I’m still in Belturbet, County Cavan for this week’s Thursday Doors post. There’s plenty of interesting doors and historical structures here that I haven’t gotten around to photographing yet, including a castle or two. Right in the heart of the town is the old post office and I love the design of this building.
Although the main customer service section has been relocated further up the street, the old post office is still used for sorting the mail. I think it has a very impressive entrance for such a small building.
Constructed in 1904, it was designed by architect Robert Cochrane and G.W. Crowe in a blend of two different styles – Queen Anne Revival and Art & Craft. Most likely the reason for such an elaborate structure was its central position, with the town hall close by, another nicely designed building that I’ll save for a future post.
Next to the post office you’ll find a sculpture, designed by artist Mel French, with a tragic story behind it. It’s always neatly kept and adorned with beautiful seasonal plants but I wish there had never been a reason to commission it.
On the 28th December 1972, a car bomb exploded in Belturbet, killing 15-year-old local girl Geraldine O’Reilly and 16-year-old Paddy Stanley from County Offaly. I remember how deeply affected I was by this particular atrocity, as I was the same age as the young man at the time. He was in the town on a delivery that fateful day and should have left but bad weather meant he would have to stay overnight. Paddy was in a phone booth calling home to inform his family of the situation when the bomb exploded nearby. At the same time, Geraldine had just left her brother waiting in his car while she went to buy a bag of chips. Nobody has ever been charged in connection with the murder of these innocent young people, nor claimed responsibility for the explosion.
On the same day, two more bombs went off in counties Donegal and Monaghan, all three within thirty minutes of each other. Fortunately, in those towns there were no fatalities. Over the next few years there was a spate of bombings south of the border, while the conflict raged on in the north of Ireland.
As a teenager I was working in Dublin at the time and was almost caught up in one of the three explosions that took place in the city on 17th May 1974. A fourth one happened outside a pub in Monaghan on the same day. Thirty three civilians were killed in those attacks and almost 300 people injured. It was just by chance that I wasn’t one of them but I heard the nearest car bomb to me explode as I stood in the street near my workplace.
These events have shaped my thoughts and feelings on conflict and the need for peaceful resolutions. I learned in later years that my grandfather, as a teenager, his two older brothers and a cousin, were all conscientious objectors in WW1 and had been sentenced to hard labour in prisons and work camps for the duration of the war because of their convictions. They and their families suffered the consequences of their decisions at the time, which meant being ostracized in the community and being denied work. Although I have deep respect for the bravery of the many, men and women who have served in all of the major and minor wars mankind has seen this past hundred years, I am very proud of the stand my relatives took on the side of peace.
The peace that Ireland has today is very precious and worth preserving. Nobody wants a repeat of the past.
I’m sorry for such a somber post this week. It’s also coming up to the first anniversary of my father’s death so that might have had a bearing on my choice of subject. Next week’s post should be a lot more cheerful. Thanks for stopping by and, as always, Norm has a great selection of Thursday Doors for you to view over on his blog.