It’s Hallowe’en. When I lived in Devon, England, in my younger days, we didn’t know the meaning of the word. We certainly celebrated the coming of the dark time of the year, but there the story was all about Guy Fawkes, the ‘Gunpowder Plot’, bonfires and fireworks. Here’s a pic I retrieved from my old files: Hatherleigh, Devon, around the beginning of November. Huge barrels were soaked in tar, set alight, and pulled down the very steep hill that runs through the town at dawn and dusk. It was certainly scary – but not Spooky!
Here things are different. In Ballydehob we are preparing for our own celebration of the shadowy times. There will be a procession through the streets tonight. It will be scary, in a spooky way…
The whole town enters into the ‘spirit’ of things. This post sets out to look at the preparations for the night’s events. I particularly like the display – perhaps slightly understated – put on at the ice cream counter in Camier’s garage and shop at the bottom of the town:
Levis’ Bar is at the centre of things, and I called in to see the workshops taking place to prepare for the evening’s events:
I think this evening’s activities are going to be spectacularly spooky! I will let you know. Elsewhere in our village of Ballydehob, everyone is getting into the right mood.
It’s never ‘half-measures’ in Ballydehob. Everyone joins in with complete enthusiasm. And there are plenty more celebrations of this spooky time going on around us in West Cork. Don’t stay at home!
As you know, I’m keen on signage, and always on the lookout for unusual examples. Not just signs, but anything a bit out of the ordinary – like that suspended boat, above, seemingly related in some way to a large ice cream cone. Every few months I present you with examples taken from our travels – this time from near and far. I’m not going to reveal where they all are, unless anyone is really desperate to know. Just enjoy them!
This fish shop sign is rather wonderful. It’s not actually a fish shop (but it ought to be) – It’s a first nations exhibition centre in Sidney, Vancouver Island. We spent a while this summer visiting Finola’s Canadian family (there are lots of them) and we had a wonderful time. These two are also from British Columbia, but thereafter you are on your own!
What’s in a name? You have to wonder whether this one (above) is deliberately suggestive.
I liked these cement tanks…
While this message is instructional.
Bees, bears or big cats – wherever you are, be prepared to fight back!
Colourful cabinets: I’m always looking out for decorative street furniture. The one above is in Ireland; the next four are not!
I wouldn’t mind this number plate for myself!
I have captured lots more in my latest collections, but I will leave the rest for other times. Just finishing off with something a bit offbeat: an impressive new mural at Killruddery House, Co Wicklow.
Another post about signs in Ireland: I ‘collect’ them and update them every few months. The slippery banana – above – is a classic and is to be found in the City Hall in Cork. Following it are a whole variety of examples with – hopefully – some touches of humour about them. Others have to be classified as eye-catching curiosities, including this magnificent bright blue cockerel.
Mostly, the signs just speak for themselves…
These cheerful cups can be found at a wayside Holy Well.
The gate above, also from Cork city, shows what architectural gems are waiting to be discovered on the streets. I was pleased – and puzzled – to come across the following:
If you visit Knock (above) you can collect your own holy water. This is my report on the place. Here (below) is a curiosity – not far from our West Cork home: an old signpost marking the distance in miles. You might say it’s one that got away!
Quite right! The orchids at Toormore Church are spectacular, and have to be looked after.
A coded message from another world, perhaps?
Signs can be enigmatic here in Ireland. There’s usually a reasonable explanation for them, though.
There’s plenty more where these came from (in fact they come from all over Ireland). Keep a watch out yourselves!
We live in a world full of words. I can’t resist them – particularly when their context shines a humorous – or puzzling – light on them. Not just signs with words on them: sometimes it’s images – shopfronts – posters – that make you stop and have a second look. But then, I probably have a very particular sense of humour. I have every respect and good wish for the residents of Cheekpoint and Faithlegg, for example, but juxtaposed on the Waterford road sign they are eye-catching. Pointe na Síge is the ‘place of the Shee’ (or fairies), while Fáithling was the first parish name to be established following the 12th century Norman conquest: as far as I can make out, it derives from the term for ‘a wooded area’.
A ‘word wall’ signed by its author is from Wicklow (above). But we have encountered many examples of less formal poetry: I won’t call it graffitti . . .
It doesn’t really matter, I suppose, how legible the message is: as long as it has made you stop to take a closer look it’s been effective. Or reflective . . .
Sometimes they are simple, like the one above. I wonder if this next one is a mathematical formula?
Shopfronts have to be eye-catching and arresting, of course, to draw you in. There are witty examples everywhere.
One has to admire the entrepreneurs – of all persuasions.
in my distant youth – when I was learning to read – my go-to’s were the large, colourful, Guinness posters at the bottom of our road. I am pleased to see that many of those images haven’t gone away – even after seventy years!
While all that is, intentionally of course, a stirrer of nostalgia in us – there are many more of our own time worthy of study.
Finally (for now) we just found this old petrol pump hidden around a corner. Who remembers those days when an attendant had to come out and fill you up . . . and it was all done in gallons, shillings and pence?
Yes – it’s ‘Sign’ season again. I’ll make an excuse that any season is, in fact, ok to put up another selection of signs from Ireland. But not just signs: I use the opportunity to add in a few peculiarities which we encounter on our wanderings. Here’s one I saw only yesterday – a roadside stove! I’m not sure how much it would be adding to our global warming . . .
Good advice abounds – and it’s certainly pertinent that we should remember to wash our hands, particularly if we are off to see the Seven Wonders. During these Covid times ‘food trucks’ have proliferated on our streets, and in the country. The one below is a fine, shining example – and offers ‘cures’ as well as cocktails, while the lower coffee stop must be situated in one of the finest viewpoints on the Beara Peninsula.
Always time for a chat in Ireland! And – a reminder that Christmas is nearly upon us . . .
Everywhere we go, there’s a double-take to be taken. In the city, I felt that there was something a bit pagan in this outfitter’s window . . .
The hairy lady artist, above, topically reminds us to wear our masks. Personally, I welcome the colours on the streets: hopefully we can always have cheerful moments in troubled times.
Getting the official message across always has to be done in both languages here in Ireland. I have to admit that, in this case, the Irish version seems something of a mouthful! A few more images to finish off this little exploration: they speak for themselves . . .
What better time to visit Schull than during Calves Week? That’s a big sailing festival at the beginning of August every year, and you have to be a sailor to understand the nuances of its title. It’s held at the same time as the UK’s premier sailing event – Cowes Week, ‘…the world’s longest running sailing regatta…’ and is focussed around the three Calf Islands in Roaringwater Bay. So there you have it – Cowes and Calves! What it means, of course, is that the village of Schull is at its busiest and, since Covid has given a boost to outdoor socialising, the streets are crowded with visitors enjoying the shops, pavement cafés and galleries.
In this occasional series on the Towns and villages of West Cork we will take one community and try to discover why and how it has developed through history, and how it fares in the present day. A snapshot of the place will be presented – hopefully – in the best possible light (although this won’t always be on a sunny summer’s day!) From the aerial view above, you can see how Schull has been built up around its connection with the water. Schull Harbour is at the head of a long sheltered inlet, and the pier today is always busy with fishing and pleasure boats, ferries and yachts.
That’s the road to the pier, above, and it’s just a few steps from the village centre. If you are a visitor, you may have no idea that Ireland’s most south-westerly railway line once ran right on to this pier! The narrow gauge Schull, Ballydehob & Skibbereen Tramway and Light Railway was in service between 1886 and 1947, connecting these remoter parts of the county to Skibbereen and then, via the main line, Cork city. Although never considered a commercial success, it was a valuable element of infrastructure enabling local passengers to get to shops and markets, and fishermen to send their catches to distant merchants as hastily as possible (bearing in mind there was a speed limit of 15 miles per hour on most of this rural line). This photograph from the NLI Lawrence Collection (below) dates from the 1890s, and shows barrels of fish stacked up next to the railway track on Schull pier, awaiting despatch. They are likely to contain salted pilchards and herrings.
In all these pictures of the pier and pontoon areas above you can see the lively sailing activity in the background. Below are two extracts from early OS maps, one showing Schull and its location to some of the offshore islands, and the other showing the town centre, probably around 1890. It’s thought-provoking to see on the latter the various facilities which the town offered at that time, as well as the railway: Court House, Constabulary Barrack, Smiths, Schools, Hotel and Dispensary.
Note that on both the maps above, which date from more than a century ago, the settlement’s name is given as Skull: it still is on all OS Ireland maps up to the present time. Mostly today it’s known as Schull, or in Irish An Scoil, which translates as The School. Some of you may remember my posts earlier this year when I looked in to the possible origins of this village name – and the earliest ‘School’: a site described on Archaeology Ireland as a ‘possible early Christian settlement’: . . . the ancient school of Sancta Maria de Scholia, ‘a place known in early times as a centre of learning’ . . . There’s a fair bit of local lore surrounding the subject, and you need to read Schull resident John D’Alton’s article on this to find an alternative view to the perhaps romanticised ideas of an ancient monastic site: I’m sitting on the fence!
Historic village – perhaps with medieval origins – to vibrant sailing centre and colourful streets in the 21st century. Schull has come a long way, and has far to go. Today the resident population numbers around 1,050: this is boosted substantially with the influx of summer visitors. It’s good to see long established names and new businesses on the streets, contributing to the colourful palette of the architecture. Great things are happening in the future: the old bank building (below) is to become a cinema and film centre: a focal point for the acclaimed annual Fastnet Film Festival.
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