Ruin of a 5th Century monastic site at Nendrum, Mahee Island, County Down
View from Corrymeela, Ballycastle, County Antrim, looking towards Rathlin Island
The Martello Tower, Magilligan Point, County Londonderry.
The Martello Tower at Magilligan Point, is an important historical site in County Londonderry. Built in 1812, the tower was strategically positioned at the entrance to Lough Foyle, so that a 24 pounder cannon, mounted on the top, could be fired against any invading fleet. The round structure had massively thick walls and a flat top so that a gun could be pointed in any direction.
The tower was built to withstand a seige, being built on top of a spring, so that any troops trapped inside would at least have a supply of fresh water. There were living quarters below the gun platform and the ground floor was used to store powder and ammunition.
The tower is located in a picturesque setting looking out over the Atlantic Ocean, close to the lovely beach of Benone Strand. From here, there is a splendid view of Greencastle and the Donegal Hills on the other side of Lough Foyle.
Martello Towers are named after a fort at Mortello Point in Corsica, which successfully withstood bombardment from the British Royal Navy in 1794 during the Napoleanic wars. The British were so impressed with the strength of the tower that they copied the design and built their own, placing them in strategic locations around the coast of England and Ireland. This one at Magilligan is one of the most northerly in Ireland. There is a similar tower in Greencastle, on the other side of Lough Foyle.
The tower was a defence against any invading fleet entering Lough Foyle
Just across the sand dunes, Benone Strand, a popular beach in Northern Ireland
There were no further attempts to invade Ireland after 1798 and the garrison stationed here didn't ever need to fire a shot.
Today’s post shows the ancestral home of Andrew Jackson, 7th President of the United States. The original building was a traditional thatched cottage from the 1750s, which has been refurbished. It was the home of Andrew Jackson’s parents before they emigrated to South Carolina around 1765.
The site, at Boneybefore, close to Carrickfergus town in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, also houses the US Rangers Museum, paying homage to the soldiers of the First Battalions of the elite US Rangers.
The cottage is a tourist attraction and open to the public five days a week; although currently temporarily closed to the public due to COVID restrictions.
Andrew Jackson lived from 1767 – 1845 and was an American lawyer, soldier, and statesman, before taking office as the seventh President of the United States from 1829 to 1837.
Blackhead Lighthouse, County Antrim
The strange ruin encountered on a trail through Castlewellan Forest turned out to be a 20ft diameter tea house, built by Hugh Annesley (5th Earl Annesley) for his family on his Castlewellan estate in County Down in 1884.
It had spectacular views over the Mourne Mountains and a nearby lake which is also part of the Annesley estate. It forms part of a popular trail through the forest and gardens, enjoyed today by the public
The Annesley family built up a substantial estate in the south of County Down over a number of generations including a castle and forest at Castlewellan. They held a lease on the estate since the 17th century, and bought the freehold in 1741.
Hugh Annesley, (1831-1908) was an Eton College educated professional soldier who became Colonel of the Scots Fusilier Guards in 1860. He became 5th Earl Annesley after the death of his brother, William Richard in 1874, inheriting the family seat of Castlewellan Castle. Here, as a keen gardener, he continued the development of the arboretum and gardens, and even published a book about the rare trees in his collection.
After his military career he became MP for County Cavan. The photos in today’s post show what remains of the 20 foot diameter tea house which he built in 1884. Constructed on high ground, it provided a panoramic view of Castlewellan Lake. On fine summer days the family would make the journey to the tea house, one of two in the demesne, by pony and chaise. A groom and footman would be in attendance. The task of the footman, was to brew and serve the tea.
Hugh Annesley was also a pioneering amateur photographer. Thirty-five albums of his photographs are in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland. They include pictures taken during the wars in South Africa and the Crimea, (where he was severely injured) and during a visit to Japan, as well as photographs of his home at Castlewellan and the surrounding area. He became the third largest landowner in County Down, with about 25,000 acres, extending from the mountains of Slieve Croob to Slieve Donard.
An arboretum is defined as: ‘a place where trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants are cultivated for scientific and educational purposes.’ Northern Ireland’s National Arboretum is located here at Castlewellan Forest in County Down. Some of the trees here hold records across the United Kingdom and Ireland for their height. The overall collection of trees here, ranks as the finest in Ireland and among the top three in the British Isles. They are set in beautiful surroundings which include fountains, ponds, ornamental greenhouses and broad sweeping scenic views.
Castlewellan Forest, County Down. A favourite for walkers and a place of refuge for people seeking a peaceful setting away from the stresses and anxieties of COVID and other life circumstances.
Portrush Presbyterian Church paid their own tribute to St Patrick with this poster outside the church
The River Quoile from Inch Abbey, Downpatrick, and the Mound of Down Cathedral where St Patrick's remains are buried.
Some of the detail from the ruin of the 12th Century, Inch Abbey, in this peaceful island setting in County Down
A distant Down Cathedral, St Patrick's resting place, as seen from the grounds of Inch Abbey, Downpatrick, County Down
Text on the signage reads:
Inch Abbey was founded as a Cistercian Abbey by John De Courcy in the 1180s in atonement for his destruction of nearby Erenagh Abby
The Abbey was colonised by monks from Furness in Lancashire and, together with Grey Abbey, is the earliest example of Gothic architecture in Ireland and finest example of Anglo-Norman Cistercian architecture in Ulster. It may have been here that Jocelyn, a monk from Furness, wrote his life of Saint Patrick under the patronage of De Courcy as he attempted to win over the local population.
The island site still retains a feeling of peace and seclusion for the visitor, and as well as the picturesque ruins of the church and surrounding buildings, it is also possible to see more unusual survivals, including a bakehouse and possible infirmary.
Inch Abbey, Downpatrick, County Down - former Cistercian Abbey
High cross at the remains of an early Christian monastic settlement in County Louth.
Patrick was both a missionary and a mentor. His enthusiasm to spread the message of Jesus Christ was passed on to younger men. This site which is a favourite with tourists, is a monastic settlement located at Monasterboice in County Louth. It was founded in the late 5th century by Saint Buite who was one of St. Patrick’s original followers. The cross, known as the Tall Cross, stands at seven metres or twenty-two feet high, making it the tallest of the Irish crosses. The engravings depict stories from the Old and New Testament that would have been used to educate early Christians.
Figure of St Patrick from Hill of Tara, County Meath
St Patrick's grave, Downpatrick, County Down
St Patrick's tombstone and local Council plaque at Down Cathedral
St Patrick's Day 2019 - the last year the public could visit his grave before COVID restrictions
Down Church of Ireland Cathedral, Downpatrick, County Down
Slemish, County Antrim, where it is said Saint Patrick spent six years tending sheep as a slave from age sixteen
The St Patrick Visitor Centre, Downpatrick, County Down.
Want to find out more about St Patrick? Here’s a good place to start. The St Patrick Centre in Downpatrick can give you pointers to the many ancient sites, crosses, etc., with which he is associated. You’ll also be close to Down Cathedral where you can see his tombstone, Saul, where he built the first Christian church in Ireland, and the ancient monastic site and ruin at Inch Abbey is just a short drive away.
Figure of St Patrick at Hill of Tara, County Meath, where he defied the orders of the High King.
St Patrick's Church at Hill of Tara which has now been de-commissioned and opened as a visitor centre.
According to tradition, the Hill of Tara in County Meath, was the Coronation place and ceremonial centre of the pre-Christian, High Kings of Ireland, with whom Patrick was often in conflict.
Patrick is said to have lit a pascal fire on the nearby hill of Slane on the morning of Easter 433, in defiance of the order of the High King Laoire who had forbidden the act. Laoire’s druids are said to have warned Patrick that the fire must be extinguished or it would burn forever. Patrick defied the orders and then came to the Hill of Tara to argue with the King and his druids, challenging them perform supernatural acts. Patrick plucked a shamrock from the grassy hillside of Tara, and used its three leaves to explain the Holy Trinity: the union of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in one. Rather than punish Patrick and banish him, the King became convinced and converted, allowing Patrick to continue his missionary work and spread Christianity throughout Ireland.