Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Ponies at Castle Monea

Several places in Northern Ireland we saw some beautiful ponies. They are a little shorter than standard bred horses and are close coupled from shoulers to hips. While
they are generally of a slim and trim configuration, their legs look to be very well muscled. They tend to be "paints" somewhat like ponies associated with American Indian plains tribes but slightly smaller. They are not only beautifully proportioned and long legged, their faces are very comely as well.

I described them to an acquaintance and she thought that they were most likely Connemara ponies who are native to Galway. It turns out, using a search engine, I found that there are at least three breeds native to Ireland: the Connemara pony, the Irish Kerry Bog pony and the Irish draught horse. John Cunningham, our tour guide, says he will ask the castle grounds caretaker the next time he is in that area the name of the breed of these ponies.

Castle Monea is in the Monea district of Fermanagh and was built by the Scottish Hamilton family as a "plantation" fortified dwelling. It has very substantial walls roughly 30" thick with the building stones well cut and fitted. Cattle were protected from theft by an extension of these same walls, called a bawn. The bawn walls were about 5' high.

Peter Gurry, a follower of this blog who also has excellent Maguire DNA matches, sent in a comment to this blog shortly before we left for Fermanagh recommending that I visit Boa Island near Belleek in Lough Erne that has some famous carvings.
We missed Boa Island but I have read of the carvings on the internet and in some booklets purchased in Ireland. We also missed the carvings on White Island closer to Enniskillen but did manage to visit Devenish Island. Devenish Island was one landmark that was particularly interesting and dramatic to me. It contains Christian abbey ruins, some dating to about 650 AD. They feature one of the best preserved watch towers in Ireland.

You may notice pictures of castles that seem to fall ruin beggining at the top of the structure. I found this explanation interesting. The Devenish tower has to be "shaved" to prevent ruin. It seems that birds hide seeds in the uneven gaps where stone meets stone. The seeds germainate and some will try to grow into trees
which grow forcing the stones apart until gravity forces the stone out of the structure thus starting the process of ruin. I had wondered because it would seem more expected from castles to ruin from the bottom up due to siege weapons and undermining of the walls by "sappers".

That is it for this post.

There is an interesting feature in Lough Erne that turn out to be ancient articial islands created by pre Gaelic civilization. The builders set pilings into the floor of the lough and then made log walls to connect the pilings. The resulting forms were then filled with rock, sand and earth thus completing the artifical islands. The islands ranged from about 100 to 200 ft. in diameter and served as easily defended housing for several families and their live stock

1 comment:

pgurry said...

Sorry I think I put my comment onto the previous post.