Category Archives: History

Dun Laoghaire Baths

A short history of Dun Laoghaire Baths

Plans for redevelopment? 

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Kilmainham Gaol

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Eleanor says…

If, like me, you read a lot, then you are exposed to a huge amount of information and, as a consequence, the thoughts and words of many, many people, outside of those you encounter in “real life” or in the various forms of media and marketing that throttle us relentlessly every day.

Some of these thoughts and words are welcome, more of them are not. But, at least with reading, you can more easily exercise quality control! (The irony of that statement in here is not lost on me, dear reader)

Every now and again, if you’re lucky, you’ll come across someone whose words just resonate with you  at a really fundamental level; call it your core belief system or your heart or soul if you prefer, but whatever you call it, it’s what you truly feel and believe.

For me, no-one exemplifies this better than Eleanor Roosevelt. Her words are powerful, moving, thought-provoking and ring so true with me that when I was first exposed to them I had to go read more and more and more…

This remarkable lady is still one of the most quoted people out there, 50 years after her death. And with good reason. She was an intellectual powerhouse, with an astonishing capacity for compassion and courage.

She also possessed an extremely important and admirable attribute that I would  class as seriously lacking among us all these days: a strong social conscience. She listened to it and acted accordingly. She had many personal struggles, but they never detracted from her passionate quest for social justice.

I won’t go on too much more, as the point of this post is to let the great lady’s words speak for themselves, but I really like this short address about Eleanor Roosevelt from another former First Lady, Claudia “Lady Bird” Johnson, and it’s really worth reading if you have a minute.

Here’s a selection of my favorite quotes, hopefully some of them may provide you with a little inspiration and possibly the urge to do a quick search and find many more and infinitely better resources to read about Eleanor Roosevelt and the most meaningful life that she led.

Eleanor says:

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.

Well behaved women rarely make history.

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘” have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.”  You must do the thing you think you cannot do.

You can often change your circumstances by changing your attitude.

When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?

One thing life has taught me: if you are interested, you never have to look for new interests. They come to you. When you are genuinely interested in one thing, it will always lead to something else.

The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.

No matter how plain a woman may be, if truth and honesty are written across her face, she will be beautiful.

Life was meant to be lived, and curiosity must be kept alive. One must never, for whatever reason, turn his back on life.

Once I had a rose named after me and I was very flattered. But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalogue: “No good in a bed, but fine up against a wall.”

A mature person is one who does not think only in absolutes, who is able to be objective even when deeply stirred emotionally, who has learned that there is both good and bad in all people and in all things, and who walks humbly and deals charitably with the circumstances of life, knowing that in this world no one is all knowing and therefore all of us need both love and charity.

Do not stop thinking of life as an adventure. You have no security unless you can live bravely, excitingly, imaginatively; unless you can choose a challenge instead of competence.

Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.

No one won the last war, and no one will win the next war.

Confidence comes not from always being right but from not fearing to be wrong.

We do not have to become heroes overnight. Just a step at a time, meeting each thing that comes up, seeing it as not as dreadful as it appears, discovering that we have the strength to stare it down.

Women are like teabags: you never know how strong they are until they’re put in hot water.

I have never felt that anything really mattered but knowing that you stood for the things in which you believed and had done the very best you could.

Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.

To be a citizen in a democracy, a human being must be given a healthy start.

You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.

I think that somehow, we learn who we really are and then live with that decision.

It takes courage to love, but pain through love is the purifying fire which those who love generously know. We all know people who are so much afraid of pain that they shut themselves up like clams in a shell and, giving out nothing, receive nothing and therefore shrink until life is a mere living death.

What you don’t do can be a destructive force.

Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art.

I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift would be curiosity.

In all our contacts it is probably the sense of being really needed and wanted which gives us the greatest satisfaction and creates the most lasting bond.

Surely, in the light of history, it is more intelligent to hope rather than to fear, to try rather than not to try. For one thing we know beyond all doubt: Nothing has ever been achieved by the person who says, “It can’t be done”.

One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes. In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.

Hook Head, Stanley Kubrick and the man who banished the devil from Loftus Hall

By Juan Iglesias

The Tall Ships in Waterford and the Lonely Planet’s “Flashiest Lighthouse” accolade has put Hook Head back in the news again recently.

I wrote about the latter development and was more than happy to do so, given that Hook Head is another of Wexford’s true gems. It’s such a beautiful place and, in my opinion, actually more spectacular on a wet and wild day. It’s definitely a rugged beauty.

But if you’re not up for that kind of outing then it’s also great on a sunny day. It’s just five kilometres from the lighthouse to Slade Harbour and back along by the cliffs. You won’t find many nicer short walks anywhere in Ireland.

If you have an interest in finding out more about this historic area you should get your hands on Billy Colfer’s fantastic book  “The Hook Peninsula”. To say he’s an authority on the area is putting it mildly. Even the locals will have learned a lot from reading this book. Here’s an overview.

For the non Wexfordians among you, Billy also happens to be the father of author Eoin Colfer, whose star just continues to rise since the phenomenally successful Artemis Fowl series.

An interesting thing I only found out about Hook Head recently –  through Wexford artist Eleanor Duffin – is that the late Stanley Kubrick was in love with the place.

He went there on holidays with his family and was looking at the possibility of making a film there. (Eleanor has been given access to the great filmmaker’s archives by his family and it will be very interesting to see what she comes up with!)

It seems Stanley was also fascinated with Loftus Hall, the second most striking structure on the Hook Peninsula. This famous house has now unfortunately gone to rack and ruin and is once again up for sale, with an asking price of €635,000.

Loftus Hall has a fascinating history in its own right, not least the story surrounding it’s most famous visitor, Satan (allegedly!). Read all about it here.

Ramsgrange Church was broken into recently and someone stole the chalice that Fr Thomas Broaders reportedly used in his famous exorcism at Loftus Hall. Thankfully it turned up, as Elaine Furlong reports.

In conclusion, I have two things to say.

Firstly, if you haven’t been to Hook Head in a while, or particularly if you’ve never been, make it your business to get there soon.

Secondly, Fr Broaders, who is buried in Horetown Cemetery, has one of the best epitaphs I’ve ever seen:

“Here lies the body of Thomas Broaders, who did good and prayed for all, and who banished the devil from Loftus Hall.”

Strawberry Spirit

It’s not easy being a small town in rural Ireland these days.

Businesses are closing, young people are emigrating and in many cases the lifeblood of a lot of once vibrant towns is being drained away. The challenges facing these towns are huge and the government coffers are empty.

However, that’s not to say that all is lost and, to its credit, the Enniscorthy community seems to be rising to the challenge.

It’s a town I, like many others, usually just pass through on my way to Dublin, though I spent a few weeks working there last year and will again this year I’m sure.

My last visit there was for a piece for the Irish Times on the re-opening of Enniscorthy Castle, which was a great development for the town, which is steeped in history, and well worth a visit. It’s informative, uncluttered and has a nice social history aspect, always the most enjoyable part for me.

Hot on its heels was the recent installation of a new footbridge over the Slaney, which has extended the prom into a longer and (I’m assured by my colleagues from that part of the world) lovely riverside walk. I’ll be giving it a spin on my next working sojourn in Enniscorthy.

This weekend is a big one for the town as the long-running Strawberry Festival is taking place, here’s a preview piece I wrote about it.

It’s fair to say that the festival had lost its lustre in recent years and last year’s effort – for various reasons – was not well received in most quarters. But, the response to that setback has been emphatic.

The festival is back. It’s bigger and it should be a lot better. A huge amount of work has gone into it and there’s a wide range of events taking place, a lot of them for free. Crucially, the line-up of bands is a lot better too and it seems to cater for younger and older fans (Rubberbandits and Saw Doctors, Jedward and UB40 etc) .

You can check out the festival and all the various events for yourself here. Visitors from further afield than Co Wexford are being encouraged to come too and you don’t need to book into a local hotel, with camping available at Bellefield GAA grounds.

From the many fringe events, such as jazz in Market Square to a public paranormal investigation of Enniscorthy Castle (I didn’t pick up anything on my visit there!), and the big gigs on the weekend nights, it should be a fun weekend.

I hope that all the time and energy (and money) that has gone into it pays off this weekend as it’s great to see a town putting its best foot forward and trying to bring about something positive.

There are many more worthwhile initiatives underway in Enniscorthy than I have touched on here, just like there are many problems that need addressing there and in other Co Wexford towns too.

This post is not to suggest that everything is rosy in the garden in Enniscorthy, but merely to point out that green shoots have been emerging quietly this year amid what can sometimes seem like an overpowering cacophony of negative news.

Let’s hope the town can bask in sunshine for its big Strawberry weekend. If you are looking for a good day out then maybe consider heading down to Enniscorthy.

P.S. Some of my talented colleagues from this office will be in action in Enniscorthy this weekend, so make sure to cheer on Darragh Clifford in the Strawberry Half Marathon and keep an eye (and ear) out for the musical stylings of Shea Tomkins!