Monthly Archives: May 2014

Postcards from Bunratty, Co. Clare

This week I enjoyed  a stroll around Bunratty where I had gone to meet an internet blog friend from the USA who had been in Ireland doing some research for a book. (What a fascinating and interesting  woman Janet Maher is –  she blogs at  It was a warm,sunny afternoon – just perfect for an amble in this world-famous tiny village. Bunratty  lies between Limerick City and Shannon Airport on the Limerick to Galway road, and is one of Ireland’s premier tourist attractions. It is particularly pleasant now that the heavy traffic has been diverted to a bypass, making it a great place for pedestrians and for those who wish to stop a while.

Bunratty  Castle

Bunratty Castle

Dating from 1425, Bunratty Castle was restored in the 1960s. It is now Ireland’s most complete medieval fortress,open to the public and hosting the daily world-famous medieval banquets. Bunratty Castle is part of the Bunratty Folk Park complex – with its 19th century village street, that includes a school-house, post office and pub as well as many more attractions.  A captivating place that takes us back to see how our ancestors lived in their thatched houses  – a gateway to our past! I did not have time to take in the Folk Park this time, but it is indeed well worth a visit!



There are some birds in the area who enjoy their distinguished address…who would have a nest in a draughty old tree when there is 1st class accommodation available at  the castle?



Bunratty not only has a wonderful castle and folk park, it is also home to Durty Nelly’s, probably the most famous pub in Ireland.

imageNelly was a character who collected a toll from those crossing the bridge. She supposedly provided travellers with Poitín as well as other comforts! It is said that her Poitín  increased virility and helped childless couples to have large families!

The bridge that led to Durty Nelly’s and Bunratty Castle crosses the Ratty river that flows into the River Shannon.

Caislean Oir by Fred Conlon

Caislean Oir by Fred Conlon

Just opposite the Castle is a sculpture entitled Caiseal Oir  by Fred Conlon. This imposing piece was inspired by the artefacts found in the Mooghaun Gold Hoarddiscovered during the construction of the Limerick to Ennis railway line in the 1850s.


An old green telephone box is located near Blarney Woollen Mills. Every village used to have one of these green phone boxes, and nearby there is a post box that dates from the reign of Edward VII. These ‘British’ letter boxes, remnants of our history have thankfully been retained. They are protected structures, now in green livery and not the original pre-independence red colour.


Edward VII Letter box (1902 – 1910) opposite Bunratty Castle

The banks of the river provide safe berths for many small boats.


A look at the distant Clare hills…



Bunratty is truly at the heart of the mid west region and well worth a visit  by tourists from home and abroad …you will not be disappointed!


Filed under Ireland, Irish Countryside, Irish Heritage, Living in Ireland

A walk on the wild side: Ireland’s Greenways

2013-06-06 12.04.54Here in Ireland’s Mid-West region we are privileged to have some of Ireland’s most beautiful unspoilt countryside. Not only that, we are doubly privileged to have a dedicated walking  and cycling track right in the heart of that lush green landscape. This is the  jewel of the South West, the Great Southern Trail Greenway.

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The trail winds along the route of the now defunct Limerick to Tralee railway line that linked Limerick and Newcastle West in 1867 and then Newcastle West and Tralee in about 1880. The line finally fell into disuse in the 1970s and through the extraordinary efforts of a small group of local people down the decades, this has now become 40 kilometers of magnificent country  walks.

Feb13 417This is Ardagh station, with the long platform gradually being claimed by vegetation. Station houses were traditionally made of beautifully hand cut limestone, such as can be seen here.

Ardagh Station

Ardagh Station

Deserted railway stations have a particular fascination  for me, as I was born in one such beautiful building, the home of my grandparents, in Newtownforbes Co Longford seen below.

Microsoft Word - Newtownforbes LAP.docStation House, Newtownforbes, Co Longford where I was born and the track I walked with my grandfather.

I spent many an hour walking the railway line with my grandfather, jumping from sleeper to sleeper, trying to keep up with him,and helping him to pull the great big levers that changed the direction of the tracks, sending the engines to the store.  Telegraph lines traditionally ran alongside the railway  line  and my grandfather would lift me up so I could press my ear to the pole and hear the lines ‘singing’.

It was not until several years after I came to live in this area that I discovered that my grandfather’s brother Alfie Clinton, had served  as station master  in Newcastle West  in the early 1950s which made the opening up of the trail of extra special interest to me.

newcastle house

The beautifully restored and modernized Station House in Newcastle West, Co Limerick.


Feb13 413 Feb13 406The beautiful cut limestone is also used in the bridges, platforms, and tunnels that lie along the trail.  Apart from these lovely examples of our built heritage the trail offers a unique close encounter with nature in all her glory.

These photos are from a walk on the stretch between Ardagh and Newcastle West in the month of May, when Ireland is  at her prettiest with the branches of the white Hawthorn  weighed down by heavily scented white blossom.

Feb13 405

Deliciously scented Hawthorn

The meadows at either side of the line are filled with Spring flowers and the occasional cow peacefully grazing.

The hedgerows along the line have their own microclimate and are populated with copious wildflowers.

Sometimes you have  to look very closely to discover the tiniest of little flowers…

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The Great Southern Greenway is one of many such trails being developed on disused railway lines in many parts of Ireland. Each is unique. The award-winning Great Western Greenway that runs along the Atlantic from Westport to Achill Island in County Mayo, with its stunning scenery; the Deise Greenway between Dungarvan and Waterford in Co Waterford with its spectacular arched viaducts; the recently begun Burtonport  Old Railway Walk which traverses some wild Donegal scenery – to name but a few.

The tourist potential of these Greenways is enormous and it is to be hoped that they will continue to be funded – not just to attract tourists, but for the benefit of local communities that work so hard to get these recreational amenities up and running.

Some sites of interest with some stunning scenery!

Great Western Greenway in County Mayo

Deise Greenway in County Waterford

Burtonport Old Railway Walk in County Donegal

Great Southern Trail in Limerick/Kerry


Filed under Healthy Living, Ireland, Irish Countryside, Living in Ireland