Tuesday, 9 September 2014

The Town at the Ford of Elderflowers.


This is the thirteenth century St. Laurence's Gate at the bottom of my road, it is one of the finest examples of a medieval barbican gate in Europe. It stands as an imposing protective gateway to the medieval city of Drogheda and is potentially a defence against invasion from the sea. It is one of the main reasons we were so attracted to our street when house hunting.
'But', my children say, 'Can you go up it?' Er, well no actually since our local council does see fit to open one of our medieval treasures to allow the people and the tourists of Drogheda to interact with our history, but that is a rant for another post.

'We want a castle!', they said. So, while on holiday during the summer, we took them to St John's castle in the beautiful village of Carlingford, also in Co. Louth.

(image from www.geograph.org.uk. copyright jai, licensed for further use.)
(image from The Dublin Penny Journal 21st July 1832, link here)
'But, can you go up it?' they demanded. Well no, sorry but you can walk around it. Look at the lough, can you see the boats? 'That is not a proper castle,' they insisted. 'We want one that we can go inside!'
Right we said, you want a castle! We will give you a castle. So we went on a trip to Trim, Co Meath.
Trim castle is the largest Norman castle in Ireland and was once part of the lands of Hugh De Lacy, the Anglo-Norman lord who founded our own Drogheda.
Trim is a charming little town also on the banks of the River Boyne and I love its poetical Irish name which is Bailie Atha Troim which means 'town at the ford of elderflowers, isn't that pretty? While the kids and Mr S went exploring the castle I was left to explore and look after Rosie as dogs are not allowed in the grounds of the castle. We found so much to see:

Pretty pastel houses:

Incredible vertiginous ruins:

Beautiful stonework:
A gorgeous river walk out to Newtowntrim Cathedral:
Leave the castle behind and say ahh to the donkeys,

Take a seat on a fallen acorn and look out over the porchfield into the big sky,
Stroll back into town and wait impatiently for the rest of the family to come back down from the castle so you can nip into the yarny treasure trove that is:
Marvel at the knitted goodies in the window:
Treat yourself to one fat squidgy ball of raspberry pink merino and one downy soft skein of grey alpaca, finish off in the sweetie shop and drive home tired but happy.
Later, we ask the children if they thought Trim Castle was a 'real' castle, - 'Hmph', said E with derision, 'It is still just a ruin!'



  1. What a beautiful name for a town! Folks were so much more poetic and practical in those days with names. I love your castle at the bottom of your road- what a gorgeous thing to have on your doorstep. If you bring the kids to England, take them to Portchester Castle near Portsmouth- that's a great castle with full access, or Dover which has the medieval hall laid out as it would have been 700 years ago, complete with folks in costume. x

    1. That is a great recommendation CT, the kids would just love that castle.

  2. Fabulous day out. The wool shop looks a corker.


    1. It is Jean, I would have loved to take some pictures of the interior and had a chat with the two ladies who were running the place but the kids were a tad 'over-excited' by this point!

  3. What a wonderful gate to have right at the end of your road! We're very much a 'castle family' and you really can't beat a climb up a tower. Or a visit to a wool shop, either, actually.
    Any more ventures towards the sewing patterns?!

    1. Hi Louise. Sorry for the late reply! Alas no sewing at the moment, just pottering along at the moment. I did order the correct size in the McCalls skirt pattern so when I get a spare few hours I will be having a go at that. Hope you and yours are all well, has your son gone off to Uni yet?

  4. I do pottering very well, Shauna - I find it quite an under-rated activity! Yes, Alex went to uni and seems to have settled in well, thank you. It was a stressful weekend and I could honestly have sobbed my way back along the A3 but the presence of husband and younger son in the car kept it all inside!

    1. Oh, I think you were very brave, it must have been so hard to leave him. Still you should be very proud, I guess a large part of good parenting is to prepare them for leaving home. Eek!
      Thanks for dropping by Louise, so nice to chat to you.