Thursday Doors – Sunny Spain

I thought I’d save this Thursday Doors post for wintertime here in the Northern hemisphere as it hails from sunny Spain. These photos are from a trip there in late September, while the weather was still hot. This first image is of the view from one of my favourite restaurants at La Zenia beach on the Meditereanean. We ate there at least once a week when we lived on the Orihuela Costa, where we had a beautiful sea view from our house. I really miss it in the wintertime but I’m glad to be living back in Ireland, in spite of a wetter climate. I’m a home bird at heart.

We stayed in Torre de la Horadada in a beautiful villa with its own pool just a short drive south of our old home and this marina was only a few minutes walk away. The beach below is where we swam in water that was a perfect temperature for hot weather.

Even the car park had a fabulous view and an old watchtower closeby.

The building was made up of a mixture of materials, as you can see from the image below.

As this is my last post for 2022 I would like to thank everyone who took the time to visit my blog throughout the year. If any of you are travelling over the holiday period I wish you a safe journey, especially in colder climates where the roads might be icy. I’ll be starting off in January 2023 with another Thursday Doors from sunny Spain but in the meantime, have a look at Dan’s lovely collection of doors, some are even edible.

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Posted in Blogging, boats, castles and ruins, Historical buildings, History, The Good Things in Life, Thursday Doors | Tagged , , , | 16 Comments

New Book Site – A Reader’s Delight

Best books that genuinely reflect the time they are set in.

There’s a new book site that I think will delight any avid reader. It’s called Shepherd and went live on April 19th 2021. They Beta launched with 400 authors and 2,000 book recommendations and I love this site not only as an author but as a reader, too. Within a year that booklist had grown to 25,000 and it’s even bigger now.

The five books in the image above are those that I recommended based on how well they reflect the time they are set in. As a lover of historical fiction, this is very important to me and this booksite helps me to find the kind of read I know I will enjoy through their ‘books like’ pages. These are all powered by human recommendations and I really like that. By October 2022 Shepherd was having 200,000 monthly views, so word is getting around. If you click on the links below you can read more about my choice of books and what I like about them. Explore the site further and you’ll find books to suit your taste. I came across some that really appeal to me and introduced me to authors I may never have found otherwise.

My Book Choices

Shepherd Books

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Thursday Doors – Dundalk Museum 2

Welcome to part 2 of Thursday Doors tour of Dundalk Museum. I thought the display of homes through the ages was so appropriate for this blog that I took a photo of every one of them, from the humble labourer’s cottage to the period town house. They even included some models of ancient dwellings from the Iron Age.

Dundalk has a long history as an industrial town producing linen, whiskey, stout, beer and tobacco. Some of these goods are still manufactured today.

Flax was grown locally to supply the linen trade and I have found some of my ancestors recorded in 1796 as having received a free spinning wheel for growing an acre of flax. If they had grown five acres they would have been given a loom. From the 1750s water power was used to extract the fibre and finish the cloth but in the 1830s steam powered spinning mills were built and two decades later the power loom was introduced putting an end to a cottage industry. On the English census my ancestors in Lancashire went from being called hand loom weavers, working in their homes to being described as factory workers because they had to go to a mill to get employment. Thankfully, there are people in parts of Ireland hand loom weaving today so the skill hasn’t been completely lost.

Tobacco Industry
Brewing and Distilling

Having a busy port and England just across the water was a big advantage for the town’s industries. The harbour and its docks created a lot of employment too.

Where there is a lot of industrial activity a fire station is very important.

Lastly, we have one of my favourite exhibits – The Heinkel. For a few short years in the 1950s the town became a centre for the production of this amazing wee bubblecar when Dundalk Engineering Works purchased the worldwide rights to manufacture it. Unfortunately, the Heinkel Cabin Cruiser ceased production when cars like the Mini Cooper hit the market and were much more in demand.

Thanks for coming along on Part 2 of this Dundalk Museum tour and if you’d like to see more Thursday Doors from around the world, head on over to Dan’s blog.

Posted in Blogging, dundalk, History, Ireland, social issues, society, Thursday Doors | Tagged , , , , | 15 Comments

Thursday Doors – Dundalk Museum 1

No, this isn’t the entrance to the museum in Dundalk but it does make an interesting Thursday Doors photo. Located in a beautifully restored 18th century warehouse, the award-winning County Museum traces the history of Dundalk and County Louth from the Mesolithic era to the modern day through a variety of interactive displays. With three floors of permanent exhibitions and a changing and extensive programme of temporary displays covering drama, music recitals, storytelling festivals, lecture and film, the museum has something of interest for everyone and is well worth a visit. *

There is a street entrance on the other side but it’s not nearly as beautiful as this one.

The stone axehead is dated 4,000 – 2,000 BC and the bronze spearhead is dated 900 – 600 BC. Both found not too far from Dundalk.

The displays are so interesting and informative, it was difficult to choose what to include in this post without making it as long as a wet week. I’m intrigued by the secrets bogs contain and we have a lot of bogland in Ireland. Butter used to be stored in them to preserve it and one of the oldest found so far was buried over 2,000 years ago. If you’d like to see some National Geographic photos and find out more about Céide Fields, an archaeological site older than Egypt’s Pyramids, I’ll leave a link at the end of this post. It’s fascinating.

What on earth was a Barbary ape doing in Ireland?

Have you heard of Ogham stones? Ogham is the earliest form of writing in Ireland, it dates to around 4th century A.D. and was in use for around 500 years. The Ogham alphabet is made up of a series of strokes along or across a line. Ogham is sometimes referred to as the “Celtic Tree Alphabet” as a number of the letters are linked to old Irish names for certain trees. The alphabet was carved on standing stones to commemorate someone, using the edge of the stone as the centre line. They normally read from the left hand side bottom up, across the top and if need be down the other side.**

Thanks for joining me this month at the Dundalk museum, I’ll have more from there in my next post but in the meantime check out some more Thursday Doors over on Dan’s blog.

National Geographic – Irish Bog Finds *

Ogham Stones of Ireland **

Posted in Blogging, dundalk, Historical buildings, History, Ireland, Thursday Doors | 15 Comments

Thursday Doors – Earl Street

Earl Street in Dundalk County Louth is such an interesting place, I don’t know why I haven’t posted more about it on Thursday Doors.

Most of the buildings have been beautifully preserved like the restaurant above. It is part of a premises that was built in 1875 and used to house the Dundalk Democrat, a local paper that operated from a hotel originally in 1849 and is still in business today just around the corner in Crowe Street. In fact, the newspaper is such an integral part of the town’s history that I included it in at least two of my Irish Family Saga books.

The next image is of the recently refurbished former Queen’s Hotel, which is now home to a variety of offices, including a solicitor’s practise. There had been a hotel or inn there continually for over 300 years until the last one fell into disrepair. Thankfully, a preservation order has saved it from any demolition and today it stands as a beautiful, elegant addition to Earl Street.

It is situated on the corner of Earl Street and Crowe Street and I took the photo below about a year ago, when the refurbishment was just beginning.

Thank you for stopping by, if you carry on over to Dan’s blog you’ll find a great selection of links to interesting posts from around the globe. Next month I’ll have some Thursday Doors from the museum, just a stones throw from Earl Street.

Posted in Blogging, dundalk, Historical buildings, History, Ireland, Thursday Doors, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments

Thursday Doors – Behind the Hedges.

Welcome to June’s edition of Thursday Doors and in this one I try to capture some lovely old houses hidden behind the hedges of a quiet country road outside Derry City, Northern Ireland.

Most of the homes on this road are inhabited but this second image is of a quaint old cottage just waiting for someone to renovate and move in.

Some great shutters on this one. Could be the second floor as I don’t see a door there and that hedge is pretty high.

Fabulous arched windows on this house and palm trees do grow in Ireland, as you can see from the photograph.

This is a gorgeous wee cottage with a great half door and more chimney pots than windows.

It was the gates that caught my eye first with this house but those bay windows are so lovely. I grew up in a house with bay windows and love them. They add so much character, both inside and out.

And just look at those crooked gates. I’m sure they are meant to be like that but maybe they’ve been upcycled from an old fence.

Those bay windows . . . . . and that cute little one above the door, under the eaves. You’ll find some great links to doors from around the globe over on Dan’s blog Thanks for stopping by and peeking behind the hedges with me on this month’s Thursday Doors.

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Thursday Doors – Moira

This Thursday Doors post comes from the Northern Ireland town of Moira. I took the photos as we drove through and really like the mix of stone and brick in this first one.

A little further up the street we find Jackson’s hardware and cookware store. Apparantly they sell some lovely garden furniture too, judging by the items on display in the above image.

Another Jackson’s store, with similar wicker furniture and what looks like household goods in the window.

Not a very Irish or English sounding word on this building but I think it translates to Clover House. I like how the car colour matches that of the lovely orange door. That black door is quite interesting, too.

So many lovely old archways in this town. I was spoiled for choice.

If you are thinking the town is named after a woman, you’d be wrong. The name Moira comes from the Irish word Maigh Rath, meaning ‘plain of the streams or wheels’ and has been a settlement for at least 1,500 years.

“This small village has had an enormous impact on social, political, religious and military life not only in Ireland but also in the United Kingdom and across the world. The village was once a place where Knights and Earls had their magnificent estate; where the children of nobility played and the children of the lowly laboured. A lad who grew up in poverty became a hero in the American War of Independence while another who was raised in grand surroundings was to become largely responsible for the establishing of Central India as part of the British Empire.” You can read more about the history of this interesting, quaint town in County Down, Northern Ireland if you follow the link at the end of this post*

More lovely mixes of stone and brick with a ‘gonedoor’ thrown in, as my grandson called it. Anyone thinking of Lord of the Rings right now?

Dan has a lovely selection of Thursday Doors over on his blog, thanks for stopping by and veiwing the town of Moira with me.

History of Moira*

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Thursday Doors – Belfast

Earlier in the year we drove through Belfast in Northern Ireland on the way home from visiting family and I managed to get a few nice Thursday Doors shots of some of the lovely old buildings to be seen in the city. This was supposed to be April’s blogpost but I was away last week and missed the deadline so there will probably be two posts this month.

I have no idea which letters are missing from above this lovely arch and I haven’t a clue what the building is used for. It could be a place of worship but I’m guessing.

Interesting that this old Presbytarian church, built in 1924, has two main entrances. I don’t see that too often. Although it no longer functions as a place of worship, the building has been mostly kept to its original design. It now houses a large restaurant and shop. The foundation stone was laid by Kate Booth, daughter of William Booth, who founded the Salvation Army. The building features memorial windows put there in honour of the victims of both world wars.

This elegant old building is for sale with full planning permission for conversion to a hotel.

If you like red brick buildings there’s plenty to be found in Belfast.

I think I saved the best till last. It’s the Mater Hospital which opened in November 1883 with 28 beds. Sixteen years later it was expanded to 150 beds, all funded by charitable donations. In 1899 the hospital was recognised for its medical student and nurse training, which still continues today. An interesting fact is that in the 1920s nurses had to be five feet two inches tall and eight stone in weight. I guess that was a minimum requirement.

Thanks for joining me on this quick tour through part of Belfast City and if you’d like to see more Thursday Doors from around the world, head on over to Dan’s blog.

Posted in Historical buildings, History, Ireland, Thursday Doors, Travel | 7 Comments

Thursday Doors – Street Art and Mythology

This month’s Thursday Doors features some more street art but this time from Ballycastle, County Antrim with some Irish mythology thrown in. Many towns in Ireland are now commissioning artists to brighten up their localities with murals depicting their history and culture. Some are epic pieces that fill the gable of a two or three story house and others are more subtle and blend in with their surroundings. I loved this first one at the Coffee Loft, where we had a delicious lunch. It’s set in a small garden centre in the middle of the town and the painted doors and windows really add that cosy, cottagey feel to the place.

I’ll leave you to figure out what is real and what is not in the next image of the buildings across the street from the garden centre.

Copies of old photographs have been magnified and added to some walls around the town and this one is probably my favourite, a little girl and her calf. Ballycastle was a thriving market town in the past and I think this is a lovely reminder of that.

Of course there is always a colourful gable mural to be found and this one was easy to spot.

I’m pretty sure this mural depicts Sadhbh, the wife of Fionn MaCumhaill who is associated with the Giant’s Causeway not far from Ballycastle. The oak leaf possibly refers to the oak tree being a Celtic symbol for strength. Because Sadhbh refused to marry a druid he put a spell on her and she changed into a young doe and remained like that for over three years. One of the druid’s men felt sorry for her and said if she entered the home of one of the Fianna (a fearsome warrior band in Irish mythology) the spell would be broken.

Sadhbh took his advice and left, eventually arriving at the home of Fionn MaCumhaill, leader of the Fianna. When she was transformed into her original human form, the mighty warrior instantly fell in love with her and she must have felt the same way, as not long after they were married. However their time together was short lived.

When she became pregnant Fionn was overjoyed but the evil druid cursed Sadhbh as he had never forgiven her for refusing him. She was once again transformed into a deer, while her husband was away in battle. When Fionn returned his wife was missing and he spent the next seven years searching the whole of Ireland for her. One day he came across a young boy who had been living wild in the forests and mountains. His two hounds ran to the child and protected him and Fionn took a good look at his face and saw a similarity to his missing wife.

Realizing this must be his son, Fionn took the boy home with him and named him Oisin, who went on to become the greatest of all the Fianna. Unfortunately, Sadhbh was never found.

Update: I have just found a link online to this street art. It doesn’t depict Sadhbh but I’m leaving the story up as it’s a good one. This mural was painted by the artist Friz and features Princess Taisie, daughter of King Dorm of Rathlin Island. She was renowned for her great beauty and was bethrothed to Congal, heir to the Kingdom of Ireland. The king of Norway also sought her hand in marriage but when he arrived to claim his bride her wedding celebrations to Congal were underway. The King of Norway and his army tried to capture Taisie but in the subsequent battle he was killed and his army fled leaderless and empty handed. I think I prefer the story of Sadhbh but at least this week you got two for the price of one.

Thanks for stopping by. There are lots more links to doors and photos from around the world over on Dan’s blog. I hope you enjoyed this month’s Thursday Doors with its street art and mythology.

Posted in Antrim, Art, History, Ireland, Thursday Doors, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | 22 Comments

Thursday Doors – Street Art

It’s been a dull, wet February this year so I thought a colourful Thursday Doors post was in order and these street art images definitely fit the bill. Last year was Dundalk, County Louth’s third year of the Seek Festival which promotes contemporary urban art in the town. By commissioning established and emerging artists locally, nationally and internationally, they aim to promote the town culturally and artistically.

This first mural is by Italian artist Basik, whose style mixes his graffiti background with a graphic approach to painting, which is inspired by Medieval and Renaissance art. His work also looks at distinctive traits in popular culture and antique religious imagery. Basik was selected to depict Oliver Plunkett (1625-1681) who was the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland. In spite of religious persecution from the English Crown he continued his duties and was arrested on the charge of treason. At first, he was imprisoned in cells underground in Dundalk, near where this mural has been painted, before being transported to London, where his trial took place. Oliver Plunkett was hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn in July, 1681.

The artist, Friz, was invited once again to participate in the festival last year. She works in both traditional and digital media and has a strong focus on spray painting. Her commission was to depict the life of Frances Leopold McClintock who was born in July 1819 in Dundalk. He was one of fourteen children and his father had been an officer in the 3rd Dragoon Guards. With little formal education he entered the Royal Navy as a gentleman volunteer when he was almost twelve and rose through the ranks to be commissioned as a lieutenant in 1845. Three years later, he volunteered to take part in a search for the missing Franklin expedition. During the course of a series of Arctic searches McClintock charted vast stretches of coastline and developed new methods for polar travelling.

Franklin’s wife was determined that a proper search should be carried out of the islands off the mouth of the Great Fish River. She knew it was highly unlikely that there would be any survivors of her husband’s expedition but hoped that some records might be found and any remains of the crew would be given a Christian burial. However, the Admiralty refused to fund yet another search, especially as a good many years had gone by, so she raised the money herself and contacted Frances McClintock. He was in Dublin on half-pay with plenty of time on his hands so he helped her obtain a ship, The Fox, a small steamship of 177 tons. In April 1857 she offered him command of the expedition. It’s a fascinating account so I’ll leave a link to it at the end of this post. *

This last mural is by an Australian artist, Sam Bates aka Smug, who is based in Glasgow. It took him ten days to paint the the 41 metre high depiction of the warrior god Lugh (Lu) using 247 cans of spray paint and 180 litres of emulsion. You can see the gleaming spear in his hand but behind that hedge there is an Irish wolfhound at his feet. It graces the Crowne Plaza Hotel and is apparantly the tallest mural in Ireland.

It wasn’t just this shop’s colourful window display that caught my eye – the name got my attention, too. The business belongs to a young local designer, 24 year old Megan McGuigan. Seeking Judy is a printed textile brand based in Ireland. They also specialise in hand dyed and reworked pieces.

At the age of fifteen, Megan started her business as a pop up shop while she was still in school. After graduating from NCAD with a degree in Fashion Design in 2019, she gave Seeking Judy her full attention and it has become a skate inspired streetwear brand, influenced by her time spent in Barcelona, Spain. I’ll put a link to their website at the end of the post.**

Many of the town’s doors and window trims are painted in eye-catching colours from purple to vibrant yellow, which really brightens up the place on a grey day. I hope you enjoyed the street art in this colourful Thursday Doors post, thanks for stopping by and if you carry on over to Dan’s blog you’ll find a great collection of links there to explore.

The Artic Fox *

Seeking Judy **

Posted in Art, Blogging, dundalk, History, Ireland, Thursday Doors | Tagged , , , , , , | 21 Comments