Tuesday, November 30, 2010

No Golf Today

Sun, sea and golf - what more could one ask for?  Well certainly not snow, but that's what we've got today and maybe for the next week so, no golf at Blainroe Golf Club, Co Wicklow.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Hear Ye, Hear Ye

Immediately after the Christmas lights were switched on in Wicklow Town, we followed Santa to the nearby Coach House where the Artisan Food Hall, part of the forthcoming Christmas At The Coach House, was open and there was Roast Pig on a Spit, Fresh Crepes and hot chocolate in the Courtyard to revive our flagging spirits.

Christmas At The Coach House will take place on Saturday & Sunday 4th/5th & Saturday & Sunday 11th/12th December.

Below, Sinead Quinn, the event organiser with Santa.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Wicklow Lights

Last evening it was Wicklow Town's turn for the Christmas lights switch-on and there was a fantastic atmosphere as huge crowds of children, with the requisite adults in tow, converged on Fitzwilliam Square for the arrival of Santa who performed the ceremonial task.  Brilliantly organised by Wicklow Town Chamber Retail Committee, we even had snow, well, the remains of the heavy overnight snow which lingered here and there and completed that touch of Christmas.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Brisk Walk

Well it's a tough five mile walk, about two hours, along the cliff high above the railway line between Bray and Greystones, and it's pretty rough and wet in places but spectacular nonetheless especially at the Bray Head end. 

Along the way you meet runners, walkers, dog walkers, mountain bike riders and generally unfit types like your blogger!  Not advisable to bring young children though.  Most people usually walk one way and return by bus or train which is exactly what we did, but not before partaking of a relaxing pint in The Beach House, which, happily, marks the end of the walk on the Greystones side.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Beach Fishing

This is the South Beach in Greystones, Co Wicklow, a noted spot for fishing, but not a sea angler or much else in sight today except for this guy.  Must've been the impending downpour!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Market House

Dunlavin, Co Wicklow is situated about 5km west of the main N81 and is very close to the Kildare County border. It is a peaceful village characterised by its unusually wide streets forming an expansive T-junction. Its crowning glory is the Market House in the centre of the village. Built in the ancient Doric style of Grecian architecture, it is one of three such buildings in Ireland.

Detached multiple-bay two-storey Palladian style former market house, built c.1740 to designs by Richard Castle (Cassels), architect of the beautiful Russborough House in Blessington. The building later served as a court house and is now in use as an art gallery / exhibition space.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pigeon Fancying

Passing Direct Pigeon Supplies, which is a fairly large shop in Arklow, Co Wicklow prompted me to check out the state of pigeon racing in Ireland today. An extremely well organised sport which had it's origins in Belgium in the early 1800's, by 1870 there were approximately 10,000 lofts in Belgium, but previous to this pigeons were used as message carriers.  Homing Pigeons are today raced in Belgium, Holland, United Kingdom, France, Ireland, Japan, Taiwan, Canada, Australia, South Africa, United States, India, Argentina, Hungary and Mainland China.

Pigeon Fanciers in Ireland race between April and September from a number of different locations within Ireland itself, including Arklow, Waterford and Cork on a weekly basis. However, there are certain races each year from the United Kingdom, and as far as France.

A great source of information is to be found at the home of racing pigeons in Ireland, www.racingpigeon.ie

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Corporate Thing?

So the umbrellas would seem to suggest as we all waited in the torrential rain for Santa at the Big Switch On of the Christmas lights last Sunday in Greystones, Co Wicklow. But the obvious delight in the childrens' faces tells a different story and so we forget about the weather, and business, and simply enjoy the moment.

On the right, the ceremonial switch-on by Ciaran Hayden, Mayor of Greystones.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Here's Maisy!

So, here's Maisy Mouse at Bridge Street Books in Wicklow Town greeting visitors to the bookshop on Saturday. The main event was the arrival of Niamh Sharkey, award-winning author and illustrator of children’s picture books, including The Ravenous Beast and I'm A Happy Hugglewug, who was in town to sign copies of her new book On The Road With Mavis And Marge.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Bray Lights

Yesterday evening and it's time to switch on the Chrismas lights in Bray, Co Wicklow.  So here we are in the Civic Plaza being entertained by Bray Gospel Choir and a local school choir as the countdown to the big moment begins.

A huge crowd packed into the Plaza for the occasion and just for a few moments we forget about the country's woes and look forward to the festivities ahead.

Left, this boy gets to help Santa throw the switch.

And now they're on!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Dune Walking

We're on the coast at the most southerly point of our little realm - the Wicklow/Wexford border - and today it's a stroll around the Kilpatrick Sandhills, a protected area of sand dunes stretching 2 kms from Kilmichael Point (North) to Kilpatrick (South).

This is a bit off the beaten track but it's an area of outstanding natural beauty consisting of a mosaic of coastal habitats and mature sand dunes and definitely worth a visit or two.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Further On Up The Road

We're still on the Military Road between Sally Gap crossroads and Laragh, Co Wicklow but further on past the wide open expanses we pictured in yesterday's post and into a valley bordered on one side by forests and the other by towering granite slopes.

'One sunny mornin' we'll rise I know,
And I'll meet you further on up the road' - Bruce Springsteen

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Military Road

Continuing our current autumn tour of the Wicklow Mountains, today we're on that stretch of the Military Road which runs from the Sally Gap crossroads to Laragh, Co Wicklow.

The Military Road, mostly used today by tourist traffic, starts in Rathfarnham, Co Dublin and runs North/South across the spine of the Wicklow Mountains to Aughavannagh.  Construction of the road was started in August 1800 and completed in October 1809.  It was built in the wake of the 1798 rebellion to open up the Wicklow Mountains to the British Army to assist them in putting down the insurgents who were hiding there following the Irish Rebellion of 1798.  We covered this briefly in an earlier post here.

So back on the stretch we drive slowly along this remote winding road across rugged mountain terrain through some of the most spectacular scenery in Wicklow and, naturally, we stop en route to bring you these compelling views.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Goose or Gander?

Difficult to tell whether this Greylag is a goose or a gander.  In a flock, the male gander is usually 3 to 6 inches taller than the female goose.  Also the male tends to hiss and puff up at your approach.  Well it wasn't hissing at me and I was very close so I guess it's a goose!  Or maybe it's become somewhat tame from being fed so often by the visitors to this lakeside Nature Reserve in Arklow, Co Wicklow and can't be bothered to hiss or even puff.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Autumn Gold

It's a dull and rainy late autumn day in the Sally Gap en route to Blessington, Co Wicklow.  The Sally Gap is one of two east west passages across the Wicklow Mountains - the other being the Wicklow Gap a little further south of here.

It may be dull but there's still plenty of colour around as we take in the autumn gold - and the green.

Below, in the foreground, is the River Liffey which rises about a kilometre back and meanders for 125 km across counties Wicklow, Kildare and Dublin before entering the Irish Sea at Dublin Bay.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Parnell Bridge

This is Parnell Bridge, the footbridge over the River Leitrim in Wicklow Town, and underneath this bridge is a favourite spot for children to feed the swans and ducks and seagulls.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Mixed Bag

All week long we've had a mixed bag of weather here in the mountains of the Wicklow Gap area, a place which offers so much in the way of scenic indulgence.  So ok, it's no longer short sleeve weather but what's wrong with this little vista as we anticipate the impending gloom of winter.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Bit Rough

At the start of the week we were getting severe weather warnings from the responsible media who predicted that the tail end of Hurricane Tomas was about to hit our shores.  Well it didn't quite live up to the billing but it did get a little rough here in Wicklow Harbour but that kinda goes with the territory, at least at this time of year.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Fancy This?

En route to the Sally Gap, Co Wicklow we stop to take in this incredible autumnal scene.  Well actually, it's incredible at any time!  Directly across is Luggala Mountain also known as Fancy Mountain. It's cliffs are situated above the scenic Lough Tay with it's dark and peaty waters bordered on the right or northern side by a brilliant white sandy beach creating the illusion of a pint of Guinness.  Very appropriate, considering this is the 25 km2 (9.7 sq mi) Luggala Estate belonging to Dr The Hon Garech Browne, a member of the Guinness family.

The buildings on the estate including the main residence, Luggala Lodge, pictured left, are available to rent all year round and the estate has been used as the location of major films including John Boormans's Excalibur.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Water, Water

Today, we're on the outskirts of Roundwood, Co Wicklow, and standing on the dam which was constructed in the 1860's to form the Lower Vartry Reservoir, left, after a Dublin Water Works Committee was established to develop a new water supply to Dublin and it's suburbs.  This work was particularly important in the improvement of living conditions and public health in Dublin city. It improved sanitation and helped reduce outbreaks of cholera, typhus and other diseases associated with contaminated water.This new Varty water was piped to Stillorgan, Co Dublin,  and changed the city in the days of James Joyce. Joyce made several references to the Vartry in Ulysses.

Below is the Draw Off Tower, through which water is extracted from the reservoir and conveyed
by pipe under the dam to the water treatment plant, which is our main picture above.

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