Friday, 29 May 2020

Cast Iron Water Pumps

There's a nifty little thing that was once probably the most valued thing in any town or village. 

Cast Iron Water Pump

Cast Iron Water Pump

Unused now they are to be found dotted throughout the country in most areas and they were once a focal point of everyday life..... The old Cast Iron village Water Pump.


Cast Iron Water Pump


Cast Iron Water Pump


These little relics of the 1800's are often well cared for and brightly painted. Occasionally some are still functioning but more often than not they are just nice reminders of times gone by.

Cast Iron Water Pump


Cast Iron Water Pump


I often pass them by at times without even noticing they are there but whenever I do take the time to actually take note of them I wonder at just how much effort must have went into making them.

Cast Iron Water Pump


Cast Iron Water Pump


I don't know a lot about metals but mass produced steel is simply Iron with all the carbon removed and then a very specific percentage of carbon must be reintroduced to produce steel. 

Cast Iron Water Pump


Cast Iron Water Pump


These pumps were made in the days before we were technologically able to produce steel on a large scale. There was Pig Iron, Cast Iron and Wrought Iron available for use.

Cast Iron Water Pump


Cast Iron Water Pump

The old water pumps are generally made of Cast Iron as far as I'm aware.
 
Cast Iron Water Pump


Cast Iron Water Pump


Foundries and Iron works sprang up all over Ireland in the 1800's in order to meet demand and produce industrial, agricultural and domestic goods.


Cast Iron Water Pump


Cast Iron Water Pump


The village pumps predate our modern houshold running water and plumbing systems. 

Cast Iron Water Pump


Just imagine that not so long ago you had to go back and fort each day into the village square for a bucket of fresh water if you didn't have a nearby Well or live beside a river or stream.


Cast Iron Water Pump


Below is an unusual water pump which is encased in a wooden surround at Timahoe, Laois.
 
Cast Iron Water Pump

Quite a lot of the old water pumps have the Foundry or Iron Works names embossed on them and a few have various features such as Lions heads or flags etc. etc.

Water Pump

Hopefully these ubiquitous little pumps will continue to brighten up the landscape for years to come and serve to remind me that thankfully, when I need to put the kettle on I don't have to walk into town to refill the bucket of water.............

Water Pump


LIMERICK IRON FOUNDARIES 1806-1989 by Patrick McDonnell 







Thursday, 28 May 2020

Carrickfergus

In January 2020 I finally spent some time in Carrickfergus, County Antrim.
Ulster (six counties of it) is often in the headlines for all the wrong reasons 
(read sectarianism) 
and Carrickfergus was no different from anywhere else in Ulster and has had its fair share of difficulty in the past.

Carrickfergus

As of 2020 I would hope that although differences are often passed from generation to generation in an unending loop that  brings little by way of reconciliation and understanding, things have or are continuing to change for the better for all of Ulsters inhabitants irrespective of creed or politics.

Carrickfergus

Residing in Laois I cannot begin to understand the complexities or the realities on the ground. All that I know is that Ulster is part of the Island of Ireland. 

It goes some way in showing the level of ignorance throughout Ireland that often we fail to remember that Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan in the Republic of Ireland are also part of the province of Ulster.


Carrickfergus

Mention Ulster in the Republic of Ireland and few people will think of Cavan or Monaghan or Donegal. 

A fellow once said to me on his first visit to Antrim; "It's like a different Country." I had to politely explain that politically it was.


Carrickfergus

His incredulous face was triggered by the various displays of factional flags, painted kerbstones and murals.

Carrickfergus

Politics aside the peoples of Ulster, Munster, Connaught and Leinster are exactly the same, leaving aside for a moment those from county Cavan who are terribly "tight fisted" and the "Cute Hoors" from Kerry. 

"Culchies" are both stupid and inbred while the "Jackeens" are either selling Crack on the street or trying to steal your handbag or wallet.

Carrickfergus

As you can see, there's no need to travel far at all in order to engage in stereotyping and misrepresentation.

Carrickfergus

Personally whatever a persons politics or religion, it's my own belief that Catholic, Protestant, Dissenter, Buddist, Mormon, Jew, Seventh day Adventist, Zoroastrian, Muslim or Hindu.......If you live on the Island of Ireland you should get out and about and enjoy what it has to offer.

Carrickfergus

It is presently possible to be both British and Irish simultaneously. Should that position ever to be changed it is only a decision for those people who live in six of Ulsters counties to make, who are politically governed by Britain at the present moment in time.

Carrickfergus

That's probably a long winded way of saying keep politics to one side and enjoy what we have.

Carrickfergus

I had occasionally passed through Carrickfergus admiring its looming seaside Anglo Norman Castle and always wanted to stop for a few hours but never seemed to find the time.

Carrickfergus

It was a chilly Spring day this year, 2020, when I finally spent some time there. Carrickfergus was a walled town and a small portion of the town walls still remain in place, behind which is a lovely manicured Crown Green Bowls lawn.

Construction on the Castle in Carrickfergus was begun around 1179/80 by John de Courcey and it picturesquely overlooks the sea beside the small harbour.

There are a lot of WW2 memorials in the town and it is a very historically rich location. Robert and Edward the Bruce are associated with the area after Edward besieged the castle at Carrickfergus in the early 1300's. Edward was later defeated in battle, decapitated and dismembered, and is buried at Faughart in county Louth.

These are a just few brief lines which couldn't even begin to describe Carrickfergus in detail. The photographs are not great as it was blowing a cold wind and very overcast in January. Visit if you get a chance however it's probably best to go in summer and enjoy the seaside and an Ice cream while you're at it.....


Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Irish Tower House

Ireland is dotted with literally hundreds and hundreds of small medieval Castles. You will often see them away in the distance across the fields when you're travelling by road.

Tower House, Lackeen, Tipperary.
Associated with the family of J.F. Kennedy.
Note the surrounding enclosure and wall.
Tower House

Tower House

Tower House

Tower House

Tower House

Most of these Castles are not Castles at all but rather they are Tower Houses, a type of small defensive building in the shape of a single, rectangular shaped, tall stone tower that is usually four or five stories high.
Occasionally there were circular Tower Houses constructed.

Ashtown Castle, Dublin.
Described as a Tower House but more resembling a fortified house, possibly due to later alterations.
Tower House

Irish Tower House

Originally most Tower Houses would have been surrounded by a small enclosed area, a Bawn, which would have had a high defensive Bawn Wall surrounding it.

Some Tower Houses still have the remants of their Bawn Walls standing but in most cases the Bawn Wall has long since been destroyed or fallen down.

 Clonkeea Tower House, Galway.
 Note the exterior plasterwork.
Irish Tower House

Irish Tower House

There are similar buildings in Scotland and northern England called "Peel Towers."
In 1429 a grant of ten pounds (£10) was issued for the building of Tower Houses in the Counties of the Irish Pale and those built around this time are sometimes known as "Ten Pound Castles."

Quirkes Castle (Kearneys), Tipperary.
It has been incorporated into the surrounding buildings.
Irish Tower House

The Tower Houses in Ireland were chiefly constructed between roughly 1400 and 1650 but some were probably built both earlier and a little later on from those dates.

They superceeded a two story stone structure about which relatively little is known - The Irish Hall House.

Hall House - Lisbunny, Tipperary.
Irish Tower House

Irish Tower House

Generally most Tower Houses while similar in design are not identical. The exposed stonework in the walls we can see today would have been plastered over with some type of lime mortar or other protectant to keep the elements at bay.

Tower House, Redwood Castle, Tipperary.
Note the corner Bartizan.
Irish Tower House

Irish Tower House

Irish Tower House

Most Tower Houses originally had very few windows other than the small slits called arrow loops so they must have been very dark inside, even during daylight.

Tower House, Balrothery, Dublin.
Irish Tower House

Irish Tower House

Some have defensive Machicolations above the entrance and Bartizans at the corners which allowed for dropping projectiles down onto the heads of any would be attackers. 

Tower House, Ballaghmore, Laois.
This Tower House has a "Sheela na Gig" incorporated into the exterior wall,
a female figure with genetalia pulled apart.
Irish Tower House

Irish Tower House

Irish Tower House

Just inside the doorway there is often a hole in the first floor roof overhead, a "Murder Hole." This was in case you actually made it through the front door.

The defenders could drop projectiles, fire arrows, scald you with boiling water or generally continue to defend the building from inside if it was breeched.

Tower House, Tinnakill, Laois.
The owner here was charged with "maintaining the Gallowglass."
Irish Tower House

Irish Tower House

Irish Tower House

The front door could also be protected by a type of hinged metal lattice gate which opened separately to the door, a Yett, while inside in some Tower Houses it was also possible to secure the door with a heavy sliding wooden drawbar.

Clonreher Tower House, Portlaoise, Laois.
Large cracks in the masonry and overgrowing Ivy don't bode well for its future.
Irish Tower House

Occasionally there are Garderobes to be seen high up on an exterior wall which is the Tower House's equivalent of a toilet.

Basically the Garderobe allowed someone to answer natures call and the waste fell straight down and out along the exterior of the Tower wall.

Tower House, Kilcash, Tipperary.
Irish Tower House

Irish Tower House

Irish Tower House

Irish Tower House

The base of a lot of Tower Houses and indeed that of most Castles is wider than the walls and this is known as the "Base Batter."

Presumably the Base Batter strengthened this area which made it harder to breech and because of the outward sloping angle of the Batter any projectiles dropped onto attackers from above would hit the Batter and bounce nicely into the enemy outside.

An unusual round or circular Tower House ruin.
Golden, Tipperary.
Irish Tower House

Irish Tower House

Tower Houses would have been incredibly cold places to live. It is known that in many instances the inhabitants simply laid rushes, reeds and straw on the floor on which to sleep.

Listowel Castle, Kerry.
Often referred to as a Tower House.
Origins c. 13th cty.
There were once four towers associated with it.
I'm unsure as to whether it can be classified as a true Tower House.
Irish Tower House

Irish Tower House

While Tower Houses initially sprang up as defensive structures in some areas, it is more than likely they soon became a symbol of status and that anyone who "had a few Pounds to spare" or any considerable means aspired to having one built for themselves. The medieval equivalent of building a modern mansion.

Tower House, Kildare, and nearby walls which may once have been part of its defenses.
Note the exterior plasterwork, not a stone to be seen. This was probably the case in its heyday too.
Irish Tower House

Irish Tower House

The defensive use of Tower Houses was of little value when widespread use of heavy Cannon became commonplace during land based siege or attack. 

The structure wouldn't survive a bombardment by Cannon fire for long. 
Cue Oliver Cromwell & Co. who made short work of many a Tower House and Castle in Ireland.

Tower House, Clonony, Offaly.
It's thought the Bawn Wall and gateway is an 18th Cty rebuild.
Irish Tower House

Irish Tower House

It is also likely that in some cases Tower Houses were so dark, cold and uninviting that their owners lived nearby and only retreated into the Tower House when a threat was percieved in the area.

Tower House, The Black Castle, Leghlinbridge, Carlow.
Towerhouse

Towerhouse

Because Tower Houses were constructed in Ireland over an extended period many have been altered and differ slightly from their initial layout.

Tower House, Grange, Tipperary.
Towerhouse

Indeed some have even been incorporated into newer structures such as cottages and houses, an example of structural evolution which is to be welcomed as it has ensured their survival.

Tower House, Dowth, Meath.
Substantially altered and previously associated
with the Netterville family and Netterville Institute.
Tower House

Quite a few of these wonderful and historic buildings are in danger of imminent collapse and were for many decades unvalued and unloved.

Perhaps as time progress's and we come to appreciate their true value, as a nation, we will invest in their resurrection or conservation and love them for what they are, not what they are worth.

Last but not least, I'm no expert on either Castles or Tower Houses and entire books have been written on single aspects of these structures such as their doors, stairs or masonry.

This is just a short overview of the Irish Tower House, ubiquitously dotted throughout the Irish Countryside. Hopefully when things progress later in the year if you haven't visited one you'll pay a visit then.