The Secret Scripture walking tour

Book your tickets today via Eventbrite.

Book a ticket for the guided Secret Scripture walking tour and discover Sligo town at the turn of the 20th century, from the perspective of one Sligo family, follow in their footsteps and see where they lived, worked and played. The Sligo secret scripture trail, is a local history and literary tour based around Sligo town. The award winning author Sebastian Barry, set his novels in Sligo town and wrote about his family who resided in Sligo at the time. This tour will take you through the streets of Sligo where the characters walked, combining the books and social history of Sligo.

Organiser: Melcoo Tours

Email: melcooireland@gmail.com or info@melcoo.com

Phone: 353-85-2086386

Walking tour Sligo
Book a local history and literary tour of Sligo

 

Self-guided App Tours

You can also download an app I have created for the Secret Scripture tour.  The walking tour app is available on iOS and Android

Instructions:

Go to the Apple or Play store and search for Guidigo, download this free app, then search for Sligo Secret Scripture trail and sign in with a gmail, facebook or email account.

The app, guides you around several locations, the majority of which, can be reached on foot, the locations further out from the town, have been placed towards the end of the tour. We have suggested an order to explore the places but feel free to take the tour at your own pace, in whatever order suits you best. The map suggests a route of numbered stops but where you start and stop is entirely up to you. Instructions and directions are provided and you can check the map at any time, during the tour.

The tour is based around the books of author Sebastian Barry who set his novels, The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty, The Secret Scripture and The Temporary Gentleman in Sligo.

Book the Sligo Secret Scripture Walking Tour

Guided Walking Tour – Sligo Secret Scripture

The Sligo Secret Scripture Trail, is a literary & local history tour based around Sligo town and county.  The tour takes a snapshot of Sligo in the 1920’s and 1930’s from the viewpoint of one semi-fictional family, who lived and worked in the town.  The award winning author Sebastian Barry, set his novels in Sligo town and wrote about his family who resided in Sligo at the time.  This tour will take you through the streets of Sligo where the characters walked, giving you a sense of the local history and architectural heritage of the locations during this time.

Book your tickets today via Eventbrite.

You can also contact me on melcooireland (at) gmail dot com or call 353-87-7775058 to arrange alternative dates or book private group tours.

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The Secret Scripture trail is also available to download as an app from Guidigo.

Walking Tour App available on iOS and Android

Go to the Apple or Play store and search for Guidigo, download this free app, then search for Sligo Secret Scripture trail and sign in with gmail, facebook or email and download the tour to your smartphone.

The app, guides you around several locations, the majority of which, can be reached on foot, the locations further out from the town, have been placed towards the end of the tour. We have suggested an order to explore the places but feel free to take the tour at your own pace, in whatever order suits you best. The map suggests a route of numbered stops but where you start and stop is entirely up to you. Instructions and directions are provided and you can check the map at any time, during the tour.

The tour is loosely based around the books of author Sebastian Barry who set his novels, The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty, The Secret Scripture and The Temporary Gentleman in Sligo. Don’t worry, you don’t need to have read the books to enjoy the tour and no major spoilers are revealed, as the tour combines the books, social history, fashion and architectural heritage, to paint a picture of Sligo in the 1930’s.

To Edgeworthstown and Beyond

We took part in a new walking tour over the summer in County Longford.  The St. Mary’s to St. John’s & Beyond walking tour is an historical and literary trail based in the town of Edgeworthstown.

St Marys to St Johns and Beyond Walking heritage trail
St Marys to St Johns and Beyond Walking Tour (Click on images to enlarge & click outside of images to close)

The walking tour tells the history of the town and of the Edgeworth family and other famous literary figures connected with the family in County Longford, including the head of the family, Richard Lovell Edgeworth, who was an inventor, (find out what he invented here) and also about his daughter, the novelist Maria Edgeworth.

Maria Edgeworth Portrait
Maria Edgeworth Portrait in the Rectory

Maria Edgeworth, was born on 1st of January 1767 near Oxford in Great Britain but spent most of her life in Ireland.  Her novels include, Castle Rackrent and The Absentee, which were novels about Irish tenants and the Landlord classes.  Castle Rackrent was the first novel to give the ordinary Irish peasant a voice.

The tour starts from the gothic style St Mary’s Church, which is just off the N4 road in the town, we got an introduction on the Edgeworth family and a short history about the church.  The guide that day was Matt Farrell, he has a nice pleasant manner and is very knowledgeable and enthusiastic, which really helps to bring the stories and sites we visited to life.

St Marys Church Edgeworthstown
St Marys Church Edgeworthstown

We left the church and walked across the road into the grounds of the Manor nursing home which, was the ancestral home of the Edgeworth’s family.  We got to see the house and grounds where they lived and also the walled garden’s.

Edgeworth Walled Gardens
Edgeworth Literary Trail Gardens
Edgeworth Walled Gardens
Edgeworth Walled Gardens

As this is private property, it was great to view this site in particular on the tour.  We then moved onto the Main Street and found out about a few of the buildings in the town, this was very interesting as having passed through the town for many years, it was great to find out the background, one in particular was the connection to Charles Bianconi.

The Lodge Edgeworthstown
The Lodge Edgeworthstown
Porter House Edgeworth Trail
Porter House Edgeworth Trail

The tour then moved onto the Rectory and to St John’s Church and graveyard, where the Edgeworth family are buried.  We heard lots of interesting stories and history along the way connected to the Edgeworth’s and visitors to Edgeworthstown over the years, you can check, out the tour to hear all about them.

St Johns Church Edgeworthstown
St Johns Church Edgeworthstown

We were lucky to attend the walking tour during the Maria Edgeworth Literary festival and when we arrived, at the Rectory there was a short presentation by the artist Bernard Canavan as he presented a painting of the Edgeworth’s to the town, I really liked this painting it reminded me of Jack B Yeats work.  We also got to attend an interesting lecture on Maria Edgeworth given by Dr Derek Hand  in St John’s Church.

Matt Farrell Tour Guide Bernard Canavan Artist Edgeworthstown
The artist Bernard Canavan presents a painting to the people of Edgeworthstown

The tour is a great idea and is run by the Edgeworth Society and is a great boost to tourism in the county, I recommend doing the tour and afterwards, you can visit nearby Ardagh village.  This quaint village is synonymous with the poet Oliver Goldsmith.  (Check out our post here).

You can book a group tour or contact the Edgeworth Society through their website or on their Facebook page, to find out about their next organised public tour.

Landmark building in Clonmel

We are always visiting Clonmel as it is Richard’s home town,  a few months ago, we decided to do the heritage walking trail of the town. We used an old heritage trail illustration booklet that we had in the house, I checked online and can’t find a copy of it but I believe you can pick up a newer version in the Tourist office,

One of the main buildings in the town that you will see at the top of O’Connell Street is called The Main Guard.  In the late 1990’s, the building was boarded up and had fallen into disrepair, the OPW (Office of Public Works) took it over and spent a few years renovating it back to its original 17th century structure when it was used as a Courthouse.

The Main guard building Clonmel Clock tower and arches
The Main Guard building in Clonmel

Since it reopened in 2004, the OPW, maintain it and we didn’t realise until we were taking photos outside, that the building is now open to the public on a seasonal basis (April to October), it was opened on the Sunday of the May bank holiday when we visited, you can go inside and have a look around and admission is free. Richard, a local, had actually never been inside the building so it was great for him to see inside, this landmark in Clonmel.  When we visited there was a photography exhibition of Tipperary’s medieval castles and monasteries on the ground floor and upstairs there are some information banners and photographs of The Main Guard renovation project and on a Father Sheehy who was convicted of murder in the Main Guard building when it was used as a Courthouse in 1766, you can read more about the trial here.  I believe they use upstairs for exhibitions and history talks throughout the year and you can also arrange to have a group tour organised.  You can check out the heritage website here for opening times.

Brief history of The Main Guard building

(Click on an image to enlarge it and click outside the photo on the screen to close the image)

This elegant 17th century building occupies a prominent position in the Clonmel streetscape, closing the O’Connell Street vista at its eastern end.  The building is located at the intersection of the four main streets in Clonmel.  The Main Guard was built by James Butler, 1st Duke of Ormonde, between 1673 and 1684, as a prestigious courthouse for the Palatinate (Administration) of County Tipperary. Source: Clonmel Heritage Trail Booklet

The Mainguard building Clonmel Clock tower and arches
The Main Guard building in Clonmel

The building has many of the hallmarks of a Sir Christopher Wren design, and it seems likely that its architect was influenced by Wren’s works.  As well as the courthouse, there were private apartments, a dining room and a drawing room.   Source: Clonmel Heritage Trail Booklet

The Mainguard building Clonmel old thorsel
17th Century Architecture

The Main Guard was also used as a Tholsel in the 17th and 18th Century, which was a public office where tolls, duties and customs dues were collected.  It was also a convenient place for civic gatherings.  Source: Clonmel Heritage Trail Booklet

After a new courthouse was built in 1810, The Main Guard was converted and used at first as an army barracks, from where it got its current name and then later became a public house and shop.

The Main Guard
The Main Guard

The prominent arches have now been renovated back to the original design, the ground floor is an open arcade with 5 semi-circular arches at the west side and 1 arch on each side.

Stone archway The main guard building Clonmel
Stone archways at The Main Guard building Clonmel

This is the old Clonmel heritage trail illustration booklet we used for our self guided walking tour around Clonmel’s sights.  It has wonderful illustrations of the old buildings and sights around Clonmel. I’m not 100% on who the artist was, but the booklet states, designed by a Jim Fegan.

Clonmel Heritage trail booklet
Clonmel Heritage trail booklet produced by Clonmel Corporation.

In 1810, The Main Guard building was converted and the stone arches were enclosed, as seen in this illustration.  By the late 1990’s, the building had fallen into disrepair and was taken over by the OPW and renovated back to the original 7 arches.

illustration of the Main Guard building
illustration source: Clonmel Heritage Trail Booklet

Pictured in the late 1990’s before renovations. Up to recent times, The Main Guard building was used as a bar and grocery shop, called Cooney’s.  Image Source: OPW

Old photo of the Main guard building in Clonmel before renovations
Old photo of the Main Guard building in Clonmel before renovations

The trail we did is based around these information map boards pictured below, which will you find dotted around Clonmel.  The boards have a map of Clonmel and each board, includes the illustrations of the buildings and sights.

Clonmel walking Trail signs
Heritage trail maps dotted around Clonmel

Original form of the Palatinate Courthouse in 17th/18th Century setting with the town square and market cross.

Model of Mainguard from 17 and 18th century
Model of Main Guard from 17/18th century

This model depicts the way the building looked from about 1810 up to the 1990’s when the stone archways were enclosed and it was converted to stores.

Model of Main guard before renovations
Model of Main Guard before renovations

Exhibitions are held in The  Main Guard building.  This one was aerial photographs of Tipperary’s many medieval castles and monasteries.

Monastery exhibition inside the Mainguard in Clonmel
Photography exhibition
Inside the Main guard building in Clonmel
Information boards on the history of The Main Guard
Original stone walls inside The Main Guard
Original stone walls inside The Main Guard
Inside the Main guard building in Clonmel
Timber casement windows
View from the Main guard building in Clonmel
Click to enlarge, View from the 1st floor window looking down to the Westgate

Another tourist trail you can do around Clonmel is connected to the Butler Family.

Clonmel Trail signs Butlers
Tourist Information board on the Butler Family trail

The Main Guard building is very similar in style to other buildings we have come across on our travels around Ireland and I believe they also served the same purpose as a courthouse and tholsel. There are similar buildings in Kilkenny and in Westport.

Check out our other blog posts on Tipperary.

Let us know, if you have visited Clonmel or other sights in Tipperary to visit ?

Sacred centre of Ireland

We visited the Hill of Uisneach in Westmeath in the midlands of Ireland.  We got a guided tour at the Hill of Uisneach as it is Heritage week, we also got an archaeological lecture with Dr Roseanne Schot from University College Galway.

 

Dr Schot at Catstone
Dr Schot talking about the significance of the Catstone

 

We first heard of Uisneach, when we attended the Festivals of Fires a few years ago. Uisneach is the original seat of the High Kings of Ireland and there are many stone monuments on the large site, which is 4 kilometres in size.  There have been a few archaeology studies completed and a geophysical survey has taken place, which has identified evidence of different structures and stone monuments on the hill.  The lecture was very interesting, we learned so much about this site, from the mythological stories, ancient Irish history and archaeology.

Wood Sculpture
Wooden Sculpture on Hill of Uisneach

 

Uisneach was the home of the goddess Eriu, after whom Ireland is named. The views from the hill are beautiful and you can view mountains hundreds of miles away in other counties on a clear day, we could see the Slievebloom mountains in Offaly.

 

Catstone on Hill of Uisneach
Catstone on the Hill of Uisneach

 

There is a large stone boulder, which was left over from the Ice Age on the hill, which is called the Catstone, it has also been called  ‘Umbilicus Hiberniae’, ‘Axis Mundi’, and ‘the Naval of Ireland’

Notable visitors to the Hill of Uisneach, include Daniel O’Connell, Padraig Pearse and Eamon De Valera.

James Joyce also regularly visited the Hill of Uisneach while he was working in Mullingar in 1900 – 1901.

Hill of Uisneach Wooden Sculpture
There are several wooden carving sculptures dotted about on the Hill of Uisneach

 

The Hill of Uisneach is now including on Ireland’s Ancient East road map and there are plans to be build a small visitors centre. There are guided tours every week and you can also book a private tour, check out the Uisneach website for details.

All images: melcoo.com