Southern Ireland – full of contrasts

Glendalough Monastic Site  here we discover the historyDSC_0235 of Saint Kevin who frequently retired to a cave nearby. Well if you are going to be a hermit where better than the Wicklow Mountains? This place is truly amazing with new discoveries happening all the time. One of the highlights of our tour I think.

DSC_0226    DSC_0233    DSC_0232  DSC_0223 DSC_0219 DSC_0216 DSC_0207

The last picture is a reconstruction of Saint Kevin’s retreat. A site well worth a visit and/or looking up the full history on Wickepedia.

DSCF9430In Cork for a few hours we find it’s another shoppers paradise but shopping is not our thing. However it is suggested there is an historic English MarketDSCF9412 which we visit briefly before we discover the Crawford Art Gallery. This gallery includes watercolours by Harry Clarke, famous for stained-glass windows. There is a series of paintings in blue for a window illustrating Keats poem ‘The Eve of Saint Agnes’. Keats poetry is a bit too complex for me but would not have missed these illustrations for the world.

We  meet an enterprising  street artist painting his version of the Titanic disaster.   The Titanic was built in Belfast of course.   He tells me he does the drawing at home and paints it on the street in acrylics. He studied art and design initially but loves working with a public audience. I hope they give generously.

DSCF9426 DSCF9421 DSCF9415 DSCF9413He has more than one string to his bow and does family portraits, children, weddings etc. If you live in Cork you can contact him at

Russborough House 

DSC_0121-001Of course we tourists visiting stately homes add to the Irish economy and get to see how the rich have always lived. This time the extra degree of pure opulence is partly due to an earlier Earl going to South Africa and getting involved with the diamond industry. The hand painted 1930 plates in the dining room originally belonged to Madame  Dubarry.

DSC_0124-001 DSC_0178 DSC_0144 DSC_0168

At George VI’s coronation one got to take one’s chair home (pic on the right). I can just imagine the scene. Did they stagger from the Abbey clasping the ultimate ‘goody bag’?

DSC_0170  The Mitford sisters were reported as having a good time here.

DSC_0180The Earl had the floor from this house, depicted in the painting, copied for his house in London in Princes Gate  The latter was subsequently sold and became the Iranian Embassy.


DSC_0157  DSC_0133-001  DSC_0152

This table below got left behind at Russborough when the contents of the house were sold in the 70s. How lucky is that!


It is carved, inlaid with wood and paint used too.  I love interesting techniques.

I thought the tombs of the Earl and Countess in the grounds looked a bit sorry for themselves. Side by side in death they lie, above them lions in stone hold the sun.

DSC_0196 DSC_0197 DSC_0204

Eric Byrne is a second generation stone mason with a fully equipped workshop in the grounds of Russborough House. 

DSC_0195 DSC_0193 DSC_0191

He makes beautiful products from Connemara marble which was formed around 700 million years ago. Smaller souvenirs are also available such as condiments sets and  ‘worry stones,’ the latter being said to bring serenity and good fortune. I bought two just in case.

DSC05374The compere/guitarist/folk singer at Treacy’s Hotel in Waterford for Celtic Storm, DSC05373 tells us between his songs how the various recessions have affected Ireland. Sadly it seems that the young, particularly graduates, leave for a better life abroad. His son is an example having left for the States and now married with a young child and thus unlikely to return.


Kilkenny, Waterford and the Japaneze garden deserve a another post and may still get one. Other visits offered were Midleton Whiskey Distillery, Waterford Castle Hotel for tea (we missed that as my partner was ill) Tranmore, The Irish National Stud and Japanese Garden.

Please note This trip was the first to Southern Island offered by the Brighton and Hove Bus Company, the itinerary for which was arranged by the Irish Tourist Office. I couldn’t recommend it as it stands, due to the seriously exhausting schedule including just 3 hours in Dublin in the rush hour!  Two key events were cancelled during the trip, dinner times a moveable feast etc. No maps and sparce information. The leprechauns must have been laughing!

DSCF9511However Steve and Dave, the good natured and competent drivers, DSCF9512pulled out all the stops to  make it  a happy holiday. We understand that other holidays run by the Bus Company are much better paced and therefore more enjoyable. 

Moral of the story – insist on detailed itinerary with time scale and the Lonely Planet for Ireland on Amazon – they do it on Kindle too, why didn’t we think of that!

‘An award winning blog      for ‘a blog that brightens our day’.



This entry was posted in Brighton - out and about, Cheer yourself up, Famous places, Galleries and Art in widest sense, Photography, Retiring to Brighton - ups and downs and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Southern Ireland – full of contrasts

  1. Jane Risdon says:

    What a wonderful trip. I loved your descriptions and photos. Thanks so much for sharing. I have been to Dublin once, making a record (album) in late 1999 and I also spent a few days visiting elations in Tipperary and we had a good ride around the area which was fascinating. Thanks for reminding me of this lovely country. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s