Saturday, 29 August 2009

Travellers Leave Their Mark On Quay Road Playing Fields, Ballycastle

Moyle District Council appears to have a certain fondness for bollards but it left a weak link in the protection of its playing fields at Quay Road, Ballycastle. Presumably payment for the resulting damage will be added to the rates bill or council services will have to be pruned.



Discontent in Ballycastle Parish of Ramoan

August 30, 2009 - final Sunday morning service in St James?


Discontent in the Church of Ireland Parish of Ramoan.

The place of worship for parishioners of Ramoan Parish has been in the vicinity of the present Parish Church of St James for at least four hundred years. The graves in the old churchyard are witness to the fact that generations of Ballycastle people have worshipped there.


Over the last seven years there have been reports of growing discontent within the parish which has led to many parishioners reluctantly leaving their spiritual home, including some who had given dedicated service for many years.

Objections to the Select Vestry’s* decision to sell off Glebe lands was one notable cause of dissent, another has been the drive to ‘modernise’ the church, demonstrated through expenditure which some parishioners thought was an unnecessary waste of hard earned parish funds.

Recently published plans to develop Holy Trinity Church as the new parish centre have exposed a continuing split between some parishioners and the Vestry committee. Many who have been disdainfully referred to as ‘the old guard’ are upset by proposals to abandon St James. Some who voiced objections were told it was nothing to do with them as they don’t go there any more. Yet they still pay their tithes to Ramoan Parish.

“He who pays the piper....?”

Sales of property and recent very generous bequests have produced a substantial fund which many parishioners feel should be spent at St James. Some parishioners allege promises to maintain and retain St James as the parish church are being broken, especially when they hear such statements as “we can’t maintain two churches” and “St James can be pulled down to extend the burying ground”.

Discontent among the remaining congregation has reached the stage where there was a recent vociferous exchange of views after Sunday morning service. This was followed by a hastily called parish meeting which turned out to be a very unsuccessful attempt to quell the discontent among parishioners who do NOT want to see their parish church of St James at Ramoan abandoned. Clearly there is a reluctance to realise the strength of feeling against such a move.

Many parishioners at the meeting also reportedly expressed annoyance at getting parish news from the media instead of from their own representatives on the Select Vestry Committee.

No strangers to the sacrifices made in the defence of democracy, the congregation’s wish to stay at Ramoan should not be ignored by their current representatives on the Select Vestry.

Perhaps there are lessons to be learnt from their neighbours at the Corrymeela Centre of Reconciliation and Matthew 18:12-13, Luke 15:4-6.

* a select number of persons chosen to represent and manage the concerns of the parish for one year.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Holy Trinity Church, The Diamond, Ballycastle - Parish Meeting

Trinity Cottage
Wednesday 26th August 7-8pm

A parish meeting has been called at very short notice to discuss proposed plans for the future of Ramoan Parish, in particular new buildings around the present Holy Trinity Church at the Diamond.

Click images to enlarge

This church is a focal point for visitors and locals approaching the Diamond from Castle Street. The proposed new hall is likely to cause consternation for those who are keen to protect the town's architectural heritage; it's design may also be in breach of the tight planning regulations for this conservation zone.

I'm told that the image which appeared in the local press isn't an artist's impression; it's taken from the architectural drawings which were submitted with the plans.

Adds August 28

Rev Palmer: "I realize that change is difficult for us and this is the beginning of major change in our parish. The simple fact is, however, that we cannot afford to run two churches in the same parish and we have reluctantly realised that the the new development will use the majority of the money raised from the sale of glebe land"

Do these words signal the death-knell for Ramoan Parish Church and for the Quay Road Hall, a building that has been part of the social fabric of Ballycastle and district for several generations?

This year there was no room at the inn for a cup of tea and a chat with old friends and the grand plan would seem to leave little room for an important part of Ballycastle's heritage.

It would appear that NALIL blog has attracted a new audience in recent days. Overheard at the recent parish meeting: "What's this NALIL thing?"; "Who's been writing all these letters in the paper?" There have also been queries to NALIL blog from the mainstream media.

[Click on] Some Quotes and Queries

Saturday, 8 August 2009

There'll be some red faces in Moyle tonight


News has just reached me that the Etoile, one of the sailing ships in the Tall Ships Challenge, has run aground on a sandbar in the entrance to Ballycastle Harbour.

Who was the 'star' pilot who was guiding the vessel into the harbour?

Did someone forget to do a little dredging?

Was the Harbour Master there to throw them the end of his 'galluses'?

Does the MDC Harbour Authority deploy sufficient expertise?

I'm told by an eye-witness that the excitement happened around 7 pm and that the Etoile was eased from the sand after a few 5-10 minutes - but not before she was caught on candid camera.

She was keeled over just before she swung around, a bit faster ... eye witness


What an embarrassment for the local council after these fine craft had successfully overcome the challenges that the mighty Atlantic could throw at them.

The escapade reminded me of the late Sean Armstrong, sometime President of Queen's University Belfast Glee Club in the 1960s, and his stirring rendition of The Good Ship Calibar before a motley crew of students.

Adds Monday, August 10

It's been a most curious welcome for some of those crews that participated in the Tall Ships Challenge. I'm told that the welcome was not briefly discussed at a council meeting,

The Clerk stated that officers were seeking approval for arrangements to be put in place to facilitate a visit from a tall ship in Ballycastle.

After discussion, it was agreed that Ballycastle would like to host a tall ship for one or two nights prior to the planned event from 13th – 16th August. It was also agreed that a reception would be held for the crew and organisers and that excursions would be organised for the crew to see the area. - MDC minutes 6 April 2009.


that councillors had less than 24 hours notice of today's reception in the Mayor's Parlour and, apparently, not even an invitation to participate in a tour of the sailing ships with some senior council officials. The welcome banner above was hung on railings at the junction of Quay Road and Rathlin Road.

Following the reception the fifty or so strong party was taken to the Giant's Causeway, dropped off and picked up later. Perhaps with a little forward planning some multi-lingual folks from the Kingdom of Moyle could have offered linguistic hospitality to its international guests.

I can find no mention of this prestigious event - the Tall Ships Challenge - on the Moyle Council website.

Presumably our public representatives will be asking serious questions about the whole affair. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency has been looking at marine stories on NALIL blog for quite some time now but has proved to be something of a toothless tiger when it comes to representing the public interest.

Epic Landscapes, Fish and Chips and Sheep

Two Tall Ships crew members attacked in Ballycastle

Kevin McAuley's photos of the Tall Ships Europa and Etoile in Ballycastle Bay

Click on images to enlarge


Friday, 7 August 2009

Just another thousand years

On August 7th 2009... At 34 minutes and 56 seconds past 12... the time and date will read... 12:34:56 07/08/09 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 That's twice today but this won't happen again for another thousand years.

and not just in North Roscommon :)

PS Those white blobs on the horizon near Inishowen turned out not to be Tall Ships but merchant vessels. Hope you enjoy the real thing :)

Monday, 3 August 2009

Minister McGuinness misses 'Rathlin Rave'

It's been a busy few days in Ballycastle and Rathlin Island. The former had its Marconi Festival and the latter its Jigs in the Rigs Festival aka the Rathlin Rave.

Martin McGuinness, deputy First Minister in the Northern Ireland Executive, arrived back in Ballycastle aboard an unscheduled sailing of the Rathlin Express catamaran accompanied by what appeared to be some minders and the remnants of the Rathlin Rave and 'chaperoned' by Mary O'Driscoll, a director of Rathlin Island Ferry Limited. The Minister said that he'd had a very enjoyable visit to the island and I understand that one of his guides on the Puffin Tour was a RIFL skipper.

Waiting anxiously to greet the Minister on the quayside for the next part of his itinerary - a visit to the Corrymeela Centre - was the Rev Harold Good, sometime Corrymeela Centre Director and, more recently, a witness to the decommissioning of IRA arms. I say anxiously as the catamaran has been running well behind its advertised 20 minute crossing time and had broken down the previous Monday. There's a tale going round that someone forgot to switch on the water supply to the engines leading to overheating but that sounds a rather unlikely explanation for a modern £1.2 million craft.

I wonder if either Minister realised that Rathlin's Stone Age arms facility has never been 'decommissioned' - well, there are no photographs to prove it.

Adds August 3, 2009

Eye On The Hill has highlighted some disarray in the Declan O'Loan press release front; Declan is the SDLP MLA for North Antrim.

Do a draft for me? Include some nice words about Rathlin.”
Well, the nice words didn't appear in the FIRST release but some of Declan's ditherings did. This is one for the political anoraks :)

I've posted the following to the Devenport Diaries:

Here's a line for you, Mark: "Who pays the ferryman?".

The DFM travelled on an unscheduled crossing on a quiet August Monday on a publicly subsidised life-line ferry.There appeared to be no OFMDFM staff or other SF elected representatives. Martin and the Minders were too late to have appeared as a support act in the week-end's 'Rathlin Rave'.