By Jimmy Rhatigan
IT IS with respect that we say one would have to be stone mad to live in the wonderful village of Windgap and its hinterlands in South Kilkenny.
For everything about this wonder of the world, rich in culture and steeped in history, is written and carved in stone.
The Old Village Forge is a stone building that, if it could speak, would tell super stories from other times.
Kiltrassy Church, Moat and Standing Stone are simply magnificent and unbelievably interesting.
Then there is the Old League House, Killamery Church and High Cross, Calvery Grotto, Knockroe Passage Tombs, the Slate Quarry and Lamogue Ogham Stones.
The beauty of stone and its place in Irish history are fully illustrated in a village and hinterland that is a virtual Aladdin’s Cave of times past, a sensational journey into other eras, as precious relics of yesteryear are gently cared for by local people who are obviously proud to call themselves sons and daughters of Windgap.
There are amazing stories around all the stone edifices, monuments, hidden and not so hidden treasures that make Windgap a truly marvellous place to call home and a sensational area to visit, a journey well worth making, a trip to be repeated over and over again.
The Old League House has a history second to none. It was built in 1881 during the time of the Irish National Land League, a political organization of the 19th century which had the aim of abolishing landlordism.
The house was built to shelter evicted families and later served as a home for many local families.
The sad part is that in modern Ireland we still have families being evicted but not enough houses are being builte to provide shelter for unfortunate parents and children who are thrown out on to the street by unscrupulous and oft brutal landlords, aka vulture funds, that are as active today as their forebears were in another era.
The Old Forge is another gem. On a local map it was recorded that the old Smithy was 100 years old in the late 1800s.
James Walsh from Kilcash carried on as Village Smithy until his death in 1919. His son John then took over as Smithy until the forge finally closed in the mid-1970s.
In July, 2015 work began to build an exact replica of the old Village Forge frontage.
The project, a partnership between Windgap Community Development and Kilkenny & Carlow Education and Training Board, was facilitated by stone mason Seamus Davis and a team of volunteers from the local community.
Horse shoes hang in testimony to the era of the horse and cart, now no more, which had its origins back in the mists of time.
We could go on and on but we run the risk of spoiling your visit to what is one of the world’s great wonderlands.
Do yourself a favour, update your Bucket List and include a visit to Windgap as a priority.