Altamont Gardens

Altamont Gardens is located in Tullow, Co. Carlow, it has one of the largest collections of Snowdrops in Ireland. A group of members from Offshoot Photographic Society visited in mid-February in order to take photos of the Snowdrops as well as other signs of Spring. This was my first visit to Altamont Gardens, I found the gardens impressive and look forward to returning later in the year. The photos of trees below are reflections of trees on the lake. These Gardens are situated on the banks of the River Slaney and are considered both a jewel of Irish gardens as well as being one of the most romantic. The history of Altamont goes back as far as the 16th century. I have included links to both the club and the gardens.

Mount Usher 2014
Mount Usher Trees
Spring Flowers


Guinness Storehouse

These are photos that I took at the Guinness Storehouse, during an outing with Offshoot Photography Society. This is the most popular tourist attraction in Dublin, and someplace that I have been meaning to visit for years. I really enjoyed my visit, and I will return in the future. Thank you to Mike in Offshoot who organised the trip, and to all the staff at the Storehouse for being friendly and helpful.



Puck the Guinness Drinking Goat

On a trip to Kerry last week, I meet this goat and his human. This male Irish Mountain goat is six years old and belongs to the chap behind him. One Christmas, Puck (the goat) was in a garden clearing all the overgrowth in it, when some local boys came and untied him. They proceeded to bring him to all the pubs in Sneem and fed him pints of Guinness, they then brought him to Midnight Mass. The owner (I don’t know his name) got a call to come and collect the goat, as the goat was unable to walk straight. When he got to the Church carpark the goat was lying in the corner not feeling too well. The man picked up the goat and placed him on a bed of straw in his van, he then brought the goat home and put him in the barn, where the poor goat lay for three days without moving. Now you can put a pint of Guinness under the goats nose and he will not drink it. Puck learnt a lesson. The man washes Puck everyday with L’Oreal shampoo. Both Puck and his human are displaying beards so serious, I think they could join the band ZZ Top.


Train Trip West

I took a Railtours trip to Limerick, Clare and Galway last week. We stopped at Bunratty Castle, The Burren and The Cliffs of Moher. The day started by gathering at Heuston Station where we met one of our guide’s for the day and then we were on our way. When we got off the train, the first thing we did was to take a bus trip around Limerick City, where we saw the Treaty Stone and Thomond Park, the home of Munster Rugby. After this, we travelled to Bunratty Castle, where I took the first six photos below. I have been there before, but, I always enjoy walking around the Castle and Folk Park. We then moved on to amazing landscape of the Burren, where we passed a Famine Graveyard. After lunch, we moved on to The Cliffs of Moher, Ireland’s most visited Tourist Attraction outside of Dublin. I have been very lucky with the Cliffs, as I have visited twice and both times visibility was good, this area is known to have low visibility at certain times. After this, we went to Galway City where we were free to explore before we met at the Station to return to Dublin. These trips are always busy days, but, a lot of fun. I have included links below to all the places mentioned in this post. I used my Lumix LX100 for this trip, as I was travelling with someone who does not take photos.

Kerry Train Trip
Bunratty Castle & Folk Park
Mystery Train Trip to Galway

Fota Wildlife Park

A trip to Fota Wildlife Park in Cork is always pleasure. Fota is two and a half hour drive from our house through some varied landscape, including the flat area around the Curragh and the Galtee range of mountains in Tipperary. For this trip I brought my Lumix LX100, as I was with a non photographer. The Park has made a number of improvements since I was there last, a couple of years ago. This includes a butterfly enclosure, that also houses frogs, fish and jellyfish. The only shot below that was not shot through Glass is the Kangaroo, as she was wandering free around the Park with her minder. The minder was there to make sure that nobody would try to to pet her. The Park presently has four Cheetah Cubs, I saw them, but, they were curled up with their Mum in a sunbeam, so I did not have an opportunity to take a photo of them.

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.

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: