Dromana Bridge was just a pokey
place to cross the Finish River until Lord Villiers Stuart married
a high society bride in the mid-1800's. His tenants erected a
fantastic Moorish castle made of paper maché over the
bridge to greet the young bride. She was so delighted that Villiers-Stuart
decided to make the bridge a permanent fixture, and this incredible
vision still graces a local road.
The Ghost of Petticoat Loose
at the final resting place of the ghost of Petticoat Loose. In the early 1800's her ghost
terrified the district. Finally, a local priest led a procession
of parishioners to lonely Bay Lough where he exorcised the ghost.
Why Bay Lough? Because it's waters are so deep their depths have
never been plumbed. So they say.
Saint Declan's Path
In the early years
of the fifth century, the Christian Bishop Declan worked successfully
to set up a Christian community in Ireland's south. The path between
Declan's ecclesiastical centre and the rulers at Cashel eventually
became known as Saint Declan's Way. It followed the trade routes
of the day, gently undulating across the Irish countryside before
climbing into the mountains.
Saint Patrick's Cow
The various parts of the Declan's path
were given memorable names by the locals. There was the Path
of the Saints and the Track of St. Patrick's Cow. The
local mountain range bears the evocative name Knockmealdown, Hill of
the Honey Fort.
Like any modern highway, it was along these paths
that towns grew and castles and churches were built. Modern travelers can follow the
trail still, parts of which are nearly unchanged since Declan's
time 1600 years ago.
Mount Melleray Abbey
The Knockmealdown mountains are
a delight, and the crisp hill air favours some of the
most remarkable rhododendron blooms to be found anywhere. A spectacular
view can be had from the heights.
Mount Melleray Monastery and
its nearby grotto with a world famous statue of Mary
is also worth a stop. Then it's down the mountainside to the
green fields of County Tipperary.
The next major stop is Cahir, home
of two remarkable buildings that are part of the National Park
system. The first is the Swiss Cottage, a style of building that
was all the rage around the time of Marie Antoinette. Queen Marie,
before she lost her head to the guillotine, loved to play at
being a peasant, and the richest families in Europe followed
suit. The Swiss Cottage is the best remaining example of these
ornate "Peasant" palaces, an incredible example of
the simple pleasures that a fortune can buy.
Also in Cahir is one of the finest
medieval castles to be found in Ireland. Freely explore its winding
passages, hidden servants alcoves, and high battlements. A great
experience! There is an exceedingly pleasant path along the river
that winds between the Swiss Cottage and the Castle.
The Rock of Cashel
Cashel was the seat of
the Kings of Munster for more than a thousand years and the
ecclesiastical centre of southern Ireland for nearly as long.
The Rock is a stupendous place. The whole is eye filling and
a quite splendid climax to St. Declan's Path.