Friday, 31 August 2007

Message from Ballymoney Ancestry

Site Updates

As you will be aware we have been making some significant changes to recently as we endeavor to continually improve the format of, and information contained on, the site. The most recent changes have required the site to be reconstructed and hosted on a new system with the result that, amongst other things, old bookmarks will no longer exist and access pathways have changed slightly.

We appreciate that the new layout and pathways may cause some interim difficulties for regular users of the site and are working to address the issues a number of you have raised with us. In the meantime we would appreciate any further help you can give us. If you do come across any errors or feature you feel could be improved please email

As one of the few free genealogy sites available we are continually striving to make our site more accessible and to improve security.

Regards and many thanks for your continued interest in and use of

NEW Ballymoney Genealogy Blog

David Gray of Dunseverick, 1641/2

David Gray and many others got caught up in the Ulster rebellion of 1641; it was part of the Wars of the Three Realms in the reign of Charles I.

The image is taken from John McCurdy's "Toberkeigh" and the depositions are held in Folio 3.9, Trinity College, Dublin [link added]. Just click image to enlarge it.

There is a David Gray in Dunseverick in the 1666 and 1669 Hearth Money Rolls, perhaps the same one who testified in 1651/2 and there are still Grays in that district.

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Happy Birthday, Norman - King of Dalnalil

My hands are shaky and my knees are weak
I cant seem to stand on my own two feet
Who do you thank when you have such luck?
Im in love
Im all shook up
Mm mm oh, oh, yeah, yeah!

Then again, it could just be your age. Have a nice day!!

This photo was taken - by Kate? - at a NALIL gathering in the Causeway Hotel. From left to right: Agnes, Hazel, Derek, Norman, Sherry, Nevin and Jennie.

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Happy Birthday, Emma - Sweet 17

This one's from my generation!!

And here's one to test your artistic talent. Check it out on broadband.

Thursday, 23 August 2007

E Estyn Evans - "Irish Folk Ways"

"Irish Folk Ways" was first published fifty years ago in 1957. The link provides extensive excerpts from this memorable publication as well as links to possible sources.

A classic in its field, this charming work by a noted scholar explores traditional Irish customs and activities--from thatching a roof, churning butter, cultivating and harvesting crops, making pots and pans and building furniture to behavior at weddings, wakes, festivals, and funerals. "For all its learning, the book is popular in the best way, and admirably illustrated. . . ."--"Times Literary Supplement." (London)

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Turfahun poem

The bards may sing a sweeter lay
In praise of beauty's grace
And swell the part that wealth may play
For maids of plainer face
But if to me you'll lend an ear
Before my song is done
It's of a country lass you'll hear
That dwelt in Turfahun
'Twas in a Ballycastle fair
About the Lammas time
When farming folk throw aff a' care
And hairst is in its prime
Amang the lave may heart as yet
Was only bent on fun
But Cupid smote me when I met
The lass o' Turfahun
For rosy, healthful womankind
And native wit that's quick
In Ballycastle fair you'll find
Of all the world the pick
'Twas there, in crowd from every airt
My eye got fixed on one
Dismounting from a farmer's cart
That came frae Turfahun
With youthful zeal, though blate an' shy
I helped her to alight
She thanked me, and her glancing eye
Betokened all was right
My glance met hers, the vision passed
But round my heart was spun
A web of love that bound me fast
To her of Turfahun
I sought her, later, in the dance
She yielded me her hand
And in the mazes of a trance
We entered Fairyland
I scarcely knew I touched the floor
When once the jig began
But seemed on music's wings to soar
With her of Turfahun
The dance when done, we both sat down
I begged her name and place
And praised the fashion of her gown
The fairness of her face
She gave her sunny curls a toss
(A cloud o'erswept my sun)
"My name," said she, "is Mrs. Ross
I live in Turfahun!"
To meet was sweet, but sad to part
'Twas years ago and yet
The memory of a lost sweetheart
Is hardest to forget
And though I'm growing gray of hair
Long as life's sands may run
I'll mind that Ballycastle fair
And her of Turfahun

John Troland
Norwich, Conn., U.S.A.

[published in the Northern Constitution on December 31st, 1910]

Wild Posies collection 1915

Names and Rhymes

A note from Jennie in the Rockies reminded me of two little rhymes I made many years ago. The first one is a play on Hill, the surname and hill, the physical feature.

Hills of The Hollow
Hills of The Shore
Hills of Islandranny
And the Hills of Croaghmore

Ballyallaght and The Aird
Ballyhunsley and The Coole
Ballyhemlin and The Haw
Ballyoglagh and The Poole

Lammas Fair in Ballycastle, Aug 27-28

At the Ould Lammas Fair in Ballycastle long ago
I met a pretty colleen who set me heart a-glow
She was smiling at her daddy buying lambs from Paddy Roe
At the Ould Lammas Fair in Ballycastle-O!
Sure I seen her home that night
When the moon was shining bright
From the ould Lammas Fair in Ballycastle-O!


At the ould Lammas Fair boys were you ever there
Were you ever at the Fair In Ballycastle-O?
Did you treat your Mary Ann
To some Dulse and Yellow Man
At the ould Lammas Fair in Ballycastle-O!

In Flander's fields afar while resting from the War
We drank Bon Sante to the Flemish lassies O!
But the scene that haunts my memory is kissing Mary Ann
Her pouting lips all sticky from eating Yellow Man
As we passed the silver Margy and we strolled along the strand
From the ould Lammas Fair in Ballycastle-O!

Repeat Chorus

There's a neat little cabin on the slopes of fair Knocklayde
It's lit by love and sunshine where the heather honey's made
With the bees ever humming and the children's joyous call
Resounds across the valley as the shadows fall
Sure I take my fiddle down and my Mary smiling there
Brings back a happy mem'ry of the Lammas Fair

Repeat Chorus

If you've a personal memory of the Lammas Fair you'd like to share please add it as a comment or send it to the contact email address to be entered in the blog.

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Bomber Crash at Giant's Causeway in WWII

Glenda Rodgers: "I was at a Bushmills British Legion meeting a few months ago. Colin Sinclair of Portballintrae, a former RAF airman, brought up the subject of two airmen killed at the Giant's Causeway and raised the possibility of placing a permanent memorial to them near the crash site. I came up with a very interesting story after researching documents about the tragedy.

A Wellington bomber took off from Aghanloo, near Limavady, on Monday, 20th July, 1942. It was one of the first airfields built for Bomber Command in WWII. The bomber was on a low flying training exercise and, while the pilot attempted to establish his position in low cloud and poor visibility, it flew into the ground and caught fire. The crash occurred just two hundred yards from the Causeway Hotel.

Pilot Officer Wilson Twentyman, NZAF, aged 26, was flight captain and the other pilot was Sergeant Vernon Pither, RAAF, aged 28. Both men died instantly and are buried at Drumachose (Christ Church) Church of Ireland Churchyard, Limavady.

I wrote to many newspapers in New Zealand and Australia and was able to make contact with Wilson's and Vernon's next of kin. They were delighted to find out that someone was still interested after all this time.

Relatives of both men will be here on holiday this September. They are looking forward to seeing the crash site and the graves.

Aghanloo airfield is still there but is now private property. You can still see the billets and the control tower.

We raffled a painting of the War Memorial at the Bushmills at War Exhibition and raised over £1000. I hope to have a sponsored walk from Portballintrae to the Giant's Causeway via the crash site early next year to raise more funds. Everyone is welcome to help!!"

Update 1: John W Dunbar gives an account of military activities on the Causeway headland in the BBC's Your Place and Mine website.

Update 2: Some memories of Cluntoe Airfield for Keith.

Update 3: Vernon is commemorated on the gates of Shepparton High School; Air Commodore A G Pither was his older brother.

Update 4: The relatives plan to be here at the beginning of September. Local newspapers, apparently, weren't permitted to report the crash.

Bomber Crash at Giants Causeway 2

Bushmills Conservation - Wha's Lik Us

Bushmills was designated as a conservation area in 1991; it lies within the Causeway Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is on one of the main routes to the Giant's Causeway World Heritage Site.

The intent of the conservation area is to enhance the settlement's historic and architectural heritage and promote it as a place to live, as a tourist destination and as a place to do business.

The local Divisional Planning Office in Coleraine is responsible for the area's administration, a role held until 1989 by the Historic Monuments and Buildings Branch in Belfast.

Progress has been patchy. Planners are expected to give positive guidance and encouragement but they (and our political representatives) have failed to protect those buildings and penalise those practices which currently blight the townscape. The positive response that has been taken by some owners is being undermined by those who buy properties, board up their windows and permit them to slide into ugly decay.

[updated 22.02.2008]

Monday, 13 August 2007

Bushmills War Exhibit

From July 21-27, 2007, the town of Bushmills hosted an exhibit honoring that community's men and women who had served in the World Wars. As a retired history teacher from the US, I was excited and disappointed. Excited because this would be an opportunity to see a portion of the Wars' histories from more of a UK point of view, and disappointed because we were leaving Bushmills at 5 AM on the 21st and would be unable to visit the exhibit.

In talking to Nevin on Thursday evening, he suggested that I drop by the exhibit on the 20th and talk to them while they were setting up. What a crafty guy Nevin is! While walking back to the inn from dinner, Gayle and I spotted two men carrying boxes of old canteens into the exhibit.
We introduced ourselves to Robert Thompson and Keith Beattie. They graciously and enthusiastically invited us to our own personal viewing of the exhibit.

The exhibit consisted of a surprising amount of material for a small community such as Bushmills. There was an abundance of pictures, artifacts, mementoes, and stories, especially of those who had given their lives for their country. We could have spent hours pouring over the material which Robert collected. He and Glenda Rodgers have spent years collecting and researching the wars and the various local communities' involvement in the efforts. This has resulted in several booklets written on the subject.

We were heart-broken seeing the way a small community like Bushmills gave its sons' lives. In World War I (The Great War), Bushmills lost 96 men, including a William McCurdy. There were 9 sets of brothers killed. One family lost 3 sons. This huge percentage of loss must have devastated the small village.
On July 1, 1916, between 7 and 9:30 AM, 26 of the boys from Bushmills fell at the opening of the Battle of the Somme. 12 more were lost before that battle was over in November.

We couldn't imagine the suffering of the village during this time; the parents who lost sons, the wives who lost husbands, the children who lost fathers, and the girls who lost sweethearts. Everyone in the village must have been effected in some way. This doesn't even account for those who came back suffering wounds both physical and emotional, which would effect them for the rest of their lives.

The village sacrificed another 32 men and 1 woman in World War II. Losses were incurred at places such as Dunkirk, Dieppe, Singapore, Normandy, and prison camps. Some were also lost in the Royal Navy, Royal Merchant Navy, and the Royal Air Force.

We were able to obtain a small book from Robert Thompson called "Bushmills Heroes 1914-1918" which he graciously signed for us. We are grateful to Robert and Keith for the great experience and lasting impressions of the Bushmills World War Exhibit, and to Nevin for the suggestion to "drop in."

Jim McCurdy

[The Fureys and Davey Arthur perform Eric Vogle's "The Green Fields of France" - Nevin]

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Family Tragedy

I just got the bad news this evening of the death of young Alan McGregor caused by a chip pan fire in his home at Bendooragh, near Ballymoney. Alan's McGregors and Taggarts are from the townland of Ballyoglagh. I didn't know Alan but I know his sister, Julie. Our thoughts are with the family at this terrible time.

Jim from Arizona's Request

The music on this Giant's Causeway - Dunluce Castle video is "Mary's Eyes" played by Gaelic Storm

Thursday, 9 August 2007

Glenariff Waterfall and Walkway

Glenariff waterfall and walkway
Originally uploaded by billtam
Glenariff Glen is another of my favourite spots. The views change with the weather as well as the seasons. The sound of flowing water can be very soothing.

Uganda Trip 2007

Ballyrashane Presbyterian Church is currently celebrating it's 350th Anniversary. As part of these celebrations the Church decided to send a team to Uganda, through the Christian Organisation Abaana.

Hello everyone in Northern Ireland, greetings grom sunny Uganda. We are all well and our work at the school is progressing ahead of schedule. The greeting we received at the school on Monday morning and indeed every morning is very special and will live with us all for years to come.

Jennie's Favourite Place

This is "The Nook" at the Giant's Causeway. It was formerly the Causeway School so it is filled with old photos, desks, and paraphernalia of that time. We walked from Portballintrae to the Causeway so having the Irish Coffee beside the fire was very welcome. It was a great place for a meal, we enjoyed it very much.

Jennie in the Rockies......

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Locals keep out?

The east end of the Blackrock Strand is becoming less accessible for local people as the years go by. The signs on the Sand Rodden have not kept up with the obstructions!

The gates were added when the miniature railway was introduced but those with a right of access could still get through; the first image is a gentle and humerous reminder to act responsibly.

The second image poses the question, "Have you closed the gates?". Except the gates can't be opened - due to the presence of a bollard.

Access to Runkerry Beach via Sand Rodden

The TDRM stated that a request had been received from the Giant’s Causeway & Bushmills Railway that due to increase number of vehicles causing serious health and safety implication in relation to the level crossing at the Sand Rodden, that the gates on both sides of the crossing should now be padlocked.

The TSM recommended a collapsible bollard would be best placed at the level crossing at the Sand Rodden.

After discussion, it was agreed that a collapsible bollard would be placed on vehicular access to Runkerry Beach via the Sand Rodden crossing at Ardihannon.

Moyle District Council Minutes 13 Nov 2006 [DOC]

There is also a second bollard lurking behind the second gate. What safety alternatives were considered? Should the bollards be lowered or removed when the train isn't running? Were local residents and the Health and Safety Executive consulted? The latter has a responsibility for rail safety.

The third image implies that the Sand Rodden is owned by Moyle District Council. Is this the case?

The fourth image has a new name for Blackrock Strand, Runkerry Beach. What was wrong with the old familiar name?

Monday, 6 August 2007

Favourite places?

What are your special places in North Antrim?

One of mine is the former small salmon fishing harbour at Portbraddan. The late Bertie McKay, who used to fish from here, once told me that our Taggart family used to have an annual picnic here and they bought a salmon from his people. My grandfather also collected dulse.

If you take the coastal path west from here towards Dunseverick you come to a natural arch in the rock at Gid Point. The sunsets over the Causeway headland can be superb. Jennie from the Rockies sent me these three images.

Sunday, 5 August 2007

Blot on the landscape?

The Ulster Way passes between this former fisherman's cottage and Runkerry House, the former Macnaghten property that was donated to the state in 1951.

Walkers passing along this trail will probably be amazed that this little cottage, perched on Rocky Islet at the east end of Blackrock Strand, is now encaged in metal bars and razor-wire.

Not only is the cottage located in an Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it is also within the four kilometre zone that protects the Giant's Causeway World Heritage site.


It's been officially confirmed that there is no record of planning permission for the cage fencing having been granted.

Blot on the Landscape 2