Rothar Routes

Cycle routes & pilgrim journeys in Ireland and Europe …..

Archive for ‘February, 2015’

Columbanus of Carlow

Tomb of Columbanus, Bobbio, Italy

Tomb of Columbanus, Bobbio, Italy

 

At long last Carlow is recognising Columbanus as one of its own. Plans are afoot to commemorate the 1400 anniversary of the death of Columbanus in his reputed home place, Myshall.

Cardinal Tomás O Fiaich mentioned in his book on Columbanus that he is thought to have been born on the Carlow – Wexford border area. Myshall parish are set to honour the man with a series of events this summer.

 

Cover of Columbanus by Tomás ó Fiaich

Cover of Columbanus by Tomás ó Fiaich

 

Born around the year 543, Columbanus left his homeland with a handful of followers and established a succession of famous monasteries in Europe – Annegray, Fontaine, Luxeil and Bobbio.

I had the privilege in 2010 of cycling to Rome from Canterbury with my son Ronan following the ancient Via Francigena. We were acutely aware that we were probably the first Irish people to follow under our own steam, the journey of Columbanus.

Knowing the Carlow roots of Columbanus we diverted from the route to pay tribute to the great man at his tomb in beautiful rural Bobbio.

Bridge across the Trebbia at Bobbio

Bridge across the Trebbia at Bobbio

 

We picked up another ancient route, the Via d’egli Abati (The Abbots Way), across wild country side to rejoin the Francigena further south and on to Rome.

Hopefully 2014 will be the start of local recognition of Columbanus and his Carlow roots.

Saint Mullins revisited

The ruins of the Ecclesiastical city of St Mullins as night closes in

The ruins of the Ecclesiastical city of St Mullins as night closes in

The ancient monastic settlement of St Mullins is truly the jewel in the crown of County Carlow.

Stunning natural beauty combined with it’s rich history does indeed mark it as a special place.

Stretching back to the legend of Fionn Mac Cumhaill and the Fianna and of course to the founding of the famed monastic site by St Mullins the area is of national significance and not appreciated enough by us Carlovians!

I called in today for a short visit just as light was fading; my words can never do it justice and it’s hard to truly capture the magic of the place with a few photos but here’s a few that record some of that important history!

The Cross of Moling

The Cross of Moling

 

Base of the Round Tower at St Mullins

Base of the Round Tower at St Mullins

 

 

Detail from the reverse side of the Cross of Moling

Detail from the reverse side of the Cross of Moling

 

St Mullins Monastic site

St Mullins Monastic site

Ballinalour Standing Stone

Ballinalour Standing Stone

Rambling around the Rower

I rambled down south this afternoon to visit a spot I last visited with my good Mary many many years ago!

The song Eileen Aroon was written about a local lady  Aileen Kavanagh who I’ve been told lived here, though others place her in nearby Poulmounty Castle (which is probably correct!).

The ballad was written by her lover Carol O Daly who on the eve of her marriage to another, appeared among the guests disguised as a harper and sang to the accompaniment of his harp this song, so sad and full of meaning, that Aileen recognised him beneath his disguise and that night fled with away with him.

It's reputed Eileen Aroon, of the ballad fame, fled from here with her lover Carol O Daly.

It’s reputed Eileen Aroon, of the ballad fame, fled from here with her lover Carol O Daly.

I will have to visit the ruins of Poulmounty Castle next time I’m down!

Located in the same field is the ancient Coolhill Castle which guards the River Barrow from it’s lofty perch about the Barrow Gorge.

Coolhill Castle

Coolhill Castle

Sadly is barely visible because of the tress growing up around it. Something should be done to open the vista up as it is surely one of the finest river scenes in the country.

It was owned by a Norman family called De La Rupe, who were ‘felons and robbers as well Irish enemies as English rebels’. They owned this wooded land between the Barrow and the Nore.

They earned their reputation thanks to the heavy tolls they extorted from passing over traffic.

The top of Coolhill Castle and the Blackstairs

The top of Coolhill Castle and the Blackstairs

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