Archive for December, 2010

Tally Ho!!

Friday, December 31st, 2010

The recent cold spell decimated the hunting calender locally with eight meets called off. However nothing was going to deter the Shillelagh and District Hunt from holding their traditional boxing day event in the village of Tinahely, Co. Wicklow. It was agreed to give the hounds a run and stage a walking hunt. Not quite the same razzmatazz given the equine absences but an escape from cabin fever and a chance to socialise non the less.

A huntsman and his hounds, boxing day, Tinahely, Co. Wicklow.

Gathering in the village square outside Murphy’s Hotel the local community imbibed hot whiskeys and ports, discussed Christmas, snow, the economy, future meets, and what ever else caught your fancy. The hounds yelped and the huntsmen added a bit of colour. To the sound of a hunting horn the group headed off in the direction of Coolboy hounds sniffing and quartering the ground. A fine tradition upheld.

Crossing a stubble field, Parkbridge, Co. Carlow, Ireland.

The following Tuesday after a sudden and welcome thaw Egan’s public house of Parkbridge hosted the annual children’s Christmas Hunt. An opportunity for the youngsters to experience a hack out over open country. Well attended the day was mild and grey, the ground soft but not heavy. Hip flasks and stirrup cups are the pre-hunt ritual, keeping warm or dutch courage? Probably a bit of both.

Participants arriving to the Parkbridge hunt.

The Tinahely Riding Club and the Shillelagh and District Hunt are fundamental to the local community, like the GAA they are inextricably linked with rural life. Horses create a common bond and a deep rooted social outlet appreciated by both young and old alike.

Clearing a ditch, Parkbridge Hunt.

The kids had a ball on what was a grey foggy day. It stayed mild and the rain did not fall. The horses got a much needed run out and the hounds enjoyed mooching around the countryside.

Out of the fog, Parkbridge Hunt, Co. Carlow.

At days end all those involved retired to Egan’s for much needed sustenance. Hot soup and sandwiches for all, crisps and lemonade for the youngsters, and of course we cannot leave out uncle Arthur.

A pint of the black stuff, Egan's of Parkbridge.

Assault on Croghan Kinsella.

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

Normally climbing Croghan Kinsella, 606 metres, involves a steady hike through the forest coupled with a steep climb over the moor to the summit. From the entrance to Carrig Wood a fit person would make the top inside two hours. Add in snow and ice and things change just a little. The mountain had been calling me for the last month, today the 22nd December conditions were perfect so off I went.

Croghan summit viewed from the west.

Approaching from the west through Carrig Wood snow was lying calf deep on the ground. This pulled at the legs all the way to the top. Taking a steady easy pace following the forest paths I eventually cleared the tree line. The snow was pristine save for deer tracks. Above the trees a goat path climbs steeply following the line of the ridge to the summit plateau. A bitter north east breeze was blowing and boy was it sharp on the face. A snowy landscape lay below me every feature defined in black and white.

Looking west towards Kilpipe.

The march across to the summit was hard due to drifted snow. Persevering I made the summit mound and decided to traverse around to the east side due to ice formations which made climbing difficult. Following a wire fence I waded through knee deep snow making the top at 12.30pm exactly. In all the hike took 2 hours 15 minutes.

Summit cairn, Croghan mountain, Co. Wicklow, looking east towards Tara Hill, Co. Wexford.

A quick sandwich, cup of tea, and some photos for posterity and I was on my way down. Even though wrapped up the wind chill made it very cold up there. It was worth the climb though as the views on a good day are spectacular but today, WOW. In the distance to the north lay the Sugarloaf, Lugnaquilla and the north prison, defined in great detail by the snow to the north west, with Mount Leinster and the Blackstairs mountains to the south.

Mount Leinster and the Blackstairs mountains viewed from Croghan Kinsella, Co. Wicklow.

By retracing my steps the climb down was not too difficult, however the steep goat track was a little hairy due to the ice and snow. Taking it handy I was soon making my way through the forest, getting back to the house by 14.30 pm. The round trip took a little over four hours which was not too bad given the conditions.

Yours truly on the way down, Croghan Kinsella, Co. Wicklow, December 22nd, 2010.

Welcome to Narnia

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

Who would have thought back in January of this year that come December we would have been snowed in for a cumulative total of four weeks and counting. A whole month in which time community has triumphed over the individualism of the Celtic Tiger. The Irish have come to their collective senses, humour and neighbourliness abound. Three cheers for large amounts of snow, history will show that the Irish were cold snapped to attention during the winter of 2010 and emerged rejuvenated and energised to once again take their place in the sun.

Winter scene, December 21st, 2010, Ballythomas, Co. Wexford.

Today is December 21st, the winter solstice, a pagan time for rejoicing. Tonight we will raise a toast to longer days and optimism. A new Government and a renegotiated deal with the ECB/IMF will kick us off nicely. Meantime a walk in the woods and an appreciation of what really counts.

A Robin.

This mornings snow is different, light and fluffy, it sits like cotton wool on the trees.

Snow covered pine trees, Carrig Wood, Ballythomas, Co. Wexford.

The forest trails are still reasonably defined. It would be interesting to climb Croghan while blanketed in snow. The views from the top would be spectacular. Maybe tomorrow.

Forest trails, Carrig Wood, Ballythomas Hill, Co. Wexford.

Two roads diverged in a white wood, I took the one less travelled by and that is what made all the difference. Ruby enjoyed herself sniffing around. Plenty of deer in the vicinity, but none showing.

Ruby on the point.

A blanket of snow covers the land between Ballythomas and Tinahely. There has been no hunting for a month now. Dixie and Mandy took off for a hack in the woods just to keep the hand in.

Dixie and Mandy, Carrig Wood, Ballythomas, Co. Wexford.

Snow is falling again, there is no dreaming of a white Christmas here. In Ballythomas, Co. Wexford, we are living the dream, and do you know what it’s great.

View towards Tinahely from the viewing point, Carrig Wood, Ballythomas Hill, Co. Wexford.

Nuclear Winter Maybe?

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

Did they drop the bomb, or maybe an asteroid hit the other side of the world, or did Mount St Helen’s erupt again? In the warmest year on record we have the coldest November on record¬†with Birr, Co. Offaly, registering -16 degrees, for want of repeating, climate change what climate change? I think the media just likes a story.

Carrig Wood on the 8th of December 2010, twelve days after the first snowfall.

Twelve days later snow is still thick on the ground. Today is the 8th of December, the first snowfall started on Friday night the 26th November. At least 18 inches of snow lies on the ground with 6 inches of packed snow and ice on the lane outside, however the thaw has finally started.

Holly berries, Carrig Wood, Ballythomas, Co. Wexford, Ireland.

It is still bitterly cold though. Rocky and Smokey decided to bunk down in their place of work.

Rocky and Smokey in the stable.

Meanwhile Dixie is foraging around the paddock.

Dixie in her paddock.

Canada or Wexford?

Carrig, Ballythomas, Co. Wexford, Ireland.

Partial Thaw

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

Dumped on again last night, have not seen as much snow since 1982. However around lunchtime a partial thaw set in.

Fiery Larch, Croghan Mountain, Ballythomas, Co. Wexford, Ireland.

Towards Kilpipe Church.

The road towards Kilpipe.

Hungry Sheep at Ballythomas.

Hungry Sheep, Ballythomas, Co. Wexford.

Evening scene, Ballythomas, Co. Wexford, Ireland.

A snowy Ballythomas evening looking south west.

Life in the Freezer

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

Today is Wednesday the first of December 2010 and it looks like we will have snow on the ground well into next week. A truck load fell this morning dumping at least six inches more on top of the approximately ten inches that was already there. Great fun but hey, this is Ireland washed by the North Atlantic Drift, what’s happening?

View from Ballythomas west towards Tinahely.

Took the dog out for a run around between the showers, both Ruby and Nat had a ball.

Ruby and Nat in the snow, December 1st 2010.

Well I will not forget this birthday in a hurry.

Yours truly crossing the rubicon.

Service with a smile, there are not many publicans who will deliver this level of service. Well done Mylie, stick us on two Guinness and a couple of whiskey chasers.

Mylie Nolan picking up the customers.