Sunday, 29 November 2009

Ballycastle Heroes 1914-1918 - Request for Help

Robert Thompson has already published stories about those who died in the Great War centred on several towns and villages along the north coast of Ireland.

He is currently compiling information for a book about Ballycastle and District and would love to hear from anyone with connections in that part of Co Antrim extending from Ballintoy to Cushendall and who has access to a range of memorabilia: photos, letters, certificates, medals, etc.

Robert can be contacted at 9 Riverside Road, Bushmills BT57 8TP, telephone: 028 2073 2875,

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Concern Over Stability of Rathlin Ferry Service?

My attention has been drawn to the following item of news on the Rathlin Development and Community Association website:

The RDCA will be holding meetings with the Department of Regional Development (DRD) this Friday 27th November about the ferry service, and with Moyle District Council and the DRD on Monday 30th November about the proposed harbour bye-laws.

Couldn't all RDCA and DRD business have been done on the same day? What exactly are the problems with the much heralded new Arklow built and Scottish designed catamaran, the Rathlin Express? It seems to have spent more time out of service than in since it's scheduled start of service at the beginning of July.

The history link on the Ship AIS website shows that it arrived late, frequently operated below its expected cruising speed, traveled to Moville (or nearby) (twice) and Coleraine, and appears to have been tied up in Rathlin Harbour since October 1. Photos show that it was on the quayside in Coleraine and Ballycastle and a Maritime and Coastguard Agency spokesman said that there was damage to the catamaran's skegs. Was the damage accidental? Are there design flaws? Is such a vessel suited to the rigours of Rathlin Sound? What were the divers looking for when they they examined the catamaran in Rathlin harbour a few days ago?

Even though the catamaran has been out of service for nearly two months it would appear that DRD has not been closely monitoring information supplied to potential customers on the ferry operator's website about the vessel's availability. Presumably DRD has given the operator advice about necessary website information.

Have the RDCA and the Committee for Regional Development (CRD) been briefed about the EU Commission investigation into certain aspects of the awarding of the Rathlin ferry contract in 2008?

Doreen Brown updated WBR [on 16 October 2009] on an EU query regarding the awarding of the Rathlin Ferry contract. [pdf file]

There's still no sign of CRD scrutiny of the Rathlin ferry investigations report that was published in December 2008. When I spoke to the CRD chairman some weeks ago about a scheduled date for scrutiny I was told that they were waiting for the Minister - whatever that means.

In answer to your question about the Rathlin Express catamaran I can confirm that it has a valid passenger certificate.

Peter Cardy, MCA CEO, 26 Oct 2009

It's still not clear whether the new catamaran was issued with a full year certificate or if it's a provisional short term certificate with limitations as to use and what those limitations might be. Perhaps all will become clearer when the Ministry for Transport provides copies of current certificates for vessels plying the Ballycastle-Rathlin route.

Memories and Ownership of Quay Road Hall, Ballycastle

I recently received a copy of a document that discusses aspects of the ownership of the hall on Ann Street, Ballycastle, as well as the hall's role in the social life of Ballycastle and District. I've published it on Scribd.

I understand earlier NALIL blogs have been of great interest to parishioners in the Church of Ireland Parish of Ramoan. It's likely that the possible disposal of the parish's Quay Road Hall, even its potential demolition, will be of great interest to the Diocese of Connor's Diocesan Education Board as well as to local people for whom the hall has been a great social landmark.

The late Hugh Alexander Boyd, who specialised in the history of the Church of Ireland parish of Ramoan, wrote that the land on which the hall is built was vested in the Diocesan Board of Education by a deed dated 11th November 1895. The terms of this document established a perpetual trust for “certain particular charitable objects”, namely an infant’s school.

By 1933 the hall was completed, providing a venue, in the Diocesan Education Board’s words 'for every form of parochial activity that can be directed for the moral physical and spiritual uplift of our young people'.

Thus complying with the terms of the Charitable Trust of 1895.