Thursday Doors – Road Trip

For this week’s Thursday Doors I have a few drive by shots taken on a recent road trip. Of course, it was the stonework in this first one that caught my eye.

The next one was taken as we sped past, so please forgive the blurred image. On the plus side; it’s a red door.

Here we have some random shots that aren’t quite as fuzzy as the last one.

I couldn’t let an old overgrown ruin pass me by, there are always lots of them lining the sides of the roads.

Such a shame it’s been so neglected, it would make someone a lovely home. The house next to it is in much better condition.

Here’s an interesting way to decorate with old railway sleepers and painted rocks.

Thanks for coming along on a very random Thursday Doors trip this week and if you head on over to Norm’s blog, you’ll find a lot more there.

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Posted in Ireland, Thursday Doors, Travel | Tagged , , , | 19 Comments

The Last Moments of The Lusitania – Jean Reinhardt

Today is the 104th anniversary of the sinking of the Lusitania. Here is a link to a post I blogged a few years ago about this tragic event.

https://jeanreinhardt.wordpress.com/2015/05/08/the-last-moments-of-the-lusitania/

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Thursday Doors – Spring Fever

A carpet of bluebells.

Thursday Doors this week has a touch of Spring Fever about it. Sorry if you’re not into nature but I couldn’t resist capturing all the new life that emerges at this time of year. So, as this is supposed to be a post about doors, let’s kick off with one.

The Gaffer sniffing the spring air

I know it’s only a car door but look who’s behind it, looking like the top dog he is. Cautious as ever, he takes a few sniffs to check out the territory.

Hey there! What’s your hurry?

There was so much evidence of new growth, it was hard not to stop at every cluster of flowers and foliage but Mr. R. was here for a spot of exercise and was not inclined to admire every little blossom and bud. I had a good workout catching up with him, though – so did The Gaffer, who wanted to pee on every little blossom and bud.

Walking along the lake shore we came across something we have never seen on such a massive scale – thousands of dead snails lining the pathway. We’ve seen snail shells on shores before (that’s a bit of a tongue-twister) but usually they are clustered here and there.

To put my mind at rest, so to speak, I looked up what could have caused such a catastrophe in the world of shelled gastropods (Google to the rescue). Well, we can blame our lovely weather last summer, in a roundabout way. When conditions are favourable, water snails breed prolifically and so, when they live out their lifespan, they die prolifically too. Last year we had a prolific amount of sunshine in Ireland. Most wildlife deaths are hidden, as they decompose or get eaten by other creatures. Water snails have hard shells that float and can end up carpeting the shoreline – not half as pretty as that carpet of bluebells we had just passed by.

The Gaffer, wishing he wasn’t stuck with the Thursday Doors fanatic.
“I think it’s pushing it a bit to call this a door,” says The Gaffer.
Now, that’s a door. Two, in fact.
The shed at the end of the garden – with a view of the lake.
A horse of a different colour

I hope you enjoyed our lakeside stroll this week, thanks so much for your company. There are lots of interesting Thursday Doors over on Norm’s blog, with links in the comments at the end of his post.

Posted in environment, Ireland, nature, photo challenges, The Good Things in Life, Thursday Doors, wild plants | Tagged , , , , , | 23 Comments

Thursday Doors – From Afar

Runkerry House

All my Thursday Doors this week have been captured from a distance but to make up for that, the scenery is fantastic. The first property is Runkerry House on the Antrim Coast in the north of Ireland. Here’s a zoomed-in image I took with my phone. Sorry it’s not very clear but I can make out a couple of doors if I squint my eyes, lol.

Runkerry House is a stately home built in the 1860’s for Sir Edward Macnaghten, who was a barrister and politician from London. The sandstone building is now set out as private apartments and what a view they must have. I took this photo on a trip to Salmon Rock beach, Portballinatrae.

The sea crashing over the rocks
There are lots of small pools to sit in that heat up in the sun

More doors from afar. These houses and apartments have an amazing view, just like Runkerry House. It must be lovely to live here all year round, I don’t think I would ever grow tired of that seascape.

We spent the afternoon on the beach as Ireland was having an usually hot, sunny weekend. This photo was taken as the evening was drawing in.

Basalt lava rocks on the beach similar to those found on the Giant’s Causeway

On the cliffs above the beach I spotted a strange looking roof – half grassy thatch, half slate. I wonder what it looks like from the inside. On a neighbouring house was a door, of sorts.

Or possibly a long window. Whatever it is, nobody will be getting in that way too easily – unless they use a pick.

Well, I’m back home now and the weather has turned a bit chillier but still dry. Norm has some interesting Thursday Doors over on his blog, if you’d like to have a look, with links to a great selection of international doors in the comments at the end of his post. Thanks for stopping by, this week.

Posted in castles and ruins, Historical buildings, Ireland, nature, The Good Things in Life, Thursday Doors, Travel, Writers Resource | Tagged , , | 26 Comments

Thursday Doors – Cottage Names

Last year I shared a Thursday Doors post that featured a lovely old cottage my daughter and son-in-law were hoping to refurbish as a holiday rental. They are trying to come up with a good name for the cottage. If you have any suggestions they would be delighted to hear them.

The work began early in March this year and the progress is amazing. They had to replace the roof and dig up the floors but it will be a warm, comfortable cottage when it’s finished, with underfloor heating and all mod cons, while keeping much of it’s old style character.

Beautiful new wooden windows have been fitted, primed and ready for painting. Some old doors have been sourced and sanded. Of course, the Gaffer made sure there was no slacking on the job, while lying in a sunny spot on the floor. He’s a hard taskmaster, as you will have seen from my previous posts about our own cottage renovations.

I love the colour and grain of the wood. They will look so good once they’re hung inside. The exterior doors are on order and should arrive soon.

The view from the front door is so nice, with mountains, fields and trees creating a picturesque landscape.

The sunsets are pretty good, too.

The old fireplace had to come out but may go back into one of the bedrooms as a decorative feature.

A wood burning stove, when installed in the main living area, will add to the cosiness on a chilly day. You can see how big the fireplace is in the next photo. Large enough to take a good sized stove.

When the cottage is decorated and furnished I’ll take some more photographs for Thursday Doors. In the meantime, if you can up with a name for the cottage please leave it in a comment and I’ll add them to the list. Norm has a great selection of Thursday Doors over on his blog, if you’d like to check them out.

Posted in Cottage Renovation, photography, The Good Things in Life, Thursday Doors, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 34 Comments

Thursday Doors – Bon Voyage

This will be the last of Thursday Doors from Derry for a while and as it has a seaport with a long history, I thought it would be nice to give you a brief glimpse into its interesting past. But first let me show you a portal of a different sort – the door of a double-decker bus. Sorry for such bad light, this photo was shot on my night stroll through the city.

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Pyke ’N’ Pommes eatery started out as an adapted street food van in a disused car park, before moving to a semi-permanent pitch by the river Foyle in Derry in 2013. Their food is amazing and if you ever find yourself in the area, you really should give them a try. Since my last visit they’ve acquired this bus as an indoor diner but if it’s raining and there are no seats left on the bus, the covered eating area is still there, so you won’t get wet, or you can get a take-away.

Now for some history. Vikings used the river Foyle to access inland Ireland, whereas the Normans established a stronghold that controlled Derry. With such a fabulous natural port, who could blame them. In 1664, King Charles the second gave responsibility of the port to Londonderry Corporation. Over the next two centuries shipping increased massively due to exports of good, especially linen, and to emigration. As time went by, more and more quays were built and tramways laid to link up with railways connecting the city to the rest of Ireland. Eventually a shipyard was established. Remember that photo I posted a couple of weeks ago of the WW2 battleships?

During WW2 the city’s port became the most important escort base in the United Kingdom due to it’s westerly position. This was where the warships guarding the Atlantic convoys were repaired and maintained. 2015 marked the 70th anniversary of the surrender of WW2 German U-boats in Derry. This link will give you an eye witness account, including some old film footage; Surrender

Emigration has always played a big part in Derry’s history, as it has in the rest of Ireland. To commemorate this there are some very touching sculptures along the riverside walk, by artist Eamonn O’Doherty. Here they are in a slideshow, looking even more poignant. They portray a family about to emigrate, with the father looking out to sea and to the future but the mother and children looking back at an elderly couple. How awful it must have been in those days before air travel and cheaper international transport, when saying goodbye on a quay may have been the last you might see of your family.

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The woman lying across the bench with her hand reaching out to the sea, got to me, too.

I hope you enjoyed this latest visit to Derry City, no doubt there will be plenty more to come. If you would like to see a super collection of Thursday Doors, head on over to Norm’s blog.

Posted in Art, boats, Britian, food, History, Ireland, photo challenges, social issues, Thursday Doors, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | 17 Comments

Thursday Doors – More From Derry

Some more night photos from Derry City for this week’s Thursday Doors. I’ve featured this building before but in daylight and the door is actually a vibrant fire engine red colour. I love how metallic and coppery it looks in these images.

I didn’t edit theses shots at all, the coloured lights at the foot of the building gave this effect.

The sun had almost disappeared by the time I took these photos of the marina.

You can see the darkness creep in.

Eventually, the still water turned an inky black, perfectly reflecting the lights along the marina.

This large wooden carving is Manannan Mac Lír (Lyr) Son of the Sea, sculpted by artist Jim Hughes. Manannan is a major god in Celtic mythology and if you zoom in on the next image you will hopefully be able to read more about him.

Thanks for stopping by this week. You’ll find more Thursday Doors from around the world over on Norm’s blog.

Posted in Art, boats, History, Ireland, photo challenges, Thursday Doors, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 17 Comments

Hunger’s Walk – Doolough 1849

Last year I shared a post on Facebook about the Doolough famine walk and one of my readers suggested I write a book about it. I haven’t written the full book yet but did manage a short story (Hunger’s Walk) based on a fictional family who will be the main characters in this future historical fiction novel. So thank you, Joyce, for the encouragement.

In a letter to The Mayo Constitution,  someone at the time reported that the bodies of seven people, including women and children, had been discovered on the roadside between Delphi and Louisburgh, overlooking the shores of Doolough lake and that nine more never reached their homes. It is now believed that the death toll was much higher. I can only imagine the dejection and dismay felt by those who took that long, cold, hungry journey on foot, 170 years ago today.

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Doolough Pass Road (Wikimedia Commons)

Hunger’s Walk

On a freezing wet day in March, 1849, two little Mayo boys died within hours of each other. Their father swaddled them in the blanket they had shared through their sickness and made a coffin from the kitchen table. It was a useless piece of furniture anyway, as there was very little food to prepare and the family tended to huddle around the hearth, even when there was no fire to warm them.

A wake of sorts was held by their grieving parents and two remaining siblings. No neighbours came, for fear of catching the fever, nor did anyone come to the burial next morning. They were fortunate enough to have a family plot with room for one more coffin. The eldest son, Michael, asked his father where the rest of them would be buried, seeing as there was no room left in the grave. Patrick told him he wouldn’t let anyone else in the family die, as if it was his fault the fever had stolen his children. After the funeral, what was left of the family set out on a journey they had taken many times before but this one would have a very different ending.

A five mile walk through rain and hail brought them to the town of Louisburgh where they were to collect their weekly ration of meal. Patrick’s exhausted wife sank to the ground at her husband’s feet while their five year old daughter clung to his back like a leech. His eyes swept over the ragged multitude gathered around him, trying to catch sight of Michael, who had squeezed through to the front of the crowd.

Eventually, the relieving officer appeared on the courthouse steps, shouting for silence. He had an important message to convey from the two officials whose task it was to inspect those registering for relief work. As soon as he had finished speaking he dashed back into the building.

“What did he say? I didn’t catch a word of it.” Patrick enquired of the man next to him.

An uproar came from those nearest to where the speaker had stood.

“Whatever it was, ‘tis not good news,” the man replied.

Peeling the drowsy child from his back, Patrick cradled her in his arms, trying to put some warmth into her tiny frame. Those at the back of the crowd waited for word to reach them as it spread from person to person, like ripples in still water when a stone breaks the surface.

“The inspectors are not here.” Michael reached his parents with the awful news seconds ahead of the ripple. “They are at Delphi and we have to be there by seven in the morning. Anyone who does not attend will be struck off the relief.”

Patrick knelt beside his exhausted wife. She looked much older than her years and he feared she would not survive a round trip of more than twenty miles, especially in such bad weather.

“You can lean on me, love, for as long as you are able to put one foot in front of the other. And when you can no longer do that, I shall carry you on my back.”

After handing his daughter to her sixteen year old brother, Patrick lifted his wife from the sodden ground.

“Leave me be,” she pleaded. “Myself and the wee one can shelter in the ditch. You and Michael will get there much quicker without us. We’ll be grand, it will give us a chance to catch up on a bit of sleep.”

“We’re not leaving you, either of you. Are we son?”

Michael shook his head, tightening the grip he had on his sister. He wanted to scream with anger but the hungry years had taught him that rage burns up your strength. His father had done everything in his power to keep the bailiffs from their door, determined his family would never enter a disease-ridden workhouse. This didn’t stop the fever from taking his two little brothers but as long as they held onto their home, Michael felt sure they had a chance of surviving.

Patrick half carried his wife as the weary crowd pitched themselves against the weather.

“How many of us do you reckon there are Da? A thousand?”

Michael was almost as tall as his father, in spite of being malnourished for most of his teenage years.

“I would say half that figure, son. A crowd always feels bigger when you are in the middle of it.”

The weather worsened and those unable to keep up fell behind. His mother began to weep, along with others nearby and Michael worried that the sound of it might upset his sister.

“Are you alright?” he spoke over his shoulder and felt thin arms tighten around his neck.

“I’m cold,” came the reply.

“Try to sleep, we’ll not be too long out in this weather, you’ll see. There’ll be hot soup waiting for us when we get there,” he lied.

Michael felt another weak squeeze as he matched his father’s stride, noting that his mother’s feet hardly touched the muddy ground. The walk continued in this manner until Patrick suddenly came to a halt and put a hand on his son’s shoulder. They stared at each other, like two rocks in a river, while the crowd streamed around them.

“Son, do you think you can walk at a quicker pace than we’ve been going? Those who get there first might fare better in finding some shelter from this hail.”

“I can if you can, Da.”

With that, Patrick lifted his wife onto his back and began a determined stride that brought the four of them gradually towards the front of the crowd. There was a marked difference in the people now surrounding the family and it somehow gave father and son a boost of energy.

Where that extra strength came from, Michael could not tell but he recognized the same expression on his companions’ faces as the one his father wore. The boy clenched his teeth and summoned every ounce of power he had left in his slight body, determined to keep pace with those around him. His sister was so light, he barely felt the weight on his back and he was sure it was the same for his father, carrying his weeping mother.

In time, her sobbing became a soft moan and Patrick thought his wife was in pain. He hoisted her higher up on his back in order to lessen the pressure on her thin legs but the sound continued. It reminded him of the keening that took place at funerals and he tried to remember the last time he had heard those mournful cries. These past few hungry years had robbed his people of paying their loved ones the respect they deserved, a wake and a decent burial.

Patrick’s wife buried her face into the back of his neck, the sound of her distress penetrating deep into his bones. It spurred him on and he urged his son, along with those around him, to keep going, reminding them of their rations upon arrival.

Those who could, picked up the pace and for almost a mile experienced renewed energy. It didn’t last too long, as an increasingly bitter gale beat icy rain into their threadbare clothes. Even Patrick, the strongest man in his village not too long ago, had to slow down, and for that his son was grateful. Michael did not know how much longer he could have matched his father’s stride.

The majority of the heaving mass of weary, hungry people reached Delphi at seven in the morning, as they had been instructed to do, but the relieving officer was nowhere to be found. Until he arrived with the register there was nothing could be done except wait. No soup or hot drinks were offered to the cold, wet, starving travelers. There was nowhere for them to shelter and they were left at the mercy of the weather.

Some of the men volunteered to go to where the inspectors were lodging to ask that food be distributed to the elderly and the children, while they waited to register for relief. They returned to the crowd humiliated and angry. Patrick could feel the tension in the air and it seeped into his heart. He curled his hands into fists and shouted that he would like to break every window in the building to let the weather in and give those inside a taste of what the people were suffering.

As he took a step forward, someone grabbed him by the arm and broke the momentum of his rage.

“You have your wife on your back. Do you mean to drag her along with you, son?”

Patrick turned to find an emaciated, elderly stranger by his side, “I had forgotten she was there, she’s as light as a feather. I’m not sure what I was about to do, but I’m much obliged to you for pulling me back to my senses.”

“You are not the only one longing to take justice into your own hands but it will do more harm than good. Let us stand fast and bide our time and wait for the relieving officer to arrive. Having come all this way it would be a pity to give them any reason to deny us our rations, now, wouldn’t it?” the old man advised.

“Well now, I’m still on my feet and I haven’t eaten in three days. Would you call that standing fast?” asked Patrick.

The stranger gave a sad smile, “I feel much like yourself but I haven’t the strength to act on it. Is that your son beside you, carrying the poor wee mite?”

“It is. That’s his sister on his back. He refuses to put her down, even though he’s carried her all the way from Louisburgh.”

“It will be up to the likes of his generation to bring justice to our people. Now is not the time nor the place but this day, along with many others like it, will be seared into his memory, like a brand. You mark my words. Mark my words.”

The old man walked away muttering the same chant over and over until swallowed up by the crowd. Patrick, now aware of the weight on his back, eased his wife into a sitting position on the rain soaked grass. He studied his children’s faces in light of what had been said. While Michael’s eyes shone with anger, under a deeply furrowed young brow, his sister’s half opened lids revealed the opposite – hers were dull and listless.

The bitter frustration written all over his son’s face took hold of Patrick and he feared it would take root and fester in both of them. What if something were to happen to himself or his son? Who would take care of his already weakened wife and daughter? Were they to end up in a mass grave or buried under a sod of grass in an unknown field, nameless and forgotten? It was at that very moment Patrick made a fateful decision.

“Brigid, we’re leaving,” he said.

His wife protested they must wait for their rations or she would die from the hunger.

“I mean we are leaving Ireland. As soon as we return home I will make the arrangements.”

Brigid began to weep inconsolably and Patrick felt bad for causing her more distress.

“It’s the only way left to us now, love,” he consoled.

“I’m not crying because we’re leaving. These are tears of relief. I never thought you would go, no matter how hungry we were.”

Brigid crawled over to where her son was sitting, his sister still clinging to his back.

“Did you hear that, Mary-Ann? Your da says we’re going to a place where there is no shortage of food or work. Isn’t that grand, love?”

The young girl rewarded her mother with a weak smile.

It was noon before the relieving officer arrived.

Jean Reinhardt 2018

Posted in books, History, Ireland, short stories, social issues, victorian ireland | Tagged , , , , , | 22 Comments

Thursday Doors – Derry City by Night

I’ve featured Derry City before on Thursday Doors but most of the photographs posted were taken during the daytime. These were taken on an evening stroll along the waterfront. If you look closely at this first one, you’ll see a red door in the distance. I like how this image shows a glimpse of the older properties through that gap in the newer architecture.

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There are lots of interesting sculptures in the city, like these created by young people from materials found polluting the local beaches and rivers. Sorry for the water mark on photos, I forgot to turn it off before I took them.

The following poster has an interesting story behind it. At the height of the second world war, Derry was home to thousands of US and British naval personnel, whose job it was to service the escort vessels protecting the Allied merchant ships on their dangerous crossings of the Atlantic. That story deserves a post all of its own so I’ll leave it till later in the year. Keep an eye out for it.

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Speaking of eyes . . . . I came across this nice piece of street art near the end of my walk. The Peace Bridge is reflected in the eye but I couldn’t pick it up clearly in the photograph.

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I’ll have a few more sculptures and a smattering of local history in my next Derry City post. Thanks for stopping by, Norm has a great selection of Thursday Doors over on his blog this week.

Posted in Art, environment, Ireland, The Good Things in Life, Thursday Doors, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 21 Comments

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.

 

 

Posted in Art, Historical buildings, History, Ireland, society, Thursday Doors, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | 34 Comments