Loughan Bay Ruins, County Antrim

Deserted Cottages above the Irish Sea

We pulled off the side of Torr Road for this fine view on the way to Torr Head to take in this view of the Irish Sea.  The steeply rising distant headland is the Mull of Kintyre. Loughan an Lochan, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.

Michael Wills – CLICK ME for my Getty Portfolio.

We parked on a turnout above the Loughan Cottages, near this farmer’s sheep pen.  He drove up in a huge tractor and conversed with Pam while I was below shooting the cottages. He made a good impression.

Loughan Bay Farmer – CLICK ME for my Getty Portfolio.

Roofless walls of a cottage more substantial than the other deserted ruins above Loughan Bay, with two fireplaces a walled porch with a view. A number of outbuilding foundations lay around. The integrity of the walls, chimneys and gables speaks to the quality of construction. A freighter in the North Channel of the Irish Sea is visible in the distance above the upper ridge. Beyond is the island of Islay, Scotland, about 30 miles distant. Loughan an Lochan, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.

I am happy to report a series of thirteen (13) photographs of these ruins were accepted for publication by Getty.  You can click any of the photographs in this posting for my Getty portfolio.

Loughan Cottages Ruins above Crockan Point – CLICK ME for my Getty Portfolio.

The land slopes steeply to a rocky beach.

Ruin Above Loughan Bay – CLICK ME for my Getty Portfolio.

A thick growth of ferns, grass on the gable was once a home with a view of Scotland’s Mull of Kintyre 13 miles across the North Channel of the Irish Sea.  The Isle of Sanda just visible on the right of the far gable.  A landform named Alisa Crag is just visible in the distance, to the left of the nearest gable. 

Single Room Loughan Bay Cottage – CLICK ME for my Getty Portfolio.

Please browse my reasonably priced stock photography. License a photograph, download and use it for your website or blog. Click this link to browse all my Getty IStock Photography offerings.

Or click this link or any photograph or this link to select a print with custom framing from my “Ireland” Fine Art Gallery.

Interested in learning more about this site?  I have a series of postings on Loughan Bay.  Click for the first posting in this series.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills, All Rights Reserved.

Rose of Castlemaine

Beauty and History on the Maine River

A chapter of our day on the Dingle Peninsula. 
Click any photograph to open a new window/tab of my Online Gallery.

The temperate oceanic climate of Ireland is perfect for roses. On R561 near Castlemaine we stopped to admire these dark red blooms growing on long stems. From the form and deep color I say these are a hybrid of the China Rose, a variety with color that deepens in sunlight.

Rose of Castlemain– CLICK ME!!!!

Rose of Castlemain– CLICK ME!!!!

Castlemaine of County Kerry, is on the southeastern coast. Here prevailing winds from the North Atlantic current moderate temperatures; winters are warmer, summers cooler than elsewhere on the island. Just across the road is a yard aburst with blooms on this June day in 2013. Castlemain is named for a castle built on a bridge over the river Maine. The river flows into Dingle Bay.

Rose of Castlemain– CLICK ME!!!!

Rose of Castlemain– CLICK ME!!!!

This is a small, quiet town, yet due to the river crossing this is a strategic location.  During the Irish War of Independance, the IRA ambushed and killed security forces near Castlemaine.
Rose of Castlemain– CLICK ME!!!!

The ballad of defiance, “The Wild Colonial Boy”, tells the story of a Jack Duggan born and bred in Castlemaine. The tale is based on the life of Jack Donahue, an orphan of Dublin. In his short life Jack was convicted under English law, shipped to Australia where he escaped to the bush and a career as a bush ranger. He escaped a death sentence only to die in a shootout. Jack lived to be about 26.
Attempts to ban “The Wild Colonial Boy” in Australia failed. Generations of Australians have sung and will sing this tale, now a part of folk lore. Here are the lyrics:

There was a wild colonial boy,
Jack Duggan was his name
He was born and raised in Ireland,
in a place called Castlemaine
He was his father’s only son,
his mother’s pride and joy
And dearly did his parents love
the wild colonial boy
At the early age of sixteen years,
he left his native home
And to Australia’s sunny shore,
he was inclined to roam
He robbed the rich, he helped the poor,
he shot James MacEvoy
A terror to Australia was
the wild colonial boy

One morning on the prairie,
as Jack he rode along
A-listening to the mocking bird,
a-singing a cheerful song
Up stepped a band of troopers:
Kelly, Davis and Fitzroy
They all set out to capture him,
the wild colonial boy
Surrender now, Jack Duggan,
for you see we’re three to one.
Surrender in the Queen’s high name,
you are a plundering son
Jack drew two pistols from his belt,
he proudly waved them high.
“I’ll fight, but not surrender,”
said the wild colonial boy

He fired a shot at Kelly,
which brought him to the ground
And turning round to Davis,
he received a fatal wound
A bullet pierced his proud young heart,
from the pistol of Fitzroy
And that was how they captured him,
the wild colonial boy

Click this link for the previous chapter of our day on the Dingle Peninsula

Copyright 2017 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Irish Countryside: the Old Aghameen School

A schoolhouse ruin on the Cooley Peninsula near the Tain trail

Click any photograph to visit my online gallery

On Monday, June 9, 2014 John Mills, the first cousin of my mother, Catherine Wills nee McArdle, showed us the ruin of the schoolhouse used in the 1930 / 1940’s and which he attended as would Catherine if her parents hadn’t emigrated to Canada in the 1920’s.  Free public schooling was mandated in Ireland from 1831 and by the 1850s most Irish parishes had a schoolhouse, such as this in Ballymascanlon civil parish, as part of the National Schools.  When this piece was first published, Malachy Mills (a cousin), left a comment and clue…the name is Aghameen School.  The following information spooled out from that.

There is an Irish language site, Duchas.ie, with listings for Aghameen, a Louth township, the very one of the school and, very rightly, it is the name of the school.  There is even information from a teacher, Bean Ui Riada, who taught there 1937 – 1938, and posted information about local place names and legends.  Here is the link to his postings.  I learned from him that Aghameen is An tÁth Mín in Irish and means “field of the mountain meadow.”  You can see from the photographs the site is on the side of a mountain, pine forests all around.

Throughout her life my Mother had correspondence with her cousins who learned how to write in this very school.

The school existed at least since 1842. In private communication arising from this blog posting I learned a friend’s great, great grandfather, Denis Joseph Doherty, came from Donegal in that year to teach in the school and married a fellow teacher, Margaret Kane who was the girl’s school teacher. They raised a family while living at the school until moving to Jenkinstown. Margaret was from Jenkinstown, not far away and also on the Cooley Peninsula. They are Malachy Mills’ great, great, great grandparents through his mother.

Aghameen School is located on the Cooley Peninsula, County Louth, shown in the following Google Earth Image

Schoolhouse Ruin Overview from Omeath– CLICK ME!!!!

This is the exact location:
Latitude 54° 2’17.83″N
Longitude 6°16’3.08″W

To get there go to the cross-roads in Omeath and drive uphill for a few miles to a T-junction. Turn left and go through the Windy Gap past the Long Woman’s Grave (shown on the following Google Earth image). Take the right fork at the next Y intersection. Continue for 1.4 mile (2.26 kilometers) to a Y intersection, take the right fork. Continue .18 mile (.28 kilometer) to find the ruin is on your right.

Aghameen Schoolhouse Location– CLICK ME!!!!

I marked the a portion of the Tain Way with a red line where it passes near the Old Schoolhouse.

Aghameen Schoolhouse Location closer– CLICK ME!!!!

This is the road as viewed from the ruin looking south…..

Schoolhouse Ruin stone fence– CLICK ME!!!!

….and the distant view of the uniquely shaped peak Slievenaglogh to the southeast. Slievenaglogh in Irish is Sliabh na gCloch and means mountain of rocks. There is an identically named peak in the Mourne Mountains, to the north across Carlingford Loch. Slievenaglogh of Cooley Peninsula is an interesting element of south view from this valley.

Schoolhouse Ruin stone fence– CLICK ME!!!!

The ruin itself. Schoolhouse Ruin stone fence– CLICK ME!!!!

…behind a stone fence and gate posts.

Schoolhouse Ruin stone fence– CLICK ME!!!!

Overgrown with ferns, moss, grass…..

Schoolhouse Ruin stone fence– CLICK ME!!!!

…the ever present lichen.

Schoolhouse Ruin stone fence– CLICK ME!!!!

John’s son, Sean Mills, was with us.  That day, Sean lead us on Tain Way over the Golyin Pass over Slieve Foy with Carlingford as the destination.  Indeed, the Tain Way passes a few feet from this spot, being a loop of the Cooley peninsula. The Way is a two day walk, our starting point was a few miles from the schoolhouse.

Click for the previous posting in this series, “Happy Saint Patrick’s Day 2017”.

Click for the next posting in this series, “Annie Moore and her brothers”.Click for the next posting in this series, “Annie Moore and her brothers”.

Schoolhouse Ruin stone fence– CLICK ME!!!!

Breezemont Manor

math-bhuilich Coleraine and July 2020

A steady, drenching rain graced the landscape and ourselves during the road trip from Coleraine to Belfast. These are the parting photographs of Breezemont Manor, our lodging for the Antrim Glens exploration (see “A Bit about Torr Head for an entry point).

Before leaving I did a cursory photographic tour, skipping the messy bedroom. We arrived very late, after the posted arrival time. A plain-spoken Ulster Scotsman kindly let us in with a few choice words. After dinner out photographing the very nice room in pristine state was neglected.

The foyer, carpeted in a plaid and photographed below, bore the Scottish identity of the proprietor.

Click photograph for a larger view. To do this from WordPress Reader, you need to first click the title of this post to open a new page.

Throughout there were tinted etchings, featuring local buildings.

An overview of the property. The glassed-in addition on the right hand (east) side is the breakfast room.

We enjoyed two breakfasts here.

There is a strong connection with the USA, where many Ulster Scots emigrated, including my own great and double great paternal grandmothers.

Click Me for my Shutterstock Gallery

Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

La Girona VIII

Whistle, Astrolab and more

Let’s finish our exploration of the “Treasures from the Girona” permanent exhibit, Ulster Museum, Belfast, Northern Ireland.

One hundred and eighty five (185) years after La Girona ran aground and broke up on the, later named, Spanish Rocks, the first reliable navigational chronometer was tested (1773). The navigators of the Spanish Armada remnants were sore pressed to follow the orders of their commander (see below) because (1) Spanish charts were incomplete and inaccurate (2) without accurate time keeping they were only able to reliably measure the location north/south (latitude), not east/west (longitude). Without this, navigators used Dead Reckoning, they measured current position from the last position, heading (direction of motion), and speed.

Click photograph for a larger view. To do this from WordPress Reader, you need to first click the title of this post to open a new page.

The astrolab (below), used to measure the angle between a heavenly body (sun/moon/star) and the horizon at a given time of day, obtained the latitude. The dividers used on the (unreliable) charts. A weight on a measured cord determined the depth of the bottom. Not recovered was the instrument for estimating speed. It is a length of rope knotted at set intervals and attached to a “chip log” resistant to passage through water. Thrown into the water a sailor counted how many knots passed by in a given time, thus the designation, still used today, of speed in “knots”.

Sound (a whistle) was the method used for command and control by both Spanish and British.

Interesting odds and ends.

Evidence of trade between England and Spain.

Thank You for visiting (Click for the first post of this series)

Click Me for my Shutterstock Gallery

Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

La Girona VII

Guns, Guns, Guns

A Spanish warship was less maneuverable than the English. Equipped with more canons, heavily ballasted to overcome the tendency to capsize because higher in the water, the Spanish crews were not able to bring their guns to best use against the English.

Click photograph for a larger view. To do this from WordPress Reader, you need to first click the title of this post to open a new page.

Stone cannon balls from the stone age, the “Flintstones”? Modern guns rely on the same technology from China, 1250 A.D.

To be continued….. (Click for the first post of this series)

Click Me for my Shutterstock Gallery

Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

La Girona VI

Red Insects

Precious metals were not the only loot shipped to Spain from the American colonies. Among the finds from La Girona, scarlet and yellow silk ribbons decorated the officers’ clothing. The red dye was obtained from the cochineal insect which lived on the nopal cactus in Mexico. Cochineal was imported in very large quantities by the Spanish and was in demand all over the world for its rich, carmine color.

Click photograph for a larger view. To do this from WordPress Reader, you need to first click the title of this post to open a new page.

This silk, still darkly colored today, is testament to the stability of cochineal dye, the reason it is still coveted today yielding four times the price of synthetic dye. Today, you are most likely to encounter cochineal on your lips: lipstick and (natural) food colorant.

The bright scarlet wool cloth of the English Redcoat officers, famous in the USA from the Revolutionary War, was from cochineal. The uniforms were more suited for formal battlefield than Minuteman attacks. The more expensive cochineal scarlet made targets of the officers.

To be continued….. (Click for the first post of this series)

Click Me for my Shutterstock Gallery

Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

La Girona V

Gold and Silver

Today’s focus from Belfast’s Ulster Museum permanent exhibit “Treasures from the Girona” is the lengths the Spanish went to acquire costly metals. Gold was the lure Columbus held out to Spanish royalty. The Spanish found their El Dorado in the accumulated wealth of the Incas, acquired through force and murder.

Inca temples were covered in gold. The Spanish needed only to peel it off and carry it away. They found some gold to mine, minimal compared to the silver. Armada ships did not haul gold and silver from the American and the modern treasure hunter’s yield was not expected to be huge, nor was it. As silver and, to a lesser extent, gold filled Spanish coffers the ambitions of the Spanish monarchs were unleashed. It financed the building and launching of the Armada.

Click photograph for a larger view. To do this from WordPress Reader, you need to first click the title of this post to open a new page.

Among the hundreds of silver coins were many eight-real pieces, often called “pieces of eight”. The “silver hill” of Potosi, discovered in 1544 in Bolivia, provided most of the silver bullion for the Spanish Empire. Ten percent of mine workers were Inca slaves. After these were worked to death, the Spanish acquired African slaves.

I wonder if the ship Captains discarded their kilogram of gold chain to the enveloping waves, in exchange for survival. My guess is, “no”. It was an emblem of rank, losing it was a personal disgrace.

(from the Museum Placard) The jewel in the following photograph epitomizes the wealth and outreach of the Spanish Empire in the late sixteenth century and has become an icon for the Armada. Just three of the original nine rubies survive. The jewel takes the form of an exotic animal, either a real Mexican salamander or a mythical creature, and reflects the great importance of the gold and silver brought from the colonies. The gold came from South America, with the rubies probably came from Burma. In legend, the salamander had the twin magical properties of being able to both extinguish and survive fire. This made it a powerful good luck charm on a wooden fighting ship, where fire was one of the greatest dangers.

Odds and ends….

To be continued….. (Click for the first post of this series)

Click Me for my Shutterstock Gallery

Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

La Girona IV

The fate of La Girona

Today’s exploration of the Ulster Museum permanent exhibit “Treasures from the Girona” begins with the account of a survivor.

Click photograph for a larger view. To do this from WordPress Reader, you need to first click the title of this post to open a new page.

He was extremely fortunate to escape with his life. After Calais, the attack of the English fireships, the Spanish ships suffered repeated North Atlantic storms, driven onto the irregular coast of which they had no knowledge or charts. It was with the assistance of Irish natives the survivors were able to regroup and embark on an ill-fated escape.

The reason for the heavy losses from the Girona wreck was the crew from several other ruined ships were on board.

The individuality of the lost comes across through their gold trimmings. It is said that wealthy Spaniards owned up to four sets of gold buttons, each with a different design.

To be continued….. (Click for the first post of this series)

Click Me for my Shutterstock Gallery

Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

La Girona III

A Disaster Examined

In this post we explore further, using my photographs of the Ulster Museum exhibit “Treasures from the Girona”, how the Spanish galleass La Girona came to be wrecked on the north coast of Ireland. It was not the only ship lost. Of the 130 armada ships, a third (43) did not return.

Click photograph for a larger view. To do this from WordPress Reader, you need to first click the title of this post to open a new page.

Religion was the crux, Catholic Spain wanted to forestall Queen Elizabeth I’s establishment of Protestantism initiated by her father King Henry VII.

This placard displays treasure. The text implies it was not recovered from La Girona. The bronze medallion was struck by the Dutch in commemoration of the victory.

To be continued….. (Click for the first post of this series)

Click Me for my Shutterstock Gallery

Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills