The mysterious woman on the plaque……

Have you ever heard of Annie M.P. Smithson?

I hadn’t until our Guided Heritage Walk on 19th August last brought us past her former temporary residence – a small cottage near Kilnasoolagh Church of Ireland chuch in Newmarket-on-Fergus, Co. Clare.

A few of us stopped outside the wall of the cottage as we were intrigued by a concrete plaque which hung on the wall of the cottage which read “Chónaigh ANNIE M.P. SMITHSON Údar agus Banaltra anseo 1907 – 1910”.  For those who don’t speak Irish (or those that have forgotten it from your school days) it reads “ANNIE M.P. SMITHSON Author and Nurse lived here 1907 – 1910”

I took a photo of this plaque so that I could do a little bit of research on this lady and her link to the area. I must admit I was a little in awe when I started doing some research on this lady and her fascinating life.

Annie Mary Patricia Smithson was an Irish novelist, poet and Nationalist. She was born into a Protestant family in Sandymount in Dublin in September 1873.

Her mother and father were first cousins and her father died when she was young. About 1881 her mother married her second husband, Peter Longshaw, who owned a chemical factory in Warrington in Lancashire. As a result Smithson lived for a number of years in England. She disliked her stepfather and referred to him always as Mr Longshaw. There were five children from this marriage.

She was christened Margaret Anne Jane, but took the names Anne Mary Patricia (Annie M.P.) on her conversion to Catholicism.  She converted to Catholicism in March 1907 and became a fervent Republican and Nationalist. She became a member of Cumann na mBan and campaigned for Sinn Féin in the 1918 general election.

Smithson always had dreams of becoming a journalist but abandoned this ambition in order to train as a nurse and a midwife. She trained in London and Edinburgh, before returning to Dublin in 1900. In 1901 she took up a post as district nurse in Millton, Co. Down. There she fell in love with her colleague Dr James Manton, a married man. Deciding that a relationship was impossible, she left Millton in 1906. They kept up a correspondence until her conversion to Catholicism in 1907, when she burnt his letters.

 

She was Secretary and Organiser of the Irish Nurses Organisation from 1929 to 1942. She wrote for the Irish Nurses’ Magazine and edited the Irish Nurses Union Gazette.

In 1917 she published her first novel, Her Irish Heritage, which became a best-seller. It was dedicated to those who died in the Easter Rising of 1916. Smithson published many journal articles but is best known for her romantic novels which have a strong Nationalist tone. In all, she published twenty novels and two short story collections. Other successful novels included By Strange Paths and The Walk of a Queen. Many of her works are highly romantic and draw on her own life experiences, with nationalism and Catholicism featuring as recurrent themes. In 1944 she published her autobiography, Myself – and Others.

From 1932 onwards she shared a house in Rathmines, Dublin with her stepsister and her stepsister’s family. She died on 21 February 1948 of heart failure at 12 Richmond Hill, Dublin and was buried in Whitechurch, County Dublin. What an amazing life she led….and she lived in Newmarket-on-Fergus.

Just goes to show, you never know the history you are passing by when you are out for a walk!

A fantastic day on one of our newest Looped Walks

It’s not often in this country that we are worried about walking 7km in such heat but this happened us recently with our Guided Walk for Active Agers from Tulla on 28th June.

Despite the heat, even at the early start time of 10:30am, 12 brave walkers joined us at our office in Tulla armed with sun-cream and bottles of water to walk the Cloondorney Looped walk. This loop took us from Tulla along the banks of Cloondorney Lake and we returned  to Tulla on a track which was previously only used to get access to the bog.

Up until recently this track was waterlogged and impassable by foot in some parts. However, with grant funding through the Outdoor Recreation Scheme administered through Clare County Council, we were able to do some repair work to this route which has now created a fantastic 7km looped walk which follows quiet county roads, forestry and bogland. We were glad of the gentle breeze while walking along the banks of Cloondorney Lake, which is 40 acres in area and holds most species of coarse fish.

Welcome cups of tea & coffee and some fresh baked scones from Flappers Restaurant in the Clare Walks office on our return gave us a great opportunity to have a chat and cool down.

The next Guided walk for Active Agers will take place on Thursday 26th July @ 11am (Route TBC).

 

 

“Heaven on Earth”

16 eager walkers put on their hiking boots last Saturday, 21st April, to ‘Battle Ballycuggaran’ – a 6km looped walk along part of the East Clare Way.

This guided walk was organised to highlight and promote the activities available on/near the Lough Derg Blueway. The Blueways in Ireland are a set of multi activity trails and sites which are closely linked with the water. The Lough Derg Blueway encompasses a series of Blueway paddling trails with many complimentary walking and cycling trails.

The Ballycuggaran Looped Walk  starts at Two-Mile-Gate, just outside Killaloe. The walk follows forest road, forest track and minor road through dense forest and open hillside on the shoulders of Feenlea Mountain and Crag. The beautiful expanse of Lough Derg lies below you.

It would not have been possible to have better weather for this walk. The sun shone down, there was hardly a cloud in the sky and the views were spectacular.

It was such an enjoyable walk that I think we will have to organise another guided walk at some stage during the Summer months, so watch this space! However, if you would like to try this walk yourself, here is a link to a map of the walk. 

 

Guided Walk on the Lough Derg Blueway – Saturday April 21st @ 11am:

Want to experience the Lough Derg Blueway? Come along and enjoy a free Guided Walk on the Ballycuggaran Loop, along the East Clare Way walking route, where you will see the beautiful expanse of Lough Derg beneath you.
This walk is 7km and follows forest road, forest track and minor road through dense forest and open hillside on the shoulders of Feenlea Mountain and Crag. Please bring suitable walking shoes/boots, waterproof clothing and fluid. MEETING POINT: Two-Mile-Gate, Killaloe @ 11am.

Click here for a detailed map of the walk

Guided Walks for Active Agers (Over 50’s) – Thursday 15th March 2018

Due to current weather warnings in place, the Clare Walks Ltd. Guided Walk in Tulla will NOT go ahead as planned tomorrow (Thursday 1st March). We have re-scheduled this walk for Thursday 15th March 2018 at 11am. Apologies for any inconvenience caused.

This guided walk will now take place on Thursday 15th  March 2018 at 11am near Tulla.

This walk will start at Ardboula Farmhouse which lies 4km from Tulla town. Ardboula Farmhouse is an 18th Century beautifully refurbished farmhouse located within a 33 hectare working cattle farm. Owners Christine and Willie O’Brien have been running this as a self-catering business since August 2014. There is free and secure parking at Ardboula Farmhouse.

See directions to Ardboula House here

We will leave Ardboula Farmhouse and follow quiet country roads, which will lead us past rivers, forestry, unspoilt landscape and historical features. This looped walk is just under 9kms and will finish with an optional refreshment stop at Ardboula Farmhouse.

The walk is mostly on flat surface. Please bring suitable walking shoes/boots, waterproof clothing and fluid.

See details of the walk here

For further details contact us on 065 683 5912 or 086 358 6293

info@clarewalks.ie  or Find us on Facebook

Time to Grow

Have you ever wondered how to go about growing your own seeds or starting your own garden? It doesn’t really matter where you live, you can start growing. So why not buy one of our herb gardens hand made from left over wooden pallets?  And check out these useful tips from our neighbours at Irish Seed Savers in Scariff.

Hand Made Herb Gardens – €12.50 each

Come and take a peek……

Some of the fantastic pieces made through our Humble Jumble upcycling project are now on our window display at our office on Main Street, Tulla.

Why not come along and take a peek….

Active Agers Back on Track for 2018

On possibly the driest day we have had so far in 2018, 27 eager walkers showed up in Quin last Thursday to take part in the first guided walk of the year for Active Agers (Over 50’s).

We departed from Quin Hall passing by the 14th century Quin Abbey; the ruins of St. Fineen’s Church and headed towards Ballyhickey, where we passed the remains of the Lead and Silver Mine. Metal was discovered here in 1834 and by 1838, 2,500 tons of ore had been shipped via Clarecastle to Wales for smelting. From here we continued past Clooney-Quin GAA club and bacl to Quin village, walking just under 7kms.

A most enjoyable walk and it was a great novelty to be out walking in dry weather.

The next walk will take place on Thursday 22nd February on part of the East Clare Way (exact route to be confirmed). Hope to see you then.

First Guided Walk of 2018 for Active Agers

Come along and join in our guided walk along part of the Mid Clare Way walking route. We will leave Quin Community Hall, Quin at 11am on Thursday 25th January 2018 (weather permitting) for a 7km walk passing Quin Abbey, St. Fineens Church and Ballyhickey Lead Mine. This walk is mostly on quiet roadways with no hills.

There is an optional coffee stop in Quin when we return.
The walk is primarily for Over 50’s but everyone is welcome. The walk is free/donations are optional. All monies rasied will go towards the future maintenance and upkeep of the East Clare Way & the Mid Clare Way walking routes. Please bring suitable footwear, raingear and water. Dogs are welcome but must be kept on a lead at all times.

Spectacular views over Scariff……………….

Despite the cold, 13 eager walkers headed off from Scariff on Thursday last to walk the Sheaun Loop – approx. 8km. It didn’t take long for us to heat up a little however as we hit some of the inclines on the route but these were so worth the walk as we had the most amazing views over Lough Derg, Holy Island and Scariff town. It was such a beautiful clear day that we could see for miles……..

Afterwards, we had very welcome cups of coffee, bowls of soup and delicious raspberry scones in the Home Cafe. A very enjoyable way to spend a cold morning in East Clare.