Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Wexford and Kilkenny

Took the overnight ferry over to Ireland early in the morning of Friday May 17th. Friend Julia Harper is along to drive, and I have also brought my little Section B mare Cwrtycadno Lili Wen Fach (Lili for short) along as company for Zorbee.  Besides cabin with ensuite shower, the freight passage included a full breakfast in the truckers canteen with the other lorry drivers, all of whom were considerably more burly than Julia and me!   
Obligatory photo with rather woolly Zorbee overlooking Rosslare harbour before setting off to Ballyhealy near Kilmore Quay. The ferry we came over on is in the background.

Then an amazing ride between sanddunes, sea and bird festooned lagoon on the stunning coastline en route.  It seems to be a popular place to exercise sport horses - for a while I joined up with the chatty Jimmy who was excercising a very fit looking eventer - I circumspectly continued to plod quietly along when he cantered off over the horizon.
That evening the horses were happily esconsed in an abandoned grassy outdoor school at Ballyhealy house courtesy of Betty Maher-Caulfield, who was away in Central Asia, while Julia and me ventured out to the little fishing harbour of Kilmore Quay and treated ourselves to a delicious fishy meal at the Silver Fox seafood restaurant.

Next day dawned cool and breezy, and we had an uneventful tramp through Wexford lanes to our next stop at Horetown House, where David Young runs a very neat and organised riding and polocrosse centre.
Thank you David for providing the horses with a huge grassy field for the night.

 The main house shown above was sold on by his family and is now run as a boutique Irish country house hotel, where Julia and I settled ourselves in front of the fire in the basement bar for Irish drinks that evening..........
Julia looks rather glum but is in fact deep in concentration preparing for the viva for her PhD thesis at the beginning of June! 

Happily the sign below is not at all typical of  Irish hospitality, which has been overwhelming.

En route to New Ross the next day I was invited in for coffee and biscuits by the delightful Moira Molloy, shown below in front of her pretty cottage.  The feet belong to camera shy Stephen Kinsella who patiently held Zorbee for me while I was entertained inside.

At the Oldcourt Stables we had an Irish welcome from Paddy Kent, a great character with the gift of the gab whose family are descended from Viking immigrants and have lived in the area for generations.  Zorbee and Lili had stables while we had the use of the holiday cottage, and Paddy whisked us off to see the 'Kennedy house' where American President John Kennedy's great grandfather was born - here is Julia in front of the house, which is not the substantial building in the background, but the little tin-roofed shed to the left!

The plaque below commemorates the occasion on 27th June 1963 when JFK returned to his roots in New Ross - sadly we will miss the celebrations next month for the the fiftieth anniversary of the visit.
 Julia and I ticked off another unmissable tourist attraction when we did the tour of the 'Famine Ship' on the New Ross quayside - a replica of the Dunbrody which was one of many ships carrying thousands of Irish immigrants fleeing the Irish potato famine to Canada and America in the mid 1800s.  The fever ridden passengers suffered appallingly in the cramped quarters below decks in spite of the ministrations of the captain - Welshman John Williams who apparently did his best to ease their situation.  Many thousands of Irish migrants died both during and after these voyages as unscrupulous shipping agencies crowded impoverished passengers on board.

A Welshwoman at the wheel this time.
The ever effervescent Paddy Kent with Julia, and David who helps out during his spare time from a bank job - I don't mean in the criminal sense.

Curious cattle en route to Mullinavat from New Ross on Monday - Mullinavat is behind the hill in the distance.
 Julia managed to find a lovely field by a river for the horses in Mullinavat for the night, but unfortunately yesterday morning I found Zorbee scouring badly - no doubt the side effect of a worm dose I had administered the evening before.  He was rather down in the mouth, so we decided to take a day off and box him on to our next stop with Lorraine Scott of the Whitechurch Stables near Carrick on Suir where the facilities are more suitable - we will box him back to Mullinavat when he is OK.
So here we are in Carrick on Suir - and while Zorbee is recovering in a large grassy field, Julia and I have taken the chance to do some sightseeing....... Suir is rather unfortunately pronounced Sewer, though happily it most certainly does not live down to its name!

 Julia on the fifteenth century bridge in Carrick - she is the pimple to the right of the lamp-post.  This was also the scene of a terrible accident in 1799 when a barge crashed into the bridge during a heavy flood and over a hundred  people, mainly women and children, were drowned.
And below in front of the beautifully restored Ormond Castle - a stunning example of an Elizabethan manor house, attached to the ruins of an older castle at the back - it looks rather forbidding and bleak here, but was in fact must have been an imposing but cosy home - the rooms were lovely.  

Caught in passing.......

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