Thursday Doors

If you like history, especially social history, then you would love a visit to the County Tyrone village of Sion Mills and if you can’t travel there yourself, I’ll be doing a Thursday Doors post about it at a later date. For now, let me show you just a few of the lovely old buildings that grace the roadside as it cuts through the village. They were all taken from the car as we didn’t have time to stop on this trip, so please excuse the quality.

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Sion Mills was founded in 1835, as a linen village community, when a flax-spinning mill was built on the banks of the River Mourne. It employed up to 1,200 people at one point and was renowned as the ‘Rolls Royce’ of the linen industry worldwide.

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This Church of Ireland, Church of the Good Shepherd, was built in the style of Italian renaissance in 1909 and based on the design of a church at Pistoia, near Florence, Italy.

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The sign on this well preserved building says ‘Public Elementary School 1879’

There are over forty listed buildings in Sion Mills, so I am itching to check out as many as I can.

As we continued to drive towards our destination, I tried to capture some interesting images along the way but it was difficult to get a clear shot in a moving vehicle.

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‘Let The Dance Begin’ Sculpture by  Maurice Harron

These statues of dancers and musicians are 18 feet high and can be found just off the roundabout on the Lifford Road, Strabane, County Tyrone.

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My last photograph is of a nice old cottage standing in a field. I had to enlarge this image as it was quite a distance away from the road and I only had my phone camera to work with, so it’s a bit blurred.

Thanks for your visit this week. My next post will feature some night images of Derry city. In the meantime, if you would like to see a selection of Thursday Doors from around the globe, have a look at Norm’s blog and follow the links in the comments.

 

 

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Posted in Art, Historical buildings, History, Ireland, society, Thursday Doors, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | 26 Comments

Thursday Doors – Blackrock Again

This will be my last Thursday Doors post from the seaside village of Blackrock in County Louth, for the present. When the weather improves I’ll take a tour through the rest of the countryside in Ireland’s smallest county and share some of the historical sites with you.

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When I was a child visiting my grandparents the largest of these properties belonged to the three Miss Flynns, as everyone called them. The three spinster sisters ran a guesthouse and if I saw them on the street I would dash across the road to avoid having my head patted and my cheeks pinched, affectionately, of course. I think they had a bench outside their door for guests to sit on and admire the view, but it wasn’t quite as colourful as the one in place there now.

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One day, my maternal grandmother gave me half a crown (2 shillings and 6 pence) instructing me to run up to the bookie’s office and place a bet on a horse in the Grand National (a major annual racing event in Ireland). I wasn’t paying attention to my surroundings, being too preoccupied trying to remember the name of my grandmother’s horse, and I got waylaid by the Miss Flynns. By the time I had extricated myself from their grasp and reached the betting office, it was too late to place the bet.

When I arrived back at my grandmother’s she was so excited because her horse had won. Unfortunately, she was none the richer and I sheepishly handed over the money muttering something about the Miss Flynns. My grandmother tutted and shook her head and made me sing Danny Boy as a punishment. The previous summer, she had been horrified that I had reached the ripe old age of nine and didn’t know the words to one of her favourite songs. She made me promise to learn it before my next visit. Once I had finished the last of what seemed like a hundred verses, a sixpence was placed in my palm and I was told to go out and buy myself an ice-cream. It was well worth the humiliation and embarrassment. I ran up the street to my other grandparents’ shop and got a free ice-cream, while pocketing the sixpence for another day.

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This plaque is one of a few placed at intervals along the promenade. The translation from Irish to English on this one is roughly; She is the dry east wind. It’s a line from an Irish poem Na Gaoithe (The Wind). The spring flowers were well in bloom nearby, totally unaffected by the east wind.

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It was a pleasure to show you around my native village these past few weeks, I hope you enjoyed the tour. There are some fabulous Thursday Doors over on Norm’s blog, with a link to many more at the end of his post.

 

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Thursday Doors

If you read my Thursday Doors post last week you’ll recognise the sundial with the sea as a backdrop. Yes, we are still in the beautiful village of Blackrock, County Louth.

My great grandfather, son of a local fisherman, was a shoeshine boy in the Blackrock Hotel when he was twelve. It’s now called The Brake Tavern.

After emigrating to Liverpool, where he made his fortune, he returned with his wife (a Blackrock woman and daughter of another local fisherman) and their three remaining children. Their baby girl had sadly passed away and my grandmother was three at the time. A son was born a couple of years after their return home. This family photo was taken in Liverpool before their youngest child died.

From this old photograph of the village you can see that the Blackrock Hotel is the largest property in the main street. It was built by one of the local gentry in 1845 to accommodate the growing number of visitors to the village.*

In 1894 a schooner ran aground in the bay. She was carrying a large cargo of roof slates, which was on its way to a builders’ merchant in Dundalk. In a supposed effort to lighten the load, some Blackrock fishermen removed much of the cargo and some of the old thatched homes in the village received new slate roofs, at no charge, of course.

This last shot is of the Clermont Arms Hotel, built around the same time as the Blackrock Hotel. The smaller section was originally a separate building, The Swan Hotel. If you would like to learn more about the history of Blackrock, I have a link at the end of this post.

As always, I appreciate you stopping by. Next week I’ll be posting the last of my doors from Blackrock. In the meantime, have a look at what Norm’s Thursday Doors has to offer.

Blackrock History *

Posted in Historical buildings, History, Ireland, nature, The Good Things in Life, Thursday Doors, Travel | Tagged , , , | 34 Comments

Thursday Doors

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Last week I paid a visit to my native village of Blackrock and captured some colourful Thursday Doors and buildings to share. If you’ve read any of my Irish Saga you might recognized the Cooley Mountains, as shown in the above photo, from their description in the books. I referred to them as ‘an arm stretching around the bay’ as if to protect it.

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For the first of my doors, let me introduce you to the home I lived in as a child. It was called Seaside Stores in those days and sold the usual beach toys, ice-creams and sweets that you would expect to find in a shop directly across the road from the sea. When my parents moved us to another county my grandparents took over the business and we spent most summers there until my grandmother passed away and the shop was sold. However, I still had another grandmother living in the village, just a few doors up, plus aunts, uncles and cousins so our visits didn’t stop, thankfully.

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I can still hear the sound of the waves as I lay in the bed I shared with my sister, as they lapped gently on the shore or crashed thunderously, which is what they were doing the day I took the above photo. This next door is one of my favourites in the village.

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I had to take most of my photographs from across the street as there were cars parked in front of most the buildings. I love that cheerful yellow door.

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You can see how interesting and individual each building is in Blackrock but even in the past, there was a good variety of shapes and sizes in the village.

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Some of the houses have remained unchanged for almost a hundred years, like this fisherman’s cottage.

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I’ll save the rest of my doors for next week’s post because now I’d like to show you some of the beautiful sculptures that can be found along the promenade.

The sculpture Bradáin, the Irish word for salmon, was carved from Kilkenny limestone. It’s the work of artist Richard Perry who tells us that “The silhouette of ‘Bradáin’ refers in a very simple and direct way to the soft, rounded shapes of the Cooley Mountains, with the salmon referring to the origins of Blackrock as a fishing village.”

Blackrock Millennium Sundial is apparently the largest sundial in a public place in Ireland and was commissioned by Blackrock Tidy Towns to mark the millennium in the village. It was unveiled in 2000 and has a time capsule with photographs and documents from the millennium year in the village buried in its foundations. The bronze sculpture Aisling is by local artist Tanya Nyegaard. If you look at where the shadow lies in the photograph you’ll see it was 12.30 when I took the shot.

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The Cockle Pickers by local artist Micheál McKeown also represents the maritime traditions of the village. Cockles would have been an important source of nourishment during the years of the Great Hunger (sometimes called the Irish Famine) of the mid 1800’s. The artist used interwoven stainless steel strips to create the two figures. I’m very fond of this sculpture as it was an activity my ancestors partook of going back through the generations.

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I hope you enjoyed our tour of this lovely seaside village, thanks for coming along. I’ll have more photos on next week’s post and a bit of local history to go with them. If you would like to see a few more Thursday Doors, carry on over to Norm’s blog for an interesting selection.

 

Posted in Art, books, Ireland, nature, The Good Things in Life, Thursday Doors, Travel | Tagged , , , | 28 Comments

Thursday Doors

Lisnaskea is a neighbouring town full of wonderful Thursday Doors waiting to be included in my blog posts. This must be the nicest Chinese restaurant I’ve seen yet, at least from the outside. I love the stonework and design, as it’s very much in keeping with the historical architecture throughout this lovely county Fermanagh town.

Next to this building is a lovely old Victorian house, a Grade B listed stone dwelling, built in the 1800’s. It has six bedrooms plus an annex. Do I know that because I had a tour of the place? No, unfortunately I didn’t get to see the inside but I did find a link to an estate agent’s site, as the house was up for sale some time ago. The photos have been taken down now because it was sold but from my virtual tour I could tell it had once been a tastefully decorated home. Hopefully it will be brought back to its former glory by the new owners.

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It also has a charming little greenhouse attached.

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At the rear of the main building you can see what may have been a coach house and servants quarters, back in the day.

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Here’s what it looked like in the early 1900’s with a dry stone wall and a lot more shrubbery in the foreground:

(Courtesy of the National Library of Ireland’s Eason Photographic Collection).

I’m really looking forward to walking around Lisnaskea in search of some interesting doors and hopefully I’ll dig up a bit of history along the way. Thank you for stopping by this week. Norm has a very nice selection of Thursday Doors over on his blog, well worth checking out.

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Thursday Doors

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The first of my Thursday Doors photos this week is of The Slieve Rossa pub. That middle step is one to watch if you’re leaving after having ‘one too many.’ A few years back, the owner found a dead snake in an outside drain pipe when he tried to unblock it. Now, in many other countries that might not be surprising but Ireland is one of the few places  in the world that is devoid of snakes in the wild. Legend has it that Saint Patrick banished them from the island. This one may have been someone’s pet that either escaped or was released. Antarctica, Greenland, Iceland, Hawaii and New Zealand are also ‘snakeless’ regions (is that a new word I’ve just invented? It’s not in the Oxford English Dictionary). In fact, in New Zealand it’s illegal to own a snake and you won’t find any in the zoos there, either.

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Although it was a lovely sunny day, I didn’t have time to go on a walkabout so I apologize for some of my images being a bit off as they were all taken from the car. On this street, some of the terraced houses have retained their original facade and I love that mix of brick and stone.

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Others have new brickwork but still blend in quite well.

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Bay windows feature strongly in another terraced row on the same street and the house with the green door appears to have retained it’s sash windows. Even if they are not the original, they are in keeping with the period.

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Of course, I was bound to come across some red doors. A popular colour in Ireland.

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Well, traffic is moving along now, so I’ve rolled up the window and I’m heading into town. Thanks for coming along on this week’s Thursday Doors post. For some very different portals, have a look at Norm’s blog and click the blue frog link at the end of his post.

 

Posted in Cavan, Ireland, Thursday Doors | Tagged , , , , | 24 Comments

Thursday Doors

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I took a stroll down by the Belturbet Marina for this Thursday Doors post, to photograph it from a different angle than before. That large building on the right is part of a boat yard attached to the private marina across the river. We’ve noticed a good increase in the amount of vessels permanently moored there over the last twelve months, which is a good thing for the town, too. The company that owns the private berths also hires out river cruisers and you can take a holiday sailing on some of the many inland waterways, including Ireland’s longest river – the Shannon. There is also free, short-term public mooring in the town.

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This diesel pump is the worse for wear, I think. Good job there are still boats that are not dependent on fossil fuel, just elbow grease.

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The heather is in blooming good shape, though.

Those photos were taken before the snow fell.

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Looks pretty even though it’s cold. I hope you’re keeping warm enough if you’re in that ‘polar vortex’ in the US and Canada.  Here’s a video from The Moving Image Research Collections, showing Chicago as it looked during a snowstorm in the 1920’s.

Thanks so much for joining me on my stroll down by the marina. There are lots of fascinating Thursday Doors on Norm’s blog, with a link to even more at the end of his post.

 

 

Posted in boats, Cavan, Ireland, nature, Thursday Doors, videos, wild plants | Tagged , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

Thursday Doors

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Even when the house is warm, if it’s cold outside The Gaffer likes to wrap himself up in his bed – until I suggest we go for a walk around town in search of Thursday Doors.

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“What was that you said? A walk?” He loves his walks and we’re convinced he can now spell the word because even when we say the letter ‘W’ he will run to the door excitedly. Sorry for the blurred image but he moved so fast I barely got the shot.

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This is the door I had in mind, a green one. The white-washed walls look to be quite old or maybe they were built to appear that way but I found houses there on the ordinance survey map of 1840. You are looking at the rear of a house that’s been renovated and I have a feeling there was an old cottage there originally and this is what’s left of it. It’s facing the river and has a lovely view from the garden. Can you make out the word ‘famine’ on the bottom right-hand corner of the photo? It’s written on a large black pot.

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I wonder if that pot was found in this particular garden and if the little cottage has any connection to it.

A more apt name of what many call the Irish Famine or Potato Famine is An Gorta Mór (The Great Hunger) because there was an abundance of food at the time when blight struck the staple diet of the majority of Irish people – the potato. However, most of the food was exported and any cereal the starving tenants grew had to be used to pay their rents or they would be evicted. During the second year of The Great Hunger, in the winter of 1846, the Quakers provided 294 big cauldrons, which would later become known as famine pots, to set up the first soup kitchens. The British government followed the Quaker example in setting up soup kitchens and supplied 600 pots. Even the Sultan of Turkey donated some pots.  In Dublin city a high-profile French chef, Alex Soyer, set up a model soup kitchen where his recipes were supposed to provide sufficient nutritional value for those in dire need.*

These pots are sad but necessary reminders of very dark days in Ireland’s history. They also bring to mind that even with our modern era of food production and all of its technological advances, we still have millions of people starving in our world today. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimated that about 815 million people of the 7.6 billion in the world, or 10.7%, were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2016.

To finish on a happier note, here’s a photo of The Gaffer ignoring the very friendly geese down by the river. Next time we go, I’ll bring them some lettuce.

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If you’d like to see a great selection of Thursday Doors from around the world, have a look at Norm’s blog, there’s a blue ‘frog’ button at the end of his post that will lead you there. Thanks so much for stopping by.

This link will bring you to a very interesting quick read about Famine Pots.*

 

 

Posted in History, Ireland, nature, social issues, Thursday Doors, victorian ireland | Tagged , , , , , , | 33 Comments

Thursday Doors

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We pass this little church on a regular basis and for a long time I’ve been meaning to stop and take a photograph of it for Thursday Doors. Of course, the red door catches my eye every time we drive by. It looks so vibrant against the grey stone.

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Saint Andrew’s, Church of Ireland, is in Drumalore Beg in County Cavan and was built in 1869 in the Gothic Revival style of architecture.

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Designed by James Rawson Carroll and built by contractor Robert Smith.

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It’s not just the beautiful red door that makes this such an attractive building but the magnificent yew tree next to it.  This species of tree is Ireland’s largest native evergreen. The foliage is poisonous to livestock, so many have been cleared in the past. In a mixed woodland setting, they secret a toxin through their roots which serves to create an open space around them. The yew has been associated with victory over death since ancient pre-Christian times and there are some reputed to be more than three thousand years old.

My favourite yew tree is in County Fermanagh, on Crom Estate. The earliest known reference to it is from 1739, when it was described at the time as an already venerable tree. I featured it in a post in 2017.  Ancient Yew, Crom Estate.

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Well, that wraps up another Thursday Doors till next week. Thank you so much for your company and don’t forget to check out Norm’s blog for a varied selection of door posts.

 

Posted in Cavan, Historical buildings, Ireland, nature, Thursday Doors | Tagged , , , , , , | 29 Comments

Writers of Worth Who Spent a Short Time on Earth

In spite of a short lifespan they produced some fine writing. Thanks to Dave Astor for this enlightening post.

Dave Astor on Literature

Among literature’s “writers for the ages” are many who died at a young or relatively young age. They packed memorable works into their short time on Earth — in some cases, just one or several works; in other cases, quite a few. Pretty impressive.

It’s poignant to think of what else they might have produced if they hadn’t died well before their senior-citizen days because of suicide, disease, alcoholism, hard living, an accident, etc. Some might have never surpassed the “A” quality of their early output, but even “B” work would have been welcome.

In this post, I’m going to focus on writers who never reached the age of 45.

The first I’ll mention is died-at-44 Joseph Roth (1894-1939), an Austrian writer who’s not that well known today but should be. This month I read his novel Right and Left, and was impressed. Not his best or most-remembered work…

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