Saturday, 28 July 2012

Ballycastle Marconi Festival - Sunday August 5

THE annual Marconi Festival takes place on Sunday, August 5 at Ballycastle's sea front.

This is the 12th year that the event has been organised by the Marconi Radio Group and supported by Moyle District Council's Community Grants scheme.

The event marks the work of Marconi, Kemp and Granville in 1898 when the world's first commercial signal was sent from Rathlin to Ballycastle across water.

The club will be sending signals across the world on Sunday from the seafront in memory of the work of the great Marconi that was pioneered in Ballycastle and Rathlin Island. .. Ballycastle Chronicle

Added August 3

Welcome to Moyle District Council - our website provides information on services, events, facilities and the many areas of outstanding natural beauty in the district.

August seems to be a quiet month in Moyle - or else some council officials have gone on holiday or remained in hibernation!

The Lammas Fair will be making its customary appearance towards the end of the month. Last year pedestrians were forced onto the road in the vicinity of the Marine Hotel corner because folks were trading on the pavements, despite the absence of pitches. Why was no action taken - at the very least on health and safety grounds - to maintain a clear passage for pedestrians, some the frail elderly, some young children? Why was trading permitted where there were no pitches? What's to stop the horse dealers continuing to use Fair Hill Street as they've done before? Does the Council have no bye-laws to deal with these issues? How many agencies of regional and local government does it take to sort such matters out?

Added August 5

Friday, 27 July 2012

Mitchell and Murdoch - from the Parish of Dunluce


I had posted this photo that we have in our possession of relatives that immigrated from the Kilmoyle, Coleraine, Bushmills area. I have been looking for leads on this photo. Someone on email me the link to your Flickr posting photo, which captured my attention as I saw the Nevin surname surface. 

In our lineage we have a William Nevin Mitchell, which in my understanding of how children were named, the surname would appear as the middle name. He immigrated to the US and his lady friend followed Alice Patrick Murdoch. They had two sons, lived their days out in Oregon. William's father would be Samuel Mitchell and mother Nancy Patterson. My great grandfather would have been Joseph Patterson, relative I think of Nancy. Joseph's father on the Nebraska Marriage Certficate is listed as a William Patterson (about 1836 or so) and his wife as a Jane Nebier (Neibour) sp? (perhaps from Cuberland England-1846...these trail has gone cold) I can not find any more about this family name anywhere so am wonder about the correctness of the surname on Jane.

[rt clk img > open in new tab > clk 2 enlarge]

I am at this point very curious about the tag teaming of the Nevin name coming into the family unit.
I have included my photo of the Kilmoyle school photo as well as the lineage that I have been able to trace so far.

I do not have a roster of children in the photo. All I know is that some relatives that immigrated to Canada as in this picture. The surnames that would interest me greatly would be: Patterson, Mitchell, Craig
Any light you can shed would be so appreciated!


I found a copy of the 1881 marriage details for Samuel Mitchell of Tullycapple and Nancy Patterson of Kilmoyle:

I've found some of Connie folks in the 1901 and 1911 Irish censuses and in the 1860 Griffith's Valuation.

If you do a search for William Patterson, County Antrim, Parish of Dunluce, you'll find a William in Kilmoyle along with a Nevin family; Maggie Nevin is a witness for Nancy Patterson.

There are several Mitchells in Dunluce parish including a John Mitchell in Tullycapple, Samuel's residence at the time of his marriage as well as the name of Samuel's father. The associated maps allow you to locate the position of the Patterson and Mitchell farms, sometimes even homes.

Samuel, Nancy and son William Mitchell in 1901:

Murdock can also appear as Murdoch.

John, Margaret and Alice Murdock are in Bushfoot, Portballintrae in 1901:

but by 1911 are in Ballyrock Irish with Alice's grandfather Hugh Murdoch:

If any one can provide additional information please contact NALIL blog at the address above.

Old Bushmills Distillery - in an Alcohol Free Area

A friend drew my attention to this curious juxtaposition in Upper Main Street, Bushmills!

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Northern Ireland - FixMyStreet

Inline image 1
Hello NALIL!

I'm writing from the not-for-profit mySociety. I thought your readers might be interested to know that our website now covers Northern Ireland - so the residents of North Antrim can now report potholes, faulty street lights, and any other street problem through the site, and it will go to the right contact in the local council.

FixMyStreet launched in 2007, covering Great Britain only, due to conditions of the funding that helped pay for it. But with those restrictions in the past, the only impediment to spreading across the whole of the UK was time and resources. It had long been on our own wishlist to do so, but time was scarce. Fortunately, a project we undertook for Channel 4 last year used very similar code to FixMyStreet, and has allowed our developer Matthew Somerville to repurpose it and finally bring NI onto FixMyStreet.

The idea behind the site is a simple one: people don't always know who to contact when they experience a problem like fly tipping, graffiti or broken paving. With FixMyStreet all they have to do is pinpoint the issue on a map - or allow the site to automatically geolocate them - and their message is sent off to the right place. FixMyStreet covers all 26 local NI councils and the central Roads Service, and works quite happily on a mobile browser or desktop. Users' reports are also published online, meaning that other local people can read, discuss and advise on what's been reported in their own area.

With Northern Ireland having been added only at the end of last week, their pages are looking strangely sparse, but we're sure that's not because there's nothing to report! If your readers would like to give the site a go, they should visit and enter their own postcode. This will bring up the local map where any reported issues can be viewed, or a new one created.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Giant's Causeway Visitor Experience - A Glitch

How Not To Win Friends

Tourism Board chiefs, in the background, 
miss out on Royal line-up in June 2010


The absence of the NITB chiefs was not down to NT. 
The line-up for the Royal handshake was arranged by others.


The Toilet Experience

New Giant's Causeway Visitor Centre

A friend told me that the toilets are part of the £8.50 Experience in the new multi-million pound Giant's Causeway Visitor Centre - so I thought I'd check it out. I entered the centre and asked one of the receptionists if I could use the toilet facilities. She inquired if I had a ticket and when I said I had none she directed me back out to the car-park where another member of staff helpfully pointed me to the side entrance just before the tunnel. "But there are no signs", says I; "There wouldn't be", says he, "They want visitors to go into the centre".

I probably could also have had a free view of the exhibition! Who is responsible for this elementary blunder? The same curious approach applies to the shop and the cafe; I doubt if it will ever be used by other businesses seeking customers!

Free entry to toilets via unmarked door on left**

[Added August 11. I was told that the three free toilets are on the left as you face the doors in the photo. I checked one of them today - it's so small you almost need to reverse in!!]

This blunder has also created a bit of a nuisance for the Causeway Hotel staff. A notice has now been fixed to their toilets pointing out that the facilities are for hotel customers only.

These steps link the Visitor Centre car-park to the Causeway School Museum. Walking on angled steps is an experience - once you've adjusted to anti-trip mode :L

Added August 21

“Is the current pricing structure in line with the figures provided for the business plan, if not what has changed?

“What Government support is available if, due to adverse publicity, the numbers attending the site drop below a sustainable level?

“There is a responsibility on both Government Ministers to immediately intervene to promote tourism on the North Coast given the adverse publicity generated in the past few days,” said Assemblyman Swann. .. Ballymoney and Moyle Times

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Moyle District Council - Return to the Sand Rodden

Support the Emergency Services
Ensure Quick and Easy Access Wherever Possible

It was the second visit for the emergency services this week down the narrow rough Sand Rodden that runs from Runkerry Road to the eastern end of Bushfoot Strand, the only road access for their vehicles. This time the reported incident involved a broken ankle.

The narrow track is in need of repair

The padlock has not been replaced on the bollard

The 3 o'clock to Bushmills approaching the Sand Rodden

Access to the strand would need to be kept clear of large boulders

The return to Runkerry Road

Added July 21

1. Removal of bollard blocking access to Runkerry Beach along the Sandy Rodden.
(Requested by Councillor P McShane).

All such signs should face strand users, not be sideways on.

I'm told that this and other gates on the road down to White Park Bay strand are usually kept locked via padlock and key. They are a barrier to quick and easy access for emergency service vehicles.

Added July 23

A padlocked bollard and, sometimes, a heavy chain and padlock can prevent emergency service vehicles getting even as far as this lower crossing-gate on the Sand Rodden; the lane leads to the eastern end of Bushfoot Strand.

Added November 7

The Moyle Council report is at odds with the accounts of witnesses recorded here on NALIL blog. The report makes no reference to the 30 minute toing and froing between Portballintrae and the Sand Rodden by the rapid response ambulance in the company of two coastguard vehicles; there's no mention of the family-size black hatchback car that appears to have been associated with rescue attempts. Moyle Council officials read NALIL blogs yet they apparently decided to ignore the accounts of independent witnesses. Why did the expressions of concern by some councillors at the time of the tragedy evaporate?

Following on from Council’s meeting on 23rd July 2012 a review of safety at Runkerry Beach was undertaken.  A full report was circulated.

After discussion 

Councillor P McShane proposed,
Seconded by Councillor McAllister and resolved,
“That Council approve the recommendations in the report on safety and access to Runkerry Beach and that an Action Plan be prepared for their implementation.”

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Moyle District Council - Emergency Access to Bushfoot Strand

Remove the Bollard

It's not just a health and safety issue
It could be a life or death issue

Edwin Poots
Minister for Public Safety

Minister**, there are a range of issues 
surrounding this tragedy that need to be addressed.

1. Sufficient and clear warning signs of the hazards.
2.  Quick and easy access for emergency service vehicles.
3. One name for the location: Bushfoot Strand - as shown on OS maps

click >  The arrival of the bollard
August 2007

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]

click>  Bollard blocks ready access for emergency vehicles
May 2008
 I'm told that the fire was reported about 2:40pm and the first of the tenders was there by 3pm. The firefighters didn't have a key to lower the bollards; I understand one was eventually delivered by a member of the railway staff about 3:40pm just before I'd arrived. .. May 2008

[click on images to enlarge]

Padlock removed; in the past there has been both a padlock on the bollard as well as a heavy chain and padlock securing the crossing-gate to the post. I'm told that the emergency service vehicles drove down the Sand Rodden to this barrier, (one or more) [edit] turned around, drove back up and then along Runkerry Road and then returned to the barrier at the Sand Rodden^^. I'm also told that a emergency vehicle was being driven from Ballycastle with the repeated request from HQ to 'Make Best Speed'. Was it carrying a key to the padlock?

Tracks on the grass

Tracks in the mud

Where the Sand Rodden meets Bushfoot Strand

Looking across the waves to Portballintrae

Ulster Unionist councillor [and Moyle District Council chair] Sandra Hunter said: “My thoughts and prayers are with the young girl’s family at this harrowing time.”

This BBC NI news report highlights the muddle over naming, a muddle that could cause critical delay. Bushfoot Strand, Runkerry Beach and Bushmills Strand are one and the same so let's stick to the Ordnance Survey name: Bushfoot Strand.

The naming issue is becoming even more surreal: "She fell into the sea at Bushtown Strand shortly after 2pm on Sunday." UTV website

A Facebook friend has just flagged up a related issue; this had already been drawn to my attention by a Moyle councillor last night. She says that bollards block access to the road down to the Causeway stones from 9 am to 9 pm. This is a right of way but, much more importantly, the emergency services shouldn't have to hang around while a key or the key manager is located.

Added July 17

We need some timings and a more detailed comment from witnesses about what they heard and maybe saw.  Please contact this blog via details at the top of the webpage,

I think this UTV commentary is too ambiguous:

"Wilkinson: A man went into the water to help after he had raised the alarm with the emergency services. 

Munro: A gentleman had been walking his dog seen the girl get into difficulty and had called the coastguard by 999 and then got in and effected a rescue and helped extract the girl from the surf. A passer-by, police and other people decided to continue with CPR until the ambulance service arrived.

Wilkinson: Bushfoot Strand runs from Portballintrae towards the Giants Causeway. At the Causeway end a bollard had to be unlocked to allow an emergency response vehicle onto the beach and, before that, the first ambulance to arrive onto the scene couldn't take their vehicle any further than the golf-course. Because they were unable to bring their ambulance onto the beach three paramedics then walked along the strand to reach the little girl. It took them thirteen minutes to reach her after the initial emergency call."

We have second witness evidence^^ that three vehicles sped from Portballintrae to Bushmills and then out towards the Causeway: a Rapid Response Vehicle (RRV) and two Coastguard vehicles, one with a trailer attached. Photos show three such vehicles on the strand beside a group of people. Call out time has been given by one source as 14:04, by another as just after 14:00.

Presumably an ambulance could have gone into the car-park at the end of Beach Road, Portballintrae, lowered the (Coleraine Borough Council?) bollard there and driven down to west side of the foot-bridge across the River Bush. Clarification is needed about what happened at the Sand Rodden, the only road access for the Coastguard and emergency response vehicles to Bushfoot Strand. If they had keys they could/should have gone there directly rather than via Portballintrae, a route that added an additional 3 to 6 miles to their travel - depending on their place of departure. 

Delays may not avert tragedies but they certainly heighten the risk.


^^ This second witness - independent of the first witness - has shed some additional light on the difficulties confronted by the emergency services. I'm told that the first emergency services vehicle to arrive in Portballintrae was an RRV and this was followed by an ambulance. The ambulance may have gone to the Beach Road car-park but it came back up Ballaghmore Road and turned left down to Bushfoot Golf Club; presumably its personnel made their way down to the River Bush and over the foot-bridge that leads on to Bushfoot Strand. I'm told a second ambulance appeared and made its way down to the golf club.

Two Coastguard vehicles appeared and drove along Ballaghmore Road into Portballintrae. These two vehicles then returned accompanied by an RRV. They were heading towards Bushmills and could be heard making their up the Whitepark Road towards the Causeway; they were identified as looking very like the three vehicles that later appeared in photos from Bushfoot Strand. All three vehicles returned to Bushmills and headed out to Portballintrae; they subsequently retraced their route out towards the Causeway. What were the reasons for all this movement hither and thither when their services may have been required on Bushfoot Strand? Photographic evidence shows the time of arrival and departure of the RRV from the incident spot on the strand.

The second witness also observed a black car parked in front of the bollarded roadway in the Beach Road car-park that Coleraine Borough Council vehicles use to get access down to the foot-bridge; there was no-one in the black car but its hazard warning lights were flashing. Perhaps its personnel had gone down onto Bushfoot Strand. Some time later this car was observed travelling speedily on the Ballaghmore Road towards Bushmills and later on returning to Portballintrae, overtaking any cars that were maintaining the speed limit. What was the reason for leaving Portballintrae? Had it gone to collect people or medication or equipment?

Added July 19

Return to the Sand Rodden - a second visit within a few days by the emergency services.

** Minister has already acknowledged request - 8 am July 16

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Japanese Knotweed on the Causeway Coast 3

Department of the Environment Fiddles While Knotweed Blooms

Japanese Knotweed on the Causeway Coast 1

Japanese Knotweed on the Causeway Coast 2

Alex Attwood MLA, Minister of the Environment: It is widely recognised that invasive alien species, such as Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica), are the second biggest threat to biodiversity loss worldwide.

Really? The actions of governance agencies, so far, don't suggest that the DoE is likely to get to grips with this threat any time soon. Does there not need to be a programme of eradication directed and monitored by the DoE with assistance given to individual landowners?

DRD Roads Service June 25

"Last year several locations within the public road boundary, including Isle Road, were treated by an approved competent contractor using an appropriate systemic herbicide. Unfortunately, this type of weed usually requires multiple annual treatments to successfully eliminate re-growth.  I can confirm that further treatments are planned very soon on all known locations within the public road in the Moyle District Council area, with repeat treatments as required. The additional locations in Bushmills .. are on private lands for which Roads Service has no responsibility."

DRD Roads Service July 9

"I am pleased to confirm that our Environmental Maintenance Contractor has been instructed to treat many sites throughout the Ballymoney and Moyle Council areas, including Isle Road. Work is due to commence shortly and we will ensure that Isle Road is actioned early in the programme of work.

The effectiveness of this treatment will be monitored."

DoE NIEA July 2

"Landfill tax credits are administered either directly by Councils or by the Ulster Wildlife Trust on their behalf. In addition Moyle Council have themselves previously applied for NIEA Grant Aid to fund a Local Biodiversity Officer within the council. This funding would not be available to each individual landowner to eradicate knotweed from their own back gardens or for developers to eradicate it from development sites where there is obvious commercial gain. It would be intended for wider catchment scale environmental projects such as community led projects which aim to raise awareness and eradicate knotweed from a wider area." ..

"My advice would be that each site is assessed individually to see what herbicide is best suited, which method of application etc as one solution does not fit all sites. The most important factor is the quality of herbicide used (i.e. quantity of active ingredient) and the conditions in which it is sprayed." ..

"The first year spray will always be the most difficult but in subsequent years the regrowth will be much less vigorous and easier to spray. By year 3 to 4 in most cases the knotweed regrowth does not resemble typical knotweed growth appearing only as a small red twig like shoot with no leaves. It is important these are followed up on to prevent the knotweed from re-establishing.

All of this information has been provided in the training which [has been] provided to councils to help them make informed decisions. Similarly it has been discussed with your local Roads Service staff who intend to assess the options for each site prior to spraying."

DoE NIEA July 5

"The Roads Service have appointed a new professional contractor to spray the areas they have identified on their land. This contractor is different from the previous spraying contractor. From the images supplied I would agree that the regrowth was excessive given the plant had been sprayed which could be down to a range of factors." ..

"NIEA are not in a position to oversee the work of a professional contractor working on behalf of Roads Service as you can hopefully understand. We would only oversee this on the properties we own or manage. I have however spoken to local Roads Service staff at length who are aware of all these issues to ensure that they are built into their spraying requirements to ensure the stands are more effectively sprayed this time. They have also increased awareness amongst their staff and have subsequently identified other areas which they will also be spraying."

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

The Diaspora - Homecomings and Gatherings and Shortcomings 2

"Homecoming Scotland 2014 will welcome visitors from around the world to join our inspirational year-long celebration. In the year that Scotland hosts the Commonwealth Games and The Ryder Cup, a nation-wide programme of events will run throughout 2014 to put this dynamic and creative nation firmly on the international stage.

Recognising the success of the Homecoming Scotland 2009 celebrations in rallying Scotland around a common theme, a series of years of focus were established to take the country through to 2014. The years spotlight some of Scotland’s greatest assets; food and drink, our reputation as an active destination, a place of culture and creativity, and a place of natural beauty."

"It’s about asking anyone who has Irish blood, a link to Ireland, or even just a love of our country – to join us for a series of amazing and diverse events throughout 2013.

They will range from clan gatherings where people will discover their roots, to rugby clubs inviting foreign teams to their sevens tournament, and groups of international business colleagues conferencing in Ireland.

Those amazing events will be created by you, your neighbour, your work colleague or your sports team. They will be organised by individuals, groups, business colleagues and clubs within the community who will reach out to their worldwide networks. For those organising the events, there will be lots of information, help and support available on this website over the coming months.

The Gathering is a powerful grass-roots movement. By reconnecting with our global community, it will be like completing an electrical circuit. Energy will flow and our community will light up and sparkle with its own vitality.

Let’s light up 2013 with an unprecedented celebration of Ireland’s global community, and our past, present and future."

But There's A Catch

Many in the Diaspora will think of Ireland as the island home of some of their ancestors, an island of 32 counties. However, this event, though promoted abroad by Tourism Ireland, is being organised by Fáilte Ireland on behalf of the Irish state ie Northern Ireland is not included.

Needless to say, Northern Ireland MLAs managed to confuse themselves over these two different Irelands and both Dublin and Belfast have failed to take account of the needs, desires and widespread roots of the Diaspora.

Just recently, I assisted a family from California. They'd spent a little time in Scotland as they considered their family name to be Scottish; they knew the townland in Antrim one strand of the family had left circa 1870 - I was able to take them to the very farmhouse with the aid of Griffith's Valuation - and then they were off to Mayo to locate another strand.

Sadly, the tourism support arrangements were of limited value to this California family and perhaps it's just as well they came in 2012 rather than 2013; their 'Irish blood', seemingly, was only recognised as Irish by Dublin in Mayo. As for Belfast, it could do with a transfusion of wit :L

Added July 5

Jim, formerly of Portrush, now of NY state, USA, writes: "Travelling to Belfast from NA has become considerably more difficult in the past several years. Only one direct flight now from the East Coast. And expensive. I am quoted $1,800.00 round trip economy NY-London-Belfast-London-NY. I could do it for less if I first flew to Chicago (2.5 hours in the wrong direction), then to Glasgow and finally Belfast - but 22 hours travel time in EACH direction ... no thanks ... I could be in Australia in that time, and for a lot less $ into the bargain.

Added July 11

John of CA state, USA writes: Your tour of Magherintendry was the highlight of our trip, especially given all of the years I have mistakenly been trying to locate my particular branch of the McConaghys in "Ballymoney". My daughter was especially thrilled.

Added July 12

This news report by Greg Dobbs highlights the problems created by the use of Ireland for both the island of 32 counties and the state of 26 counties, even for an experienced commentator. Tourism Ireland is not an Irish government agency as stated by Greg but a limited company; it markets the whole island jointly on behalf of the governing administrations in Dublin and Belfast. I wonder if Greg has any connections to the Castle Dobbs family of Carrickfergus, a family that played such a large part in the migration of folks from Ulster and Scotland to North Carolina.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Portrush - In the Doldrums 3

©/Lorcan Doherty Photography - June 21th 2012.
Ministers Foster and McCausland appear to be more than satisfied with the Station Square project but others might wonder if they and/or their officials/agencies are handing over public funds willy-nilly for public realm projects that have been exposed to inadequate supervision.

Perhaps the Planning Minister, Alex Attwood, ought to ask his officials to look at a planning process that permitted the creation of public realm works with a maritime theme that block a maritime view.

C/2012/0260/LDP was online on 23 June but it was missing from the Planning Service website when the first NALIL blog on this topic was published; it is currently absent!

Some of the details in the LDP online application for a Certificate of Lawfulness were barely legible but I had obtained copies from the divisional planning office.

The general layout and the boundary line drawings, in my opinion, fail to show the 'precise nature' of the works being undertaken yet the Planning Service awarded a Certificate of Lawfulness. The application form [pdf file] clearly requests 'a detailed description of all such operations' along with 'such plans to scale or drawings as are necessary to show their precise nature'.

Planning permission was subsequently sought and given for the canopy and for the masts but, as far as I can see, no permission was sought for the prow, a feature that rises to ten feet above the pavement and is dramatically higher than the flower/shrubbery-bed that preceded it. I also understand that permission has yet to be given for the lighting standards