Rothar Routes

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

Archive for ‘March, 2020’

Give Coronavirus the Boot!

Getting out in the fresh air and exploring our natural and built heritage is a great way to relieve the stress of living with the threat of our invisible enemy, the coronavirus! Especially with no football or hurling games or training to keep us Gaels occupied!

Carlow has so much to offer; around every turn or over every hedge row is a sight to behold or a site to explore! It’s amazing what you can visit in a couple of hours.

An exciting project is underway in Drummond, St Mullins. Efforts are underway to preserve and protect the only raised bog left in Carlow and the South East at Drummin.

Drummin Raised Bog

I recall reading about this some time ago on the St Mullins Amenity & Recreational Tourism Group (SMART) website and a recent visit to the Abbeyleix Bog Walk prompted renewed interest in visiting and finding out a little more about the Drummin Project.

“Raised bogs are discreet, raised, dome-shaped masses of peat occupying former lakes or shallow depressions in the landscape. Their principal supply of water and nutrients is from rainfall and the substrate is acid peat soil, which can be up to 12 metres deep. Raised bogs are characterised by low-growing, open vegetation dominated by mosses, sedges and heathers, all of which are adapted to waterlogged, acidic and exposed conditions.

The majority of the Red Bog was acquired by the Bernstorf family, Berkeley House, New Ross, whose objective was its preservation and protection. To this end, Drummin Bog Committee was formed and received grant assistance from the Heritage Council’s Biodiversity Grant Scheme in 2015.

The grant was used to improve access, cut and remove coniferous and birch trees and dam internal drains to allow the Bog to begin to re-establish its biodiversity. Plans for the near future include the building of a pathway to provide safe access to the Bog as a local attraction and amenity for all to enjoy”.

Another website worth looking at to find out more about this wonderful project is The Drummin Bog Project.

Drummin Raised Bog

I did a little more research and came across this magical piece of local folklore which is available on the Dúchas, The Schools Collection website:

Long ago two giants from Kilcrut started fighting in Doran’s bog. They kept on till both sank into the soft soil and were buried in the bog. Passers by the bog assert that, on a moonlight night, the shadows of the giants can be seen in the bog lunging at each other, and on a dark night weird noises are heard from the bog.
In Drummond lived a giant 6ft 8 ins. in height and he weighed 24 stones. It was no bother to him to carry a weight of 5 cut. He used to attend fairs and earn money by performing feats of strength. One day as he was driving a lady to New Ross he was held up by Highwaymen. The giant sprang from the car, seized the leader of the robbers by the neck & kept a grip on him till he collapsed. The other robbers flew away in terror & never again was the Drummond giant interfered with on the public road.

Drummin


Colonel Egan who fought with Sarsfield at the Boyne, Limerick, Athlone & Aughrim returned broken – hearted to his native district after the Treaty of Limerick. He is buried in Cloneygoose cemetery and a great tombstone marks his grave. Colonel Cloney, the hero of the “Three Bullet Gate” at the Battle of Ross in ’98 resided in Courtnellan for some time – he is buried in St Mullins.
Art McMurrogh is one of
our local heroes. He was poisoned in New Ross by a British Spy. When the van of his funeral cortage was entering the gates of St Mullins cemetery the end of was only leaving New Ross – it was 14 miles long.
Bloody Cromwell passed thro’ Borris after his destruction of Wexford & is said to have left a few of his soldiers behind on the rich lands of Ballytiglea.
About 20 years ago a wicked old man called “Patches” used to frighten school children on their way home.
A similar character was “Sabages”. This latter brandished a penknife. Of course the children were terefied of him. In Spahill lived an old Wizard called O’Neill.
One day a man from Scorth attached him. O’Neill turned him into a goat.

Isn’t that just class!

Drummin Raised Bog
Drummin Bog
St. Peters Church of Ireland, Killedmond, hidden at the end of a short avenue of yew trees. One of the prettiest settings and churches in the county.

When that far south I ventured over to another important but little know site – Templemoling Cemetery which is obviously associated with St Moling. It’s a very peaceful and spiritual setting; this old cemetery has an interesting rock which supposedly features the footprint of St Finnian! It’s always superbly maintained with the outer hedge trimmed back and the grass regularly cut.

Templemoling. Note the tiny cross beneath the altar slab.
Templemoling Cemetery, Ballinree. The ruins of a church can be clearly seen behind the altar and cross.
St Finnian’s Footprint

I was delighted to include this reference to St Finnian as on my cycle along the Columbanus trail last Autumn, I visited Clonard, Co. Meath where St Finnian founded one of the most important monasteries in Europe in the 6th Century. A great source of information is often the local parish website and the Myshall / Drumphea Parish site is particularly good with lots of information about the history of the Parish.

The story about the Giant fighting in the Bog came from the old national schools dotted across the parishes of the country, many of them sadly long since disused and now in ruins, just like the one at Rathnageeragh:

Rathnageeragh NS built 1883, finally closed its doors in 1967. There are some great photos on the parish website of classes and teachers in this 2 teacher school.
Rathnageeragh (Fort of the Sheep) Castle. Built inn the 1600’s, destroyed by the first virus to hit the country, the Cromwell virus!

St Patrick & Carlow

The first ever St Patrick’s Day Parade was took place in 1601 in ……. St Augustine, Florida!!

It’s become a global phenomena and is now of course celebrated worldwide with world famous landmarks even being lit up green to celebrate St Patrick and Ireland. An amazing impact for a small island off the west coast of Europe.

Sadly COVID-19 has prevented parades taking place in Ireland or abroad.

St Patrick has an association with Carlow and Rathvilly. Ireland’s patron saint baptised the King of Leinster, Crimthann and his family at the well which is located, naturally, in the townland of Patrickswell, Rathvilly.

Patrickswell Rathvilly. Access by road to the left of the cemetery in Rathvilly

To mark St Patrick’s Day 2020 here are some photos of some of our lesser known heritage sites around the county:

Clogh-a-phuill Well, Ladystown, Rathvilly. Turn left at the Moate Cross after leaving Rathvilly

There are a number of interesting sites very close by which include ancient crosses and ogham stones:

Waterstown Cross
Smaller cross at Waterstown, arms damaged.
Ogham Stone at Patrickswell
Haroldstown Dolmen. Featured on the cover of Robert Kee’s book of the BBC series, ‘ History of Ireland’
Ogham Stone at Rathglass, Tullow The translation of the ogham writing reads ‘of Donnáed son of Marianus’. There are two stones standing here.
Aghade Cloch a Phoill – on the Tullow to Bunclody Road, just before the Bang Up Cross.
Stunning example of Rock Art at Rathgeran
Spahill Rock Art
Crosses at Clonmore
Kildreenagh Cross & Well. Hard to spot when the hedges are in full growth
Templenaboe Church & Graveyard
St Mullins
St Mullins Well
Clashganny Massrock
Broken Celtic Cross at Rathmelsh
Rock Art at Crannagh
The Bible…’Archaeological Inventory of County Carlow’

The Spirit of Meitheal

Word finally came down the line that all collective training at county and club level was prohibited until at least 29th March.

A good decision by the GAA.

Carlow were due to travel to London for the last round of the NFL campaign. The result was of no consequence to the divisional outcome. We were anxious that it not go ahead at this time. We viewed it as unnecessary travel that put people at risk – elderly relatives, players with new born babies, individuals in the ‘at risk’ categories whose immune systems are low; a lot of people that could be exposed unwittingly and unknowingly.

The right decision.

I don’t think there is a player, a manager, a coach, an official who could disagree with the decision – and despite the cynicism of some commentators, I don’t believe there is any manager that will try to circumvent the collective training ban.

These are unprecedented times and as a people we are unprepared for the potential impact that COVID-19 threatens the health of all of us – not just the vulnerable.

It puts sport in context – it actually is after all, ‘only a game’.

The impact of the crisis goes beyond those who become infected. The mental health of almost the entire population has been impacted – I have never seen so many speak about anxiety and stress, insecurity and feeling helpless.

What should we do? What can we do?

We have one great thing going for us in this country. We have not lost our sense of community. There is a great tradition of Meitheal – neighbours coming together to help each other with the harvest or other work. It’s great to see so many organisations and clubs putting plans in place to support the vulnerable in their hour of need. It is the greatest strength of the GAA and what makes it unique – it can move mountains when it mobilises.

Let’s hope we continue to see communities rallying around as they have always done.

The vast majority of people will be fine. There will be others who will become ill and recover. Sadly others may not. Hopefully the brilliant medical people in our hospitals will ensure the impact is minimal. Keeping a sense of perspective is vital. Hard not to worry; when we are self isolating anxiety and worry can become overwhelming. We need to stay connected though we are keeping our ‘social distance’ – a phone call or a text were never more important. Leave nobody behind. The spirit of Meitheal.

While we try to reduce our interactions, don’t forget that we live in a beautiful country and this morning it was nice not to be heading to training but to be able to go for a walk along the beautiful trail of Abbeyleix Bog Walk. It was stunning! Fresh air, space, nature. all free! Its easy forget that inter county players have a life away from the game and sometimes its hard for them to fit it all in – so this break in many ways may freshen a lot of players up.

Abbeyleix Bog Boardwalk
Abbeyleix Bog Boardwalk

The doom and gloom of the saturation coverage in our newspapers, tv and radio and worst of all social media is enough to get anyone down. The constant focus causes all but the most resilient and strongest to lose perspective. It’s important to get good advice and equally important to block out the fake news and hysteria.

Speaking of the GAA and community I am sure former Laois footballer Niall Donagher and his wife Aisling are in everybody’s thoughts at this time as they face the massive challenge of getting the medical treatment for their son Dan. They need to raise €2,000,000 to access the only medical treatment that will give Dan a chance to overcome his rare illness. They are off to a great start and you can help and show the spirit of Meitheal is alive and well by contributing to their GoFundMe campaign.

We face a major challenge; some among us haven’t grasped the importance of individual responsibility for the greater good. How important it is that we do everything to prevent the spread of the Corona virus. Let’s hope it has dawned on everyone now and that Ireland lives up to its reputation of good neighbourliness and pride in our communities and place.

Do get out and enjoy our beautiful countryside too. It will put a smile on your face and do you good!

The Boardwalk
Abbeyleix Bog
Abbeyleix Raised Bog

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