Charleville, Emo and More

corey says…Today I toured with Harry and Rick from Philadelphia. We made a bee-line for Charleville Castle near Tullamore. After one wrong turn, we found our way to the grounds. Next weekend, Charleville is hosting the Tullamore Show, so there was a lot of activity on the drive up as men were putting up gates and fences to hold the vast amount of livestock.

We then parked on a wooded side-road and took the path to the castle. It’s a nice approach with some very large trees along the way. When we reached the gates near the house, it was clear something big was about to happen at the castle or had just happened. In truth, the grounds immediately around the castle were trashed.

Ends up Castlepalooza, a two-day concert event, had gone on over the weekend. Signs of a stage and vending carts remained and there was a lot of rubbish on the ground.

The front door of the castle was open, but the interior door was latched, and it was pretty clear that there wouldn’t be any tours today. I wasn’t going to let that stop us from exploring the exterior.

We coursed our way around stacked tables and chairs to the back. The yew-lined yard was a sea of tents, inflatable mattresses and trash. There really weren’t anyone staying in the tents, but it was clear that they had been there recently and left behind their bottles, plastic bags and “Massage Available” signs.

Directly behind the castle was the Castlepaloobus which was a rickety old bus that must have been used to pick up concert-goers. There was a variety of messages painted on the bus…included a section inside labeled “VIP Area” it appeared to have ratty old living room furniture in it.

There were a few twenty-somethings on the grounds pushing wheel barrels filled with rubbish, but otherwise there weren’t any other people around. We poked around the crumbling stables and zigzagged around the grounds a bit. The leftover party atmosphere was very strange…especially in contrast to the grandeur of the castle.

Something tells me that they’ll have the place cleaned up by Friday for the Tullamore Show.

Emo Court & Rock of Dunamace
We then slipped down to Birr for lunch at the Thatch Restaurant and then headed for Emo Court. It was turning out to be a magnificent day and the tour there was great. There was an International Flower Show on the grounds, but it was a separate admission, so we decided to skip it.

We then crossed the M-7 highway and visited the Rock of Dunamace…or course not without a wrong turn…for some reason the Rock of Dunamace isn’t well sign posted at all…and it’s one of my favorite sites.

This was the first time I had been there when there were other people wandering around. I’ve gotten so used to having it all to myself, I was almost annoyed…even though there were only two other cars in the carpark.

There were some suspicious youth hanging out there…the trio approached Rick and was asking him where he was from. It could have appeared that they were just being friendly, but something told me these guys might be trouble. A little while later they headed down the hill to the carpark, and I spent the rest of the time making sure they knew I had the car in my sights. In the end, they just drove off, so maybe my concerns were all for naught.

Heywood Gardens & Shanballycourt Cairn
After Dunamace, I made sure Rick and Harry had their first 99 (ice cream). They seemed quite pleased. Filled with 99s, we wound our way to Heywood Gardens in Ballinakill near Abbeyliex. It was evening and the light was just right. We enjoyed some cheese and crackers in the circular garden before making our way back home.

Along the way, we caught a glimpse of Armayle Castle and visited Shanballycourt Cairn in Rear Cross. This is a megalithic tomb that really only get local visits. Considering how many THOUSANDS of years it goes back, it’s amazing anything is standing at all.

We finished off the day with a pint at Ryan’s Pub in Killoskully…that’s where they film Kilinaskully. A perfect finish to a fine day.

Author: Corey

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  1. 41/42 Gardens of Ireland | Irish Fireside - [...] 09:00 Heywood Gardens, Ballinakill, Co. Laois [read our blog about this destination] [...]

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