The 400m obstacle

Back in the day when my routine was nice and simple and I didn’t spend most of my life in Dublin stuck in and adding to the traffic chaos, I used to go swimming three times a week, sometimes four. But generally, on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I used to leave work and drive to the pool at DCU – still my favourite pool to swim in – and swim. When I got there first I was recovering from a recurrent back problem which was caused by something stupid stupid playing badminton around 17 years ago. It hurt. A lot. My physio and I agreed that my back muscles would have to be toughened up and I started swimming *again*.

I don’t think I really had a target other than not to be completely rubbish at swimming. I was completely rubbish at swimming at that stage. Anyway, on account of the back problems, and linked with breathing issues, after about two days, I decided to backstroke instead of freestyle/frontcrawl/your term of choice, and that blossomed for me over the space of around 5 months. By the time I sort of lost the habit by disappearing off to Australia (where I swam daily) for 2 weeks, I was backstroking 1600m in around 55 minutes.

One of the things I remember rather clearly about that time was how, every time I went swimming, getting fro 0 to 400m was hard. It was really, really hard and it never got easy. Once I got to 400m, it seemed to become plain sailing and the other 1200m were generally a lot easier.

I don’t like to talk about the wall – I know the marathon runners talk about hitting the wall – and I’m reluctant to call it a mountain to climb; after all I am swimming. But it’s there, this…barrier, somewhere around 400m…which is hard, and then the rest is easier.

I have been back in the pool twice in the last 7 days (let’s just say this does great things for my average) and I’m now freestyling. There are a couple of reasons for this:

  • I feel inadequate that I take the easy way out and backstroke despite the fact that most people tell me they find backstroking hard and therefore I must be a good swimmer
  • I know there is a speed target of 400m in 8 minutes for lifeguarding. I cannot do it, not on my back, and definitely not going forward.
  • I know that with a bit of work I can do this and it’s a question of putting in the time and especially, identifying and eliminating the inefficiencies that make this hard for me.

To target this, in the past I have taken private swimming lessons and this is why I own a pullbuoy, amongst other things. I know I have lots of faults. I know, for example that my body could be longer in the water. I know that my catch is a bit awry. I know that my head up to breathe might destabilise my body in the water. I’m overweight.


And there is always a but.

Today I swam 625m.

625m is more than I have previous managed on a second swim session back stroking. The previous swimming session, 6 days ago, was 250m, and at least 50 of that was backstroke, possibly 75. I can’t remember.

Generally my target from swim to swim is “do at least as well as the last time, and try and beat it” which means today’s target was 275m. In swimming contexts this is pretty much nothing but in my context, it’s a start, and it demonstrated that I could a) still swim and b) still at least complete individual lengths. But 250m had been hard last week, very hard, and it was significantly shy of the point which I know is an obstacle for me when I am swimming. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to do it today. The pool was busy and to be honest, I went out rather against myself. I wasn’t in good form.

Most people reading that would suggest they were excuses. I operate on the basis of “well even if I don’t make 250m, at least I went out and lapped the version of me that stayed at home feeling guilty about not going”. It’s a bit convoluted as motivation goes.

I had two collisions, neither of which were really my fault. Both times a swimmer started swimming straight at me after I was 2/3s of the way along the pool. One of them disrupted me enough that I wound up dropping the length midway and got myself back to the end. It’s why I wound up with an uneven number of lengths. But the pool kind of cleared out after that and the collision risks dropped away to nothing. The rest times between lengths stopped. And I had some wonderful lengths. I reached 200, and then 250 and 275. There were moments where I hit an extraordinary rhythm and position in in the water, and just felt wonderful. And I hit 375m and so 400 became a single length away.

And after that, another 225 lengths followed easily. I stopped because I had budgeted one hour in the pool and that had arrived. But I could have gone on. I might have gone on for another two or three hundred metres.  It seems this 400m obstacle exists in freestyle as well – the first 400m are hard, the follow ups seem very easy.

I have a couple of goals – loose goals – in place. I expect them to take 3 to 4 months to reach but…

  • 1000m forward, 1000m backwards
  • Learn to do a flip turn.

625m is awfully close to that first goal. Of course, there are things like rest times which need to be cut, and the chaining needs to be a lot better. But neither of those things come if you cannot do 1000m in the first place.

It is very hard for me to explain just how easy some of today’s lengths were. I suspect most swimmers have days/moments where it feels better, perfect, more aligned than others. I struggle to describe the feeling but it’s as though the world is balanced.

I’ve tried to reach 1000m freestyle before. This is the closest I have ever got and for the first time, I actually can reach out and touch it happening.

Resources I use are:

Effortless swimming

Reddit Swimming


Pool review: Bonnevoie, Luxembourg

I’m currently without a real home pool at the moment which makes the building of a swimming habit somewhat difficult. My would be home, dCoque, which is Luxembourg’s National Sports Centre, is currently closed for renovations until 1 October which is a nice chunk of the year. I’ll be honest and say I have not really managed to get a swim habit. No swimming till October is  pushing it a bit though. The next replacement, which I haven’t managed to check out yet, Badanstalt, about a 10 minute walk from home, is also closed. The pool 5 minutes from home isn’t open to the public. And so on and so forth

Next on the list is Bonnevoie. Bonnevoie is not too far from the railway station in Luxembourg, and public transport wise it is served by buses 3/30. You need to get off at Leon XIII. It is open every day except Wednesdays, and weekdays, it tends to close at 20.30. On Sunday it is open from 8.00 to 12.00.

There are two pools in the swimming centre in Bonnevoie; what they call the large pool, and the small pool. The large pool is 25m long, and ranges in depth from 1.8m to 3.8m at the deep end. There is a shelf at around 1.5m around the edge under water. The steps are set into the pool wall. Temperature wise it is reasonable – it is cool enough to swim comfortably in, but not so cold that you fight against going into it. When I was there, 2 lanes were separated off for lane swimming. The rest of the pool was occupied by people swimming lengths anyway so basically the choice was yours.

The small pool is about 10 by 10 meters, and at its deepest is 1.25m. One side consists of steps rather than some ladders, and at one end, there is a barrier to hold onto when getting into the pool. There is a small slide as well. I understand the pool is also used for things like aquaerobics. Temperature wise it is around the same as the big pool.

Entry to the pool without discounts for an adult is currently 3.80E and the ticket is in the form of a chipped band which I wore on my wrist and which also serves as a key for the lockers. In my view, there are not a lot of dressing rooms, but they work okay. The lockers are tall and narrow, and while you did not have to fumble for a euro or a coin of some description to lock them. I did not like them. I struggled to get my clothes bag into them and eventually pulled stuff out. My personal preference would have been for wider but shorter lockers and they could have increased the number of lockers available had they done this.

From a layout point of view, the lockers are a distance from the showers which means that really, it’s wise to have a bag to carry towels and shampoo or whatever you want in the showers afterwards. I tend not to like this because it’s just another thing to remember. That being said, one item of design in Bonnevoie recognises the needs for that, and as a result, there are shelves poolside to store stuff, like small swimming bags with towels for example. I liked that touch because typically, in other places, to find somewhere to leave a bottle of water and flipflops or on other occasions, everything can be a hassle.

The other thing which the pool in Bonnevoie has which is not a common feature in pools in my experience is a fine big readable digital clock. This makes it handy to plan around bus services and dates and the like.

Given that currently, dCoque and Badanstalt are closed, it is likely that I will default to Bonnevoie as the alternatives are a) rarely open (Bel Air) or b) expensive (Les Thermes). I’d be happier if it were open for 30 minutes longer during the week and maybe a few hours more on Sunday but then the world does not revolve around me.

Bonnevoie Swimming pool
30 rue Sigismond

Bus 3/30, Place Leon XIII

Monday: 08.00-20.30
Tuesday: 06.45-20.30
Wednesday: CLOSED – although apparently open 8-17.30 while Badanstalt is closed until 1 September – I cannot check this myself.
Thursday: 06.45-20.30
Friday: 08.00-20.30
Saturday: 08.00-20.30
Sunday: 08.00-12.00

Cost of a swim: €3.40

Website: Ville de Luxembourg

Treasa’s Map of Pools



Swim shiny

I am permanently in the market for wearable tech for swimming. I hate to say it like this because I hate the words “wearable tech” where good old gadgets will do.

What I want is the perfect pair of wireless ear buds that don’t move, and a watch which does all the following:

  • stores 6 gig of music
  • tracks my swimming when I start swimming, and tracks every stroke. Unlike my running tracker which considers everything I do as walking, for some reason, even when I run 150m.
  • talks to my mobile phone
  • provides me with swim specific information
  • does not tell me when my phone is ringing because I am in the pool.
  • does not send me text messages
  • does communicate easily with my phone and syncs automatically with my platform independent fitness tracker, Runkeeper

I have spent a lot of my time lately looking for this device and it does not exist. To be fair, the whole wireless earbud thing is not made easier by the fact that sending signals through water is challenging to say the least, and really, if I think about it, there’s a high risk that I’d pick up the signal from that dude splashing around there, listening to Rammstein. Not ideal.


In terms of an actual decent swim tracker, the one which most of my network (hello Jamie) recommend to me is the Garmin Swim with the proviso that Garmin have not updated it in some time. I think the device dates from 2012. It is now 2017. It does not talk to phones as far as I can ascertain, so it does not tell me when my phone rings, or send me text messages, and since it does not talk to my phone, it has to be hooked up to something or other to get the data from it into Garmin Connect which apparently I can then configure to talk to Runkeeper. It is not, by the standards of anything which can be taken into a swimming pool and used to track swimming, particularly expensive, although context matters. When the competition is around 200E and you’re coming in at 125E, you’ll look cheap as well. .But 125E in my opinion is too much to be paying for five year old technology in a sector which is supposed to be cutting edge. The alternatives which seem to be getting kudos in the reviews are the Garmin Vivoactive HR and the Polar V800. I think. They didn’t have it at Intersport today so, I could be mistaken.

I have spent a lot of time reading reviews for fitness trackers and the one thing which has surprised and disappointed me is there are very few swim specific reviews floating around. Almost every single review that covers the swim features of the Garmin Vivoactive and the Polar V800 all give a great detail about their capabilities in terms of step counting, GPS capabilities and stuff that really interests cyclists and runners, but is a bit superficial on the swimming front. There are a couple of others floating around like the Moov and some of the Fitbits. But while the Moov has got some kudos as a swim tracker, the review in question has not been really detailed in terms of how useful it is really for swim tracking.

I don’t own any of these electronics at the moment – the way things are going the Polar V800 is way too expensive, so that leaves the Vivoactive as next most likely. But I feel like I’d be buying blind because no review of them really covers the things I want to know.  Sure the Moov has coaching stuff but all that is irrelevant when I can’t be sure it gives me SWOLF values for swim efficiency. I know I’m not an efficient swimmer but I’d like to at least be able to get changes in how I am getting on. When I look at all the information that I can get together, it really looks as though the Garmin Swim is still the best option. I’ve had the Apple Watch 2 recommended as second best behind the Vivoactive in a test of several devices which did not include the Polar V800 which regularly outscored the Vivoactive in tests where both of them were included.

These are expensive gadgets. I’m not the kind of gadget freak who will be spending 500E a year on a new swim gadget – I want the damn thing to last me 2 or 3 years of regular swimming too. I’m resigned to them not playing music or podcasts at me because you cannot beat the laws of physics (yet). But it’d be nice to get a swim tracker again that actually focused on the needs of swimmers rather than being a bolt on to running and cycling watches.

It would be equally handy for them to actually look attractive. With the exception of the French company Withings who make attractive fitness trackers broadly useless for swimming, wearable tech watches are not really attractive, even the ones that their manufacturers claim are sleek and attractive to wear. I wear a Swiss watch with a traditional clock face and you will get it off my left wrist when I am dead. I’m not interested in wearable tech to replace my watch because none of them come even close. This is why I wish their manufacturers would work on making them do exactly what they are supposed to do in terms of fitness tracking and stop assuming we’re all going to wear them all the time.

In the meantime, I still don’t know what to do about swim tracking. All I can say is I’m not particularly enthusiastic about shelling out 500E for a Polar V800, and in any case, since none of the reviews seem to be genuine in depth reviews of them as a swimming tracking device (as opposed to a water proof device that we checked is it water proof and can you at least get in the pool with it). I’m not the world’s greatest swimmer but as matters stand, I really don’t know what to do when the reviews are just inadequate.


Swim haul!!!

I spend my life on youtube looking at artsupply and stationery hauls and never seem to get around to doing them. So I’m starting with a swimming supply – sort of – haul. There’s a sale in one of the big sports shop and I was in the market for quite a lot of stuff, not all of which I wanted. I wanted a spare pair of trail running shoes – they are end of line and therefore impossible to get – well in my size anyway. The size below fitted onto my feet but made it clear they would cripple me if I tried to run in them. Bloody sorry I didn’t buy several pairs when I had the chance, in the last sale. Nor could I see my way around to where they had things like yoga mats.

This left the swimming section of my shopping list which consisted of:

  • Look at the swimsuits and be nice about Speedo and Arena’s assumptions that all women who swim have A cups, max.
  • You’re allowed get some noseclips if they are the right colour if not, well you’ve a box full of ones the wrong colour already
  • A swimming bag because bah, Bonnevoie
  • Some paddles and maybe some flippers as well
  • If and only if they have cloth swimming caps, a couple of spares would be handy
  • If they have a Garmin Swim and it is reasonably priced or if they have a Vivoactive and it is reasonably priced and you’re feeling particularly flaithiúl, maybe get that.

So, what I eventually wound up with was this:

Swim haul


  • Arena swimming bag, pink because I like it better than black or red and they did not have aquamarine/turquoise/mint/your choice of shade in that area of the spectrum. But at least I have one to deal with the idiosyncrasies of having to haul towels around quite a way from lockers in my current local swimming pool
  • Two small Jack Wolfskin backpacks which weren’t on the list but are smaller than my North Face backpack and one of which might make the lugging of stuff to work a bit more Treasa friendly. The other is most likely to be used to lug art stuff around if I want to go urban sketching.
  • Pair of paddles for swim training. I looked at a float as well but I already have a pullbuoy to sort out my alignment in the water (ha) and if I get that right the kicks should fix themselves. Allegedly this will help with strength training and I am hoping for a little help with my arm muscles as I seem to have what I’ve heard the young people call “bingo wings”. Quite.
    • 3 nose clips in the correct colour; yes, indulgent, but I like aquamarine ones and since these things get lost on an ongoing basis…
  • two spare polyester caps. Again, there are some stunning silicon ones on display but my past experience with trying to wear them has never been that positive. Maybe I should try again.

There was no Garmin swim and I didn’t feel like blowing money on the Vivoactive – the reasons for this will be blogged in about 30 minutes from now max.

Currently, the two pools closest to me in Luxembourg are closed for extended periods for refurbishment; one until the start of September and one until the start of October. The pool situation is a bit tight here at the moment as a result, although I have two alternatives, one of which I have already checked out. The thing is, I have a deep desire to get back swimming regularly, not because I was particularly fast (I backstroked but…) but because I felt a lot better for it. Not that I feel bad now but once you drag yourself out of a house, and to a pool and drop into the water, the world always seems to shine a bit more.


Ellen OLeary was only 17 when she got married to a man 14 years older than her. She bore him 11 children and according to the 1911 census, 9 of them were still surviving at the time of that census. Only 7 of them are listed as living in her household in the 1911 census.

We know this because in both 1901, and 1911, she and her husband Thomas were living in House 4 in Kiltoohig, Charleville, Co Cork. In 1911, the census took information relating to length of marriage and number of children and number of surviving children born in the family.

The townland of Kiltoohig was then, and still is now to a great extent, primarily farmland. In both 1901 and 1911, there were just five houses located within it. You can see these on the OSI Historic 25 Inch Map.

Four of them also appear on the Cassini 6 Inch which I think dates from around the 1830s or so. Of the houses on the map above, I am fairly certain that at least 3 are still in place. It is difficult to get a decent zoom of the entire townland on a wide screen because the top right hand corner of the townland sticks out like a leg. A regular shaped townland it is not.

According to the logainm website, Kiltoohig is derived from An Choill Tuaidh which translates to the North Wood. I found this surprising as I always understood it to come from Cill Thuathaigh which translates as Chapel in the Country. Kiltoohig crops up in the Schools Collection as well. The Schools Collection was a collection of folklore and local knowledge carried out by school teachers in the 1930s to try and retain local knowledge, myths, superstitions and the like before the older generation died out. In Shandrum, Nancy Saluin collected knowledge relating to Kiltoohig – she uses one of the variant spellings – Kiltwohig – and it seems to support the story of the chapel rather than the story of the wood.

There is an old ancient graveyard where people were buried about 100 years ago in John Houghran farm of Killtwohig and headstones can be seen there today.

There was a church in Cill tú igh on Hourigan’s farm about 150 years ago. Remains are levelled – Nancy Saluin

Seán Clápeire and Andrias Mac Craith held a [unclear[ Filíochta [again unclear] in Kiltoohig twice a year – Nancy Saluin, Shandrum

To be honest, the writing isn’t very clear to me and I suspect that the first poet listed above should be Seán Clárach Mac Domhaill who wrote Mo Ghile Mear, or the other possibility is Seán Ó Tuama. But we do know that Seán Clárach Mac Domhnaill lived and taught in Kiltoohig and is basically the biggest star to come out of the place.

Those poetry gatherings took place around the 1700s, however, and 200 years before the people we are interested in turned up in Kiltoohig.

Three of the houses remained within the same families between 1901 and 1911, the aforementioned Leary family who were in House Number 4, the Finn family in House Number 2 and the McCarthy family. However, the McCarthy family were listed as being in House 5 in 1901 and House 3 in 1911. At this point in time, I am unable to map the houses as listed in the census to the houses which appear on the 25 inch historic map.

House number 1 changed occupants between 1901 and 1911. Unlike Houses 2-5, it was not a farmer family occupied house in 1901 and it contained 2 households. According to the map above, one of the houses was closer to the town of Charleville than the others so I suspect if a house was spit into two dwelling places, it may most likely be that one.

But I am not sure. What is interesting, however, are the occupants. One flat consisted of a farm labourer aged 50, living on his own. Farm labourers feature across the houses in Kiltoohig  as do domestic servants. Because of the way census are drawn up, we cannot be certain that the farm labourers lived with their masters although many are listed as being present with their masters on the night of the census. In Kiltoohig, William Daly is an exception. He is in his own dwelling on the night of the census.

The other family consists of Mrs Mary Cahill and her son Denis. Denis is 30 and unmarried. His mother is listed as 70 which suggests she was 40 when he was born, which, even by modern standards, is quite late. If there are other children, they do not live in this household. Mrs Cahill is a widow. She lives off an annuity and her son lives off interest money. In many respects, this is interesting. They have enough to pay a flat and not work, but they are in what is, at that point a two family house. Mary Cahill is listed in a document relating to the return of advances under the Purchase of Land(Ireland) Act, 1891, Section 33, in 1902-03. This seems to imply that she had acquired land from the Earl of Shannon and had received an advance to do so sometime around 1891.

By the time 1911 rolls around, House 1, if it is still the same house, is no longer a two family house, or if it is, only one of the units within it is occupied. Both the Cahills and William Daly are gone. It is possible that William Daly has moved to work for a farmer elsewhere in Cork  – there is one candidate in the 1911 census that fits – but it cannot be deemed to be certain. As for the Cahills, a Denis Cahill in the right age bracket turns up married around 1908 in another part of Cork, a publican farmer. Maybe it was him; maybe it was not.

In 1911, the house was occupied by Edmond Hunter and his wife Jane. Edmond lists his occupation as dairy farmer – a little more detail than other farmers give. He and Jane married quite late in life, in around 1908. They are aged 50 and 45 when we meet them. It seems to me to be quite fascinating that they are late married. It is worth noting that the land around Kiltoohig, and the townlands around it, are still mainly used for dairy farming.

In the 1901 census, there is only one possible candidate for Mr Hunter and his name is spelled Edmund rather than Edmond. In 1901, Edmund Hunter is the 3rd of six adult children ranging in age between 30 and 45, all living with their mother Julia in Annikisha, a townland between Mallow and Mitchelstown.

House Number 2 was occupied by the Finn family. The head of the household was Catherine, and in 1901, she was 70, and a widow. Two sons were living in the household, neither listed as married, aged 39 and 35, Martin and Michael. They only spoke English. Also in the house on the occasion was a Maurice Finn, listed as a farm servant, and, unlike the others in the household, listed as illiterate, but, however, spoke both Irish and English. It is possible that he was a relative, but I cannot be sure of this. He is 55 years old at this point.

By the time 1911 rolls around the Finn family are still living in House Number 2. Catherine Finn is still the head of the household although her age is given as 82 which suggests there were counting problems either in 1901 or 1911, and Martin and Michael are listed as 42 and 38 which makes the grand total of no sense at all given they were listed as 39 and 35 10 years earlier. Per the census, they were all able to read and write so illiteracy cannot be seen as a reason for the age discrepancy.

House Number 3, in 1901 is lived in by three siblings bearing the surname Flaherty. The head of the household is Edmond, and he appears to have been the middle child, aged 45, and in between his two sisters Jane (48) and Anne (43). Both the women have profession listed as “farmer’s daughter”.

In the company of the family on the night the census was taken was a 46 year old farm servant called John O’Brien. No one in the house is married, and all of them are literate and monolingual English speakers.

In 1911, House Number 3 is listed as being occupied by the McCarthy family, listed below under House number 5. The records are unclear on whether the McCarthy family moved house or the house numbers are inconsistent. Assuming the houses went with farms of land, I’m going to assume that it is the house numbers are inconsistent and describe the family listed as being in house number 5 in 1911. They are new arrivals.

The O’Connell family is headed up by Maurice O’Connell a 65 year old widower. According to his census record, his family had 8 children and 7 of those survived. Four of them are living with him in the house in 1911, namely Ellen, Norah, Michael and Patrick.

I think this family came from Limerick, from a house in Meadagh, Uregare, Limerick which according to the map is between Bruff and Banogue, about 8-10 miles from the house in Kiltoohig. (there’s a really impressively looking castle ruin there too – Ballygrennan).

There is a 1901 census record which matches several of the family names, although Maurice’s age does not line up by about 5 years. However, we already know that age was a bit of a movable value in some of the households for this area and this age group so I think it may be safe to assume they are the same family. In 1901, in Meadagh, Maurice’s wife is listed and she is apparently 2 years older than him. Her name is Eliza. 6 children are living with the family in 1901, along with a boarder and a servant. The boarder shares an unusual name with one of the children, namely Hanoria (Norah in the later census) which leads me to suspect that with an age of 75, she may have been Eliza’s mother.

It is unclear what caused the household change in this house; which house became free first and why the families might have moved between 1901 and 1911. We know that two of the children appear to have left the family home in that time, and in any case, even in 1901, 2 of the children are not listed. The 1911 census states 8 children were alive but we have a record of 6 in 1901 before the family came to Kiltoohig and 4 in 1911 when they were in Kiltoohig.

In addition to the family, in 1911, there was a servant by the name of Michael Dinan in the household. He was given as aged 30.

House Number 4 is Ellen Leary and her family. The head of the household is her husband Thomas, and ten children are listed. Children between the age of 4 and 13 are listed as scholars, and the children aged 15, 17 and 19 are listed as farmer’s children. From this we can probably infer that at some stage between the age of 13 and 15 at least, the children ceased to go to school.

House number 5 is occupied by the McCarthy family. and similar to the Flaherty household, it consists mainly of siblings. On the night of the census, 8 people are resident; 6 siblings, a niece, and a servant. Aside from Josie Kelly, the niece who is 9 years old, and Maggie O’Sullivan, the domestic servant, the family present consists of 5 males, namely Daniel (38), Charles (36), David (37), Thomas (34), James (35) and Catherine (39). All, with the exception of James, can read and write and are listed as English speakers. Daniel is the head of the household. It is interesting to note that in the McCarthy and Flaherty households, head of the household was not the oldest child of the family, but the oldest male child of the family. No one in the McCarthy household was married, and James was listed as deaf and illiterate.

According to the 1911 Census, the McCarthy family were living in House number 3, and again, 3 brothers and a sister are listed, in addition, a niece, and a domestic servant. Three of the family have moved out, or are not present on the night of the 1911 census, namely Catherine, David and Thomas. In addition to the occupants in 1901, Mary Kelly is present and she is the mother of the young child, Josie. Mary Kelly has been married for 20 years, is 43 years old and has had one child, who has survived. Daniel is still the head of the household, and apparently he is 50, James and Charlie are still living with him, aged 47 and 45. There are two servants in the house, an 18 year old girl named Katie McMahon and a 32 year old man called Denis Murphy. In 1911 apparently all members of the house hold can read and write. This is interesting because in 1901, Charles was listed as being unable to read and write.

Mary Kelly crops up in another document after 1911 however. She made a claim in respect of damages during the Civil War of the early 1920s.

(National Archives of Ireland – run search on Kiltoohig)

Other references to Kiltoohig after 1911 reveal that a Mr Jonathan Naylor died in Kiltoohig on 13 July 1935. We do not know what age he was then, but we do know he outlived his wife, Charlotte Louisa who died in 1912 while they were living in Kilfinane. This information comes from the family headstone which can be seen here. The grave stone, and name implies that they were Church of Ireland and this is confirmed by their census record which can be seen here.

According to the 1911 census, Mrs Naylor bore 7 children, all of whom survived. At the time of the 1911 census, the oldest child still living in the household was 15 years old and attending school. Only one child is listed on the family headstone and she is not listed in the 1911, or does not have an obvious name variant. The other 6 are not listed. There is some evidence to suggest they were living in a different house in Kilfinnane in 1901 and more children are listed there, the eldest of which is 8. In 1901, Charlotte Louisa was 35 years old. She die in 1912 which suggests she was around 46 when she died. That’s quite young.

We have some information regarding landholders for 1921 from Guy’s Almanac. Amongst the principal landholders then were

Martin Finn (whom we know to be house number 2)

Mrs Hunter – probably Jane Hunter, House number 1. This suggests Edmond had died by now as he had been listed as the head of the household in 1911)

Thomas Leary – house number 4

In 1925, we have the same  listed.

In 1930, we  have 

Martin Finn

Mrs Fitzgerald

Thomas Leary

This may imply that Mrs Hunter remarried. Or that she sold up.

The 1940 issue of Guys does not give us the same information and it is not obvious whether the families have moved and changed again by then. However, we do have a gravestone for Martin Finn dating from 1932, having died at the age of 58. He appears to have married at some point between 1911 and 1932; his wife is also listed on the gravestone and it suggests she was a dozen years younger than him.

Historically, we have some  records for the area going back to the 1870s. In 1876 according to Guys Cork Almanac, for example, we know that principle landholders in Kiltoohig included Denis Leary and Margaret Leary – listed separately, also John McCarthy,  Potentially they are parental to the families listed above.

Kiltoohig is listed in the list of Monuments in County Cork as being the location of an enclosure and a moated site. A one story vernacular house is also listed and it seems reasonable to suggest that this is one of the houses listed above.

There are quite a few Almanacs for Cork lying around so there is some scope for more research into society in Kiltoohig from around the 1700s onwards (when we know that Sean Clarach was knocking around) but more specifically, into the social history of the town of Charleville.

References and Research Material

Cassini 6 Inch – 1830s

OSI Historic 25 Inch

Kiltoohig in the Schools Survey

1875 Guys Almanac

1893 Post Directory

1897 Post Directory

1901 Purchase of Land Act (Ireland) advance repaid by or to Mary Cahill (House no 1, 1901) – land belonged to the Earl of Shannon

1925 Post Directory

Motor Directory 1911

Griffiths Valuation


Statistical Survey of Co Cork


A Library, A Library, My Kingdom for a Library

Very few things make me terribly, terribly envious of other people, but home libraries, grand pianos and home swimming pools are on that short list.

I’ve always wanted a home library. A room with floor to ceiling shelves full of books. They don’t all have to be “worthy” books – although I have a collection of dictionaries which probably exceeds most normal people’s need for reference books.

Of course, I own a kindle, and carry around 300 books with me at all times. I can probably fit more books on the kindle than I could in shelves in my current living room.


Actual, real books are special. Of course they are. They have a user interface which kindles really can’t touch. You know by looking at a book just how far through it you are, or are not. The average pocket book is more comfortable to read in bed than a kindle is.

Books have a special smell. Eau de Parfum de Brand New Book which slowly, over a long time period, moves to Eau de Parfum de Musty Dusty Book.

I love new books. I love leafing through them. I especially love the 2017 Edition of the Illustrated Grand Larousse. Did I mention I liked dictionaries?

I love casting an eye over a bookshelf and thinking “Today I will read (or reread) this book or that book”. It’s not the same as doing it through a kindle.

I don’t really care what my house looks like out on the outside. I care that it has a library, with floor to ceiling bookshelves, slowly filling up, in a chaotic but very personal mode. Not for me this utterly ridiculous idea of sorting books by colour to make a Statement. This is not about interior decor. This is about exploring the world.

In the room a comfy armchair with a table and a lamp so that I can see the words and have somewhere to leave a cup of tea as I vanish into a world that only exists in the imagination of a random stranger somewhere.

If the room is big enough, you know, I’ll put the grand piano in there too. Maybe a beanbag too for those days when the armchair is just too formal. Days when, outside it is raining but on the pages of a book in my hand, the world is full of possibilities, and no risk of getting wet, only of travelling a world currently unseen.

I’ve always felt that lots of money was wasted on socialites. I’d spend it on books if I had it.