Sunday, 31 August 2014

Aubergines Cropping Now


This afternoon I came upon the empty seed packet for the aubergines which I have grown this year. It would seem that I must have filed it away in my desk and then proceeded to disremember the action. In any event I am now able to remind myself that the variety decided upon was, "Ophelia."


The packet promised an abundance of compact fruit and the results have been in conformity with this promise. Admittedly I probably have a few too many plants ensconced in the greenhouse so I was probably going to end up with a relative abundance in any event. Fruit are still setting and I would expect to pick no fewer than eight per plant, perhaps even more if autumn frosts keep their distance.



Thursday, 28 August 2014

Pouring Warm Water on Ice Bucket Challenge.

Am I just one of tens of millions of people who start yawning whenever they hear about this viral craze which causes otherwise sensible individuals to allow themselves to be doused in ice cold water? I suspect that I am. Indeed I would suggest that many of the soaked Sams and Samanthas are only entering into the, "fun," of this idiotic behaviour because of peer pressure. That's the same pressure that results in children, (what Mr Salmond calls young voters), electing to pump themselves full of illegal substances.


Of course there will be a rump of narcissists and self promotors who want their sixty seconds of fame on social media. - Look at me I'm getting wet and guess what I'm giving three pounds to charity! I'm a modern day Gulbenkian! - I suppose there might even be a few individuals who decide to accept their icy challenge for entirely altruistic reasons, make their donation to charity and don't tell anyone.


Maybe some thought should be given to excising all water and ice from the scenario with people giving to charitable causes anonymously as their conscience dictates. Now why didn't someone think of that!

Monday, 25 August 2014

Tomatoes and Beans.

At this time of year the vegetable garden is in full production unless you have done something wrong, something very wrong. I picked some twelve pounds of tomatoes yesterday. Four pounds of the produce has been converted into soup but the balance of the exercise remains in the pantry awaiting its fate. I suspect that it will be converted into chutney or maybe it will be consumed as a juice with the benefit of a tincture from Messsrs Lee & Perrins. Depending on the time of day a third ingredient might be appropriate.
A quantity of French Beans also fell to be cropped. These will provide an accompaniment to tonight's protein intake.


Friday, 22 August 2014

A Swilly Visit.



I spent today visiting a haunt that was a place of regular visitation in my childhood. My maternal grandparents took me there many times in the early 1960's. The locus for these halcyon days out was Fahan beach on the shores of Lough Swilly.


It is nearly fifty years since my grandfather drove me down the side road from the main arterial route to Buncrana in his spanking new Hillman Minx. Time has not been kind to the old wooden pier. It is now a decaying wooden skeleton. I remember the smell of freshly caught fish and consuming them back at my grandparents' home. There was a large rowing boat which ferried passengers across to Rathmullan. Long gone.


The sands that I remember have been much altered by the creation of what is called the Lough Swilly Marina. It is operational but money must have run out during the construction. There is a skeletal building which echoes the state of the old wooden pier and the surrounding lands are an unkempt building site. Not a pretty sight.





Wednesday, 20 August 2014

A Dump By Another Name


One of Londonderry's mothballed municipal refuse centres, aka dumps, is to be found just north of Culmore Point. It occupies an area of land next the Lough which was reclaimed during the nineteenth century. These former slob lands were originally referred to as the Culmore Level or the Kilderry Reclamation. The freehold was vested in the Society of the Governor and Assistants London of the New Plantation in Ulster Within the Realm of Ireland, (the Irish Society), by virtue of the seventeenth century charter from the Crown.

On the 8th February 1871 the Irish Society granted a lease of the entirety of the Kilderry Reclamation (108a 19p) for the term of 270 years from 1st January 1867 in favour of The Rev. Carlton Maxwell of Leckpatrick, The Rev. Edward James Hamilton of Desertmartin and Willam Gordon Bowen of Burt House. The rent reserved by the lease was originally £5.00 per annum. This rose to £10.00 after 100 years and will rise further to £20.00 per annum for the last seventy years of the term. The bulk of these lands are now vested in the Local Authority.


Tuesday, 19 August 2014

A Clerical B. & B.

Photo by permission J. Collins of the Glebe House



The weekend of my attendance at what some of my acquaintances refer to as the zimmer frame games but which are more correctly labelled as the Irish Masters Athletics Championships resulted in me staying at The Glebe House Rathowen, Co Westmeath.


This property was constructed in 1817 as the residence for the Perpetual Curate of the parishes of Rathaspeck and Russagh. The total cost was £461.10.9 1/4 of which £415.7.8 1/4 appears to have been a gift from Dame Frances Elizabeth Fetherston of Ardagh Co Longford. The balance of the cost came from a small loan from the Board of First Fruits. The glebe lands extended to nine acres.


Not quite Georgian in looks nor yet having what would become the traditional Victorian look the property none the less has an appealing aspect with commodious accomodation which lends itself to its now use as a bed and breakfast establishment. The house is three bay, two storey over basement with a projecting single-bay, single-storey porch to the front. A rectangular plain overlight tops the doorway which is flanked by Doric type pillars. Immediately to the rear of the house is a well maintained and enclosed stable yard and adjoining this is a walled garden which extends to something over a rood. This garden is planted out with fruit trees including a fig and mulberry. Well tended lawns open out from the treelined avenue and wrap around the house. A small terrace invites contemplation by guests on the south side.


Internally the two principal reception rooms are entered from the vestibule and they provide secondary admittance to the two minor reception rooms behind. The latter two rooms are also entered via the inner hallway. The domestic offices are to the rear, off the living room. An open balustrade stairway rises to the first floor and its two sided gallery landing. A long pendulous light fitting hangs below an oval skylight. Five bedrooms run off the landing.


In one of the many codocils to her will Dame Frances adverted to an oak book case and books which she had placed in the Glebe House for the use of the incumbent for the time being and which was to be known as the, "Rathaspit Trust." The library of books which she provided for the curate's use included such potboilers as, Meditations on Death and Eternity, Dialogues on Universal Salvation and Aunt Trudy's Letters. Rathaspit is an old name for the church.


The Glebe House is definitely a cut above the average b & b, both internally and externally. It has history, it has properly proportioned rooms and it has comfort and appetising breakfasts. Methinks that I will be staying there again.



Saturday, 16 August 2014

St. Thomas' , Rathowen.


I spent last Saturday night at a small village called Rathowen in County Westmeath. By no stretch of the imagination could you describe it as a heaving metropolis. Even the most ardent resident would, I suspect, accept that it is for the most part one of those places that you pass through when travelling somewhere else. That said it does have several buildings and structures which are listed on the Irish National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. Included amongst these is St Thomas' Church of Ireland Church. Not having any particular plans for the evening apart from the need to stoke up on food, which I had pencilled in for eight o'clock, I ambled along to the Church to have a stroll around its grounds ie the graveyard.


St. Thomas' is the parish church of Rathaspeck and Russagh in the Barony of Moygoish within the combined Diocese of Kilmore Elphin and Ardagh. It is rather sad that it no longer has its own resident rector. It is now part of a Union of six churches. A reflection of twentieth century population movement and the secularisation of society no doubt.


The building is approached via a gravelled tree lined avenue with neatly cut verges. It was constructed in 1814 with additions in 1821. The original construction was achieved using a loan of £800 from the Board of First Fruits. A further loan of £200 allowed the two single-bay and single storey vestibules to be added to either side of the three stage tower. The castellated parapets and corner pinnacles to either side of the tower add to the gothic look of the structure. The graves of two former incumbents are in the shadow of the chancel, their headstones looking down the approach to the church.


When St. Thomas' was built the living was what is termed an impropriate curacy. Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of Ireland (1837) states that it was in the patronage of Sir John Bennett Piers Bt. The tithes amounted to £128.5.0 which sum was paid in its entirety to the patron, the impropriator. The curate's stipend was £92.6.7. 1/2, of which £82.2.0 was derived from Primate Boulter's Augmentation Fund with the balance being provided by the impropriator. The Ecclesiastical Register of 1827 refers to Sir John as the reputed patron. The use of the word, "reputed," may point to some debate on the matter. The will of Dame Frances Elizabeth Fetherston of Ardach in the County of Longford seems to confirm this view. In it she states that during his lifetime her late husband, Sir George Ralph Fetherston, was, "the undoubted patron of the perpetual impropriate curacy and impropriator of the parish." Her husband had died on 12th July 1853 and under his will his widow was granted the patronage during her lifetime. She states that she had built the Glebe House, (constructed 1817) for the use of the incumbent and that she had endowed the perpetual curacy in the sum of £4333.6.8.






Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Argory Pitstop.



Last weekend saw me make the journey to Tullamore in County Offaly for the Irish Masters Athletics Championships. There was a time and it's not that many years ago that I would have undertaken the four plus hour drive down to the venue, competed and driven home, all in the one day. I must be getting old or soft but it is now a two day jaunt with a couple of stops on the way down, an overnight sojourn and one stop on the way home. If I should continue to make this annual athletic pilgrimage I suspect that a further, "overnight," may have to be added to the itinerary.


My pitstop on the journey down was at the Argory just outside the village of Moy. I hadn't visited this National Trust property before. Time didn't permit me to spend more than hour wandering around the grounds but I noted that an antiques and collectables fair is to be held at the property towards the end of the month. I think that I will make that event an excuse to make a return and longer visit. Whilst it is interesting to wander around Estates such as the Argory I cannot help feeling that it is a little sad that it isn't still in private ownership and instead has to submit itself to hordes of visitors.



Friday, 8 August 2014

Fines for Holidays

During the breaking of my fast this am I turned on the old goggle box. My choice of channel was and is British Broadcasting Channel 1. A thirty something (late 30's) mother was complaining about the fining of parents if they should take their children on holiday during term time. She appeared to intimate that it was divisive if it was only well off parents who could take their children on holiday. Perhaps every child should get top grades in their exams no matter what their attendance record is. School attendance is such an irrelevancy!! Am I wrong?


There is no doubt that July and August holidays are more expensive than May and October holidays. It is a matter of demand and meteorological conditions. If a family cannot afford to take a foreign holiday or indeed a stay vacation during the school holidays well they don't. There is no shame in that. They are giving priority to their children's education. Such a terrible thing for a parent to do!

,Mummy may want to top her tan and daddy may want to have a few cool beers in the sun at a discount rate but once they are parents they have to consider their children and their childrens' education. Everyone knows the school term dates. If individuals are not prepared to limit their vacations to school holidays during the currency of their childrens' minority then maybe just maybe they should not have embarked upon the adventure of parenthood.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Fresh from the Vine


There is something particularly appealing about a tomato plucked fresh from the vine and warmed by the summer sun. Tomato plants and their fresh fruit have a very distinct and luscious smell. The packaged product from the supermarket shelves is by contrast a rather pale and bland imitation of the real McCoy.


This years supply of tomatoes has just commenced. A few pounds have already been utilised in sandwiches and salads and the odd fruit or two has been plucked and straight away consumed during my pre- breakfast ambles to the greenhouse to open the ventilators. These are the ones I savour the most.


As in previous years I have trained up a total of twenty four plants. Perhaps a few more than I strictly need, but it is good to have sufficent produce to lay down a few pots of chutney for winter consumption. All the plants have now been, "stopped," with their growing tips cut out.



Monday, 4 August 2014

Robert Quigg VC.


After I had finished walking around the garden at Billy Old Rectory a couple of weeks past I went into the adjoining graveyard to view the grave of Robert Quigg.


Quigg had enlisted in the 12th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles at the outbreak of the Great War. Fate and the, "Red Tabs" resulted in him being in the forward trenches near the village of Hamel on the opening day of the Battle of the Somme. Having heard that his platoon commander was lying wounded in no-mans land he attempted to locate him on seven separate occasions, braving the shell and raking gun fire. On each occasion he brought back a wounded soldier. His efforts resulted in him being awarded the Victoria Cross. The award was gazetted on 9th September 1916 and he was presented with his medal at Sandringham by King George V in January 1917. Quigg was one nine soldiers from the Ulster Division who won the VC during the Great War.



Saturday, 2 August 2014

A Purple Patch


Ten seconds after taking this photograph I cut the vegetative umbilicus of what is the first aubergine that I have grown. There was no squealing. I don't really know why I haven't grown this plant before now. It didn't prove to be hard to germinate and the seedlings have grown to maturity with a modicum of feed. Whilst I have grown a traditionally coloured variety this year I might well elect for a white fruited variety in 2015.


For the moment I cannot find the empty seed packet so I am unable to confirm the specific variety of this year's selection. I do however remember that I was promised large numbers of moderately sized fruits. I think that the promise will be truthful. The first grown has been consumed as a constituent of a melody of roasted veg, but I will have to investigate more imaginative platters for its siblings and cousins.



Friday, 1 August 2014

William Edward Maclatchy and the Knox Estate of Prehen Londonderry.

William Edward Maclatchy held the position of Secretary to the Land Purchase Commission in Northern Ireland. He also held the rather more esoteric position of, "Custodian in Northern Ireland of the Property of Enemy Aliens." It was in this latter role that he disposed of much of the Northern Ireland Estate of George Carle Otto Louis Von Scheffler, (otherwise Von Scheffler-Knox). This was concentrated in the townlands of Boiles, Prehen, Brickkikns, Corrody and Dunhugh on the outskirts of Londonderry.


Initially Von-Scheffler's property within the whole of Ireland was, as a consequence of the, "Trading with the Enemy Legislation," vested in the Official Assignee in Bankruptcy, King's Bench Division of the High Court of Justice in Ireland. One Alfred George Hollinshead held this position. He ultimately transferred such of Von-Scheffler's property as was situate in Northern Ireland to Stephen George Tallents who was the first Custodian of Enemy Property in Northern Ireland. He was succeeded by T. G. H. Greene and after his death on 8th September 1926 the Board of Trade did on 20th December 1926 appoint William Edward Maclatchy to the role.


It would seem that the Von-Scheffler-Knox estate within the Counties of Donegal and Londonderry was comprised of the following lands at the time of the Great War.


County Donegal

Townlands a. r. p.

Killinangel More 124. 0. 14

Killinangel Beg. 310. 0. 4

Drumholme 330. 1. 37

Lacklum. 255. 3. 8

Innisfad. 205. 3. 7

Drumoske. 112. 2. 36

Mullinacross. 259. 1. 33

Birra. 227. 1. 25

Drumlongfield. 112. 1. 14

Ballinacarrick. 784. 2. 28

Barr of Ballinacarrick. 475. 0. 20

Ballymagroarty. 46. 2. 7

Moneymore. 126. 1. 8

Ardnagalliagh. 73. 3. 6

Grahamstown. 64. 2. 16

Rosscanlon. 34. 2. 06


County Londonderry

Boiles. 156. 0. 23

Prehen. 223. 2. 22

Brickkikns. 184 3. 19

Corrody. 196. 3. 39

Dunhugh. 136 3. 20