Tag Archives: Golden Vale

Postcards from South Tipperary

The Golden Vale at the foot of the Galtee Mountains

The Golden Vale at the foot of the Galtee Mountains

Today I found myself on an unplanned visit to the south of County Tipperary, which was looking great in the warm spring sunshine. Located in an area known as the Golden Vale, famed for rich pasture and resulting exquisite dairy products, the rolling countryside is backed by the Galtee Mountains.

The Church of the Assumption Lattin, Co Tipperary

The Church of the Assumption Lattin, Co Tipperary

The small village of Lattin is dominated by the Roman Catholic Church of the Assumption that was built in 1863.

The interior of the church  is splendid  with a very imposing marble main altar, with a Pieta and beautifully carved figures. The ceiling is vaulted and beautifully simple.

The High Altar, RC Church Lattin Co Tipperary

The High Altar, RC Church Lattin Co Tipperary

The classically simple ceiling is a perfect foil for the wonderful stained glass windows in the church.

In the village of Lattin there is what can only be described as a spectacular graveyard, that is mainly on a mound to the west of the village. Apparently this area has been inhabited for thousands of years and certainly the headstones go back a number of hundreds of years.

image More research required on that mound!

I particularly loved this little stile leading into the graveyard.

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I was fascinated by the grotto beside the graveyard that doubles as a memorial to locals who died in the cause of Irish Freedom!

Inscrpition at the Grotto, commemorating locals who died for Ireland

Inscription at the Grotto, commemorating locals who died for Ireland

On my way back home, I passed through some beautiful countryside.

Nearby is the town of Galbally nestled under the Galtees which has another monument to fallen locals.

Just a mile or so further on, I came upon the fabulous Moor Abbey. What a gem in a most beautiful place, the beautifully named Glen of Aherlow!

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The Abbey was founded in the 13th Century and was finally abandoned in 1748.

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My journey home was delayed by about ten minutes as  a couple of hundred dairy cows were being moved from winter quarters to the rich green grass of the Golden Vale!

This area of Ireland is off the tourist track, but it is really worth a visit, or at least a detour, as it has some spectacular scenery and gems of villages and happy surprises round almost every corner!

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April Snow on the Galtees

*This post is dedicated to John Halligan, aged 97, father of my friend Annette, whose funeral took place today in Lattin Co. Tipperary. May he Rest in Peace.

 

 

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Filed under Ireland, Irish Countryside, Living in Ireland

Remembering the Great Famine – a dying nation’s groan

Sunday August 26th was the last day of Heritage Week in Ireland and on this day I chose to visit a Famine Settlement high above the  Limerick landscape on Knockfierna, County Limerick.

This hill was once home to hundreds of people.

Knockfierna, the highest point in County Limerick at approximately 950 feet, was common land so anyone could live there. It was  to this place  that many of the dispossessed went to live during the Famine years . Some had been evicted because they could not pay their rent; most  had no place else to go because there was no work.

A Famine Dwelling

Foundations  of scores of primitive  shacks have remained in place on Knockfierna since it was deserted in 1847.  Spread over some 200 acres, there  are remnants of many houses – tiny, at about 8 feet by 8 feet, – with nothing more than walls and clay floors with sod roofs . It is estimated that about 130 families lived here at one time. These houses are now being preserved in memory of those who died in that terrible time.

Another Famine Dwelling

I found it quite difficult to think about many human beings, old people, younger people, children,  huddled , sick and starving to death within these walls.

Outside the remains of their huts, although it is now rather overgrown with scrub,  it is still possible to see their horticultural efforts –  raised beds  where they tried in vain to grow a potato crop to feed their families ; a crop that rotted in the ground for several years as it succumbed to a blight. As potatoes were the mainstay of their diet, there was no alternative , and so they had nothing to eat.

From the desolate hillside they looked down on the village of Ballingarry

The great green lush pastures of the Golden Vale are below where these wretched people ‘lived’. It was to Ballingarry graveyard that their coffinless bodies were transported. From this hill their emaciated bodies were taken to Ballingarry to be deposited into anonymous  pits .

The Famine Memorial on Knockfierna with lush green fields below

The poem on the memorial is by Michael Hogan from Limerick. Although not a great work of literature, it encapsulates the time:

‘The Living Skeleton, A Vision of the Famine Year, 1847’:
‘Twas in ruthless Fortyseven,-
When the plague-fraught air was riven
With the sound which harrowed heaven,
Of a famished people’s cry –
When the famine fiend was formed,
All with tenfold horrors armed,
And our godless rulers, charmed,
Saw their Irish victims die;
While Europe, all alarmed, heard
the wail that tore the sky
A dying Nation’s death-groan, ringing
up to God on high.

Detail Famine Memorial on left

The right side of the memorial  is rather difficult to read and I will post a transcription here when I can find one!

Right side of memorial

It is interesting to note the very lush green fields that can be seen over the top of this image –  the great so called Golden Vale below is one of the lushest agricultural areas in Ireland , yet these unfortunate people starved to death in sight of it .

Famine Memorial overlooking a green and pleasant land

Over a million people  died as  a result of the Great Famine between 1845 and 1849. It is not known how many people who lived on  Knockfierna died.

This hill however preserves their hovels and the relics of their garden plots. On this hill they starved, on this hill they sickened and on this hill they died.  Men, women, children. They are buried in anonymous pits in the lush fields of Ballingarry.

Today I remember them.

Ar dheis De go raibh siad uilig

References

Credit to Knockfierna Heritage & Folklore Group for recognizing the importance of this heritage site and to Pat O’Donovan whose passion for this project has become legendary.

 

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Filed under Emigration from Ireland, Family History, Genealogy, Irish Heritage, Irish History