Archaeological Dig

The UCD Department of Archaeology has been running a dig in Glendalough since 2014. Over the last two years they have given volunteers an opportunity to get involved and to help them dig the site. I had initially heard of this Project last year, however, I was unable to take part as all the spaces available had been booked out, so I promised myself that I would try to get involved this year. It was a great experience and I now have even more respect for Archaeologists than I had before. All the Archaeologists were generous with their expertise and had endless patience with the volunteers. They also ran a Big Dig for children.

https://www.facebook.com/Glendalough-Heritage-Forum-1389115007791438/?ref=br_rs

 

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Johnstown Castle

Johnstown Castle & Gardens is in Wexford and is incredibly easy to find. The Castle is 19th Century in date, even though the Estate dates back to the 11th Century when an English family called the Esmondes settled in the area shortly after the Norman invasion in 1169. The castle now houses the Agricultural Museum, a museum with an installation about the famine and a huge toy car collection. It really is worth visiting. Sadly, the Castle itself was closed on the day we were there, however, there is so much to see that our visit was incredibly interesting anyway. I will be back to this location in the future, as there are numerous photo opportunities available.

http://www.irishagrimuseum.ie/johnstown-castle-gardens/

Hellfire Club

The Hellfire Club is a place in the Dublin Mountains that I have kept meaning to go to, and up until today, had 100% failed to do. However, that has now changed. It is about a 2.5Km walk up Montpelier Hill to get to the ruins of what is known as the Hellfire Club. The building is a hunting lodge built which was built in 1725 by William Connolly, who was Speaker of the Irish Parliament. Originally there was a cairn with a prehistoric passage grave on the summit of the hill, which was destroyed, so that the stone could be used to help build the Lodge. In the past this is not something that some people would have been to happy about and when the roof blew off the building during a storm shortly after it was finished, some local people attributed the loss of the roof to the Devil as he was displeased with the interference with the cairn. Ever since then, the building has been associated with many paranormal events. The Irish Hell Fire Club was a Society that used this building as a club house from from 1735 to 1741. The building has developed a reputation for stories of wild behaviour, debauchery, occult practices, hauntings and general oddness over the years. When William Connolly died four years after the completion of the Lodge, Richard Parsons, First Earl of Rosse and Founder of Ireland’s Hellfire Club bought the building (1730s). The Hellfire Club was originally an exclusive club for high spirited upper-class young men with too much time on their hands. The Society started off innocently enough, the Members enjoyed practical jokes, women, drinking and gambling. However, there were stories that suggested that the members may have regularly drank scaltheen (whiskey and hot butter) and toasted the Devil, allegedly, they left a chair vacant for him in case he should ever decide to join in their fun and games, some people believe he did. The story goes that one stormy night when a stranger knocked on the door of the lodge. The members invited their guest in, where he joined in their drunken antics and card games. It was only when one of the members dropped a card on the floor and went to pick it up that he noticed their visitor’s cloven hooves. There are a lot of other stories too, involving priests exorcising demons and human sacrifice, these stories are clearly myths, however, there are some horrible true stories linked with the site too. One of these is that of Henry, the fourth Baron Barry of Santry, who was one of the younger members of the club and, apparently, an angry drunk. It is believed, that he once burned a servant to death in his bed after drenching the sick man with brandy and setting him on fire. Up until this incident, Henry had been successful in paying people to look the other way. However, eventually Henry was brought to trial and successfully convicted over the stabbing death of another servant., during another incident. Even though his powerful friends protected him, they were also fed up with him and wanted him gone, so he spent the rest of his days alone in exile in England. The fallout of this Trial was that everyone started to look into the activities of the Hellfire Club, and shortly after Henrys Trial, several other members died in the Battle of Fontenoy (1745). The Hellfire Club was only around for six years, but the legend lives on. Like everything else connected to this building, what happened to it next is slightly unclear. Some of the claims made are that the remaining members of the club, set fire to the lodge when the Connolly family refused to renew their lease. Another suggestion is that a careless footman spilled a drink on one of the members, who retaliated by soaking him in brandy and setting him on fire; the fire spread, burning and killing as it went. The final and most mundane possibility is that the damage was done when the lodge was stripped for building materials that were then used for the construction of another building nearby. The end of the Hellfire Club was not the end of the use of the Lodge by other Societies. The next group to use the building between 1771 and the turn of the century, was one called ‘The Holy Fathers’. This group seemed to follow in the dark footsteps of their predecessors. Apparently,  The Holy Fathers were responsible for the murder of a nearby farmer’s daughter, who they then ate! We will never know the entire truth about what happened at this location, but, it is safe to say that the legend of the Hellfire Club will live on for many more years to come. A lot of people like to go up to the Hellfire Club around Halloween to see if they can experience anything strange and there are stories of people having odd experiences when playing with ouija boards in the Lodge.

If you want more information on the Hellfire Club, I have included a link below:

http://www.coillte.ie/site/hell-fire-club/

 

 

 

National Gallery of Ireland

The National Gallery of Ireland recently re-opened, so I had to visit it, as it has been a very long time since I was there last. The massive refurbishment that has taken place in the Gallery is fantastic. The place looks great. It was just a short visit, so I need to go back to explore further. I did get to see some pieces that I have always liked. I missed the Caravaggio Exhibition that was held in the Gallery a couple of months ago. At the moment there is a Vermeer Exhibition on display.