Category Archives: Ireland

One Word Challenge – Point

This week I have decided to join in with Debbie Smyth’s One Word Sunday challenge

Skelligs View Car Park, Kerry…

It has to be said that this was a really odd place. It seems that wherever coaches stop in Ireland an unusual ensemble of strange people and entertainers beam down from out of space and put out a collection tin.

In this windy remote place the oddest of all was a sort of farmer chap who looked as though he hadn’t washed his hands or combed his hair for several years who sat on two battered sofa cushions and invited people to have their photograph taken with a litter of kittens barely old enough to be away from their mother and then some lambs who looked to me to be highly sedated. I think the chap was highly sedated as well, probably on Guinness!

But he actually seemed positively normal next to the man a badly out of tune accordion and kicking a piece of metal plate in some sort of unholy row that I can only imagine was designed to scare witches away.

Walking back to the car in a state of dazed amusement I decided to take his picture but he saw me raise the camera and he was not very happy about it. Perhaps he thought the camera would steal his soul but on reflection I think it was because I hadn’t put any money in the tin. “Don’t point that feckin’ thing at me” he yelled, “Don’t point that feckin’ thing at me”. I took the picture and gave a jolly wave but he wasn’t going to be that easily placated, “Don’t point that feckin’ thing at me”, “I’ll set the dog on yer, I’ll set the dog on yer”.

Now I suffer from a real fear of dogs and a paranoia of being mauled to a canine death and normally a threat like that would turn by backbone to jelly. The British Geological Survey Team in Edinburgh measures earthquake activity in the UK and has been known to sometimes get confused by the seismic activity created by my violent shaking when faced by a dog and has even issued a false earthquake event alert.

On this occasion however I didn’t think I had a lot to fear from an obviously shagged out old collie that was wearing a flat cap tied to its head and whose best people attacking days were a long way behind it. The poor thing could hardly stand up let alone chase anyone that it was set upon so I gave another cheery wave and dawdled defiantly back to the car. I was supremely confident that I could make the five metres to the door faster than it could cover the fifty metres or so to get to me.

Back in the car I suddenly worried that this might be the time that the engine would blow up and I might be in a spot of bother after all but thankfully it fired into life and I deliberately drove slowly past him and gave him a another cheeky wave as he continued to make his pointless threat – “I’ll set the dog on yer, I’ll set the dog on yer”. What was it going to do – bite the tyres?

Anyway, there was no warning light on the dashboard about geriatric dog attacks so we just laughed and carried on to the exit.

International Laundry Day

How many of you knew that today is International Laundry Day? I certainly didn’t.

In the mid-1800s a man called Emmett Lee Dickinson established April 15th as National Laundry Day. Dickinson had invented the laundry basket on wheels and wherever he went he urged others to join his crusade for national cleanliness.

I remember laundry day when I was a boy. Monday was traditionally washing day but in the days before automatic washing machines this meant hand washing and firing up a gas boiler and two or three loads of washing to manage. No spin drier either so wet clothes had to be put through the mangle to get rid of the excess water and then without tumble driers, hung out on the line to dry. Getting clothes dry was fairly straightforward on fine days but was a real problem if it was raining or in the winter when linen and clothes were hung around the house and in front of the open fire in a race against time to get them aired.

I have been looking for a good story about laundry and I have chosen this one…

During the troubles in Northern Ireland the British Army needed to determine who was making the bombs and where they were being manufactured. One military advisor recommended that they operate a laundry.

The plan was simple. The laundry would send out “colour-coded” special discount tickets: “get two loads for the price of one.” The color-coding was matched to specific streets and when someone brought in their laundry it was easy to determine the general location.

While the laundry was being washed an additional cycle was added. Every item was sent through a process that was disguised as just another piece of laundry equipment that checked for bomb-making residue.

Within a few weeks multiple positives of bomb residue had shown up. To narrow their target list, the laundry simply sent out more specific numbered coupons to all houses in the suspected area and before long they had a list of addresses. The army swooped down on the homes and arrested the suspects and confiscated numerous assembled bombs, weapons and bomb making ingredients

Clickety-Click 2020 – The Top 5

Examining my statistics for 2020 I have looked at number of clicks and thought that I might share with you the pictures in my posts that have received the most views over the past twelve months. Yesterday I revealed 10 down to 6 and today I share the Top 5…

No. 5 – Map of World Showcase at Disneyworld, Florida – 50 clicks

It surprised me just how often map postcards have cropped up in my click statistics. This is from a post from December 2012 called Around the World in Eighty minutes about my visit to World Showcase in 1990.

No. 4 – Map of Malta – 69 clicks

Another map, this time from my post Malta – Sightseeing, a Church, a Cartoon and a Capital City which was posted in February 2013.

No. 3 – Spaghetti Harvest – 97 clicks

From a post of April 1st 2019 about the BBC Spaghetti Tree Hoax, a spoof television documentary about spaghetti crops in Switzerland.

No. 2 – Postcard Map of Northern Ireland – 119 clicks

And yet another map, this time from a post of June 2015 about preparation for a visit to Northern Ireland.

No 1 – Casa Batlló, Barcelona – 190 clicks

The second picture of Casa Batlló in Top Ten clicks but not one of my own pictures of course. I seem to remember that I scanned this picture from the travel section of The Sunday Telegraph newspaper. I used in a post about Antoni Gaudi in March 2013.

It baffles me why this picture tops the click parade, in 2020 it accounted for 12.25% of all picture clicks and in total since I posted it has 1,550 clicks which is 3.2% of the total of 48,500.

One final interesting statistic is that when I did a Google search on this image it has been lifted and used almost 150 times on other websights.

More About The Titanic – The Museum at Cobh

Yesterday I told you about my visit to the Titanic Experience Museum in Belfast. Two years later I visited another Titanic Museum in Cobh near Cork in Southern Ireland.

“I cannot imagine any condition which would cause a ship to founder. I cannot conceive of any vital disaster happening to this vessel. Modern shipbuilding has gone beyond that.” – Captain Edward Smith

“You could actually walk miles along the decks and passages covering different ground all the time. I was thoroughly familiar with pretty well every type of ship afloat but it took me 14 days before I could, with confidence, find my way from one part of that ship to another.” – Charles Lightoller, Titanic Officer.

The Titanic Experience in Cobh is a small museum housed in the old White Star Line booking office and embarkation jetty. We were keen to do this because in the previous year we had visited the Titanic museum and exhibition in Belfast and we were interested to see how this compared.

It is much smaller of course and instead of rides and reconstructions this is a virtual reality tour which was easily worth the cost of admission but couldn’t possibly compare with Belfast.

Everyone knows the story of the RMS Titanic. When it was launched in 1912 it was the largest ship ever built. It was the biggest thing ever built that moved. It weighed sixty thousand tonnes (modern passenger liners are about three times bigger) and its two thousand one inch thick steel hull plates were held together with three million rivets. It was proudly proclaimed as the safest ship ever built.

It might have been considered unsinkable but on its maiden voyage the unthinkable happened and it sunk after colliding with an unyielding iceberg in the North Atlantic and one thing that became absolutely clear was that Captain Edward Smith was completely hopeless at making maritime predictions.

As it turns out, he may not have been much of a sailor either. In January 1889 approaching New York on her final White Star sailing, he managed to run RMS Republic aground. In 1890 he ran the White Star RMS Coptic aground in Rio De Janeiro and in 1909 he ran another White Star liner, the RMS Adriatic, aground also in New York.

In 1911 as Captain of the White Star ship RMS Olympic he nearly crushed a tug in New York harbour and on the only voyage of the Titanic there was a near collision in Southampton with a steamer which by strange coincidence just happened to be called the New York.

If Captain Smith had been a formula one driver he would have been James Hunt (hunt the Shunt), if he was a pilot he would fly for Aeroflot (the most dangerous airline in the World).

To be fair collisions in the Atlantic Ocean and in the sea ports were quite common at that time because as the cruise author John Maxtone-Graham wrote, “There were many more close calls on the western ocean than passengers ever heard about”. This was the case because the Atlantic Ocean was significantly busier than it is today.

Cruise fans today well might tell you that it is the only way to travel, but in the first half of the twentieth century if you were travelling to the United States, it really was.

Given his unfortunate record of running into things and damaging company property it might seem odd therefore that White Star Line trusted Captain Smith with the biggest and most expensive ship ever to take to the seas. It may also not have escaped readers’ notice that most of these incidents involve New York in one way or another and that was exactly where the Titanic was heading. Even a raging sceptic would have to admit that these were bad omens.

There are many theories about the reason for the sinking. The Captain has been blamed for being reckless for sailing too close to the ice field, the White Star Board for trying to set a speed record despite the danger of sailing at high speed through an ocean full of icebergs but currently the most popular is the rivets. Apparently those used at the bow and the stern were made of iron rather than steel and contained high levels of impurities. They only had a 5 mm tolerance and as a consequence of the collision they shattered on impact and popped their heads and the steel plates of the hull undid like a giant zipper.

“From the very day that she was designed she was almost doomed…this (the use of iron rivets) was the Achilles heel of the Titanic.” – Paul Louden-Brown, White Star Line Archivist.

Entrance Tickets – The Titanic Experience

“Certainly there was no sailor who ever sailed salt water but who smiled – and still smiles – at the idea of the unsinkable ship” – Charles Lightoller (Surviving Officer) in ‘Titanic and Other Ships’

So, everyone knows that the Titanic sank but as we came to the end of the visit I began to think about what if it hadn’t?

Read the Full Story Here…

On This Day – The Father Ted Tour in Ireland

While the current travel restrictions are in place I have no new stories to post so what I thought that I would do is to go through my picture archives and see where I was on this day at any time in the last few travelling years.

On 22nd June 2014 I was in Southern Ireland on the trail of Father Ted…

Ireland Father Ted Tour Craggy Island Parochial House

Click on an image to scroll through the Gallery…

 

Read The Full Story…

On This Day – Kinsale in Ireland

While the current travel restrictions are in place I have no new stories to post so what I thought that I would do is to go through my picture archives and see where I was on this day at any time in the last few travelling years.

On 16th June 2016 I was in Southern Ireland in the town of Kinsale…

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Kinsale Street

At around about lunch time we arrived in Kinsale and checked in to the Old Bank Town House with rooms overlooking the harbour and the brightly painted shops in the High Street opposite and after a glass of Guinness and a bowl of Chowder we spent the afternoon exploring the narrow sinuous streets, the tourist tat shops and the exclusive harbour area.

There is no getting away from the fact that Kinsale is very much a tourist town and it felt as though the whole place had been recently spruced up for the summer season and everywhere there were overflowing flower planters and fresh paint, bus tour blue, tourist turquoise and visitor violet which gave the town an uplifting vibrancy which was fake but at the same time friendly.  It is said that Queen Elizabeth of England thinks the world smells of fresh paint and I sort of got that impression here.

Kinsale Giants Cottage

Later we looked for somewhere to eat but this proved difficult on account of how busy the town was and it took some time to find a restaurant that could accommodate us.  Someone always finds a table however and eventually we were accommodated and enjoyed a final meal and had a reflective conversation about the week away.  It was our third successive year in Ireland, we have visited the West coast and the North and now the south and for the third year running we had not seen a single drop of rain.

Kim really believes that the sun always shines in Ireland!  On account of this I am beginning to think about starting a travel business specialising in escorted tours to Ireland because it would seem that we would be able to give a no rain guarantee.

Kinsale Flowers

As we left the restaurant we could hear genuine Irish music playing nearby so like children drawn to the Pied Piper we followed the sound to a nearby pub where a trio of musicians called ‘Goats Don’t Shave’ were playing traditional music and we stayed and watched, tapped our feet, clapped our hands and joined in when we recognised the lyrics.

We had had a good day, Clonakilty and Kinsale, an excellent way to finish the trip and before we went to bed we discovered more Irish music in the hotel bar where a man famous for playing with the Riverdance show was playing for free with his band of excellent musicians.  It was quite a show and we stayed longer than we planned and long after we had left we could hear the music of his accordion wafting across the street and through the open window of our room.

Kinsale Accordian

 

On This Day – The Dark Hedges in Northern Ireland

While the current travel restrictions are in place I have no new stories to post so what I thought that I would do is to go through my picture archives and see where I was on this day at any time in the last few travelling years.

On 10th June 2015 I was in Ballymoney in Northern Ireland visiting a filming location for the TV film Game of Thrones…

The Dark Hedges Northern Ireland

The dark hedges is an avenue of beech trees that were planted in the 1750s in the grounds of Gracehill House a Georgian mansion built by the Stuart family, descendants of a cousin of King James who had been granted the land but who had died in a shipwreck. They wanted to create a compelling landscape to impress visitors who approached the entrance to the mansion.  The Manor House is still there but a private residence and the Stuart legacy is this fascinating avenue of spooky interlinking tree boughs.

I say spooky because of course, such an ancient stretch of road is bound to have horror stories linked to it and visitors are warned to watch out for the ‘Grey Lady’. Local legend has it that she haunts the thin ribbon of road that winds beneath the ancient gnarled beech trees. She is said to glide silently along the roadside, and vanish as she reaches the last tree.  I couldn’t help thinking that I wished some of the tourists might disappear so that I might get a decent picture, but I suppose this stubborn couple do help provide a sense of perspective.

Dark Hedges 03

It was a fascinating place and maybe we were lucky to see it because Beech trees reach maturity at no more than two hundred years and those making up the Dark Hedges are well past that.  The Dark Hedges came under threat a few years ago when highway authorities proposed to fell many trees for safety reasons but the avenue was taken over by the Dark Hedges Preservation Trust – and is now the subject of a Heritage Lottery Fund project to protect the popular landmark but I suspect that there is only so long that they can remain on an environmental life support machine.

We might have stayed longer but to perfectly coincide with our visit a neighbouring farmer decided that this was the perfect agricultural moment to apply an evil silage cocktail to the land and the smell was truly awful and penetrated the interior of the car even through the closed windows.  I was concerned that we could get charged for this later under the car rental small print conditions of contract.

Game of Thrones Dark Hedges

Thursday Doors – Shops in Ireland

“only in Ireland” is a common phrase in the Emerald Isle and it seems to me that this collection of doors illustrates that rather well.  My favourite is the Post Office with the gas cylinders stored right next to the petrol pump…

Angel WorldDick MacksLittle CheeseMoriartyMother HubbardsoBriens BakeryOHerlihyPost OfficeRecollections

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favourite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments’ on Norm’s site, anytime between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American Eastern Time).

An Alternative World Showcase at EPCOT

In my last post I took you to Disney and World Showcase at EPCOT.  There are eleven countries showcased at the theme park and some time ago I wondered why it was those particular eleven and speculated on an alternative selection.

Read the Full Story…

Click on an image to scroll through the Gallery…