Tag Archives: Newcastle West

Postcards from..

Some of the most popular and viewed posts I put on this site are in the series ”POSTCARDS FROM…”where I post snaps from places I happen to visit or pass through. These are mostly places in Ireland where I live. Many of them are a little off the beaten track, almost in a hidden Ireland but all are ‘Real’ Ireland.

I have created a new page on my site where I will place links to the posts in the series. The list will be added to from time to time. I hope you will enjoy!

The link to the page is HERE , but below is a list of all the places so far!

Places in Ireland 

Newcastle West, Co Limerick August 2013
Moneygall, Co. Offaly, ancestral home of Barack Obama. August 2013
Dublin September 2013.
Kells Co Meath January 2014
Bunratty, Co Clare, May 2014
Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin August 2014
Rathkeale, Co. Limerick September 2014
Dingle, Co Kerry on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way July 2015
Shanagolden, Co Limerick August 2015
Bere Island, Co Cork September 2015.

Places outside Ireland

Serpentine National Park, Western Australia January 2015

3 Comments

Filed under 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.

2013-06-06 12.06.12

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…

Feb13 408

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

29 Comments

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

Heritage week: Behind the scenes in Newcastle West

The magnificent restored structure of the Desmond Banqueting Hall  dominates The Square in my local town, Newcastle West, Co Limerick. I went behind the façade this week and discovered some hidden treasure! There seems to have been a castle in this location since the 11th or 12th century. The restored buildings are 15th century and are the only surviving components of what was  an extensive castle complex.

DSCF1731

The familiar view from The Square

DSCF1733The astonishing area that is out of sight

DSCF1732The Halla Mór (The Big Hall).When we first came to this area over 30 years ago, there was a timber merchants yard in front of this beautiful building. At one time, according to the very knowledgeable guide, the local cinema was located in this building.  It is never too late to rediscover our heritage!

DSCF1737 - CopyThe restored  banqueting Hall is now on two levels and is used for local functions. This is the rear view.

DSCF1741The top floor is used for recitals, lectures and for cultural events .

If passing near Newcastle West, do drop in – admission is free and the guide is a mine of information!

 

3 Comments

Filed under Ireland, Irish Heritage, Irish History

Postcards from Newcastle West

In July 2013 we enjoyed some wonderfully warm weather, with clear blue skies and up to 15 hours of uninterrupted sunshine.  In the last few days of the month we have had torrential thundery downpours, interspersed with hot sunshine and sunshowers.  Sunshowers are a very local phenomenon and are as the name suggests – showers  and sunshine at the same time. It can be raining across the street but perfectly dry and sunny on the other side!  It was on a ‘sunshower’ morning that I  happened to have the  camera to hand to take a few snaps of my very attractive local town.

A medieval town, Newcastle West, is the principal town of  the  County  Limerick, outside of Limerick City.  Known at one time as Castlenoe, and then Newcastle, it is now officially Newcastle West, although often referred to still as simply ‘Newcastle’.

DSCF1554

The  town has a very elegant square at its heart.

DSCF1546A 15th Century  Banqueting Hall dominates the streetscape, where the Earls of Desmond had their feasts.  Mounted on a plinth in front of the building  is a figure of the 14th Century Gerald FitzGerald  on horseback,entitled “Gearóid Iarla”  (Earl Gerald)

DSCF1549The Arra river flows through the town. After heavy rain it can be spectacular as huge torrents  of water crash over the rocks. Today it was quiet and serene – little more than a babbling brook.

DSCF1550

The medieval complex as seen from the banks of the River Arra. This is a view familiar to thousands of travellers on the very busy main Limerick to Tralee/Killarney road. However, by simply taking a small detour for a coffee break  these travellers would be pleasantly surprised  to find  a very pleasing and attractive town centre.

DSCF1560

The tree-lined square with Desmond  Banqueting Hall at the southern end.  Also at the southern  end of the Square is a memorial statue of the renowned local poet Michael Hartnett, created by Rory Breslin.DSCF1542

Such is the popularity of Michael Hartnett (1941-1999) that  each year Newcastle  West hosts a hugely successful Poetry Arts and Literary Festival named in his memory. Eigse Michael Hartnett is a prestigious event attracting notable figures from the arts, creating a  town a-buzz  with events, for all interests and ages.

DSCF1555At the other end of the square stands an impressive work by the renowned sculptor Cliodhna Cussen. Standing on the base of an old water pump, the bronze and limestone work  depicts a buttermaid, milk churns and a mill wheel, in recognition of the importance of  the dairy industry to this area. I love this work, especially the buttermaid in her  flowing costume holding her butter pat, which was an important part of the butter-making process.

DSCF1559

Cliodhna Cussen is  a native of Newcastle West and also created the work “Gearóid Iarla”located outside the banqueting hall . She is an artist of considerable repute with installations in many locations throughout the country.

DSCF1557

Detail on the ground at the  Cliodhna Cussen sculpture, with a cow in the centre.

This site was once home to a bronze cross that had been installed some years earlier  in the 1950s, to mark the Marian year  and the Latin inscription associated with it can still be seen on the plinth – see below.DSCF1558

Newcastle West was once home to a very adventurous female aviator called Sophie Peirce whose family lived in the square, in the 3 storey house on the left of the picture.  DSCF1561The plaque commemorates Sophie, who in the 1920s was one of the most well-known women in the world, a pioneering aviator, a dispatch rider in World War 1, and who helped  introduce  women’s athletics into the Olympics. (Sophie  will feature in a dedicated post on this site in due course)

DSCF1545

Newcastle West is the hidden gem of the N21 – and it is well worth a visit!

23 Comments

Filed under Home, Ireland, Irish Culture, Irish Heritage, Living in Ireland