't kiss the stone, the views from atop Blarney Castle alone are more than worth the climb.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Blarney Stone

"The Blarney Stone (Irish: Cloch na Blarnan) is a block of Carboniferous limestone built into the battlements of Blarney Castle, Blarney, about 8 kilometres (5 mi) from Cork, Ireland. According to legend, kissing the stone endows the kisser with the gift of the gab (great eloquence or skill at flattery). The stone was set into a tower of the castle in 1446. The castle is a popular tourist site in Ireland, attracting visitors from all over the world to kiss the stone and tour the castle and its gardens.

The word blarney has come to mean 'clever, flattering, or coaxing talk'. Irish politician John O'Connor Power defined it this way: 'Blarney is something more than mere flattery. It is flattery sweetened by humour and flavoured by wit. Those who mix with Irish folk have many examples of it in their everyday experience'" (Wikipedia).

The two below now have the "gift". :-)

Monday, September 25, 2017

Blarney House

Before I reached the Blarney Stone, there was this view of the Blarney House.

"Members of the Jefferyes family would later build a mansion near the keep. This house was destroyed by fire, and in 1874 a replacement baronial mansion, known as Blarney House, was built overlooking the nearby lake.

In the mid 19th century the Jefferyes and Colthurst families were joined by marriage, and the Colthurst family still occupy the demesne. In May 2008, the present estate owner, Sir Charles St John Colthurst, Baronet, succeeded in a court action to eject a man who had lived on his land for 44 years. The man's great-grandfather had been the first to occupy the estate cottage" (Wikipedia).

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Castle Walls

By some estimates, the castle's walls range in thickness from 12ft (3.7m)--although some say from 15ft-18ft--at the base to 8ft (2.4m) at the third story. In any case, they're pretty darn thick and provided ample protection--at least until cannons were invented. :-)

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Friday, September 22, 2017

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Blarney Castle

"Blarney Castle (Irish: Caisleán na Blarnan) is a medieval stronghold in Blarney, near Cork, Ireland, and the River Martin. Though earlier fortifications were built on the same spot, the current keep was built by the MacCarthy of Muskerry dynasty, a cadet branch of the Kings of Desmond, and dates from 1446. The Blarney Stone is among the machicolations of the castle" (Wikipedia).

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Horses & Carts

I understand all the carts were constructed by the Amish here in the United States. I presume, however, all the magnificent horses are homegrown (and speak Gaelic). :-)