Climbing the Devil’s Bit

Since I had never climbed the Bit, doing it when I came back was high on my list. Legend has it that the devil himself took a bite out of the mountain and the bite is the Rock of Cashel.

From Wikipedia;

 The Book of Dimma was supposedly discovered in a cave on the mountain in 1789. It is an illuminated manuscript copy of the four Gospels and was written in the monastery of St. Cronan in Roscrea some time during the 8th century. According to legend, Cronan ordered his scribe Dimma to produce the manuscript before sunset on that day. He then used miraculous powers to ensure that the sun did not set for forty days, and Dimma spent all of this period completing the manuscript without feeling the need to eat or sleep. The manuscript disappeared following the dissolution of the monasteries in the 16th century. There is some debate about whether or not the manuscript was actually found on the Devil’s Bit amid claims that it could not have survived without damage in an outdoor environment for over two centuries. The Book of Dimma is currently housed in the library of Trinity College Dublin.

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The Devil’s Bit is located just a few kilometres from Templemore in Co. Tipperary. It is surprisingly well signposted. Leave your car in the car park and begin your ascent. The walk is meant to be a loop but we just climbed to the top and back down again. The top is quite breathtaking but confusing so be careful which path you take back.

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If you are of average fitness, this should be easy to medium difficulty. It takes about 2 hours for the round trip. From the beginning, the view is amazing. Unfortunately for us, it rained when we were half way up so we had to shelter under some trees while it passed. This resulted in the rocks getting a bit slippery so we had a few slips on the way down. For that reason, I recommend you wear some decent walking/hiking boots as opposed to trainers like us!

This shrine is half way up.

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When the sun shines, the view is breathtaking!

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The view on the way down!

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If you have any questions about doing this walk, just shoot me an email, backhomeinireland@gmail.com

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An evening in Monaincha

There is a lake in North Munster with a large island which has a church and an ancient religious order. No woman or animal of the female sex could enter this island without dying immediately. This has been put to the proof many times by means of cats, dogs and other animals of that sex, which have often been brought to it as a test, and have died at one.

So wrote Giraldus Cambrensis (Gerald the Welshman) in 1187 when he also declared the site the “31st wonder of the world”.

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Monincha, known in Irish as Mainistir Inse na mBeo, means Monastery of the island of the living. The monastary, formerly on an island was founded in the 8th century but later in the 18th century the land was drained. It is an example of a nave and chancel building and you can see examples of Romanesque style on the decorations in the west doorway.

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The reconstructed High Cross has a 9th Century base with the cross head being 12th century.

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A part of Roscrea Heritage Trail, you can download maps and commentary from http://www.heritagetrails.ie/explore/roscrea-heritage-trail/

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How do I get there?

When researching Monaincha, I read that it was “the best kept secret in Tipperary”. That’s because unless you know where it is, you won’t find it and the non existent signs don’t do much to help you.

First, if you have time, drop into the Tourist office in Roscrea and get a map of the area. If you’re in Roscrea town and you’re driving (the highly recommended transport option), head for the old Dublin road.On the final roundabout, you’ll see a sign for St. Anne’s and if you take this exit, you’ll see the sign for Monaincha. That is the last sign you see until you get to the lane. From the roundabout exit, it is about 3km on a small road to the site. You will recognise the lane because there is a little memorial and sign there. Monaincha-Heritage-Trail-MAP-800x486

The good points.

This place is amazingly stunning and an absolute must see. I recommend you leave the car at the top of the lane and walk in. The walk is so peaceful and serene and you get a great view of the site from the entrance. There is no entrance fee but remember that you are on private property and should respect it accordingly.

There is a commentary available on the website I listed above.

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The not so good points.

The signage to the site isn’t great. For us it was ok because we knew where to go but for visitors not familiar with the area, it would be almost impossible to find it.

          Bonus Information.

The wind turbines, just further down the road from Monaincha are well worth a visit. .

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  • All photos are my own and were taken on my visit except the map which is from heritagetrails.ie. Be sure to follow me on Instagram (iamshaunabrowne) and Twitter(@backhomeinirl or @iamshaunabrowne)  for more photos and adventures around Tipperary.

A day in Dublin

I only had one job to do in Dublin and I almost didn’t make it because I was so distracted by the photo opportunities that were everywhere! Unfortunately, the rain only got worse during the day and I went home early but here are some photos I took on my visit;

First stop Trinity College. The place was packed with tourists and locals and the grounds were as beautiful as ever.

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Off to Stephan’s Green where people were out enjoying the park before the rainy afternoon.

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Without a doubt, it is the great characters you meet that make you remember a trip. While walking through the park, I met this gentleman who was feeding the pigeons. I stopped and asked to take a picture. He obliged and told me how he rescues the pigeons and feeds them three times a week. Once he started talking, he wasn’t to be stopped and before I knew it, there were 4 or 5 people standing around having a great chat about the pigeons.

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Over to the city centre.

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Fleet street

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Obligatory picture of the spire.

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And then it poured rain and off I went.

Follow me on Twitter @backhomeinirl or Instagram “backhomeinireland”

Roscrea Castle & Damer House- an afternoon discovering heritage sites of my area.

There are so many great things on my doorstep to discover and this being Heritage Week, I wanted to get out and discover some of the great sites. First on my list was Roscrea Castle and Damer House.

A little about Roscrea;

  • Located in North Tipperary.
  • Comes from the Irish words Ros Cre meaning “Wood of Cre”.
  • Roscrea is the 3rd oldest market town in Ireland.
  • In ancient times, the Slighe Dhala (the 5 main roads of Ireland) converged in Roscrea.
  • There are many historical sites in the town and you can see them as part of the heritage walk.

How to get there & cost. 

The castle & Damer house are located on Castle Street in the town.

The facility is open from April to September 10am to 6pm. You can find all the details on heritageireland.ie.

Adult: 4 euros

Seniors/Group: 3 euros

Student/Child: 2 euros

Family: 10 euros

What can you see/do?

The main attractions are the castle and Damer house but there are other things to do.

The gardens are absolutely beautiful and a great place to spend a few minutes enjoying nature. Entrance to the gardens is free.

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You can also visit King John’s Castle, Damer House Art Gallery and an exhibition free of charge.

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The Castle

Roscrea castle dates back to 1213 and was used for defensive purposes. You can read a history of the castle on the Roscrea website www.roscreaonline.com. I was lucky to be able to join a tour and the guide, Stephanie was extremely informative and knowledgeable. The castle is in great condition and throughout the tour you can read the boards which keep the younger visitors interested.

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The Great Hall

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The Portcullis

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An interesting model of the castle.

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The staircase- built to deter attackers.

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The drawbridge.

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The Dungeon where prisoners were kept before heading to court in Clonmel

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Damer House

I believe that it is unknown exactly when Damer House was built and by whom but it has been used throughout the years for many purposes. A number of years ago, the house was almost demolished but thankfully it was saved. I was also taken on a tour of the house. The guide, Patrick gave an interesting and enthusiastic tour. Highlight of the house was perhaps the staircase which is unique and one of only 2 that still exist in Ireland. There is no photography allowed in the house which is a shame because it is full of photographic opportunities.

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A panoramic shot of the grounds including Damer house and Roscrea castle.

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The castle, seen from the top floor exhibition in Damer House.

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Visitors book in Damer House.

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Additional Information:

The castle and Damer House is just one attraction on a longer heritage walk of the town. You can used your smartphone to gain access to an audio guide of the other attractions. Worth spending an afternoon exploring.

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Good points:

When I arrived first, I wasn’t sure I would enjoy the visit but after meeting the staff and joining the tours, I had an enjoyable afternoon. Patrick and Stephanie were very friendly and chatted to everyone on the tours. Kudos to them for doing a great job!

The gardens are in great shape and whoever tends to them is doing an excellent job.

The grounds are big so even if there are a lot of people, it’s quite peaceful.

The Not so good points:

There is no car park for castle visitors so you must park on the street which is pay parking. It is only 50 cent for one hour but for low budget tourists, this could well be the difference between a visit or lack thereof.

The information is only in English or Irish so speakers of other languages bight find it difficult.

Worth a visit?

Definately. This is a great way to spend an afternoon and find out more about Roscrea. You can find out more information on either roscreaonline.com or heritageireland.com. Or simply visit the tourist information office located beside the castle.

*If I made any mistakes in my information, please leave me a comment correcting it.

*You can find out more about Heritage week on www.heritageweek.ie

*My photos can also be found on my Instagram site “backhomeinireland”

10 Phrases you will only hear in Ireland.

It’s only when you speak to someone who isn’t from Ireland that you realise how unique some of our phrases are. Here’s a list of some of my favourites;

  1. Grand– Meaning “fine, nice, ok”

Example- What do you think of this top? It’s grand.

2. Shur Look

I don’t know how to describe this in proper English! You can use it to tell someone to see something that’s very obvious or you can use it when you don’t really know what to say.

Example-

Statement- ” I was very tired after running my race.”

Reply- “Shur look”………

3. I will, ya

Meaning- I definitely won’t.

Example- “Will you down to your room and study” “I will, ya”

4. Jesus, Mary and Joseph-

Meaning- a strong exclamation.

When we were young Mum and Dad would tell us not to do something. We would definitely do it and then one of us would get hurt. When Mum found out, she would be so angry, exclaiming “Jesus, Mary and Joseph, didn’t I tell you not to do that!I don’t know what Jesus, Mary and Joseph have to do with it but shur look…….

5. Kilt stone dead-

Meaning- killed, dead.

Jesus, Mary and Joesph, I was coming down the road there and was almost kilt stone dead!

6. Down the road-

Meaning- in the locality somewhere. Uncertain how far down the road “down the road” actually is. Also uncertain which exact road is being talked about.

Do you know yur man that lives down the road?

I was down the road running when I was almost kilt stone dead.

There’s a grand little house going up down the road.

7. Yur man/wan

Meaning- a man or woman whose name you don not know.

Yur man over there told me to speak with you.

Do you know yur man who lives down the road?

Yur wan in the shop is fierce nice.

8. Fierce

Meaning- very.

It’s fierce cold today

There was a fierce wind blowing earlier.

Yur man is a fierce good player.

9. Fair play to ya

Meaning- well done.

You passed your exams! Fair play to ya!

10. Acting the maggot

Meaning- being a fool, misbehaving in some way.

Shur look, he was acting the maggot when he fell and broke his arm. Eejit.

Bonus word;

Eejit.

Meaning- fool.

Yur man is a fierce eejit.

Visiting Mount St. Joesph’s Abbey

Mount St. Joesph’s Abbey is a Cistercian Abbey and boarding school located approximately 2 miles from the town of Roscrea.  The abbey was founded in 1878 with the boarding school coming later in 1905. As well as the abbey and boarding school, there is a dairy farm, guesthouse and golf course. In total, the estate is about 500 acres.

I’ve been going to the monastery since I was small but this week was my first visit in a number of years. I couldn’t believe how well the place looked! It’s exceptionally well kept and so peaceful. I walked through the wooded area, down by the golf course and waterfalls and back to the abbey.

When I was young, my favourite thing was to get some of the bread that was made by the monks, Brs. John and Oliver. In 1891, A.M. Perkins & Son Ltd installed a turf fired Patent Steam oven to the monastery. Up to a few years ago, the monks still baked bread in the oven daily. Unfortunately, they have ceased but as a child I loved to get their bread.
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Look at how green the grass is on the golf course!

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You can pray in the church and mass is said there daily.

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The building is made of local grey limestone and follows a traditional monastic plan.

The school.

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This is a great place to go if you just want some quiet time to reflect. It’s extremely peaceful and scenic.

Barack Obama Plaza- Capitalizing on an association.

When I heard the words “Barack Obama Plaza”, images of photo zones, interactive history of his ancestry and commemorative photos came to mind.  Instead, when I visited for the first time today, I arrived at a rest stop.

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The ground floor is full of different eating venues, from Supermacs to Tim Hortons. All very well if you need a rest on the road to Limerick. It’s very conveniently located next to the motorway. The second floor is a “visitor centre” and by visitor centre they mean one room that was clearly put there as an after thought to justify calling it Barack Obama Plaza.

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wpid-20150818_161134.jpgAlthough the ground floor was full of people eating, the visitor centre was empty and I had it to myself. It took me about 5 minutes to walk around and read the posters.There are no photo zones and it’s all a bit bland.  I went back to my car and off to the actual village of Moneygall.

My main problem with the Plaza is that Barack Obama had nothing to do with it. He has never visited it, didn’t open it, nothing. I understand that business is business but here is a classic example of the exploitation of an association.

I took the 3 minute drive into the village of Moneygall.

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Moneygall village is a  beautifully kept village and the people obviously very proud of their association with President Obama. All along the street you can see the Irish and American flags.  Near the end of the village is the ancestral home of President Obama. I was disappointed to find that the house is currently closed as is the Obama cafe next door. Instead of having an eye sore of a rest stop pretending to be an Obama visitor centre, wouldn’t it be lovely to visit the house and have all the need to know information inside? I believe this won’t be happening due to financial restrictions. During my visit, the village was eerily quiet with very few people to be seen. Visitors are clearly not making the 3 minute car journey from the Plaza to the village and as a result the businesses of the village are suffering. I find that most disappointing because with the right injection of funds, and the correct marketing, Moneygall village has everything you need to provide a nice, genuine visit.

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Overall, I was very disappointed with my visit to the Barack Obama Plaza. The only good point is that it is free to go to the visitor centre so at least I can’t complain that I wasted my money. I wouldn’t recommend a visit but if the ancestral house reopens, it may be worth a small detour.

Messages in presses and other features of Irish houses

Being home has made me laugh. It’s the small things that we say that make me realise how brilliantly unique Irish houses are. Here are some of the features and phrases that you’ll only find in Ireland;

  1. The Immersion; Irish people are completely OBSESSED with the immersion. The way they go on about it, you’d swear it was pivotal to the house standing. So what is the immersion? It’s what makes the water hot for showers. You switch it on before the shower and off again afterwards. If you don’t turn it off, watch out! You will be plagued, harassed and when you’re 80, you’ll be reminded about that time you didn’t turn off the immersion. Des Bishop does a great sketch on the immersion in one of his shows, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=52bna-tn_dY

My mum and dad have solar panels on their house because they heat the shower without needed to turn on the immersion in the summer. It’s like the perfect solution to everything! (if only we had more sunshine)

The famous immersion!

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2. The press: A few weeks ago in Korea, my friend asked me where I kept the bread and I replied “oh it’s in that press over there” She looked at me like I was speaking another language and I realized that no one else uses the word press! What is a press?

These are presses…………

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Where you store your food and stuff are presses.

3. Messages: I’m not sure if this is unique to my house or every house in Ireland. Messages are what you buy when you go to town to do the shopping. This is a weekly event so it includes food and maybe clothes and so on. When you come home from town you bring the messages in out of the car and then proceed to “put the messages in the press”

4. Hotpress: Now that you know what a press is, you should learn what a hotpress is. The hotpress is the small room where you keep your boiler. That room is naturally hot and so we keep our sheets, clothes or anything else that needs to be “aired” in there.

The hotpress in our house.

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That’s all I can think of for now. Leave comments if you can remember anything else!