A Visit to Proleek Dolmen

Romance of Ruins

I have an update to my post “Proleek, Grandfather McCardle’s home” where we explored the site of the boyhood home of my grandfather, Peter McCardle, on great grandfather James McCardle’s Proleek farm. April 2018 an email arrived from the brother of the owner of the house across the road.  He recognized the property from the blog photography and reached out to introduce himself and share information. His own genealogical research suggested we shared a great aunt.  We now work together to define this connection.

Our tour of Ireland was bookended by a visit to the farm site and, located little more than a kilometer away, a 5,000+ year old portal tomb, the last site Pam and I visited. We parked at the hotel / golf course built around the monuments.  There is no fee to visit the site, number 476 on the list of Republic of Ireland National Monuments (Irish: Séadchomhartha Náisiúnta), protected at the level of guardianship by the National Monuments Act of 1930.  The townland is named after the dolmen.  The anglicized “Proleek” is derived from the Irish for “bruising rock”, as in a millstone. The grave is attributed in folklore to the resting place of the Scotch Giant, Para Buidhe More Mahac Seoidin, who came to challenge Fin Mac Coole.  

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Ballymascanlon House Hotel is on the R173, on the left heading from the M1 towards Jenkinstown.  Path to the monument is marked here and there and requires attention.  It helps to understand the general location of the monument on the property.  The parking lot and hotel are on the southern end, the monument is on the north end.

The path leads through the hotel grounds….

….and golf course…

…and you first encounter the megalithic Gallery Grave of a type named “wedge shaped.”

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The 22 foot long tomb gallery supported stories of a giant burial. Pam poses for a sense of scale.

These are the only ancient monuments in Ireland were a stray golf ball may be encountered.

A short way ahead is the dolmen, or portal tomb. The informational placard is in English and Gaelic.  There is an illustration of the stones covered with earth with a stone façade.

Some describe the formation as a giant mushroom with warts. The posting feature image is of the same aspect as the next photograph, with me for scale.

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We are surrounded on three sides by the golf course.  The “entrance” to the tomb, through the two upright portal stones, faces northwest toward Slieve Gullion, a mountain with its own Neolithic burial site next to a lake on the summit.  The mountain and the flat land, such as Proleek township, feature in the story of how the Irish hero Cú Chulainn came by his name.  To learn more, click this link for “On the Tain Way” the first of my posting that includes some stories of the hero.

The fifth hole.

We had a beautiful day, so I took time to capture all aspects.  The hedge is the northern property border.

The “warts” are stones. There is a local saying that success in placing three stones on top will give a wish or lead to marriage within the year.

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Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Irish Countryside: the Old Aghameen School

A schoolhouse ruin on the Cooley Peninsula near the Tain trail

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On Monday, June 9, 2014 John Mills, the first cousin of my mother, Catherine Wills nee McArdle, showed us the ruin of the schoolhouse used in the 1930 / 1940’s and which he attended as would Catherine if her parents hadn’t emigrated to Canada in the 1920’s.  Free public schooling was mandated in Ireland from 1831 and by the 1850s most Irish parishes had a schoolhouse, such as this in Ballymascanlon civil parish, as part of the National Schools.  When this piece was first published, Malachy Mills (a cousin), left a comment and clue…the name is Aghameen School.  The following information spooled out from that.

There is an Irish language site, Duchas.ie, with listings for Aghameen, a Louth township, the very one of the school and, very rightly, it is the name of the school.  There is even information from a teacher, Bean Ui Riada, who taught there 1937 – 1938, and posted information about local place names and legends.  Here is the link to his postings.  I learned from him that Aghameen is An tÁth Mín in Irish and means “field of the mountain meadow.”  You can see from the photographs the site is on the side of a mountain, pine forests all around.

Throughout her life my Mother had correspondence with her cousins who learned how to write in this very school.

The school existed at least since 1842. In private communication arising from this blog posting I learned a friend’s great, great grandfather, Denis Joseph Doherty, came from Donegal in that year to teach in the school and married a fellow teacher, Margaret Kane who was the girl’s school teacher. They raised a family while living at the school until moving to Jenkinstown. Margaret was from Jenkinstown, not far away and also on the Cooley Peninsula. They are Malachy Mills’ great, great, great grandparents through his mother.

Aghameen School is located on the Cooley Peninsula, County Louth, shown in the following Google Earth Image

Schoolhouse Ruin Overview from Omeath– CLICK ME!!!!

This is the exact location:
Latitude 54° 2’17.83″N
Longitude 6°16’3.08″W

To get there go to the cross-roads in Omeath and drive uphill for a few miles to a T-junction. Turn left and go through the Windy Gap past the Long Woman’s Grave (shown on the following Google Earth image). Take the right fork at the next Y intersection. Continue for 1.4 mile (2.26 kilometers) to a Y intersection, take the right fork. Continue .18 mile (.28 kilometer) to find the ruin is on your right.

Aghameen Schoolhouse Location– CLICK ME!!!!

I marked the a portion of the Tain Way with a red line where it passes near the Old Schoolhouse.

Aghameen Schoolhouse Location closer– CLICK ME!!!!

This is the road as viewed from the ruin looking south…..

Schoolhouse Ruin stone fence– CLICK ME!!!!

….and the distant view of the uniquely shaped peak Slievenaglogh to the southeast. Slievenaglogh in Irish is Sliabh na gCloch and means mountain of rocks. There is an identically named peak in the Mourne Mountains, to the north across Carlingford Loch. Slievenaglogh of Cooley Peninsula is an interesting element of south view from this valley.

Schoolhouse Ruin stone fence– CLICK ME!!!!

The ruin itself. Schoolhouse Ruin stone fence– CLICK ME!!!!

…behind a stone fence and gate posts.

Schoolhouse Ruin stone fence– CLICK ME!!!!

Overgrown with ferns, moss, grass…..

Schoolhouse Ruin stone fence– CLICK ME!!!!

…the ever present lichen.

Schoolhouse Ruin stone fence– CLICK ME!!!!

John’s son, Sean Mills, was with us.  That day, Sean lead us on Tain Way over the Golyin Pass over Slieve Foy with Carlingford as the destination.  Indeed, the Tain Way passes a few feet from this spot, being a loop of the Cooley peninsula. The Way is a two day walk, our starting point was a few miles from the schoolhouse.

Click for the previous posting in this series, “Happy Saint Patrick’s Day 2017”.

Click for the next posting in this series, “Annie Moore and her brothers”.Click for the next posting in this series, “Annie Moore and her brothers”.

Schoolhouse Ruin stone fence– CLICK ME!!!!

Irish Countryside: the Old Aghameen School, repost

Have a wonderful July 4th Holiday (from the USA)

Click me to visit this post from Ireland.

Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

On the Tain Way, repost

A place of myth and wonder on foot and approachable

Click me to visit this Ireland post.

Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Creeping up on 900 Readers….

….and a photographic gallery.

As of June 9, 881 is the count of subscribers to this blog, an interesting number. The individual numerals sum to a prime number, 17. I appreciate each and every “1” added together, you readers. Thank You.

Today, June 20, 5:44 pm Eastern Daylight Time, is the Summer Solstice for our Northern Hemisphere, the longest day of the year.

Here is a selection of images from past posts.

Click any photograph for a slide show. To do this from WordPress Reader, you need to first click the title of this post to open a new page.

Click Me for my Shutterstock Gallery

Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Mouse Collection

Happy Mother’s Day

Here is a project completed for a “Fundamentals of Photography” refresher course. The task is to use a variety of lenses of my choice to document scene from my surroundings. These photographs document a family heirloom, mouse figurines collected by my wife, Pam’s, mother, Patricia Crist, assembled by Pam into two display cases with assorted figures created by Pam’s daughter, Denna.

Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Creeping up on 800 Readers….

….or 800 creeping up on me.

797 is the count of subscribers to this blog, an interesting number. The individual numerals sum to a prime number, 23. The first and last can be swapped to yield the same number. I appreciate each and every “1” added together, you readers. Thank You.

Here is a selection of images from post posts.

Click any photograph for a slide show. To do this from WordPress Reader, you need to first click the title of this post to open a new page.

Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Pam’s Holiday Cranberry Pecan Salad

Our holiday tradition

You will be well-remembered for years when Pam’s salad is part of your holiday celebration. We hosted 2017 Thanksgiving and Pam’s salad was requested by her son and daughter’s families. When we went around the table to give thanks, our six year old grandson offered, “I am thankful for the jello”, meaning Pam’s salad.

My wife, Pamela Wills, perfected this recipe over the years as a nutritious and tasty dish she could make in advance.

Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas or Anytime

Holiday Cranberry-Pecan Salad travels well and is a visually appealing dish to share at parties.

Holiday Cranberry-Pecan Salad

Ingredients:

1 12 oz. bag of raw cranberries

1 6 oz. box of raspberry gelatin

1 6 oz. box of orange gelatin

3 cups orange juice

3 cups boiling water

1 large orange

2 large apples of your choice (I use sweet/tart/firm apples)

1 tablespoon orange rind

½ cup chopped pecans

Curly leaf parsley

3-4 small bunches of green grapes. I dip the grapes in water, then in sugar and let dry. Or you can use raw cranberries.

Directions:

  1. Boil water. In large mixing bowl pour water over raspberry and orange gelatin and stir until dissolved. Wait a few minutes until the gelatin cools down (keep stirring). Add orange juice and stir again. Place in refrigerator until gelatin is the consistency of raw egg whites. This is tricky step since, if you don’t let it set up enough, the fruit will sink to the bottom.  When set too much the fruit mixture won’t blend with the gelatin.
  2. In food processor finely chopped cranberries. By hand cut orange and apples into small bit-size pieces. Combine chopped cranberries, apples and orange. Fold in grated orange rind and pecans. Set this aside while waiting for the gelatin (see above).
  3. Fold fruit mixture into the gelatin. With a large spoon scoop up mixture and transfer it to a Bundt pan. Cover with plastic wrap and return to the refrigerator for several hours or until set.

To serve:

Dip bottom of mold into a sink of a few inches of luke warm water (not too warm or the gelatin will melt). Turn upside down on a large round platter or plate and garnish around the edges with parsley and the sugar-coated grapes or raw cranberries.

This is a great dish to share at a holiday party since you can make it in advance. My family prefers it over cooked cranberry relish and it is even good enough to serve as a dessert. It is easy to make, it’s festive and has always been a big hit. Enjoy!

Note: EAT the parsley garnish. Parsely is packed with vitamins and minerals.  Just 7.5 grams (a fraction of an ounce) contains 150+% of most people’s Vitamin K requirement and about 15% for Vitamin A and C.

Birthday Card

capturing a personality

Last year, you read about our grandson’s 6th birthday celebration in “Volcano Cake.”

 A year has passed and we were amused at the changes and what did not. He makes his own clothing choices and the shark shirt reappeared, surprisingly it still fits. GMa combed his hair and he refashioned it, messy and spikey is the look as in these photographs of opening the furry birthday card (“The Grinch” was the cake theme).

I used a Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM lens, tilted the flash to bounce off the ceiling to gently brighten his face. For the memories we left the kitchen “as is” in the midst of cake baking, decoration.

View a larger version of each photograph by clicking twice. First to open a page, a second click on the image will yield the larger version.

Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills