ROYAL MUNSTER FUSILIERS

Royal Munster Fusiliers Memorial Ieper

Behind St Martin’s Cathedral in Ieper there is a Celtic cross that forms a memorial for the Royal Munster Fusiliers soldiers who died in World War One.

Royal Munster Fusiliers Memorial Ieper

A tricolour flies from a flagpole alongside the monument to mark its connection with Ireland and Co. Cork in particular. The plaque contains the coat of arms for Munster (the three antique crowns of the medieval lordships).

The symbol of Munster engraved on the memorial in Ieper

It reads: “In memory of those men of Munster who died fighting for freedom. A tribute erected by the people of the province and Cork its capital city.”

A tribute from Cork and Munster

There is also a similar inscription in Irish and one in French, where two wreaths had been laid.

Inscription in French

The Irish version of the English inscription reads as follows:

Irish inscription, Royal Munster Fusiliers Memorial

KINSALE FORTS

Kinsale Harbour from Charles Fort

Kinsale Harbour from Charles Fort

Two 17thC forts guard the entrance to Kinsale harbour in County Cork. The view shown here is from Charles Fort, built later than James’ Fort, a similar star-shaped stronghold on the other side of the inlet. This was designed to resist attack by cannon.

Entrance to Charles Fort

Entrance to Charles Fort

Charles Fort is built on the site of an earlier defence, Ringcurran Castle, which featured prominently during the Siege of Kinsale in 1601. The fort, named after King Charles II, was designed in the 1670/80 period by the Surveyor-general Sir William Robinson, who also designed the Royal Hospital in Kilmainham, Dublin.  It was one of the largest forts built in Ireland and had three bastions, projecting outwards from the main wall, facing the land, and two half-bastions where the walls reached the water. When combined with the guns on the opposite side of the approach to Kinsale, these guns would be a serious deterrent to any potential invading force.

Charles Fort (Wikimedia Commons)

Charles Fort (Wikimedia Commons)

The fort was besieged by John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough (a relative of Winston Churchill) in 1690 during the Williamite War. Repairs were made following the siege, and the fort remained in use as a British Army barracks for several hundred years afterwards. It had its own hospital block as well as a parade ground. A very helpful guide from the Office of Public Works gave a very interesting presentation on the history of the site.

An early lighthouse was established here in the 17th century. British forces left the fort following the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1921, but it fell out of use after being burned by the retreating anti-Treaty forces during the Irish Civil War in 1922. The complex was declared a National Monument in 1971 and has been partly restored by the heritage service, Dúchas.

Abandoned buildings, Charles Fort

Abandoned buildings, Charles Fort

BLARNEY STONE

P1100818Many years ago when I was a child on holidays I remember my father bringing us to Blarney Castle and kissing the stone. At least I have a vague memory of it and if it has done me any good then nearly forty years of broadcasting can be my proof!

Blarney Castle

Blarney Castle

Although I remember that visitors had to lean backwards to kiss the stone, while being helped to hold on to two iron bars, one on each side, I cannot remember the surroundings very well. So it was a pleasure to be able to visit the Castle once again, this time with a coach party of fifty (**in deference to my wife and at least two others I must add the word: MAINLY) retired people from the Tyrone and Monaghan areas.

The 100 or so steps inside the castle tower are narrow and steep and you have to be careful not to knock your head when you go through entrances or archways. But the view from the battlements is worth the climb.

Battlements, Blarney Castle

Battlements, Blarney Castle

Kissing the famous stone is said to give you the “gift of the gab”. The story has featured in movies, including one starring Bing Crosby, as one of the information boards reminds visitors. The history of the Castle can be found here. Blarney Castle, as viewed by the modern day visitor, is the third building to have been erected on the site. The first in the tenth century was a wooden structure. Around 1210 A.D. this was replaced by a stone structure which had the entrance some twenty feet above the ground on the north face. This building was demolished for foundations. In 1446 the third castle was erected by Dermot McCarthy, King of Munster and the keep still remains standing.

Blarney House

Blarney House

Blarney House was designed by Sir Thomas Lanyon and was built in 1874 by the Jefferyes family. It is in the same Scottish baronial style as Stormont Castle or Castle Leslie. It is private and only open to the public during the summer. It is the home of Sir Charles Colthurst. It was interesting to see him interviewed in a recent television documentary on Ireland presented by James Nesbitt on UTV.  P1100838