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26 May 2012


25th May. 
After a pleasant overnight with family in Dublin, we set off south to Wexford to visit Jeremy and Rosie Hill at Monksgrange.  The weather is wonderful and flowers and colour everywhere.  The gardens are beautiful.  We are surrounded by the colour of rhodendrons, azaleas, bluebells and primroses and listened to the delightful sound of a happily flowing stream between the rocky paths. The parklands around the house are dotted with new lambs and foals amongst the grand old trees.  At the stables we watched while a mare was being scanned for pregnancy and could see the tiny 16 day fetus inside her.  We had to wait on the driveway while a mother shooed her new baby lamb across in front of the car.  

sculpture garden 

Now we are in Mallow, after an uneventful journey from Monksgrange to Cork.  Great new bridge bypassing Waterford - what a difference that makes to time and comfort compared with the last time we were here!

Contemplating the River Lee in Cork - looking over towards Grenville Place
Cork was fine, we just parked in a car park and wandered around doing our bits of history research.  Visited St Finnbarres, and St Peters, but found no trace of the Lombard name anywhere.  A major problem was that it was practically impossible to read the weathered inscriptions on the old tombstones.  Also a new organ was being installed so the cathedral was very restricted inside. Interesting the connections with France, the Hugenots were in that area, and of course the gothic style of building inspired by the French gothic.  It reminded us of Chartres on a smaller scale.   However the stained glass a windows are a bit cheerier than the French Catholic - much softer in subect.  The French stained glass seem to be full of martyrs, torture, blood and guts hanging out, suffering of every description - just an observation. 
Had a very pleasant time watching an otter catching and eating fish in the river - it was very lively and looked up at the admiring crowd as if to say "watch this one!"

Summer seems to have come with us!  

Lombardstown and Kilshannig:

What a very successful and exciting day was coming up.  
We set off first for Lombardstown and called into the Post Office to make some enquiries about the history, also to ask where we could find Lombardstown House.  There we met the Post Mistress, Catherine Healy-Byrne, who was very taken with our story and delighted to help us. We were devastated to hear the news that Lombardstown House had burnt down only a couple of months ago.  The present owner who did not live locally, had rented the house out and a few months ago it was destroyed by fire.  No one knows what happened, and everyone was very sad to see such a magnificent house destroyed.  We tried to find access to the house but the gates were chained and padlocked, and we couldn’t see the building from the gates.

We asked for directions to Kilshannig church to visit the graveyard there.  The locals have that very complicated Irish way of giving directions:  we listen madly to the detailed directions only to be told, "no, don't go that way...  go on ahead..."The church has been deconsecrated, and now belongs to the Cork County Coucil.  The grounds and graves are very overgrown.  We waded through nettles and brambles and with great excitement John found the Lombard family tomb. The massive stone cover was carved with many generations of the names of the Lombard 

family who were buried there.  Names, dates of birth and dates of death, where they were from and their wives were from, were carved into the stone slab.  It was very hard to read as the carving was extremely weathered.  However, we felt a great sense of achievement having found it.

With difficulty we clambered unto a tomb near the side of the church so we could peer in the windows.  The inside has been painted and used for some gallery or some such thing, so nothing much there.   We decided not to bother looking for the key.

After that we needed a rest, and took ourselves to a small village pub at Gortroe.  A lovely pub, with a football theme, and car registrations from all over the world covering the walls, along with wisecrack sayings, such as: “Would you like to speak to the man in charge, or the woman who knows what happens?”  A chatty friendly host and locals at the bar, were delighted to discuss the history of the place and hear about our search.  We picked up some good information there.

Shortly afterwards we had a phone call from the kind Post Mistress telling us that her neighbour Tim Ring had the keys to the house gates.   We dashed back to Lombardstown and met not only Tim Ring, but another local historian Donie O’Sullivan.  They are all fascinated by our search, and we exchanged contacts and had a long chat. 

We proceeded up the road and picked up Tim Ring who took us to the house.  He unlocked the padlock on the massive iron gates and with difficulty we pushed them open.

The house appeared gaunt and ghostly. It is an ugly picture presently, the walls are still standing, with gaping holes where the windows had been and the ground around is covered in smashed fragments of grey slate from the roof. The structure is extremely fragile.   A smell of burnt wood and old ash still hangs about the air.

It was a strangely narrow house, four stories high, built of red brick imported from England, evidently because it was ‘cheap’. 
The remains of an ornate front door arch, and a window frame above it, copying the same shape are still there. Fireplaces hang out of the walls above.  But not one trace in the house of anything personal, I could not see any remains of wall paper, or beams, or any furniture.  The only thing that seems to have survived is a dog kennel out behind the kitchen.

We finished up the day by calling in to see a woman called Patricia Foot on Tim Ring’s advice.  However, she could not tell us anything more than we already knew.  Her family have lived in the area for 300 years and they also have a vault in the Kilshannig churchyard.   She was very kind and gave us a cup of tea and delicious orange cake!  A nice pick-me-up at the end of a long day.
We are now back in our room, uploading photographs and sipping a white wine before going out to dinner.


We have just had a delicious breakfast at the B&B, cereal, fruit and yoghurt, scrambled eggs and smoked salmon.  Had dinner last night at a local Indian, hot vindaloo, pretty good. 
Off to Lombardstown again today!

1 comment :

Dianne said...

What an eventful visit you are having! So glad to share it with you and John vicariously through your lovely blog!

We are in California now, enjoying the warm weather. We hear there were BIG winds in Exeter yesterday. Hope our Manchurian Pear survived unscathed...