Wednesday, 31 March 2010

McCain Headstone in Templastragh Graveyard

Barry R McCain of Oxford, Mississippi, has just sent me the following notes about an inscription that was recorded in the Ulster Journal of Archaeology, 1899:

Here's something I found in the 1899 U Journal of Archaeology, a transcription of the large tombstone in the middle of Templastragh ruin. (a good thing too as it is now too weathered to read properly)

... Here lyeth the Body of Cathrine McCain who departed this life th 9th of November 1811 Aged 61 years wife to William McCain Late of Bushmills who Departed this life Ye 17th of March in the year 1813 Aged 70 years...

Notes: Writing is stylised. Some abbreviations above the first letter, Ye = the, written with the Y over the E. the Th of 9th and 17th, over the numbers, other little oddities such as that. That McCain family part of those McCains out near Ballyleckan, kin to the Adams in Ballywatt today, etc., part of my family.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Bushmills and Lagadrade

Click to enlarge
I stumbled upon a curious place-name in the Rev George Hill's "Macdonnells of Antrim". It was Logenadoaid and according to the reference from William Petty's Down Survey 1655/6 appears to be on the west bank of the river Bush/Bush Water more or less directly across the river from the present Spar shop on Upper Main Street, Bushmills. This shop is in a building formerly known as Ballyness House.

David Speers of Causeway Books recognised the place-name as Lagadrade and Pat McKay of the Northern Ireland Place-Name Project at Queens University Belfast provided the following derivation:

It seems that Irish Log an Droichid 'hollow of the bridge/crossing place' is the most satisfactory interpretation as suggested by the local pronunciation and that 'Logenadoaid' is a corruption. Info on pronunciation of 'Cowenfishyn' as 'Carnfishin' is also interesting. I'm sure the first element is Irish 'carn' but the final element is obscure.

Carnfishin is in the townland of Ballyhemlin and Lagadrade might overlap the townlands of Magheraboy and Ballaghmore.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Undisclosed Email Problems for Government in Rathlin Ferry Saga

77 Offence of altering etc. records with intent to prevent disclosure .. Freedom of Information Act 2000

These inter-departmental emails were released by the Central Procurement Directorate (CPD) on 15 March 2010 following an FoI request. They were not released by the Department for Regional Development (DRD) following an earlier request in 2008 for such information.

These important documents appear not to have been evaluated by the independent investigators during the 2008 investigation into the procurement of the Rathlin ferry service. Were these emails given to the investigators and, if not, why not?

The far from watertight investigators report was published in December 2008 and has yet to be scrutinised by the Committee for Regional Development. Sadly, this report does not list the documents examined by the investigators.

CPD staff expressed a range of reservations to their DRD colleagues following the submission of tenders in the first tendering process in 2007 and prior to their evaluation:

*** still has reservations over the scoring frame. Just as myself and *** have already said, he continues to be worried about its transparency and the integrity of the whole process. I remain extremely uncomfortable with the notion of any evaluation model which is set up to exclude [12 Oct 2007]

I am disappointed to note this e-mail. You believe that the adjustments to the scoring frame were minor. I have approved these adjustments and I am satisfied that the adjustments are fundamental clarifications of the competition criteria and that it was essential that this exercise was completed before opening the tenders.

You now raise concerns that the requirement for explicit sub criteria has not been fully appreciated within the context of this competition.

The integrity of the process is dependent on each member of the evaluation team being clear on the contract requirements [17 October 2007]

These CPD reservations indicate that the tenderers were not given a detailed breakdown of the scoring system and so were left in the dark as to the weightings to be applied. [Failure to detail sub-criteria and associated weightings in advance to tenderers can have consequences.]

Also, at least one of the tenderers was not told in this tendering process that DRD had budgeted £1.2 million for a passenger only ferry for the Rathlin route, a figure curiously adjacent to the cost of the Rathlin Express catamaran. £1.2 million is a very significant figure in the context of a £4 million contract.

Which members of the evaluation team were in contact with the tenderers prior to the advertisement of the contract, between the advertisement and the submission of tenders and between the submission of tenders and the scoring process?

I would have expected that the evaluation team would have been able to act independently of the tenderers and those members of CPD and DRD they had dealings with.

Probity would require nothing less.

Adds March 26

"The EU can play a critical role in promoting best practice and ensuring a coordinated and integrated response across member states to the challenge of sustainable transport." .. Conor Murphy 24.03.2010

Minister Conor Murphy has yet to release the contents of the EU investigation report into aspects of the Rathlin ferry procurement contract and the Office of Government Commerce hasn't as yet had full co-operation from all parties to that investigation. Can we expect the EU to insist on best practice? Will its conclusions be sustainable or will they leak like the DRD's internal investigation?

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Cape Clear Island Walking Talking Festival, Co Cork

Press Release

May Bank Holiday Weekend
March 30 - April 3, 2010

Cape Clear Island, Ireland’s most south-westerly point, is famous for stunning scenery, birdwatching, Gaeltacht colleges, traditional music, sailing, storytelling and whale and dolphin watching . These attractions draw thousands of visitors every year. Like other similar places, the Island inspires poetry, art and storytelling and in recent years has become host to one of Ireland’s premier storytelling festivals.

The May Walking Talking Festival will be launched by author and broadcaster Damien Enright, author of many popular walking guides to Cork and Kerry. There will be a series of walks around the hidden corners of the Island focusing on different aspects of its history, folklore and ecology, all led by local enthusiasts. Whalewathing trips are combined with other low key events such as singing workshops, poetry readings, local folklore and also culinary and musical fare, sometimes idiosyncratic, always local.

This is a low key festival for those who like to give as much as to receive, who enjoy great walking in good company, who like to exchange tales and stories and also the art of good conversation. No pressure, no hassle, bring a raincoat and good walking boots, sing a song or play a few tunes if you are so inclined, or just sit back and listen.

The local cast of characters has been set and are looking forward with great anticipation to an enjoyable weekend. See website for details

Séamus Ó Drisceoil,

Comharchumann Chléire Teo.

Cape Clear Island, West Cork.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Ballintoy and District Local Historical and Archaeological Society

Parish Hall
junction of Whitepark and Ballinlea Roads


I was wondering if you could give our small historical society - Ballintoy And District Local Historicial and Archaeological Society - a plug on your blog?

We have just recently formed and our first official meeting is on the 25th March in Ballintoy Parish Hall at 8 pm - I have attached a copy of our circular.

Archaeologist Thomas McErlean, BA (QUB); FSA, Centre for Maritime Archaeology - University of Ulster at Coleraine, will be the guest speaker at the meeting.

We are a small cross community group with big aspirations'! We plan to meet each month with a guest speaker relating in some way to the local historical and archaeological past of the Ballintoy and wider "shore" area and we are planning to have guided walks in the evenings over the summer months.

We have had a good response so far and we hope to build upon this success in the coming months so every little bit of publicity would be very helpful.

Thank-you & Best Wishes

Shaun Leighton

Friday, 19 March 2010

Rathlin Island Ferry Director in New Controversy

Ciaran O'Driscoll has created further controversy in Co Cork following claims he has made about the management of the replacement ferry service from Baltimore to Cape Clear. The claims and the following robust renunciation have been published in eMara News

the information and details presented are composed by the author and do not resemble in any shape or form the email that was sent

Julian Lucioli is no longer a Director of Thar Tonn Teo

it will come as news to the community on Sherkin Island to hear that the Spirit of the Isles previously operated a summer service to that Island

the company which resigned from the service is Tithe Saoire Chléire Teo

any impression created by the article that I, in my role as Projects Officer of Comharchumann Chleire Teo manage Thar Tonn Teo is unfounded, misleading and scurrilous

The RIFL director's sister company (TSCT) gave up the service at the end of February. Does this mean that Mr O'Driscoll will be spending more time managing the Rathlin ferry service?

I'm told that Mary O'Driscoll, one of the other RIFL directors, has recently spent time working aboard a cruise ship from Southampton to Auckland, New Zealand. I understand she was absent from Ballycastle from January 9 to February 22. Perhaps the Department for Regional Development, who subsidise the ferry service, can explain who was carrying out the managerial tasks during her absence.

New snapshot 23 Mar 2010

A Mháire a chara, when you're in a hole stop digging!! A simple apology is sometimes the best way out. By the way, it looks as if the Ballymoney and Moyle Times owes RIFL an apology:

The Rathlin ferry timetable starts on April 1.

The 'out-of-summer season' timetable starts on April 1 and the summer timetable on June 1.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

CPD - DRD Exchange of E-mails Concerning First Rathlin Ferry Tender

October 2007 Exchange

[Stored on Scribd]

These inter-departmental emails were released by the Central Procurement Directorate on 3 March 2010 following an FoI request. They were not released by the Department for Regional Development following an earlier request.

These important documents appear not to have been evaluated by the independent investigators during the 2008 investigation into the procurement of the Rathlin ferry service. Were these emails given to the investigators and, if not, why not?

[to be continued]

Not Marconi's Cottage III - Public Road Blocked; Boulders Removed from Foreshore

Click to enlarge
Official explanations as to why the Planning Service changed its mind and permitted demolition of the old coalyard cottage and Moyle District Council 'nodded' the plans through a few days before Christmas 2008 have not yet been provided. Planning Service had listed strong objections the previous March yet the plans were bundled with seven other applications with no objections in December.

["bundling" of planning applications and other potentially-controversial measures is a favourite weapon in the arsenal of both local and national government. Where would you hide a tree ? In a wood. .. a friend, 22.03.2010]

The new shoreside fence is still in place despite the need for Planning Service sanction.

Do Moyle Council officials have a duty to inform the relevant Government departments and agencies of possible breaches of regulations in Moyle Council district?

A substantial gate and posts with a degree of permanence now block the public road about forty metres from the new house. I'm told that it was Roads Service's intention that this public road should be maintained as it was prior to the demolition of the cottage. Who gave permission for the gate and posts to be erected?

Can boulders be legally removed from the foreshore without official permission? Has such permission been granted?

These stones look as if they could have come from the foreshore.

This photo shows stones being broken with a sledge hammer.

Some boulders appear to have been lifted onto the trailer with the digger. Tracks down on the foreshore indicate the use of something similar to a dumper.

These works were reported through the Heritage Trust to NIEA on Tuesday 16th March. This site is in the Ballycastle Coalfields ASSI and I understand that NIEA were out on the site the same day and that this is now an ongoing investigation. .. Moyle DC

Adds March 19

There has not yet been a response from Moyle DC or DRD about the erection of the gate and posts.

Adds March 22

We have been in contact with DRD Roads Service about the gate and it is our understanding that this section of the road is to be closed off only during the construction period, with alternative access for walking to Fairhead being provided by the contractor. There is no intention to abandon this part of the road and once the construction is complete the Road will be reopened. .. Moyle DC

I'm still awaiting a reply from DRD. Perhaps DRD can confirm whether or not Moyle DC's understanding is correct. The present gate and posts do not look like a temporary structure.

And just a reminder from the Red Book on access:

Article 3 of the Access Order places each district council under a duty to assert public rights of way, and to compile and preserve maps of public rights of way in its district.

It seems a shame that the former track bed towards Fairhead which was formerly used for transporting coal hasn't been maintained in a more accessible state. It's a very popular route for both local walkers and visitors. It would be nice to see the local council pay greater attention to both the natural and built heritage. The way the demolition of the coalyard cottage was handled brings little credit to the Council or to the Planning Service.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Trinity College Dublin - 1641 Depositions Online

These depositions are now available online. They can be searched by name, county and keyword.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Western Ferries v Rathlin Island Ferry Limited

RIFL 'edited' Calmac environmental policy statement
[Did O'Driscoll not submit a statement in his tender bids?]

Users' Charters

How They Are Related

Plagiarism or Common Sourcing?

The next month, Mr Gordon Ross, Managing Director of Western Ferries announced in the Dunoon Observer (21st October, [2005] p.8) about his Users’ Charter; "it’s a legally binding document. That’s my view and the same view is held both by the current transport minister and his predecessor" .. source DOC file

WF: Western Ferries (Clyde) Limited is committed to providing a community focused ferry service to the Cowal Peninsula.

RIFL: RIFL [pdf file] are committed to providing a community focused ferry service between Rathlin Island and Ballycastle.

WF: The Company provides a safe, dependable and reliable service 365 days of the year.

RIFL: We are committed to providing a quality, safe, clean and reliable service every day of the year.

WF: It offers a quality and frequency of service which enables its customers to maximise their travel opportunities.

RIFL: The Company will provide a quality service to enable the island residents and visitors to maximise their travel opportunities.

WF:The Company takes its place in the community very seriously and re-invests its financial resources through local employment and local purchasing.

RIFL: We take our role within the local community very seriously and are committed to re-investing our financial resources through local employment and purchasing, particularly in support of sustainability of the Rathlin population.

The RIFL November 2008 website page bears an even closer resemblance to the Western Ferries page.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Moyle District Council - New Leisure Centre

New plans which could see a swimming pool and sports halls coming to Ballycastle have been examined and in the latest development a delegation will travel to Manchester to see similar facilities. ... Ballymoney and Moyle Times

Seems a long way to go to examine modern leisure facilities.

"There is an obligation on councils to commit to Best Value and demonstrate how they have matched their services to the needs of the local population that they serve." ... Councillor's Handbook 2005

What we spend and how we spend it - publication of information on website - etc ... LGSC Publication Scheme January 2009