This week sees the last of my Thursday Doors tour of Cork City Gaol. I don’t think the above doorway, set in the high walls surrounding the prison, would be too easy to get through, a bit like my post this week. By the time you get to the end of it, you will have read about an inventive Italian with an Irish side to his family that were dab hands at distilling whiskey and viewed a video about a young man whose life was most likely saved because of alcohol.
So to begin with, there is a very interesting exhibition on the top floor of Cork City Gaol that includes a radio museum. We have a couple of old radios in our family that we inherited from grandparents, so it was very nice to see such a varied collection in one place. Do any of them look familiar to you?
Why am I including a photograph of a former American President in my post? In front of this life-sized image in one of the rooms at the radio museum stands the very microphone that John F. Kennedy used when he gave a speech on his visit to Cork in 1963 and nobody has spoken into it since.
After its closure in 1924, Cork city gaol became home to a radio station from 1927 until the 1950’s. In the museum you can learn about the history of communication, from the Pony Express to Marconi’s conquest of the airwaves.
Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937)
Marconi was a pioneer of radio communication and he invented the first practical system of wireless telegraphy. He was born in Bologna on 25th April 1874 to Giuseppe Marconi and his Irish wife Annie Jameson. Does her maiden name ring a bell? Her grandfather was John Jameson, founder of the whiskey distillery, Jameson & Sons, in Dublin in the 1780s. Andrew, Annie’s father was also capable of whipping up a batch or two of uisce beatha, the Irish word for whiskey, which translates as water of life. Following in his father’s footsteps, he founded a distillery in Ennicorthy, Co. Wexford, and settled there with his wife Margaret Millar. They lived in Daphne Castle, just outside the town of Wexford.
Guglielmo Marconi also married an Irish woman, the Hon. Beatrice O’Brien daughter of the 14th Baron Inchiquin and High Sheriff of county Clare. She lived to the ripe old age of 94 (it must have been all that water of life). She grew up in Clare but moved to London and it was there that she met Marconi who immediately broke off his engagement to an American woman to pursue her. Beatrice wasn’t too happy with the publicity he drew as a celebrity and initially declined his proposal of marriage but he eventually won her over. Unfortunately, the marriage was annulled and they both eventually married other people – but that’s another story.
Ballycastle in Co. Antrim was the site of the world’s first commercial wireless telegraph transmission on 6th July 1898. In the early 1900’s Marconi’s company began a regular transatlantic radio-telegraph service between Clifden, County Galway and Glace Bay in Nova Scotia, Canada. Marconi was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1909 and died in 1937 aged 63 following a series of heart attacks. His grandfather’s whiskey is still as popular as ever today and is produced in Midleton, County Cork as well as in Dublin.
Speaking of whiskey, I’ll leave you with a great little video that tells the story of that young man I mentioned at the start of my post. Uisce Beatha is a multi award-winning short film, based on a true story, Directed by Shaun O’Connor.
Thank you for stopping by and if you would like to see more Thursday Doors, pay a visit to Norm’s blog, where you’ll find a selection of doors from all parts of the globe.