Category Archives: Exploring

The Irish Road Trip – Around Wicklow



The Irish Road Trip – Powerscourt Gardens

The Irish Road Trip – Cahir and Carlow

After we’d visited the Rock of Cashel we headed towards Cahir. The Swiss Cottage, “cottage orné” built in the early 1800s by Richard Butler (1st Earl of Glengall) to a design by the famous Regency architect John Nash, is one of my favourite buildings in Ireland so I thought I had to show it to my friend.

The Irish Road Trip – The Rock of Cashel

I should have posted these pictures a long time ago but I didn’t have a chance to do it until now. Better late then never.

A friend of mine visited Ireland in June and provided me with a great excuse to revisit a few of my favourite places in Ireland.


The Sculpture in Context 2017 exhibition is taking place in National Botanic Garden in Dublin until 20th October 2017. It is one of my favourite events in Dublin and here is the sample what can be seen this year.

Wrocław – wandering around

Wrocław – Around the Market Square

Bucharest – Day 3

Bucharest – Day 2


Bucharest – Day 1

Clonmacnoise – Part 2

Near the monastery of Clonmacnoise are the ruins of the “Nuns’ Church” completed by Dervorgilla in 1167. Dervorgilla was the daughter of Murchad Maelseaclainn (Ua Máelsechnaill), king of Meath (Mide), which was the fifth and richest province of Ireland, stretching from the sea at Drogheda to the Shannon and including the modern counties of Meath and Westmeath together with parts of Kildare, Offaly and Laois. She was the wife of Tiernan O’Rourke (Ua Ruairc), prince of Breffni (Bréifne). One day in 1152 Tiernan O’Rourke returned from a pilgrimage to the holy island of St Patrick on Lough Derg and realised that Dervorgilla was gone. He learned from the servants that a small group of horsemen had taken Dervorgilla, her cattle and her furniture. From their description, he realised that the leader of the group was his enemy, the King of Leinster Diarmait McMurrough. Tiernan O’Rourke sought the help of the High King, Turlough O’Connor (Ua Conchobhair). O’Rourke explained that McMurrough had abducted his wife and taken her to his stronghold at Ferns. Turlough O’Connor and Tiernan O’Rourke raised an army, invaded Leinster and recovered Dervorgilla. McMurrough was banished and fled to Bristol. He would later return with the Anglo Normans to recover his kingdom.

It has never been clear whether Dervorgilla was really abducted (it seems unlikely that a kidnapping would include her cattle and furniture) or whether she willingly ran away with a person who was believed to have been her lover for many years. What is certain is that the apparent abduction of Dervorgilla triggered a series of events that had a significant impact on Irish history. The most important of these was the Anglo Norman invasion of Ireland.

Dervorgilla died at Mellifont on 25 January 1193. She was 85 years old and had outlived all the participants in the events of 1152 by many years.

Clonmacnoise – Part 1

The medieval monastery of Clonmacnoise (Cluain Mhic Nóis in Irish, meaning “Meadow of the Sons of Nós”) was founded by St Ciaran between 545 and 548 by the river Shannon and at the crossroads of several medieval routes linking all parts of Ireland. The monastery thrived between the 7th and the 12th centuries.  However, it was plundered by the Vikings, the native Irish and Anglo-Normans over the centuries. It finally fell to English in 1552. The site includes the ruins of a cathedral, seven churches dating from the 10th to the 13th centuries, two round towers, three high crosses and what is believed to be the largest collection of Early Christian grave-slabs in Western Europe. The monastery is the burial place of many kings of Tara and Connacht.

There are also the ruins of a Norman castle beside the monastery, however, these are not open to the public. Nevertheless, you can have a good look at them from the jetty on the river Shannon.

Rindoon – Ireland’s Camelot

The abandoned medieval town of Rindoon is located on the peninsula of St. John’s Point on the western shore of Lough Ree in Co. Roscommon. The remains of the town, including a castle, church, hospital, town walls and mill, are unique in Ireland. The town was built in the first half of the 13th century by Anglo-Normans.  However, the name of the place Rindoon (Rinn Dúin), “the fort of the promontory” would indicate a pre-Norman occupation.

Rindoon was first occupied by the Anglo-Normans around 1227 when Toirdelbach
Ó Conchobhair and Geoffrey Marisco erected a castle on the peninsula. Its convenient location on the river Shannon provided Rindoon with opportunity of being a trading centre between the Norman controlled towns and the native Irish. It is believed that hides and dairy products were exported from Rindoon, whereas cloth, corn and wine were  imported through the town.

In the late 13th and early 14th centuries the town was often attacked by the native Irish.  In 1343 the town finally fell.
Contrary to similar Anglo-Norman settlements Rindoon has remained abandoned and largely untouched since the 14th century (except for a period of a few years during the Elizabethan period when the castle was garrisoned) and that makes the place especially interesting and special.

Kilbeggan Distillery

During my recent one day tour around Co Westmeath I managed to visit Kilbeggan Distillery. I’d previously visited the Jameson Distillery in Dublin and found it nice but not too exciting. I didn’t know what to expect this time but the weather wasn’t great and it was a bonus to do something inside. Also, Kilbeggan is the only whiskey that I like (or to be precise the only whiskey I can drink without having my mouth twisted out), so I thought I should go there.

The tour turned out to be much better than the one at the Jameson Distillery for two reasons. First, Kilbeggan is still a working distillery (although it distils whiskey for only a few months in every year), whereas the Jameson Distillery in Dublin ceased production many years ago and it’s purely a museum now. Secondly, Kilbeggan distillery is much smaller and therefore the tour was a much more interesting experience.

Interesting facts about Irish whiskey:
– Irish whiskey has to mature in wooden barrels that have been used before, they cannot be brand new barrels – this is done to give whiskey a proper flavour;
– it has to mature for at least 3 years and 1 day – yes, 1 day can be very important;
– it can be maximum 94.8% alcohol by volume – otherwise, it’s a spirit.


Belvedere House in Mullingar

Belvedere House is a hunting lodge beautifully located beside Lough Ennell, 5km south of Mullingar, Co Westmeath. It was built for Robert Rochfort, Lord Belfield in 1740 from a design by Richard Cassels. The house was supposed to be a holiday retreat or villa, however, due to unexpected events that preceded its construction, it actually became a country house. In 1736 Robert Rochfort married Mary Molesworth. The couple were thought to be a great match and they had four children – three sons and a daughter. However, in 1743 Robert was informed of an alleged affair between Mary and his younger brother Arthur. At that point he moved from the family home at Gaulstown to the newly completed house of Belvedere, leaving his wife confined under house arrest at Gaulstown. He also pursued his brother Arthur forcing him to flee the country. George, the younger brother of Robert who made the initial allegation of the affair, later built much larger Tudenham mansion close to Belvedere House. This resulted in Robert building the Jealous Wall in 1760, so that he would not have to look at Tudenham mansion.

Richard Cassels, the architect who designed Belvedere House, was one of the greatest architects working in Ireland in the 18th century. The other famous buildings he designed are, among others, Russborough House in Co Wicklow, Powerscourt House in Co Wicklow, Westport House in Co Mayo, the Rotunda Hospital and Leinster House in Dublin.

Inis Mór 2

The north part of Inis Mór…

Inis Mór 1

The last destination of our trip was Inis Mór – the largest of Aran Islands in Galway Bay. The area of 31 km makes it the largest island off the Irish coast with no bridge or causeway to the mainland.

These images were taken in the south part of the island. Although the north part of the island appears to be more popular among the tourists, I prefer the quieter south part.


The next destination of the trip was Kylemore Abbey in Connemara. Although I’ve been there probably two or three times before, it was so nice to walk around the park and the Victorian Walled Gardens again.