Here you will find my traveller’s tales, wherever it is I go, however far.
Like many, whose paths I cross out there in the real world or here on site, I harbour an ambition to ‘see the world’. I know, even in my hometown, there is no way I can see it all, and by the time I do, the rest will have changed. So, my reflections on my travels, such as they are, are snapshots in time, memories, events etched on my mind, shuffled with the dreams and imaginations all adventures inspire.
I was born in the mid fifties in Dublin. Once a year, the family holiday would take us further afield, to such exotic destinations as Bray, Tralee, Newport and Bundoran. My first time abroad was a family holiday in Paris in 1971. After that I was hooked. Not just that I needed to gawk at the sites one ‘must see’, though I do that too, but there are always stories and atmospheres that intrude, songs and poems suggest themselves, visions form in the mind and lodge in dreams. At Le Bourget airport on my way home, back there in 71, I picked up a newspaper to read of the death that morning, of Jim Morrison, lead singer with The Doors. This established the place in time, making an unlikely connection between one place and a person, and all their work and music.
And so it goes. The world is ours and the world I see is mine. We all experience things in a different way, and this is what I want to share, with these blogs I post and the many wonderful blogs I read.
I also write fiction and some elements of this slip into my traveller’s tales. And vice versa. I have published one novel, The Testimony of Virginia McCabe, and three collections of short stories, most recently Kings on the Roof. From when I was very young I have been fascinated by art and artists. An art student in my twenties, I have been channelling back there over the last few years. My paintings frequently feature in these blogs. All part of the expression of experience; which is what xxharrison is about.
Hi. Your article on Bray History came up in a search I have just done for Novara House / Bay View ! I am researching Henry Kingsmill a well known builder who died in 1868 and lived there. I am especially trying to find the origin for use of the “Sidmonton” name for Bray houses and roads as I believe Henry would have had something to do with it as the Kingsmill family had the English Sydmonton Court in Hampshire from the time of King Henry VIII. Looking at the Griffiths Land Valuation Map I can see that Henry Kingsmill would have had a clear view of the Bay back then.
Hi Chris, I was talking to Robert Butler at Bray Library, he informs me that Kingsmill was a local politician of note in the late nineteenth century. Robert has worked extensively in local history in the Bray area. Haven’t come up with a definitive answer regarding Sidmonton, as yet…
Hi Shane. Thanks for reply and info about Henry also being a politician. Sorry I posted my message on the wrong page instead of against the blog. My research this week has found Henry Kingsmill living at Navara Villa in 1852 and then at Sidmonton House from 1854 to his death in 1868. I seems to have built some houses in Sidmonton Place and rented them out in the mid 1860s. His son Henry (a barrister) carried on at Sidmonton House until 1870 and then had “The Lawn”, Sidmonton until at least 1910 mostly whilst working oversees.
I am sure Henry would have come up with the name Sidmonton, possibly in jest against the “imposter” Kingsmills at Sydmonton Court in Hampshire who stole the true Kingsmill inheritance – but that’s another story.
Hi there, I am in the process of doing a number of Architectural Conservation Area submissions for Bray Town with Bray Tidy towns and found what you said very helpful re Novara House. Cheers Mary
Thanks Mary, glad you found the article of use. Regards, Shane
Hi Shane, great blog, I found your blog because I am interested in the history of Bray. I didn’t realise you had published, and must chase up you book.
Couple of comments:
I was fascinated with the contribution of Chris Gilbert, because reading the history of the Kingsmill family I too was struck by the Sidmonton connection, which could explain the origin of the name.
On a more personal note, I seem to remember you looking at mee, perhaps rather quizzically, one time when I rushed in to Bray library looking for one of Patrick O’Brian’s books. I didn’t realise what a complex character he was, and that he had completely re-invented himself during some kind of mid-life crisis. Perhaps you knew more about him than I did ! I had been working on a friend’s house in Collioure which had sparked an interest in him. When I stand at the end of Bray Pier and look West at the Dublin mountains it reminds me very much of the similar setting in Collioure. If all the Martello Towers, and the three former castles in Bray were still intact, the parallels with the scenery and fortresses there would be almost exact
Hi Nick, thanks for your comments. It’s a while since I’ve worked Bray library. I’ve been in Greystones Library over the last decade but have recently escaped and am now a free man of leisure. So, nothing has changed much. I doubt that I knew more about O’Brian than yourself. I’d imagine I was donning that look which is part of the librarian’s uniform: the appearance of knowledge prior to actually knowing. I’m currently posting on South Dublin’s Rocky Shore, but Bray, of course, is a recurring topic. It is home, after all.
Hi Does anyone know who built Sidmonton Cottage and any information in regard to it?
Hi Vivienne, I don’t have any info on this house beyond the obvious (built 1855). Perhaps Bray Library, or Wicklow Heritage at Wicklow Library would have something. Good luck, Shane
Thankyou Shane, I’ll follow up on that.
Henry Kingsmill the builder built and livedatSidmontonHouse from1854 so I would assume he alsobuiltSydmintonCottage.
Thank you, Chris. That’s a good pointer.
Thankyou for that, I agree that’s a good point