Showing posts from 2018

An Office Clock from City Hall, Belfast.

I worked for many years in City Hall.It is a building with real character (it first opened in 1906), and although working offices have now largely moved out of City Hall to make way for public display spaces, there used to be many, many individual rooms within the building.
When I worked there, each office was allocated a storage area in one of the basement rooms.These too were fascinating being full of old ledgers full of beautiful copperplate writing and ancient books of local bylaws.In one basement that I used to visit occasionally, there was a huge leather bound volume of these bylaws (dating from the 1840’s if I remember correctly).My reward for each dusty basement visit was to open it at a random page to see what I could find.I remember discovering such anachronisms as a bylaw that banned keeping pigs inside a boarding house.Another specified the amount of straw that was to be packed around gunpowder barrels when transporting them in carts through the streets.That was a great tim…


In homage to all those photo blogs out there, here are a few of mine.  You will have to forgive that they most were taken on my phone.  It is not an expensive one, or particularly high tech, but I like these few pics.

A ship called Dignity - On Arran many years ago (OK, this is in Scotland, but I wanted to get this pic in).

The boat house at Castle Ward, Co. Down.

Dundrum Castle, Co. Down, looking towards the Mournes.

Sunflowers at Mount Stewart, Co. Down.

The watcher - Taken on the towpath near Moira.

Kilbroney, Rostrevor, Co. Down.

Getting Comfortable.

Brexit – A dirty word in any European Language.

I don’t know about you, but I am sick of Brexit.Mind you I was pretty sick of the petty squabbles our Westminster and Stormont politicians kept harping on about even before the Brexit vote.So here is my semi reasoned view of the situation.
We hear a lot about the wonderful democratic process that we went through to get to the current impasse.I don’t often agree with Corbin, but while people on either side of the Brexit debate were either slagging off the EU or singing its unequivocal praises, I remember that his expressed opinion of it was “seven out of ten”.In other words it isn’t perfect, but it’s better than nothing.That was probably the most honest thing that was said in the whole convoluted lead up to the referendum.There was so much drivel and misinformation told by both sides, few voters could have made a reasonable voting judgement.The result sucks on that count alone. These Brexit results are from:

We are told that we mus…

Old Ireland/ New Ireland; Old World/ New World. A pessimistic speculation on the future course of everything.

First a disclaimer (or three):

As I said in my profile, I never promised that readers were going to like or agree with everything that I write.If you don’t, feel free to post a comment to point out the error of my ways. The economic theories described below are gross simplifications. This is a worst case scenario, but unfortunately, I don’t think it is impossible.

The picture is of Kearney, in Co. Down (You might as well have something picturesque to look at)
How many Politicians can you think of that you actually believe are honest, hardworking and intelligent enough to be let out on their own?We seem to have particular issues with this here in the North, yet we keep re-electing these sectarian plonkers.Look at the state of this province.The RHI enquiry continues showing up cronyism, incompetence and downright greed, Stormont still does not exist despite a backlog of huge and urgent issues that need dealt with (not least of which is Brexit).The electorate in North Antrim can’t even …

Bank Buildings and Me.

The Bank Buildings fire on 28th August seems to have had a read effect on the ordinary people of Belfast..  Since the building was gutted, I have heard many people reminisce about what the building meant to them.. There have been fond memories of that first part time job that gives a little independence in a persons later school years, stories of Primark's awesome value and the piles of clothes that could be bought for relatively little money, and comments from those who just liked the buildings impressive façade.  Now, nearly a month later, I still see people stop to shake their heads as they stare at the wreckage.

For me too the buildings demise brings sadness, because the only reason I live where I do is because of one of its founders.  My fathers family originates in Co. Armagh.  They come from farming stock, planters from near Newtownhamilton.  One of their number, a distant relative of my grandparents, had come to Belfast and made good, and he was one of the founders of Ban…

The Jewel that is the Crown.

There is a hero in this story; his name is Ken McIlwrath.
Belfast was not a very inviting place in the 1970’s.The city centre was closed off and fortified. Getting to the shops meant passing through a heavy duty turnstile, and submitting yourself to a search by armed security staff who in turn were watched over by soldiers. Those who were old enough at the time will remember the automatic reaction of entering a shop and raising your arms for the search; a reaction that could be a bit embarrassing when travelling outside our small province!The city’s night life had either moved out of town entirely, or to Great Victoria Street, an area then known as the ‘Golden Mile’.
The bar trade in Northern Ireland was largely run by the duopoly of Bass and Guinness back then. Bars were supplied by one or other except for the black stuff which made it into all bars, with occasional pretenders being introduced to northern drinkers by Bass such as Beamish or Murphy’s.There was little choice for beer dri…

Old Travel books and Ireland

This is obviously a far from comprehensive list of old travel books dealing with Ireland.It is just a mention for a couple that I have read, and since they are available free on line, I thought a plug for the sites that host them would be worthwhile.
I love travel books, particularly old ones.While a modern travel book can show the reader what they are likely to encounter after jumping aboard a flight for a couple of hours, reading some of the great travel classics transports the reader to worlds long gone, and to which only the hardy could make their way.They have nothing to do with Ireland, but do yourself a favour and find a copy of books like “Two Years Before the Mast”, or ‘Sailing Alone Around the World’.The first of these is a tale of travel from Boston to California, when Cali was only a series of trading posts. The second title is more self-explanatory, but still a great tale of adventure and resilience.Both are available as free downloads in a number of formats at Project Gut…

Not old, but funny - You just can't get good staff these days

OK, it's not old, but the problem of getting good service/ staff is.  I was send this dialogue by a friend in work.  I have changed his surname; otherwise it is as written.


You might like this:
It’s a transcript of a conversation I had with my dentist’s receptionist.
The basic principle is that you have to ring up and speak to the receptionist who deals with your dentist – they WILLL NOT deal with another dentist’s patients and that’s been drummed into the patients for years………

Me: Rings dentist Dentist Receptionist: Hello Me: Hi – I wonder could you put me through to the receptionist that deals with Mark’s appointments Dentist’s Receptionist: Any one of us can deal with that Me: OK, Thanks – could I make an appointment with Mark Please? Dentist’s Receptionist: Mark Who? Me: Eh, sorry? Dentist’s Receptionist: Mark WHO? Me: Mark….. the Dentist….. Dentist’s Receptionist: He doesn’t work here anymore – his calls are being dealt with by Andrew Me: Fine, whatever, could I…