I am very proud of that photo of Mont Orgeuil which I took in Jersey (CI) in 1961. It's not perfect. This is the digital age where you can see your results as you go along and correct any mistakes. In those days you worked out what you thought was the appropriate exposure and prayed to the God of the Celluloid that you were right. You found out soon enough when your film came back in the post from Hemel Hempstead.
I was attracted to Mont Orgeuil because it was an imposing building overlooking Gorey harbour and it was floodlit at night.
To me then, Jersey was a romantic location with its Jersey cows (whose milk carried a premium from Hughes Bros. dairies in Dublin), its Jersey Royals (potatoes to you) and its French patois, reflected in names all over the place. It had been occupied by the Germans in WWII and many of their efforts to fortify the island, to ensure that this British trophy remained a part of Hitler's dominion, can still be seen all over the island.
At that time, my only connection with Jersey was that I was there, but over time elements of Jersey history, and life in general, threw up other connections, however tenuous these may be.
Major La Chaussée
I lived in Ballybrack/Killiney for about twenty years and took an interest in the local history. A character who popped up in 1797 was French Royalist, Major La Chaussée. He surveyed Killiney Bay for the British military with a view drawing up a plan for its defence against an expected French invasion. You can read about him here.
He went on from there to act as an intermediary between the British authorities and Royalist French rebels attempting to overthrow the post-Revolution French state. In this he had extensive dealings with Philippe d'Auvergne in Jersey.
You will see from the above extract that Philippe occupied the Corbelled Tower of Mont Orgeuil Castle at the time.
The tower is the dark area in the top right hand corner of this sketch. I have included this particular sketch as it gives an idea of the vastness of the place. You may need to click on the sketch to get a better view. The sketch is an aerial view from the south.
The tower (C) is more clearly seen in a sketch of part of the castle, viewed from the north-east.
This may help.
This window, which goes way back, would have had a nice view over the bay. But by the time Philippe arrived it had been blocked up with the construction of the Newer Keep. Panelling put up in the recess, when Philippe moved in, was poor compensation for the missing view.
Colonel Benjamin Fisher
This is not the only connection between Mont Orgeuil and Killiney in the Napoleonic era. Col. Benjamin Fisher, who was responsible for constructing the Martello Towers in Killiney Bay and the rest of Dublin Bay, came to Dublin around 1800 direct from Jersey.
Fisher was also a painter and this is his take on Mont Orgeuil.
I had been working with Dermot Keane in the Department of Finance for a good while before I discovered that his aunt had been a nurse in Jersey in the early 1940s. She had arrived a relatively short while before the Germans. When those on the Island were given an opportunity to evacuate to the British mainland in advance of the German invasion in 1940, Mauyen Keane opted to stay on.
As it turned out she fell in love with, Dieter, a German soldier-doctor and followed him back to Germany where they married. This was still during the war. When the war was over, she suffered the privations of the German people, but eventually the couple managed to make their way back to Ireland.
In 1984 Mauyen published a book on her adventures. Dieter, meanwhile, had changed his name to George, to lower his German profile.
Mauyen was not only Dermot's aunt, she was the mother of Gabriel Rosenstock and grandmother to Mario.
Haut de la Garenne
Back to my photo of Mont Orgeuil. Little did I realise when I was taking the photo that some distance behind me was the children's home, Haut de la Garenne, where many children were then suffering appalling physical and sexual abuse.
The area around where the photo was taken from is today cluttered with signs which the local paper suggested should be tidied up in the interest of tourism. The sign in the middle is not one of theirs but is my response to the authorities trying to put the appalling atrocities of the children's home behind them without anyone being properly held to account.
In the BBC drama series "Bergerac" (1981-1991), about a Jersey detective in the Bureau des Étrangers, the bureau's headquarters were originally located in Haut de la Garenne. Although there were still children around at that stage, as the home didn't close until 1983 after the beginning of the series, there was no perceptible adverse comment at the time.
One of the main locations of the series achieved later notoriety. The "Bureau des Étrangers" was located at Haut de la Garenne, a former children's home which in February 2008 became the focus of the Jersey child abuse investigation 2008. The building, on Mont de la Garenne overlooking Mont Orgueil and the Royal Bay of Grouville, ceased being a children's home in 1983 and was re-opened as Jersey's first and only youth hostel.
In more recent times, with an increased awareness of what had gone on at the home, both through the 2008 police investigation mentioned above and the more recent "Independent" "Care" Inquiry, a rerun of the original series by BBC was stopped in its tracks.
There is now talk of a remake. Let me be mischievous here.
Why doesn't John Nettles, now a bit long in the tooth to play a young Bergerac, play the role of Graham Power, Jersey's former police chief who was sacked (suspended) as part of a plan to pull down the shutters on child, and other, abuse which was rampant on the Island.
There might even be a part for Nettles's daughter who served as Information Commissioner on the Island, and who was critised, not just by whistleblowers and bloggers, but also by the official inquiry itself. Perhaps she might appropriately play the Queen (ERII), mistress of the Island, responsible for its governance, and deaf to the pleas of those seeking to reform its corrupt oligarchy.