Thursday Doors – Florence Court – Part 2

In part 2 of this Thursday Doors Florence Court tour we’ve gone through the narrow archway and ended up at the estate’s forge. I can only imagine how hot this place must have been for the blacksmith back in the day when we had long hot summers in Ireland. Did we ever have long hot summers here? I do remember one when I was a child but that was over half a century ago – we must be due another one.

Very close to the forge stands the cattle yard. The blacksmith didn’t have to go too far to brand them.

Opposite this yard stands a building with two large red doors. It reminds me of an old fire station but I think it was a stables or similar for holding animals as it’s so close to both the cattle yard and forge.

Speaking of fire . . .

In the early hours of March 22nd, 1955, a fire started on the first floor of the big house, next to Lady Enniskillen’s bedroom. Her husband was away at the time but she was there to raise the alarm. By 9.00 am, fire brigades almost had the blaze extinguished but dry weather conditions made it difficult to keep all the flames at bay and they eventually reached the roof of the building. By evening, a large part of the interior of the house was destroyed, leaving about two-thirds of it in ruins, damaged by fire and water. That dry spell was just a few years before I was born so that means we’ve probably had two long hot summers here in Ireland in the past hundred years. There goes my hopes for one in 2023, so.

I’m joking about the weather here. Although long, hot days are not a regular feature of Irish summers, when the sun shines we make the most of it, if we can, and really appreciate it. The temperate climate here suits me and the plus side is, we don’t have the extremes a lot of other countries do. Well, I don’t think I’ve ever said this before but let’s get away from all those red doors and have a look at some greenery.

These are some of the walls surrounding a four acre garden which contains vegetable plots , orchards, fruit trees, a rose garden and two ponds. As I was there in late winter there isn’t too much to see but I hope to return and catch it all in full bloom.

Yes, that’s another red door looking back at you. They’re everywhere! To the right you can see what used to be the head gardener’s residence. Rose Cottage was built in the 1840s but was derelict by the 1990s. Thankfully, it has been restored and is available as a holiday rental.

Let’s take a peek inside that walled garden, although I don’t expect to see too much at this time of year.

Rose Cottage is bigger than I expected. I would have been very happy to live there. What a great place to spend a weekend with all those lovely gardens on your doorstep.

No point exploring the various gardens at this time of year. I’ll leave that for another day. I hope you enjoyed part 2 of Florence Court, thanks for coming along and if you’d like to see a lovely international array of Thursday Doors, skip on over to Dan’s blog.

Posted in Blogging, Historical buildings, History, Ireland, The Good Things in Life, Thursday Doors, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments

Thursday Doors – Florence Court – Part 1

I’ve been meaning to feature Florence Court House on Thurday Doors for a long time now but there is so much to see that I’ve divided it into two parts, so welcome to part 1. Above is a view of the back of this 18th century Georgian property which is set in a large estate and has the Benaughlin and Cuilcagh Mountains for a backdrop. It’s located about eight miles from the town of Enniskillen in county Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. Carefully making my way around a giant squirrel, I carried on towards the servants entrance.

Before exploring the courtyard and its many interesting doors I popped into this wee secondhand bookshop that was probably one of the servants quarters back in the days when the estate was owned by the Earls of Enniskillen.

As soon as you go through the archway you find yourself surrounded by lots of red doors set in lovely old stone buildings.

Even when you look up you’ll see a red door. The colour really stands out against the stonework.

I spied another red door through this narrow arch and had to explore further but I’ll leave that until my next post. If you would like to see the front and interior of this grand old house The Irish Aesthete has a wonderful post about its history with some great photographs. Many thanks for joining me on part 1 of this tour of Florence Court and if you haven’t had your fill of red doors yet I’m sure Dan has one or two over on his Thursday Doors blog or try Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge.

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

Thursday Doors – Bienvenido 2023

I thought I’d give you a nice Spanish welcome to my first Thursday Doors post of 2023 – bienvenido. However, as it turns out this is now my second post as I had forgotten to publish it. A friend alerted me to that fact when she couldn’t find it online, so thank you so much Judy for asking me about it.

As we drove around town I managed to snap a couple of pretty casitas. The next few photos were taken on a walkabout. No, we didn’t sample the food in the Grumpy Goat but it was tempting if we’d had the time.

Not many town properties have gardens but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a large collection of plants.

I certainly wouldn’t like the job of watering all those pots, the weather can be very hot and dry in this part of Spain.

Thanks so much for stopping by this first post of 2023. Hope to see you next time.

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Thursday Doors – Dundalk Gaol

Welcome to my second Thursday Doors post of 2023 and this one is from Dundalk gaol or jail depending on what century you live in and the version of English you speak, lol.

The prison was built in 1853 at a cost of £23,000 and opened in January 1854. Men were incarcerated in the wing pictured above and women in a similar but seperate building. I featured it in the second book of my Irish Family Saga where one of the saddest scenes in the whole series took place. Most of the twenty five prisoners held there at any one time served less than two years. By the 1870s Australia was refusing to take in any more convicts from Ireland and overcrowding in gaols here became a major problem. An 1877 Royal Commission report recommended that more prisons be constructed and even suggested portable iron gaols.

I’m pretty sure this was the prison infirmery which now houses the County Louth Civil Defense headquarters. Would you like to have a peek inside the men’s section of the gaol?

If you think they look like bar stools on the right of the above image you’d be correct.

Yes, there is a bar in the gaol and it’s not an iron one. In 2008, Louth County Council presented the men’s wing of the gaol to Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Éireann to house the Oriel Cultural Centre. The facilities are now a fabulous addition to the local community, I’ll leave a link at the end of the post for you to have a look round yourself.*

This is where I sat to listen to a talk on cancer while having some coffee and biscuits but as I looked upwards the image of watery gruel and stale bread came to mind. I didn’t do a full tour this time, that’s for another day and while I’m at it I must check and see if any of my ancestors served time there. It’s quite possible as I found some of them in an old archive being fined a shilling or a sixpence at Petty Sessions for offences like:

Being in charge of a donkey on a public road while under the influence of alcohol.

Allowing an animal to graze on the roadside unaccompanied. (Must have been Constable Doolittle who got the name and address of its owner). We call this ‘grazing the long acre’ as many people didn’t have a field to keep their goat, cow or donkey in.

An argument with a neighbour over a front door. (My ancestor was the claiment in this one).

Being found drinking on the premises of a public house after closing time.

Thanks so much for viewing my post and Dundalk Gaol, there are lots more Thursday Doors over on Dan’s blog.

The Oriel Centre*

Posted in dundalk, Historical buildings, History, Ireland, Thursday Doors, Travel, victorian ireland | Tagged , , , , , | 16 Comments

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.

Posted in Blogging, boats, castles and ruins, Historical buildings, History, The Good Things in Life, Thursday Doors | Tagged , , , | 17 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.

Posted in Blogging, Ireland, The Good Things in Life, Thursday Doors, Travel | Tagged , , , | 20 Comments