Welcome to the second instalment with our intrepid travellers. In today’s episode we find our first castles!
9th May 2012- Day 2
“The day began in a haze of Dublin’s one way system and befuddling Irish driving, but to our destination we marched!
The first castle on the list was the castle of Ferns, a central point of settlement from which the Anglo-Norman expansion emanated. Its circular towers and fine brickwork set the castle in the wider Norman context; they knew how to build a good castle and fast. Note: it is surprisingly small.
The museum was not open, not were the toilets! so, enthused and bursting, we left for Enniscorthy.
As you enter the town the landscape changes from the rolling green hills of the Ferns to the luscious valley of Enniscorthy. The river cuts through the town like the rock of the valley itself. Serving a reminder that any settlement split by a natural phenomena still needs protecting all the way round it.
The castle itself has four circular towers, originally, and was encircled in a classic motte n’ bailey layout. Unfortunately, over time the castle has been reused and remodelled – making the fully restored castle we see today a far cry from the Norman castle we had hoped to find.
Following Enniscorthy we headed south beyond Wexford in pursuit of two elusive signs on our map. One a castle, and one a ruin. This trip served a good lesson for our travels ahead . . . Don’t Trust Irish Maps.
The ‘castle’ was an over elaborate manor house from the 19th century and the ruins were nowhere to be seen. After 30 mins hunting and groaning, from Ali obviously – I’d never moan – we thought we’d cut our losses and head to Wexford to eat.
Soda bread in hand with ham at the ready we descended on Wexford – a stark contrast to the last famous English descent on Wexford, I don’t think Cromwell was a soda bread, manwich kind of guy.
The town is pretty ordinary, as stupid as that sounds, no real impetus to the place but it had an intriguing bookshop that we lost an hour in, so all was well. With our time running out and our caffeine levels suitably raised we headed to our resting point in Craanford.
That night saw my Grandma celebrate her 88th year. An achievement in itself, excelled by her lucidity and sharp intelligence that she has maintained all these years.
My Granddad was on good form, coherent if repetitive. You can see his grasp of reality leave him more in the evenings now and his frustration strikes of a man still aware of what his mind could once do. I have nothing but time for the man, even if he does not know who I am. He is always polite and friendly, he doesn’t always know what to say but will fill the silence with either a tuneful hum or saying “good luck to you”. Ali was good with him, he says it reminded him of his own grandparents.
I thought a lot of home this evening. I sat by the fire helping Patch (the fluffiest dog in the world) get dry, petting his head thinking of Carly and Gus [puppy] and what they might be doing. Sleep may be difficult today, hence I am still writing, but hopefully the mind will shut off soon – maybe the waterfall outside will help?”