Monday, 28 April 2014

Dunluce Castle - Ringing the Changes

Thursday 1 May - 2 pm and 7 pm
Mill Rest Hostel,  Bushmills

Saturday 3 May - Free Admission
Dunluce Castle

According to Trip Advisor, the Dunluce Castle experience is highly regarded by visitors yet, in a recent question and answer session in the Northern Ireland Assembly, all is not well - as indicated by the reported drop in visitor numbers. Perhaps visitors to the Causeway Coast and Glens, on a restricted budget and in an age of austerity, are forced to make a choice between the various heritage attractions.

The castle is managed by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, an agency of the Department of the Environment: 

Open meetings of the NIEA Board give the public an opportunity to see clearly how the Agency operates. The Board holds meetings in public and publishes Board meeting agendas, papers and decisions.

This quote is taken from a webpage that was last updated on 22 December 2011 and the dates listed are for 2012. Details on agendas, minutes and papers are given on a linked webpage:

The agenda for all Agency Board meetings will be posted to this page on NIEA’s website approximately one week before every Board meeting. All papers for the open sessions of the Agency Board meeting will be posted here or can be obtained on request from the Board secretariat.

This webpage was last updated on 16 May 2013 and the most recent posted minutes are for March 2013. These minutes contain very little of substance with regard to Dunluce:

Stephen advised that he and the Chair need to confirm the responsibility of the Dunluce ‘champion’ with Michael Coulter. 

There's also a stakeholders' group which, presumably, also could publish agendas, minutes and papers on-line:

Minister Mark Durkan: I assure him that a stakeholder group has been established, which consists of NIEA — naturally — the neighbouring landowners and other agencies, such as the Tourist Board, with an interest in the development of the site. [source]

Why aren't interested members of the public being kept fully informed about the work of the NIEA, including progress on the Dunluce Project? Has the Office of the Information Commissioner not been monitoring the performance of the NIEA as would be expected in its role as guardian of Model Publication Schemes? Would that not be good practice?

Details of a rival private heritage project [pdf file] are currently being considered by the Planning Service [C/2012/0158/F].

If you want to find out more about the NIEA's Dunluce Project, please go along to one or other of the meetings in the Mill Rest Hostel on Thursday 1 May and put your queries, concerns and/or suggestions to the NIEA team.


Belated promotion by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board on behalf of NIEA as well as by NIEA itself.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

On Foot from Bushmills to the Causeway

Where's the signage?

There's no footpath from Bushmills to the Giant's Causeway alongside the road taken by those on wheeled transport but there are paths starting at the junction of the roads to Portrush and Portballintrae. Some signage would be of great benefit to visitors.

By the Park and Ride

Entering the Diamond

Crossing over the River Bush


Finally a pedestrian symbol

Finally a direction sign for walkers

Whins in bloom alongside the tram-track

Some more of these for the dog-walkers!

There are a series of paths that can be walked apart from the direct one along by the tram-track. These include paths past the golf-club, through Portballintrae and over the Three-Quarter Bridge and then via the strand or back onto the tram-track.

Added August 13, 2014

Friday, 18 April 2014

Countdown to pre-1901 Irish census records - Monday April 28 2014

Irish Genealogy News
[updated April 28]

The National Archives of Ireland's collections of 19th-century census fragments and census search forms will be uploaded to the NAI's free Genealogy website on Monday 28 April. They will be added to the databases of FindMyPast [pay] and FamilySearch [free] at the same time. ..

The 19th-century census fragments are the surviving parts of the diennial censuses taken 1821 to 1851. ..

The Census Search Forms were the documents completed by those wishing to 'prove' their age to support an application for a state pension, following its introduction in 1908. A search was made of the paper returns for the 1841 and 1851 censuses (which had not been destroyed at this time) to see if the applicant could be identified.


Added April 28

The National Archives, in partnership with FindMyPast and FamilySearch, has just placed online some valuable new genealogical resources which complement the material already on our genealogy website. They are: 

Census survivals, 1821–1851; surviving and copy census returns from the pre-famine period, with considerable clusters of records for places like Cavan, Meath and Antrim; 

Census Search Forms, 1841-1851; records of searches in the census records pre-1922 to provide proof of age as eligibility for the Old Age Pension, introduced in 1909. These records give names and ages of members of the family in 1841 or 1851, and very often the maiden name of the applicant’s mother. 

These collections deal with 600,000 individuals in all, a substantial record of an important period in Irish history while the final tranche of our Soldiers’ Wills covering 1917-1918 are now also available to search online.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Fire and Rescue Tender @ Distillery

There was a little more fun than expected for a small coach load of American visitors who dropped in to the distillery in Bushmills this afternoon. I'm told that they were fire-fighters from California and that the fire-alarm was triggered while they were on the premises.

Not this one!

A fire tender appeared in my rear view mirror as I drove up Main Street, went past as I pulled to one side and swept into the distillery car-park.

Visitors had assembled in the main car-park and distillery staff in the lower car-park. A short time later, staff returned to work and visitors resumed their tour.