Thursday, 29 November 2007

Portcaman - Bushmills Folklore and History No6

The Bushmills Folklore and History Group has just published its sixth edition of photos, original articles and other items of local interest. It's available from local shops, including David Speers' Causeway Books.

Richard Hemphill of Sycamore Cottages, 77 Station Road, Whiteacre Heath, Birmingham BT46 2JB would love to hear from other Hemphill researchers. His grandfather, James Stinson Mayne Hemphill, was born at Ballyclough Townend and he and his wife Louisa (nee Statham) raised eight children at No 1 Klondyke Terrace, Bushmills before migrating to Birmingham, England.

Overseas readers who want to purchase a copy of the magazine can write to the following 'amended' email address for further details: raymondmcmullan at hotmail dot com

Bushmills Ancient Wells

“Bring me a drink of the well of Sharvagh,” pleaded a young girl, fever-tossed on a bed of sickness at Moycraig. Water was brought from a near-by well but the moment she had taken one sip, “Take it away,” she said, “this is not the water of Sharvagh.” Swift and loving feet, though Sharvagh was some distance away, ran and fetched the desired water. When the sick girl had taken a draught she fell into a refreshing and healing sleep, from which she awoke restored.

In days agone Bushmills got its water supply from three wells, clear and unpolluted: Robin’s Well, by the river’s brink at the head of the town; the well which is still in King William’s Square in the centre; and the Berry Brae Well in the west. Sharvagh Well is in private property and was in the possession and reserved by the Anderson family seventy years ago. (Hugh Anderson, of Clogher-Anderson, was a distiller).

There were also two wells further out: Hamill’s Well, near the Manse, and another a short distance up the road leading to Sir Francis Macnaghten’s farmyard which supplied the watering-trough at the Porter Lodge.

Sixty years ago the water at the Berry Brae Well ceased flowing for some years in consequence of being polluted by a woman who washed her feet in it.


Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Jamisons of the Giant's Causeway

Robert Thompson reminded me recently of a query he was dealing with relating to a Jamison family. I telephoned one of the Jamison descendants and she was able to tell me that her grandparents, William Jamison and Elizabeth/Betty Cousins, had lived at Dulisk, near the Causeway, that their children had attended the local school, now a museum, and that some members of the family were buried in the graveyard at Billy Parish Church.

I spoke to Jeannie, a former pupil at the school, and she remembered her Jamison classmates as well as their parents. William had worn a supporting metal cage and this might have been linked to injuries he'd received as a soldier in WW I. He died in 1935 at the relatively young age of 37, just two years after his father, also called William.

Jeannie then produced a postcard photo of William Jamison, snr. The following is written on the reverse: "William McDowell Jamison - Born 2nd November 1840 - (taken) 1st Sept 1927". The photo of William is supposedly taken outside the then toilet block at the Giant's Causeway.

The 1901 Census provided additional information. The Jamisons were living in a house labelled #19 in the townland of Ardihannon. They would appear not to be related to the Jamieson families linked to Ballintoy parish:

  • William snr, head of family, CoE, can read and write, aged 57, coachman, married and born in Co Down
  • Annie, wife, CoE, can read and write, aged 29 and born in England
  • Oswald, son, CoE, aged 5, scholar and born in England
  • William, son, CoE, aged 2, infant and born in Belfast City

Oswald died in 1912; he was only 17.

Additional information about this family would be much appreciated.


Dulisk is on the east side of the townland of Ardihannon and there were formerly two Jamison thatched cottages in the row of buildings that are now used by the National Trust as an education centre on the west side of their Innisfree offices on Causeway Road. Innisfree was the former home of the Mitchell family who had come to Dulisk from the Stranocum district circa 1949.

JAMISON - November 10, at his father's residence, Dulisk, Giant's Causeway, Oswald Hewer Jamison, aged 17 years - Deeply regretted

Ballymoney Free Press, December 5, 1912

Oswald Jamison, Dulisk, 11-11-1912, aged 17
Harriet Ann Jamison, Dulisk, 4-3-1924, aged 22
Annie Jamison, Dulisk, 13-4-1934, aged 62
William Jamison, Giants Causeway, 27-9-1935, aged 37
William Jamison, Giants Causeway, 10-5-1939, aged 99

Billy Parish Church Burial Records

Ballymoney Family History Festival 2009

The Ballymoney Borough Council Cultural Services Unit is currently researching the possibility of hosting a genealogy festival during the summer of 2009.

The idea would be to help people across the world that are researching their Ballymoney roots and give them an opportunity to meet and share their knowledge and experience.

The "Family History Festival" would be held in Ballymoney Town Hall, which also includes Ballymoney Museum. By the summer of 2009, the museum will have undergone a major re-fit and incorporate a resource area for genealogy researchers.

The format of the Festival would be a series of events that would "educate, entertain and enlighten" the amateur family historian. Visitors would have the opportunity to attend a series of focused activities, for example:

  • Talks on the history of Ballymoney and famous people born in the area;
  • 'Research workshops' with experienced genealogists available to give advice;
  • Bus tours of the region, including graveyards and churches;
  • Case studies of prominent Ballymoney families.

Anyone hoping to attend the event would also be given advice and assistance on booking accommodation in the area and public transport.

We want your ideas!

Planning is in its early stages and the Cultural Services Unit are appealing for your suggestions for the Family History Festival. Is this an event that you would be interested in participating in, or contributing to? What would you like to see included in the programme?

The Family History Festival would require funding and it would have to be demonstrated that there was support for the venture - so please, give us your views. Please leave your comments and ideas for workshops, trips, guest speakers or anything else that would appeal to you.

Keith Beattie

Email me!

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Portballintrae Drinking Water Problem

Warning message from

Portballintrae Residents Association

8 November 2007 2100hrs

There was a major water main break in Bushmills on Wednesday 7 November. NI Water say they fixed the broken main and flushed the lines on Thursday but the system has apparently not cleared in Portballintrae. They have been alerted to the unacceptable quality of the water and queries have been made as to why there has been no notification to households in the village.

Residents who called were told to run the main tap for one hour, but after 2 hours of constant running this evening, the water still has unacceptable amounts of sediment.

Please make sure your water is running clear before drinking.

NI Water should be out on Friday to run tests and hopefully clear the lines.

Please call NI Water at 08457440088 to report any water quality problems.

Mystery of the Ballyallaght Triangle

The storm surrounding the ownership of #1 Ballyallaght Farm Cottages continues to rumble on. I've also had a look recently at some planning decisions in the townland of Ballyallaght and the response of the Planning Service. It's worth remembering that it lies within the 4km buffer zone that surrounds the Giant's Causeway World Heritage site and that guidelines were laid down back in 1999.

Here are two excerpts from Moyle District Council minutes:

E/2001/0094/0 Outline. Mr D McCurdy. Adjacent to 267 Whitepark Road, Ballyallaght, Bushmills. Site for retirement dwelling. Mr McGoldrick stated that this application represented an insufficient case on need and lacked integration. He stated that it would also create ribbon development and that an approval could not be granted. Councillor McConaghy expressed his strong disappointment at this refusal and stated that he felt a farmer should not have to explain this need for a dwelling. He stated that he felt none of the three reasons given by the planners for refusal were substantiated. Councillor Kane concurred with these remarks and stated that the applicant was heavily involved in potato growing and that there was a strong case on need. He stated that he felt a site meeting should be held in relation to this application. After discussion, it was agreed that a site meeting would be held in relation to this application.

This minute was recorded on 23 April 2001. The application eventually succeeded. This new home is just across the main Whitepark Road from the ever growing 'farm cottages' development.

A second minute was recorded the following month, 21 May 2001, for a development on a site that planners insisted could only have a replacement dwelling and, at most, two other dwellings.

E/2001/0113/F Full. Mr S Sweeney. Junction of Whitepark Road and Castlenagree Road, Ballyallaght, Bushmills. Demolition of disused outbuildings, and erection of fourteen dwellings / holiday homes. Mr McGoldrick stated that revised plans had been received for the above application, and therefore this could now be recommended for approval.

There are currently seventeen cottages on the site and I understand there are plans for at least a further three.

Mr Kyle applied for planning permission for holiday homes at #264 and #266 on the west side of the farm cottages. His
application was rejected by the Planning Appeals Commission:

Its August 2007 report on the case stated: "The rationale behind the Ministerial approval of the adjoining development is not clear in relation to whether exceptional circumstances were put forward.
" However, a poor planning decision which clearly affects the setting of such an important environmental asset does not justify a further approval."

Perhaps the DOE Environment Committee should invite McGoldrick and senior members of the Planning Service to explain these transparently erratic decisions.

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Derek Torrens' USA Diary

Hi All,

I've had such a wonderful time on my trip to America. It's good to be back but I still feel a little unsettled; sometimes I wish I was still there!!

Anyhow, I flew into Newark Airport on Monday 24 Sept after a lovely 7 hour flight from Belfast with Continental Airlines. I had loads of legroom and no one sitting beside me either which made it much more comfortable.

I then got the Amtrak train to Philadelphia which I reached about 5pm. I went to an Irish pub for some grub and while I was waiting I was shocked and not amused to see a photo of Gerry Adams hanging on the wall. My mobile phone, which I bought especially to work in America, decided not to work for me but I managed to get good news via a text message to tell me that my niece had a baby boy so I had to have a drink on that!!

Tuesday 25th;- I went and bought a new phone for $55, then got a Tour Bus around Philly which was great and the weather was lovely - saw the Liberty Bell and the House of Independence where our own Thomas McKeen from Ballymoney signed the Declaration of Independence that made me feel proud.

I had to go back to the Sheraton hotel which was only booked for me for one night (by my friend in Connecticut at $69 a night - usually over $200, but she gets special offers as she works for the Sheraton Hotel Group) and pick up my things to go to another Days Inn hotel I had booked online at Roosevelt Ave; it was a dump.

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