With 2014 drawing to a close, we come to the end of yet another year. The last few days I have been spending some time reflecting on a lot of stuff. Although the last couple of months have seen a few personal disappointments and have been slow on the ruin hunting side for a number of reasons which I wont bore you with here. I thought that I would take the time to reflect on what has been accomplished, instead of what I did not. And so similar to last year, instead of using the annual WordPress report, which is ok I guess if your into stats and figures, but I am not. I am far more interested in sharing my photography adventures with like minded people, (if you are still reading this, then that is probably you). I am going to share with you a snapshot of the past 12 months of my photo-blog adventure. You can check out the previous years snapshot for 2013 HERE if you missed it. And hopefully both my photography and writing have improved over the last 12 months
The year kicked off to a great start with a trip down to County Carlow, to explore the ruins of the striking Georgian Mansion that is Duckett’s Grove on New Years Day. January also saw the start of my almost weekly Re-work Wednesday series and a New Look Ruins map which allows you to find all the wonderful sites I explore, and hopefully a hell of a lot easier than I found them. So with my original Ruin Hunter map getting so big, I decided to break up the map into smaller ones, with the sites broken down by County location. So what you will now see when you click on the Interactive Ruins Map tab of my Blog is a series of Google maps, with one for each county that I have explored to date. This will be an on-going project for me which will be updated as I explore new sites. During the month I also visited Ballymoon Castle which was built at some time in the 13th -14th century and was home to the Earls of Norfolk for a time. Finally I visited the medieval ruins of Harristown Church in Kildare, where I learnt a valuable lesson. ALWAYS check your BATTERIES! When I arrived at Harristown, I noticed that not only where my camera batteries dead, but also my spares, so I ended up having to shoot the entire site using my HTC smart phone, Enough said, and a valuable lesson learnt?
Febuary was a rather somber month which begun with the passing of my beloved Gran Elizabeth Maud (Babs) Gunning, she was 95 years young and even though she is no longer with us in person, her presence is still felt. A couple of incidents throughout the year have affirmed my belief that she is still watching out for me. Gone but not forgotten.
Moving on, in Febuary, I also had the opportunity to do a portrait workshop with my local Camera Club. Its a great club, filled with some great people, but sadly I don’t get the time to join them for the weekly meetings as much as I would like too. We started off he day in the Curragh Army Barracks for the classroom part of the workshop and finished off later that day on the grounds of the Japanese Gardens & National Stud Farm in Tully. Were we got to work with some models. if you missed any of these posts, you can see the full series of images for each model by clicking on the highlighted links. Shirley, Orla, Barbara & Chelsey.
The month Finished off with some quality time, spent with my youngest little Ruin Hunter Dylan, were we visited not one but two Neolithic sites together. First up the Stone Circle of Broadleas which dates back to approx 2500B.C. and thankfully still holds some of its former energies. So much so, that it had a rather noticeable effect on Dylan. He is naturally a hyper, adventurous child whom knows no fear. but once he got a glimpse of the stone circle he was climbing over the fence and dashing across the field quicker than his Daddy could keep up. Finaly we stopped of at the Longstone of Mullaghmast, also confusingly referred to as the Lia Fail, which should not be confused with the false Lia Fail which resides at Tara.
March started off with a return visit to Black Abbey in Kildare for a proper exploration. I had first visited here in 2012, but had not been able to find an entry point and had to make do with some shots from over the wall in the National Stud Farm. Finally I found the entrance out off the main road and got to have a good look around the last of Kildare’s three Abbey’s. Next up was Donadea Castle, a 17th century Mansion House which was probably built on the site of an earlier Fortification. This year there was no Paddy’s Day Parade in Monasterevin, so we took the kids up to one in the nearby town of Portarlington. Then along with some other new sites, I stopped of to have a look around the little known Donnelly’s Hollow, which has a fascinating history and some myth regarding one of Irelands greatest prize fighters from the 19th century.
April saw me join in the Monochrome Madness Challenge, which was set up by fellow bloggers Leanne Cole and Laura Mackey. I joined the weekly challenge a bit late in the year but have thoroughly enjoyed not on contributing but enjoying many of the inspirational images which others send in. Then there was my bittersweet visit to Collbanagher where I witnessed the aftermath of the destruction of Coolbanagher Castle and came across an unexpected find in the form of a rather nice little ruined medieval church on the opposite side of the road. April was also a first for me where thanks to another great friend I have made through blogging, James King, I got to do my first Big Interview for Displaced Nation. One of the biggest events of the year, had to have been the Millennium celebration of the Battle of Clontarf, in which the great Irish King Brian Boru, killed 50 shades of S$%T out of the Vikings and thus ended their control in Ireland. Oh did I mention, that I am descendent from the Boru bloodline on my mothers side! The Millennium Celebration Event was held in St. Anne’s park Raheny and was a blast, I even bumped into some of my old re-enactment buddies. I ended my travels in county Laois this month with a visit to the Ring Barrow on the Great Heath and a stop off at the remains of the gatehouse at Sidheán.
May was a big month for my eldest son Ryan whom made his Holy Communion along with the rest of his class and of course, a big party was organized back at the house to celebrate with friends and family.
I made my first visit to the early Christian church at Sleatty in Co. Laois which is home to not one but two rather interesting if not crude early Christian crosses. And then thanks to a very helpful landowner I got to explore the stunning 15th century remains of Ballyadams Castle. Then on to the pre 12th century church of Killeshin with its rather stunning Romanesque architecture. May finished off with another trip with my eldest Ruin Hunter Ryan, where we visited the early Christian settlement at Old Killcullen with its ruined Round Tower and High Crosses and then to the The Pigeon Tower in Nurney
Much of June was spent exploring the Monastic city of Glendalough in County Wicklow. With its numerous monastic buildings and structures. I am ashamed to say that despite my best efforts I unfortunatley did not manage to explore all the treasures that Glendalough had to offer. So a return visit is planned for 2015 to remedy this. With its connection to my hometown of Kilnamanagh, where its founder St. Kevin resided prior to moving to Glendalough, this journey was of particular interest for me and I am looking forward to completing my explorations. In the mean time, some sites at Glendalough worth mentioning are of course the stunning Round Tower, which can be clearly seen as you enter the valley from the surrounding mountains. The 10th century Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul and of course no visit to Glendalough would be complete in my mind without hearing the story of the Deer Stone and its rather interesting connection to St. Kevin.
June came to a close with an invitation from one of my towns local re-enactment group to visit the Irish Military Vehicle Group Show, which was held down on Naas Racecourse. What a blast that was, with some stunning Military Vehicles on display, one of my buddies even managed to catch me posing. And my son Ryan’s school, St. Peter’s BNS held their Fun Run & Family Day in order to raise much needed funds for the school. And so that leads us to the end of the first instalment of my 2014 Photoblog adventure. I hope I haven’t been boring you, and that you enjoyed it as much as I have. Stay tuned for part 2 tomorrow.