I can’t believe it’s almost the end of another year. Every year Word Press compile an annual report on how your blog performed throughout the year. Full of stats, facts and figures, it provides an interesting insight into what has been accomplished over the previous twelve months. You can even post this report to your blog to share with everyone. Well this year I have decided not to bore you with all these wondrous stats, facts, figures. Instead I have decided to do something a bit different, something a little bit more personal. After all, who really cares how many followers I have or how many posts I made. Here I wish to share a snapshot of the last twelve months in both pictures and words.
I originally started this blog back in 2011. Initially it was out of sheer curiosity, to see what all the hype about blogging was. Even at this early stage which I had only intended to be another avenue for sharing my images as a novice photographer, I quickly developed an niche for myself which merged a number of my many interests. These being, Photography, History, Archaeology, Mythology, Adventure and Ancient ruins. Now I am by no means, nor do I claim to be a professional in any of these disciplines, but what I do have is a strong passion for all of the above. In 2012 these all began to merge, and my blog was pretty much taken over by my exploration of ancient and historical ruins. At the time for some reason I decided to set up a separate platform to highlight this new direction. I called it ‘Diary of a Ruinhunter’. I ran this blog alongside both my website and this blog, but eventually it took its toll and was absorbed back into this blog back in April.
Looking back its been one hell of a year. Which started with an expedition down to the small town of Castledermot in Kildare on New Year’s Day. This turned out to be a real gem of a town with many sites to explore. I started off with what I thought to be an old Tower House. I was later informed by a reader that it was actually the last remains of a 13th century Friary. Then there was the Romanesque Archway, Round Tower, the North High Cross and the South High Cross. A Viking Hogback Stone and some ancient Cross Slabs and Holed Stones. All of which can be found in the grounds of St. James church. The final site in Castle Dermot was the wonderful ruins of the Franciscan Abbey, Castledermot was a great start to the year and a place of great history and importance.
Febuary began with a visit to Nenagh in Tipperary. Here I got to see if only from afar part of Nenagh Castle as it was unfortunately closed at the time. I also found the old water source which dates back to famine times, known locally as The Spout and another Franciscan Abbey which for some unknown reason was only published on my ‘Diary of a Ruinhunter’ blog. Febuary also saw me begin an online Diploma Course in Photography which the good wife had got me as a Valentine’s Day Present. I am actually ashamed to admit this, but with everything that has gone on in 2013 I have still to complete this course, :-(. This is now one of my many personal goals to achieve this year, so stay tuned.
March included a visit to the famous site of the Moone High Cross. I also got to mark another one of Kildare’s Standing Stones of my list by visiting Maudlins Holed Stone and the historic St. Johns Medieval Church both of which can be found in Johnstown. I also got to shoot the annual Paddy’s Day Parade in Monasterevin and visit the rare Adam & Eve stones in Boherboy, Saggart.
April for some reason saw both my blog and website take off with a huge increase in visitors and followers. My personal favourites were my trips to both MacFeorais Castle and Carbury Castle as well as the Launch of my Interactive Ruins Map. I initially conceived the idea of a Ruin Map as a result of the difficulty I experienced trying to find these places. All locations on my map are 100% accurate and where possible usable with Google Street View. Hopefully the work I have put into creating this Map will afford anyone interested in visiting these places an easier way of finding them than I had.
May saw me return to Dublin and my hometown of Tallaght. Although much of Tallaght’s vast amount of historical sites have since disappeared, there is still plenty to explore in and around the surrounding area. Such as St. Maelruains, Tynan Hall and the Round Tower in nearby Clondalkin. My personal highlights of the month were Castleruddery Stone Circle and Baltinglass Abbey both in County Wicklow.
June was also a great month which included the family vacation on the island of Lanzarote. I also got to explore the stunning Piper Stones of Athgreaney and the lovely church ruins of Teach Mealóg to name but a few.
Things really got hectic for me in July, after visiting the fascinating 18th century neo-classical house known as The Casino. I was also lucky to have one of my images of the Moone High Cross published in the book ‘Treasures of Christian Ireland Vol II’ which was compiled by the religious publisher VERITAS. To top all this off I got to shoot the annual ‘Monasterevin Venice of Ireland Festival’. Which included some great events, including the Family Picnic in the Park and a fabulous display of Royal Irish Artillery by the towns very own re-enactment group ‘Lord Edwards Own’.
Moving on to August I finally tracked down the site of the Knockmaroon Cromlech in the Phoenix Park, Dublin. I also got to explore both Archibald Castle in Dalkey, as well as shoot a number of sporting events. I also finally got to finish my research into the elusive ruins of nearby Lackagh Church. The highlight of the month had to be the opportunity to get all three of my little ones involved in my explorations, and my ‘Little Ruinhunters’ really seemed to enjoy the adventure.
September was back to school for the kids, but the weather held its course which allowed me venture around the Offaly borders were I got to explore Blundell Castle and Kinnefad Castle. Then there was a rather spooky encounter whilst exploring the ruins on Skryne Hill.
With Winter in the air the countdown to Halloween begun, October began with a series of articles connected to the ancient Samhain traditions of Ireland. These ended up being included over at thefairytaletraveller as part of the #Monster a Day series. These articles included, The Countdown to Samhain, Tlachtga and the Sacred Flame, The Púca, Dumb Supper, The Bean-Sidhe, The Wizard Earl, Dearg-Due….. An Irish Vampire and An Dullahan – The Real Headless Horseman. I of the month on a personal note with a return visit to the Rock of Dunamase. This was the very first historic site that I had photographed back in 2011. It was amazing to see the difference between these two shoots.
November aside from marking another year on the planet for me, saw another collaboration with thefairytaletraveller were i covered the annual Bram Stoker Festival. My friend and fellow blogger Christa Thompson had kindly arranged a press pass for me, and so I spent the day up in Dublin covering the event, for which I wrote four articles The Vampire Hunt, Countess Dracula, Larry Beau and Dracula’s Fire Garden. I was also invited by an old friend to attend and celebrate the Dark Moon Samhain. This is basically the Celtic New Year which took place this year on Nov 2nd and should not be confused with the commercialised Halloween which takes place every year on Oct 31st.
Finally December rolled around quicker than any other year, aside from an abundance of festive post my highlight was the trip down to Carlow where I finally got to see the truly magnificent Neolithic structure that is the Browneshill Dolmen. I also got to check out the sacred Well and Medieval ruins at Ladychapel. Then we had a surprise guest come to stay with us all the way from the North Pole. Which pretty much leads us to the end of the year.
Hopefully I have not bored you too much with my ramblings, the clock is ticking and as the year comes to a close I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one off you for stopping by, following my blog, commenting and liking. I have met some really great people over the last year, all the support and advice received has been overwhelming at times and greatly appreciated. I now face the start of a new year with a daunting task. ‘How the hell am I gonna top this year’. Well rest assured it aint going to be easy but I am looking forward to giving it a good bash. So until next year:
Ba mhaith liom tú go léir ar Bhliain Nua sábháilte agus níos rathúla. Agus tá súil a fheiceann tú go léir i dhá mhíle is déag ceathair.
I wish you all a safe and prosperous New Year. And hope to see you all in 2014. 🙂