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Cashel, Holycross & Ottway

July 17, 2007

corey says…First thing I did this morning was paint one of the bedrooms at Knockahopple. The chore has been on the list since my last visit, but just hasn’t gotten done. Fortunately, two of the walls are paneled in pine, so painting just two walls was a breeze.

Then, Tony and Cort stopped by. They invited me to join them one a trip to the Rock of Cashel. The Rock has always been a favorite stop of mine.

The Local Sites
Along the way, we stopped at a few local sites. Curreeny Church is the local Catholic church…it’s a tiny country church that has changed very little since the turn of the century.

Down the road is the Curreeny Hedge School monument…this old hedge school was uncovered about two years ago and became the first monument of its kind in the country…commemorating the people who taught and learned in secret during penal times.

Then it was a little further down the road to the Kilcommon Prayer Garden. This site has become a bit of pilgrimage site for the Irish because it has a history of hosting healing priests. The community has fixed it up brilliantly and the garden includes the Stations of the Cross carved by a local craftsman, a holy well, a chapel and a Marian Shrine.

The Rock of Cashel
Then it was off to the Rock. It’s high season, so there were a lot of people on our tour, but our guide was very good and didn’t skimp on details. As a result, the 45 minute tour lasted a half-hour longer than scheduled, but we thought it was worth every minute. I’ve been on the tour at least four times and still get something new each time.

As we climbed down the Rock, it started to rain…really rain. No worries though, we had our hooded rain jackets, and it was time for lunch. Had a great meal at Ryan’s Daughter and then headed onwards to Holycross. We stopped in Boherlahan along the way to see the Bianconi chapel (Bianconi started the first stagecoach/postal service in Ireland)…it was too rainy to explore much, so we skipped the castle down the road as well.

More Local Sites
The church at Holycross Abbey was completely restored in 1975…before that, it in complete ruin. It’s a very old and beautiful church…there aren’t a lot of these 12th century churches in operation, so it’s a nice place to visit. They also have two relics on display which are documented to be pieces from the True Cross, hence the name Holycross.

On the way home, we stopped at Castle Ottway. On my first trip to Ireland, Liam and I spotted a picture of Ottway in the Nenagh Heritage Centre. Based on it’s description, it was practically in Liam’s backyard. We road our bikes to it and found it in a farmers field…no one pays any attention to it and tourists definitely would never find it.

When we came upon Otway, it looked much differently than the 1900 photo we saw. In the photo it was still a residence, but it was burned in the troubles in the 1920s. Now it’s just a shell. One interesting tidbit, the Ottway Harp in the National Gallery in Dublin came out of this castle.

Then we stopped at Kilboy Cemetery which is located on Tony Ryan’s estate (of Ryan Air). This is where Liam’s family plot is located. We walked around the ruined church, inspected the graves and admired Tony Ryan’s beautiful horses. Then it was up the mountain to Liam’s for some tea.

After Tony and Cort left, Liam thought it would be a good idea to paint the hall before his guests arrived. A bit of a spur-of-the-moment decision, but within an hour and a half the job was done.

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