Authors Posts by Shea Tomkins

Shea Tomkins

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    30HFTRAVEL - Inchydoney Island Lodge Spa.JPG

    Inchydoney Island near Clonakilty, West Cork, is an award-winning beach with an interesting history and a local legend revolving around a supposed appearance of the Blessed Virgin, writes Mary Rose McCarthy.

    Inchydoney, three kilometres to the west of Clonakilty, West Cork recently earned the accolade of the best beach in Ireland. It consists of two long stretches of sandy beaches fringed by marram grass dunes. A finger of rock which stretches into the Atlantic separates the two beaches. This rock is known as the Virgin Mary’s Bank owing to the legend that the Madonna came there to pray. The blue flag beach is popular with swimmers, walkers, and surfers, among locals and tourists from all corners of the globe.


    The Hungerford family, from the house of Hungerford of Farley, in Somerset, came to Ireland with the forces of Cromwell. They left England in May 1647. As was customary at the time, Earldoms and fiefdoms were bestowed on loyal subjects after battle. Thus, Captain Thomas Hungerford was installed at Rathbarry four miles west of Inchydoney. They did not remain long in Rathbarry. Richard Hungerford went to Inchydoney in 1690 where he owned a substantial part of the island. Another Hungerford moved to Cahermore near Rosscarbery.


    The Hungerford’s played a prominent role in life in Clonakilty until the early 1900s. Richard, a descendent of the first Richard to live in Inchydoney, played a part in dealing with the 1798 rebellion. Subsequently he rebuilt Inchydoney House on the site of the first house built there a century earlier. William Hungerford lived in what is now Emmet Square, in Clonakilty, and took an active part in the politics of the town.

    Margaret Hamilton, of Rosscarbery, married into the Hungerford family. As a widow with three young children, she wasn’t accepted by the family and went to live in what is now Overton House near Bandon. To support her family she wrote novels. The most famous of these is Molly Bawn, which gets a mention in chapter 18 of Ulysses by James Joyce.
    Margaret Hungerford published in the name Mrs. Hungerford and at times under the pseudonym The Duchess. She is credited with coining the phrase, ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’. She wrote over fifty books in total, the last, The Coming of Chloe was published posthumously. She died of typhoid fever in 1897 and is buried in the Hungerford vault in Rosscarbery.


    In 1905, the Hungerfords attempted to block all people using a public path through their estate that led to Inchydoney beach. Mary Hungerford refused to back down, which resulted in a group of angry locals tearing down the gates and asserting their rights to the public path.

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      By Tom Nestor

      Coming close to the middle nineteen fifties, a van would arrive at the chapel before mass, open up the rear door, slip the twine and open up the outside world with the Sunday newspaper. It was a striking sign of things to come.


      Very few took a newspaper then, most of rural Ireland was too far away to make it a daily call. So we too, alongside most of our neighbours, bought the big newspaper on a Sunday, from outside the church railing.


      Shortly afterwards, another symbol of our upward direction, the motor car, arrived. After Sunday mass it was always parked in the front of our house. We sat there, warm and snug, two brothers and I, sharing the newspaper between us, though there was one, whose head dropped several times, before eventually falling to sleep.


      On one of those Sundays my second life began. I read about Brendan O’Regan and the developments he had made in Shannon Airport, through a business called Sales and Catering. Hundreds of people were working there, coming out from Limerick city, from Ennis, from rural Ireland everywhere, but mostly from the mid-west.


      The newspaper story went on describe how the business had evolved through catering for passengers. Shannon was the last opportunity where long-haul aircraft, flying the western route, could take on fuel. Passengers had to leave the aircraft while the fuelling was taking place. And that’s how the business was created, as if it was made in heaven, passengers dined at the airport, and bought in the duty free shop.


      After supper on most Sundays my father would seek someone to read the newspaper to him. Mostly that was my mother, but I was first sub when she went visiting her sister who lived ‘over the road’, as we described a short journey. My father was very taken by Brendan O’Regan and the Sales and Catering Company. And then he produced the knock out. “You should talk to that man. He might have a job for you.”


      Rineanna, where the airport was, was only over the road, the way we would describe a journey of indeterminate length, and there were many. Going the direct route, it was three or four miles down the road to Foynes where, oft now and then, he would take us, by pony and trap, to see the Flying Boats, the beginning of what Rineanna would ultimately become.


      He kept on reminding me. Every time we were alone, by turnip drills, when we two stayed behind to make a final design to a hay wynd, on our way home to the midday meal, what we called the dinner. I had other notions of what I might become but most of those had gone by the wayside.

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        By Arthur Flynn

        One of the big and most successful film hits of the 1950s was the British romantic comedy Hobson’s Choice, directed by David Lean. It was based on the play of the same name by Harold Brighouse that had a long successful stage history prior to the film. Hobson’ Choice opened on Broadway in 1915 and ran for 135 performances. The play also appeared on the London stage with a successful run.


        David Lean was assigned to direct the film version. In later years Lean was to become associated with sweeping epic films such as Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Doctor Zhivago (1965) and Ryan’s Daughter (1970).
        In his earlier years he had mainly brought classics such as Major Barbara (1941), The Happy Breen (1944), Brief Encounter (1945) and Oliver Twist (1948) to the screen.


        For the film version of Hobson’s Choice, Harold Brighouse co-wrote the screenplay with Wynyard Brown, Norman Spencer and David Lean. As with all his projects Lean spent a good deal of time on getting the correct casting.


        Finally, he assembled a strong cast headed by Charles Laughton in the title role of Victorian bootmaker Henry Hobson, Brenda De Banzie as Maggie, his eldest daughter, and John Mills, as Will Mossop a timid employee. The film also featured Prunella Scales in one of her first screen roles as Vicky.

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          David Mullen looks back at Ford’s smaller offerings in the Fifties and Sixties: the Popular, the Prefect and the Anglia.

          The years just after World War ll in Britain were, in some respects, every bit as dark as the years of conflict. There was still rationing, both of petrol and food. Many of the country’s cities had been bombed to smithereens. The war effort had led to Britain accruing huge amounts of debt. It wasn’t a good time for the motor industry which, having been unable to produce cars during the war, had to reheat a number of its pre-war models in order to have anything to sell at all.


          None of this was lost on car-buyers either. The public hadn’t been able to buy any new cars since 1939 and, by the late Forties, Britain was so determined to restore its balance of trade that for motor-makers it was a case of ‘export or die’.
          This meant that buyers were a bit stuck if they wanted to buy a car. They weren’t able to buy anything second-hand because production had stopped during the war. Nor were they able to buy something brand new as the majority of new cars were being exported. It would be a case of waiting for things to improve.


          One of the companies that struggled to get back up-and-running with new models was Ford of Britain. It did have small cars in its range — the Anglia and the Prefect — but they were firmly pre-war designs with 1930s styling and technology.


          Indeed, both cars were rebodied versions of the Ford 7Y which was, in itself, a restyled Ford Model Y, a car from 1932. They were both very similar, the main difference being that the Anglia was a two-door and the Prefect a four. Both were powered by a four-cylinder side-valve engine.


          One of the cars’ quirks (common to many at the time) was that the windscreen wipers were powered by the engine intake manifold vacuum which meant that if the car was labouring, for example, going uphill or overtaking, the wipers would come to a stop.


          All very old-fashioned, though they were some of the cheapest cars around.

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            To mark the 29th International Day of Older Persons on 1st October 2019, the following collection of mini biographies by Eugene Dunphy will show that Ireland has had its fair share of centenarians and supercentenarians who lived long and interesting lives.

            That Clear Sligo Air
            Michael McGuinness
            In February 1898, Michael McGuinness, aged 107, wrapped up well against the elements and left his home in Kilmacshalgan, County Sligo. Taking with him his trusted donkey and an iron bucket to light a fire in case of cold, the sprightly supercentenarian ‘took the Sligo boat’ to Liverpool to visit his son and daughter-in-law who lived in Gerard Street.
            While out for a leisurely stroll in a Liverpool park, he was resting on a bench when approached by a photographer who snapped his photograph, a drawing of which was replicated in the Irish papers. Attributing his longevity to ‘the excellent air of the Sligo hills’, Michael lamented the fact that his donkey had just died, but was proud to state that his grandfather reached the grand old age of 111.

            Walking a mule will keep you fit
            Born 27 July, 1795, in County Westmeath, Catherine Dillin emigrated to America in 1848 and settled in Bristol, Pennsylvania. Interviewed in 1898, she said she had five children living, and fifteen grandchildren: ‘I’m feeling as spry as I did fifty years ago. I walk a mule regularly every Sunday to go to church.’

            Tales of caves and smugglers
            William Petrie of Point Street, Larne, County Antrim, was born on 5 June, 1800. Receiving a carriage clock and a selection of pipes for his 100th, he was looking forward to enjoying many more years with his family, friends and neighbours. He had vivid recollections of how the caves at Islandmagee were used by smugglers to store illicit cargo such as tobacco, alcohol and snuff. Twice married, William had 13 children and 50 grandchildren. He died on 3 January, 1902, within five months of his 102nd birthday.


            Breaking stones and herding cattle
            Aged 109 in 1901, Bridget McIvor (nee Cannon) was born in Springtown, near Derry, in December 1792. She was twice married. When her first husband (named Breslin) died in their sixth year of marriage, she remained a widow for nine years. Bizarrely, her second husband (McIvor) also died after six years of marriage – both died ‘three and four days short of the six years’. As a very young girl, she remembered the sound of women crying for their husbands and sons who had fallen in the 1798 rebellion. A strong, hearty woman with hands calloused by manual labour, during the Famine she broke stones in a quarry and spoke with pride at how she made £20 within a five-year period. For years she watched cattle for the traders of Derry outside the city, during which time she lived in a tent made of roughly sewn sacks which were placed across two rickety posts.
            Known to sing while sewing and mending, it was not unusual for the centenarian to do her washing at 5am on a summer’s morning and have it dried on a hedge well before any inquisitive neighbours surfaced from their beds. A reporter who visited her remarked, ‘She lives on ‘outdoor relief’ and what the neighbours give her, and also keeps a few hens. Tea is the only thing she cares for now, except the pipe, which she dearly loves and produces on all occasions’.

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              By Alison Phillips

              Over the years, much has been written about the Titanic disaster. Unbeknown to many however, Galway has a unique connection to the Titanic disaster.


              For three years between 1908 and 1911, Jack Phillips, who would go on to become the senior wireless operator on the Titanic, worked at the high-powered wireless station at Derrigimlagh, three miles outside of Clifden. He would later lose his life in the disaster.


              John G. Phillips, known as ‘Jack’ was born in Godalming, Surrey on the 11th April, 1887. He was the third child born to George Alfred Phillips and Ann (née Sanders). Jack’s father was the manager of ‘Gammons,’ a draper’s shop in Godalming.
              In 1902, at the age of fifteen, Jack finished his schooling and went to work as a telegraph boy at Godalming Post Office. After four years at the Post Office, he decided to further his career by going to sea as an operator for the Marconi Company.
              Following six months of training at the Marconi Training School in Liverpool, Jack successfully completed the course and went to sea for the first time on the White Star Liner Teutonic.


              Over the next two years, he worked as a wireless operator on various liners, including the Lusitania and the Mauretania. After two years at sea, Jack was sent to work at Marconi’s transatlantic transmitting station at Derrigimlagh, three miles outside Clifden in Co. Galway.

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                In their new book, bestselling authors Colm Keane and Una O’Hagan look at Ireland’s connections to the small town in southwestern France, in the foothills of the Pyrenees mountains, where, in 1858, the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to a young local girl named Bernadette and which is now one of the most visited shrines on earth.

                 

                On a cold, dark February day in 1858, a 14-year-old girl named Bernadette Soubirous left her home in search of firewood. She lived in the worst slum dwelling in Lourdes. A one-roomed cesspit, it was dark, dank and infested with lice. It smelled of manure. There was mildew in the corners and in the cracks. This squalid basement, a former gaol, was home to Bernadette, her unemployed father, mother, sister and two brothers.


                On that icy day, Bernadette headed with her sister and a sister’s friend to a rocky outcrop known as Massabielle. There, she became separated from her companions. All of a sudden, she was attracted by the sound of rushing wind. Startled, she looked towards a niche in the Massabielle grotto, where she saw a soft light and a figure resembling a lady. The story of that ‘beautiful lady,’ as Bernadette later described her, would transform Marian devotion and the lives of millions in the years ahead.


                Over the next five months, Bernadette conversed with the lady on 18 occasions. Word spread like wildfire and captured the public’s imagination. It was revealed that the lady had smiled at Bernadette, prayed with her, taught her a special prayer, disclosed secrets – which were never publicly divulged – helped identify a previously-unknown spring, asked that a chapel be built at the site, and eventually declared that she was the Immaculate Conception.


                Miracles were soon being reported. One of the earliest involved a two-year-old boy, Justin Bouhort, who was on the edge of death from consumptive fever. Late one afternoon, his mother ran with him to the grotto and immersed him in the spring which the lady had identified to Bernadette. After the mother had thrust the child up to his neck in the icy water, Justin was cured. Seventy-five years later, at the age of 77, he attended the canonisation of Bernadette in Rome.


                Within weeks of the first apparition, news reports of the happenings at Lourdes reached Ireland. The first arrived by electric telegraph at the offices of The Dublin Evening Mail. The wire report used the word ‘miracle,’ which must have caught the editor’s eye in his Parliament Street office. On that day, in 1858, the newspaper – later renamed the Evening Mail – printed the first account in Ireland of the apparitions at Lourdes.

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                  From the tragic story of ‘The Wrens’ to the execution of fellow Irishmen, Terry Corrigan tells the interesting, and lesser told, history of The Curragh in County Kildare

                  Mention the Curragh to most folks outside of Ireland and they will think of horse racing, but this 4,870-acre site in the county of Kildare holds more than just the history of last week’s winners and losers.


                  Boasting the largest expanse of natural grassland in Europe, this stretch of Irish countryside is as unique for its past, as it is for its present.


                  Its vast and lonely plains have accommodated men of war for centuries. It is even believed that an ancient king of Ireland, Laeghaire Lore was slain here in battle.


                  The Vikings travelled through this stretch on their way to raiding monasteries and towns throughout the country, and even The Duke of Wellington passed through on his way to The Peninsular War.


                  It was here that the troops were mustered for the start of the Irish Rebellion of 1798.


                  Indeed, has any other stretch of Irish landscape felt the weight of so many hooves upon its fertile turf, even excepting the thoroughbreds of the racecourse nearby?


                  The camp itself was built originally by the British in the late 19th century during the Crimean War; and has been a training and prison camp for both Irish and British throughout several conflicts on the roadmap of Irish history.


                  However, where there are army barracks, there will always be prostitution, and in 1869, English journalist James Greenwood wrote in detail about the “Curragh Wrens”.

                  In his book, The Seven Curses of London, Greenwood explains that they were so called because they lived in makeshift dens, referred to as “nests”, in the long grass around the camp.


                  Greenwood could hardly contain his outrage and repulsion at the whole set up. This after all, was not just an Englishman abroad, but a Victorian Englishman abroad.
                  However, after meeting one young girl, his mood softened.


                  She told him the story that after being orphaned, she had lived with an aunt who ran a whiskey shop in Cork. A charming young English soldier frequented the shop often and eventually seduced her.


                  When he was sent to the Curragh Camp, she went to find him to announce that she was with child.
                  On hearing the news, her aunt disowned her and kicked her out. Her only hope and salvation now lay with her soldier.
                  However, when she eventually found him and told him the news, he denounced her and told her to leave him alone. Reminiscent of a tragic heroine from a Thomas Hardy story, she was left heartbroken, alone and with nowhere to go.
                  Without the means to support herself or the child she was expecting, she reluctantly remained at the Curragh and joined the other wrens in their nests.


                  Soon after, her soldier was posted overseas, and she was never to see him again. Her baby died a short time later, and she faced her bleak life in the Curragh alone.


                  Greenwood seemed fascinated with the situation and returned over several nights and met many of the other wrens.
                  He discovered that they worked well enough as a community, and baby-sat each other’s children while the mother was out at ‘work’.


                  Whatever his personal feelings were, Greenwood knew well the plight of the ‘fallen women’ was a hot issue in Victorian England at the time, and the story of the wrens was pure gold to any investigative journalist.

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                    The other day I bought myself tickets for Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets concert at the Convention Centre in Dublin next April.


                    For those who don’t know Nick Mason was the drummer in Pink Floyd and Saucerful of Secrets was one of the group’s early albums a few years before they found global fame with Dark Side of the Moon. Mason now tours with a very talented group of mainly session musicians and the band also includes Gary Kemp, formally of Spandau Ballet and the composer of all that group’s big hits from the Eighties (Gold, True etc).


                    Of course Pink Floyd were very much my generation of musical heroes and last year I went to see another past member of the band, Roger Waters, in concert at the Three Arena — brilliant stuff. But I’ve also been contemplating how many of today’s musical stars will still be able to sell tickets and do concert tours in fifty years’ time?


                    Now, don’t get me wrong; I am not going down the route of ‘it was all better in my day’. But the truth of it is, as we all know, records don’t sell any more and if there are no sales there’s no competition and therefore no proper benchmark for people to judge their musical endeavours by.

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                      By Allen Hunter

                      The strange story of a persistent and troublesome ghost was recorded in 1663 by the Bishop of Down’s secretary, Thomas Alcock.


                      David Hunter was herdsman at the Bishop of Down’s house near Portmore. One night as he was carrying a log of wood into the dairy an old woman, whom he did not recognise, suddenly appeared to him.


                      Hunter did not recognise her, and the woman’s unearthly appearance shocked him so much that he dropped the log and ran to his house terrified.


                      She appeared to him again the following night and every night after that for the next nine months.


                      When the ghost appeared, Hunter felt a compulsion to follow her into the woods for hours. Even if he was in bed he had to get up and follow her wherever she went, and because his wife could not hold him, she would go too, and walk after him till daybreak, although no ghost was visible to her.


                      The only member of the household that was unfazed by the ghost was Hunter’s little dog. It became so familiar with the ghost that it would follow her as well as his master.


                      Hunter observed that if a tree stood in her path, the ghost would always go through it. Throughout the months the haunting occurred, the ghost never spoke.


                      One night while he was going over a hedge onto a roadway after the ghost, she turned and touched him.


                      “Lord bless me, I would I were dead; shall I never be delivered from this misery?” he cried out.


                      “Lord bless me too,” replied the ghost. “It was very happy you spoke first, for till then I had no power to speak, though I have followed you so long.

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