Friday, 9 August 2013

Butterflies and Bygone Days

These photos are taken on the walk I made the other day from Ballymacormick Point to Groomsport but before I met the little boy Jay (see post 'Expect the Unexpected' from  7 August).  While still on Ballyholme beach I saw several of these giant Jellyfish.

A Bee on Ragwort.  Any ideas which one?

Small Tortoiseshell

These are 2 Green veined Butterflies that spent quite a bit of time 'together' and even flew off in unison.

Red Admiral

7 Spot Ladybird.

Seed Head

Blue Hydrangea

I finally arrived at Groomsport and having said goodbye to Jay at the swings, I headed off to Cockle Row.
Cockle Row Cottages

They are the last remnants of the typical country Down fisherman’s’ cottages which constituted most of the Groomsport for centuries and they could be as much as 350 years old.

A clue to great age in cottages is evident in the two cottages as they are built at right angles to the sea.  Unlike many today, people in the past did not want a sea view, they wanted shelter from the north wind!

The cottages are reputedly the site of a forge in 1689 when Marshal Schomberg landed on his way to the campaigns in Ireland against King James 11.  He was a leading general in the army of William of Orange and is believed to have landed in Groomsport when the army crossed the Irish Sea.  It is like that the majority of the soldiers landed a few miles to the West of Ballyhome’s sandy beach.  Schomberg was later killed at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.

The cottages were last inhabited in the 1950’s, the final resident being Miss Matilda ‘Tille’ Barnes.  The cottages were being threatened by demolition but the Bangor Art Club stepped in and leashed it for their studios from the 1960’s until 1997. Then the Council got grant from the RU and they were entirely renovated with power being installed for the first time ever!  Now one of the cottages is used as a small museum and the other one is a tourist information centre.  Now let's step in to the past!

Although it was a lovely day outside, it was lovely to see this open peat fire where in days gone by the whole family would crowd round and a lot of the cooking would take place.

Irish Peat which gave off a wonderful smell.

Does anyone remember these old irons
that had to be heated on the fire first?

We used to have a wash board when I was a child and although we had a washing machine, Mum would use it when a garment was very stained and gave it a good scrubbing first.  Other that that we used to love getting a spoon and make wonderful noises with the ridges on the wash board while all singing along at the top of our voices!!  Have you any memories?

These are wonderful hand made cots that rocked.

This tin bath would have been put in front of the warm fire and the water boiled on the fire and then poured in.  Normally, Saturday was bath day.   Father's bathed first and then in order of age (no changing water then!), the rest of the family, no mater how many children would get in, in turn!

This is a large butter churn.  My Grannie and Granda had a milk business and so we always had lots of milk.  She had a  table top churn and I used to love making the butter.   Butter, nowadays never tastes like my Grannie's butter, quite salty but delicious when spread on home made bread with jam.

 Every home had a dresser.  Do you see the stone hot water bottles on the bottom shelf.  We had a couple of these at home.

Cockle Island, which is just behind the yachts in the photo above was where all the Terns were breeding that I mentioned on the post on 7 August but although there were still adults and young on the island that day, most of them had now departed.  I was able to see them as they had installed a web cam in one of the cottages.  They had ringed 70 Sandwich Tern in June and also 60 Common and 12 Arctic Terns.

I hope you enjoyed this post and I hope it might have brought some memories to mind.  Please share them with us in your comments.

MANY THANKS TO ALL who left comments on any of my posts yesterday.


  1. He is HUGE...aren't all of those butterflies amazing, what a pretty couple. I bathed in those baths at my Grandmother's, I turned handles on a butter churner (not for long I remember it was hard) at my aunt and uncles ranch and when all was done I had the privilege of putting their mark on the huge rectangles of white butter. I worked with a woman, Anne G. who told me she used to have to carry a hunk of peat to school and if they forgot they were sent home to get it, good or rotten weather, she was from the South end of Ireland.

  2. Love the jelly fish- I had heard that the warmer weather was bringing lots of them in around the coasts.
    The cottages were absolutely lovely. We've still got one of the old irons, although it isn't used! I'm not at all surprised your granny's butter tasted better- homemade stuff always does in my view.

  3. Love your photos of this historic old cottage, and also all of the things that were used "in the day". That bathtub is quite interesting, and I remember my mom talking about the bath tub that they had when she was a girl being brought in the the kitchen for bath night. Bet that water was pretty bad by the time they got to the last person. Also love the fireplace shot. so glad that they kept this cottage and didn't tear it down. What a great place of history. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Wonderful nature photos Margaret, and I also love the old cottage. I would love to live in something like that, in my next lifetime maybe ;) I remember my grandparents house well. One had the old electric trams running down the road. The bedroom I slept in was on the front and I used to love listening to them, especially at night when I could see the sparks fly.

  5. Loved your tour of the old cottages. That's a favorite thing for us to do when we travel. Many times the stops are unplanned and just serendipitous finds along the route. Just like your blog was for me today. Thank you for the glimpse of the past.

  6. really sweet bee and ladybug shots! we had one of those old irons - from when my mom was a girl.

  7. Thanks for the cottage tour! So interesting! So many things bring back memories of when I was a youngster.

    I was stung by a jellyfish once. It hurt like the dickens! In fact, the pain didn't subside for a long time. I'll never forget that!

  8. Beautiful photos Margaret and I really enjoyed the guided tour of the cottages. I remember when I was really small when Monday was washing day and my mother did the washing in a "boiler" and then used a mangle to wring it out!!! She was very glad when she eventually got a spin dryer!!! :) Later followed by a washing machine!

  9. The bee and the two butterflies together and the seed head are the photos which most caught my eye. That seed head almost looks like a fireworks display. Very interesting information about life in an earlier time, too.

  10. I LOVE your butterfly pictures, and the tour of the cabins! I am so glad they were finally saved! The seed head and ladybug close ups are outstanding!

  11. Wonderful tour photos- thanks for sharing!

  12. Some of these items trigger memories for me. Apparently my moth rewashed my clothes on an old washboard like that. I now own that washboard.I do remember my aunties using an old iron like that.Great memories.Oh and I recall Saturday night bath time.We started with my sister and I and later Mom and Dad would use the same water.

  13. The Ladybird is the standard '7 Spot' Margaret.

  14. Loved the butterflies they brought back memories of when there were so many during my childhood. My older brother knew the names of them all back in the day. Now, we're lucky if we see one or two a summer. LOVED the cottages, I so enjoy history and wish we all were better at preserving it, so many stories can be told that way, and it helps us understand what lives were like for those that came before us. I think of that often when I hear people talk of being stressed, or talk of being bored....whew don't get me started on that. I popped over from Lynn's, enjoyed your comment there and would love to have you join us for memories I have a trouble blog I think you might enjoy

    This is the link for Memory Monday Mara-chi Surprise, Memory Monday

    From their or generic google dashboard, Traveling Suitcase

    Hope to see you soon.

  15. Lovely nature shots. I used to collect old irons but this year I decided to sell them as I am in the idst of de-cluttering.