Saturday, June 15, 2013

Sepia Saturday #181: Bejewelled

When I viewed the inspiration image for this Sepia Saturday, I thought about those images which feature members of my family wearing jewellery, then I began to consider what it means to say something or someone is bejewelled. The Oxford English Dictionary defines bejewelled as follows:

adjective: adorned with or as if adorned with jewels.
verb: to adorn with or as if to adorn with jewels.

"As if adorned with jewels" is the part of the definition which sparked my imagination, and led me to think about some of the beautiful stained glass windows I have photographed in Ireland over the years. The colours which are often used in stained glass windows are what we might think of as jewel-toned, and when you see an array of beautiful windows in a church they certainly appear to be 'bejewelled' precious treasures.

So...for this Sepia Saturday, as my interpretation of bejewelled, I have chosen a few of my favourite stained glass windows found in churches around Ireland.

Be sure to stop by Alan and Kat's blog Sepia Saturday to see how others have been inspired by the theme, and perhaps you will be inspired too.

St. Patrick in stained glass from three different churches,
one each in Mayo, Dublin, and Mayo.
Left to right windows from Mayo, Dublin, and Mayo.
The Rosetta Window of St. Mary's Church, Westport, County Mayo.
A triad of windows dedicated by his children to the 1st Earl of Iveagh.
St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin.
Another triad in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin.
A triad, with floating windows above, in The Black Abbey, County Kilkenny.
My favourite 'bejewelled' window in St. Patrick's Church Ringsend, Dublin,
the church in which my parents were married in 1954.

Click on images to view larger versions.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday: The Admiral and the Death Coach

In Mount Jerome Cemetery, Dublin City, this extraordinary and intricately carved tombstone stands over the grave of Admiral Burton MacNamara and his wife Jane, Lady MacNamara. The heavily shrouded and perfectly crafted mooring post is replete with rope and an anchor.

The stone reads:

In Memory Of
Of Tromoro Co. Clare
Who Died 12th Decr. 1876
In his 83rd year

Also of
His Wife
Who Died 16th APRIL 1875

A rather curious story surrounds the death of Admiral Burton MacNamara. In Westropp’s Folklore Survey of County Clare, 1913, the following is recorded:

"On the night of December 11th, 1876, a servant of the MacNamaras was going his rounds at Ennistymon [the family home], a beautiful spot in a wooded glen, with a broad stream falling in a series of cascades. In the dark he heard the rumbling of wheels on the back avenue, and, knowing from the hour and place that no ‘mortal vehicle’ could be coming, concluded that it was the death coach and ran on, opening the gates before it. He had just time to open the third gate and throw himself on his face beside it, at the bank, before he ‘heard a coach go clanking past.’ It did not stop at the house, but passed on, and the sound died away. On the following day Admiral Sir Burton MacNamara suddenly died in London."

In Irish folklore of the 19th century, the appearance of the cóiste bodhar — The Death Coach — is a harbinger of sudden death. Manifestations of these death coaches have been described as black as night, and either highly stylized or very plain. They are said to be drawn by a team of ebony stallions without a driver on board to command their pace, or else driven by a headless coachman brandishing a huge whip to coax a gallop of breakneck speed. This ghostly vehicle, which appears only as a nighttime phenomenon, has been typically observed speeding toward, and then passing by, the residence of a person who is about to die.

Did a death coach serve as a harbinger of Admiral MacNamara's demise? Was it simply a coincidence that a speeding coach passed the MacNamara residence in the dead of night on the eve of the Master's death? One also has to wonder if the appearance of this omen of death was perhaps the result of the overactive imagination of a devoted servant.

Click on images to view larger versions.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Tuesday's Tip: An additional 2.5 million court registers added to

This morning I received the following press release from FindMyPast Ireland. If you have any ancestors who might have occasionally been on the wrong side of the law, stop by and have a look to see if any of their names appear in the Irish Petty Sessions Court Registers.

Press Release:

Over 2.5 million court registers added to

Records dating back as far as 1842

Leading Irish family history website has made an additional 2.5 million court records available to search online in its Irish Petty Sessions Court Registers 1828-1912 record set, which exposes the petty crimes Ireland’s residents committed and how they were punished.

The additions feature forty-four new courts in nineteen counties around Ireland. A further fifty-five courts have been supplemented with records from additional years. This brings the total Petty Sessions Court Registers on to over 12 million records.

Notable new courts that have been added are the Limerick City Children’s Court and two courts with pre-famine records – Moynalty, Co. Meath and Nenagh, Co. Tipperary. As well as that, for the first time, seven new courts from Co. Longford have been added, bringing online over a quarter of a million new records for the county. Also well represented with totally new courts are Laois (five) and Cork (four).

Being drunk in a public place, being drunk in charge of a cart, failure to pay rent and allowing livestock to wander on the road are among some of the most common misdemeanors that our ancestors found themselves in court for.  Although most defendants got away with a fine, the variety of cases heard gives a real flavour for life in Ireland at the time.

Cliona Weldon, General Manager of, says “We are really excited about this add-on to our Petty Sessions court records. As usual, the stories you can find in them really paint a picture of what life was like in towns and villages in Ireland at the time. From harrowing stories in the Limerick City Children’s Court to amusing ones in Longford’s seven new courts, there is something for everyone in there”.

New courts have been added to the following counties: Clare, Cork, Donegal, Dublin, Galway, Kerry, Kildare, Laois, Limerick, Longford, Louth, Mayo, Meath, Monaghan, Offaly, Sligo, Tipperary, Waterford and Westmeath.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Sepia Saturday: A Traditional Irish Festival in Sepia

Every January for the last ten years, a traditional festival called Tradfest has taken hold of the Temple Bar neighbourhood, and the grounds of Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin. Ringed by the wrought iron fences of the Christ Church grounds, many beloved Irish traditions are on display, such as Irish dancing and children's choirs singing time-honoured Gaelic songs. Old time practices of farming life are also demonstrated, such as the hand milling of grain, the cutting of peat bricks, and the weaving of St. Brigid's crosses.

Also on the grounds are lots of lovely creatures, both human and animal, which you might find on a farm, such as Gentlewoman farmers dressed in traditional costume along with goats and lambs, turkeys and chickens, and even a donkey or two. These images which I shot this past January were originally in colour, but in the spirit of Sepia Saturday I have reproduced them here in sepia.

Be sure to stop by Alan and Kat's Sepia Saturday blog to see how others have interpreted today's inspiration image. Perhaps you'll be inspired too.

This gentle little donkey bore most of these peat bricks to the festival in the cart to which he is strapped.
A Gentlewoman farmer, dressed in traditional costume, with two of her furry charges.
Himself out walking his turkey.
Pouring himself a drop of poteen.
A traditional Gypsy caravan.
A sheepish smile for me? Wooly the sheep enjoys a bit of straw.
Click on images to view larger versions.
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