THE LADY ON THE BRIDGE
O'Connell Bridge, Dublin City, Ireland
This rather epic photo from the Irish Photo Archive was taken on 27th March 1956. I'm not sure if ...anyone has yet identified the lady but the photographer was Padraig McBrian of Lensman. We'd love to hear from you if you know more.
She is standing upon present day O'Connell Bridge, another legacy of that exceptionally bearded Port and Docks Board engineer, Bindon Blood Stoney.
Born in Offaly, Stoney is known as the Father of Irish Concrete, with which material he built most of the quay walls running through the city centre. Stoney also invented the diving bell that now stands upon Sir John Rogerson’s Quay.
Under Stoney’s direction, a team of courageous dockers entered this bends-inducing bell, plunged down to the river bed and cleared the floor at the base of O’Connell Bridge back to bedrock.
New foundations were duly fitted and filled with concrete and a new bridge (incorporating parts of an earlier rather wonky bridge designed by James Gandon) was laid on top.
As the plaque by the lady notes, O'Connell Bridge had previously been known as Carlisle Bridge, in honour of Frederick Howard, 5th Earl of Carlisle, lord lieutenant from 1780 to 1782. The Port and Docks Board incised the name ‘Carlisle Bridge’ on the parapets of the new bridge.
However, Dublin Corporation quickly took the initiative and covered these inscriptions with bronze plaques renaming the bridge for Daniel O’Connell, the Liberator. It was after all O’Connell whose towering monument by John Henry Foley now gazed across the river from Sackville Street to Westmoreland Row.
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With thanks to Helen Kehoe and the Irish Photo Archive: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=508476215862268&set=a.448470208529536.95253.448466061863284&type=1&theater
THE BIG SNOW OF 1947
The Beast from the East has certainly painted County Carlow white this morning. Amid a rising blizzard, my daughters are pelting one anothe...r with powdery snowballs in celebration of the cancellation of school. And as I consult a world map and home in on Siberia, where this beastie was brewed, I find myself wondering if this really could be a snow as big as the one in '47, about which I wrote the accompanying piece ... Stay warm people!
'AS I AM NOW' by SASHA SYKES
Hard hats off to Sasha Sykes (nee Bunbury) for this exceptional work, pictured at Aldborough House in Dublin ...
As I Am Now, you will also become....
This resin, brambles & ivy sculptural chimmey piece been purchased by the National Museum of Ireland for a new gallery 'Fu...ture Histories' in Collins Barracks. A great honour, and great encouragement! It's a project I've been working on for the past 4 years, and was greatly inspired by Aldborough House and the journey from grandeur and decay that many of these trophy buildings have taken. So, it was an amazing day last Saturday to find ourselves in the musicroom at Aldborough, with the ceiling crumbling around us, not a pane of glass in sight and ivy growing across the floorboards.... and Donal Moloney worked his magic & penchant for abandoned houses to shoot the piece in situ. #fullcircle #makeithappen
Massive thanks to @donalfoto @creativejengoff @oliver.sears @the.irish.aesthete @turtlebunbury @cgrogan__ @tomsykes1 #AsIAmNow #resin #sculpture #chimneypiece #mantlepiece #troveseries #nmi
IMAGES OF OLD IRELAND, TONIGHT ON TG4
THE UNCERTAIN FUTURE OF IRISH ORCHESTRA...
The exceptionally talented Mairead Hickey hit the nail on the head in her letter to The Irish Times about our (2) national orchestras. (Germany has 120!)
Pleas...e share and keep them both alive!!
Sir, – I am writing about the review of orchestral provision by RTÉ and notification that 31 positions will be lost in one of the orchestras by June 2018. Such drastic action will be enormously damaging to the future of orchestral music, musicians and the people of Ireland.
Music is the world’s most flexible language. It is a tool for international and cross-cultural communication. Now more than ever, the Government needs to support orchestral music as a national treasure. Music is fundamental to the Irish identity. It needs to be given essential resources. In most countries, orchestras are funded by national subsidy and audience attendance. That is a reality and it is a price worth paying.
While the Creative Ireland initiative is designed to put creativity at the heart of government, we face the possibility of the removal of one of our national cultural assets. Ireland already has extremely poor orchestral provision by comparison with our European neighbours. For example, Germany has more than 120 professional orchestras and to have only two in Ireland (the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra) is already embarrassing without taking steps to further reduce them.
I am a 21-year-old violinist and am currently undertaking a Master’s degree in performance in Kronberg Academy, Germany, one of the top string academies in the world. I frequently return to Ireland to perform, sometimes as a soloist with one of the RTÉ orchestras, but even when I am not performing with the RTÉ orchestras I nearly always perform with members of the orchestras, be it in chamber music concerts, festivals or other ensembles.
I had hoped that after I finish my studies in Germany, I would be able to move back to Ireland and find work with the RTÉ orchestras and their members. Many talented young Irish musicians have moved abroad for their studies with the hope of one day returning to Ireland for a position in or related to the RTÉ orchestras.
Is it the plan to deprive all young Irish classical musicians of a future at home? Is the plan to create another Irish music diaspora? If an orchestra is cut, I and most other musicians of my generation will not be able to live in Ireland and work as a classical musician. Thus, Ireland will lose another generation of young talent.
Ireland prides itself on its rich culture.
Are the children of Ireland to be deprived of their heritage? Art and music are more important than ever in today’s world. Many young people, disenchanted with today’s society, are turning rapidly to extremist views. It is vital that we give my generation and future generations another option; the option to find solace in art and beauty.
The opportunity to be exposed to high-level classical music is considered a basic priority in most other European countries.
People should be looking for ways to increase cultural exposure in Ireland, not tear apart the little that we have.
I urge that the current review be halted and that cross-departmental responsibility is taken for developing a national strategy for orchestras in Ireland involving the departments of both culture and communications, along with RTÉ and the Arts Council. Both orchestras should be maintained and the National Symphony Orchestra should be restored to full capacity. – Yours, etc,
It was an exciting and important day when the threshing mill arrived at the farm to thresh the corn- Here's a cool video showing a re-enactment from the 1980's ...- Anyone remember these days? Be sure to check out our site this week - Free delivery on all dvds to UK & Ireland https://goo.gl/TTt1Et
THE NIGHT OF THE BIG WIND, 1839 (Reprise)
By Turtle Bunbury
The Night of the Big Wind was the most devastating storm ever recorded in Irish history. Known in A...s Gaeilge as ‘Oiche na Gaoithe Moire’, the hurricane of 6th and 7th January 1839 made more people homeless in a single night than all the sorry decades of eviction that followed it.
The calm before the Big Wind struck was particularly eerie. Most of the eight million people living in Ireland at the time were preparing themselves for Little Christmas, the Feast of the Epiphany.
The previous day had seen the first snowfall of the year; heavy enough for some to build snowmen. By contrast, Sunday morning was unusually warm, almost clammy, and yet the air was so still that, along the west coast, voices could be heard floating on the air between houses more than a mile apart.
At approximately 3 o’clock in the afternoon, the rain began to fall and the wind picked up. Nobody could possibly have predicted that those first soft raindrops signified an advance assault from the most terrifying hurricane in human memory.
By 6 o’clock, the winds had become strong and the raindrops were heavier, sleet-like, with occasional bursts of hail. Farmers grimaced as their hay-ricks and thatched roofs took a pounding. In the towns and villages, fires flickered and doors slammed. Church bells chimed and dogs began to whine. Fishermen turned their ears west; a distant, increasingly loud rumble could be heard upon the frothy horizon.
At Glenosheen in County Tipperary, a well-to-do German farmer called Jacob Stuffle began to cry.
At Moydrum Castle in County Westmeath, 78-year-old Lord Castlemaine decided to turn in early and go to bed.
In the Wicklow Mountains, a team of geographic surveyors headed up by John O’Donovan, finally made it to their hotel in Glendalough; they had been walking all day, often knee-deep in snow.
Sailing upon the Irish Sea, Captain Smyth of the Pennsylvania studied his instruments and tried to make sense of the fluctuating pressures.
By 10 o’clock, Ireland was in the throes of a ferocious cyclone that would continue unabated until 6 o’clock in the morning. The hurricane had roared across 3000 miles of unbroken, island-free Atlantic Ocean, gathering momentum every second.
It hit Ireland’s west coast with such power that the waves actually broke over the top of the Cliffs of Moher. Reading contemporary accounts, the impression is that if Ireland did not have such magnificent cliffs forming a barrier along our west coast, the entire country would simply have been engulfed by water.
The noise of the sea crashing against the rocks could be heard for miles inland, above the roar and din of the storm itself. The earth trembled under the assault; the ocean tossed huge boulders onto the cliff-tops of the Aran Islands.
Perhaps the most terrifying aspect of the hurricane was that it took place in utter darkness. People cannot have known what was going on. The wind churned its way across the land, extinguishing every candle and lantern it encountered. The darkness was relieved only by the lightning streaks that accompanied the storm and the occasional blood-red flicker of the aurora borealis burning in the northern sky.
All across the country, hundreds of thousands of people awoke to the sound of the furious tempest, their windows shattered by hailstones, their brick-walls rattling, their rain-sodden thatched roofs sinking fast.
As the wind grew stronger, it began to rip the roofs off houses. Chimney pots, broken slates, sheets of lead and shards of glass were hurtled to the ground. Rather astonishingly, someone later produced a statistic that 4,846 chimneys were knocked off their perches during the Night of the Big Wind.
Many of those who died that night were killed by falling masonry. Norman tower houses and old churches collapsed. Factories and barracks were destroyed. Fires erupted in the streets of Castlebar, Athlone and Dublin.
The wind blew all the water out of the canal at Tuam.
It knocked a pinnacle off Carlow Cathedral and a tower off Carlow Castle. Gables tumbled from the cathedral in Trim and the Bishop's Palace on the Rock of Cashel also; the remains of the latter can still be seen on the great lawn.
It stripped the earth alongside the River Boyne, exposing the bones of soldiers killed in the famous battle 150 years earlier.
Roads in every parish became impassable. All along the Grand Canal, trees were pulled up by the roots and hurled across the water to the opposite bank.
Thousands of timber cabins were destroyed by the storm. Surviving inhabitants had no choice but to flee into the pitch-black night in clothes that were presumably soon utterly drenched by the intense rains and snows which accompanied that cruel, piercing wind. Many sought shelter amid the hollows and hedges of the land.
Farmers were hit particularly hard. Hay-ricks in fields across Ireland were blown to pieces. Wooden fences and dry-stone walls collapsed, allowing fearful livestock to run away. Sheep were blown off mountains or killed by tumbling rocks. Cattle were reported to have simply frozen to death in the fields.
The next morning, one of Jacob Stuffle’s neighbour recalled seeing the distraught German ‘standing high up on a hillock looking with dismay at his haggard farm … his comfortable well-thatched stacks swept out of existence. Suddenly, he raised his two hands, palms open, high over his head, and looking up at the sky he cried out in the bitterness of his heart, in a voice that was heard all over the village 'Oh, God Almighty, what did I ever do to You and You should thrate (treat) me in that way!'
Stuffle was not the only man who believed the hurricane, occurring on the night of the Epiphany, was of Divine origin. Many saw it as a warning that the Day of Judgment would soon be here. Some believed the Freemasons had unleashed the Devil from the Gates of Hell and failed to get him back in again.
Others maintained this was simply the night the English fairies invaded Ireland and forced our indigenous Little People to disappear amid a ferocious whirlwind. (Irish fairies, of course, are wingless and can only fly by calling up the sidhe chora - the magic whirlwinds).
The well-to-do did not escape; many mansions had their roofs stripped off.
Lord Castlemaine was fastening his bedroom window when the storm blew the windows open and hurled him ‘so violently upon his back that he instantly expired’.
His brother-in-law, the Earl of Clancarty, later reported the loss of nearly 20,000 trees on his estate at Ballinasloe. Similar figures came in from other landed estates in every county; one landlord declared his woods were now ‘as bald as the palm of my hand’. At the Seaforde estate in County Down, an estimated 60,000 trees were lost. The Lord Bishop of Meath's demesne at Ardbraccan House was likewise devastated.
On January 6th 1839, timber was a valuable commodity. 24 hours later, so many trees had fallen that timber was virtually worthless. Millions of wild birds were killed, their nesting places smashed and there was no birdsong that spring. Even crows and jackdaws were on the verge of extinction.
Fish were lifted from the lake at Farnham, County Cavan, and scattered across the fields of Farnham estate; stories would later be told of seafish found in the Slieve Blooms.
In his hotel room in Glendalough, John O’Donovan was fortunate not to share Lord Castlemaine’s fate. He was struggling with the shutters when ‘a squall mighty as a thunderbolt’ propelled him across the room. When he viewed the damage next morning, he described it as if ‘the entire country had been swept clean by some gigantic broom’.
Dublin resembled ‘a sacked city …the whirlwind of desolation spared neither building, tree nor shrub’. The Liffey rose by several feet and overflowed the quay walls. The elms that graced the main thoroughfare of the Phoenix Park were completely levelled, as were the elms at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham. At the Viceregal Lodge (now Áras an Uachtaráin), a tree crashed through the roof of the guardroom where soldiers had been conversing just moments earlier. The trees on Leinster Lawn outside the present-day Dail were uprooted and scattered ‘like prostrate giants on their mother earth’.
The back wall of the Guinness Brewery collapsed killing ‘nine fine horses’. A witness next morning described how ‘the noble animals [were] stretched everywhere as if sleeping, but with every bone crushed by the ponderous weight of the wall’. Military sentry boxes were blown off their stands and ‘scattered like atoms’.
A glass shop on Nassau Street became ‘a heap of ruins’. On Clare Street, a chimney collapsed on a woman who had only just got into her bed, killing her instantly. Police stations and churches opened the door for thousands of terrified citizens who brought their young and frail in for protection. Even churches could not be trusted on this night of Lucifer. The steeple of Irishtown chapel caved in and the bell from the spire of St Patrick’s Cathedral came down like a meteorite; mercifully nobody died in either instance. Phibsborough Road was a bombsite of exploded windows and fallen chimneys ‘as if by shot and shell’.
One of the 40 female inmates at the Bethesda Penitentiary on the north-side (where the National Wax Museum formerly stood) took the opportunity to ignite a fire that destroyed the building as well as the surrounding houses, school-house and chapel. Two firemen died trying to extinguish the flames.
The hurricane did not stop in Dublin. It pounded its way across the Irish Sea, killing hundreds of luckless souls caught at sea.
It killed nearly 100 fishermen off the coast of Skerries.
It killed Captain Smyth and the 30 people on board the packet-ship Pennsylvania. Ships all along the west coast of England were wrecked; dead bodies continued to wash up onshore for weeks afterwards.
At Everton, the same wind unroofed a cotton factory that whitened all the space for miles around, ‘as if there had been a heavy fall of snow’.
Estimates as to just how many died that night vary from 300 to 800, a remarkably low figure given the ferocity of the storm. Many more must have succumbed to pneumonia, frostbite or plain old depression in its wake. Those bankrupted by the disaster included hundreds who had stashed their life savings up chimneys and in thatched roofs that disappeared in the night.
Even in those days it was ‘an ill wind that turned none to good’ and among those to benefit were the builders, carpenters, slaters and thatchers who subsequently rebuilt the fallen buildings.
The Big Wind also inspired the Rev Romney Robinson of the Armagh Observatory to invent his world-famous Robinson Cup-anemometer, the standard instrument for gauging wind speed for the rest of the 19th century.
So, I guess we can thank our lucky stars that, even if weather forecasters don't always get it right, we of the 21st century do at least get some warning before the next Night of the Big Wind comes along. Hmmm, it seems so very calm outside just now. Tis time for a little stroll perhaps ...
This story was written and first posted by Turtle Bunbury (www.turtlebunbury.com) in 2012. The accompanying painting by Albert Bierstadt is entitled 'Storm in the Mountains.'
FIFE & DRUM IN CAVAN TOWN
In the 30s/40s/50s many places in Ireland had marching bands. Fife & Drum, Pipe Bands or Brass & Reed Bands. This was Cavan Town's Fife & Drum Band (long defu...nct) taken part in a Corpus Christie Procession in 1952. The women walking behind the band dressed in their blue veils are the Legion of Mary. This being the days of Holy Ireland nearly every Catholic woman in the town was a 'Child of Mary'. The young drummer looking at the camera is my good self, age 16.........🤓