Writers of Worth Who Spent a Short Time on Earth

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

Dave Astor on Literature

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

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

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

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

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Thomas Hardy

NPG 2929,Thomas Hardy,by William Strang

Thomas Hardy by William Strang 1893

Thomas Hardy by William Strang 1893

On 11th January 1928, the poet and novelist, Thomas Hardy died at the age of 87 in Dorset, England. He was cremated and his ashes interred in Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey but his heart had been removed and was buried in the Stinsford village churchyard of his native parish in Dorset.

Two of my favourite books by this author are Far From the Madding Crowd and the somewhat more depressing Jude the Obscure. The latter is the author’s last completed novel and was first produced in serialized form in a magazine in December 1894 but the following year was published as a book. The protagonist is a young stonemason, Jude Frawley, a working class man who dreams of becoming a scholar. What I like about Hardy’s writing is how he focuses on the class system of his day, encompassing marriage, religion and education (or the lack of it). He lamented a decline in rural life when so many people left agricultural work to seek better pay in large industrialized towns and this often features in his writing.

Another Victorian writer I’ve read since my teens is Charles Dickens, a contemporary of Thomas Hardy and I wondered if they ever met. After a bit of searching I’ve come to the conclusion they never did. However their paths crossed in London. Hardy was a young architect at the time and had not yet become a published author. He was working in the city and living in a London suburb as a newly wed. One day he went into a coffee shop and saw Charles Dickens, by then a well established writer. Standing next to him, Hardy was hoping to attract the famous author’s attention but Dickens was preoccupied questioning his bill and Hardy never got the chance to speak to him.

If you’re interested, here’s a link to more information about Thomas Hardy’s life and work; Thomas Hardy Biography

Posted in authors, books, History, social issues, The Good Things in Life, victorian society, writers | Tagged , | 16 Comments

Thursday Doors

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Just the one photo for this week’s Thursday Doors but it will get your thinking caps on. I used to walk pass this house on a regular basis and always wondered about the amount of chimney pots on its tiny roof. It’s part of a row of narrow houses so I guess all of their flues lead to that one stack. Maybe in the past it was all one property that was divided and sold off as separate units. It’s not the size of that huge chimney on such a small roof that intrigues me but where it’s situated – right over a window. The flues must be in use, or at least some of them, because the chimney was recently repaired and I’ve seen smoke coming from it on occasion. Sorry I couldn’t get a clear shot of the door but there was always a car parked in front of it every time I passed.

Thanks a million for stopping by and if you carry on over to Norm’s blog, you’ll see a great selection of Thursday Doors.

 

 

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Thursday Doors – New Door, New Year

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Well, the old door has finally closed on 2018 and a new one has opened for 2019. Our house has literally done that just a few weeks ago, when we replaced our old, cracked and weather beaten front door. Some of you know how much I love red doors but I’m not one to look a gift horse in the mouth and when someone offers you a perfectly good white one it would be a sin to refuse. For anyone who has been following my blog since the early days, you’ll know that we’ve been renovating an old cottage (while living in it) so I thought I would give an update on the progress. As you can see from the above image, the white door has settled in well to its new surroundings.

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This is the old one we said goodbye to. I’m not missing it at all. We still have lots to do but we’re getting there. Having spent what money we had on the major work – new roof, insulation, heating and flooring – we are now at the recycling stage and trying to use  up some of the materials we removed from inside the house. Mr. R. has used the flooring that came from the upstairs bedrooms to build a covered porch on the rear of the house. A lot of it was water damaged and warped but there was enough to give us a decent sized utility area. Great at the moment for storing materials still to be used.

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In the photo below you can see what it’s like from the outside. Note the look of disapproval on the Gaffer’s face as he inspects the garden. He’s been waiting a long time to have it tidied up and cleared out but we haven’t told him it will be another few months before that happens. There’s a lot of work to be done on the outside of the house but that’s for drier weather. The interior is keeping us busy enough for the winter.

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I had intended posting one last Thursday Doors in late December but it was a busier than usual month for our family and I never got round to it. My eldest and her hubby turned forty (which made me feel my age). My youngest turned twenty-one (which made me feel young-ish). It was the first anniversary of my father’s death (which made me feel sad). But the highlight of 2018 for me has to be the birth of our sixth grandchild (which made me feel so many good emotions it brought the year to a positive, happy end). She arrived the day before my dad’s anniversary and I was there to greet her when she came home from hospital, only a couple of days old. It’s really difficult to feel sad with a newborn grandchild in your arms.

I want to thank all of you who have paid a visit to my blog in 2018 and I hope you will stop by when you can as 2019 rolls on. May it be a good and peaceful year for you. As always, Norm has a link to lots of wonderful Thursday Doors on his blog. You can even join in the fun by posting some of your own, if you’d like to.

 

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Thursday Doors

I’m still in Belturbet, County Cavan for this week’s Thursday Doors post. There’s plenty of interesting doors and historical structures here that I haven’t gotten around to photographing yet, including a castle or two. Right in the heart of the town is the old post office and I love the design of this building.

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Although the main customer service section has been relocated further up the street, the old post office is still used for sorting the mail. I think it has a very impressive entrance for such a small building.

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Constructed in 1904, it was designed by architect Robert Cochrane and G.W. Crowe in a blend of two different styles – Queen Anne Revival and Art & Craft. Most likely the reason for such an elaborate structure was its central position, with the town hall close by, another nicely designed building that I’ll save for a future post.

Next to the post office you’ll find a sculpture, designed by artist Mel French, with a tragic story behind it. It’s always neatly kept and adorned with beautiful seasonal plants but I wish there had never been a reason to commission it.

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On the 28th December 1972, a car bomb exploded in Belturbet, killing 15-year-old local girl Geraldine O’Reilly and 16-year-old Paddy Stanley from County Offaly. I remember how deeply affected I was by this particular atrocity, as I was the same age as the young man at the time. He was in the town on a delivery that fateful day and should have left but bad weather meant he would have to stay overnight. Paddy was in a phone booth calling home to inform his family of the situation when the bomb exploded nearby. At the same time, Geraldine had just left her brother waiting in his car while she went to buy a bag of chips. Nobody has ever been charged in connection with the murder of these innocent young people, nor claimed responsibility for the explosion.

On the same day, two more bombs went off in counties Donegal and Monaghan, all three within thirty minutes of each other. Fortunately, in those towns there were no fatalities. Over the next few years there was a spate of bombings south of the border, while the conflict raged on in the north of Ireland.

As a teenager I was working in Dublin at the time and was almost caught up in one of the three explosions that took place in the city on 17th May 1974. A fourth one happened outside a pub in Monaghan on the same day. Thirty three civilians were killed in those attacks and almost 300 people injured. It was just by chance that I wasn’t one of them but I heard the nearest car bomb to me explode as I stood in the street near my workplace.

These events have shaped my thoughts and feelings on conflict and the need for peaceful resolutions. I learned in later years that my grandfather, as a teenager, his two older brothers and a cousin, were all conscientious objectors in WW1 and had been sentenced to hard labour in prisons and work camps for the duration of the war because of their convictions. They and their families suffered the consequences of their decisions at the time, which meant being ostracized in the community and being denied work. Although I have deep respect for the bravery of the many, men and women who have served in all of the major and minor wars mankind has seen this past hundred years, I am very proud of the stand my relatives took on the side of peace.

The peace that Ireland has today is very precious and worth preserving. Nobody wants a repeat of the past.

I’m sorry for such a somber post this week. It’s also coming up to the first anniversary of my father’s death so that might have had a bearing on my choice of subject. Next week’s post should be a lot more cheerful. Thanks for stopping by and, as always, Norm has a great selection of Thursday Doors for you to view over on his blog.

 

Posted in Cavan, Historical buildings, History, Ireland, Thursday Doors | Tagged , , , , , | 20 Comments

Thursday Doors – Bridges of Belturbet

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Welcome to Belturbet, County Cavan for this week’s Thursday Doors. I’ve been wanting to take a shot of this door for a while now as I love the colourful layers of peeled back paint, which seems to include the wall, too. Many Irish towns and villages use colour to brighten up the place, possibly because on a grey, wet day a row of ordinary buildings can show some individualism and cheer up the passersby. As I thought about this I felt a tug on my arm, reminding me that I was not alone. Tino the dog (aka The Gaffer) was getting bored looking at paint peel, so the least I could do was take him for a ramble along one of our favourite walks in the town.

I love this old bridge, I’m forever taking photos of it. It’s called the Erne Bridge, after the river it spans, and was built in 1836 by James F. Johnstone to the designs of Alexander Armstrong, the County Surveyor. The bridge is an important part of the civil engineering heritage of Belturbet, and demonstrates the technical skill employed in infrastructural works in Ireland in the early 1800’s.

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The next bridge we come to is the old railway line, now used as a pedestrian walk and the first part of a link to Turbet Island, an ancient Anglo-Norman mott and bailey fort that deserves a post all to itself. Through the arch on the left you can catch a glimpse of another bridge.

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The white bridge in the distance is The River Erne Bridge, part of the Belturbet town bypass, which was officially opened on December 13th, 2013. Ferrovial Agroman PT McWilliams Ltd Joint Venture was contracted to design and build the bridge. Its total length is 150 meters, of which 70 meters spans the river. This type of structure is known as an extrados bridge, which is a cross between a cable stay bridge and an externally prestressed girder bridge. A fairly uncommon structure worldwide, this one is the first of its type to be constructed in Ireland and has won two awards.

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Another bridge that was important to me (and The Gaffer) on our walk, was the little green footbridge that links Turbet Island to the rest of the town. This photo was shot from the railway bridge and you can just about see the old Erne Bridge in the distance.

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Having completed our circuit of the island I decided that a visit to the marina would be a nice way to end our walk. The geese accompanied us along the pathway for a while until we came to this slipway. Once they caught sight of the river again, they were off. The Gaffer wasn’t too impressed by them and as he hates the water, he turned to me and said, “You must be barking mad if you think I’m going any further.”

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After that chilly but lovely walk around Belturbet I think we should all have a nice cup of something warm – mine’s a coffee. Thanks so much for your company and if you’re not too worn out, carry on over to Norm’s blog and see what Thursday Doors awaits you there.

 

Posted in boats, Cavan, Historical buildings, Ireland, nature, photo challenges, The Good Things in Life, Thursday Doors, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | 31 Comments

Thursday Doors – Athlone

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Athlone, county Westmeath, is the featured town in my Thursday Doors post this week, although, this lovely thatched cottage isn’t in the town itself. I know you can’t see the entrance in the photograph but trust me, there is a door there, hidden by the foliage. I had to shoot this one from the car as we didn’t have time to stop.

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We parked close to this lovely flower shop. I really like the name as I haven’t come across that one before. It can be quite challenging to think up catchy, original names for businesses like this. The side of this premises was worth capturing too – even if it is a fake door.

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Crossing the bridge over the Shannon, the longest river in Ireland, we headed towards the east and a very ancient part of Athlone.

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Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to visit the castle but it’s only about an hour’s drive away, so we will definitely get back to it. I’m saving it for a series of Thursday Doors posts on nearby castles and historic buildings that I’m planning for 2019.

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Now that you’ve seen one of the main attractions of Athlone, let me introduce you to another one – Sean’s Bar.

DSC_0090.JPGIt’s situated in a neat and colourful street, very close to the castle.

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Sean’s Bar isn’t just the oldest pub in Ireland but may very well be the oldest pub in the world.

Athlone, marks the site of what was once a great ford across the Shannon known as the Ford of Great Antiquity. At around 900 AD there lived a man called Luain Mac Luighdeach – Luain son of Lewy. It is known that he established an Inn close to “Ath Mor – The Great Ford”. This Inn is today known as Sean’s Bar!..Luain acted as a guide to travellers who had to venture across the rapid torrent of the Shannon. A settlement grew up around the crossing point and in time the place came to be known by his name. ” Athlone – Ath Luain, the Ford of Luain. Later King Turlough O’ Connor built the first wooden castle here in 1129 to protect this settlement. 

Sean’s Bar has been researched thoroughly by the Guinness Book of Records and proudly holds the record for “The Oldest Pub in Ireland” with an official dating of 900AD. Research is ongoing into the title of “The Oldest Pub in the World”; so far, nothing older has been found. *

You can read more about the history of Athlone and Sean’s Bar here.

As always, thanks a million for stopping by and if you’d like to visit some interesting doors from all over the world, you’ll find a link to them on Norm’s blog.

Source *

Posted in castles and ruins, Historical buildings, History, Ireland, photography, The Good Things in Life, Thursday Doors, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , | 31 Comments

Thursday Doors

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It wasn’t just the name on this building that caught my Thursday Doors eye, one of my daughters is called Jenny, it was the colour. Normally, a red door will draw me like a magnet but this coffee house complimented the iron archway so well, how could I resist? Yes, it is in Enniskillen.

You might have noticed from my posts over the last few weeks that the town has a lot of arches adorning anything from a bridge to a side street. So many arches to choose from on this redbrick property. I love the detail over the lower windows.

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But not every window has a curved top.

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This building has the best of both worlds, arched and square windows – pillars, too.

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The doorway isn’t too bad, either, framed by those lovely pillars.

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It might not have an arch but this gated entrance really caught my eye. I wonder was it because of the beautiful original sash overhead or the naked guy in the window. I can’t remember which one I spotted first, lol.

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Well, that wraps up my posts about Enniskillen, for now. I’ll be back at some future date to take a tour of the castle and museum. Thanks so much for spending time with me over the past few weeks, exploring this lovely town. If you’d like to view a collection of interesting Thursday Doors from around the globe, head on over to Norm’s blog and click the ‘blue frog’ link at the end of his ‘door post’ 🙂

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Thursday Doors

If you’ve been following my blog over the last couple of weeks, you can guess where this Thursday Doors post is coming from. Enniskillen, of course, and red doors to start with.

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I’ve been saving these particular photos for this week’s post as they have a relevance to Remembrance Day, commemorated annually to mark Armistice Day which ended the First World War at 11am on the 11th day in the 11th month of 1918. This year is extra special, being the centenary of such a significant day in history but for the town of Enniskillen there is another tragic event forever linked to Remembrance Day.

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On Remembrance Sunday in 1987, crowds made their way to the memorial in the centre of Enniskillen to pay their respects to the war dead. At 10.43am, a bomb exploded killing eleven and wounding 68. I remember how sickened I was by it at the time but I won’t go into the politics of it here. If you would like to read up on this tragic event I’ve put a link at the end of this post. I felt it appropriate to use a black and white image of the photo I took of this poignant memorial, which commemorates the residents of Enniskillen who were killed or missing in World War I and World War II. There are also eleven doves on the memorial, in remembrance of the victims of the bombing during the ceremony on Remembrance Sunday, on 8 November 1987.

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My friend and I sat for a while in this little park and found a cairn which had been built by young people of the town as a symbol of unity and solidarity. On a surprise visit to Enniskillen, Princess Diana laid the last stone on the Peace Cairn.

Connected to the park is the East Bridge with its lovely old arches.

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I’ll leave you with a view of the blue skies and golden foliage that bade us farewell as we left town on a beautiful autumn day. Next week will be my last post from Enniskillen, for a while at least – there is still a castle and museum to explore.

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Thanks so much for taking a trip around this lovely town with me. If you would like to see some more Thursday Doors from various parts of the world, have a look at Norm’s blog where you’ll find a ‘blue frog’ link that will take you to them.

From the BBC history archives Enniskillen Bombing 1987

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Thursday Doors – More from Enniskillen

This week’s Thursday Doors is all about arts and crafts, alive and well in Enniskillen’s Buttermarket.

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When it opened in 1835 for the trading of local dairy produce, the Buttermarket served the community well. As one of the oldest buildings in the town, it was a place I definitely wanted to look around. In the 1980’s it was about to become a car park when the Fermanagh District Council purchased it, recognizing the need to preserve it, thank goodness. It was tastefully restored to it’s former glory, having been used as a builders’ yard up until then. In the central area, where carts and stalls once stood, there now stands a craft and coffee shop and I can recommend the food – delicious.

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Once it was fully restored, the Buttermarket was opened to the public in June of 1991 as a craft and design centre for the town. Twenty seven years on, it is still providing workshops where visitors can watch skilled people at work and purchase their crafts.

It really is an oasis of creativity right in the heart of the town. There was an art exhibition by local students the weekend we were there, along with a festival providing lots of fun activities for children (and young at heart adults) to participate in.

The standard was excellent. It’s wonderful to see so much support and encouragement provided by a town for the arts. An outdoor play was just about to start as we were leaving but we had run out of time and sadly missed out on that.

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Well, I hope you haven’t grown tired of Enniskillen yet, as I have a couple more weeks of posts left to do on this town. Thanks for taking the tour and if you are ever in the area, it’s well worth a visit. Meanwhile there are lots of Thursday Doors to be seen over on Norm’s blog. Enjoy.

Posted in Art, food, Historical buildings, Ireland, The Good Things in Life, Thursday Doors, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , | 38 Comments