Thursday Doors – A Mixed Bag

This week’s Thursday Doors post is a bit of a mixed bag. July has been lovely with dry, sunny weather. Less travel restrictions have resulted in friends and families reuniting and a semblance of normality returning almost everywhere. Not too many international tourists about but plenty of the country’s own residents taking ‘staycations’ instead of holidaying abroad. One of our trips was to Blackrock in County Louth, which is where I took this shot of the sundial sculpture. I know I’ve featured it before on the blog but it’s in such a great setting, I couldn’t resist another capture.

One of the many lakes in County Cavan is Lough Ramor in Virginia. This bench is perfectly situated for taking in the beautiful view, except for the fact that the seat is missing.

Close to the ‘seatless’ bench there was a tree that had tied itself in knots, as if stating that it wasn’t going to provide any straight planks of wood to replace that seat.

On another walk in a different woods I came across this lovely mushroom specimen. I’m sure it’s a Dryad’s Saddle, which is edible. So I took a small piece to bring home and sample but after only a short time frying in butter it was very rubbery in texture. I’ll have to get there earlier next year and harvest some at the right time.

Living in county Cavan, I don’t have to travel too far to enjoy a summer in the countryside. The water level in the Erne river that runs through Belturbet is very low at the moment and on most days is so still it looks like a mirror, as you can see from this image of the old railway bridge.

I was recently told of an interesting feature in one of old stone walls that once surrounded the military barracks in Belturbet. I usually walk on the other side of this wall because it runs along the marina and that’s why I’ve been missing it.

I think it came from an older barracks that was built in the 17th century, on the other side of the river. It refers to William of Orange or King Billy, as some would say. Another engraved stone is one of many road and way markers that are dotted around the countryside.

I think this one may have something to do with the river, as it’s a bit different from the usual old road marker. I know this is a pretty mixed bag of photos for this week’s blog but it was fun collecting them. No links to other blogs this week as our host is taking a short break at the moment. But in keeping with the title of this post, here’s a door I’ve never featured before.

This is the door to our local Men’s Shed. If you’ve never heard of it before it’s a community based project that was started in Australia in the 1980s where men meet up to learn, share skills and often make long-lasting friendships. The movement has spread to many countries and in Ireland we have the most sheds per capita with over 450 of them being visited by at least 10,000 men every week. Most sheds engage in woodwork, gardening, carpentry and community work. But some also focus on music, fishing and other special interests. In Belturbet they are involved in the restoration of an old railway carriage.

Thanks for joining me for this week’s mixed bag of Thursday Doors from various parts of the country.

Posted in Belturbet, Blackrock, Blogging, Cavan, Ireland, The Good Things in Life, Thursday Doors, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Thursday Doors – Outdoors

The weather has been so hot here in Ireland lately that I’ve spent most of my time outdoors in the shade, so this week’s Thursday Doors post is all about nature. July has been extremely warm and dry, which isn’t a typical Irish summer. Temperatures have been ranging from 28 C (82.4 F) to 31 C (87.8 F) depending on which part of the country you’re in. I tried to conserve water as much as possible by using basins of dishwater to quench my vegetables’ thirst but some of the salad greens still bolted with all that sunshine. The runner beans and herbs loved it, though.

The grass was beginning to suffer so I watered it after a particularly hot day and who should come bounding out of his home in the red brick labyrinth only Bowie the frog. He does have his own dipping pool but seemed to enjoy soaking up the moisture from the warm grass while I was hosing the garden. Look at that big smile on his face.

Some of our family rented a holiday home for a week and brought a kayak with them so we spent most of the time cooling down in one of the hundreds of lakes in County Cavan. A few of them have beaches too, which made the youngest grandchild very happy. It was the first time I’ve been swimming in a lake for many years and it was wonderful. I’ll have to do that more often.

The holiday home at River Run was very spacious and bright with lovely views over the river and countryside.

There was a nice bit of space between the houses and the children had lots of room to run around outside during the cooler parts of the day.

The sunsets were gorgeous. You can see a small marina in the distance to the right of the next image. That was where we moored our boat, when we had one, and enjoyed the beautiful landscape surrounding this part of the River Erne, just outside Belturbet, County Cavan.

This week, the rain has returned and nobody is complaining. A little bit of respite from the hot sun is a nice change but I don’t think it will stay grey and wet for too long, as August is expected to be a mixed weather month. Hopefully we’ll have a few sunny days to enjoy before the season ends. I’ll keep you posted on that. Thanks for stopping by for this week’s Thursday Doors from the great outdoors.

Posted in Belturbet, Blogging, boats, Cavan, Ireland, nature, The Good Things in Life, Thursday Doors, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Thursday Doors – Ballycastle – The Diamond

Once again Thursday Doors hails from the seaside town of Ballycastle in County Antrim and by now I hope you’re thinking it’s a gem of a place but the diamond referred to in the title is not a precious stone. It’s really the heart of the town and where many annual markets have been held over the centuries. The largest and most famous being The Ould Lammas Fair.

Every year, for two days late in August, Ballycastle is taken over by between 250,000 and 350,000 visitors, who come to an event that has its origins in the 16th century – The Ould (Auld) Lammas Fair. Because of the pandemic, last year it was cancelled for the first time ever and it looks like its been cancelled this year, too. It has a fascinating history attached to it that reaches way back into ancient Ireland.

The name of Lammas originated from the ‘Feast of Lughnasadh’ or Lugh. In Irish legend, Lugh was a Sun God who had a mortal foster-mother named Tailtiu. She was a queen or princess of the Firbolgs – Men of Bags. These early inhabitants of Ireland are said to have come from Greece or Spain where they were put into servitude and forced to carry soil from the fertile plains to the higher ground. To do this, they devised leather bags which they later used to build boats and escape from their enslavement.‘ I’ll leave a link at the end of this post if you’d like to read more.*

Holy Trinity, Church of Ireland, is situated in the Diamond and is a Grade A listed building. The Church was completed in 1756 and built by Colonel Hugh Boyd in the Greco-Roman style.

I really like these rounded pillars at the main entrance.

In front of the church stands a sandstone built memorial in the form of a Gothic style pinnacle. It’s about 6 metres high, resting on a circular base of granite. Two plaques are displayed on it, one recording the name of Doctor George Matthew O’Connor, who died in 1887 and the other is the O’Connor coat of arms. He was the Medical Officer for the Workhouse and Dispensary Doctor for forty years and obviously a well loved member of the community.

Here’s a view of the Diamond and monument from the main street.

The pink pub, Boyd Arms, was established in 1761 during the reign of King George III. A three-storey former hotel, it is named after the Boyd family on whose land Ballycastle lies and who constructed the pub and other buildings in this part of town. The Boyd Arms Hotel was built for the coach-drivers and servants of the gentry who stayed at the Antrim Arms Hotel across the street.

The gentry’s hotel isn’t so eye-catching nowadays and so I never even took a closer photograph of it than what you see on the right of the above image. I think it may be a listed building and hopefully one day it will be restored to it’s former glory. Ironic that the former servants hotel is now the more well kept building.

I’ll finish of with another lovely restaurant, The Cellar. I haven’t tried the food here yet so it’s on my list for another trip.

Not much has changed structurally at The Diamond over the decades, as you can see from the old colourized photograph below.

Thanks for coming along on another virtual tour this week. Dan has a great selection of links to interesting places over on his blog, if you’d like to do a bit more exploring. I’m sure that some time in the future I’ll be featuring more from Ballycastle in another Thursday Doors post, as I haven’t even featured half of what the town has to offer so far, The Diamond being only a tiny part of its interesting features.

The Ould Lammas Fair *

Posted in Historical buildings, History, Ireland, The Good Things in Life, Thursday Doors, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Thursday Doors – Ballycastle – The Shops

You can’t walk through the main street of Ballycastle without noticing the the souvenirs, arts and crafts on display in many of the shop windows, so this week’s Thursday Doors features a sample of what can be found. This first one reminded me of a poem I wrote many years ago about Ireland being ‘a rock of greys and greens and rainbows.

I had a big struggle resisting the urge to lose myself among all those lovely old and new items on display in the above shop but I didn’t have time to browse so onwards to the next one. It had a very apt name, as I would have found it difficult to leave this one too, had I stepped inside.

The work of many local artists and craftspeople can be seen on display in the windows of some of the shops, including the hardware store. This even houses a gallery with a lovely selection of paintings, another place that I would be happy to spend a lot of time. You might go in there for a teapot and come out with a work of art.

Even the empty shops had a certain charm about them and worth photographing. The next one had just one small pane of glass covered by a tiny net curtain. It can’t have been for privacy as the other pains and window were easy to see through.

I liked the blue trim on this building and wondered was if it had been a shop in the past. Or maybe it still is but was closed for lunch. Besides shops, there are some lovely old pubs on the main street. The following two are opposite each other and serve food as well as drink. Not easy to choose between them as they both have a good reputation, so I’m glad I didn’t have to – this time.

The thatched feature really adds a bit of character, doesn’t it?

If you would like to read up on the history of the town this link has lots of interesting information with some lovely old photographs included. Thanks a mil for joining me on my walk around the shops of Ballycastle this week and for a lot more Thursday Doors carry on over to Dan’s blog.

Posted in Historical buildings, Ireland, The Good Things in Life, Thursday Doors, Travel | Tagged , , , | 14 Comments

Thursday Doors – Ballycastle – The Town

Continuing our Thursday Doors tour of Ballycastle, County Antrim, we leave the harbour area and head up to the main part of town. On the way there’s a nice red post box but that’s not the only thing that caught my eye. I can see two local characters having a chat on one of the side streets.

My daughter told me she often sees these two hens scratching around the bottom of this hedge. Apparently, they live in a garden on the opposite side of the street.

At least we know why these two chickens crossed the road – obviously better pickings on that side of the street.

The steps lead up to the Masonic Hall, a late nineteenth century building. It’s on an elevated site close to the town centre and is a Grade B2 listed building in the Neo Classical style.

The next building has a hint of a ship about it with those porthole windows at the top.

I love all those dormer windows that can be seen around this part of town. They really give a lot of character to the place, as does the mix of colourful facades.

I hope you enjoyed our virtual tour this week. There is a lot more to come over the next couple of weeks from the town of Ballycastle but in the meantime, Dan has a great selection of Thursday Doors waiting for you over on his blog.

Posted in Historical buildings, Ireland, The Good Things in Life, Thursday Doors, Travel | Tagged , , , | 27 Comments

Thursday Doors – Ballycastle – The Harbour

Welcome to another Thursday Doors from the lovely seaside town of Ballycastle in County Antrim and this week features the harbour area. There are quite a few diverse food shops along the promenade and I’ve sampled most of their goods over the past few years. All are delicious and left me wanting more.

Ballycastle has a connection with Guglielmo Marconi, known for his pioneering work on long-distance radio transmission, development of Marconi’s law, and a radio telegraph system. In fact, he has quite a connection with Ireland in that his wife was Annie Jameson, whose grandfather founded the Jameson Whiskey distillery. In 1898 Marconi’s assistants successfully contacted Rathlin Island by radio from Ballycastle. Lloyd’s Insurance company, London financed the experimental wireless link to test how well a signal would be received on the mainland from the island. Marconi made a preliminary survey but the work was given to his right-hand man, George Kemp, who hired Edward Glanville, a Trinity College Dublin graduate, to assist him. They in turn hired islander Johnny Cecil as a labourer. I’ll leave a link to their story below, which tells of the unfortunate death of the young college graduate. *

While walking around the harbour I spotted a bright orange boat standing out from all the others and I had to get a closer look.

It looks like an enclosed lifeboat in the process of being refurbished as a leisure craft. I’ve seen some larger ones online made into houseboats and they are fabulous.

One of the Fisheries Protection Vehicles that patrol the coastal waters in the Antrim area.

Across the harbour you can see a helter skelter slide in the playground. I think it’s there for the summer and I bet there’s a nice view from the top. That’s Fair Head in the background in the next photograph.

Thanks for touring the harbour of Ballycastle with me on this week’s Thursday Doors and if you’d like to go further afield, Dan has a great selection of links over on his blog that will bring you to some fascinating locations.

Marconi and Ballycastle *

Posted in boats, food, Ireland, The Good Things in Life, Thursday Doors, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | 16 Comments

Thursday Doors – Coffee With a View

My first cup of coffee indoors at a cafe in almost a year deserves to be included in this week’s Thursday Doors post and it was in a place with a magnificent view.

The Shorebird Coffee Hut in Ballycastle, County Antrim is not only in a beautiful setting but is a relaxing and friendly place to start off a morning of door hunting.

The coffee and cakes are as tasty as the lovely beach themed interior.

I didn’t bump into Robinson Crusoe but I think I might have come across his beach hut. This got me thinking of people who live on islands and have been nicknamed after Daniel Defoe’s fictional character. For instance, there’s Yorkshireman, Brendon Grimshaw, who bought Moyenne Island in the Seychelles back in 1962 and spent years searching for the buried treasure of pirate Oliver Levasseur. At the same time, with the help of his friend Rene Antoine Lafortune, he transformed the 24 acre island into the world’s smallest national park. They planted 16,000 trees, introduced a wide variety of birds and bred giant tortoises. Grimshaw died in 2012, aged 87.

Northern Ireland has a its own ‘Robinson Crusoe’ in the person of Peter McClelland, who lived as the only resident of Coney Island on Lough Neagh for almost 20 years. He retired from his solitary life a few years ago to live in the busy town of Portadown, County Armagh. In 1998 he became the warden of the eight and a half acre island and over the next two decades cleared away invasive species, opened up pathways and planted many trees. He also recorded the wide variety of birds that came to visit and welcomed about five thousand tourists each summer, some day trippers and others camping. He wasn’t totally isolated as he sailed across to the mainland during the week to buy food and goods.

A lot of history is attached to Coney Island on Lough Neagh, from a 13th century Anglo-Norman motte to a round tower dating back to the 16th century. Being a secluded island had its advantages for some in more recent history. Queen Victoria’s son Albert Prince of Wales (also known as Bertie) who would become King Edward VII, stayed there with his mistress, actress Lillie Langtry.

Next week I’ll show you what came after my coffee with a view but in the meantime, Dan has quite a lot of interesting links to an international selection of Thursday Doors over on his blog.

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

Thursday Doors – Vintage Surprise

The arrival of a couple of 1930’s style vintage wedding cars was a pleasant surprise when my grandson, Lukas, was capturing some Thursday Doors photos on his trip to Antrim Castle Gardens. The chauffeurs were very friendly and even posed for him. The two door Silver Beauford had beautiful dark red leather interior while the seven seater Silver Imperial Landaulette had lovely cream seating. I’ll leave a link to their website at the end of the post.

Now, onto some nice images of the gardens. The tree below has been trained to grow in a spiral shape. I love how the shadow makes it look like as if a snake is wound around it.

Crossing the bridge brings us to some beautiful river views.

In the distance you can see a ferris wheel that has been set up in the Market Square of Antrim town for the summer.

Over on Dan’s blog you’ll find a variety of posts from around the globe with lots of interesting doors and buildings. Thanks again, Lukas, for contributing to another Thursday Doors and sharing that lovely vintage surprise with us.

Vintage Wedding Cars, County Antrim

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Thursday Doors – Antrim Castle Gardens

Thursday Doors is fast becoming a family affair as this week’s photos were contributed by my grandson Lukas which he took on a recent visit to Antrim Castle Gardens. He found a colourful mosaic while he was there.

The statue of a dog to the left of the above image has an interesting story attached to it.

In 1607, not long after she married Sir Hugh Clotworthy, the daughter of Sir Roger Langford, Lady Marian, was standing by the water’s edge on the shores of Lough Neagh when a growl came from behind her. Turning around she was confronted by a huge wolf, ready to pounce, and this caused her to faint. Just in time, an Irish wolfhound came to her rescue and when the young woman woke up from her swoon she was relieved to see her attacker dead. Unfortunately, the wolfhound was badly injured so Marian took the brave dog back to her home at Antrim Castle and nursed it back to health. Once the animal had made a decent recovery, it disappeared.

However, some years later a wolfhound was heard baying during a storm and the castle wardens lit a large fire to see what was going on. They were shocked to discover their enemies gathering close by getting ready to attack. Only one shot was fired from the castle but it was enough to disperse the enemy and at dawn, the stone statue of the wolfhound was discovered on the highest turret. Historians have said that Sir Hugh went to a lot of trouble to make a mystery out of the appearance of the statue and over the four centuries since it was formed, it’s been moved a few times. It looks to me to be in pretty good condition for its age.

Dan has lots of links to interesting doors over on his blog this week. Thank you Lukas for your contribution to this week’s Thursday Doors from Antrim Castle Gardens.

Posted in Art, Blogging, castles and ruins, Historical buildings, History, Ireland, nature, Thursday Doors, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | 17 Comments

Thursday Doors – Drive-by Shots

For this week’s Thursday Doors I’m sharing some drive-by shots taken from the car on a recent trip. What caught my attention as we passed by this wee church was the small number of graves on its grounds and when I looked closer at the photograph I saw a mix of old and new headstones. An internet search gave me some good information about it.

It’s in Stonebridge, County Monaghan and is a Presbytarian Church or Meeting House with a small cemetery alongside it. The oldest gravestones don’t have any dates on them but are presumed to be as old as the original church. There has been a congregation in Stonebridge from at least the 1700s and a plaque on one of the gable end walls is inscribed 1700. This most likely refers to an earlier structure that must have stood on the site before the present church was built in 1830. Historical records show at least three different rebuilds or renovations took place on that location over the centuries so the plaque from 1700 must have been saved and placed on the new or extended church in 1790 and then added to the present building that replaced the old one in 1830.

Typical two story farm house that looks like it may have been extended over the years.

This three-storey premises was built 1892, designed by architects Millar and Symes. With its beautiful stonework, this building in Clones, County Monaghan adds a lot of character to the town and is a testament to the craftsmen involved in its construction. It is still operating as a bank today. The next photograph is a building which used to be a bank but now houses a solicitors firm.

It was built about 1880 and then modified in 1922. Let’s end the post with something different. A row of fake doors and windows on a derelict building in Dundalk, County Louth.

The mural of the ‘broken wall’ giving a view into a fake room is very cleverly done, I think, and adds a bit of interest. I’m sorry it’s so blurred, I had to take the shot from a distance as there was nowhere close by to park up. Over on Dan’s blog you’ll find lots of interesting links to doors and places from around the world. Thanks for stopping by and viewing these drive-by shots on this week’s Thursday Doors.

Posted in Blogging, Historical buildings, History, Ireland, Thursday Doors | Tagged , , | 13 Comments