Jerpoint Park was delighted to be featured in Vagabond Travel Magazine in 2012. The feature was written by the well known travel writer and blogger Brendan Harding. It was great for future customers of Jerpoint Park to read about such an amazing heritage and culture tourist attraction in Kilkenny, and mark it for ” Things To Do in Kilkenny” when visiting Ireland in the future. This is a hidden heritage gem in Kilkenny & is only recently been opened to the public, and anyone who adores Irish heritage or Medieval Heritage. this is an unique site to unearth the medieval past & where a guided tour of a 12th Century Medieval Town plus the Tomb effigy of St. Nicholas can be visited. (Scroll down the page to Lost Towns and Found Saints).
Vagabond Travel Museum – May 18, 2012
Welcome to the Vagobond Travel Museum!
The web is full of great travel sites, travel stories, travel photos and travel videos – the hard part is finding them amidst all the garbage. Through the week, I curate the best travel stories I find at Vagobond Travel Media and then each Friday, I bring you the highlights here at the Vagobond Travel Museum. To let me know about a great story either contact me on G+, email me, or tap me on the shoulder.
These are my Travel Museum Inductions for the week of May 18, 2012.
I loved this article about unusual museums and how they generally start with private collections. Lately, I’ve felt pretty ‘museumed out’ but Beverley Bermeier’s fun article gave me a few I now want to visit from the Mueseum of Bad Art to the Patent Model Museum.
Nerd’s Eye View wrote a fantastic article this week called Shift, which talks about how ‘travel blogs’ and ‘travel bloggers’ have changed their audience from those who travel to those who sponsor travel. As those who saw my recent rants against ‘Travel Bloggers’ might expect – I found that this hit the nail on the head. What you might not expect is for me to admit that this article hits the nail on the head better than my rants. It does. I wish I would have written that! Thanks to Jodi Ettenberg (who, by the way is not a ‘Travel Blogger’) for pointing me to this story…
And, come to think of it, she also pointed me to this amazingly curmudgeonly and myopic piece by one of my favorite travel writers, Paul Theroux about my (and his) adopted home of Hawaii. Below is my response to Paul’s article. (by the way, the comments on his article are also worth reading) I was in Hawaii ten years and had a totally different experience. After two years of being there, being open to people, making friends both in the water, at work and in the neighborhoods – I found Hawaiian people to be incredibly inclusive, sharing and kind. What he missed is that you have to get past a serious history of exploitation, racism and transience in order to get past the barrier. White people who move to Hawaii are ‘fucking haoles’ (and he was wrong about the term, it means no breath and goes back to greetings etc) – all of them are fucking haoles whether it is said in private or publicly. And the thing is, they never stop being haole. Unless you have Hawaiian blood, you can never be Hawaiian but, once you pass a certain level of acceptance you are just a haole and it loses the fucking part, it loses the anger and the judgment. Haoles are white people that are just white people. Hawaii is a small place and when you have friends on an island you pretty much are connected to everyone there. I’ve never met Paul, but my friends tell me that he never stopped being a fucking haole. It’s part of what I love about his writing is that curmudgeon, judgmental quality – but one thing for sure, it doesn’t open any doors.
Brendan Harding shared his very enjoyable experience of Lost Towns and Found Saints in this nice piece about exploring places close to home and overcoming phobias of historical timelines.
Lost towns and found saints
It’s surprising what you’ll find right on your doorstep. On the banks of the River Nore in County Kilkenny, travel writer Brendan Harding discovers a gem at Jerpoint Park where history and tradition bursts to life.
Once upon a time, in the dark-ages of my education, I had a history teacher. This teacher’s idea of punishment for my inability – or perhaps unwillingness – to learn verbatim the chronological timeline of the Kings of England was to have me copy, by hand, the complete, twelve-page chapter from the history book – twice!
The result of this wrist-aching and futile punishment was this: not only did I not learn the dates in question, but I was soundly infected with an aversion to learning any historical dates, facts or figures for a very long time to come.
To this day I still find it difficult to control my attention span, as I follow in the wake of some well-meaning guide as they lead me through the transept or chancel of yet another ecclesiastical masterpiece; listing dates and names which, to my uneducated mind, are akin to the mumblings of a caller at a Sunday night bingo hall.
But then, very rarely, something happens and I am lucky enough to meet a person who has the ability, through sheer enthusiasm and plain language, to part the earth and bring history bursting to life. Joe O’Connell is one such man.
As we walk his windswept lands at Jerpoint Park, just outside the lazy town of Thomastown in the county of Kilkenny, Joe stops and leans on his stick. “I’m privileged,” he says, “to be the custodian of this place and to make sure that its here for the next generations to come.” And I can see he means it.
For Joe, along with his wife Maeve and their two children Annabelle and Nicholas, Jerpoint Park is their home; however, unlike most regular homeowners the family have been bestowed with a treasure trove of history buried in their very backyard, and what’s more, they’ve opened it to the public.
In the year 1200 a town was born here on their lands. The town was called Newtown Jerpoint and served as a trading centre on the newly built toll bridge over the river Nore. The town was mainly inhabited by tradesmen, craftsmen or merchants, engaged in buying selling and exchanging their wares on this busy thoroughfare of mediaeval commerce.
The town thrived for a further six hundred years and then as suddenly as it had arisen, it disappeared. It was as if a hand had swept the board of life and left the landscape clean except for the remains of a stone tower and an ample church.
But the town has not disappeared completely and with a little imagination and Joe’s guidance the town springs to life. Every hillock and mound, every hollow and pile of stones has a story. “If you follow this line,” Joe says pointing with his stick, “you can see that this was a street running from East to West.” And he was right. 1200 years after its foundation the street is still clearly visible. At its edges the boundaries of houses and farm plots are traced in the earth, discernable by the raised platforms now covered in spring grass. “And this is another street running from North to South. Where the two streets meet was the market square where they’d sell their animals and any produce they had.”
The land has another surprise, one I wasn’t expecting. In the cemetery beside the ruined stone church where headstones lean at awkward angles beside those of those of the mostly recently interred owners of the land, Joe pointed to the largest of the flat tombs. “What do you see?” he asked. Etched in the stone I could make out the shape of a man lying on his back, his hands open in giving. Over each shoulder a small circular face peered back at me. I outlined my thoughts as he smiled wryly. “This is the tomb of St. Nicholas,” he pronounced as if he was introducing me to another member of his family.
St. Nicholas was the Bishop of Myra in Turkey where he was buried after his death in the 4th Century. During the crusades the returning knights rescued his remains from the advancing Saracen armies and carried them to Bari in Italy where they were reburied. Legend has it that two knights removed the remains once again and carried them first to France and then here, to the furthest part of the Christian world where they would be safe forever. If the legends are to be believed, this large stone slab, lying in a windswept field in the county of Kilkenny, is the last resting place of one of Christianity’s best loved saints. It was a lot to take in.
Back at the house over hot tea and delicious scones, Joe and Maeve chatted like old friends. A mother and her young son arrived and joined the conversation clearly impressed by all they had seen. The couple explained that their vision for Jerpoint Park is not all about history. For a family day out there are pony and trap rides, nature walks, fishing on the river and even sheep dog demonstrations. “Would you like to see one?” Joe asked.
Outside the house – itself with a long and intriguing history – the sight of a man as he called a string of commands to a crouching sheepdog, who in turn herded a flock of white geese along the driveway only added to the surreal nature of the place. The face of the young boy who had joined us in the tea room said it all. You just don’t know what surprises lie waiting on your doorstep, until you go looking.
Jerpoint Park, Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny is located 2km south west of Thomastown. Traveling south from Thomastown towards out the Waterford road travel approx 1.5 miles, turn right at Grotto. Jerpoint Park is 250 yrds up the road on right hand side.
Tel: +353 (0)86 6061449
Jerpoint Park is a unique experience of country living, heritage and traditional activities in a very special destination.
• Guided tours of the lost town of Newtown.
• Sheepdog demonstrations.
• Angling on the river Nore as a solo or family activity – rods and tackle available for hire.
• Fun and adventure can be enjoyed in the gardens, woodland trail or miniature toy farm.
• Enjoy a river walk by the banks of the Nore.
• Delightful tea rooms in a period setting.