Thursday Doors


Governor John Barry Murphy

Continuing the tour of inside Cork City Gaol this week makes for a very sombre Thursday Doors post. However, the first room we ventured into wasn’t too daunting – it even had the warm glow of a fire and a kindly looking governor seated at his desk. Queen Victoria herself kept a watchful eye over him from her position over the mantelpiece.


John Barry Murphy was governor between 1856 and 1873 and was considered to be a humane and just man, liked by all the prisoners. He abolished the silence laws when it was found that many prisoners were going insane because of it and ending up in the city asylum. He was the first Catholic governor to get the job at a time when the British government appointed Irish Catholics to important positions as an act of appeasement. The governor’s salary in those days was £250 a year (equivalent to £27,000 today) plus house and fuel.


On arrival, all prisoners were deloused and then brought to the governor’s office. The first inmate we encountered was Mary Sullivan. She was a seamstress by trade but had a habit of stealing the cloth she worked on. In 1865 she received a seven year sentence for her eighth conviction of theft.


In one of the cells we found Mary McDonnell fast asleep. She was lying on a canvass mattress which had replaced the less healthy straw ones used before 1860. This woman had been imprisoned for neglecting her children, beating one of them and being drunk and accosting a gentleman. Her unfortunate children were taken to the workhouse in Cork while their mother served her sentence of one month with hard labour.


If you think the person being flogged is a young man you’d be wrong. It’s a nine year old boy, who had seven previous convictions for petty theft.


This was the saddest story for me. Edward O’Brien was a child prisoner and a well known pickpocket. On this occasion he had been sentenced to three weeks in prison with whippings twice weekly. After serving his time in Cork City Gaol, Edward was sent to a reformatory school for five years.

Some of those incarcerated were extremely young, like Mary-Ann Twohig’s infant son.


Sixteen year old Mary-Ann was heavily pregnant and stole a cloth cap and kitchen utensils, intent on pawning them for some badly needed cash. She was arrested but sentenced to only two months imprisonment, without hard labour, because of her advanced pregnancy. Her baby was born in the prison hospital and Mary-Ann, along with her son, was returned to her cell just two days later. Speaking of babies, what is one of the main concerns with a newborn? Their weight gain – which reminds me of last week’s question about the strange looking chair.


This is a replica of the weighing scales that was used to record the inmates’ weight, which was checked periodically to ensure that they were receiving their full ration of food. A prisoner would sit in the chair while weights were added to the back. Once the two sides were level, the weight would be recorded.

Part three of this tour will be continued next week but in the meantime, I’ll leave you with another photograph to ponder over.


Why do you think this prisoner’s clothes have been left outside his cell door?

If you head on over to Norm’s blog you’ll find some interesting Thursday Doors.

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Thursday Doors


On a dull, grey January afternoon where better to find some inspiration for Thursday Doors than from a prison? Cork City Gaol, to be exact. These shots are of the outside of what is now a museum and heritage centre. Next week I’ll post the ones I took of the inside. There were so many interesting exhibits (the building also houses a radio museum) that it will take three posts to cover everything.

Cork City Gaol opened in 1824, replacing the old prison at Northgate Bridge,  which was overcrowded and unhygienic. Sir Thomas Deane won the contract to design and build the castle-like structure. He was also involved in the design of the original buildings for University College Cork. The reason the site at Sunday’s Well at the edge of the City was chosen for the new prison was because it’s on a hill and would allow plenty of fresh air to circulate, in the hopes of lessening, or at least containing, the bouts of ‘gaol fever’ that was the bane of the old prison.


Model of Cork City Gaol

This model of the prison gives you a good idea of the layout. The smaller building standing apart represents the Debtor’s Gaol, where the wealthy who had fallen on hard times were incarcerated when unable to pay their debts. There was definitely a big difference between the living conditions in the two prisons. Those in Debtor’s Gaol wore their own clothes, used their own furniture and had their food delivered to them – none of that prison gruel for them. If they could talk a family member into swapping places with them, they could even arrange to have a day off. I presume they didn’t head into the city for a bit of retail therapy, them being short of cash at the time, but there would have been some lovely walks in nearby parks to give them a change of scenery.


Before I go, I’ll leave you with this unusual piece of furniture that stands just inside the entrance to the main prison. Can you guess what it was for? All will be revealed next week. In the meantime, have a look at Norm’s blog to see a selection of Thursday Doors from various parts of the globe and thanks for stopping by – I hope I didn’t detain you for too long. 😉


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Thursday Doors


On a recent trip to see my parents I paid a visit to the old graveyard in Haggardstown, County Louth, where many of my ancestors were laid to rest. The ruins of an old church stand in the center of the cemetery, along with seven yew trees. Although seldom used now for burials, the graves and grounds are kept in very good condition and it has won many prizes because of this.




This is a great place to get some nice atmospheric shots.

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I’ll be busy catching up with family over the next week so this is my last Thursday Doors for this year. In case you’re wondering if there’s going to be an actual door in this post, here’s one I made earlier. No prizes for guessing my favourite door colour. I hope you all have a good end to 2016 and I wish you the very best for next year. Stay safe and warm (or cool, if you’re in a hot climate). See you in 2017. 🙂


Thanks for stopping by. More Thursday Door posts can be found on Norm’s blog. Enjoy.

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Thursday Doors


Thursday Doors hails from Scotland this week. These photographs are from a trip I made to Edinburgh a few years ago, to visit family who live there. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to explore Edinburgh Castle but it’s the first place on my list next time and I’ll be sure to take lots of photos. I love the architecture of Edinburgh, both historical and modern.


Although there is plenty to see in the city, it’s well worth taking the time to explore the surrounding countryside. The town of Linlithgow is twenty minutes by train from Edinburgh city and situated close by the ruins of a royal palace, set in its own park beside Linlithgow Loch. A royal manor existed on the site in the 12th century but this was replaced with a fortification in the 14th century by England’s King Edward l.


The palace was a favourite residence of the Stewart kings and queens from James I (1406-37) onward. Both James V (1512) and Mary Queen of Scots (1542) were born there. Although maintained after Scotland’s monarchs left for England in 1603, it wasn’t used very much and was destroyed by fire in 1746, by the Duke of Cumberland’s army. Thankfully, what’s left of the palace has been kept in a good state of preservation since the early 19th century.



There’s lots of fun to be had in the grounds of the palace, both in and out of the water.


That goes for the wildlife, too.



There are lots more Thursday Doors and interesting places to visit over at Norm’s blog.

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Thursday doors


Can you spot the door? This is a very special Thursday Doors post because I’m featuring our tiny home that we plan on living in for our retirement. It needs a lot of work but I  love a challenge and this one is definitely going to test our DIY skills. We have renovated an old cottage before but not one as old as this, or in need of as much work either. The door you can just about see underneath all that ivy is at the back of the house.


Can you spot the house? It’s that cute little end-of-terrace single story cottage. The large red house next to it is a doctor’s practice, so if one of us takes a heart attack during our renovating we know where to find a defibrillator.

The house itself may be tiny but the back garden, although narrow, is quite long with a side and back entrance. So, there are many options regarding extending and building a garage at the end of the garden. There’s also a very large oil tank that’s almost as big as the extended bathroom. We thought we might live in that while we work on the house but then again, our boat is moored just three miles away so I think that might be a bit more comfortable.

It’s great fun exploring a new part of the country and I can see us spending a lot of time in junk yards and at second-hand markets, hunting for bargains. We have already discovered a great place to find some doors – a haven for a Thursday Doors addict.


Feast your eyes on this lovely collection, it even includes a set of red doors.

When we get tired of demolishing internal walls and pulling down ceilings we can take a break in a lovely wee park just a half a minute’s walk away (or crawl, depending on how worn out we are). It leads down to a small marina on the river Erne and is a very relaxing place to sit and recharge the batteries. So far, we’ve added a new roof to the house and will carry on refurbishing bit by bit, until it’s ready to move into. I’ll keep you posted.


Thanks for stopping by this week. To have a look at some more Thursday Doors check out Norm’s blog and follow the link at the end of his post.

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Thursday Doors


Thursday Doors comes from the Davenport Hotel in Dublin City this week, a former 17th century prayer hall, where I attended a conference co-hosted by Amazon KDP and I was going to watch the day-long self-publishing event online, as all of the tickets sold out within 48 hours of being released, but I got an email from Amazon KDP asking me if I was going. They said they were hoping to meet me there. I explained about not having a ticket but they said they would put myself and Mr. R. on their guest list. I’ve never been on anyone’s guest list (apart from weddings) so how could I refuse?


The inside is as elegant as the outside


The program began at 9 am and ended at 5 pm with a break for lunch. The morning’s panel of guest speakers were interviewed by Rick O’Shea, broadcaster on national radio and host of The Poetry Programme, and Vanessa O’Loughlin of The afternoon’s participants were interviewed by Darren Hardy, Head of Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing Programme in the UK. The event was live-streamed to libraries nationwide for the benefit of anyone who might be in a poor quality broadband area.

Here’s me, welcoming everyone to the event. Err…. no. That’s me anticipating a nice lunch at the pub across the road. See that hungry smile on my face?


Kennedy’s Bar and Restaurant is steeped in history, has an old world setting and more importantly for me at the time (my stomach was growling at me, after all) the food is delicious. It was also a very apt place to have our lunch, considering we were attending a self-publishing event.


This lovely old premises has been a favourite watering hole in Dublin since it’s establishment in 1850 and is steeped in literary tradition. In the past, while the back of the premises served alcohol, the front part of the pub operated as a grocer’s shop where young Oscar Wilde earned a few bob every Saturday afternoon, stacking the shelves. As he lived in the neighbourhood, not only did Oscar earn a few shillings from Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy but he also spent a few in there, too, musing over a bottle of Stout. Apart from its most famous employee, Kennedy’s has also enjoyed the custom of Samuel Beckett and James Joyce, during their formative years.

After a wonderful lunch, we made our way back to the Davenport to hear the afternoon’s sessions.


Louise Ross, an independently published author, has been able to reach more than half a million people around the world in less than two years, through four consecutive bestsellers on Amazon KDP. Another panelist, Mark Dawson, recently announced that he has seen more than one million downloads of his work. Once you are happy with your book and its quality, publishing on KDP takes less than five minutes and the book appears on Kindle stores worldwide within 24-48 hours. Kelly Butler, a Technical Account Manager at Amazon UK, answered questions from the audience on formatting, which I found extremely enlightening.

At the end of the day, Lizzy and John from KDP asked me if I would like to be interviewed for an article in the Irish Times about my experience as a self-published author. Of course, I was delighted and it made the day even more special for me. If you are already  writing, or aspiring to, you will enjoy this video of the conference.

I hope you found this week’s Thursday Doors helpful if you are considering self-publishing. There are more doors and interesting posts waiting to be discovered on Norm’s Blog. Scroll down to the end of his post and you find a ‘blue frog’ link to click.




Posted in authors, book publishing., emerging authors, food, Historical buildings, Ireland, Thursday Doors, Writers Resource, writing tips | Tagged , , , , , , | 43 Comments

Thursday Doors


This is more of an entrance than a door, to kick off this week’s Thursday Doors. The English Market in Cork city is where Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip dropped in to buy buy some sausages for their Saturday morning fry-up in May 2011, on the final day of the Queen’s State Visit to Ireland. Well, they didn’t exactly pay for them, as they were presented with a hamper packed with twenty different Irish artisan food products on offer at the various stalls. There are two entrances on different streets that lead into the covered market and it’s a hive of activity every day of the week. Here is the website description:

‘Small stalls sit alongside larger businesses. Fledgling traders beside long-established family businesses passed down from one generation to the next. Meats and fish, herbs and spices, fruit and vegetables, sauces and oils, chocolates and cakes, cheeses and pastas – the Market caters for all culinary tastes and all eating occasions. You’ll also find crockery, t-shirts, novelty items, clothes alterations and art – an eclectic mix itself creating a diversity of customers, adding further to the unique atmosphere of the English Market. Having experienced the sights, sounds and smells of the Market, customers can unwind and sample it’s tastes and enjoy the banter from the various café’s, deli’s and food plates from the atypical stalls.’  (1)

The ‘English Market’ was created in 1788 by the English (Protestant) corporation that controlled the city until 1841. The reformation of local government in 1840 saw the representatives of the majority Irish (Catholic) community establish an alternative indoor market, which became known as the ‘Irish Market’ differentiating it from its older counterpart.

The story of the English Market reflects the political, cultural and dietary history of the people of Cork over a span of two centuries. The changing tastes of the city has always been catered to but old Irish food traditions still remain. Alongside Spanish olives, Italian bread and French cheese you will also find the old working class Irish food staples like, tripe, drisheen, crubeens and salted ling. If you’re vegetarian, I’ll spare you the details. Let’s just say they are all much cheaper forms of protein than your average steak.

After watching this video by Partnership International you will see why I love to visit the English Market any time I’m in the city. It will also make you hungry – sorry.

Thanks for stopping by this week and if you would like to see more doors (or entrances, or even gates) from around the world, have a look at Norm’s blog.

Source (1)

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Swans On Anti-Depressants After Viewing Episodes Of EastEnders Through Flooded Derrytresk Man’s Window

Take note, all you Eastenders fans…

Tyrone Tribulations

682507383_4dd5c0fd4c_bA leading swan psychologist at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) has confirmed he had to prescribe anti-depressants to a flock of swans who watched thirty-three episodes of EastEnders through the window of a house which had unfortunately witnessed high levels of flooding around it.

The swans, which were displaying heightened levels of agitated and violent behaviour towards their immediate families after viewing the programme, were said to be addicted to the goings-on in and around Albert Square and began impatiently pecking at the Derrytresk man’s window from sunrise, forcing Mr Quinn to stick on pre-recorded episodes of the English soap opera.

Professor Gilbery Mollyed explained:

“Because of the high levels of flooding, the swans were able to comfortably view what Dot Cotton and Phil Mitchell were up to on the fictional London community, through Mr Quinn’s good room window. However, the pessimisitc plotlines appear…

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Thursday Doors


There’s a flavour of New England with my Thursday Doors post this week – but from Ireland. This is the only shot I managed to get of an unusual group of houses, as we drove past on a bus tour of  Cork city. I have to say, I’m getting better at these ‘drive-by’ shots as this one is surprisingly clear.

The six houses, set in private grounds, have attics, half-basements, dormer windows, open porches and timber conservatories to the side. They were built by the Buckley family of Donoughmore in 1935 and are a wonderful example of the American Colonial Revival architecture of New England. The houses are not identical to ensure a degree of variety, but they blend together very well, forming a pleasant and architecturally interesting enclave.

A large amount of the building materials was imported from America such as, brass and bronze door fittings from New York and American oak and pine timber. The houses were fitted with modern conveniences such as hot and cold indoor plumbing, central heating and even en-suite bathrooms, which were pretty much unheard of in the city in 1935. It took several years before all six houses were sold, possibly due to the £4,000 price tag (about £313,000 in today’s money).

If you would like to see some more images of these lovely old houses follow this link; American Houses, Cork.

And for a selection of international Thursday Doors, have a look at Norm’s blog.

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Leonard Cohen – Musician and Poet


Leonard Cohen 1934-2016

I have known Leonard Cohen’s music and poetry for over forty years, from my teens right into my fifties. I never did get to see him perform live at any of the venues he played on his visits to Ireland but last year made a promise to myself, should he play here again I would be there. That’s not going to happen now but his music and lyrics will always be with me.

On September 11 and 12, 2013, at the O2 music venue in Dublin, Leonard Cohen ran onto the stage with more energy than your average 79 year old, performing some of his best numbers, from Dance Me to the End of Love to Closing Time, for almost four hours each night. Accompanied by the Webb sisters, who also played guitar and harp, the gravelly voice of Leonard Cohen was as good as ever.

The man whose lyrics are soul searching was first recorded reading eight of his poems in 1957 by Folkways Records, when they produced the album, Six Montreal Poets. He used to say that he turned to music because he knew he couldn’t make a living as a poet. More than 50 movies list Cohen’s music on their soundtracks, with the song Bird on the Wire, being played in the film of the same name, starring Mel Gibson and Goldie Hawn. Thousands of cover versions have been made of his songs.

In his book, Flowers for Hitler, published in 1964, Leonard Cohen’s poetry changed from his early romantic style to the typical, bitter-sweet writing we see in many of his lyrics today. He was deeply affected by the Holocaust and this was a big influence on the direction he took with his poetry. His novel, Beautiful Losers, published in 1966, is full of Leonard Cohen’s obsessions along with his uncanny sense of the absurd. History, politics, religion and sex, feature in this work of radical fiction. It’s a book full of loss and the dynamics of relationships.

Leonard was a man of great integrity. For instance, during his UK and North American tours in the early years of the 70’s, Cohen and his band performed in various mental hospitals. These were private concerts for the patients and were never used for self-promotion.

Marianne Ihlen, the inspiration behind ‘So Long Marianne‘ and ‘Bird on the Wire‘ received a very prophetic letter from Leonard Cohen on her deathbed a little over three months ago. In it he said; ‘Well, Marianne, it’s come to this time when we are really so old and our bodies are falling apart and I think I will follow you very soon. Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine. . . . . . . But now, I just want to wish you a very good journey.’

A favourite song on his tours, Dance Me to the End of Love, originally released in 1984, was partly influenced by the Nazi death camps, where musicians were forced to play in string quartets while their fellow prisoners were being annihilated. The reason I chose this song to include in this post is because it is not just about death, but love and life and companionship. I’ve been with my husband for as long as I’ve known Leonard Cohen’s music and now that we are heading into our retirement years, the words and lyrics mean so much more to me than they did thirty years ago. I think this is the original Sony video released with the song in 1984. It brought tears to my eyes today.

Rest in peace, Mr. Cohen, you will live on in our hearts.

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