A wonderful walk through the woods at Warrenscourt near Crookstown in Cork

November 27, 2011

These woods belong to Coillte and are located about 2km south of the N22 near Kilmurry.  The trail takes about one hour to complete and is a really enjoyable walk especially for anybody with dogs and/or children.  The Buingea river flows through part of the forest and there are a good few picnic tables.  The woods were once part of the Warrenscourt Demesne of which a stable yard and man made lake are both visible at stages along the trail.  I haven’t discovered much about the history of the demesne so if you read this and you know all about when it was sold, burnt etc, I would love to hear about it.

There are some old oak trees as well as douglas fir, spruce, scots pine etc which were all planted in the 1960s.  Some felling took place earlier in the year.

The Kilmurry entrance to the Warrenscourt walk

The Kilmurry entrance to the Warrenscourt walk

One of the picnic benches at Warrenscourt

One of the picnic benches at Warrenscourt

warrenscourt

warrenscourt

The Buingea River through warrenscourt woods

The Buingea River through warrenscourt woods

The man-made lake at Warrenscourt near Macroom, Cork

The man-made lake at Warrenscourt near Macroom, Cork

Enjoying Warrenscourt woods

Enjoying Warrenscourt woods

Charles Fort in Kinsale

November 4, 2011

Charles Fort in Kinsale is well worth a visit.  The entrance price is very reasonable and the grounds are extremely well kept by the Office of Public Works.  Construction of the fort commenced in 1678 and it continued in military use until 1922.  It was built in such a strategic location in Kinsale to protect the interests of the British Crown.  With such a defence, it would have been very difficult for enemy vessels to enter the port.   I was really surprised at the number of buildings still standing.

The views from the battlements out over Kinsale harbour and out to sea are superb.    The site has a cafe and a couple of museums both very well laid out.  You could definitely spend well over an hour walking around this site.

Charles Fort Ruins

Charles Fort Ruins

Inside the Museum at Charles Fort

Inside the Museum at Charles Fort

Charles Fort Museum

Charles Fort Museum

Ruins at Charles Fort

Ruins at Charles Fort

Beara Peninsula – Allihies Copper Mine Looped Walk – easy – 2.5 hours

October 10, 2011
Allihies Copper Mine Museum on the Beara Peninsula

Allihies Copper Mine Museum

The Beach at Allihies near the copper mines

The Beach at Allihies

A disused mine shaft at Allihies

A disused mine shaft at Allihies

Below one of the copper mines at Allihies

Below one of the copper mines at Allihies

Allihies. The climb up to some of the disused mines

Allihies. The climb up to some of the disused mines

A superb walk with stunning coastal views combined with views over old disused copper mines, shafts etc.  The walk won’t take you more than 3 hours so you will have plenty of time for either another walk or a car tour.

We parked at the Allihies Copper Mine Museum (a former Methodist Church), had some refreshments in the cafe at the museum and followed the looped walk.  We spent time in the copper mine museum at the end of our walk – The museum is very well laid out and is well worth the few euros to get in particularly having seen some of the derelict mines on the walk.  Pick up a leaflet for the mine trail at the museum.  Ordnance Survey map 84 also has the map outlined.  Otherwise download the mining trail from the museum’s website.

The trail leads down to the beach.  The sand itself was created during the copper mining days so be sure to read about this when you visit the museum.  From the beach we headed north along the coast past Allihies Point and Gariflan point before joning up with the R575 for a few metres heading back in the direction of Allihies but then veering off to the left up towards the disused mines. The trail is well marked.  The strenuous bit is once you turn off the R575 and climb up to the disused mines.  However, the stunning view compensates for the climb.

Beara Peninsula looped walk – The Pulleen loop – 1.5 hours and easy!

October 10, 2011
Coosemore Caves at Bird Point near Ardgroom on the Beara

The Coosemore Caves

Dogs Point on the Pulleen Way

Dogs Point on the Pulleen Way

A view from the Pulleen Way

The Pulleen way between Bird Point and Dogs Point

We spent ages planning a few short easy-going yet scenic looped walks on the Beara peninsula as the Beara way itself is not looped, ie you need to be dropped at one end of a day’s walk and picked up at the other.  The looped walks enable you to leave the car and return to the same spot.

Our first adventure was along the Pulleen Way loop.  The rendez-vous point was at Ardgroom where there is a cafe, shop, post office and petrol station all combined.  After quick refreshments we headed to Bird Point (Ordnance Survey Map 84) which is about 5km from Ardgroom on the north coast of the Beara Peninsula.  Parking is in the small harbour next to the derelict lorry at Bird Point.  The grade is easy, the track is well signposted and the walk takes about 1.5 hours.

We actually followed the coast up to Dogs Point and retraced our steps back to Bird Point as the view over the ocean is so amazing.  The Coosemore Caves remind me of the very well known Hole in the Rock near Paihia on the Bay of Islands in New Zealand!

When you finish this walk and if you are heading in the direction of Eyeries,  be sure to take the narrow coastal road as it tracks the coast and the views are fabulous

Traditional Music in Clonakilty

August 22, 2011

Last Monday evening a few of us ventured over to Clonakilty with some Argentinian friends to enjoy some traditional Irish Music. We stopped off at An Teach Beag which we would recommend as a sedate place well suited to older people who like a seat and who also like a bit of room.  If you have younger people in your group and if you strike the right night for trad music, head to De Barras.  On the night of our visit, there was a session so it was extremely lively and quite packed so not too much seating!  The place had a real buzz and seemed full of young people.

this blog was posted by Catherine FitzMaurice of Kilbrogan House Bed and Breakfast in Bandon, Co Cork

A short tour in Suffolk

August 15, 2011

With the assistance of blogs and tripadvisor, we spent a few days touring Suffolk in June.  I hope others will find some of my tips worthwhile.

We flew directly from Cork to Gatwick and picked up a Hertz rental car.  Our first stop was for lunch at theAngel Hotel in the town square of Bury St Edmunds directly opposite the Abbey.  Aside from the perfect location for wandering around the city, lunch was delicious (a tasty chicken dish followed by sticky toffee pudding).  To walk off the meal, we wandered around the fabulous abbey gardens

Angel Hotel in Bury St Edmunds

Angel Hotel in Bury St Edmunds

 
The Abbey Gardens, Bury St Edmunds

The Abbey Gardens at Bury St Edmunds

and the Abbey itself

The Abbey at Bury St Edmunds

The Abbey at Bury St Edmunds

and explored Bury.  The Abbey Gardens are truly spectacular so don’t miss them.  I particularly enjoyed the rose garden.

We took the A1120 from Stowmarket to Southwold with a few stops along the way.  The Saxtead Green mill

Saxtead Green Post Mill

Saxtead Green Post Mill

 is a three storey roundhouse used for milling corn up to 1947.  It is now a protected structure.

Our next stop was Framlingham, a quaint old market town

Market day at Framlingham

Market day at Framlingham

mentioned as far back as in the domesday book.  Framlingham castle

Framlingham Castle

Framlingham Castle

is a 12th century fortress once the refuge of Mary Tudor.  On the day of our visit the country market was in full swing.

On to Southwold,

Southwold

Southwold

the home of Adnams breweryand a town famous for its pier and seaside.  This is a bustling seaside town with lots of shops, cafes, galleries etc.  We enjoyed lunch at Cellar and Kitchen, part of Adnams.

Cellar and Kitchen in Southwold

Cellar and Kitchen in Southwold

From Southwold we toured down the coast stopping at Holy Trinity, Blythburgh,

Holy Trinity at Blythburgh in Suffolk

Holy Trinity at Blythburgh in Suffolk

an impressive church in what is now a tiny village bisected by the very busy A12.  Blythburgh was a thriving medieval town at one stage, hence the size of the church.

A little further on we reached Dunwich, at one stage the capital of East Anglia (1500 years ago) but now a village due to severe coastal erosion which saw the town disappear under water.  At its height, it was one of the most important ports in England with a population of 3000.  The remains of the franciscan friary

dunwich abbey

dunwich abbey

are still visible though as many as eight churches have long since disappeared into the sea.  The Dunwich museum

Dunwich Museum

Dunwich Museum

is a very interesting stop-off point though take the stairs to the upper floor as two of our party got stuck in the lift!  It’s really hard to believe that such a thriving place in medieval times could be now just a very small village.

Snape Maltings

Snape Maltings in Suffolk

Snape Maltings in Suffolk

is a popular tourist destination a little further south. I had difficulty trying to figure out from the web before my visit what exactly was at the maltings and whether it was worth a stop.  There are a variety of quaint shops, a cafe and galleries so plenty to browse around.  In addition there is a sizeable concert hall with musical events.  In former times the maltings was used for the malting of barley and brewing of beer.  Its transformation seems to be a success and we enjoyed our visit.

Lavenham

Lavenham Museum

Lavenham Museum

is a picturesque medieval village which thrived during the hay days of the wool trade in the 15th and 16th centuries.  Be sure to visit the museum as it’s fascinating.  Also take time to wander around the church.  We loved this medieval village as it is so quintessentially English.

lavenham in Suffolk

lavenham in Suffolk

East Bergholt

East Bergholt

East Bergholt

is a small pretty village in the south of Suffolk and the birthplace of the painter, John Constable.  The village is famous for its church bells which sit in a bell cage on the ground rather than in a spire.  The bells are not run by ropes pulled from below but instead by ringers standing alongside the bells.

Close to East Bergholt is the small hamlet of Flatford,

Flatford

Flatford

famous for the mill, Willy Lott’s Cottage and Bridge Cottage all immortalised in the paintings of John Constable.  Parking is available about 200 metres from the area itself and there is a good cafe looking out over the water.

As always with any holiday, we had too little time and there was too much to see.  We spent the three nights of our trip in a wonderful self catering chalet at Badwell Ash.

Badwell Ash Holiday Lodges

Badwell Ash Holiday Lodges

We would highly recommend this haven of wildlife.

This blog has been posted by Catherine FitzMaurice of Kilbrogan House Bed and Breakfast and Self Catering Accommodation.

Killarney House

August 8, 2011

RTE News reported this week that more than euro 7 million is to be spent restoring Killarney House and this should be welcomed by all.  This was the historic home of the Earls of Kenmare.  The house and gardens were gifted to the nation in 1998 by the American philanthropist, John McShain in the hope that the state would preserve this historic gem for all to enjoy.  Sadly, since 1998, the house has been left to decay.  The new government is to be commended for this encouraging announcement coming just days before the announcement that Doneraile Court may also receive a cash injection.

Doneraile Court

August 8, 2011

Doneraile Court was cared for and preserved by the Irish Georgian Society until it was handed over to the OPW some years ago.  Sadly since that hand-over, the house has been boarded up and has been in an unloved state.  It is disheartening for Irish Georgian Society members who subscribed so generously over the years towards the restoration to see it slowly fall back into decay.

The house is steeped in history having been the home of the St Leger family for many generations.  It’s time to encourage Failte Ireland, the OPW and Cork County Council to work together to create a wonderful tourist attraction.  The Examiner reported today some encouraging news that plans are afoot to spend euro 10 million to open up the house.  We should not forget our domestic tourists in the equation when working out the viability of this project.  The park is currently very well used and is a fabulous amenity for all to enjoy.  Lets make it even more special by opening up the house.

Posted by Catherine FitzMaurice of Kilbrogan House Bed and Breakfast Accommodation, Bandon

A winter tour of Bath, the South Cotswolds and Somerset

May 8, 2011

A few blogs helped me plan a winter tour in Somerset in the UK so hopefully this blog will give others tips!

The American Museum of Bath

The American Museum

We arrived at Bristol Airport and drove straight to the American Museum in Claverton Manor House just four miles outside Bath.  We did deliberate about this as we wondered whether it made sense to visit an American Museum whilst on a visit to the UK.  Wow, we were glad we opted for it as it was a real treat.  If you are a quilt enthusiast, a lover of old houses, somebody who loves amazing scenery and somebody with an interest in American history and culture, definitely pay this place a visit.  The house is in a fabulous location with a breathtaking view over the Avon valley.

The collections of furniture, quilts, silver, glass, portraits and exhibitions are all held within the manor house itself so you get to enjoy the displays as well as the fabulous home.  There is an exhibition centre at the side of the house and at the time of our visit, there was a wonderful display of quilts in addition to the quilts exhibited in the house.  There is also a wonderful cafe in the Orangery which had plenty of choice and not too expensive.

pickwick lodge farm

Pickwick Lodge Farm Bed and Breakfast

After this visit, we headed for our bed and breakfast a few miles further on just outside Corsham.  Pickwick Lodge Farm is a 17th century Cotswold farmhouse situated within a 300 acre farm.  We loved this place and it oozed English charm.  Gill, our host, made us feel so welcome and was quick to give us tips as to where to eat.

Castle Combe Village

The village centre of Castle Combe

The following day we set off for Castle Combe village which is about 12 miles from Bath.  This is one of the most picturesque villages in the Cotswolds with all the houses built out of the traditional cotswold stone so don’t miss it as it really is a gem! It has been the setting for a few films, eg Dr Doolittle.

Allington Farm Shop near Chippenham

Allington Farm Shop near Chippenham

We stopped at the Allington Farm Shop near Chippenham on the way to stock up with supplies for our self catering accommodation.  The shop supplies home and locally produced food and also has a lovely cafe and garden centre.  I had to resist buying too much as it all looked so delicious!!

The George Inn at Lacock near Chippenham

The George Inn at Lacock Near Chippenham

After this we headed for Lacock which is another very pretty village totally unspoilt by any modernisation.  It is about 3 miles from Chippenham and is almost entirely owned by the National Trust.  The village of Lacock is mentioned in the Domesday Book.  We had a meal at the George Inn which was to be highly recommended.  This village has been used in numerous television programmes and films.

From Lacock we headed into Bath city centre to indulge ourselves at the Thermae Bath Spa which was a fabulous millenium project.  We had been to this spa before and would never pass up on the opportunity for another visit.  Where else are you going to be able to enjoy thermal springs in the centre of a wonderful city.  You look at the building from the outside just minutes walk from the Roman Baths and you can’t even image what awaits you.  The spa is amazing.    I suggest you start off in the downstairs pool, the Minerva Bath.  The thermal jets around the side of the bath are wonderful.  Progress next to the open air roof top pool.  You can literally swim around in the middle of winter and look over the city of Bath and the surrounding hills – the view is incredible.  After this, head for the aroma steam rooms.  Each of these rooms are infused with a different scent, eg eucalyptus, frankincense etc and in the middle of the room there is a massive waterfall shower that at least 10 people could stand under – It goes on and off on a timed basis.  Lastly, you can always opt for a treatment (we didn’t) or while a way some time in their lovely cafe.  I think this millenium project is out of this world and you will discover that many private spas are not nearly as amazing as this public one!!

Lower Lakes Log Cabin

Lower Lakes Log Cabin near Bridgwater, Somerset

Our self catering accommodation was based at Lower Lakes Log Cabins in Chilton Trinity near Bridgwater.  This place is a dream.  Our open-plan log cabin, Meadowside Lodge,  overlooked a lake (some of the occupants of other cabins went fishing).  It’s such a peaceful place and is an excellent base for touring Somerset.  Our log cabin was wonderfully airy and every detail was thought of.  We stayed here in November and were really warm inside the cabin.  It’s very spacious inside – a real treat.

Longleat

Longleat House

Our next day’s adventures took us to Longleat, near Warminster, one of the few stately homes open in winter.  The sheer scale of this house and the 900 acre estate is breathtaking so take your time going around this place.  The house was finished as far back as 1580 and is now the home of the Marquis of Bath.  It’s absolutely packed with antiques and portraits and you even get to see some of the artwork done by the Marquis himself.  I think it tells us a bit of his character.  We had a really informative guided tour of this vast place.  Afterwards we had tea downstairs in the cellars which was also to be recommended.

On our way back from Longleat, we stopped at Sheppys Cider Museum just outside Taunton but were a bit disappointed.

Wells Cathedral

Wells Cathedral

Our next day’s trip was to the city of Wells and then on to the Cheddar Gorge.  Wells is  mentioned in the Domesday Book.  It is truly a medieval gem with a fascinating cathedral.  We arrived on market day (Wednesday) so there was a real buzz of activity in the town centre.  The cathedral itself is in the heart of the city.

Cheddar Gorge

Cheddar Gorge

From Wells we headed up into the Cheddar Gorge which is a limestone gorge in the Mendip hills just outside the village of Cheddar.  It is well worth a visit.  We stopped in Cheddar village and did a tour of the cheese making facility.  The village looks like it might be a bit trippery in season but in November, it was fine!  The rock formations in the gorge incredible so allow time to get out of the car and explore.

Exmoor

Exmoor

On the next day we headed to Minehead and Dunster and on to Porlock and through Exmoor.  There were many stunning views from various points on our tour of this area.  The Exmoor national park is spread over a wide area. the largest towns being Porlock, Dulverton, Lynton and Lynmouth.  You could easily spend days in this area particularly if you are a keen hiker.

Bridgwater Carnival Road Train

Bridgwater Carnival Road Train

Another highlight of our visit to Somerset was the Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival.  This is a massive illuminated night time procession of road trains all laden down with beaming lights and all kinds of displays.  We were amazed how easy it was to get in and out of Bridgwater to view the carnival.  Definitely visit this if you happen to be in this part of the world for Guy Fawkes. Wrap up well as this procession lasts for a good while.  I was amazed at how many road trains were involved.  They just kept coming.

On our last night we stayed at Pennard House Bed and Breakfast which is situated near Shepton Mallet.  This is a lovely old house brimming with character.

1 Royal Crescent in Bath

1 Royal Crescent in Bath

Our final stop before returning to Bristol Airport for a short plane trip back to Cork was to visit 1 Royal Crescent in Bath.  The house is maintained by the Bath Preservation Society and is a wonderful example of a 1700s town house.  It was the first house to be built in the crescent and originally provided luxury accommodation for aristocrats who came to Bath in the old days to take the waters.  Stroll through the sitting room, bedrooms, kitchen and get an idea of how the gentry in Bath really lived.

We loved our short trip to Somerset and highly recommend this part of the world.  There are many fascinating places in the area that were not open in winter so we’ll be back at some stage for a summer visit.

The Kansas Wesleyan University Philharmonic Choir

May 10, 2010
Kansas Wesleyan Choir

Kansas Wesleyan choir

This choir will perform in St Peter’s Church, Bandon at 8pm on Saturday, 15th May.  Admission euro 10, children euro 5.  All proceeds to the restoration of the organ at St Peters Church.

The choir is comprised of 70 students from Kansas Wesleyan University and is directed by Ken Hakoda.  There will be a guest soloist.   This event is not to be missed!!!


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