As we traveled along Hook Peninsula toward Hook Head we passed Loftus Hall.   Loftus Hall is a large mansion built on the site of the original Redmond Hall, it is said by locals to be haunted by the devil and the ghost of a young woman.

The Legend of Loftus Hall: an Irish ghost story

At the end of Hook Peninsula is Hook Head & Hook Lighthouse.  Hook Head is the headland on the east side of  the estuary of the three sisters rivers.

Hook Head

Hook Head is said to have found its way into common English usage in the saying “By Hook or by Crook.” It is claimed that the phrase is derived from a vow to take Waterford by Hook (on the Wexford side of Waterford Estuary) or by Crook (a village on the Waterford side) made by Oliver Cromwell.

Hook Lighthouse

Hook Lighthouse is one of the oldest operating lighthouses still operating.  The current tower’s rich history dates back to the 12th century; beacon operation in the area dates back as far as the 5th century.

Part of Ireland’s Ancient East, Hook Lighthouse is situated in the South West corner of County Wexford bordering County Waterford.  It has marked the entrance to Waterford Harbour at the mouth of the three sisters river system for over 800 years.

The Visitor centre offers guided tours of this wonderful Medieval lighthouse tower, built by William Marshal, the Earl of Pembroke.  Known as the Greatest Knight and the most famous Knight of his time, Marshal built the tower as part of the development of his Lordship of Leinster, to protect and develop the important shipping trade in the 13th Century.

Purpose built as a lighthouse 800 years ago, and still fully operational today, it truly is one of a kind!

Hook Lighthouse:  The Second Oldest in the World ~Urban Ghosts


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Templar’s Church

As we drove south from Duncannon along the coast of Hook Peninsula we stumbled upon the Templar’s Church ruin near Templetown.  The ruins stand on a grassy mound raised from the road and are surrounded by an old graveyard with some interesting stones. You can reach the site by a stile by the dilapidated gates at the roadside.  After your visit you can refresh yourself at the Templar Inn across the road.

The Knights Templar came to a bad end in Europe in the late 13th century.  Blamed in part for the loss of Jerusalem to Islam they found themselves dispossessed of their lands and wealth and in many cases they were tortured. In Ireland members of the order were incarcerated in Dublin Castle to await trial.


Templetown received its name from the Knights Templar, a brotherhood of monastic Norman warriors who originated during the crusades. After the Norman invasion of Ireland in 1169, large areas of land around the Hook Peninsula were given to the order by King Henry II.  Templetown was used as their headquarters.

Following the collapse of Christian control of the Holy Land in the 1290s, the Templars received a good deal of the blame for this. They were also resented for their wealth, power and arrogance.  King Philip of France, who had an eye on their possessions, had members arrested on charges of heresy, idolatry and various sexual vices. Many members confessed these charges under torture and it’s head member, Jacques du Molay, was burned at the stake in 1314.

In Ireland, arrested Templars were imprisoned in Dublin Castle and tried in St Patrick’s Cathedral in 1310, and while there were no torture, the order was dissolved here as in Europe, and its possessions were transferred to the Hospitallers.  The church itself has an unusual castellated tower which was probably built at a later  stage for protection from warring Gaelic clans.
~curious ireland


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We continued our trip across the River Barrow  from Passage East.  We stopped at Duncannon Beach to stretch our legs and take in the sight of Duncannon Fort.

Duncannon Fort is located in a strategic position on a Hook Peninsula in the eastern part of Waterford Harbour, giving access to Ireland’s Three Sisters: the River Barrow, River Nore and River Suir.  Queen Elizabeth I built the star fort between 1587–88.  Its purpose was to defend Waterford from possible invasion by the Spanish Armada.

Hook Peninsula is the “hook” in “By hook or by crook.”  Hook and Crook are the names of headlands on either side of a bay by Waterford, Ireland.  Hook Head and Crooke are on opposite sides of the Waterford channel.  Cromwell (born 1599, died 1658) is reputed to have said that Waterford would fall ‘by Hook or by Crooke’, that is, by a landing of his army at one of those two places during the siege of the town in 1649/50.

By hook or by crook

Duncannon Fort saw major military action during the Irish Confederate Wars. Commanded by the Royalist governor Laurence Esmonde, 1st Baron Esmonde, it was besieged and captured by Irish Catholic Confederation forces under Thomas Preston, 1st Viscount Tara in January–March 1645.  Oliver Cromwell failed to retake Duncannon in 1649, but it surrendered in 1650 after a blockade led by Henry Ireton.


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We started our day off at Colneen House B&B in Tramore just like every other morning in Ireland – BREAKFAST!

In avoiding major metropolitan areas as much as possible, we made our way towards a ferry town – Passage East through Crooke town.  The only bridges across the River Suir were in Waterford.  We stopped for coffee at Burke’s Daybreak in Crooke.  The dog poop signs were everywhere we stopped in Ireland and were usually humorous.  If only they paid that much attention to litter in general.  There was a fair bit of rubbish which was very surprising for such a beautiful country.


Crooke is the “crook” in “By hook or by crook.”  Hook and Crook are the names of headlands on either side of a bay by Waterford, Ireland.  Hook Head and Crooke are on opposite sides of the Waterford channel.  Cromwell is reputed to have said that Waterford would fall ‘by Hook or by Crooke’, that is, by a landing of his army at one of those two places during the siege of the town in 1649/50.

By hook or by crook

Right next to the filling station we noticed St. John the Baptist Church and decided to take a closer look.

When we arrived back at the car I notices a crow behaving weirdly atop a building across the street.

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Tramore Town

Our stop in Tramore was the result of one of our unscheduled destination/lodging nights in The Republic of Ireland.  This worked out well.   We called ahead on our way and were able to book the night at Colneen House Bed & Breakfast.

Tramore Town

Tramore is a charming town by the sea in southeast Ireland .  From our B&B the downtown was only a short walk away along The Doneraile Walk.  From the walk, you can take in sweeping views of Tramore Bay and Brownstown Head in the distance.  The Doneraile Walk is home to many historical features, which show the maritime nature of Tramore. An ancient canon gun lies on top of the cliff overlooking the entrance to the bay.  There is a Memorial Stone erected to commemorate the military victims of the Sea Horse Tragedy (1816) in Tramore Bay, when 363 people were drowned.

The Esquire Bar & Restaurant

After a stroll around the town center reading dinner menus as we passed restaurants, we decided on The Esquire Bar (& Restaurant).  The Esquire opened in 1932 by local business man Jim Quinn as a Gentleman’s Bar.  It was taken over by Chef Paul Horan in 1980 and soon after opened one of Waterford first good food restaurants.

A unique collection of over three hundred ports, spirits and liqueurs are on offer from Chef Paul’s world collection. Lobster and Seafood are available throughout the year. Surf and turf is a regular feature as well as oysters, crab and scallops. Try any Irish made Beer and Spirits Harp, Guinness, Smithwicks, Baileys, Black Bush and Bushmills, to name but a few.

A few other photos from Tramore.  I very much enjoyed the Guinness signage from town to town.


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Glendalough Monastic Site

Glendalough is a glacial valley in County Wicklow, Ireland.  It is renowned for an early medieval monastic settlement founded in the 6th century by St. Kevin.

Kevin, a descendant of the ruling families in Leinster, studied as a boy under the care of three holy men, Eoghan, Lochan, and Eanna.  During this time, he went to Glendalough.  He returned later with a small group of monks to found a monastery where the two rivers form a confluence.  Kevin’s writings discuss his fighting “knights” at Glendalough; scholars today believe this refers to his process of self-examination and his personal temptations.  His fame as a holy man spread and he attracted many followers.  He died in about 618.  For six centuries afterwards, Glendalough flourished and the Irish Annals contain references to the deaths of abbots and raids on the settlement

Glendalough is home to one of the most important monastic sites in Ireland. This early Christian monastic settlement was founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century and from this developed the “Monastic City”.  Most of the buildings that survive today date from the 10th-12th centuries.  Despite attacks by Vikings over the years, Glendalough thrived as one of Ireland’s great ecclesiastical foundations and schools of learning until the Normans destroyed the monastery in 1214 A.D. and the dioceses of Glendalough and Dublin were united.  Glendalough is one of the top attraction on Ireland’s Ancient East.

Around the grounds

Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul

The Cathedral is the largest of the seven churches in Glendalough.  It was built in several phases from the 10th through the early 13th century.  Large mica schist stones, which form the foundation up to the height of the west doorway, were re-used from an earlier smaller church.  The earliest part is the nave with antae for supporting the wooden roof.  The chancel, sacristy, and north door were added in the late 12th and early 13th centuries. The north doorway to the nave also dates from this period. Inside there is a wall cupboard, a stone font, many grave slabs, and the remains of a decorated arch.

Glendalough Roundtower

The most famous of all the landmarks in Glendalough is the Round Tower which stands 33 meters above the ground. It was built almost 1000 years ago by the monks of St. Kevin’s monastery. The conical roof had to be replaced in 1876 when it was struck by lightning. The towers were called “Cloigtheach”, meaning bell tower, suggesting their main use. The towers were sometimes used as a place of refuge for monks when the monastery was under attack. They also served as both as lookout posts and as beacons foe approaching monks and pilgrims.

St. Kevin’s Kitchen (Church)

St. Kevin’s Church better known as St. Kevin’s Kitchen is a nave-and-chancel church of the 12th century. It is called St Kevin’s kitchen because people believed that the bell tower was a chimney to a kitchen but really no food was ever cooked there. This stone-roofed building originally had a nave only, with entrance at the west end and a small round-headed window in the east gable. The belfry with its conical cap and four small windows rises from the west end of the stone roof in the form of a miniature round tower.

Tourist or Pilgrim?

As we stand on the sacred ground of Glendalough, walking in the footsteps of holy men and women who have walked this ground before us, it is good to ponder whether we are here as tourists or pilgrims.

Have we come to see the sights, walk the hills, take some photos, bring home some souvenirs, maybe a memory or two?

Or have we come to search, to wonder, to be stopped in our tracks by the awe-inspiring majesty of this place? Do we need to rest in the peace of the Lower Lake and be healed by its waters? Do we need to wander the shore of the Upper Lake and bow before the unknown God who calls to us in our heart?

Why have you come to this place? Perhaps you need some time to ponder this question.  ~Glendalough Heritage Centre

Tourist or Pilgrim

I stand at the edge of myself and wonder
Where is home? Oh! Where is the place
Where beauty will last? When will I be safe? And where?
My tourist heart is wearing me out. I am so tired of seeking
For treasures that tarnish. How much longer, Lord?
Oh! Which is the way home?
My luggage is heavy. It is weighing me down
I am hungry for the Holy Ground of home.
Then suddenly, overpowering me with the truth,
A voice within me gently says:
‘There is a power in you, a truth in you
That has not yet been tapped.
You are blinded with a blindness that is deep,
For you have not loved the pilgrim in you yet
There is a road that runs straight through your heart.
Walk on it.’
To be a pilgrim means to be on the move, slowly,
To notice your luggage becoming lighter,
To seek for treasures that do not rust
To be comfortable with your heart’s questions,
To be moving toward the Holy Ground of home with empty hands and bare feet.
And yet, you cannot reach that home until you have loved the pilgrim in you.
One must be comfortable as a pilgrim before one’s feet can touch the homeland.
Do you want to go home?
There’s a road that runs straight through your heart
Walk on it.  ~Macrina Wiederkehr


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After leaving Bealick Mill  on the River Larney, we continued to make our way east.  We spied a ruin in the distance just outside of Cahir.  I have scoured the area via Google Maps and cannot seem to find where exactly it was or what it might be called.  I wished we had ventured off the beaten path for a closer look.

Keep ruin outside of Cahir

Tipperary is arguably Ireland’s most scenic and varied inland county. It is also the largest inland county and shares its border with eight neighbours—more than any other county in Ireland. These are Waterford, Cork, Limerick, Clare, Galway, Offaly, Laois and Kilkenny.
A ring of mountains and hills follow the county border with wide flat valleys between them. Sometimes referred to as the ‘Tipperary Plain’ most of this area is better known as ‘The Golden Vale’—one of the most fertile areas in Europe. This is also the valley of the river Suir and its tributaries.

Tipperary’s largest mountains surround Cahir in the south of the county, making for spectacular scenery with impressive cloud formations, sunrises and sunsets. This, along with a wealth of antiquities, which include some of the largest monastic ruins in the country, makes the area a haven for sightseeing and photography.

Cahir Town

Cahir is a town in County Tipperary, Ireland. The town is best known for its castle and the Swiss Cottage.  We were not aware of the cottage unfortunately and didn’t seek it out.  It is two kilometers from the town; we didn’t happen across it.

We were able to get a good look at the town from the defensive walls of the Cahir Castle.  The colorful pubs and other stone building lined the streets.  We spent the majority of our time wandering the castle grounds.  We did take a brief walk about the town center.

Cahir Castle & Keep grounds

Once the stronghold of the powerful Butler family, the castle retains its impressive keep, tower and much of its original defensive structure. It is one of Ireland’s largest and best preserved castles. It is situated on a rocky island on the River Suir.

Read more about the siege of Cahir Castle in 1599.

This 12th-century river island fortress was very impressive and interesting to tour.  The baby goslings where a hit as the crowd looked on as they dropped from the foliage where they nested along the wall into the cast moat.


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DAN TRAUN – Photographer

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