Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Bushmills Orchestral Society - 1898 Revisited

click > Flickr large image < click

Will we see its like again?

Cory Meets - John Watt - Watt's About

Donal Cunningham, outgoing chair of Moyle District Council,
presents the Chronicle's John Watt with a plaque to celebrate
[the first] 25 years of Watt's About

John received a similar plaque from Ballymoney Borough Council

click >Larger image on Flickr < click

Cory was more interested in the horses than having his photo taken!

Friday, 20 March 2015

Martha Craig, President William McKinley and Hiawatha

The Mystery of Martha

Martha meets the President

Monday, February 28, 1898

Martha on the trail of Hiawatha

"Americans, and especially American children here in the northwest, think they know all about Hiawatha. They have Hiawatha readers and they learn the beautiful Longfellow poem by heart almost as soon as they learn to read words of one syllable. Yet it has remained for Miss Martha Craig, a woman from the Emerald Isle, to trace down the real Hiawatha. She read the poem at her home in Ireland. The people seemed real to her and yet the poem seemed to tell her only half. The charm grew and grew upon her and one day she determined to sail to America and hunt out everything about the real Hiawatha as known in the hunting lodges of his tribe.

She began by asking the Micmac Indians if they had ever heard of Hiawatha. They never had. Then she went among the Indians of Labrador. Neither had they ever heard of Hiawatha. She made a pilgrimage to the tents of the Iroquois and the Hurons, but not until she found the Sioux did she come upon the trail of Hiawatha. "You want to see Be-quo-gi-ni-ni, Keep-er-of-Secrets," she was told. "It was he who gave the Hiawatha stories to Schoolcraft** and Schoolcraft gave them to Longfellow." Be-quo-gi-ni-ni told her more Hiawatha tales than Longfellow has used, and his store exhausted, he said she ought to go north of Huron Bay, the Palestine of Canada. She started at once, and this was the beginning of a journey of many, many miles by canoe and portage with Indians as her only companions, ending in her adoption as a princess by one of the tribes and the discovery that the Longfellow "Hiawatha" is but a fragment of a very beautiful whole. It took her five years to gather all the legends, which are of surpassing beauty.

Yet even tho Longfellow may not have known all the story of Hiawatha, even tho Miss Craig may give us the complete story of this Indian Messiah, it is the fragment dressed out by the poet that will live the longest and be the most loved of men." .. Source

Daily Mail and Empire, December 1, 1900

** Henry Schoolcraft: "He served as a United States Indian agent for a period beginning in 1822 in Michigan, where he married Jane Johnston, mixed-race daughter of a prominent Scotch-Irish fur trader [John Johnston] and Ojibwa mother, who was daughter of a war chief. She taught him the Ojibwe language and much about her maternal culture. They had several children, two of whom survived past childhood. She is now recognized as the first Native American literary writer in the United States."

John Johnston was the son of Capn William Mussenden Johnston and Elizabeth McNeill. In response to an email query that I received a few days ago via Tourism NI and the Coleraine Visitor Information Centre, I've located this Jane in the townland of Craig in the 1803 Trail census of the parish of Ballintoy [pdf file]:


Mrs Eliz Johnston   Ww     }1D. Eliza [Ww=widow]
of Willm Johnston  Esq
Miss Ann Johnston
Mr John Moore              }
Jane Johnston              }
Jane & Mary O'Hail (serts)
Alex Johnston & John M'Collom (serts) [servants]


I'd like to know more about the origins and fate of Martha Craig who dropped in on the President . Who were her parents, where and when was she born. Is she the same Martha as the editor of The Garden of Canada [1902] and maker of poems in Legends of the North Land [1910?] The latter Martha was born on the 8th August, 1866.

Brooklyn Life - 30 Apr 1904

"Says it is a crime to die" ... Amador Ledger - 15 June 1906

Added September 21, 2015

"I am not afraid to go anywhere a man will go." - Martha Craig, March 1898

The two Marthas are one and the same*. Martha's mother was Mary Nelson and her great-uncle, Willie Nelson was executed in 1798 [pdf file]. Her father, William Craig, died on 27 May 1905 and his will can be read in PRONI Will Calendars. William and Mary were married in Raloo Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church on 16 November 1854.

[* The link includes a reference to her friend, Maud Gonne]

I've just been put in touch with Martha's great-great-niece who lives not far from Carneal and we'll be getting together soon to share resources. I've also made contact with someone who is researching early Canadian woman writers, including Martha Craig.

Martha passed away in her native townland of Carneal on 2nd April 1950. She was in Paris in WWI and was affected by shell-shock. The family home went on fire in 1946 and many of her personal belongings perished in the flames.

One of my ancestors was a sister of Francis McKinley and one of my former pupils was a great-great-nephew of Martha Craig.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Saint Patrick's Day Horse Ploughing near Ballycastle

click > Q Radio - On the QT Podcast < click

JustGiving - Ashley Abseiling for Friends of the Cancer Centre

click > Take on the Tower abseil < click
takes place on the 11th and 12th April

"The Lord Mayor of Belfast joins Colleen Shaw, chief executive of Friends of the Cancer Centre and Professor Joe O’Sullivan, clinical director of the Cancer Centre, as they get set for Friends of the Cancer Centre’s Take on the Tower Abseil at Belfast City Hospital. Friends of the Cancer Centre is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year and to mark the milestone it is holding the very first abseil down Belfast City Hospital’s iconic yellow tower block. The Take on the Tower abseil takes place on the 11th and 12th April, giving brave supporters the chance to see Northern Ireland’s 4th tallest building from a completely different angle, as they make a 190ft adrenaline filled descent right in the heart of the city."

[fully booked]

Ashley Takes on the Tower

One she made earlier!

"As most of you are aware, cancer has been detected in our family over the past few years, my own included. Closest to my heart is my dad's illness which now thankfully has been treated and he is well on the mend. The nurses and all staff within the Friends of Cancer Centre have been amazing in the treatment and accommodation given to dad. These people are nothing short of angels.

Our family are so thankful for this healthcare facility which is why I have decided to "Take on the Tower" (I think I must be mad enough to do it!!) on 12th April 2015.

Looking forward to this once in a lifetime opportunity to do this and give something back (and you never know what's around the corner for us all) - as Friends of the Cancer Centre is celebrating its 30th anniversary!!!

Thanks for taking the time to visit my JustGiving page."

[Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving – they’ll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. Once you donate, they’ll send your money directly to the charity. So it’s the most efficient way to donate – saving time and cutting costs for the charity.]

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Portballintrae - The Twilight Zone

Is there something in the air? As we've entered the twilight zone between the demise of the current local councils and the arrival of the new super councils on April 1, Coleraine Borough councillors have been keeping ratepayers in the dark:

Members of the press and the public were then asked to leave the Chamber to allow members to discuss the proposals ‘in committee’. [source]

So much for open government! Will the same nonsense pertain in the new councils?

The sea has recently removed most of the sand from Bushfoot Strand. What are Coleraine councillors prepared to give away? They can be contacted prior to the meeting with the Portballintrae Action Group in the Cloonavin council buildings, Portstewart Road, Coleraine, this coming Monday evening, March 9.

Portballintrae Bay

Curiously enough, there's no mention of this meeting on the Council's agenda site - surely a breach of the Information Commissioner's Model Publication Scheme.

#SaveTheDal - Open Meeting - Saturday March 7 - Ballycastle


What services would you like to see retained,
 enhanced or introduced at Dalriada Hospital, Ballycastle?

 Please come and share your ideas at today's public meeting.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Carrickmore Road, Ballycastle (Abandonment) Order (NI) 2015 - Petition

[click to view petition]

Department of Regional Development (Roads Service)
Danny Kennedy
Moyle District Council
Causeway Coast & Glens Shadow Council

To reject the proposed Carrickmore Road, Ballycastle (Abandonment) Order (NI) 2015 and assert, protect and ensure unhindered access along the existing route of the public right of way, and reject any possible re-routing of the public right of way.


DRD is processing this order on behalf of an applicant

Planning Service ordered the removal of the kerbing and the lights

Those who are unable to walk to the end of the road 
can currently be taken by car or otherwise to take in a view 
without the distraction of a town-house.

Public spaces should remain in the public domain and public servants whether they be elected representatives or administrators should be wholly transparent in matters that pertain to the public interest. A search of NALIL blog with 'marconi' and 'carrickmore' and 'abandonment' and 'salt' will reveal information that sheds light on decision-making behind closed doors as well as an exclusion of public involvement in a process that impacts on those who use this public road or who have a concern for the protection of our natural and built heritage.

Some Online Comments

"If objections cannot be resolved and the Division wishes to proceed with the abandonment/stopping-up proposal the objections (and all related correspondence) should be referred through the Divisional Roads Manager to the Director of Corporate Services, RSHQ with a reasoned recommendation as to why the proposal should proceed without recourse to a Public Inquiry or why a Public Inquiry should be held."

"I object to the abandonment of any part of the Carrickmore Road which provides unrestricted access for the public to enjoy the wonderful scenic views and treks provided by this beautiful and historic area of Ballycastle."

Dunseverick Community Association Talk - March 16 - Harry Ferguson

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Protect Our North Coast - An Urgent Appeal for Funds

[Click title to go to appeal site]

Project aim
To cover the professional fees of Environmental Consultants to respond to Rathlin Energy's Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in relation to their application to drill into the shale at Ballinlea, in Co. Antrim, on Northern Ireland's North Coast. 

About the project
We urgently need your support to help pay for professional Environmental Consultants to analyse and respond to the EIA, to help in objecting to this drilling application. This must be stopped before it starts, otherwise we could see hundreds, if not thousands, of well pads all over the North Coast. The sooner you pledge the sooner we can instruct the consultants to go ahead and the deadline is looming.

An oil and gas company called Rathlin Energy Ltd has applied to the Planning Service to drill an exploratory oil/gas well at Ballinlea in Co. Antrim, N. Ireland, into the shale layer (Murlough formation) at a depth of 2700m. Their licence area (onshore Rathlin Basin) covers most of the spectacular North Coast from Ballycastle in the East, to Magilligan in the West, and south to Garvagh. They have said if successful they would like to drill 4 wells every square mile for oil. (Many more will be required if shale gas is to be extracted.)

The company has submitted an Environmental Impact Assessment report. Protect Our North Coast would like to engage Environmental Consultants to analyse this three volume report and prepare a professional response. 

The quoted fee is approximately £12,000 (incl VAT, but not expenses). We would like to raise at least £10,000 through this crowd-funding site [by March 12] to cover the bulk of the costs. [Over £4800 pledged already]

The proposed well site is located just 7 miles from N. Ireland's only UNESCO World Heritage site, the Giant's Causeway, not far from Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and other designated sites, all in the licence area. The well would be half-way between the now infamous Dark Hedges and Ballintoy Harbour on the Games of Thrones tourist trail. The route for HGVs going to and from the site is along the narrow road at the top of the Dark Hedges, which is already difficult for tourists to navigate.

You can find the planning application and EIA documents on the planning portal at:

It does seem a little strange to me that the Environmental Impact Assessment is not being carried out independently under the direction of the Department of the Environment, Northern Ireland.

Also, this ministerial reply does lack clarity as to the precise nature of the proposed drilling operation:

Q [9 Feb 2015]: To ask the Minister of the Environment whether the proposed mini fall off test in the shale reservoir included in planning application E/2013/0093/F under licence PL3/10 issued to Rathlin Energy Ltd, will provide information about the character of the shales that would be relevant to an assessment of their unconventional resource potential.

A: The Ballinlea No. 2 well is planned to test whether the oil found in a sandstone unit in the 2008 Ballinlea No. 1 well is an indication that there is a significant oil / gas accumulation nearby (at a geologically structurally higher level).

The proposed mini fall off test* will take place in the Carboniferous shale which lies beneath the target sandstone layer.  The fall off test measures how the pressure in a low permeability rock unit 'falls off' with time. It gives an estimate of the permeability in low pressure formations and is not a hydraulic fracturing process.

Currently, there is relatively little known about the deep geology of the Rathlin sedimentary basin and the distribution of Carboniferous shales is poorly understood, let alone their viability as an economic target for gas.

The exploration operations proposed by Rathlin will examine the Carboniferous shale, because these would be the source rocks for any oil discovered in the overlying sandstones and it is important for the company to understand their physical and chemical properties including their potential to have generated oil and gas in the geological past. No testing for shale gas will be carried out and the results of the mini fall off test will provide information about the shale properties but not constitute an assessment of the shale’s unconventional resource potential.

I can assure you that application E/2013/0093/F constitutes a conventional borehole and is not for the unconventional exploration of hydrocarbons and neither does it propose to use any unconventional testing techniques. The primary objective of the proposed Ballinlea No. 2 well is to test the Carboniferous conventional sandstone reservoir sequence at the new well location.

[* The mini fall off test is also known as the minifrac test. 'The results of a DFIT can be used to optimize a stimulation plan to get the most efficient frac design and to evaluate the effectiveness of a completion.  By performing a test before and after a stimulation job, the engineer will be able to evaluate just how effective their fracture was.' In this Rathlin Energy Crawbery Hill report [pdf file]:

A mini fall-off test is a short duration formation test designed to gather reservoir engineering data (characteristics and properties of the reservoir rock formation). The test is carried out to establish the pressure at which  injection of fluid occurs into the  formation and analyses how the pressure permeates through the formation over a given period of  time(usually 14 days). For clarity, the intention of the mini fall-off test is not to fracture the formation but to establish if and at what pressure the formation becomes permeable. The information gathered during the mini fall-off test will help determine whether the formation is capable of being hydraulically fractured. Hydraulic fracturing is not being considered as part of the application which this plan supports.

Perhaps the Minister should review his answer!]

There's also the impact on insurance and property values and this would suggest a question to the Minister for the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development:

As oil and gas production – including fracking - is not a farming activity, we have included wording on our farm business policy to tell policyholders that their farm environmental liability insurance would not cover damage to other people’s property which they had caused by fracking or other oil and gas exploration or production."

Added March 2, 2015

On 6 December 2011, the Minister voted in favour of the following motion:


That this Assembly believes that a moratorium should be placed on the onshore and offshore exploration, development and production of shale gas by withdrawing licences for hydraulic fracturing (fracking), at least until the publication of a detailed environmental impact assessment into the practice; notes that hydraulic fracturing can put local water sources at risk of contamination; further notes that, amongst a variety of adverse environmental impacts, the process of fracking can cause serious well blowouts, which put both workers and local communities at risk; considers that the production of hard-to-reach fossil fuels is not compatible with efforts to achieve carbon reduction targets; and urges the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment to give greater support to the generation of energy from renewable sources instead.

The DETI minister who issues drilling licences made the following comments during the course of this debate:

Ms Lo: I thank the Minister for giving way. As I said outside the Chamber, within the planning policy framework, do you think that we have the competence in DOE to have a full, rigorous and independent impact assessment?

Mrs Foster: Obviously, that is a matter for my colleague in DOE, but if he does not have the competence internally, he will have to look outside of DOE for that international competence. Under European regulations, we will have to carry out an environmental impact assessment that satisfies the European Commission. Therefore, the rigorous international engineering protocols will have to be met and dealt with.

The licence to explore for shale gas which has been issued in County Fermanagh — that seems to be the area that people are looking at most closely — does not permit the operator to do anything more than undertake desk studies and similar preparatory work. Construction works, deep drilling, fracking and similar major activities must and will be subject to planning and many other safeguards. I would not have that any other way.

Why then is the DOE minister putting those with concerns at the expense of challenging a non-independent environmental impact assessment?