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Windgap: Village Of Beauty And Charm

by Jimmy Rhatigan

Pics by Donal Foley

Today, Kilkenny Press highlights a place of beauty in our county that has always had and still has a relationship with wind.
It has nothing to do with Gone With the Wind but everything to recommend it as an old style agricultural region that has used its natural beauty and fantastic facilities to catapult it to possible glory as a tourist trap.
Windgap, proud home village of Kilkenny GAA chairman, Jimmy Walsh is a haven of peace, tranquility amidst bundles of history that some kind resident of God’s Garden in the sky dropped neatly into the south western part of Kilkenny.
The reason why the village was baptized Windgap, Bearna na Gaoithe in Irish, is that the latter as Gaeilge means ‘wind gap’.
With its rambling hills and large wooded areas it would be a challenging place for anyone to indulge in what some find an interesting pastime called flying a kite.
But, in fairness, as our roving photographer, Donal Foley has put on record in pictures, there is far more to do than flying kites in the windy village that oozes history and bathes in friendliness.

Windgap has many wonderful features that should tease amateur archaeologists and those who simply like to amble through the ages without having to leave the present time.
A short description of Windgap and environs explains that the bailiwick got its name because of its location on a pass through hills that ramble through the east of Slievenamon, nature’s gift to the people of Tipperary, foes in hurling, pally neighbours.
In recent times, Donal has highlighted Mullinavat Waterfall, the fields of dreams in Mount Juliet and Kells book of picturesque beauty.
For those with a nose for historic gems and a fondness for local people, Windgap is an Aladdin’s Cave of much that was good and certainly interesting in the past married to a modern but truly quaint wonder of rustic brilliance.
If local buildings could talk, listeners would be spell-bound.
A 19th century graveyard means a metaphoric meeting with those who in other times were the life and soul of the rural outback.
Then there is the old Land League Hall, once a home for poor tenant farmers and an early 20th century grotto that dates back to 1915 and was a gift from the then Marquis of Ormonde, one James, Edward William Theobald Butler.

The Butlers of Ormonde then lived in Garryricken House near Windgap and presented over two acres to the local community to do with it what the people pleased.
The green area that was to become home to an amazing grotto, the brainchild of the then parish priest Fr James Brennan, is a fascinating trail of sculptures and mosaics, quartz-lined pathways, voluntary local labour, design and inventiveness and generous donations from Australia.
Like what we might call its sister town of Callan, Windgap is a treasure chest not only for visitors but for thousands of Kilkenny people who we suspect have not yet appreciated this wonderful corner of our county.
Then there is the local forge, a reminder of a blacksmithing trade, a noble art.
We could go on and on.
But seeing is believing.
Do yourself a favour.
Put Windgap and its cousin Tullahought on your bucket list.

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