Thursday, March 28, 2013

Dublin (1880s-1980s)

Well now here's a selection. You can judge for yourself but the oldest pic is from before O'Connell Bridge was widened and the O'Connell Statue was constructed and the latest is a 1980s shot of traffic. We have Dame St., O'Connell St., Dorset St., and Hanlon's Corner amongst others. Dublin down all the years of tumult from the Lock Out to the War Of Independence to occasions thereafter. I probably should be more forensic in describing each scene but I reckon the audience will make their own judgements. If you have any questions on any photo please add a comment.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Malahide Castle (1859)

This article was printed in the Irish Miscellany, Vol. 2, No. 49, dated January 15th 1859 with the above illustration. The Miscellany was a short lived Irish-interest periodical out of Boston, Massachusetts. It appears that it was originally written for the Dublin Penny Journal in 1834. Some of the people named within the piece don't seem to be named correctly. For example there doesn't seem to have been a John de Birmingham at the time of the apparent battle at Balbriggan. I also haven't been able to find out exactly who the Mylo Corbet character was either. Anyway, enjoy!

Malahide Castle

The castle of Malahide, the residence of the ancient family of Talbot, is scarcely surpassed in interest, arising from various sources, by any building in the county of which it forms a distinguished ornament. This structure, as it stood in the early part of the last century, was of contracted dimensions,  and, although surrounded by a moat, was not castellated. The various additions which now render it an object of considerable magnificence, and a capacious residence, suited to the exercise of a dignified hospitality, were chiefly carried into effect by the late Colonel Talbot, father of the present proprietor. The building, thus enlarged, is an extensive pile, of square proportions, flanked on the principal side by circular towers. A fine Gothic porch, or chief entrance, has been constructed under the direction of the present owner of the castle, greatly to the advantage of the building, in regard both to external ornament and the convenience of the interior. The moat is now filled up, and its sloping surface covered with verdant sward. The demesne and gardens are disposed with much correctness of taste, and the former is enriched with some venerable timber and numerous plantations.

The interior of the mansion affords many objects of gratification. The apartment of greatest curiosity is wainscotted throughout with oak, elaborately carved in compartments representing the history of Adam and other scriptural subjects, some of which are executed with much skill ; the chimney piece is carved with peculiar beauty, having in the central division figures of the Virgin and child. This figure of the Virgin is the subject of a marvelous tradition among the rustics of Malahide they assert that during the civil wars, whilst the castle was in possession of Cromwell and his partisans, the statue indignantly disappeared, but resumed its station after the return of the Talbot family. It is fortunate that some friend of the family removed it at the time beyond the reach of the fanatics. The entire wainscoting is highly varnished and has acquired a sombre but striking effect from a blackness of tint which causes the apartment to appear like a vast cabinet of ebony.

The suit of principal rooms comprises several lofty and handsome apartments, in which, among other embellishments, are some very costly specimens of porcelain ; but the most estimable ornaments consist of a collection of portraits and other paintings, which comprises several that are worthy of an attentive examination.

Among these stands unrivalled in altercation an altarpiece by Albert Durer, divided into three compartments, representing the nativity, adoration, and circumcision. The picture was purchased by King Charles the Second for two thousand pounds, and given by him to the Duchess of Portsmouth, who presented it to the grandmother of Colonel Talbot.

The distinguished line of the house of Talbot, long settled at Malahide, is said to be descended from the eldest branch of the family; and with the Talbots of Yorkshire, derives from Sir Geoffrey, who was Governor of Hereford for the Empress Maud, in opposition to King Stephen. St. Lawrence of Howth and Talbot of Malahide are the only families in the county of Dublin who retain the possessions of their ancestors acquired at the English invasion.

Among the memorable circumstances connected with the annals of this castle, may be mentioned a lamentable instance of the ferocity with which party rivalry was conducted, in ages during which the internal
polity of Ireland was injuriously neglected by the supreme head of the government. On Whitsun-eve, in the year 1329, John de Birmingham, Earl of Louth, Richard Talbot, styled Lord Malahide, and many of their kindred, together with sixty of their English followers, were slain in a pitched battle at Balbriggan, by the Anglo-Norman faction of the de Verdons, de Gernons, and Savages; the cause of animosity being the election of the earl to the palatine dignity of Louth, the county of the latter party.

It is believed that Oliver Cromwell took up his abode a short time at Malahide, and it is known that Mylo Corbet, the regicide, resided here for several years, and from this port, when outlawed at the restoration, Corbet took shipping for the continent. The subsequent expiation of his errors by a degrading death is well known, and, shortly after his flight from Malahide, the Talbot family regained possession of their estate.

Malahide is a lordship or manor, having courts leet and baron, and has belonged in fee to the Talbot family from a period very closely approaching to the Anglo-Norman invasion in the time of Henry the Second.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Dublin City Bus and CIE Ireland Transit Maps (1966 and c.1950)

This first map shows the CIE Dublin City Bus Services route map in 1966. For the most part this map would still get you around today with most of the then extant bus numbers still existing and corresponding to similar routes nowadays. I like how stylishly utilitarian it looks in its limited palette with the angular simplified routes.

The CIE map is to me more intriguing. It dates from about 1950. It shows the CIE train and bus network at the time. As can be clearly seen this was when Ireland's railway network was far more encompassing than in later days with much of the network shut down during the '50s and '60s, victims of an earlier bout of straitened times. What I don't understand is why significant parts of Counties Leitrim, Sligo and Monaghan, not to mention the entirety of Counties Donegal and Louth are not shown as parts of the network. If anyone can explain this one please leave a comment.

These maps were found on this flickr account which contains a mindboggling array of ephemera, especially transport and design related.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

On the 17th - The Irishman's idea of Atlas (1911)

Here's another charming cover from Puck Magazine, dated March 15th, 1911. By 1911 the magazine had toned down its anti-Irishness a tad, so that this illustration, although critical of an aspect of the Irish psyche, doesn't quite plumb the depths of racism that the magazine once had. It's also notable that they felt the need to mark the occasion at all considering the magazine's provenance as a German-American publication. This Irish Atlas holds a globe in one hand, with a badly realised but obviously much enlarged Ireland on it, and, never too far from the stereotypes of yore, a cudgel in his other hand. Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Ballymena (1858)

This is an article from the Irish Miscellany out of Boston, the same publication that talked about the charms of  Finglas. Again no author for the piece is listed. 

The subject of the above illustration, is a flourishing market town, situated in the centre of the county of Antrim. Within the last ten years it has been rapidly progressing in size and respectability. At present it contains about one thousand houses, with between four thousand and five thousand inhabitants. There are in Ballymena two Presbyterian houses of worship, one meeting house in connection with the Seceders, a Roman Catholic chapel, an Episcopal church and a Methodist chapel. There are two academies and a free school for the children of the town and neighborhood, whose circumstances prevent their attendance on the schools. The country around Ballymena presents a very beautiful appearance, being well cultivated, and much ornamented by planting in various directions. A little hill, standing to the westward of the town, commands towards the south, a pleasant view of a rich and cultivated valley, as well planted and as amply ornamented with houses, orchards and hedgerows, as any vale in England. The cottages and farm houses present that appearance of neatness and comfort which distinguishes the province of Ulster from many other parts of Ireland; the squalid misery, and extreme wretchedness apparent elsewhere, and so irksome to the feelings of every benevolent mind, not being apparent here.

The peasantry are rather well informed, and have in general that idea of independence which gives to the lower orders of this portion of the country such a decided advantage over those of the other districts of Ireland. They are, however, very superstitious, and attached to many old customs and pastimes. A short distance from the town is a rath or mound of earth, connected with another mound, in the form of an ampitheatre. It is fifty feet high, and being planted with trees, forms a very pretty object, and it is very well worthy of the inspection of the curious. About seven miles irom Ballymena, and in the background of our illustration, is the celebrated hill, Sleive Mish, where St. Patrick is said to have tended the swine of Milco.

Rather more than two miles from Ballymena, on the Ahogill road, in the handsome village of Gracehill, a Moravian settlement, which consists of about forty houses and four hundred inhabitants, and forms three sides of a quadrangle—in front of which is a very beautiful hedge-rowed pleasure-ground. Midway to this place is Galgorme cattle, at present the property of Lord Mountcashel, and partially fitted up and inhabited by one of the agents to the estate. There is a legend here relative to a former proprietor, who is Said to have sold himself to the devil for a certain remuneration in gold. The box which contained the treasure being still to be seen in one of the rooms of the castle.

This settlement was commenced about seventy-five years since, on a townland containing about two hundred and twenty acres, taken from Lord O'Neill, the entire of which is in a high state of cultivation, numbers of comfortable cottages, and thriving gardens, surrounded with luxuriant hedges, appearing in every direction. Midway from Ballymena to Ballymoney, somewhat to the left, are seen the Craigs rocks, or Fort of Craigs, which form a square of nine thousand feet in area, with a very deep trench, close to which are three pillars erect and tapering, supposed to have been placed there in honour of some valiant chieftain slain in battle; and but a short distance from them, in the hollow of a high and craggy ridge, there is a cromlech, or druidical altar—a slab of black heavy stone, one foot in thickness, ten feet long, and eight broad, originally placed upon five supporters. Beneath this is a chamber which communicates with two others, about seven feet square, and arched over—the whole standing within a circle of hundred and thirty-five feet in circumference, the ground underneath having formerly been hollowed into a kind of cavern.

A writer in Mason's Statistical Survey, speaking of this place, observes—that it must have been the theatre of great events in former times; that it possesses more remains of antiquity than he has any where seen in the same space of ground. The place where the altar is erected is lonely and awful—it induces thought, and brings back the memory to former days, over which the mind broods with pleasure. Here Fingal and his clans of Mourne and Boiskene may have displayed their valor—Torgis and his Scandinavians committed their ravages—Sourleboy ( i. e. Yellow Charley) and his Scotch played off their stratagems— or De Courcey and his English showed forth their heroism. All are now gone; a total change of laws, manners, religion, and war, has taken place and a rational religion and mild government have blessed us with peace and knowledge.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The First Irish Conscript (1914)

I found this gem while looking through Trinity's DRIS. It depicts in comic tone what would be needed for the British government to implement conscription in Ireland.  Although this card purportedly dates from 1914, it makes sense to me that it was probably produced later on in the war when conscription became a big issue.

At the outbreak of the conflict the various political factions in Ireland lined up for and against joining the fight. Irish Parliamentary Party leader, John Redmond, who a couple of years earlier had organised a group of Volunteers, supported it, as did Irish unionists such as Edward Carson and his Ulster Volunteer Force. Many Irishmen of different political hue and of every religious background volunteered to fight. 10,000s of them never came home again. The 36th (Ulster) Division alone, lost over 5,500 dead, injured and missing, in only two days during the Battle Of The Somme.

However, a growing element of nationalists in Ireland were against the whole enterprise and preferred to plan military action that would liberate Ireland than fight to liberate Belgium as was the main draw for many Irish Catholics. The split in Irish nationalism at the time was beautifully and poignantly captured by Co. Tyrone poet and singer, Felix Kearney. In his Eamon Roe, an elderly man recalls a fallen friend from his youth who chose a different path:

1914 and the German threat and England went to war, 
"we can't leave Belgium to their fate!" the cry went far and near,
I joined the British Army then but Eamon wouldn't go,
"there's cleaner work for Irishmen at home" said Eamon Roe.

Although serving in one of the various arms of the British military was a career option (and remains so to this day) for many young Irish people, there exists an extensive body of folk songs sung in Ireland that look on signing up and serving in a negative or humorous light. Arthur McBride, Mrs. McGrath, and Ewan MacColl's British Army are among the better ones but there are a host of others.

The Irish In America: Long Journey Home (1998)

Here's a documentary series I've been meaning to track down for years. Directed by Thomas Lennon it includes musical contributions from the likes of The Chieftains, Elvis Costello, and Sinead O'Connor. I've enjoyed the soundtrack but I've never actually managed to see the documentaries before. Thanks to the wonders of youtube here it is in its entirety. Having not watched it yet I can't say it's definitely worth a watch but I'll update this post when I get a chance to give it a look. It comes in four parts.

Part 1: The Great Hunger (88 mins)

Part 2: All Across America (117 mins)

Part 3: Up From City Streets (88 mins)
Part 4: Success (60 mins)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Irish Lighthouses (pre-World War I)

Here is a selection of old photos of Irish lighthouses, as far as I have been able to ascertain they all date from 1914 or before. This is by no means a comprehensive pictorial list of the lighthouses that dot our shores but gives a decent representative sample I hope. This map shows all the aids to navigation around our shores. None of Ireland's many lighthouses have lighthouse keepers anymore but it's possible to visit and tour a lot of them. So have at it Daoine na hEireann. 

This is the very photogenic Baily Lighthouse in Howth which dates from 1814. It was the last permanently manned lighthouse in Ireland, only becoming automated in 1997.

 Blackhead Lighthouse overlooking Whitehead, Co. Antrim dates from 1902.

 Kilcredaun Head Lighthouse, Co. Clare first shone in 1824. Unfortunately it shines no more.

The Fastnet Rock, 4 miles (or 6.5km) south of Cape Clear Island, Co Cork is home to Fastnet Lighthouse, the highest lighthouse in Ireland. The lighthouse came into service in 1904, replacing an inferior one originially constructed in the 1850s. Fastnet is sometimes referred to as Ireland's teardrop because for many a shipbound emigrant in the 19th and early 20th centuries it was the last piece of Ireland they saw.

Mine Head Lighthouse, Co. Waterford was built in the 1850s.

Inishtrahull Lighthouse on Inishtrahull Island, Co. Donegal dates from 1813 is Ireland's northernmost lighthouse. The cow and man also pictured are likely long dead.

The distinctive Hook Head Lighthouse, Co. Wexford is the oldest lighthouse in Ireland. A beacon of some sort has existed on this spot since the 5th century AD. Some part of the current lighthouse dates back to the Normans in the 12th century. My mother also did a splendid painting of this lighthouse a number of years ago.

This is Ballinacourty Lighthouse near Dungarvan, Co. Waterford. It was constructed in 1858 to help guide ships into Dungarvan Bay. 

Loop Head Lighthouse is situated in Co. Clare. The current lighthouse dates from 1854 but there was a lighthouse structure at the same spot since at least the 17th Century.

And this final lighthouse is on Tory Island, Co. Donegal. It and Inishtrahull lighthouse guard the northwest coast from wayward ships.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Old Dublin Photographs (1946)

O'Connell Street, Dublin, 1946. Note the intact Nelson's Pillar. Local historian and collector, Ken Finlay, has pointed out to me that this image illustrates the impact that wartime rationing, in this case of petrol, had on Ireland. The array of bicycles pictured reflects the reliance people had on them when they could no longer source petrol for private vehicles and indeed public transport. While this photo was taken post-war, rationing in Ireland did not end until 1951. This page has more information on rationing and includes examples of ration coupons.

 Grafton Street, Dublin, 1946. Pedestrianisation was still a few decades in the future.

 Grafton Street, Dublin, 1946.

 Lower Pembroke Street, Dublin, 1946.
O'Connell Street, Dublin, 1946.
 O'Connell Street, Dublin, 1946. Young fellow advertising a precursor to KFC. In the background you can see the distinctive building with an arch that houses McDonald's these days.
I'm not too sure where this is. It feels like it might be either Westmoreland Street or Dawson Street but those are just guesses. If anybody knows please comment. Edited to add: @noflashingneon on the auld twitter has identified it as Westland Row, beneath the Railway Bridge.

Dublin Castle (1581)

Here's a depiction of Dublin Castle from 1581, perhaps the oldest extant image of the building. It shows Sir Henry Sidney's army going forth to wreck havoc on all and sundry. It is contained amongst other detailed engravings in The Image Of Ireland, With A Discoverie of Woodkarne by John Derricke. This book depicts Sidney's adventures in Ireland as Queen Elizabeth I's Lord Deputy. You can access the book here. Perhaps the detail of most note in the image is the heads on spikes along the battlements at the top.