Showing posts from September, 2018

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 fa├žade.  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…