Thursday Doors – Limerick City

King John’s Castle Limerick

I love castles and had planned a Thursday Doors tour of King John’s Castle in Limerick city for 2020. Unfortunately, it was a year of travel restrictions and lock downs, which meant the castle was closed to the public. Over the holiday period in December there was a bit more freedom and we took that opportunity to visit our youngest, who is in college in the city and lives there most of the year. Although I couldn’t take a tour of the castle I did manage to snap a few shots from the outside. It’s pretty impressive.

A large, colourful mural near the castle caught my attention.

The style of this painting looked familiar and an online search told me this was the work of Aches, the artist who painted the large Sharkey mural featured on my series of posts during the Seek Arts Festival in Dundalk last year. It’s a tribute to Dolores O’Riordan (1971-2018) who died tragically, far too young. She was an Irish singer/songwriter, lead vocalist and lyricist for the alternative rock band The Cranberries. To the right of the photo you can see the back of a statue. It’s a sculpture of Michael Hogan, the bard of Thomond. (1826-1899). Speaking of bards, Limerick gives its name to the limerick a popular five line humorous poem, thought to be derived from the 18th century, Maigue Poets of Croom, Co. Limerick.

Crossing the bridge at John’s Castle.
More doors than windows.
Old stone walls everywhere.
Lots of old redbrick buildings, too.
It looks like they sell more than lawnmowers.
A typical residential street in the city.

At some stage this year I hope to be back for a tour of King John’s castle so keep an eye out for that post. Thank you for joining me on this short tour of Limerick city and if you’d like to see some interesting places around the world, have a look at this week’s Thursday Doors post from Dan.

Posted in Art, Blogging, castles and ruins, Historical buildings, History, Ireland, Irish poets, Music, Thursday Doors, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Thursday Doors – First of 2021

Welcome to the first Thursday Doors post of 2021. Knowing we were in for more travel restrictions I took advantage of the window of opportunity we had in December and paid some visits to family and captured images for my weekly blog, too. This first one is of the Cooley Mountains as seen from Blackrock, County Louth. When I think of the seaside village where I was born this is what always comes to mind, with its ever changing light and colours. I’ve also used it as a setting in a few of my books.

Just a couple of miles up the road is the town of Dundalk, which I’ve featured many times on this blog. On every visit I find something different to photograph.

This is the rear of St. Patrick’s Church (also called a pro cathedral). I’ve featured the front in some previous posts but never the back. It was opened for worship in 1842 but wasn’t completed until much later as work came to a halt during the Great Hunger, resuming in 1860. The church was designed by the architect Thomas Duff, who modeled the interior on Exeter Cathedral and the exterior on King’s College Chapel, both located in England. My grandmother often sang solo there at the request of Michael Van Dessel, a famous organist in Ireland in her day. In the 1920’s he settled in Dundalk when he was offered permanent employment as organist in St. Patrick’s. It was at a time when Belgium was in ruins after the first world war and the churches there could not afford to pay wages to their organists. Van Dessel was not only famous for his playing of church music. He wrote many lovely pieces for his own choir, which was made up of talented local singers.

Not too far from St. Patrick’s (you can see it in the distance in this image) is the main indoor shopping area or mall. Although it’s fairly new, the style is in keeping with the older architecture of the town and blends in very well.

There are also old buildings with new additions. It’s nice when the original has been preserved, as I prefer the older part myself.

Just before the sun went down I took a photo of the main street in Blackrock, as the lights were coming on.

This bar is managing to keep a little bit of business going by serving take-away tea and coffee at a time when many hospitality businesses are struggling to stay afloat.

Recently, some new street art has been added to the town of Dundalk in the form of local sayings. When I get a chance to travel again, I’ll take some photos of them but in the meantime here’s one I managed to capture from the car as we drove by. It’s a good one to end this post on as I am well and truly ‘away’ now.

It was lovely to have you with me for my first blog post of the year. Dan has a great mix of Thursday Doors over on his blog, with links to some more first posts of 2021 from around the world.

Posted in Art, Blogging, dundalk, Historical buildings, History, Ireland, Thursday Doors, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 37 Comments

Thursday Doors – Memories of 2020

This will be my last Thursday Doors post of the year so I thought some of my favourite memories of 2020 would be a nice way to finish what has been a very strange year. Our host, Dan, suggested we compile a list chosen from the past twelve months of Thursday Doors posts, so here are my choices. The first one is from a blogpost at the beginning of 2020, when we still had our lovely little Tino with us. This puzzle is special to me not just because it features some very nice doors but I had some help with it from my canine friend.

The next couple of photos were taken at the Cavan County Museum and were part of a series of Thursday Doors over quite a few weeks. There was so much to see there but I particularly liked this exhibit, where I took a step back in time and became immersed in the early nineteen hundreds.

Another Thursday Doors series that I really enjoyed putting together was the Seek Art Festival in Dundalk. It was fascinating to watch the progress of the large wall murals as the artists worked on them every day for a week.

A place where I did a lot of foraging for wild garlic, hawthorn, elderflower and lots of other goodies is Castle Saunderson. Walking through the grounds is so relaxing and it’s a lovely place to get some exercise and fresh air.

This next door is a big favourite of mine mostly because of the entrance. It’s the old town hall in Cavan which is now an arts centre. I love the stonework and the inscription over the doorway tells us a little of its history.

You might be wondering what a large deer has to do with my Thursday Doors memories of 2020. This photo was taken at Rosepark Farm and was the last time I saw some of my grandchildren this year, many months ago. The photographs connected to this day out mean a lot to me and I did find some teeny tiny doors there, too.

A meet up at Castle Archdale in the summer with my other grandchildren gave me some nice memories to hold onto while we were seperated by a second lockdown. Some of the doors in this courtyard were decorated with the portraits of servants who may have answered a knock in times gone by.

With so many great examples of doors in Dundalk it was difficult to make a choice. I finally decided on a modern door that reflected some of the local history and an old door that was part of that history.

How could I end this post without including a photo of Belturbet Marina and its array of boats and barges. Some of my favourite doors throughout the year have been on the water.

Dan has a selection of his favourites over on his blog this week. Thank you so much for keeping me company for this past year of Thursday Doors and sharing my memories of 2020, I hope you have a peaceful, safe transition into 2021.

Posted in Art, Belturbet, Blogging, castles and ruins, Cavan, dundalk, Historical buildings, Ireland, nature, The Good Things in Life, Thursday Doors, Travel, wild plants | Tagged , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Thursday Doors – The Marina

This week’s Thursday Doors is all about Belturbet’s marina. It’s a good way to follow up on the past couple of posts about the barracks wall, as they run alongside each other. There are boats of all shapes and sizes to be found.

Some even have doors, which is a good thing for a Thursday Doors post.

Others may not have any doors but they add a nice splash of colour to the marina.

Then there’s the water fowl, always present but no swans on this day, unfortunately.

Just a short post this time, thanks for stopping by the marina, Dan has some interesting Thursday Doors over on his blog.

Posted in Belturbet, Blogging, boats, Cavan, Ireland, nature, The Good Things in Life, Thursday Doors, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 18 Comments

Thursday Doors – Follow the Wall

Continuing our walk from last week, along the boundary walls of the old military barracks, we come to one of two entrances. Nowadays, they lead us into a large green area with a children’s playground and picnic tables dotted around the perimeter.

The walls enclose a pretty large community park with exercise equipment positioned at various intervals. I can imagine the sound of soldiers footsteps stomping up the stone steps in this next image.

If we walk across the grass to a higher level we can see the rear of one of the original houses that is still lived in. I think this may have been the field officer’s residence. The second entrance gate that leads onto Barrack Hill is on the bottom right of the photo below.

Here’s a closer look. On a sunny day it’s a lovely place to sit and soak up some rays.

Next we have some more exercise equipment which can be difficult to use depending on how much you weigh. You lift your own weight when you push out those bars.

Of course, back in the old days you could get a similar workout while performing a necessary task. This old pump would have been used a lot, I imagine.

On the exterior of these walls are narrow slits which I presume were for pointing rifles through. I wonder if the stone jutting out from some of them was for resting weapons on, although it looks like it’s for drainage now as the earth is banked up much higher on the other side.

I bet a fair amount of potatoes were used daily to feed so many men and this horse drawn digger was probably how they were harvested.

There’s a print of an old postcard of the barracks on one of the walls. You can see from it just how little of the original buildings remain but most of the boundary wall is still there.

The next photograph appears to have been taken from across the river. I can’t believe how wide it was back then and how close it was to the barrack’s wall.

The occupants of the barracks weren’t always armed with rifles. Other weapons would have been used, too. The history of this place goes way back.

Around 1660 the first military barracks was built in Belturbet on the opposite side of the river. There is still a building on that site, Riverdale House, which is now a family residence. Some of the older houses on that side of town were originally built for soldiers. In 1753 a larger cavalry barracks was constructed, the one we have been exploring over the past two blog posts. It was occupied up to the 1900’s. The sword in the image above was found in a row of houses known as The Lawn. They were built to accommodate officers from the barracks. An internal door connected the houses to each other allowing an escape route in case of attack. It’s said that a long tunnel led to the barracks but I don’t know where that is now.

In time, the barracks housed both cavalry and infantry and in later years it served as an artillery barracks. From what I could find out, it was built to accommodate 1 field officer, 6 officers, 156 NCOs and privates and 101 horses. However in December 1837 there were only 3 officers, no field officer, 40 NCOs and privates and 41 horses.

Thanks so much for walking the wall with me on this week’s Thursday Doors, if you carry on over to Dan’s blog (our new host) you’ll find some interesting locations to explore.

Posted in Belturbet, Blogging, castles and ruins, Cavan, Historical buildings, History, Ireland, Thursday Doors, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 18 Comments

Thursday Doors – Confined to Barracks

We’re not quite confined to barracks for this week’s Thursday Doors as we can travel up to 5km from the house during this six week lockdown in Ireland. However, my walks usually take me to the local marina and park which is situated where the old army barracks used to be. The first three photos are of the boundary walls.

The next wall is one that for some reason reminds me of my childhood. I’m not sure why but I think it may be because it’s an old painted wall topped with upright stones.

Apparently, there was a similar wall at the cottage where I spent the first few years of my life. Maybe that’s where my mother parked my pram in the fresh air. In those days it was relatively safe to do such a thing. Here’s an old photograph from the 1930s of the tiny house my parents lived in when I was born. I arrived in the 1950s and not much had changed over those two decades but in later years, these old houses were replaced by newer buildings.

You can just about see the white wash on the old stone wall next to the white pillar. Enough of the nostalgia, let’s carry on with our walk. Part of the military barracks in Belturbet is still lived in and has been well preserved.

Even half an arch is better than none at all.

We are now half way through our brisk walk around the barrack walls and heading home so on the way back let’s have a look at some of the buildings on this street, which is appropriately called Barrack Hill.

This might be a good place to drop anchor. Next week, I’ll continue the tour around the site of the old barracks and look into some of its history.

Thanks for keeping me company while I’m confined to barracks and if you enjoy Thursday Doors posts featuring places from all over the world have a look at Norm’s blog.

Posted in Belturbet, Blogging, castles and ruins, Cavan, Historical buildings, Ireland, Thursday Doors, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 21 Comments

Thursday Doors – Coffee and History

Thursday Doors brings you a virtual coffee with a dash of history this week. Sitting in the cafe next to the Tourist Information Office in the center of Dundalk is a great way to start off a tour of the town. While you sip your preferred beverage, you can browse through the abundant supply of information leaflets on what to see and do on your visit to county Louth. If you’re hungry, there’s a nice selection of food, too. It was a pleasant surprise to see some posters of so many interesting Dundalk doors in the window of the tourist office.

You may not have heard of the Irish saint, Oliver Plunkett but he is a well known historical figure here in Ireland. As a result of the Protestant Reformation, the 16th and 17th centuries were fraught with religious wars between Catholics and Protestants and various European countries became allies of one side or the other. In the mid sixteen hundreds many Irish civilians were slaughtered as Catholic garrisons were wiped out by the Cromwellian campaigns. All Catholic priests in Ireland were to be hanged, drawn and quartered and a death sentence was handed down to anyone giving shelter to such persons. It was in 1670, during these dangerous times of religious persecution and turmoil, that Oliver Plunkett returned to Ireland as an archbishop, having gone to Rome to study and become a priest as a young man. In fact, he became the Primate of all Ireland.

The threat of capture was so great he often disguised himself as a captain, wearing a wig and brandishing a sword and pistols. It was said that he even sang at times in a tavern, so as to blend in and remain safe and often a cave was his only shelter in the coldest of weather. In spite of the risks involved, many men were ordained as priests by Oliver Plunkett and they too had to go on the run. About nine years after his arrival in Ireland he was captured in Dublin in December 1679 and stood trial in Dundalk the following year. There’s a wall plaque in the town commemorating that event.

The charges against him were treason and exercising papal jurisdiction but as no witnesses for the prosecution turned up, the trial could not take place and after some months, Oliver Plunkett was brought to England and ended up in Newgate Prison, London. This was a dreadful place where prisoners were often shackled to the walls and treated callously. Although it had been rebuilt after the great fire of London in the fourteen hundreds, it was designed to make the experience so bad as to deter repeat offenders.

Oliver Plunkett was denied legal council and not given enough time to gather evidence. His accusing witnesses were made up of convicted criminals and this second trial found him guilty of a trumped up charge of treason. He was hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn in July 1681, at the age of fifty five. Although buried in two tin boxes, his remains were later exhumed and divided among places in England, Germany, Ireland and Rome. His preserved head was put into a gold and glass case and can be seen today in St. Peter’s Church, Drogheda, County Louth, where it has been since 1921. In 1975 he was canonized.*

As always, thank you for stopping by, I’m sorry the coffee was only virtual but I can assure you it’s good. Maybe you’ll get a chance to try it for real some day. Dundalk is part of Ireland’s Ancient East tourist route so be sure to include it in any visit to the eastern part of the country. Speaking of visiting, Norm has an abundance of interesting Thursday Doors over on his blog, with links to them in the comments on his post.

Source * The book A Journey Through Time – from Land to Sea by County Louth historian and poet, Noel Sharkey, was a great source of information for this post.

Posted in Blogging, dundalk, History, Ireland, social issues, Thursday Doors, Travel, victorian ireland | Tagged , , , , , | 15 Comments

Thursday Doors – Around the Town

This week’s Thursday Doors are from random streets around the town of Dundalk. I featured the first one a couple of weeks ago but this image is from a different angle. Of course, I had to include a red door in at least one of these photos.

Mind you, I’m quite partial to a grey door, especially when it’s surrounded by such lovely pillars.

The next photograph is of the courthouse, designed by Edward Parke and John Bowden in the Neoclassical style  and modeled on the Temple of Hephaestus in Athens. It was completed in 1819.

A stone sculpture, The Maid of Erin, stands in front of the courthouse as a memorial to the Irish rebellion of 1798.

Another example of metal artwork that can be found around the town

Thanks for stopping by. Next week we’ll have a coffee and a wee bit of history along with it. For lots more Thursday Doors carry on over to Norm’s blog.

Posted in Art, Blogging, Historical buildings, Ireland, The Good Things in Life, Thursday Doors, Travel | Tagged , , , | 19 Comments

Thursday Doors – Still in Dundalk

This week’s Thursday Doors post is short and sweet but still in Dundalk.

There’s a lot of the old architecture still to be seen if you look up, even when the ground floor has been modernized.

Thanks for stopping by this week. Norm has lots of links to Thursday Doors from contributors all over the world well worth looking at.

Posted in Historical buildings, Ireland, Thursday Doors | Tagged , , | 20 Comments

Thursday Doors – a Town, a Poet and a Book.

This week’s Thursday Doors will explore the connection between the town of Dundalk, the Scottish poet, Robert Burns and an old book that’s been in our family for generations. Remember that green copper spire that could be seen in the distance in one of my photos in a recent post? Well, let’s have a closer look at the church it belongs to.

The parish church of Saint Nicholas was built in the 13th century and is known affectionately as the Green Church, referring to the copper spire turning green over the years. As in many other port towns, it’s named after one of the patron saints of sailors (who is also the patron saint of children, wolves and pawnbrokers – I’m not making this up). The church was extensively remodeled in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, so that only the nave and tower date from the medieval period. In the churchyard you’ll find graves dating back to 1536 but the gates were locked when I was there and I couldn’t get close enough to take any photographs.

Now let’s see where the Robert Burns connection comes in. This memorial, just inside the church railings, is a tribute to the Scottish poet and a memorial to his sister, Agnes.

Agnes Burns was the poet’s eldest sister, born in 1762 in South Ayrshire. In 1804, at the age of forty two, she married William Galt, who had worked for her brother Gilbert at Dinning Farm. She came from a poor, hard working family and her father believed in the importance of education. This greatly attributed to Robert Burns success as a poet, along with his keen observance of everyday life.

Agnes and her husband arrived in County Louth in 1817, when William was contracted by a local landlord to build a large pond on his estate so that shrubs and trees could have water during the dry summers Ireland experienced at the time. (Yes, we used to have long hot summers in the old days). The landlord was so pleased with William Galt’s work that he made him Confidential Manager of the estate with a salary of forty guineas a year. This position came with the use of a cottage and some land for growing vegetables and keeping a cow. His wife, Agnes, received an allowance of five guineas a year for working as a dairymaid. The couple had no children and lived very comfortably for the rest of their lives. On October 17, 1834, Agnes died aged 72. William lived on until March 3, 1847 and they are both buried in the cemetery of St. Nicholas Church (The Green Church).

Across the street from the church is P J Carroll’s tobacconist shop, which was established in 1824 and developed into a large factory employing many local workers in later years.

One of their popular brand’s was called Sweet Afton. It was launched in 1919 to celebrate the link between Dundalk and Robert Burns, through his sister Agnes. The people of the town were canvassed on whether an image of the poet or a Scottish name should be on the packet, as the company wanted it to appeal to Scottish customers.

Image Courtesy of Wikipedia

The name is taken from the poem Sweet Afton. Here’s the first few lines;

Flow gently, sweet Afton, amang thy green braes
Flow gently, I’ll sing thee a song in thy praise
My Mary’s asleep by they murmuring stream
Flow gently, sweet Afton, disturb not her dream

This is a lyrical poem describing the Afton river in Ayrshire, Scotland and was written by Burns in 1791. In 1837 it was set to music by Jonathan E. Spilman, titled Flow Gently Sweet Afton. By now you must be wondering where an old book comes into this.

It belonged to my grandmother originally. The writing is so tiny I can hardly read it with my glasses on. What I find fascinating is what is handwritten on the first page, presumably by whoever bought the book, whether for themselves or as a gift.

Interestingly, the Afton River gives its name to the Glen of Afton, which apparantly has connections with the Scottish patriot, William Wallace. His seal is on a letter dated 1297 giving some the opinion that Wallace’s father was from that area but historians differ on this. Also, a rock further up the Glen is called Castle William. Maybe the William Wallace in my book is one of his descendants.

Thanks for coming down this week’s rabbit-hole of a blog post with me. Norm has lots of Thursday Doors over on his blog that I’m sure you’ll enjoy, just click the links in the comments at the end of his post.

Posted in authors, Blogging, books, Historical buildings, History, Ireland, Music, Poetry, Poets, Thursday Doors, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | 23 Comments