Sketching Ireland #22

Back to Dublin – Circle Complete

google-map-dublin.jpgWe are coming to end of my vicarious vacation to Ireland. The final road trip (using Street view) from Belfast to Dublin was quite scenic. I wish I could have stopped and explore more, but I must confess that I wanted to finish Sketching Ireland so that I could start my next blog project. Don’t worry, I managed to save a number of photos for later sketching subjects. Meanwhile, I went straight to Dublin.

Golfing in Dublin

During my extensive road trip through Ireland, practically every place I have seen had at least 1 or 2 golf courses. Golf being a big thing here, I was not too surprised to find 17 golf courses in Dublin.

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This is great news for those of you who want to come to Dublin for a golfing vacation. I’m not golfer like my dad, but the golf course at Howth looks challenging enough for a satisfying game.

Mending Fishnets

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Howth, by the way, is a beautiful peninsula on the northeast side of the city. Originally a small rural fishing village, Howth has grown to become a busy and comparatively affluent suburb of Dublin, with a mix of suburban residential development, wild hillside and heathland, golf courses, cliff and coastal paths, a small quarry and a busy commercial fishing port. It was on the wharf that I found some fishermen checking and mending their nets.

The Peace Tree

dublin-tree-sculpture-w.jpgFor my final sketch, I was exploring a long beach area not too far from Howth when I came upon a very unusual tree. Now, you know how much I love sketching trees and this is one tree that I had to draw. For more info about this tree, below is an article from The Journal dot Ie.

At the north-east corner of St Anne’s Park, Raheny, where Clontarf Road and Watermill Road meet, is a 10-metre tall tree.

Unmissable to anyone who passes by, what was once a dying Macrocarpa (more commonly known as Monterey cypress) has been transformed into a canvas for dozens of sculptures of wildlife.

Known as the Peace Tree and Tree of Life, the landmark came about when it was decided by Dublin City Council that the iconic tree had to be taken down for safety reasons, Dublin Inquirer reported at the time.

However, rather than getting rid of it entirely, the council hired award-winning UK sculptor Tommy Craggs to transform the tree, believed to be 200-years-old, into an eye-catching feature. Inspired by the wildlife of the park itself and nearby Bull Island, there’s something new to discover from every angle.

From an octopus spread across the base to a proud swan perched at the top, every inch of the tree has been transformed into a type of fauna. Despite appearing as though they were created with a chisel, the detailed animals were crafted with a chainsaw.

Work on the tree began in 2015, but the final three metres were not completed until June this year. Upon completion, the tree was finished with oil.

While the masterpiece can be viewed from the car while driving along Clontarf Road, it’s more than worth pulling in order to fully appreciate its true beauty.

Dublin is a city of many landmarks and attractions. Unfortunately, I am not able to sketch them all, but as I said before I’ll present more sketches down the line.

So end my Sketching Ireland vacation 2019. I hope my blog inspire you to really visit Ireland and then contact me to share your experience. Fare thee well, Emerald Isle.

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Sketching Ireland #19

Half the Length of Ireland

From Galway, we head for our 9th leg of our itinerary tour of Ireland. Get ready for an extremely long ride. I’d say about 220 miles to Northern Ireland, about half the length of the island.

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By the way, Northern Ireland is actually part of the United Kingdom. Fortunately, there are no border gates or tolls to enter that is technically another country. I wonder when Brexit happens if it will still be the same. We’ll see when it comes. Since, we are going half way across the country, we will make some stops.

Anyway, leaving Galway, we got on the M6 heading east. About 35 miles later, we came into the town of Ballinasloe. This town is suppose to be all about horses. So, of course, this town is also the venue for an international horse fair.

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The Ballinasloe Horse Fair is a horse fair which is held annually at Ballinasloe, the second largest town in County Galway, in the western part of Ireland. It is believed to be Europe’s oldest and largest Horse Fair, dating back to the 18th century. This annual event attracts up to 100,000 visitors from all over the world, with many returning to the town year after year. This festival is one of the most important social and economic events in the life of the town. The town is also renowned for horse and pony riding, show jumping and other equestrian activities which take place throughout the year.

The fair lasts nine days and starts on the Saturday before the first Tuesday in October, when a parade through the town is held. It continues during the next week and includes a beauty contest (the Queen of the Fair), tug-of-war competitions, dog shows, artistic and cultural events, singing competitions and fairground attractions as well as the titular horse fair. The latter event includes sale-and-purchase, racing and show-jumping and these are concentrated on a 6-acre site on Society Street – the fair green. Events culminate during the second week-end; the Saturday of which is known as “Country Fair Day”. Traditionally, this was the day in the fair with the highest attendance from local rural residents. [from Wikipedia]

After Ballinasloe, we stayed on the M6 until we got into Athlone. There, we transfered onto the N55 going north to our next stop. Forty miles later, we arrived at the town of Cavan. But that is not our stop. Five miles west of it is the Killykeen Forest Park. It is a 600 wooded acre recreation park with picnic tables and a lake with islands. This park offers hiking, biking, fishing, swimming, bird-watching and an opportunity to fly a remote controlled drone. And while flying, we found another ruin castle in the middle of a lake.

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Cloughoughter Castle is a ruined circular castle on a small island in Lough Oughter in the midst of the Killykeen Forest Park. Left in ruins, the castle became a frequent subject of art in the 18th and 19th centuries. Its visual impact was described in a travelogue published The Dublin University Magazine in 1852: It stands on a small island, scarce three hundred feet in diameter, just sufficient to contain the castle and a small margin of rock around it. The island stands in very deep water; the shores are a mile distant, wild, yet thickly wooded. The castle is a beautiful ruin, round, massive, hoary, save where mantled with rich Irish ivy. The walls are immensely thick, with embrasures and coved windows, round which “ruin greenly dwells.”

Of course, there is nothing like seeing this beautiful castle in the air by a video taken by a drone.

Getting back on the road, we head north for another 50 miles or so. Now, for those of you who’ll follow my route, I have to provide this next set of instructions. I’ll try to keep it from being too boring. Meanwhile, please use the Google Map to follow the route. [Click HERE for map.]

From Cavan, take the R212 a short way until you can get onto the N3. Go north until Butlers Bridge then turn right onto the N54. This is where it will get interesting and a little bit of confusing. While on the N54, you’ll be going in and out of North Ireland (UK) for a short distance. (FYI: Everytime you enter UK area, N54 turns into A3.) This will happen twice before you’re back in Ireland again for a long while until you get into Monaghan. There, you’ll get on to the N12 for 4 miles until the border.

The N12 turned into the A3 and we went another 12 or so miles arriving at our third stop, Armagh UK. Armagh was considered the educational centre since the time of Saint Patrick, and thus it has been referred to as “the city of saints and scholars”. I wish I could have showed you more but I really wanted to get up north. However, I did find a ruin of a friary in the city’s largest public park.

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Armagh Franciscan Friary was founded by Archbishop Patrick O’ Scannail in 1263/64. It had prominent patrons in the city and the Franciscans played an important part in the city’s religious life until the Friary was suppressed in 1542 with the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII.

Some religious life continued, but the buildings were involved in welfare later in the 16th Century and were ruined by 1600. Two empty graves and two tomb recesses near the east end are reminders of the important patrons buried in the Friary Church, including Gormlaith O’Donnell, wife of Domhnail O’Neill in 1353. It is the longest monastery in Ireland. The Friary is located at the south-east edge of Armagh and can be found at the entrance to the Palace Demesne. [by Wikipedia]

The final drive will take us 75-80 miles all the way to the northern coast. We stayed on the A29 which eventually took us into Portush. Two miles down the coast, is our fourth stop, the Dunluce Castle, but not the actual 9th leg of our tour.

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Dunluce Castle is a ruined medieval castle located on the edge of a basalt outcropping and is accessible via a bridge connecting it to the mainland. The castle is surrounded by extremely steep drops on either side, which may have been an important factor to the early Christians and Vikings who were drawn to this place where an early Irish fort once stood. Near by is the newly discovered Dunluce town. In 2011, major archaeological excavations found significant remains of the “lost town of Dunluce”, which was razed to the ground in the Irish uprising of 1641. The town was built around 1608. It may have contained the most revolutionary housing in Europe when it was built in the early 17th century, including indoor toilets which had only started to be introduced around Europe at the time, and a complex street network based on a grid system. 95% of the town is still to be discovered.

In my next post, we go to the 9th leg which will include 3 sites before we go into Belfast.

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Sketching Ireland #18

A City But Not Really a City Feel

We are now coming into the 8th leg of our itinerary tour (vicarious vacation) of Ireland.

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From the Burren National Park Visitor Centre, we worked our way north until we finally hit the N67. The N67 hugs the coast of a large lengthy bay of which Google map provided no name. Since, the city of Galway sits on the northside of the bay, I unofficially dubbed it, Galway Bay. Anyway, driving on the N67 was vicariously pleasant with the Galway Bay always to tour left. There was one part, just after the village of Kinvarra, the water was right up to the highway. A low stone wall was the only barrier that kept us from driving into the water. I liked it. Now, I started to wonder that with this short stretch of water being a sheltered harbor, there has to be castle protecting it. And sure enough, there it was, Dunguaire Castle. Click HERE to see it in Street-view mode. Sixteen miles later, we drove into Galway.

According to another blog writer, Roaming Irishman, “Galway is without a doubt, my favourite city in Ireland. It has an atmosphere unlike anywhere else on the island. It’s got a ‘city but not really a city’ feel, with friendly locals making it a special place to be. When any tourists coming to Ireland ask for advice on where to go, I always say Galway. It’s a city and county with so much charm about it. It is the perfect place to use as an introduction to, or even as a base for exploring, the west coast of Ireland. A very different city to Dublin, a visit to Galway must be on your itinerary.”

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My first sketch is a fountain sculpture in the Eyre Square Park, downtown Galway. The sculpture depicts the sails of a old styled fishing boat called a ‘hooker’.

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Not too far from the park is High Street. It is a long four block brick laid street lined with retail shops, restaurants, cafes and street performers. While there visit any tourist shop and get yourself a Claddagh ring.

gallway-claddagh-ring-w.jpgThe Claddagh ring is a traditional Irish ring which represents love, loyalty, and friendship (the hands represent friendship, the heart represents love, and the crown represents loyalty). The design and customs associated with it originated in the Irish fishing village of the same name in Galway. The ring, as currently known, was first produced in the 17th century. There are many legends about the origins of the ring, particularly concerning Richard Joyce, a silversmith from Galway circa 1700, who is said to have invented the Claddagh design as we know it. Legend has it that Joyce was captured and enslaved by Algerian Corsairs around 1675 while on a passage to the West Indies; he was sold into slavery to a Moorish goldsmith who taught him the craft. King William III sent an ambassador to Algeria to demand the release of any and all British subjects who were enslaved in that country, which at the time would have included Richard Joyce. After fourteen years, Joyce was released and returned to Galway and brought along with him the ring he had fashioned while in captivity: what we’ve come to know as the Claddagh. [Wikipedia]

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My last sketch, I titled it, ‘Old Man by the Sea’. This old Irish fella was sitting on a rock at the tip of a pier at the mouth of the River Correb spilling out onto the unofficial Galway Bay. In the original photograph, he was staring out mostly on an empty bay except for some swimming pelicans or maybe even swans. So, I included in my sketch, a sailing hooker (a Galway fishing boat) and a pelican on the foreground.

In my next post, we take a very very long drive to Northern Ireland.

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Sketching Ireland #11

Kissing the Blarney Stone?

Cork is suppose to be the 4th leg of our itinerary tour of Ireland.

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Cork, just inland from Ireland’s southwest coast, is a university city with its centre on an island in the River Lee, connected to the sea by Cork Harbour. It is written that Cork is easy to get around on foot and there’s an incredible energy about the city. No matter what day of the week, or what time of year, Cork is a hive of activity. The streets are busy with locals and tourists alike, the sound of live music fills the air, there are some fantastic restaurants, cafés and pubs, and there are so many things to do in Cork city that you will have more than enough to keep you entertained. But alas, I have decided to by pass the city and go straight to an adjacent town of Blarney.

There, we will find the famed Blarney Castle and the Blarney Stone.

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Built nearly six hundred years ago by one of Ireland’s greatest chieftans, Cormac MacCarthy, and has been attracting attention ever since. Over the last few hundred years, millions have flocked to Blarney making it a world landmark and one of Ireland’s greatest treasures. Now that might have something to do with the Blarney Stone, the legendary Stone of Eloquence, found at the top of our tower. Kiss it and you’ll never again be lost for words. [content by blarneycastle.ie]

Realisticly, I would not have been able to climb those ancient stone steps to the castle’s battlements and then bend my back, hang my head over a gaping hole some 60 feet high and then kiss a stone embedded on the battlements’ overhang. In my sketch of the castle, the highest point is the battlement and you’ll notice on the facing side is a jutting overhang. That is where the Stone of Eloquence is found.

The Blarney Tree

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You know how much of a tree hugger I am, so when I discovered this gigantic tree in the forest area of the castle grounds, I had to draw it. What I heard is that the tree is actually a Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata). This tree is only about 100 years old and is indigenous to North America, introduced to Britain and Ireland in 1853 by William Lobb.

Fishing in Blarney

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As I was vicariously driving around the grounds, I came upon a scenic stream with (in my opinion) an aesthetically attractive tree. While sketching the scene, I felt it needed something. So, I included a father and his son leisurely fishing away. I wonder if fishing in the Blarney Castle’s ground is allowed.

Some Changes

In my next post, I am going west to the 5th leg of our itinerary tour of Ireland. However, I am going to make some changes. For one thing, my Sketching Ireland posts will be a lot shorter but a little more frequent. So, on the way to the next leg, I’m going to make a couple of stops. See you then.

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Sketching Ireland #10

Walking Downtown Waterford

When visiting Waterford, Viking Triangle would be the first place to see starting with Reginald’s Tower right at the river’s edge. You can’t miss it. Just as the main river-side avenue turns right into Parnell Street, look for a medieval tower which is also the site of the first tower built by Vikings after 914. Reginald’s Tower is Waterford’s landmark monument and Ireland’s oldest civic building. Re-built by the Anglo Normans in the 12th century the top two floors were added in the 15th century. Until about 1700 the tower was the strong point of the medieval defensive walls that enclosed the city. The tower now houses an exhibition on Viking Waterford and is managed by the Office of Public Works. The tower, by the way, happen to form the apex of the triangular settlement, an area known to this day as the Viking Triangle.

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I would have loved to sketch it except I was more attracted to an authentic replica of a viking warship which visibly sat right next to the tower. For fun, when I drew the ship, I decided to include History Channel’s The Vikings’ character image of Ragnar Lothbrok played by Travis Fimmel.

From the viking ship, walk down a narrow lane (Bailey’s New St.) about 2 blocks, past an old abby, you’ll find 2 museums (Medieval Museum & Bishop’s Palace) that are part of the Viking Triangle. These museums including Reginald’s Tower houses treasures from loot by Viking sea pirates, Norman invaders of the Medieval era and Waterford’s prize collections of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.

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For my sketch subject, I chose a pair of bronze viking thrones ornately sculpted to depict a viking warrior and a shield maiden. These seats are open for tourists to sit on and you can find them in a plaza in front of the Bishop’s Palace Museum.

From the museums, I decided to do a Street-View exploration of the surrounding neighborhood. I was on Broad Street corner Peter Street, when I found, to my delight, the Bagel Factory.

 

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Make my order: 2 onion bagels, lightly toasted to golden brown, a thick spread of cream cheese, 3 thick strips of bacon… let’s make that 6 strips instead and 2 eggs fried over easy. Oh boy… yum.

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Just down a block from the Bagel Factory, I found a corner that I could not hesitate but sketch not because of the Spokes bike shop or even the Sweet Corner found there. I chose it for my sketch subject because of the wall art.

Okay, I’m leaving Waterford and driving west along the coast to Cork.

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Sketching Ireland #9

Waterford & Wexford Counties

We are finally getting into the third leg of my Irish itinerary adventure. I need to clarify that Sketching Ireland is again a fantasy vacation. I am a quadriplegic vicariously driving through the highways of Ireland. How? I thank the Lord and Google for a fantastic internet virtual programs called Google Earth & Maps. You see, when I implement Google’s Street View program, I get a 360 degree picture of the place I’m exploring. It is like I am almost there. I am doing this for fun and also as a way to promote myself as a graphic illustrationist and as a virtual assistant.

Anyway, from Kilkenny (our last stop), we go back on the M9 and head south. I don’t mind saying that I was really tempted to make several stops. Google Earth displayed several markers to say that there may be interesting attractions there. But I decided to stay the course and head straight to Waterford. The M9 ended at the River Suir which was the natural boundary between County Kilkenny and County Waterford. We crossed the river on a very modern bridge unto a highway that hugged the river to another highway that goes into the city.

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[1] Waterford, which means in old Norse as “ram fjord”, started out as a Viking settlement back in 853 AD. It is said that the city is the oldest, historical and quite an upbeat city in the sunny south-east Ireland (www.ireland.com). This is definately a must see place, however, we are not going into city just yet.

My Ireland Itinerary Plan suggest we first head to the coast to Hook Head which is actually across the river in another county (Wexford). How do we get there? By ferry, of course!

[2] Passage East Ferry

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So, we circumvented Waterford using the by-pass expressway that is south of the city to a fishing village called Passage East. That is where we catch the ferry that frequently crosses the River Suir. Because I love ferries, well sketching one was a no brainer.

[3] Hook Lighthouse, Co. Wexford

From the ferry, we head south to a narrow peninsula to the village of Churchtown on Hook Head. Driving farther down from Churchtown, we followed a two-lane road to the rocky tip of the peninsula where we found the oldest working lighthouse in the world. This is clearly a tourist destination complete with guided tours, rest rooms, restaurant and even handicap access. There were a number of photos of the lighthouse and waves breaking on a rocky shores. I decided to hold off on sketching this scene for later but instead I opted to make a thunbnail sketch and place it on the map.

Upon driving toward the lighthouse, I noticed (via Street-View) a camper parked off the road. Seeing no no-camping signage anywhere, I wonder about boondocking here overnight. Afterall, I am vicariously towing a souped up off-the-grid teardrop trailer. Ah… imagine waking up to gulls squacking and waves crashing.

[4] An Abandoned Cottage in Graigue Little

 

WF-graigue-cottage-w.jpgOn the way back to where the ferry is, I turned off unto the wrong country road. Fortunately, I was happy to find an abandoned cottage which was practically overgrown with foliage. This was a definate sketch subject. (By the way, the kid on the bike is a re-use.)

[click here for Google Map STREET-VIEW link]

[5] Fishing Boat

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My next sketch subject is a fishing boat that was moored at the same fishing village where the ferry took me across the river.

[6] Wedding on the Island

On my way back to Waterford, I came upon a small island east of the city. It had no other name except “The Island”. Frankly, I was hoping for an Irish name or even a Viking one. The island had a 16th-century castle that was converted into a classy hotel and an extensive golfing range through out most of the island. The island was also a popular wedding destination. Access here is by a small ferry.

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I was only attracted to it because Google Earth was displaying a great many photo markers, two of which caught my attention and I did not hesitate to combine into one sketch subject.

In my next posting, we’re going into Waterford.

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Sketching Ireland #6

Kilkenny – At Last!

LOL! We’re finally completing the first leg of the itinerary that I’m following based on a travel blob by Wanderlust Crew. We’re getting into Kilkenny Ireland. Technically, the first leg should have taken only a few hours drive on the M9 from Dublin, but with my detours… hahaha… we’re about 5 days later, give or take (vicariously, of course).

Kilkenny, which means “church of Cainnech”, may be the smallest city in Ireland, but for a time during the 17th century Kilkenny was unofficially the capital of Ireland. Built on both banks of the River Nore, this 400 year plus city is a tourist destination, and its environs include historic buildings such as Kilkenny Castle, St. Canice’s Cathedral and round tower, Rothe House, Shee Alms House, Black Abbey, St. Mary’s Cathedral, Kilkenny Town Hall, St. Francis Abbey, Grace’s Castle, and St. John’s Priory. Kilkenny is also known for its craft and design workshops, the Watergate Theatre, public gardens and museums. Annual events include Kilkenny Arts Festival, the Cat Laughs comedy festival and music at the Kilkenny Roots Festival. [contents from Wikipedia]

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Before we head in to the city, we’re making a quick stop at the Paddy’s Country Pub just off the M9 for a late breakfast or a brunch. Based on Tripadvisor dot com, a commentary recommended Irish Bacon and Cabbage. I loved sketching this pub. The front all the way up to the roof was covered with a thick vine foliage.

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google-maps-kil2.jpgAfter breakfast, we got back on the M9 and because I’m using the hover mode on Google Earth/Map, I can see that I have two exit the M9 and take the N10 into Kilkenny.

If this was an actual vacation and not a vicarious one, I would not want to bring my towed tear drop camper into a busy city. So, we needed to find someplace to camp. Fortunately, after doing some googling, I found the Tree Grove which was south of the city and conveniently just off the N10. The campground was the only one listed in the area. After ditching the trailer, we got back on the N10 and work our way back to the North side of the city to meet up with some people.

Kilkenny is divided by the River Nore. We drove around the eastern side of the city which happened to be quite modern. Most of the touristy stuff is on the western side. We were in the Newpark district when we drove by a marsh.

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The Newpark Fen or Marsh is a diverse habitat with open water and a rich variety of bird, mammal, plant and insect species. It was designated an area of scientific interest and is recognised as being of local scientific importance. It is a most important natural reserve with no less than 49 different species of birds identified to date and more than 70 species of plants, trees and shrubs. It includes a bird feeding area, wildlife information boards, a 2km circular walk and a wheelchair accessible walkway. In my sketch of the marsh, I included an Irish duck on the foreground. After the marsh, we head for the river.

The River Nore is a 140-kilometre (87 mi) long river. Along with the River Suir and River Barrow, it is one of the constituent rivers of the group known as the Three Sisters. After it flows through the city it will eventually end up emptying into the Celtic Sea way far south. When you have a river like the Nore in a tourist city, what can you expect? Kayaking!

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By the way, those people we’re meeting, happen to be my brother and his wife. That’s them in my sketch. Well, in reality, that’s their faces on the bodies of actual kayakers on the actual River Nore. Supposedly, they would have leisurely kayaked down the river under bridges and past the Kilkenny Castle then land near the campground. Meanwhile, as we crossed the Green’s Bridge again, I spotted a giant sundial.

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It is the Monumental Sundial entitled Arch and Sundial in the garden beside Green’s Bridge. The Arts Council (sometimes called the Arts Council of Ireland) commisioned artist Brian King to mark the success of Kilkenny in the Tidy Towns competition in 1985. A nearby plaque tells the user how to read the sundial and how to convert sun time to watch time. The Arabic hour numerals are carved into the seats of the pinic stools. [contents from http://www.sundials-ireland.com]

In my next post, we go to Kilkenny Medeivel Mile. See you then.

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