Capturing the world with Photography, Painting and Drawing

Forgotten places

Portumna Work House, The Story of Irish Workhouses

Portumna Work House
Nigel Borrington

The Workhouse Story

The Irish Workhouse – An Overview

What was the workhouse?

The workhouse has been described as “the most feared and hated institution ever established in Ireland.”

The workhouse was an institution which operated in Ireland for a period of some 80 years, from the early 1840s to the early 1920s. There were 163 workhouses in total. If people could not support themselves, they could come into the workhouse. Here they would do some work in return for food. People had to stay and live in the workhouse and so the system was known as indoor relief.

The whole family had to enter together. This was a way for the landlords to clear the land of tenants who could not pay rent. Life in the workhouse was meant to be harsh so as not to encourage people to stay. One of the cruellest aspects of the workhouse was that family members were split up into separate quarters. Children aged two or less could stay with their mothers. Sometimes, family members never saw each other again.

The workhouse was not a prison. People could leave if they liked. The high walls surrounding the workhouses were for keeping out, not for keeping people in.

How did workhouses come about?

In Ireland under Brehon Law, the native laws dating back to Celtic times, rulers had to take care of the sick and the poor. In the 5th Century, Christianity came to Ireland and with it monasteries began to develop. Over time, these monasteries took on the role of caring for the less fortunate. From the mid 1500s, Ireland was invaded by Protestant English settlers. The land was taken from the Irish, the religious were prosecuted and the whole care system broke down.

The situation was so bad that by the beginning of the 1800s, it is estimated that some 2.3 million people were at near starvation level. At the time Ireland’s population was nearing 8 million. By this time also, most of Ireland’s small farmers and landless labourers were dependent on the potato as their main food.

In England, Scotland and Wales there was poverty too. The workhouse was an English system. The first workhouses in England opened in 1836. Almost 700 workhouses were built in England and Wales. The main concern of the Poor Law Commissioners in England was to ensure that the system was not abused by lazy people. Scotland by contrast had a more humane system based on outdoor relief. One of the key differences between England and Ireland at the time was that work was available in England whereas in Ireland, whilst people were willing to work, there was no employment.

In 1800, under the Act of Union, Ireland became part of Britain. Numerous committees were set up to investigate the extreme poverty in Ireland, but nothing was done. However, as more and more Irish people flocked toBritain in search of employment, the British Government acted and sent over one of the English Poor Law Commissioners, George Nicholls, to find a solution. This was his first time i nIreland. He did a quick tour and reported back that Ireland needed a workhouse system similar to the English one. The Irish Poor Law Act became law in 1838.

What did this Poor Law actually mean in practice?

It divided the country into 130 unions. A further 33 were added after the “famine” years. Each union was to have a workhouse and the workhouses were to be financed by a tax on land. George Wilkinson was appointed as architect to the Irish Poor Law Commissioners, to design and supervise the building of the workhouses. The first workhouses opened in 1841.

Before the “famine years”, the number of people entering the workhouses was low. People were slow to leave their holdings. However, by the autumn of 1846, it became clear just how bad the situation was. The potato crop was diseased and inedible. It was emigration, starvation or the workhouse. People began to flood in.

The system, based as it was on indoor relief, could not cope with the overcrowding, the disease and the deaths. Corpses, without coffins, were carried on carts day after day to be thrown into mass burial pits in the workhouse grounds. (The years from 1846 to 1851 are known as the “famine” years. It should be noted however, that while the potato crop was largely wiped out through disease, there were plenty of other foodstuffs such as grain and livestock being exported toEngland.)

After the “famine” years, the numbers of people entering the workhouse decreased and over time it became a place for people that society did not want: unmarried mothers, children born outside of marriage, orphaned and abandoned children, “lunatics and idiots”, old and infirm people, tramps who travelled the roads.

Between 1838 and 1921, the principal features of the poor law and the workhouse system remained largely unchanged. The system was abolished in the early 1920s, when Ireland gained independence from Britain.

What was life in the workhouse like?

Life in the workhouse was harsh and frequently cruel. There were many rules. The food was poor. There was little to do. People were separated from their families, hungry, frustrated, badly treated, bored and mostly without hope. Often the inmates reacted against this, by breaking the rules and by fighting amongst themselves. Some preferred prison to the workhouse as the food was better and the regime not as strict.

Staff were often ex police men or army. There was a very high dismissal rate with many of staff being cruel, incompetent and dishonest.

The diet varied somewhat from workhouse to workhouse. Generally, it consisted of stirabout, which is like porridge, milk and potatoes. Children got bread. Adults received two meals a day and children three. Reports of the time show that the food was often of very poor quality. The workhouse diet remained very basic and it was not until the end of the 1800s that tea, bread for adults and a meat soup dinner were introduced.

Very little productive work was carried out. One of the rules was that the workhouse should not enter into competition with outside businesses. When numbers in the workhouse were large, it was difficult to find work for everybody. In the earlier years, the Capstan wheel was in operation in some workhouses. Women & children, maybe up to several hundred, went around in circles pushing a big wheel for grinding corn. Breaking stones for building roads was a common occupation for the men. The women did domestic jobs such as cleaning or helping in the kitchen or laundry and looking after the sick. Older inmates were put to work mending clothes and spinning wool. Girls were meant to be trained for domestic service. Oakum picking was carried out in many workhouses. This involved separating out the strands of old ship rope so that it could be reused.

There were large numbers of children in the workhouse. In 1850, there were up to 120,000 children. Conditions were terrible for them. An English Clergyman who was in Ireland at the time expressed his shock at the total failure to provide for these children. He described the children in Limerick workhouse as skeletons covered in soars and dressed in rags. Many of the children who survived the “famine” years grew up in the workhouse. They have been described as having “the same guttural voice, a blank expression and of having a strange similarity.” These children only knew the workhouse existence.

Children were supposed to go to school in the workhouse where they were meant to learn reading, writing, arithmetic and the principles of the Christian religion. The reality was quite different. School teachers were often incompetent and cruel, incapable of teaching enormous classes of hungry and dirty children. From the 1860s onwards, social reformers pressed for the boarding out of children to foster families but this was slow to happen, probably because the workhouse would have had to pay the foster families. From about the 1870s onwards, the religious orders began to get involved and started setting up industrial schools, where children were meant to receive training. By the early 1900s, the days of children in the workhouse were beginning to draw to a close.


Did people ever leave the workhouse?

One of the ways that workhouse numbers decreased was through emigration. The cost of emigration to landlords was less than that of keeping paupers in the workhouse. An Emigration Commission was set up. Its representatives visited every workhouse in Ireland. Those who wanted to emigrate were offered free passage, clothing and a little money. Between the years 1848-1850, 4,175 orphan girls aged 14-18 left Irish workhouses forAustralia under a scheme supported by the Australian government. In the 1850s, the Poor Law started to assist young female paupers to Canada where there was demand for domestic servants. Over 15,000 girls were sent there.

Was there anything good about the workhouse system?

Though separate, the workhouse was also paradoxically a part of the locality in which it was situated. It provided business to local suppliers, some employment and medical care to the general population. Originally, the workhouse infirmary or hospital was just for the sick inmates. No qualifications were required for nurses and the level of care was very poor. From the 1860s, qualified nursing sisters began to make their way into the workhouses. Care of the sick improved greatly and the workhouse hospital was opened to non inmates. These local hospitals were missed by many when the system was abolished in the early 1920s. Some of the workhouses became county hospitals or homes. However, for generations that followed, people had an awful fear of spending their final years in the County Home, being as it was part of the workhouse system.

Portumna Work House, A Gallery


Places on my walks , Crohare Church, Killenaule, county Tipperary

Crohane Chruch
County Tipperary
Ireland

Crohane church is located just over the boarder from county Tipperary in the area of Killenaule and its a beautiful little chapel, located down a narrow drive way.

As you can see here, at this time of year the church is just starting to be surrounded by the green of the local oak trees and the colour of the wild flowers that grow in the stone wall that surrounds the Grave yard.

Crohane Church,a place of peace and stillness ……


The Cottage By The Sea – A Poem by Esme Shaw

Come my love and live with me
In a sweet little cottage by the sea
Where roses grow around the door
And flowers bloom for evermore
Inside my cottage clean and neat
A big brick fireplace will give out heat
Outside the birds will sing all day
And on the beach the children play
So come my love to the cottage by the sea
And see how happy we will be.

Esme Shaw

A Cottage by the Sea …


The House on the Hill, By : Edwin Arlington Robinson

The Old house on the hill County Kilkenny  Ireland Nigel Borrington

The Old house on the hill
County Kilkenny
Ireland
Nigel Borrington

The House on the Hill

Edwin Arlington Robinson

They are all gone away,
The House is shut and still,
There is nothing more to say.

Through broken walls and gray
The winds blow bleak and shrill:
They are all gone away.

Nor is there one to-day
To speak them good or ill:
There is nothing more to say.

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Why is it then we stray
Around the sunken sill?
They are all gone away,

And our poor fancy-play
For them is wasted skill:
There is nothing more to say.

There is ruin and decay
In the House on the Hill:
They are all gone away,
There is nothing more to say.


Irish standing stones : Carrigeen, Nire Valley, County Waterford

Irish standing stones Carrigeen Nire Valley  County Waterford

Irish standing stones
Carrigeen
Nire Valley
County Waterford

Irish Standing stones : Carrigeen,

Carrigeen standing stone is among the best located stones in Ireland. It stands in a superb location at the top of the picturesque Nire valley from where there is magnificent panoramic views of the surrounding mountainous region. On the day this image was taken it was -2 degrees and the mountains had a thick covering of mist.

The stone stands some height, an impressive 2.5 meters and tapering to a sharp point. It stands solidly upright and is oriented in a WNW-ESE direction.

An interesting observation here, was when looking westwards, that the jagged crest of the stone seemed to align somewhat with the distant profile of the mountain ridge to the west. (see photo below). This may be just coincidental or was it of significance and could this jagged profile of the stone have survived through thousands of years?

Apart from this speculation, Carrigeen standing stone and its surroundings is a ‘must see’.


Kilkenny Landscape Photography, A Poem : Beyond the gate ……..

Kilkenny Landscape photography Beyond the gate Nigel Borrington

Kilkenny Landscape photography
Beyond the gate
Nigel Borrington

An open field gate, they always invite you in.

Just like anything in life when something is open it makes you want to explore !!!!

Beyond The Gate

Beyond the gate
Lies a whole new world
If you want to know
Go beyond the gate
We shall not know
Until we go beyond the gate


On Contemplating a Sheep’s Skull ~ Poem by: John Kinsella

the sheeps skull 1
All images taken in the Nier valley, county waterford
Fujifilm X100
Irish Landscape Photography : Nigel Borrington

On Contemplating a Sheep’s Skull

Poem by John Kinsella

A sheep’s Skull aged so much in rain and heat,
broken jawbone and chipped teeth half-
gnaw soil; zippered fuse-mark tracks
back to front, runs through to base
of neck, widening faultline under
stress: final crack close at hand.

Skull I can’t bring myself to move.

White-out red soil unearthed
from hillside fox den and cat haven,
now hideaway for short-beaked echidna
toppling rocks and stones, disrupting
artfulness a spirit might impose,
frisson at seeing counterpoint.

Skull I can’t bring myself to move.

Sometimes avoid the spot to avoid
looking half-hearted into its sole
remaining eye socket; mentally to join
bones strewn downhill, come apart
or torn from mountings years before
arriving with good intentions.

the sheeps skull 2

Skull I can’t bring myself to move.

Not something you can ‘clean up’,
shape of skull is not a measure of all
it contained: weight of light and dark,
scales of sound, vast and varied taste
of all grass eaten from these hills;
slow and steady gnawing at soil.

Skull I can’t bring myself to move.

Neither herbivore nor carnivore,
earth and sky-eater, fire in its shout
or whisper, racing through to leave a bed
of ash on which the mind might rest,
drinking sun and light and smoke,
choked up with experience.

Skull I can’t bring myself to move.

Drawn to examine
despite aversion, consider
our head on its shoulders,
drawn expression
greeting loved ones
with arms outstretched.

the sheeps skull 3

John Kinsella is Founding editor of the journal Salt in Australia; he serves as international editor at the Kenyon Review. His most recent volume of poetry is Divine Comedy: Journeys through a Regional Geography (W. W. Norton) with a new volume, Disturbed Ground: Jam Tree Gully/Walden, due out with W.W. Norton in November 2011.


The Elements : Water in images

The Elements, Water Nigel Borrington

The Elements, Water : Nigel Borrington

Water is life, out of all of the elements we need for our existence, water has to be the one we are closest to!

By capturing these images here, I wanted to take sometime getting close to water and attempt to make a connection to it. These images were taken yesterday in a local river as it flows through the Irish landscape. This is a shaded and hard to get to, hidden part of this river, even on a sunny day in June the Sun finds it hard to reach in. I felt that this only added to the atmosphere, with the sounds of the flowing water as it moved around the stones on the river bed.

The Elements : Water in Images

The Elements Water Nigel Borrington 01

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Friday Poetry (1) – Evening ghosts along the rivers bank

Ghosts along the river bank Nigel Borrington

Ghosts along the river bank
Nigel Borrington

Evening ghosts along the river

I could tell you how the river looks
sketched in evening light;
I know the smell of dew so fresh over the river,
and evening air that parts like tired curtains,
with wet heat that sighs
and slaps the grass when you move on;

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I’ve felt what a violin says
to the heart of the river ghosts
over waters edge,
and how an old man’s voice sounds best after smoking,
but a woman’s is best talking.

River GhostsNigel Borrington_02

There are ghosts on these paths,
but they don’t hunger anymore;
hunger is for the living
not satisfied
with morning light.

River GhostsNigel Borrington_03


Returning to Skellig Michael, an island escape

Skellig Michael 30
Skellig Michael, county Kerry, Ireland
Landscape Photography : Nigel Borrington

I first visited Skellig Michael in 2012 and the following images and post were taken and created during and following this visit, since then the island has been used during the making of the latest Star Wars movie “The Force Awakens”.

While no one worried too much about this remote and sacred place being used for this purpose, I think a lot of people are very much hoping that it does not mark the start of the island being openly used in such away, here it Ireland places like this are treasured and their peace is defended strongly. The Island is also the home to some very unique and protected wildlife.

Skellig Michael : an island escape

Skellig Michael is an Island some 12 to 16 kilometres by boat from the ring of kerry, county Kerry, Ireland. It is most famous for the fact that during the 6th to the 8th Century’s a religious settlement was established here.

The Island is a world heritage site and falls under the guardianship of UNESCO, you can find the official historic details from the link on the world heritage web page here : Skellig Michael

In my last two posts I shared the boat trip to the Island and then the long but wonderful walk up to the settlement at the very top of the Island some 218 meters from sea level. Today I just want to share images of the inside area , the location that the people who lived here spent their life’s and also the location in which they are buried and there final resting place.

The images in the Gallery below are placed in the order that you view the buildings when you walk through the site, the only access is through a small passage in the outer walls.

Skellig Michael 33

Skellig Michael 37

The very first thing that greets you are two small head stones, in a very small patch of grass. These are the graves of two young boys, it was a tradition that monks in this period would take very young boys as members to their orders. These boys where from families on the main land and once they moved here they would most likely never return to see there families. Our guide informed us that it is a possibility that both boys were killed by Viking invaders as when the remains where examined wounds were found that indicate that they were killed by the use of weapons, both boys did not pass the ages of ten or twelve. It is also thought that other graves in the pictures here, in the centre of the living area contain some adult victims of such attacks.

Skellig Michael 35

A monastery may have been founded as early as the sixth century, reputedly by Saint Fionán but in 1044 rededicated to Saint Michael, the image here shows a large sculpture that is located towards the middle of the complex. It was described by our guide as being a cross but it could also be very much in the form of a human figure, with the arms to the side and a head looking over the site.

The word Skellig is defined as meaning “splinter of a stone”, and thus this rocky island was dedicated to saint Michael, there are also other Islands around Europe and maybe further away that are dedicated to this saint ( Mont Saint-Michel France, St Michael’s Mount Cornwall)

Skellig Michael 24

One of the most famous features of Skellig Michael are the so called Beehive structures, there were may be six or seven of these of which six are still standing, they were the living spaces for each of the monks, this fact would indicate that a maximum of seven people lived here in the beehives at any one time, there is a structure at the very end of the settlement that is constructed completely differently, It is thought that the head of the order would have lived in this building but few fact to prove this exist.

In any case the indications are that eight people lived on Skellig Michael at anyone time during its long history.

Living with in these stone constructions looks very harsh , during the time they were occupied however they would have looked very different, in some of the pictures you can see supporting stones that stick out of the main buildings by some amount, it is thought that these stones supported a covering of thatch consisting of straw and clay, this would have been deep and was used to keep the inner stone structure warn and dry. Not all but some of the Beehives have a hole in the roof that was used to let out smoke from fires inside.

At some point I want to post about the life’s of these people, who they where and why they chose to live here, I need to read a little more however , so for the moment that’s it. Three post over the last three day, that I hope share a visit to this wonderful and mystical island.

If you get a chance I would really encourage you to visit. Its an experience of a lifetime and helps you to open your mind to European history.

I cannot help however feeling that this place holds something else other than the official history, The question as to why these monks felt the need to occupy Skellig Michael, so far of the Irish coast line, is very big !

This place feels like an escape, a refuge but from what and why ?

With such massive risk’s taken by a small group of people to construct three stone stair-ways to the top of the Island and then build the walled settlement, the question of why looms very large. These were times when the word of Christianity was first being spread across Ireland so why the need to hide away here ?

I need to do much more reading, before I understand these bigger questions 🙂 and even then maybe some of the answers have been lost !

Gallery

Skellig Michael 23

Skellig Michael 31

Skellig Michael 33

Skellig Michael 34

Skellig Michael 35

Skellig Michael 43

Skellig Michael 38

Skellig Michael 40

Skellig Michael 39

Skellig Michael 42

Skellig Michael 37

Skellig Michael 36

Skellig Michael 41


Friday poetry : The To-be-forgotten By Thomas Hardy

Irelands History is Fading fast Nigel Borrington 05

It does not take you very long while walking around the Irish Landscape to cross paths with an old abandoned church or two. These old churches are mainly connected to the remains of long evacuated family estates and would have been originally erected as community churches for both the occupants of the estate house and the larger community.

I find these places fascinating for many reasons, a reminder of the past and times of changes around both the 1916 Easter rising and then the Irish Civil War.

I have to be honest I avoid any area of conflict (Political and religious!) in life as much as I possible can, I feel society spends too much time as it is looking back on times of trouble, war and death and wonder sometimes if this is not the very reason why we end up with future conflicts?

For me Life is too short to spend any-time waving flags on behalf of past conflicts – NO ONE WINS IN WAR!

When I come across these old churches however I just have to stop and spend sometime because the names on these grave stones were real people and many of them would have lived full lives and been great family members, loved and been loved, real people!

The To-be-forgotten
By Thomas Hardy
.

I
I heard a small sad sound,
And stood awhile among the tombs around:
“Wherefore, old friends,” said I, “are you distrest,
Now, screened from life’s unrest?”

II
—”O not at being here;
But that our future second death is near;
When, with the living, memory of us numbs,
And blank oblivion comes!

III
“These, our sped ancestry,
Lie here embraced by deeper death than we;
Nor shape nor thought of theirs can you descry
With keenest backward eye.

IV
“They count as quite forgot;
They are as men who have existed not;
Theirs is a loss past loss of fitful breath;
It is the second death.

V
“We here, as yet, each day
Are blest with dear recall; as yet, can say
We hold in some soul loved continuance
Of shape and voice and glance.

VI
“But what has been will be —
First memory, then oblivion’s swallowing sea;
Like men foregone, shall we merge into those
Whose story no one knows.

VII
“For which of us could hope
To show in life that world-awakening scope
Granted the few whose memory none lets die,
But all men magnify?

VIII
“We were but Fortune’s sport;
Things true, things lovely, things of good report
We neither shunned nor sought … We see our bourne,
And seeing it we mourn.”

Ireland’s old churches

Irelands History is Fading fast Nigel Borrington 09

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European passage tombs ( Knockroe, county Kilkenny and Kilmartin, Argyll, Scotland )

Knockroe passage tomb

Knockroe, county Kilkenny

Knockroe http://www.megalithicireland.com/Knockroe%20Passage%20Tomb.html

kilmartin 0366

Kilmartin, Argyll, Scotland

Kilmartin http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kilmartin_Glen

A link through time

These two mystical European locations stand two hundred and fifteen miles apart, Knockroe is in county Kilkenny republic of Ireland and the other, Kilmartin is in Argyll, Scotland, about 15 miles south of Oban.

Knockroe panel

kilmartin 0361

The reason I displaying these images in the same post is simply to highlight something that only occurred to me when one year I happened to visit them only weeks apart. The fact is you could view these two sites individually and study them by themselves all you like, however you would be missing something very important!

Knockroe Markings

The people’s who created these sites shared the same time period and clearly the same beliefs and culture. They lived in Europe both in Ireland and Scotland located in the Geographical British Isles; however some 5500 years ago they knew nothing of recent nations and nationalism , of national borders or even the concept of a European nation.

Knockroe scetch

Both monuments are passage tombs, placed for their dead to be remembered, they both also contain elements for marking the passing of the year and its seasons, by measuring the movement of the sun and the moon.

The structures in these places along with the cultural function they served is identical, to me this shows that these people traveled the seas and not only shared goods and beliefs they in fact where the same peoples. They did not just get on with each other through trade they were each other as brother and sister, mother and father, family and friends.

When they knew nothing of modern boundaries and divisions, what else could they be?

These same people who traveled from one place to another in order to expand their options and abilities did not in any shape or form see themselves as English or Scottish or Irish they were family to each other and nothing more or less!


Sketches of Ireland , kilcooley Abbey, County Tipperary

Sketches of Ireland Kilcooley Abbey Tipperary Nigel Borrington

Sketches of Ireland
Kilcooley Abbey
Tipperary
Nigel Borrington

Last week I revisited Kilcooley Abbey in country Tipperary with the aim of capturing some images to produce some sketches and paintings from.

The Abbey is an amazing location and this quick sketch is made on my tablet using Krita a digital painting application. I like the idea of fast sketches, they are not meant to be anything like finished work but by doing them you feel you know the location your hoping to work with very well, be it for painting/drawing or photography.

Kilcooley Abbey Nigel Borrington 1

 


The Little Ghost, A poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950)

irish Landscapes Kilcooley estate  Nigel Borrington

irish Landscapes
Kilcooley estate
County Tipperary
Nigel Borrington

The Little Ghost, A poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950)

I knew her for a little ghost
That in my garden walked;
The wall is high — higher than most —
And the green gate was locked.

And yet I did not think of that
Till after she was gone —
I knew her by the broad white hat,
All ruffled, she had on.

By the dear ruffles round her feet,
By her small hands that hung
In their lace mitts, austere and sweet,
Her gown’s white folds among.

Kilcooley estate Nigel Borrington 1

I watched to see if she would stay,
What she would do — and oh!
She looked as if she liked the way
I let my garden grow!

She bent above my favourite mint
With conscious garden grace,
She smiled and smiled — there was no hint
Of sadness in her face.

Kilcooley estate Nigel Borrington 3


Old Houses By Robert Cording

Old houses 1

Old Houses

By Robert Cording

Year after year after year
I have come to love slowly

how old houses hold themselves—

before November’s drizzled rain
or the refreshing light of June—

as if they have all come to agree
that, in time, the days are no longer
a matter of suffering or rejoicing.

Old houses 2.

I have come to love
how they take on the color of rain or sun
as they go on keeping their vigil

without need of a sign, awaiting nothing

more than the birds that sing from the eaves,
the seizing cold that sounds the rafters.


The Haunted House, by : Dwayne Leon Rankin

Ghost house Irish landscapes Nigel Borirngton

Ghost house
Irish landscapes
Nigel Borirngton

This last few days here in Ireland have been very wet and winter feels like it has arrived a little early, most of the Autumn leaves have been blown away from the high overnight winds and the cold nights, We have been left with a very wintry landscape.

Walking around Ireland at this time of year brings many great views and for some reason during these months I always feel drawn towards the old houses that still fill our local landscape. These old places are so full of memories and the atmosphere of long passed people and their lives.

Of course this is the also the perfect time of year for some evening ghost story’s, told around a fire while the rain hits the windows and the wind echoes all around your house !!!!

The Haunted House

Dwayne Leon Rankin, USA

Upon the hill, the house there stood,
Dark and left forlorn.
With vines that covered there the walls,
All seen full of thorn.

Surrounded by a gated fence,
No other entrance shown.
Dead leaves covered all the ground,
With weeds there overgrown.

Paint all pealed and windows cracked,
With shutters cov’ring all,
No noise from it was ever heard,
Not even birds sweet call.

Three full stories ‘gainst the sky,
Cheerless there and cold.
No one lived there was the word,
In stories that were told.

West cork ghost house 2

Tall old trees kept all in shadows,
Tangled bushes bare.
All dead and ugly there to see,
They say it once was fair.

Once it was a wondrous place,
Full of love and light,
Until one ev’ning came that call,
To give those round a fright.

A family lived there many years,
A husband and his wife.
With two small children of their own,
Living there a happy life.

But then one dark and dreary eve,
A scream rang out from there.
Terrible was that hideous sound,
Full of deep despair.

West cork ghost house 3

No one knew from whence it came,
That frightful mad’ning sound.
When they checked up in that house,
Not a soul was found.

No sign of that family seen,
Who lived there in that house.
Not a living thing was found,
Not even there a mouse,

All quiet there the house now stands,
No lights nor sound there heard.
Only there the rustling winds,
Nothing there occurred.

But for once a year there brought,
The same self night each year.
A lone sad waling sound would ring,
Out there loud and clear.

They used to check it out each time,
But nothing there was found.
The doors still locked with windows shut,
With nothing there around.

That house remains there all alone,
Haunted there they say.
Just sitting in all disrepair,
Empty to this day.


St John’s Point Lighthouse, Donegal, Irish Landscape Photography

St John’s Point Lighthouse, Donegal Irish Landscape Photography : Nigel Borrington

St John’s Point Lighthouse, Donegal

Last week I changed my blog header to an image of St, Johns Point Lighthouse in county Donegal, so I though I would just share some details about this great place.

Its an amazing lighthouse at the mouth of Donegal bay and like many Lighthouses it was build through hard work and taking a risk with time and money, followed with many years of hard work and care in order to keep it running so that many lives could be saved.

Some History

From the Commissioners of Irish Lights

This is a harbour light used to guide from Donegal Bay, it marks the north side of the bay leading to Killybegs Harbour from the entrance up to Rotten Island.

The Corporation for Preserving and Improving the Port of Dublin (the Ballast Board) received a request on 24 February 1825 signed by merchants and traders of Killybegs requesting a light on St John’s Point. This was not approved until April 1829, and Trinity House gave their statutory sanction the following month.

The tower, built of cut granite, was designed by the Board’s Inspector of Works and Inspector of Lighthouses, George Halpin, and erected by the Board’s workmen under Halpin’s supervision.

The tower, painted white, had a first order catoptric fixed light 98 feet above high water with a visibility in clear weather of 14 miles. The light was first used on 4 November 1831 with the buildings in an uncompleted state. The final cost at the end of 1833 was £10,507.8.5.

Gallery

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St johns lighthouse 02

St John’s Point Lighthouse, Donegal Irish Landscape Photography : Nigel Borrington

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Carey’s Castle, Near – Clonmel in Co. Tipperary

Carey’s Castle, Clonmel in Co. Tipperary Irish Landscape Photography : Nigel Borrington

Carey’s Castle, Clonmel in Co. Tipperary
Irish Landscape Photography : Nigel Borrington

The following Poem is based on the great TV series “Game of Thrones”!

To : Game of Thrones
18 July 2013 · Barrie, Canada ·

A Game of Thrones (Poem) by James J. A. Gray

Summer is swiftly ending,
Its warm sunny days are past;
Life grows short in this time of changing seasons.
Gone are the Wolves in the North,
Their howling song drowned out in blood and betrayal;
Gone is the galloping of horses in the west,
Only echoes and mirages remain in the dust and sand;
Gone is the royal stag;
The proud beast laid low.

Here now Lions rule a liar’s kingdom
While the spider weaves its intricate web,
And the Mockingbird sings many songs in eager ears,
And the fear of recurring myth hangs heavy
Over an Iron Throne with
Fire and Brimstone, Scales, and Wings.

The sun fades slowly in the west,
The bird-song grows quiet each passing day,
And the blue turns to gray as the sky darkens.
The days grow shorter.
The nights grow longer.
A chill settles in,
Descending from the North like a great beast toward the wall and the Black,
And with it the White and the Wildlings,
And the wind, and Snow.

Winter is coming.

Ever since I started watching Game of Thrones, I could not help but relate it to the amazing history that surrounds us here in Ireland, the Landscape is filled with ruins of long ago, Wars from the distant past. Viking invasions and hundreds of years of the Normans, French Lords who ruled over these Lands. Game of Thrones is mainly based around life in the North and South of What is now the United Kingdom along with looking to the lands of the east, but Ireland was ruled by exactly the same powers in the periods covered by the Historic settings behind the Game of Thrones and would have fallen under the same kingdoms.

Carey’s Castle in just one of these places, a reminder of the past, it rests in woodlands near Clonmel in Co. Tipperary, on the banks of the Glenary River, running past the castle and adding to a very peaceful atmosphere here. To locate it you walk for around 500m down a wonderful woodland trail, it is well worth the effort when the trees part and Carey’s Castle appears before your eyes.

Carey’s Castle, Gallery

The Doom of Hibernia 4

The Doom of Hibernia 3

The Doom of Hibernia 2

The Doom of Hibernia 1


Ardgroom Stone Circle

Ardgroom stone circle County Cork Nigel Borrington

Ardgroom stone circle
County Cork
Nigel Borrington

Ardgroom Stone Circle

Ardgroom (Irish: Dhá Dhroim, meaning “two drumlins”) is a village on the Beara peninsula in County Cork, Ireland.

Its name refers to two gravelly hills deposited by a glacier, Dromárd and Drombeg. It lies to the north north west of Glenbeg Lough, overlooking the Kenmare River estuary. It sits between the coast and the Slieve Miskish Mountains.

Canfea stone circle West Cork

Canfea stone circle
West Cork

The area is also home to a number of megalithic monuments. Signposted is the Ardgroom stone circle to be found to the east of the village at a distance of about 1 mile, off the old Kenmare road. It has the name “Canfea” but is normally called the “Ardgroom” stone circle. About 1 mile north east lie the remains of another stone circle. The Canfea circle consists of 11 stones, 9 of which are still upright with one alignment stone outside the circle. Unusually for a stone circle, its stones tend to taper toward points.

You can park a car about 1/2km away in a small wooded area with the walk to the circle only being some five minutes. The location is wonderful with a view of the mountains behind and the west Cork, coast-line on to the front of the circle.

Just to spend sometime here is amazing as the circle is in very good condition with most of the stones still standing. This must have been some place three thousand years ago, remote, cut off from the rest of the world. These circles were most likely use to help small farming communities tell the time of the year, the passing of the seasons for which they used the moon as well as the sun.

Also in the vicinity are the remains of at least 2 ring forts, as well as a number of standing stones and stone rows.


Muckross Abbey, Image Gallery and History

Muckross Abbey

Muckross Abbey
Killarney National Park, Kerry
Landscape images : Nigel Borrington

Muckross Abbey

The Abbey of Muckross KIllarney or the Franciscan Friary of Irrelagh, was founded for the Observatine Franciscans in 1448, and is the burial place of local chieftains and three Gaelic poets

It is famous for the large ancient yew tree that rises above the cloister and extends over the abbey walls. Some think the abbey was built around the tree, as yews are seen in folk lore as a tree of life and linked to the immortality of the soul.

Muckross Abbey 05

Muckross Abbey Today

While today it is a ruin and has no roof, the building is reasonably well preserved

The abbey is open to the public and is a short five- minute walk from the car park on the N71. It is three miles from Killarney Town.

Muckross Abbey 01


The Ghost of the Brown Man

It has been rumoured that the abbey and its adjoining graveyard may have inspired Dublin-born writer Bram Stoker.

Muckross Abbey 03

Historical records document that a religious hermit named John Drake lived in the abandoned friary for eleven years during the mid 1700s. Drake famously slept in a coffin.

Meanwhile, an ancient legend tells of “the Brown Man” who was seen by his wife feasting on a corpse within one of the graves.

Muckross Abbey 02

These stories may have fueled the Dracula novel, written by Stoker, who visited the area in the late 19th century, and was seen wandering around the ruins late at night.

Today, visitors to Muckross Abbey agree that it has an uncomfortably spooky atmosphere.

Image Gallery in full ….

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Muckross Abbey 06

Muckross Abbey 05

Muckross Abbey 03

Muckross Abbey 02

Muckross Abbey 01


My Secret Place, Jeremy – all poetry . com

Irish woodlands 2

My Secret Place

There’s a magical place that I often visit,
where all of my dreams and wishes come true.
A special place where I can be myself,
where happiness always seems to follow through.

In this place are creatures that roam,
so beautiful, magnificent, and free.
Just like us they have open hearts,
and a special language that they speak.

The forests here are so alive,
plentiful are the fruits that they bare.
Nothing but peace and harmony dwells within,
and tranquility floats in and around the air.

There is no sun or moon,
the temperature is always just right.
You can sleep all day and never have to worry,
about having to leave here at night.

Patience is a way of life here,
no one rushes to get to where they want to be.
People hold their heads up high and smile,
they’re always proud to have you in their company.

Irish woodlands 1

You can find all of the solitude that you seek,
love and peace are so ominous here.
Every one respects and supports one another,
and their trust and loyalty will never disappear.

In tiny little caves live the most beautiful elves,
many with families of their very own.
Each one is unique with his or her own colors,
always seeking friends, never wanting to be alone.

The elves come out and frolic in the forests,
while unicorns roam and graze in the grassy fields.
With their powerful and majestic wings,
they bring a feeling of strength and security.

Fairies fly free throughout,
their fluttering wings sparkling bright.
Lighting up this magical universe,
like thousands of lanterns dancing in the night.

Stars decorate the clear night sky,
blazing afar, wanting to be seen.
They bring hope and encouragement to one and all,
creating a wonderful and tranquil scene.

Forest flowers 1

The unicorns are so delicate yet strong,
their awesome presence will captivate you instantly.
Enchanting the hearts of all who come across them,
nothing can ever stand up to their uniqueness and beauty.

This is a place that I turn to,
whenever I am down and blue.
A wonderful and exciting trip,
that I would recommend for everyone, even you.

Friends, please take my hand and join me,
let us fly away into the sky.
Where miracles happen every day,
so that you don’t have to wish or cry.

You will love this enchanted place,
my special and wonderful escape from time.
It helps me to forget about my problems and sorrows,
Even though it only exists in the back of my mind.


Derrynaflan Hoard, National Museum of Ireland

Derrynaflan Chalice Photo : Nigel Borrington

Derrynaflan Chalice
Photo : Nigel Borrington

On Saturday I spent the day in Dublin , shopping and visiting different Museums , including the National Museum of Ireland .

One of my main interests in doing so was to take a fresh look and the Derrynaflan Hoard, I posted on the items in this collection and about the Island of Derrynaflan , county Tipperary – last October.

The Derrynaflan chalice is one of the most amazing historic items to view and the story (Below) of how it was discovered just as fascinating. Seeing this hoard just make you wonder how many more items like it have yet to be found or sadly never will be.

The following two images are from Saturdays vistit :

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Derrynaflan_02


Island of Derrynaflan

The Island of Derrynaflan is located in County Tipperary and these days it is surrounded by recovered drained land that is harvested for it’s peat, this peat being turned into fuel.

The images below and the text are from my post last year :

Discovering the Hoard

Derrynaflan Island, County Tipperary Irish Landscape Photography : Nigel Borrington

Derrynaflan Island, County Tipperary
Irish Landscape Photography : Nigel Borrington

The Derrynaflan hoard is one of the most spectacular hoard discoveries in Ireland, which led first to an increase in enthusiasm for metal detecting as a hobby, but ultimately contributed to the prohibition of unlicensed searching for archaeological material.

On 17 February 1980, Michael Webb and his son, also called Michael, discovered a significant hoard of early church treasure in Derrynaflan, in the townland of Lurgoe, County Tipperary, using metal detectors (Kelly 1994: 213; O’Riordain 1983: 1). The hoard included a chalice, a bronze strainer ladle and a paten (a kind of small plate) (and see Ryan 1983 for a detailed description), and the discovery was described as ‘one of the most exciting events in the history of Irish art’ (Stalley 1990: 186). The large monastic enclosure in which the hoard was found was partially protected as a National Monument (Kelly 1993: 378). The finders reported their discovery to an archaeologist from University College Cork, Dr. Elizabeth Shee Twohig (Kelly, pers. comm., 2012), who advised them that they must take the finds to the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin (Houses of the Oireachtas 1986; O’Riordain 1983: 1). Under Irish law at that time, the finders were entitled to a reward for making the discovery, in this case decided at IR£10,000 (Houses of the Oireachtas 1986), although this was initially rejected by the finders as insufficient compared to the value of the find (Kelly 1994: 213).

Derrynaflan Chalice 1

Six years later, the High Court made a ruling that the find or its value (estimated at IR£5.5 million) should be returned to the finders (Kelly 1994: 113). The public mood turned against the Webbs, who were shown on the main evening television news drinking champagne to celebrate the ruling. Ireland was then in deep recession with massive public service cuts which led to resentment that the Webbs might benefit to the tune of IR£5.5 million from the public purse (Kelly, pers comm., 2012). A year later, in 1987, a further final judgement was delivered by the Supreme Court that the Derrynaflan Hoard in fact belonged to the state and not to the finders (Kelly 1995a). The finders finally received a reward of IR£50,000 (Kelly 1994: 214).

The impact of the case on Irish law concerning the protection of heritage was significant. Debates in the Seánad Éireann (upper house of the Irish Parliament) in 1986 indicate the split in opinions regarding the validity of the claim of the finders to the hoard (as had been decided in court the previous year), with one Senator suggesting that the state should have been trying to prove that the Webbs had no legal claim to the hoard, one Senator regarding such discoveries as no more than looting, and another claiming that the finders should instead be praised for the care with which they removed the hoard from the ground and for going to the National Museum to report the discovery (Houses of the Oireachtas 1986). In 1987 the National Monuments (Amendment) Bill, which included clauses on metal detecting and ancient shipwrecks (another area becoming vulnerable to looting), passed through its final stages in the Dáil Éireann (lower house of the Irish Parliament) (Gosling 1987: 23).

Ireland’s National Monuments Act 1930 had prohibited the excavation of archaeological objects other than under license (Kelly 1995a). However, the maximum fine for a successful prosecution at that time, at IR£10[1], proved not to be a strong deterrent (Kelly 1995b: 235). The discovery of the Derrynaflan Hoard had reputedly contributed to the growth of the metal detecting hobby in Ireland, which by the time of the discovery saw hobbyists searching not only ploughed land and other locations away from archaeological sites, but also on known archaeological sites (Kelly 1993: 378). A 2012 Irish news item, which described an athlete as having ‘more gold than they found in Derrynaflan’ (Keane 2012) indicates that the finding of the hoard is still recalled in Irish popular memory. However, with the National Monuments (Amendment) Act 1987, ‘it became illegal to search for archaeological objects with metal detectors or other electronic detecting devices without license’. A further National Monuments (Amendment) Act 1994 specified the state ownership of archaeological objects, and made it ‘an offence to trade in unreported antiquities, or withhold information about archaeological discoveries’ (Kelly 1995a). Under the 1994 legislation, the maximum penalty was also increased to a fine of IR£50,000 and five years imprisonment (National Monuments (Amendment) Act 1994, Section 13). The National Monuments (Amendment) Act 1987 had been in preparation for many years and so was not a direct reaction solely to the controversy surrounding the hoard (Kelly, pers. comm., 2012), although there were observations made that the upsurge in metal detecting as a result of the discovery led to changes in the law (Kelly 1994: 214).

Ref : http://traffickingculture.org/encyclopedia/case-studies/derrynaflan-hoard/

A visit two Derrynaflan island Gallery

Derrynaflan Chalice 6

Derrynaflan Chalice 5

Derrynaflan Chalice 4

Derrynaflan Chalice 3

Derrynaflan Island, County Tipperary Irish Landscape Photography : Nigel Borrington


Lilleshall Abbey Shropshire, England

Lilleshall Abbey, Shropshire, England, Landscape Photography : Nigel Borrington

Lilleshall Abbey, Shropshire, England,
Landscape Photography : Nigel Borrington

Lilleshall Abbey Shropshire, England

On a very wet day back in April 2015, I visited Lilleshall Abbey Shropshire, while driving back from London to a friends home in North Wales. The Abbey is located just north of the M54 junction 5, near the village of Lilleshall.

To find the Abbey just follow the Brown tourist signs when you leave the motorway.

The weather was somehow fitting for making a visit here as it made it very clear just how life would have been for the 11th century monks who lived their lives here ( cold , wet and isolated ).

This text form wikipedia on the Abbey, describes very well the life of a monk and contains a great history of the Abbey …

Lilleshall Abbey Shropshire, England

The monastic life

The abbey’s community were Augustinian Canons Regular or conventual canons, not technically monks. Although the Arrouaisians were at first noted for their austerity of life, they were less enclosed than Benedictine or Cistercian monks. Arrouaisian houses were noted for the high quality of their liturgical observance. A prayer roll of about 1375 confirms that this was so at Lilleshall more than two centuries after the foundation.

lilleshall abbey 05

There was a large number of benefactions from lay landowners and these often came with requests to be buried or prayed for at Lilleshall or for membership of the fraternity of the abbey. Late in the 12th century, for example, John Lestrange, a local baron with holdings further afield, got into a dispute with Ramsey Abbey over the church at Holme-next-the-Sea in Norfolk. In a settlement acceptable to all, he gave the church to Lilleshall Abbey, for the health of his own and his wife’s souls. Shortly afterwards he added the church at Shangton in Leicestershire, adding specifically “the body of his wife Amicia when she shall have gone the way of all flesh.” Similarly, Robert de Kayley gave the abbey two thirds of his land at Freasley, in Dordon, Warwickshire, on condition that it accept his body for burial.This suggests that its monastic life quickly built up a reputation for holiness that could be acquired by proximity, and one that clearly persisted into the later Middle Ages. John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster, spent two days at the abbey, together with his wife Katherine Swynford and a large retinue. He had fallen ill after the 24th parliament of Richard II’s reign was held at Shrewsbury, dissolving on 31 January 1398. Gaunt himself, his wife, and his squire, William Chetwynd, were received into the fraternity, and Gaunt made a gift of twenty pounds of gold.

lilleshall abbey 02

Although the fraternity was important in diffusing the influence of the abbey, there is no evidence of lay brothers and sisters being admitted to the abbey community itself. This is unexpected as the Abbey of Arrouaise had admitted lay members at least since the time of Abbot Gervais. There were many employees, however. In the mid-15th century, there were over twenty household servants, including two porters, a butler, a chamberlain, two cooks, a baker, a bell-ringer, a cobbler, and washerwoman, as well as a carpenter and a group of apprentices to carry out repairs. There was a tannery on the premises, as well as a brewery. Self-sufficiency was an important feature of Arrouaisian houses. Arrouaise itself had a similar but even larger and more differentiated lay labour force.

The canons were much employed in managing the abbey’s substantial estates, which seem to have been worked mainly by indentured servants and later by wage labour. A fairly high proportion of the abbey’s land was kept in demesne, cultivated from granges. The Lilleshall estate alone had four of these and there was a ring of further granges in Shropshire and Staffordshire, with two outlying at Blackfordby and Grindlow. The grange at Blackfordby seems to have absorbed a good deal of time and labour, with canons often staying there. There was even a chapel on site, with mass said three times a week. This was strictly irregular, as it was considered perilous to the soul for a canon to reside anywhere alone, and there were complaints about it from the Bishop of Lichfield. However, the nature of the abbey’s estates meant that canons would often require leave to travel. Both this and the increasingly unfavourable agrarian conditions and labour market of the 14th century meant that direct exploitation of demesnes was gradually reduced in favour of leasing out land.

The abbey was not noted for its intellectual life. However, there was some kind of library and a copy of a chronicle ascribed to Peter of Ickham has survived from it, with additions made locally. There is also evidence of a canon being licensed to study at university for 10 years from 1400.

John Mirk, a Lilleshall canon of the late 14th and early 15th centuries did make a literary mark. He wrote in the local West Midland dialect of Middle English and at least two of his works were widely copied and used. Festial is a collection of homilies for the festivals of the Liturgical year as it was celebrated in his time in Shropshire. Instructions for Parish Priests is in lively vernacular verse, using octosyllabic lines and rhyming couplets throughout. Mirk intended to ensure that priests had the resources to give good counsel to their flock. The existence of such works suggests that the canons were actively engaged with the liturgical and pastoral work of their region, if not at the highest scholarly level.

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I really enjoyed taking a pause in my long drive here, even in the heavy British rains and would recommend a visit if your ever passing by …..

Lilleshall Abbey a Gallery

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Allihies copper mines, Copper Mine a Poem By : Madhu Kailas

Allihies copper mines Irish Landscape Photography : Nigel Borrington

Allihies copper mines
Irish Landscape Photography : Nigel Borrington

The Copper mines located at the small town of Allihies , west cork Ireland are amongst some of the most worked and preserved in this part of Europe , their history is as follows :

Copper mining started in Allihies in 1812 when John Puxley, a local landlord, identified the large quartz promontory at Dooneen as copper bearing from its bright Malachite staining.

The Allihies Mines

Initial mining began with a tunnel or adit driven into the quartz lode from the pebble beach below. In 1821 two shafts were sunk . Flooding was a continuous problem and in 1823 the engine house was erected to house a steam engine brought over from Cornwall to pump water from the depths. The remains of this building with the base of the chimney can be seen across the road. There is also evidence of a steam powered stamp engine to the left of the chimney and dressing floors in front of the engine house. The high dam further inland is the remaining evidence of a water reservoir which stored the water that was pumped out from the bottom of the mine. It was used for the steam engines and needed to separate the copper from rock. All the rubble on the cliff at the sea side of the road is the crushed useless quartz rock left over after the copper ore was extracted.

This is one of six productive mines in the Allihies area and its operation continued until 1838 when it closed due to failing ore.

John Puxley died in 1860 and in 1868 his son Henry Puxley sold the mines to the new Berehaven Mining Company who reopened the mine and installed a new 22 inch steam engine in 1872. Little ore was produced though in this period and the mine was finally abandoned in 1878.

allihies-copper-mines-1

Copper Mine

By : Madhu Kailas

Hollowed earth,
a large reservoir of emptiness.
Deep down where only
the moon can touch
dregs of an empty cup,
static turquoise fluid
of residual copper blood.

Cyclopean machines
crawl like dwarf ants.
Along grooves etched by mortal hands.
Gnaw at rocks,
startled out of deep sleep
to be stripped.

An ancient cave painting
tumbles out of extinction
delineated by squished insect blood
on ochre flats.

Dead insects scrabble out of rocks
on the landscape of our civilisation.