On Sunday last, we gathered at Youghal Bridge, Rhincrew area where the Blackwater empties into the sea. The western shore of this famous river was to be our project for day. We would explore the castles, bridges and woods of this ‘Irish Rhine’ from Youghal to Cappoquin, famous for it’s salmon fishing.
The river itself rises in the Mullaghareirk mountains in county Kerry at 750 feet above sea level and travels for 105 miles, firstly in an easterly direction. That’s an average fall of 7 feet in every mile! Then at Cappoquin, it takes a ninety degree turn southwards to Youghal. It passes through Rathmore, Mallow, Fermoy, Lismore and Cappoquin. In years gone by, it was used to transport coal from Wales and the schooners would take timber on the return journey. Much of the river is tidal, so the ships would unload and reload while sitting on mud, then wait for the high tide to sail again. Some might take half a load in Cappoquin and fill it up, downstream in deeper waters.
Our first stop was Templemichael. Here, we visited the ruin of a 14th century Geraldine castle where Walter Raleigh often stayed. There are the remains of a lovely spiral staircase there, with many limestone steps still in place. Here we met a local man, who filled us in on the history and stories of the area.
Alongside the castle is a church. This was lent to Catholics while the nearby Glendine church was being renovated. After that, it fell into a state of disrepair. We crossed a small tributary, The Toorig, and stopped briefly at the quaint Glendine church.
Onwards to Ballynatray Estate where, by kind permission, we visited Molana Abbey which was founded in 501AD. It is rumoured that leader of the Normans, Raymond Le Gros, is buried here!
From here, we enjoyed the wonderful Ballynatray House a bright yellow hue against the green hill behind, which is available for weddings and other events. It has its own boat house and salmon weir.
Next, was old Strancally Castle and then new Strancally Castle 1834 and Keep. After that, the road climbed and we had spectacular views of the river. Next, we crossed ‘The Bride’ using ‘Camphire Bridge’.The Bride is the main tributary and is navigable for 7 miles. Here, we got some nice shots of the stacks of reeds by the riverside being dried, ready for thatching.
We photographed Dromana House, high above the Backwater where the Bride joins in. Here, it is said, the old lady, Countess of Desmond lived to 112 years when she fell off a tree and died tragically.
Finally, we arrived in Cappoquin, as planned in time for our sunset and we were not disappointed. Some of us went down to the slip at the rowing club where we had the choice of shooting west along the river, towards the the 6 arch road bridge or south towards the long since decommissioned 5 arch railway viaduct with steel spans.
It turned into a spectacular sunset. Some of the members went on to Lismore and got great shots there also.
See our gallery from the shoot here. Enjoy!
- Kevin Day