Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Tragumna / Lough Hyne, Skibbereen, West Cork

As it was a lovely evening last Sunday plus after watching Ireland's disastrous defeat to Scotland in the Six Nations Championship at Murrayfield it was time to hit our local, The Skibbereen Eagle, in Tragumna.  Our first time there and only a twenty minute walk, well, for me, anyway.  Nice pub and with its warm, welcoming wood-burning fire I thought it would be packed, but no, just a couple of families with their young children and another older couple at the other end of the bar.

By the time we emerged an hour later the sun was setting over Tragumna, which of course created magnificant lighting.  The views over Drishane Island and the Tragumna pier are particularly beautiful at that time of evening.

Monday afternoon saw us head to Lough Hyne, Ireland's first Nature Reserve with splended woodland walks towering ever so high.  With encouragement from hubby I did manage to climb up onto the first layer, if you like, and was generously rewarded by the breathtaking views down onto the lake and roadside. I loved every minute.

Later that evening we learned that there would be a full moon so at around 10.30pm I got hubby to accompany me to our little cove where we just stood and listened to the waves and watched in awe, the amazing moonshine turn the water to silver.  It's a memory that will remain with me forever.

Top to Bottom Images:-

Drishane Island, Tragumna, Skibbereen, West Cork.
Tragumna Pier.
Scenic walkway along Lough Hyne.
Lough Hyne.
Woodlands around Lough Hyne.

All images taken by me, February 2013.


Sunday, February 24, 2013

Greetings! From Skibbereen, West Cork

I can't believe hubby and I have been three weeks here already!   The house we're staying in is everything I've always wanted - on a hill, overlooking a cove.  The fact that there's a boathouse in the huge garden really conjures up, for me, images of Enid Blyton's "Famous Five" not to mention the cove at the end of the long garden which for some reason constantly reminds me of Daphne du Maurier's "Rebecca".  We even have the iron gate leading to the drive. 

The area is Drishanemore, Skibbereen in West Cork and as yet there are many places of great interest we haven't visited but plan to do so in the coming months.  Overall, the weather has been fairly good, through there have been a few days of continuous rain and it definitely has been very cold in recent days but in general, we've managed to get out for our walks almost every day.  As I always say, a grey sky has its own beauty.

With the house being a family home I'd rather not show internal images for privacy reasons, much as I'd love to, but the beautiful external views can certainly be enjoyed.

Top to Bottom Images:-

Boreen not far from house.
Cove 100 yards from house.
View from garden.
View from my writing desk.

All images taken by me, February 2013.


Monday, February 18, 2013

New Poetry Blog!

Over the past couple of weeks I've had lots of time to sort out some of the things I've been putting on hold over the last few months and one of them is starting up my new poetry blog.  I'm so excited!  Rather than mix my rambling words in with all my usual stuff I've decided to separate them and give them their own space, I hope they will thank me some day by attracting the eye of some high street publisher, well, any publisher really!

So, before I get too carried away I will give you the name of the blog which is, Ann Brien ~ Thoughts From A Dog-Eared Notebook, subtitle, Words in Progress......

I hope you will stop by from time to time.  I'll leave the poems already on here for your convenience.

Thanks in anticipation!

Above image via Wiki.


Friday, February 15, 2013

The Big House

When I was a youngster sometimes I'd hear my father or someone else mention that such a person was in the "Big House" which years later I understood to mean he or she was a patient in a psychiatric hospital.  Back then people found and still are finding it difficult to discuss depression and mental illness in any form.  The hospitals were known as Lunatic Asylums for the Insane and other dreadful, frightening names, so no wonder we were scared at the very mention of them let alone the sight of them.

These institutions were huge granite or red brick buildings looming up within large high-walled areas usually containing a laundry, bakery, chapel and other smaller outbuildings. Three of our most famous Irish psychiatric hospitals, St. Brendan's Hospital (also known as Grangegorman and originally the Richmond Lunatic Asylum), St. Ita's Hospital (formerly Portrane Asylum) and St. Patrick's Hospital (originally St. Patrick's Hospital for Imbeciles) date back to between the mid-1700s and late-1800s, and, as some came into existence through either large donations from wealthy donors or Government grants, I'm sure only the finest building materials of the day were used in their construction. They've certainly withstood everything our Irish climate has thrown at them over the years, though some now are in the final stages of total disrepair.

In recent years it has been decided that these hospitals, both here in Ireland and further afield, no longer provide the proper environment or adequate accommodation required to meet the needs of the mentally ill.  Some patients are already in the process of being moved to other facilities, others, too elderly and frail both in mind and body to be disturbed, remain within the confines of what to them is home.

As a part of my research for an upcoming film in which I'll be playing a psychiatric patient I've been reading up on the care and sometimes barbaric treatments administered to patients in some of these grim institutions. At this point I hastily add not Irish ones although perhaps some of these too are not wholly exempt from blame.  I'm shocked to the core to discover the inhumane conditions these pure people had to endure in the name of healing. 

The following poem, part of which I wrote a couple of years back, is written from the viewpoint of a passer-by who has just walked through a psychiatric hospital ruins and is standing before the building questioning what really happened within its walls down through the ages. The hospital is purely fictitious.

The Big House

I stand before you asking
If your walls could speak
What horrors would they reveal.
You stare through sightless eyes
Your windowpanes once warmed by summer sun
Now shattered as the broken spirits of your long dead, forgotten inmates.

Your open doorways beckon from the storm
Creatures, winged and animal alike
As once they welcomed human souls in search of refuge from their demons.

Pills and potions were the menu of the day
And when chemicals alone could not mend the most broken minds
Temporal lobes were seared to exact the desired calm.

Your white-washed walls more befitting bovine habitation than human comfort
Now crumble piece by greying piece into the dust and fossilised bird shit.
On your few remaining iron beds manacles still dangle
Like the hanging Jesus on his Calvary cross
A grim reminder of freedom so cruelly denied.

Chimney stacks stand tall against the darkening sky
Two hundred years of desperate cries and splintered thoughts
Long carried on the wind.

Before they finally crush your wasted bones
Just let me say to those unfortunates who died within your walls
I'd like to think you left this world sensing someone cared.

No need now for barred windows for no one's left to flee your prison
Those still living seeking peace in new-found sanctuaries
Those no more at rest in dreamless sleep.

© Ann Brien 2013

Above image:  St. Brendan's Hospital, Grangegorman via Wiki.
Image used only to portray the poem's fictional hospital's state of disrepair.