Category Archives: Uncategorized

For the love of GOLD

Thought you might enjoy reading this fascinating story of Irish gold and of course the little green men with the red beards xx Rowena

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When I first visited the National Museum of Archaeology in Dublin, I was stunned by the sheer amount, and quality, of ancient gold artifacts on display… there is a whole floor  of the stuff.

My youngest son, who was about 8 years old at the time, scrounged my phone and busied himself taking photos of it all… he couldn’t believe what he was seeing, either!

Now put Ireland and gold together in the same sentence, and most people immediately think of pots of gold at the end of a rainbow guarded by a little red-bearded man dressed in green. *shudders* Ugh! How I loathe that little creature.

But here you go. The word ‘leprechaun’ is derived from the Old Irish luchorpán. The leprechaun first makes its apearance in an ancient medieval tale known as the Echtra Fergus mac Léti (Adventure of Fergus son of Léti). Fergus, King of Ulster…

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Meet and Greet: 2/4/17

Hi All,
Thought you might like to join me at this blogging party over at Dream Big. I’m about to start visiting some of the other blogs while I escape from the heat outside. It’s another scorcher!!
xx Rowena

Dream Big, Dream Often

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It’s the Meet and Greet weekend everyone!!  Strap on your party shoes and join the fun!  

Ok so here are the rules:

  1. Leave a link to your page or post in the comments of this post.
  2. Reblog this post.  It helps you, it helps me, it helps everyone!
  3. Edit your reblog post and add tags.
  4. Feel free to leave your link multiple times!  It is okay to update your link for more exposure every day if you want.  It is up to you!

  5. Share this post on social media.  Many of my non-blogger friends love that I put the Meet n Greet on Facebook and Twitter because they find new blogs to follow.

See ya on Monday!!

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The Chaplain’s Voice, Port Arthur, Tasmania 1870-1877.

If you have been following my steps around the convict ruins at Tasmania’s Port Arthur, you’ll appreciate my efforts to gain some insight into what it meant to be a convict there, especially as Geoff’s 3rd Great Grandfather was a prisoner there.

While researching the Chapel in my previous post, I stumbled across this newspaper story covering a talk given by Rev. Rowland Hayward recounting his experience as Chaplain of the Port Arthur Settlement during 1870-77.

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Preacher at Port Arthur.

“At the Church of England Institute on Wednesday night the Rev. Rowland Hayward recounted his experience as Chaplain of the Port Arthur Settlement during 1870-77.

The Rev. F. S. Poole was in the chair, and the attendance was large. The lecturer prefaced his remarks by a review of the earlier history of the location of the prisoners at Macquarie, which, owing to its inhospitable character and difficulties of communication, was abandoned in favour of Port Arthur in 1835. In a little time this place became the most systematized of all British convict settlements.

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Convict Leg Irons on Display at the Chaplain’s Cottage.

Mr. Hayward was on the spot when the appointment was offered to him, having gone there for the sake of his health. With the duties of Chaplain, however, he combined Magisterial functions, but the dual capacity was embarrassing, as in his character of Chaplain he had often to soothe the wounds which he was bound to inflict as Magistrate. The manner in which he exercised the obligations of the latter, however, won over the convicts, who frequently refused to be tried by any other official than the Chaplain, as they had grown to fear the severity of the local officers, whom years of familiarity with the men and the conditions of their life had necessarily robbed of leniency or sympathy.

The natural beauties of the harbour and the station were painted by the lecturer, whose description, the audience were assured, was truthful, and opposed to the gloomy picture of both drawn by Marcus Clarke. The penitentiary was described, and although designed to accommodate as many as 600 prisoners during Mr. Hayward’s incumbency, the number of its inmates never exceeded 300.

A particular account of the institution was given, as also of the separate prison for refractory prisoners, who underwent in former days the refined cruelty of solitary imprisonment for an unlimited period. Here every prisoner immediately on his transportation suffered solitary confinement a month for each year of his term. Barbarous Mr. Hayward regarded this mode of punishment, although it was in substitution of the more brutal flogging, which was often administered in plenty for the most trivial offences.

At the same time, Mr. Hayward believed that in some cases a ” schoolboy flogging” would have rescued some unfortunate lads in the penitentiary from more serious mental and physical injury which were traceable to solitary confinement.

Referring to “The Term of His Natural Life,” the lecturer did not regard the work as exaggerated, but the horrors portrayed by it were rather an accumulation of all the atrocities that might have happened in connection with criminal life in Australia than a faithful account of the ordinary life at Port Arthur.

The lecture was freely interlarded with anecdotes, chiefly concerning two truculent ruffians named Mark Jeffries and Pat O’Hearn, who were a source of great trouble to the prison authorities.

The prison discipline was described, with its comprehensive system of supervision, including the plan of keeping dogs at Eaglehawk Neck to prevent the escape of the prisoners.

Altogether Mr. Hayward considered that provisions made for the bodily wants of the convicts were very generous, they being at least better cared for than the honest poor of the island. The lecturer spoke of his connection with Port Arthur as one of the happiest periods of his life. When asked his opinion by the Government as to the advisability of abolishing Port Arthur he was strongly opposed to the proposal, believing that the settlement offered to convicts the best opportunities of reformation. During the lecture, which lasted for two hours, there was an intermission devoted to music.

Evening Journal (Adelaide, SA : 1869 – 1912) Tuesday 6 July 1886 p 3 Article

xx Rowena

Campbell Town, Tasmania.

At this point, I’m simply dipping my toe into Campbell Town and will be returning down the track for a more extensive visit.

While Campbell Town provides a convenient and fascinating break while driving between the North and the South, our interest in Campbell Town was personal and branches of our family history are intimately intertwined with the early days of English settlement in Campbell Town.

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The Book Cellar, Campbell Town

Being ardent book lovers, our first port of call in Campbell Town was The Book Cellar. This is a fabulous bookshop located in the convict cellars of one of Tasmania’s most interesting heritage properties Foxhunters Return, an 1830’s coaching inn also offering heritage accommodation. I was really pleased to find a copy of Early Deloraine, based on the writings of Geoff’s Great Great Uncle, Daniel Griffin. Far from being a stale rambling about local history, this is full of riveting yarns trailing through the areas early history and includes detailed family snippets.

So, while there’s great food and shopping, we were mainly in search of historic Churches, graveyards and finding what was the family farm.

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In particular, we were following in the footsteps of James Newton, a former convict from Norfolk Island and Port Arthur and his wife Bridget Vaughan, who sailed out to Hobart on The Beulah, as a free settler under the orphan immigration scheme (I’ll go more into that later).

It would appear that although James and Bridget were husband and wife in this life, their religious differences saw them divided in the next with James buried at St Mathew’s Catholic Cemetery while James was buried at St Luke’s Anglican Church, Campbell Town. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find either of their graves.

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However, we did find their former home.

We ended up spending several hours at Campbell Town and really soaked up it’s colonial appeal. In particular, we loved historic Red Bridge, which crosses the Elizabeth River.

Unfortunately, time is marching on and I’ll never to leave Campbell Town there. Blogging and travelling are proving mutually exclusive.

xx Rowena

 

 

 

Happy New Year – Sydney

We would like to wish you and yours a Happy, Healthy and Wonder-Filled New Year.

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The kids watching the fireworks on TV. 

We had an action-filled NYE at home watching the fireworks on TV and playing psychiatrist to Lady who was a quivering mess AFTER the fireworks had ended.

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Geoff comforting Lady.  Taken without flash. Didn’t want to freak her out any further!

Every year, the movie: Can’t Stop The Music plays after midnight and after watching it last year, I was back again tonight and I’m listening to YMCA.  That song  followed me through so many life changes. I remember dancing to YMCA at school and uni formals, numerous parties. After having kids, Geoff and I danced with the kids  to YMCA at the daycare family discos.  Now, here I am listening to YMCA  on NYE at home whole playing psychiatrist to a stressed out dog. The fire works terrify her and she trembles, dribbles and totally freaks out and that’s when she’s on our laps.   So, tonight I was doing the YMCA in my writing chair. No complaints though just great memories. That said, my 20 year old self is sneering at my current self asking: “Have we met?”

I am still working on my New Year’s resolutions but I’ve at least practiced my violin two nights in a row so that’s a good start.

How have you spent NYE? I’d love to see your posts so please leave links in the comments.

xx Rowena

Neon reflections (Friday Fictioneers)

As a bird-lover and as a fellow-Australian, I had to share this. There’s a link to Jessie’s short story which sent shivers through me. A must read!

Jessie Ansons

PHOTO PROMPT © Shaktiki Sharma Image by Shaktiki Sharma at https://shaktikisharma.wordpress.com

 

It rained on our last night in New Orleans.

But it wasn’t the rain that stopped us going out.

Strong, stable, always-in-control Jay had finally let his emotional guard down. Hunched on the bed, his shoulders jerked with each silent sob. He cried for his dad, for the emptiness and regret that comes when someone close to you dies.

I looked through the window at the glistening street below. The neon pinks and blues reflected in a puddle and shattered when a large water drop fell from the awning above.

It was ever more beautiful than I could have imagined.

*********

I’ve been selected as a finalist for the Newcastle Herald Short Story competition this year and my story was published today in print and online. It’s a 1000 word piece called Bloodstained about a bird and a woman who find they have…

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That Christmas Black Rain Cloud.

“There is a little black rain cloud,
Hovering over my Christmas tree.
There is a little black rain cloud
paying too much attention to little me.”

Words adapted by Rowena Curtin  and sung to Winnie The Pooh – Little Black Rain Cloud.

Is it just me? Or, are you also feeling that despite all the joy, Christmas cheer, tinsel and flashing lights, there’s something not quite right with your “Ho! Ho! Ho!” That you’re struggling to squeeze into the spirit of Christmas and it doesn’t quite fit.

Not that I’m all dark, gloomy or in anyway Scrooge or Grinch-like. It’s just that sometimes, I can get really annoyed with Christmas. I don’t know whether there’s a term like “Christmas Rage”, or the “Christmas Depths”, and that’s before I even get to absent friends. Of course, no one likes an empty seat or any form of change at Christmas, even if it is only the discontinuation of Molly O’Rourke’s famous Irish Whisky Cakes 1945-2014 RIP.

Anyway, today I thought I’d just  run through a few of the dark shadows, which can jump out and bite us  at Christmas:

A Few Shadows of Christmas.

Christmas OCD

This describes that desperate pursuit of the perfect Christmas. It’s characterised by that uber-achieving Christmas newsletter, mowed lawns, dogs washed, groomed and teeth brushed; tree with matching decorations, colour-coordinated Christmas clothes. You get the drift.

CDOCD- Christmas Decoration OCD.

This relates to the meticulous selection and placement of Christmas decorations, particularly in the Christmas tree. Generally characterised by having a colour theme and having one decorator in charge, while the rest of the household spectates or evacuates to watch TV.

Ghosts of Christmas Past

No one likes an empty seat at Christmas.

SAD- Seasonal Affective Disorder.

This is where your mood is affected by the seasons. In the Northern Hemisphere, it’s due to the shortened hours of day length. In Australia, it’s caused by excessive sun baking, insufficient sunscreen leaving your skin redder than a Santa suit.

Failure

Christmas is a really difficult time of year to be unemployed, sick, homeless, dumped or even just being your little old self. Having to face family and friends when you’re feeling like @#$% can be the last straw. Been there. Done that. Sort of stuck in this gear and have now acclimatized, but would still love to be a Big Shot or at least get a book published. At this point, even A Little Golden Book would do.

Silent Night

Unfortunately, this relates to so much more than the Christmas carol. There’s the silence of not being able to find your CD of Christmas carols. Then there’s the silence of spending Christmas alone. Worse still, there are those broken relationships where the walls have become so high, that even the Spirit of Christmas can’t get through.

Stickytape-Itis

On a much lighter note, after finishing off my wrapping today, I’m adding Stickytape-Itis to the list.

Does stickytape-itis need any introductions or explanations? Of course not. We’ve all battled to find the stickytape, cellotape or whatever you might call that stuff which sticks to your fingers and just about everything else except the wrapping tape. Meanwhile, the end of the sticky tape goes missing and you’re going round and round in circles like a dog chasing its tail.

It’s enough to drive you crazy and could very well be that tipping point, which pushes a normally sane and sensible person over the edge of madness.

……

So having brought up all these issues, I guess you’re wanting me to come up with some preventative measures or kind of treatment. However, I’m sorry. I’m just the messenger and I have no psychological credentials whatsoever.

However, what I can suggest is letting all the expectations go…just like a helium balloon floating way across the sky until it’s out of sight. This might take a bit of practice, but you’ll soon find out that you won’t die if someone adds a green decoration to your purple and silver themed tree. That it’s not the end of the world when the dog eats your handmade Christmas Cake leaving you nothing but crumbs. That is doesn’t matter if you neither give nor receive Christmas Cards, presents, pudding whatever. I am thankful that God sent us Jesus at Christmas time and I am also mindful that we can’t take the ones we love for granted. That while it might be hard to focus on each other every single day, that we can at least be more conscious of family and friends at Christmas and truly savour the people who mean the world to us.

Life is too short to let anything get in the way of that.

We but not only carpe diem seize the day but also make the most of each other.

Love & Blessings for Christmas and the New Year,

Rowena

PS When it comes to dealing with little black rain clouds, especially ones hanging over our special moments like Christmas, perhaps we should simply borrow cupid’s bow and arrow and shoot the darned thing down. One pop…and it’s gone!