Sunday, 18 December 2016

Dalriada Hospital, Ballycastle - Important Open Meeting - Corrymeela - Monday, December 19 at 7 pm

UPDATE 30 December 2016

January 2017 meetings on the consultation on 

Ballycastle, Sheskburn Recreation Centre, 11 January, 3pm-5pm

Coleraine, The Sandel Centre 11 January 2017, 7pm – 9pm

Shauna McFall design

Come to Corrymeela tomorrow night [Monday, December 19] at 7pm to voice your concern at a consultation on behalf of the Health Minister

As Réamaí Mathers notes, internal Northern Trust documents are still naming The Dal as surplus to requirements - despite it being packed!

Living Well Moyle

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Hanlon and O'Hanlon - Parish of Clonduff in south County Down

I met someone today who was researching her Hanlon/O'Hanlon ancestors; they lived in the Parish of Clonduff in the south of Co Down and to the east of Newry.

I've just done a little research on this family.  Michael Hanlon married Annie Morgan in 1892. He was baptised in 1857 along with a twin sister Anne. I've found an 1881 wedding between an Anne Hanlon and John Gilmore [son of Peter], both living in the same townland at the time of their marriage. Michael and this Anne have the same father - Michael - and lived in the same townland so could be the twins who were baptised in 1857. Michael snr was married to a Mary Ann Doran.

Michael jnr died in 1938, aged 79, and there's an abstract of his will on the PRONI website.

I've found, in this Rathfriland district, the deaths of a Michael Hanlon [married] in 1876, aged 54 and a Mary O'Hanlon [widowed] in 1894, aged 75. Perhaps these were Michael jnr's parents.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Ballycastle - 5th Annual Santa's Pony Parade - December 3

Organised by Roisin McGinn and Nicole McGinn

Now in its 5th year, Santa's Pony Parade, Ballycastle is a fun, festive spectacle to raise money for orphan diseases.  Donations accepted in lieu of entrance fee; refreshments included and prizes for best horse/pony costumes. We've also got a few surprises up our sleeves this year!

Pre-register to be in with a chance of winning a fabulous cooler rug!

Download THIS form and return to

(T and Cs: Winner must have returned the form and also presented their mobile ticket on the day as proof of pre-registration - good luck!)

Monday, 3 October 2016

Creation of the Antrim Coast Road - BBC 2, Northern Ireland - October 9, 16 and 23

"A new three-part series from BBC Northern Ireland tells the largely unknown story of the creation of the Antrim Coast Road as well as stories about its history and its people." .. Farming Life

Glendun Viaduct

"Early in the 19th century, in the reign of William IV, the Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland reported that the Glens of Antrim were "cut off from any reasonable communication by the badness of roads over mountains and slopes varying from 1 in 6 to 1 in 12". The Commissioners conceived a great project to build the Antrim Coast Road to give better access for the inhabitants, open up the Glens for trade, and give a form of unemployment relief.

The Antrim Coast Road was promoted by the Commissioners, but it was their civil engineer, William Bald, who had the vision of building the road along the foot of the cliffs. He did so between 1832 and 1842, supervised by the County Surveyors of the day – Thomas Woodhouse (1832–1836) and Charles Lanyon (1836–1842)." .. Wikipedia

Cushendun viewed from the A2

William Bald: Cartographer, Surveyor and Engineer

Monday, 22 August 2016

Causeway Coast and Glens - Under and Over the Boardwalk

Winter storms and turbulent seas can wreak havoc. The restoration of the Pans Rock footbridge at Ballycastle highlights what needs to be done at Cushendun where the walk-way down onto the strand has been out of use for a considerable time. Perhaps the relevant responsible body can provide a remedy.

Pans Rock, Ballycastle


Thursday, 18 August 2016

Song - Old Bushmills

The following emigrant-style song was written down in 1939 by Uel Kane of Ballytaggart, a townland that lies a few miles east of Ballymoney, County Antrim:

Old Bushmills

There's a dear little spot far away o'er the sea
And bright in my memory fore'er it will be
Like a baby when sleeping, all smiling serene
And of all Erin's beauties, I call her the Queen

Tho' I may be far over the sea
On whatever fate wills
Yet near to my heart
Will be dear old Bushmills

On the banks of the Bush water* all smiling she stands
And though you may wander in far distant lands
You will all join with me, boys, and stick to the truth
In praising that town on the banks of the Bush

The fame of the Causeway is known far and near
While Carrick-a rede to the tourist is dear
And the Lakes of Killarney and Wicklow's high hills
But to me they seem common compared with Bushmills

Though never again may I see her sweet face
Yet in my bosom I'll keep her, the cosiest place
And when I am weary with cares or with ills
Sure it will banish them all when I think of Bushmills

An almost identical version of the song appears on the website. It's attributed to 'Northern Constitution, Coleraine Songs of the People 375 edited by Willie Devine', is titled "Dear Old Bushmills" and has a different final line:

I will banish them all with a drop of Bushmills.

* Bush Water is an earlier name for the river that meanders through the town.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Zoo the Film - Based on a true story from Belfast in WWII

Young Extras Needed

ZOO THE FILM - Indiegogo pitch from Wee Buns Films on Vimeo

July 18 post

I understand some of the film locations will be in Northern Ireland.

Causeway Coast and Glens - Busy Day at the Dark Hedges

The ever increasing popularity of the Dark Hedges is placing an intolerable burden on the frail elderly trees which form a natural archway over the Bregagh Road, a few miles east of Ballymoney. I've put together a short slideshow based on some of Bob McCallion's very informative photos. All but one of the photos was taken on Thursday, August 11.

Pressure has been building for a number of years but the relevant authorities have been slow to arrive at a solution which would provide a measure of respite.

The Department for Infrastructure in the Northern Ireland Executive has recently announced:

"Following discussions with Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council and other interested parties, the department has agreed to take forward an order prohibiting vehicles using Bregagh Road."

The department has proposed banning vehicles. Plans are still only in the early stages of consultation.

Meanwhile Tourism Ireland continues to promote this Game of Thrones location so the coaches and other vehicles are likely to roll relentlessly onwards.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Whitepark Bay - Cattle Puzzled by Human Behaviour

 Cattle on a Sunday Stroll

Whitepark Bay on the north Antrim Coast

"If we lay on our backs, folk would laugh at us"

"Go away and leave us in peace"

Portbraddan with Portmoon in the distance

Monday, 8 August 2016

Martha Craig (1866-1950) - 1946 Fire


Martha Craig (1866-1950) - a Sesquicentennial Commemoration

Updated November 27, 2017

Martha Craig was born on this day in 1866. I first noted her name as a reputed neighbour of the McKinley family of Conagher, between Ballymoney and Dervock. I decided to go in search of Martha last year but found her not in north Antrim but in south-east  Antrim, on the high ground between Larne and Carrickfergus and close by the village of Gleno.

Martha, the astronomer

She was born in Carneal, in the parish of Raloo, the daughter of William Craig and Mary Nelson. Mary was a close relation of teenager Willie Nelson who was hanged in 1798 during the course of the United Irish rebellion. Stories about events surrounding the rebellion appear to have had a profound influence on young Martha. She was a remarkable woman yet her remarkable exploits have almost completely disappeared from the public mind. What follows is a brief glimpse into an extraordinary life:

Martha, member of the Henry Joy McCracken Literary Society

[Ottawa Journal 06 June 1898]

[New York World 06 March 1898]

[Lowell Sun 09 July 1904]

Martha on the trail of Hiawatha

[Boston Sunday Globe 06 August 1905]

Martha, the inventor

 Martha, first woman to lecture at University of Salamanca

Martha, the poet

Martha's final resting place
St Columba's graveyard in Gleno

Canada's Early Women Writers
[added 15 August 2016]

Added November 27, 2017

Martha's sister Mary Anne married Robert John McDowell in 1878 and their daughter Margaret Craig McDowell married Thomas Gregg in 1909, parents of Professor Robert John Gregg, sometime Honorary President of the Ulster-Scots Language Society.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Naturally North Coast and Glens - Artisan Markets

Ballycastle Seafront - Sunday July 24

Armoy Road Races - Friday and Saturday July 29 & 30

Ballymoney Castlecroft - Saturday July 30

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Portrush - Bath Road Seascape

Ten years ago, in 2006, a planning appeals commissioner made the following observations about a proposed development in Portballintrae prior to rejecting the developer's appeal:

The existing cottages and seascape on the seaward side of Beach Road are part of the defining character of Portballintrae and are an indispensable element of its scenic surroundings. The intended development area has been a favourite location for painters and photographers seeking to capture the majestic qualities of this coastal landscape. These features are internationally recognised and attract many visitors and regular holiday-makers to Portballintrae.

The appeal schemes would be very visible features when viewed from the western approach into the village because they would be directly in the line of sight across the Bay to Runkerry Strand and the Giant’s Causeway. They would intrude markedly into the existing most attractive vista towards the Causeway Coast when descending into the settlement for more than 1km along Bayhead Road.

The beach that adjoins the north-eastern edge of the appeal sites together with the nearby rocks and sea pools comprise the most intensively used area of passive recreation in the village. The appeal proposals, if approved, would transform the western perimeter of this well used cove from a semi-natural grassy environment with a few traditional low-profile buildings set within it to a high and dense modern housing complex, to its overall detriment. Beach Road should act as the edge of the village rather than the high tide level on the foreshore. Development, if sanctioned at the appeal sites, would downgrade Portballintrae’s importance as a coastal resort, with adverse economic consequences.

The commissioner's observations and decision were subsequently ignored by the local planning service.

Will the restructured planning service permit the erection of a multi-storey apartment complex [C/2013/0497/F] between Bath Road and the Blue Pool on the eastern side of the Portrush peninsula?

X marks the location of the proposed multi-story complex

X marks the conceptual view of the complex
as seen from Antrim Gardens

Recent uninterrupted view of the Whiterocks
as seen from Antrim Gardens

Recent largely uninterrupted view of the Landsdowne
foreshore  as seen from Bath Terrace. Imagine
the visual impact of a multi-storey erection

Remnant of the public path that led from Bath Road to
the Blue Pool following demolition of Leander House
and the grassing-over of the site 

Grassed-over area has recently been fenced off

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Portbraddan - 'Keep Out'


The clachan at Portbraddan is one of the tourism gems on the north coast of County Antrim. It nestles in a small gorge at the western end of Whitepark Bay and is well sheltered from the prevailing westerlies. The clachan is accessible on foot along the coastline as well as by vehicle from the main road.

One of its unique attractions is the miniature private church of St Gobban's, constructed by the Rev Con Auld, until recently owner of the adjacent The Braddan, 22 Portbraddon Road; the small building had previously been used for livestock and appears in an old photograph from the 1890s.

The Braddan is currently being refurbished and a rather less than welcome sign appears on the wood shuttering.


Will the small church be reopened or is it closed for good? It would be a great shame if such a magical part of our local heritage was hidden from public view; it's been very much appreciated by local people as well as by visitors from distant shores.

Rev McConnell Auld

St Gobban's July 2011
[I'm told that £100,000 has been raised
for charity during Con's ownership]

St Gobban's interior July 2011

July 2011

July 2016

All changed, changed utterly:   
A terrible beauty is born. 

G B Yeats 1916

Added July 15

New chain barrier

For whom the bell tolls no more?


Added July 21

Regular visitors are in for a surprise

The padlocked wooden shuttering
has been painted a bright yellow

The little gothic-style window has been removed
as has the familiar colour blue

Will this door withstand the pummelling raging seas?

Portbraddan in Templastragh townland
Griffith's Valuation map circa 1860
Fishery leased from the Leslie family
and, later, the Macnaghtens

A copy of this R J Welch photo can be purchased
from the National Museums of Northern Ireland

Added July 23

Added May 30, 2017

Small building known as St Gobban's has been demolished
If anyone knows what happened to its interior and exterior artefacts please email me.

Added June 4, 2017

Con Auld bought his former property at Portbraddan in 1962 and converted a small outbuilding into St Gobbans. In 1993 he described it:

"It is an anti-sectarian, non-denominational, proprietary chapel dedicated to peace, open to everyone and therefore not consecrated by any particular denomination. To consecrate is to set apart for a special (usually religious use) use, or to devote to a special purpose .... St Gobban's purpose was and still is irenic"

St Gobban's was officially listed in 1990 (HB.5.10.9) for its

"particular contribution to Northern Ireland heritage and to the character of the community .... and to ensure it would receive special consideration whenever proposals for development are contemplated."

Following an objection it was eventually delisted in 1993.

Over the generations, Portbraddan has been transformed from a farmyard and fishery, where those who lived there earned their living from the land and the sea, to holiday lets and holiday homes. 

Con has departed, the iconography has gone and St Gobban's has been erased - but the memories will linger on. 

I was told that my grandfather used to take his family for an annual picnic to Portbraddan - probably by horse, trap and bicycle; he also gathered dulse there. One of my great-aunts lived there; her husband was a fisherman.

Visitors from distant shores will continue to come, including the descendants of those who emigrated over the generations, but St Gobban's will not be there to greet them.