The first one was the Heywood gardens in Abbeyleix. We drove down tree-lined lanes to Ballinakill, and parked the car near the old stone entrance to a formal garden, that featured a sunken pool. Stone turtles sat around the perimeter of the pool. All variety of flowers, colors and aroma circled around the garden and kept all three of us mesmerized with the beauty and the many creative photo opportunities.
There were lots of stone filigree and gargoyles which always pleases my eye. Everyday there is something to learn. Today, I learned that the word, “kill” in Irish is church, and ballina is town. Together it means church town.
We journied on to Rock of Cashel, by way of many small towns. One notable town had the unusual name, Horse and Jockey town. “This is a well known stop,” Peter said and noted the large restaurant. The route we took was the original old road. Traffic now goes on a relatively new freeway, and by-passes some of the towns we saw along the old road, including Horse and Jockey.
According to Kemberlee, who uses much of Ireland’s history in her romance novels, The Rock of Cashel was the seat of the kings of Munster; one king was Brian Boru in the 10th century. She has taken special interest in this king and the history surrounding him for her new book to be published in 2014, “The Diary.” “That is the year of the 1,000 birthday of Boru’s death,” she said.
Our third stop was the Emo Court House and Gardens at Laois. The massive house was built in 1790 for the Earls of Portarlington, in the neo-classical style. Gardens, a park, formal lawns, a lake and huge redwood trees make up the grounds.The building, green grass and statues were overshadowed only by a cute, and very busy, red squirrel who was busy eating acorns.
After the Emo House we went on to the ruins of the Rock of Dunamase, and on home to let Daisy and Poppy out of the house.
Kemberlee and Peter live near the National Stud area in County Kildare, where Ireland’s thoroughbred industry is home to magnificent horses, bred, reared and trained there. The Kildangan Stud owned by His HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is housed near their home.