Thursday Doors – The Grand Finale

We are nearing the grand finale of our virtual tour of Belturbet and how better to start this week’s Thursday Doors than with a lovely street mural of the railway station in it’s busier days. It depicts the narrow and broad gauge tracks in use and is the work of artist Collette Kearny. She was inspired by a picture hanging in The Goods Store, one of the station’s heritage buildings.

Although it can do a lot of damage, doesn’t a bit of foliage turn an old abandoned building into an interesting feature?

This is the where the old Catholic church stood (1836-1956) before the new one was built further up the town. A bungalow stands on the site now and the surrounding wall contains some of the church’s original stone. Those stones came from an old bridge in the town that had been demolished and they were carried on the backs of local people quite a distance, including up a hill, to this site to build the church. They would have all passed away by the time the church was being levelled, so they didn’t have to witness what became of their hard work.

Next we come to one of four schools in the town (three for junior education and one for teenagers). The school’s name and address indicate its historic connections.

Fairgreen school was originally built in 1867, as a two-storey building. The schoolroom was upstairs, and the teacher’s residence downstairs. In 1931 it was rebuilt as a single storey building, with no residential area. Initially still a one-teacher school, it increased to a two-teacher school in 1967. In 2018 it celebrated its 150th anniversary and it’s still going strong. The name Fairgreen comes from the fair which was held on the nearby grassy area or green. It’s where farmers came to buy and sell livestock, in years gone by. The words in Irish on the stone monument roughly translates to We shall never see its like again.

Although the market is no longer held, the stone loading ramp for the animals is still there.

I don’t think this was the original site of the old water pump but it does look nice on the green.

Most of the houses in this area are fairly new but nearer Fairgreen school we’ll find some older ones. I particularly like the single story terrace of railway cottages with their bare stone walls.

This one is appropriately called Railway Cottage.
The end one looks quite orange in this shot but it’s really a vibrant red.
Originally, this terrace was built by a local business for their employees.
The Seven Horseshoes Hotel will hopefully be open again mid-summer.

The marina is a nice place to finish our walk, don’t you think? I noticed two new kids on the block (or should that be ‘dock’)? The bigger modern one is definitely eye-catching and looks very luxurious but the old sage green coloured one below appeals to the retro in me.

Just so you can get a sense of how many lakes there are here, take a look at this map of the countryside surrounding Belturbet. This is only a section of the whole county so I guess there really must be a lake for every day of the year in Cavan, as the saying goes.

If you have stuck with me to the end of the line I hope you enjoyed the grand finale this week and if you fancy exploring a wee bit more, Dan has Thursday Doors galore over on his blog.

Posted in Art, Belturbet, Blogging, boats, Cavan, Historical buildings, History, Ireland, Thursday Doors, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Thursday Doors – End of the Line?

Continuing our Thursday Doors walk around the town of Belturbet, lets keep going until we reach the end of the line. On the way to our destination Mr. R. spotted something on the side of the old railway bridge that spans the Erne river.

If you look closely you’ll see a duck beneath those brambles. I had to check online to see if ducks make nests so high and found out they sometimes do, especially if it’s near water. At least the ducklings will have a soft landing when it comes time to leave home.

Instead of walking around Turbet Island we’ll head in the opposite direction, in search of the end of the line. It’s a beautiful trail that takes us on a pathway through the fields on the outskirts of the town.

I don’t think that gate has been closed recently.

There aren’t many houses along the way so it’s worth taking a peek through the trees at this one. It’s in such a beautiful setting.

Have we reached the end of the line yet?

It does say ‘LINE’ on that old metal container but I think we might have a bit to go, yet.

Our journey brings us past the old water tower.

It’s a very long platform, isn’t it? Are you tired yet?

I think we’ve finally reached the end. Well, the end of this line but there’s another one nearby.

Two different rail systems ran through this station – a broad gauge and a narrow one.

The sun is shining, the birds are singing so let’s take in what’s around us for a minute or two.

Passengers would board and disembark at this section here. You can see an engine and a carriage behind the wire mesh. I wasn’t tall enough to get a clear shot above it. The reason everything is closed right now is partly due to the pandemic but also to keep the public safe while some maintenance work is being carried out.

Some wagons are not quite as healthy looking as that red one. You can see the bare bones of them in the next couple of images. The good news is, there is a plan for their restoration.

However, the goods store is in great shape, thanks to the Belturbet Community Development Association.

In the next photo you can see where the railway turntable was located. This was a device for turning railway stock, usually a locomotive, in order to face them back in the direction they came from, for a return journey.

I found an old photograph on Wikimedia of what the station looked like in its working days. There’ll be a link to some more history and old images at the end of this post. (1)

The trains were often so slow that intending passengers could walk alongside and simply hop aboard. Tickets were issued wherever they got on the train. The schedules were often nominal, as train crews were liable to stop along the way and have chats with friends and neighbours. One inspector of the rails carried a gun so that he could go wild-fowling when he was not attending to his duties.‘ (More stories can be found on link number 2)

By Walter Dendy, deceased, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=61409573

Belturbet station was opened in 1885 by the Great Northern Railway (Ireland) Company and closed in 1959. Let’s take a walk to the front of the station and see what greeted passengers as they arrived to board their train.

It’s a beautiful cut stone building with a stationmaster’s house attached.

What a great place to live (if you like trains). Most people living by a railway line will tell you they’ve become accustomed to the noise. We once moved to a town with a nearby airport and after a few weeks didn’t even notice the sound of planes landing and taking off.

The station is now a visitor centre and museum.

Here’s some more information on the history of the station.

Thanks for chugging along with me this week. Dan has lots of interesting doors to explore over on his blog. Next week’s Thursday Doors will feature the last part of our tour around the town, so we haven’t quite reached the end of that line yet.

Belturbet Heritage Railway (1)

All Aboard (2)

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Thursday Doors – Around the Town

Let’s start off this week’s Thursday Doors with a bit of colour from around the town of Belturbet, County Cavan. A local man went to work in the gold mines in the Yukon region of Canada and when he returned home in the late 50s he brought with him a wife and enough money to buy a pub. It’s a family run business today and has an off license with a good selection of very nice wines. The bar has been closed, like the rest of the hospitality industry, for the better part of a year but the off license has been able to remain open. In the summertime, hanging baskets adorn the front and a sheltered beer garden at the rear is a lovely place to take a sip and admire the river view.

Just up the street from the Yukon is this lovely old house, well looked after with a fine sized garden. A little further on and we are in the center of the town.

That’s the town hall you can see straight ahead, facing down the main street. In 1927 the Market House was demolished and the present Town Hall was built on the site. I posted this image in black and white so you can compare it with an old photo taken from much the same angle. It’s on display on an information panel outside the Town Hall. Not too much has changed over time but you can see that the old Market House has been replaced.

If we carry on past the Town Hall we will come to the two churches in the town. This first one is the Catholic Church, built in 1954 in the Romanesque Revival style to replace St. Mary’s Catholic Church, a stone building that was located further down the hill.

Directly across from the Catholic church stands a Protestant Church built on the site of a 17th century star fort and where O’Reilly’s castle once stood. The tower was added to an earlier structure in 1814, while the main body of the church was rebuilt in 1828 in the Gothic Revival style.

A star fort is a fortification in a style that evolved during the age of gunpowder when cannon came to dominate the battlefield. It was first seen in Italy in the mid-15th century when an attempt was made to improve the defence of a fortress. Covering fire had to be provided, often from multiple angles and the result was the development of a star-shaped fortress. In the nineteenth century the explosive shell arrived on the scene and this changed the nature of defensive fortifications and star forts became obsolete. Many still exist around the world and there are a few in Ireland.

Our walk continues down Mill Hill towards Turbet Island and next week we’ll finish off the tour at another heritage building. Thanks for accompanying me around the town for this week’s Thursday Doors and if you’d like to carry on to Dan’s blog, there’s a lot more to see.

Posted in Belturbet, Blogging, Cavan, Historical buildings, History, Ireland, Thursday Doors, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 22 Comments

Thursday Doors – Forest Walk

Some of you might recognize which forest we are walking through for this week’s Thursday Doors, as I’ve featured it in the past. Trees are so beautiful, at any time of year, even when they are covered by moss, lichen or ivy. On the way to this forest I managed to capture a few doors. Although the house in the next image looks like I pasted it into the shot, I can assure you that’s exactly how it looked as we drove by. The red door stood out to me, even at a distance, and the house has a freshly painted look to it, from what I can see.

Unlike the previous house, these next buildings are being taken over by nature. When I look at them I can see the potential for a cosy cottage, with a workshop for Mr. R. and a writer’s den for me.

This old gate is a good place to display all of those children’s items that get left behind after a family hike. The black glove seems to be pointing the way for us.

That looks an interesting path to follow but I think we should stick to the main route for now.

Just look at that feathery moss draped around the foot of those trees.

There’s a carpet of it in the most shaded areas.

Some trees are smothered with ivy, the same type that was growing on the rear of our house when we bought it. The back door was completely hidden behind a curtain of the stuff.

Even the stone walls can’t escape. Is anyone else reminded of the scene in the movie Labyrinth, with the ivy vines on the old stone walls?

However, I much prefer to see the bark of a tree, they are all so different, ranging in colour from beige to dark brown.

Spring plants adding a dash of colour. I think this one is called Coltsfoot

At last, we’ve reached our destination. Those gates are definitely telling us something. I guess we shouldn’t follow those tractor tracks. Have you guessed where we are yet? The next image is a big hint.

Yes, it’s Castle Saunderson. One of my favourite places to go for a walk and gather wild garlic and elderflowers.

Sorry for the glare, the sun was behind the castle.

Here’s a video I took from inside the old yew tree grove next to the castle.

Many thanks for keeping me company on this walk through the forest and if you would like to carry on exploring, Dan has lots of interesting links to a wide variety of Thursday Doors over on his blog.

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Thursday Doors – More from Blackrock

More old properties from Blackrock, County Louth in this week’s Thursday Doors tour. This lovely red brick building, built in 1890, was once a Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) Barracks and was set on fire on the 4th August, 1920 during the Irish War of Independence. It was repaired and after the founding of the Irish Free State in 1922 became the local Garda Station up until 1976. It’s now a private residence and a protected structure. Apparently, it wasn’t originally built to be a police station but was leased from the owner by the RIC, that explains why it looks more like a residential property.


Lots of lovely old walls in Blackrock.
This one has been refurbished and extended but still has beautiful sash windows and ironwork.

Next, we come to a row of old beauties. Look at all those chimney pots, it must have taken the sweep a long time to clean them all. Every room probably had a working fireplace back in the day.

The two taller houses are protected structures but I don’t think the one on the left of the photograph is on the list of heritage buildings.

This one is called Stella Maris.

I couldn’t find a name for the house next door. Both of them were built in the mid 1800s and have Victorian features. The rear of these properties look out onto the sea. I don’t think anyone is living in them nowadays, which is a pity.

I’m not sure if the following house is lived in permanently or as a holiday home but it seems in fairly good condition from the outside. There are some wonderful outbuildings with this one.

I think the one with the circular window, which looks like a coach wheel, must have been a stables at one time. These buildings would make lovely homes or holiday accommodation, with the beach on their doorstep.

There aren’t many old properties left along this road so I think we should head back into the main street for one last look at the town.

There’s an interesting bench I’d like to show you, which is dedicated to Harry Montgomery (1909-1992) a founder member of the local credit union (1967).

Just look at that view. This was the first time I’ve been in Blackrock and found this seat empty. Are they some rare colourful birds out there on the sand? I don’t see them anywhere on the information panel.

No, they are a couple of kite surfers taking advantage of a windy day. They’ll have a long walk if they’re looking for the sea, it won’t be in for a quite a while. Blackrock is a popular beach for a variety of water sports as well as wind and kite surfing.

Well, that’s the last lot of the photographs from Blackrock for a while but there are many more Thursday Doors to be seen over on Dan’s blog.

Posted in Blackrock, Historical buildings, History, Ireland, nature, The Good Things in Life, Thursday Doors, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 26 Comments

Thursday Doors – A Quiet Blackrock

On a recent trip to stay with my mother I found myself in a very quiet Blackrock, a seaside town in County Louth that I have featured before on Thursday Doors. Gone are the days when you could find roughly six hotels and forty boarding houses there but it still attracts lots of day trippers and tourists and is a great base from which to travel around the east and north coast area. The first image is of the sundial in the centre of the main street. On a sunny day it’s a lovely place to sit and take in the sea view.

Most of the shops are closed during another strict lockdown and sadly the tea rooms where I held my first book launch of the Irish Family Saga is gone altogether. The craft shop next door might be locked up (or should I say down?) but the online store is still open.

This next business has also found a way to keep operating, I’ve eaten there a few times and the coffee is delicious so it’s nice to see they are still serving it as a takeaway. Next time I visit, I hope the restaurant will be fully open.

The Clermont underwent some big changes the year before the pandemic. They serve a vast array of ethnic food, so there is something for every palate. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to sample the cuisine before the lockdowns began so as soon as I can, I’ll be paying them a visit. It must be so difficult for all of these businesses to keep going, we should really try to support them as much as we can when they are finally allowed to reopen. This building has been here since the mid 1800s, when it was known as the Clermont Hotel.

It’s the same story with The Brake Tavern, closed due to another lockdown. This was originally known as The Blackrock Hotel and built around 1845 to accommodate the many tourists who came to the village from the midland towns of Ireland and from as far away as Scotland, even in those days. At one time, in the early 1900s, it was owned by my great grandparents. It also serves delicious food and I hope to pay them another visit once they can reopen.

See if you can spot the fake in the next photo. I’ve featured this one before, so some of you might remember it.

It was quite a blustery day when I took these shots and the sea was fully in. I’ll leave you with a short video I took, to make this virtual tour more realistic for you.

Thanks so much for stopping by. I have a few more images from a quiet Blackrock for next week’s post but in the meantime Dan has links to some great Thursday Doors over on his blog.

Posted in Blackrock, Ireland, nature, The Good Things in Life, Thursday Doors, Travel | Tagged , , , | 32 Comments

Thursday Doors – Elaine’s Photos

Thanks to my daughter Elaine, who lives in Antrim, I can still show you some beauty spots in that area, as she kindly sent me these lovely photos for this week’s Thursday Doors. Because they rent out their holiday cottage they are always on the lookout for interesting places to recommend to their guests.*

This one is in such a beautiful setting. I’m sorry I can’t give you the history of it but I would say it has a great story to tell. At first I thought it might be an old mill but I think its position is too far from the river.

Elaine also sent me some images of their cottage during the last snowfall. It’s where we usually stay when we visit them. With underfloor heating and a cosy stove, it’s always nice and toasty inside, no matter what the weather is like outside.

It’s great to be able to watch the squirrels dining al fresco from inside a warm home.

Dan has some great links over on his blog to an array of international posts. Thanks again Elaine, for your very welcome photos for this week’s Thursday Doors, keep sending them, please.

Cosy Cottage *

Posted in Blogging, castles and ruins, Cottage Renovation, Ireland, nature, The Good Things in Life, Thursday Doors, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 15 Comments

Thursday Doors – Ballycastle Virtual Tour

Last week’s Thursday Doors virtual road trip brought us to the lovely County Antrim town of Ballycastle so let’s have a tour around the area. There’s no better place to start than the marina, where we parked the car. Unfortunately, the cafe where we would normally have a nice hot coffee or chocolate is closed due to – you guessed it – a lockdown.

As this visit took place last December, the weather was a bit cold but nice and dry. The businesses you can see open are considered essential services so at least there was some semblance of life in the town.

Many of the buildings have dormer windows, which I think add a nice bit of character to the streets.

The seasonal lighting also added a nice touch, although later in the evening they were much brighter.

People who live along this street have the most amazing view of the harbour and the sea. The next house stands out because of its colour and the yellow door is lovely set against the blue facade.

Of course, I couldn’t pass by that old telephone kiosk without taking a clearer shot of it.

As we walked towards the beach we came across some locals having an evening paddle.

The chilly water didn’t seem to bother them but we decided to give that particular exercise a miss till later on in the year, when the weather and the water has warmed up a great deal more.

There are some lovely old bridges and waterways in Ballycastle town which means there are lots of interesting places to walk if it’s too windy on the beach.

This next bridge leads to a crazy golf park. It looked really nice lit up by the old fashioned street lamps.

But the beach has the most spectacular scenery for me. You can see Fair Head in the distance rising 600 feet above sea level. We came from that direction on our virtual road trip last week.

The name Ballycastle has been in use since 1470 and up until 1804 it was merely a townland until two older parishes joined together and formed what is now the parish of Ballycastle. The town itself was founded in 1797 on land owned by John Knox Esq. of Castlereagh. In the beginning there were eighty two houses built of stone on grounds that were sublet by Thomas Palmer Esq. of Summerhill. A Church of Ireland church was constructed in 1827 and a Catholic church in 1828. The Ould Lammas Fair takes place annually in Ballycastle on the last Monday and Tuesday in August. It’s one of the oldest fairs in Ireland and has been held without interruption for more than three centuries. I’ll leave a couple of links to the history of the town and the fair at the end of this post. *

Over on Dan’s blog you’ll find some very interesting places to see, virtually speaking. Thanks for stopping by and joining me on this week’s Thursday Doors virtual tour of Ballycastle.

Ballycastle History*

Ould Lammas Fair*

Posted in Blogging, boats, Historical buildings, History, Ireland, nature, The Good Things in Life, Thursday Doors, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 15 Comments

Thursday Doors – Virtual Road Trip

Welcome to this week’s Thursday Doors and another virtual road trip. I’m so glad I snapped as many photos as I did in December, when we were free to travel more than five kilometres. There are lots of interesting buildings dotted around the Glens of Antrim and on a scenic drive I captured some old, some new and some completely derelict. This first image is of a typical older farmhouse with a newer one just in front of it. I’m not usually a fan of newer bungalows but I like the way this one has been designed – simple and understated. A modern day version of a cottage that sits well in the surrounding landscape.

The above house has a nice bit of character to it, with dormer windows and a neat little porch.

Of course, I couldn’t pass up a cottage with a red door, could I? Or a red roof, like the one in the next shot.

It wasn’t long before I came across another red door, one that may not have been used for a long time.

Another red roof peeked out from behind the hedges. I imagine there’s a door in there, somewhere.

Neither roof nor door in the next one but the stonework looks good and solid. I think this one would be worth renovating.

This is or was an animal shed or stables. It looks as if it’s still in use, with a decent enough roof.

The next photograph was taken from quite a distance so it’s a bit blurry. I hope to visit this old friary on my next trip and I’ll take some closer shots. It dates from the late 1400’s and has an interesting history, so definitely well worth a visit.

The scenery on a drive through the Glens of Antrim is so beautiful, even when there is no sea view nor a tree in sight. Loughareema, or The Vanishing Lake, is on the coast road just a few miles from Ballycastle, where some of my family live. It’s a chalk sinkhole that sometimes gets blocked up by peat washing into it, particularly during heavy rainfall. When the plug clears, the lake quickly drains underground and vanishes. The modern road is high enough to avoid flooding, which wasn’t the case with the old one. During a flood in 1898, Colonel John Magee McNeille was in a hurry to catch a train and urged his coachman to drive through the lake. However, when the two horses were up to their bellies in cold water they refused to go any further and the coachman used his whip to try and force them on. This made the horses rear up and the men and animals all lost their lives in the middle of The Vanishing Lake.

The water was gone while I was there but you can see a small raised parcel of land at the bottom left of the photograph. This becomes a tiny island when the water fills up and there are some stone cairns on it that visitors have built and added to over the years.

The stone wall in the foreground of this photograph was built on the new road as an added precaution during flooding. Makes sense to me after what happened to the Colonel. Next week’s Thursday Doors will feature the town of Ballycastle, where the virtual road trip ends but there are lots more doors and places to see over on Dan’s blog in the meantime.

Posted in Blogging, castles and ruins, Ireland, nature, The Good Things in Life, Thursday Doors, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 29 Comments

Thursday Doors – The Old Church

The old church in the grounds of Glenmona House, Cushendun is the main feature of this week’s Thursday Doors post. Constructed in 1838, it was a Church of Ireland place of worship for some local landlords and their families and built of locally quarried red sandstone. Because the congregation dwindled over the years, the church was deconsecrated in 2003 and is now an arts, heritage and community centre.  After thirteen long years of campaigning, lobbying, application forms and hiccups, restoration began in autumn 2018, and the keys were handed over to the dedicated volunteer group, Cushendun Building Preservation Trust, in July 2019. I’ll put a link at the end of this post if you would like to see the interior and read more of the history.* 

You can see from the next photograph how close Glenmona House is to the church. I think the large circular object in the foreground might have been a fountain or a sundial at one time.

At the edge of the grounds around the house you can see some cute little holiday pods that look right at home surrounded by all those trees.

I found a smaller, even cuter, wee house attached to one of the trees and had to include it in this post.

It’s called a beach hut for good reason. You’ll see why in the next image.

That’s the view across the road, with a nice little beach just a stone’s throw away.

Thanks for stopping by this week. Dan’s post has links to lots of interesting places that are great to visit virtually in this time of restricted travel. Next week’s Thursday Doors will feature a variety of buildings not too far from the old church.

The Old Church *

Posted in Blogging, Historical buildings, History, Ireland, nature, Thursday Doors, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | 21 Comments