CASTLE TOUR OF INTRIGUE AND DISCOVERY: As I stated in my notes last week I was going to visit our newly refurbished King John’s Castle on Saturday last, which I duly did and relished every single step of that same tour. From the moment you enter the welcoming portals which eventually ignites your journey to a flaming great discovery of Castle artefacts dating back centuries, you are greeted by highly friendly and efficient staff members, whose enthusiastic manner is matched only by their smart-looking, fetching outfits.
Then a magical, mystical tour de force of discovery awaits you. I’ll do my best to describe parts of that tour but at the end of the day, a person has to do it for themselves; second-hand info in this case just will not suffice. For my journey I had the company of two girls, one six and the other twelve years of age. And is this tour suited to children? It most certainly is! Every slight detail is attended to and nothing, it seems, has been left to chance. The, by now famous Discovery Drawers presented an amount of fun altogether, as one did not know what lay inside until they were opened. You might find a fish, actually a fish turned up in two separate drawers. You might also find remnants of old clay pipes or pieces of pottery dating back to, God knows when. Oh yes, we came across a rather ornate Horn and wondered, as it did not perform by way of the slightest beep. Well, it so happened as the tour progressed, we noticed one of the actor soldiers had a similar piece slung over his shoulder and upon enquiry we learned that it contained a powder type substance to refill the guns, keep them loaded so to speak. From the same actor soldier, who was excellent, may I say, we learned how the two finger Victory sign originated. It seems that if a soldier spotted an enemy prowling around the exterior of the Castle with his potential lethal arrow, he was swiftly hauled in and the two fingers that were essential for holding an arrow were even more swiftly and unmercifully removed. Then the soldier would duly go to the window of the Castle and give the two finger sign to his ‘gang’ thus indicating that one of the enemy had been taken care of, so to speak, and thus was born the famous Victory sign. From that same soldier, a fine broth of a man he was too, we learned that the weight of the soldier’s vest alone was enormous; an amount of kilos (didn’t bring a notebook so I am relying on my brain on this sweltering day as I spill out my thoughts). It is called ‘Maille’ (pronounced ‘mail’) the French word for mesh or some such material. It is described thus; ‘A type of armour consisting of small metal rings linked together in a pattern to form a mesh.’ He allowed us to hold it in order to feel the weight and with that plus the weight of the helmet, as well as the heavy sword, they must have been ever so strong and virile men.
CASTLE CHARACTERS: On screen we were treated to a man who was known as the Moneyer, he it was who made the coins. Oh, it was all so educational and informative, without being heavy stuff; I couldn’t take that.
On our tour we visited the Chapel in the Courtyard. This afforded us a welcome relief from the intense noonday heat and gave me a chance to barely scan a psalm or two from the bible which rested on the lectern, (no glasses, unable to read properly).
The children had the greatest time crawling through the Tunnel, trying on the age old garments of those ancient times and warily at first, participating in the Cannon Ball game, which afforded them an amount of fun despite the strength needed to pull hard on that rope in order to release the cannon ball and hit that elusive target.
I’d safely say the boys would relish this game entirely, taking into account their natural strength regardless of age. With regard to the above-mentioned liberty of trying on the clothes of that centuries old period, I must say the planners were abreast of the times and exhibited a marvellous sense of humour, as a large sign read, ‘Mix ‘n Match!’
And talking of signs, the signage from beginning to end was expert in every way; no going astray, that’s for sure. It was a natural progression.
Our encounter with the Blacksmith was great altogether. Naturally, he was extremely knowledgeable as to the machinations and workings of his trade.
He was kept constantly busy during those war times, as not alone did he have to attend to the horse’s shoes, but he also had the making of various other accoutrements worn by the soldiers of the time.
He allowed us to hold the helmet and oh, but it was heavy, very, very heavy. I’m stalling at this point while I re-gather my thoughts of a wonderful two hour tour.
Now I remember, it’s the one room that I personally gravitated towards having entered it; the Mason’s Room. Through the pane-less window space the peaceful sound of the Curraghgower Falls wafted in and it was delightful altogether as well as soothingly cooling.
While I was experiencing this added mental and physical luxury the two girls were busy putting together a simple puzzle of the Castle on a table nearby.
I hope I haven’t neglected anything, perhaps I have. Oh yes I have; of course it is the climb to the tip top of that enormous tower, which I managed to do with just a little effort and even though I pride myself with a reasonable amount of fitness, it did take that extra push to persevere to the top, but the reward was mighty.
The panoramic view of our beautiful city was amazingly breathtaking.
The last time I experienced this same view of the city was when I was teenager when my friend, Ann, and myself climbed to the top of one of the turrets of St Mary’s Cathedral.
We finally entered the rear of the original ‘glass entrance’; and it’s now just occurred to me that so engrossed had I become with discovery, exploration and sheer enjoyment, I didn’t have any need to give the said ‘glass’ a second glance or even a thought.
Here we find the spacious Restaurant and the Castle Shop, which is very well stocked. I must say the Mead attracted me but I resisted a purchase and said I’ll take a trip up there for Christmas! A bottle costs €16 something, not bad really. It is a most palatable and pleasing drink once a year. To sum up, it was a tremendous tour-de-force, the pride of our city and standing right in the heart of our Parish!
Like a phoenix from the ashes it rose
And is now our city’s greatest pose,
A structure of centuries past
It was sure built to last,
Architecturally, it is poetry and prose.
MAE TO READ IN KILKEE: Our Parish writer, domiciled for decades in Naas, Co Kildare, will be holidaying in the ‘Costa’ aka Kilkee, towards the latter half of July and I hope the unexpected great spell of weather continues for her sojourn there. She has informed me that she will be reading on a certain evening while there.
Now to the best of my knowledge the Civic Trust down there, hold their cultural evenings of a Wednesday. Last year the venue was the Kilkee Bay Hotel.
So, anyone who happens to be in that aquatic gem can keep Mae in mind and give her the support she so richly deserves.
As a matter of interest, this same writer and national broadcaster (Sunday Miscellany RTE Radio 1), and a former class-mate of mine, came on a tour with a contingency from Naas to her native city on Saturday last and was simply delighted with the welcoming reception they received upon entering St Mary’s Cathedral. Well done to the person who guided them around (will have name by next week). A good impression of Limerick of the welcomes was instantly created by that person.
MARANATHA PRAYER MINISTRY: Invites you for the Healing Retreat through the Ministry of Rev. Fr. Michael O’Shea and Noel Byrne, enriched with the Rosary, Eucharistic Adoration, Word of God, Healing Mass, Praise and Worship, Confession, and Spirit Filled Music by the Maranatha Gospel Choir on Sunday 21st July, 2013 from 2.30pm to 7.30pm at St. Paul’s Church, Dooradoyle, Limerick. Tea and refreshments in hall after. Everyone welcome!
HISTORY OF OUR CHOIR : “In recent years there have been a number of other choirs assisting in the liturgy at other Masses. There was a junior choir under the care of Sr Margaret Hogan in 1981, which sang at the 9.30am Sunday Mass. Later, Sr Elizabeth Morton was the leader and they sang for many years at the 7.30pm Saturday evening Mass.
Then Sr Bríd O’Sullivan trained a children’s Choir for the 9.30am Sunday Mass, which early Mass goers admired very much. Since Christmas 1971, Sr Pierre O’Connor had provided organ music and choir to lead the congregation at the 12 o’clock Mass and at other special occasions, particularly at Christmas and Easter.
Very recently Fr Tom Mangan has organised a Parents’ Folk Choir which is very much appreciated at the 7.30pm Saturday evening Mass. Once a month we have the privilege of listening to the McCormack Singers, an all-male choir, which from the beginning over 25 years ago, had close connections with the Parish. On St Patrick’s Day, we all enjoy the St Mary’s Girls School Choir who sing at the Irish Mass at 9.30am, under the direction of Rosemary Mangan.” (This concludes an article from a precious local book ‘Light on the Past,’ which was researched and published in 2001, by our late PP, Canon Brendan Connellan, a scholarly man who attended to his priestly duties with diligence.)
R.N.L.I. FLAG DAY: The Limerick Branch of the R.N.L.I. will be holding a fund-raising Flag Day on Saturday next July 13 from 9.30 am. The Committee members would very much welcome and appreciate support on the day. If anyone can spare a little time that day and would be willing to collect, boxes and flags can be obtained at the stand in O’Connell Street - near O’Mahony’s Bookshop. All proceeds of this fund-raising event are for the support of Irish Lifeboats. I must say that this is one Flag Day I rigidly adhere to if I happen to be up town on the day of collection. Just think about it, over the past year alone of how many tragedies, and thankfully some rescues have been reported on TV. It is one of the most essential aspects of marine life.
BECOMING A WRITER: “There are three reasons for becoming a writer; the first is that you need the money; the second is, you have something to say and you think the whole world should know; the third is that you can’t think what to do with the long winter evenings.” Quentin Crisp, British author, 1968.
MEN’S SHED: A new social group has been set up in St. Marys Parish to accommodate the needs of local men. The idea is basically to have a drop-in centre where men can come and go as they please. The aim of the group is to have men of all ages socialising together, something as basic as having a cup of tea, playing cards or even a day trip. The group is not just confined to St. Marys Parish and is open to all men with an interest in socialising. An open day is planned in Kings Island Community Centre on Tuesday July 16 from 3-5pm. The group would like to thank Mr.Brian Geaney of Limerick Regeneration Agency for the funding of this project.
OF KILKEE INTEREST: “From the 18th century the climate and environment at Kilkee began attracting visitors. In 1837 Samuel Lewis A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland describes the growing popularity of Kilkee.
Kilkee or Doogh, a village in the parish of Kilfieragh, barony of Moyarta, County of Clare and province of Munster, containing 1051 inhabitants. In 1837 it consisted of 153 houses; since which time several houses and bathing lodges have been erected, the village being much frequented as a bathing place chiefly by the citizens of Limerick, on account of its remarkably fine strand sheltered by a ledge of rocks stretching across one third of Kilkee Bay. In 1888 the healthy air and surroundings of Kilkee are also extolled by Edgar Flinn of the Royal College of Surgeons, who remarked on the value of spas in the area: Kilkee is the most fashionable summer seaside resort on the south-west coast of Ireland, in fact it has few equals, if any, for natural beauty of scenery in this country.
One of the reasons why Kilkee developed as a visitor attraction was the availability of transport from Limerick. In the 18th century and for the most of the 19th century transport was by boat along the Shannon to Kilrush. From there the final eight miles (13km) journey to Kilkee was made by horse-drawn cars. Next came the west narrow gauge railway, which was a great boom to Kilkee as a seaside resort. In January 1885 Charles Stewart Parnell launched the West Clare Railway which ran from Ennis to Miltown Malbay. In 1890 the South Clare Railway began linking Kilkee and Kilrush to Miltown Malbay. This railway line ran from Kilkee to Ennis from 1892 with Kilrush being served by a short branch from Moyasta Junction. The railway served Kilkee well until it finally closed, from lack of support, on January 31st 1961.
Accommodation was needed for visitors to Kilkee. Many stayed in lodges, while hotels began to be developed in the village. The first hotel in Kilkee was Sampy’s Hotel in Francis Street (now Grattan St). Other Hotels developed in the late 19th century included Moore’s Hotel, West End Hotel, Blundell’s Hotel, Atlantic Hotel, Browne’s Hotel, Royal Marina Hotel and the Stella Maris Hotel. The first post office in Kilkee was also situated at the Old West End Hotel.” (From ‘Kilkee,’ by Timothy McInerney.)
PERENNIALLY PLEASING: As many readers will have noticed by now, the ‘Limerick Leader’ is undergoing many visual changes which are most pleasing to the eye. Last weekend I noticed that the page on Part Two which takes in the versatile, well informed, and highly entertaining seasoned writer, Patricia Feehily: Phil Boyce on Gardening, and Gingergirl, ‘All About Food,’ was particularly tastefully altered. It is a pleasure to open that page now and I hope it remains that way. The all new blue colour is lovely and I’m sure it will prove perennially pleasing to many readers such as myself.