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.
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:
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 mudcat.org 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.
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."
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
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.