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Inside Loftus Hall. The Loftus Hall Tour – Visit Irelands Most Haunted House

Inside Loftus Hall. The Loftus Hall Tour – Visit Irelands Most Haunted House

Do you believe in ghosts? Do you believe that the devil himself visited Loftus Hall? Did you know the Devil exited through the roof of Loftus hall and that hole in the roof cannot be repaired?

Loftus Hall – Ireland’s Most Haunted House

If not, (or even if you do) then a visit to Loftus Hall in Co. Wexford, Ireland just might change your mind. Ireland’s Most Haunted House, Loftus Hall is  open and running very well organised hour long tours which bring you through the history, and horrors of the haunted house. You may even catch a glimpse of the ghostly Lady Anna or one of the other ghostly demons.

I had known of Loftus hall for many years. As a child living in Waterford, you get told the stories of the devil and how he left the building. Loftus Hall is visible from Dunmore East so it was always in the focus of the young inquiring mind. At one point in the mid-90s it reopened as a bar, and I remember visiting it. The place had an un0ease about it, not just an old abandoned building but a sense that it lacked peace.

Even with my previous visit in mind, older and wiser, I was a small bit sceptical. I wasn’t sure how this old house could be the setting for a tour but I was proved very wrong within the first 5 minutes. The tour guides are very well prepared and give you a lot of history and facts to digest. I’m not going to give anything away are there are a few interactive elements to the tour also. For me the highlight (if you can call it that) was the visit to the tapestry room which is the most haunted room in the house, as I felt a real drop in temperature in this room, apparently associated with spirits. One story of what a child on the tour said to her mum, brought chills to my being.

It was a very well run tour and I might even be tempted to return for the more sinister adult only tour which is a lot darker and guided only by candlelight (which often goes out I was informed). Shortly after writing this post, one person took an unexplained photo with a potential ghost. The news story hit national press and went viral online so if you are interested in the paranormal, Loftus Hall is certainly one for you.

Admission to Loftus Hall : Tickets are €5 for children (who must be accompanied by at least 1 adult) and €9 for adults.

A great tour, my only gripe is that if you do the tour, your parking should be validated as it is €2 to exit the car park otherwise. (at the time of my visit, maybe this has changed now)

Website : http://www.loftushall.com/

Location of Loftus Hall

Loftus Hall, Hook Peninsula, Co. Wexford

Littlewoods Ireland Christmas Commercial

Littlewoods Ireland Christmas Commercial

Normally, the first Christmas commercial I see comes with a cry of ‘No, its far too early for this’. But this year, the first Christmas commercial I saw was for Littlewoods Ireland and I actually liked it.

Now, part of the reason why I liked it was because they used the Queen song, “Those were the Days of Our Lives”. The song was written by Roger Taylor about his kids and it was on Queen’s album Innuendo. It’s a very emotive song and therefore fits perfectly, as it is all about looking back. (As an aside, the video for that song was the last time Freddie Mercury was on camera, and today 24th Nov is the anniversary of his death).

Anyway, I really liked this commercial because it focused on the real joys of Christmas. The soft lighting, cheeky grins from kids stealing chocolate, everyone decorating the Christmas tree, putting out mince pies for Santa and of course the excitement coming down the stairs on Christmas morning. There is also a flashback moment when mum and dad are seen as kids. The tagline ‘You never forget how it feels…. to be a child at Christmas’.

I know John Lewis every year has a great Christmas commercial, this year’s dog is no exception. But I think Littlewoods Christmas commercial has given them a run for their money,

Take a look at the commercial below. What do you think?

Cigarette Butts are Irelands Biggest Litter Problem

Cigarette Butts are Irelands Biggest Litter Problem

In a recent survey of litter in Ireland, it was found that Irelands cities and towns are now cleaner than they have been for many years – thanks to better awareness from the public, more bins and a huge effort from city and town councils. However, some pedestrians and motorists ignore bins and drop cigarette butts and food on the streets.

Cigarette Butts mentioned in Litter Reports

The 2008 National Litter Pollution Monitoring System report found that cigarette butts and cigarette-related litter formed 46% of street litter and food packaging & Sweet wrappers making up 17% of all litter.

The 2015 National Litter Pollution Monitoring System report found Cigarette related litter was at 59.8% – up over 13% on 2008, while packaging litter & sweet related litter combined was around 19% up a small amount on 2008.

For some reason, cigarette smokers have some sort of ignorance when it comes to litter. Cigarette Butts also contain over 4,000 toxins which can kill birds and fish – so why, when finished a cigarette do smokers flick their butt into the streets – in a “F**k it, someone else will clean  that up!” attitude.

Smokers should be fined for doing this – after all it is litter. If they are not fined then there should be an extra tax on each cigarette in a packet to pay for cigarette butt clean up.

Naming and Shaming

I think Ireland may have to Name and Shame pubs, restaurants or outlets which don’t encourage smokers to bin their butts when finished smoking. Perhaps there may also be a law which allows fining smokers who flick their butts into the street after they are finished smoking. This seems to be a habit amongst many smokers rather than finding a bin.

My Cigarette Butt 10 Step Challenge

I have observed a huge number of cigarette butts on the streets of Ireland. I have come up with a cigarette butt challenge. Basically, try walking 10 steps in any town or city in Ireland, observing the ground. See if you can walk those 10 steps without seeing a cigarette butt on the ground – it is almost impossible. If you do find a street or town let me know in the comments below.

I do have to reiterate that there are conscientious smokers out there who do place their finished cigarettes in bins provided. However, there has been an increase in this sort of litter, so it seems these smokers are in the minority.

First Use of the Lee Filters system

First Use of the Lee Filters system

Over the past 7 or 8 years I have experimented with using filters. I started off using very cheap ones I got online for under £10. Those were real rubbish but I could see the potential.

I then upgraded to brand name filters, I won’t name the company as those filters resulted in soft photos and a colour cast on some occasions. They worked to an extend but you could not reply on them.

After doing some research on Twitter (basically asking photographers which filters they used), I found that the Lee Filters system was the one to go for. While I was in London recently I decided to take the plunge. I got the adapter ring for my 24-105 L series lens, the foundation kit holder for the Lee filters and the Lee Filters Big Stopper. The Big Stopper is a whopping 10 stops of a filter, so a 1 second exposure becomes a 16 minute exposure using the Big Stopper.

In the past 24 hours I have tried out the filters and they work really well as you can see yourself below. I hope to post more photos using these filters on my photo website at www.shanemcdonald.me and on my Instagram account www.instagram.com/shanesphoto

Sample Photo using Lee Filters

Photo of Waterford using Lee Filters
Review – Aroi Asian Street Food, Kilkenny

Review – Aroi Asian Street Food, Kilkenny

Having walked from Bennettsbridge to Kilkenny along the Nore we were looking for something hearty and tasty to eat. I had been to Aroi with a work function and decided to go there.

Aroi Asian Street Food is located on Friary Street Kilkenny and has plenty of space inside, while being bright, airy and a tad funky in decor. The service is very good and on a Sunday there is an option to enjoy a main course and Gelato for only 10 euros which is wonderful value.

I chose to push the boat out and have a starter, main and ice cream. The fish cakes were the starter, one of the nicer thai fish cakes I have tried, with a little kick of chilli present. For the main course I had the Yellow Fish Curry served with brown rice. This curry was full of flavour and full of fish – salmon, cod, smoked cod, mussels, crab, and calamari – as well as being jam packed with veg.

The meal was thoroughly enjoyable and was rounded off with some very refreshing ice cream. The whole meal for 2 came to under 35 euros and its a spot I will be returning to.

Aroi Asian Street Food, Kilkenny

Aroi Asian Street Food, Kilkenny

Aroi Kilkenny