Friday, February 1, 2013

Penner's Spotlight - Ruth Ann Dell - Ireland

Pens on a World Map
Penner's Spotlight

Penner: Ruth Ann Dell of South Africa 

Location: County Roscommon, Ireland
Strokestown Park
A Woodland Walk

Woodland Path
I love walking in the countryside and on our holiday in Ireland last year I discovered the woodland walk in Strokestown Park ( in County Roscommon. The woodland was first planted in the early1700s and some of the original trees remain. Walking along the leaf-littered path under the ancient trees was an unforgettable experience.

Other features in Strokestown Park are the Georgian Palladium mansion, the walled pleasure gardens and the National Irish Famine museum which commemorates the Great Irish famine of the 1840s when blight destroyed the potato crops. Almost a quarter of the population died or emigrated during that time.

At the time of my visit, several schools participated in a competition and made sculptures inspired by Strokestown Park. These sculptures were placed along the twists and turns of the path and provided fascinating windows into Irish history.

Here are a few of them:

The Little Old White House

This is a symbol of Irish culture, traditions and skills over the centuries. It depicts hard times when some landowners drove poor families out of their homes and burnt their cottages.

Hungry Bones

This ingenious sculpture, made of plastic cutlery, symbolises the times when common people starved and become nothing but rags and bones while the rich landlords enjoyed huge feasts.

The Journey

This sculpture reminds viewers of the terrible living conditions on the ships in which folk emigrated to America to find work and food. Many passengers died before they reached America.

The First Supper

This portrays the fact that poor people were so ravished by hunger that they committed crimes as jail was a better prospect than going to the workhouse. A bowl of gruel in jail was like a sumptuous feast to new prisoners.

Me at Altamont Gardens in County Carlow
I salute the scholars whose colourful creations along the woodland walk gave me a new perspective of Irish history.

Where has your most fascinating travel walk occurred? Have you visited the Emerald Isles? We'd love to hear about it. Please join the travel discussion below in the comment section.

Ruth Ann Dell writes from her home in a sunny South African suburb. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and desires to write gripping stories which draw her readers into a closer relationship with God. Ruth Ann and her husband have also lived in England and Rhodesia. They are renovating a cottage in the heart of Ireland. Ruth Ann's cyber home is at

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  1. Very touching post. The 'First Supper' picture and meaning really makes an impact on how horrific the famine was in Ireland.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Carole.

      Yes it must have been terrible.