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cMemoriesyom the C15trangftrd Area

A note on ltJ5lnverbrena I: The namefirst appears in the Annals if the Four Masters as ((Inver Brena" the mouth if the Bren river and identifies the narrow neck if water through which the tide rushes into Loch Cuan.



(5Jhairman &rote. Once again, dear reader, it is my pleasure to introduce to you our new edition of the Inverbrena journal. This is our seventh publication and it is once again due to the dedication and enthusiasm and hard work of our contributors and friends which make it possible. It is you, the readers, by your encouragement, perhaps accompanied by a little push from our editor and, or, our secretary who provide the bits of information and photographs which can end up in interesting articles. Long m ay this interest continue and long may our members continue to delve into the folklore and obscure history of our town and townlands. But events pass quickly in this bustling and apprehensive world for as soon as tomorrow comes today becomes yesterday and history.



the olden memories fast are flying fro m us Oh! that some kind hand would come And bind them in a garland e're the present hardens And the past grows cold and dumb. " Anon

Front Cover: Aerial view of Strandford Narrows, originally called Inverbrena. Eamon McMu llan :s handwriting.

(jJontents The Entrepreneur. ... .Eamon McMullan .. .. ........ .... ................................ ... ................... .. ......... .. . 3 A Near Thing On The Lough ..... W Crea . ......... ......... ......... . ...... ........... ... ............. . ..... . .. ... .... 5 Gathering Spuds ..... Pat Fitzsimons ..... ........................................................................... .......... 6 Another Poet Remembered-James Rooney.. ... P]. Lennon ....................................................... 7 Man .... ]ames Rooney ..... ............................................................................................................. 8 The Tidal Mill At Black Causeway..... George McKibben ........................................ ................... 9 Ballyculter Parish 1877 .... .Ronnie Buchanan ................. ...... ... ................................... .. ... .... .. . . 10 Lines On The Methodist Meeting House, Blackcauseway, Strangford ..... Rev. WE. Kennedy ................................................. ... .. ....... ........ .. ..... ........... ..... 13 Months ..... Anon ... ....... .......................... ............................. ...... .......................................... 14 Centenary of Kilclief GAA Club 1901 - 2001.. ... Peig Denvir .............................................. 15 A Memory.... .Dr Maurice Hayes ................................... .. .... .. ............................. . .... .... ..... .... .. 18 Some Memories of Kilclief and Football ..... Pat Fitzsimons .... .............. ....... .. ......................... 21 Inverbrena Wisdom ........................................................ .............. ...... ......... ...................... 23 Hurling Is A Way Of Life In Kilclief.. ... PJ Lennon .......... .......... .. ............ .......... ... ................ 24 Nobody's Daughter. .... Sheila Campbell .... .... ............. ... ............... . ...... .................................... 26 Three Saints In One ..... Eilis Fitzsimons ........ .. ........ ... .. .... ........ ................ ................ ......... .... . 27 Isobel's View From Cariff Hills .... .Isobel Magee ........... ................. ............... ................. ...... ... 32 Horseparsley..... Pat Fitzsimons ... .. .... ......... ...... ..... .. . ...... ......... ... ... .... .. ......... .......................... 35 From Oil Lamp to Neon Lights ..... Eamon McMullan ............................................................ 36 Ferrets Remembered ..... Leslie McKibbin .............................. ... .. .. ........ .... .... ........ ........ ....... ... 39 Irish Proverbs ..... Isobel Magee ............................................................ . ................ .. .......... .... .. 40 A Letter from Down to King Henry 1410 A.D. ..... Eilis Fitzsimo11S .......... . .. ...................... . ... 41 Simplicity.... .Rev. WE. Kennedy ........ ... ... ........ ......... .. ... ...................... . ...................... ............ 42 Round the Avenue ..... PJ Lennon ...... ................... ......... ... ....... ............. ......... .............. .. ... .... 43 James Boden - a postcript.. ... W Crea .... . ................................ ... ......... ..... ....... ...... ......... .... .. 44 Castleward 1884 .... } W Montgomery ......................... .. .. .... ....... ............................................. 45 Glebe House .... .Mena McKeating .... .................. .. ........ .......... ...... ....... ....... ...... .... ....... ........... 46 A Plea to the Destroyers ofPeace ..... Rev. WE. Kennedy ......................................................... 47 Born Again! Who? Me? .... .Eamon McMullan ......................................................................... 48 Sense and Nonsense ..... W Crea ............................................ , ......... .. ........ .. ....... .... .. . ..... ... ... 53 Education comes to Ballyhornan ..... W Crea ................................................. .... ....... ........... 54 On the Strangford Ferry..... Rev. WE. Kennedy ......... .. .. ... ..... ........ ........... .... ........................... 55 Inverbrena Local History Group Members ........................................................................ 56

Acknowledgments The editor wishes to thank: Down County Council - Community Relations Department. Rev. WE. Kennedy. Alan Johnston. Eilis Fitzsimons, for premission to print extracts from her thesis. Maurice Hayes, Pat Fitzsimons and the committee that produced Le Croi Is Limh - a History of Kilclief, Ben Dearg G.A.A. 1901 - 2001. Ronnie Buchanan. Peig Denvir without whose gentle persistence this issue would not have been produced. Damian, Colin, Geraldine, Nicola and the staff of Flixx Graphics. People of the Strangford area who trusted us with their memories. 2




Eamon McMullan. I suppose it was my mother who started my train of thought of going into business for myself. My pocket money of 2d per week to buy the Dandy or the Beano was earned by gathering a quart can full of cinders off our ash-heap at the back of the garden. As the weeks went by the cinders got scarcer making me cast around for more productive pastdres. The Newry Quay dump was promising but the problem was that when my dad caught me I got the "Where's your pride?" lecture and I lost that lucrative cinder mine. I found another though. In the corner of the Wee Quay. The steps in front of what was then Burnett's, I discovered were made of washed cinders. Where they came from, I'll never know. This beach-combing at the Wee Quay brought me into close proximity with Dick Farrow, the harbour master. He lived beside the old custom house and looked on it as his right to salvage all coal that fell into the tide between the side of a discharging coal boat and the quay-side. Sometimes quite a haul. Dick used his punt and a long handled net to trawl the sea bottom along the quay side, netting in the black gold. Now as Dick used a boat and worked as the tide ebbed, when the tide was full out a few buckets of coal still remained, and on that I fixed my greedy eye. It worked well, but timing was crucial and as the first low tide after the boat sailed might be at school time, the whole project was very much hit or miss. Something more dependable was needed. An ad in the 'Daily Mail' was the stimulus for the next profit-making scheme "Mushroom growing is a sure-fire way to a prosperous future" - "That's for me!" says I, and off went my postal order for the can of spawn. Sure enough a tin canister arrived and when I came in from my day at "Cairnashoke Academy" my mother had it opened and shown to my dad - "God but you have little to do with your money" was the general view of my effort. But with a business loss facing me, in that I had already invested capital I felt I had to persevere and so our disused byre was converted into a mushroom house. With a borrowed wheelbarrow as wide in the shafts as my arms could stretch and a big wooden wheel in need of oil, I gathered soil from wherever I could beg, borrow or steal it. It was amazing how many adults took an interest. I remember Joey Travers told me that horse manure was great for mushrooms and so I asked Emmet Sharvin if! could get some from their stable in the Square. Barrowful by barrowful I wheeled up the Quarry hill, up John's Lane and through the gutters behind Quayle's andWallace's to my place of business and eventually I had an eight by twenty foot bed, as called for in the directions on the tin canister. It said also to cut the spawn up into walnut sized pieces. The problem was I had never seen a walnut but someone said it was about the size of a gooseberry and so that's how it worked out. Planted one foot apart I needed about 160 bits and with those covered over, the waiting time began. Watering was a really hard problem each bucket carried up twenty steps, the length of the garden and scooped out with an old baked beans tin. Often the above was neglected but in spite of the neglect eventually a crop of mushrooms emerged. Gertie Fitzsimons was my first customer. And while they lasted I did a great trade, charging a penny a half-pound less than Hanlon's in Downpatrick. I had reached the heights when Lady Una's cook sent for a pound of my mushrooms. When the bed stopped producing 3

I let the business fall into decay. However my dad, who was a keen and industrious gardener was not going to allow the waste of good mushroom compost and he spread it over the garden and had a second crop of mushrooms from between the potato drills. Terry Swail was a good friend of mine and many a Saturday I spent with him running the fields of Kilclief after waterhens. Terry used to get 9d each for them from Bells the egg collector. They become a very famous family and the joke that went the rounds at the time was "Do you know the "Bells of Shandon?" - "No - but I know the Bells of Crossgar". However I digress. This selling of rabbits, seagulls, pigeons and waterhens by Terry sparked the idea of chicken farming. I still had the use of the old byre andJohnny Dougherty had lots of hens, one or two usually" clocking". It appeared this condition came on hens. They ceased laying and strutted round the yard all fluffed up and cross looking. Now I was not too much acquainted with the facts of life at this time but I accepted reality and when I asked Johnny for the loan of a clocking hen he obligingly agreed. But his advice was "get fertilised eggs", and following this advice I found out that Mrs Alfred Johnston ofTully was the best source of supply. So with cash in hand I set off for Tully one Saturday morning and arrived at the kitchen door and asked for my dozen fertilised eggs, which Mrs Johnston quickly gathered, warning me that they must not be washed otherwise they would not hatch. The question that had been bothering me all along came to my mind and seeing that Mrs Johnston was such a knowledgeable woman, I thought she would be the one to furnish the answer. "Mrs Johnston, what is a fertilised egg"? I got a rather vague and abbreviated answer from a very embarrassed woman who, I'm sure, felt it was not her place to instruct Mrs McMullan's youngest son in the facts of life. Jimmy McAfee, another pal at that time thought the idea a good one andjoined me in a similar venture in his garage and sooner than we expected we had our "blessed event" . Nine of my eggs hatched and Mrs Hen and her brood clucked and cheeped around the ex-mushroom shed-cum-byre. I had to make a cage then out of timber from the scrap being salvaged from the "backshore" and unloaded at the "big quay" at that time. I also learned that a 2 lb jamjar upended on a saucer made a good controlled water supply for chicks. I discovered that hens were not too bright and could not count so I added six day old chicks, bought in Downpatrick and carried home on the bus in a shoe box, to my original nine and Mrs Hen never noticed. I had two fatalities in my brood and eventually could distinguish that I was the proud owner of six hens and seven roosters. Waiting for the hens to start laying was the next great event on my way to being a millionaire and soon the first small eggs began to appear. The poor old roosters - well, they were fattened up and sold to the man from "Bells of Crossgar" at a great profit and thrill to yours truly. One thing more. I never seemed to get more than three eggs a day from my six hens, except when I was off school then I would get four or five or maybe six - a mystery until I caught on that my mother was cheating on me out of the extra. Eventually she admitted the crime and bought the hens off me by paying me a weekly pocket allowance of5/- a week - a bigjump from 2d. Boarding in St Malachy's College then came along and I was unable to forward my entrepreneurial career.






A War rchin!f @'In rche ef2(JlI!fh w. Crea Down High School teacher, Ernie Maxwell had taken up sailing on the Quoile in a sixteen foot Snipe. Having had some experience in the sheltered waters of the river he became more adventurous and invited a friend and school pupil Harry Gifford to accompany him on an afternoon's sailing on the lough, knowing that Harry had some • experience sailing Miss White's 'wee boat' on the river. They went down the river and on to the lough as far as Audleystown intending to turn and go back up the river again; but the slight northerly breeze on the river became a strong northerly wind on the lough and with a fast flowing outgoing tide sucking them seawards they were unable to turn back. They now had no choice. They had to go, unwillingly of course, with the tide and the gale. Realising that this was going to be a dangerous journey beyond his ability, Ernie Maxwell 'ordered' his pupil to the helm knowing that he knew more about sailing than he did. The pupil had become 'master' with quite a problem looming ahead. In these wild conditions no-one would have attempted to take a small sailing boat over the bar; but there was no choice and the little boat streaked outwards past Strangford, perilously close to the treacherous Routen Wheels whirlpool off Bankmore and on towards the very rough bar. Loughside sailors at Strangford and Portaferry shook their heads in amazement as this little craft, barely visible in the waves, raced past. This was madness, attempting such a journey in such conditions - a strong gale and consequently a raging bar - disaster would be inevitable. Rescue services were alerted. Another problem arose. With the battering and buffeting of wind and waves the top mounting of the rudder broke away leaving only the bottom one holding it. Now someone had to hold the top of the rudder vertical to permit steering. The numbing cold water necessitated all hands taking turns to immerse one arm in the water and hold the top of the rudder in position. Nevertheless, soaked and shuddering, the little boat, skilfully skippered, plunged safely across the turbulent bar past Killard and into the open sea. The danger of being swamped was with them all the time and there was frantic baling. They had to wait until they were off Guns Island before any shelter was realised allowing them to run into the calmer waters ofPortnacoo, Sheepland and Ardtole and eventually into Ardglass harbour, which was good fortune for all. Now the rescue services could be cancelled and Ernie Maxwell, who had been, and still was, paying court to a daughter of the rectory now had a safe house to call on. The crew after being dried, fed and hotly refreshed were also in good company with the other two attractive daughters of the rectory. Later that evening they returned to the Quoile in the rector's car. Sailors of the lough, for a long time afterwards shook their heads in amazement telling each other "They had never known the like of that ever being done before in such conditions" . The boy from the Quoile had learnt a lot in Miss White's wee boat.




c9atherl"!f Q7jpuds Pat Fitzsimons Fools talk on an empty stomach. The giggle of gin and tonic tells all. The stomach dictates the terms . The mind relents. For once it has no place In the arbitration of life. Feet and hands and back, the inferior Parts of many - the stomach reigns supreme. Back to the drill to gather, not to pick, The immortal spud of life Into wicker baskets made heavy By the gutters of time. Numb fingers and arse in air. October, wicked as always, subjects us all. But the ten 0' clock tea in wicker T his time lined with linen Gives some relief to the wonderings Of the mind - Who eats all these Bloody spuds anyway? And hope of school and learning After the cold harvest of October Is an invitation to rest again In the mind.







A 9!2oet GRemembered - cJames GRoonep P] Lennon



T'was on a summer morning the clouds were high and pale, I walked up to that old hill-top, the centre of Lecale; I looked out to the west and spied aged Castlescreen, It brought sad Q1emories back to heart of the days it had seen. Long before I ever met Mr. James Rooney, his ability as a verse writer was well known in the district and beyond. After the war, with the intention of improving my vague knowledge of the man and his poetry, I called upon him one evening in late July, and although my succeeding visits were irregular, they were never short; time had little or no meaning when one was in his company. For hours on end he could regale the listener with tales of local personalities or history, politics or sport, and a colourful yarn or two about his youth. At twelve years of age, James Rooney went to work in a dairy in Belfast. 'I was up before five in the morning and assisted with the milking of thirty cows; I returned in the afternoon to prepare for milking again and then feed'. It was hard work and beset with all sorts of difficulties, and if he failed to rise in the morning he was helped to brighten up by a can of cold water being thrown in his face .. . all for four shillings a week and meals. Being of an adventurous nature and of an enquiring turn of mind,James spent any of the leisure hours he had frequenting places of interest in and around the city, and as he said himself, he saw everything worth seeing in Belfast. In a short time the fresh fields beckoned, and he set sail in a cattle boat for Scotland, where he was engaged at various times with the Glasgow Corporation sweeping the streets, toiling in a quarry at Bishopsbriggs, sweating in a blast furnace at Coatbridge or labouring with builders. These were the milestones in his life of which the rover talks with gusto when recounting. While in Scotland during the First World War he was conscripted into the Army. He served with the famous Highland Light Infantry and was stationed for a time on the Island of Rassay, returning there after the war to work for a number of years. On the subject of verse-writing, James says: 'Without trying, I would find myself composing rhymes, but I would forget them almost as quickly as I had thought of them. They come easily, especially when working in the fields or lying awake in bed at night' . Eventually he was encouraged to commit his verses to paper, but again they disappeared as friends' demands were many. In the end he compiled a book of his work, which he stubbornly retained, but anyone who has heard the verses over the air from Radio Eireann or the B.B. C. will agree that the results of his labours are delightful. Who has not laughed at his 'Adventure With A Sow', for instance? Take this passage: They walked along the county road, the sow now well in front , Not a word between them passed, bar a defiant grunt; When they reached bold Peter's more danger did Jack foresee, He rushed her to the corner to head her for Ballee; The sow was very active, she circled quickly roun', Cocked her lugs, shaked her tail and belted on for Down. Other poems, such as 'The Travelling Man', a tale about a poteen maker, were certainly 7

appreciated by radio audiences. One point is abundantly clear through all his verse: in his sharp outspoken way he is extremely devoted to his county and never tires of admiring its endless beauty as the next few lines indicate: Yonder stands the old Cathedral, surrounded by the groves, Where saint and warrior side by side lie in long repose; For beauty, sport or history and the warblers merry soun', There's not a place in all the earth like the hills of County Down. All subjects were grist to his mill, those involved in fights, sports or politics, and every now and then he would give rein to his vivid imagination as he did so well in his 'Vision of Heaven'. Now in the evening oflife and exiled in that busy city where he first strode out courageously on the highroad oflife, he often thinks of his lovely Tobermoney, and no matter where he is or what company he joins, he is thrice welcome, for his ebullient spirit reflects on all around him, and there is just more than a chance that his popularity is the result of his continuous faith in the eleventh commandment, according to James; 'If you cannot do a good turn, don't waste time in doing a bad one'.

James Rooney Man comes into this world not of his own consent. He leaves it against his will; On earth he's misjudged and misunderstood. In infancy he's an angel, in boyhood a devil. In manhood he's a fool. Ifhe has a wife and family he's a chump, Ifhe's a bachelor, he's inhuman and mean. If he enters a public house he's a drunkard, Ifhe doesn't he's a temperate fanatic and a miser. Ifhe gives to charity or does a good turn, it's for advertisement, If he doesn't he's stingy and shallow. If he's poor he's got no brains, Ifhe's rich he has all the luck in the world, and a crook. Ifhe's got brains he's considered to be smart. Ifhe goes to church he 's a hypocrite, If he doesn't he's a sinful man. When he comes into the world everybody wants to kiss him, Before he goes out everybody wants to kick him. If he dies young, there was a great future for him, If he lives to a ripe old age everybody hopes he has made a will. So therefore, it's impossible to please anybody. Do your duty and be fearless even you do make a mistake. It's better than doing nothing. Mistakes lead to success, use your own judgment. Tell nobody your troubles, everybody has cart loads of their own.


~ 1Sb ~ Dhe Dlda! oUil! at ~!ackcausewap George McKibbin Of the many hundreds of people who travel daily along that stretch of the Strangford to Downpatrick road which spans the inlet of the Castleward Bay between the Blackcauseway Road and the right turn leading to the Lower Avenue Gate of the Castleward Estate, how many would ever think that a corn mill was in operation here before the making of the present road in the mid 1800's? At that time there would have been a bridging wall erected across the inlet with a floodgate mounted in it allowing the tidal waters to flow through and into the catchment area which stretched up along the valley leading to the Ringcladdy Bog. The waters from the Legnegoppack River and the river flowing from Keaghey's Mill Dam augmented the tidal waters to drive the Blackcauseway Mill. When the tide had ebbed far enough from the bridging wall a sluice gate could be opened allowing the water in the catchment area to flow along a channel and into the buckets of the mill wheel thus setting it and the related machinery in motion for the milling process. The mill wheel in question is described as being fourteen feet in diameter and two feet and six inches wide, turned by the tide. Nothing remains today of the structure of the mill but viewing from the road in a landward direction a channel of water can be seen with a nice stone built wall on either side. Could this have been the channel where the water flowed along to the mill in those bye gone years oflong ago? The owner of the mill in 1814 was a Moses Barnett as it is recorded that at a Vestry meeting held in Ballyculter Parish Church on the 20 th June in that year a charge was brought against the Parish by him for the damage sustained at his Mill by the breaking of the millstone, as he affirmed, by some malicious person. The matter was taken to Court and as a result a just award was granted. Court costs amounted to four pounds and fifteen shillings. Commander Maxwell of Oldcourt has a broken millstone from this old mill. Moses Marnett was married to a Catherine Press, whose grave is in the Churchyard at Oldcourt Chapel on the De- Ros Estate at Strangford. Moses Barnett was an ancestor of the Barnett Family of Barnett's Park near Shaws Bridge and of the present day Barnetts of the Clarendon Mills in Belfast - grain importers. ~


~ 1SD ~ ~crllpculter

9i2crrlsh J 8 ? ?

Ronnie Buchanan Like old newspapers, parish magazines are a useful source for local and family history and a recently unearthed set for Ballyculter Parish is no exception. Entitled "Home Words and Ballyculter Parish Magazine" it is a monthly publication, the Home Words section apparently compiled at national level by a firm based in Somerset and in London. Shorter notes relating to parish events and local happenings supplement general articles on Christian teaching and biblical commentaries. Unlike similar publications today there is no notice board of forthcoming events or minor items of parish news. Each issue comprised only four or five pages, articles are signed simply with the authors' initials, and the only illustration is on the cover - a view of St. Paul's Cathedral in the City of London . 350 copies of the magazine were distributed in 1877 - 170 within the parish - and each copy cost one penny. Subscribers were urged to have their copies bound at the end of the year: "they should be sent to Castle Ward, with the money carefully enclosed, as early as possible" . Articles oflocal interest fall into two categories: those which deal with topics such as the Anglo- Norman families of east Down or historical events associated with Strangford Lough; and those which report parish news or other events relevant to the wider district of Lecale. The former are based largely on existing publications, while the latter give glimpses of life in and around Strangford just over a century ago. In 1877 for example, readers are reminded that: " . . . a Coffee Room has been lately opened in Downpatrick, and has been found a great convenience to persons residing in the town and neighbourhood. There is a public room where tea, coffee, and on open market days, soup, are to be had at the following reasonable prices; a cup of tea or coffee with a slice of bread and butter 2 l/2p. - soup with bread 8d. A second room where there are writing materials, etc., is free to any person who has business to transact, and admittance to it is obtained by a private door. The daily papers are supplied and the manager will be happy to take charge of any parcels for persons who may have affairs to occupy them in the town" . After commending the new Coffee Room to "our subscribers" , readers were reminded that: "Tickets for refreshments can be purchased for 3s. a dozen, at the Recorder Office, and stabling for horses, at 2d. Each is available behind the R oom" . Entrepreneurs of the 21st century should take note! C learly the Editor of the magazine thought that coffee rooms w ere a good thing for in the following November he reported: "We are glad that the movement in favour of opening Coffee Rooms for the benefit of working men, seems to be steadily extending in our country. A concert was given in Ardglass on the 20 th of September last, to raise funds for the purpose of establishing one in the town, by which the sum of ÂŁ1 5 was realised". There is no mention of a coffee house in Strangford, but there was a lending library "which is entirely supported through the kindness and liberality of Lord Bangor, whose earnest wish it ever is that his tenantry should be provided with the means of cultivating and improving their minds . For this purpose it has hitherto been our endeavour to furnish this library with useful, interesting and instructive books, both religious and secular; we hope many may have derived benefit from such, and thus be encouraged to 10


pursue a sound and steady course of reading". In a later issue it is noted that books could be exchanged at Castle Ward between 10 and 11 a.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Social events included concerts, such as that held in Ballyculter School on January th 9 : "This event, which has been looked forward to with so much pleasurable anxiety by the lovers of music in this locality, came off on Tuesday evening. The Schoolroom was beautifully decorated with festoons of ivy, interspersed with mottoes suitable to the season and occasion, which were admirably shown off by the brilliant lighting. The crowded audience evinced by their silent attention during the performance, and their hearty applause at the terminating of each piece, how much pleasure they derived from the selection given during the evening. It is seldom one hears the works of the great masters - Beethoven, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Handel, Haydn, and Schumann - so ably interpreted as they were by Mrs Wyndham Malet, Miss Wilshire, Miss M. Nugent, Mr Jas. Alexander, and Mr Frank McClintock". Not to be outdone, the de Ros family also promoted a concert in Strangford National School on August 24th, raising the sum of ÂŁ7.14s. for the purchase of new desks and forms for the schoolroom; the programme was" carried through most successfully .. . in great measure due to the energy displayed by the Hon. Seymour Egerton". Raising money for local schools was as important then as now. And the December issue describes improvements recently carried out at Ballyculter by Lord Bangor. It is worth noting in full, as it gives a detailed description of the building which remained little altered until the middle of the next century. "The stone flags with which the rooms were floored have been replaced by boards; the greater portion of the old rafters have been taken away, those that remain have been cased with pitch pine varnished, with white alabaster work in the intervals between each rafter, and supported by strong iron girders painted blue, which gives the rooms a more lofty appearance than they formerly had; a wainscoating of varnished pitch-pine rises from the floor to a height of four feet, above which the walls have been distempered and coloured grey; new porches have been erected, one in front of the centre, and one at each end of the building; the two latter, through which the boys and girls enter their respective school-rooms, have been roofed to correspond with the interior of the house, floored with octagonal tiles, and fitted with lavatories and pegs for hats and cloaks, in order to promote cleanly and tidy habits on the part of the children. The old furniture has been entirely removed, and two complete sets of the newest pattern obtained from Messrs. Sullivan, Dublin. By a simple arrangement the desks can be turned over to the back of the forms, and thus become comfortable seats for people attending lectures, etc.; and by another arrangement equally simple, they can be formed into tea-tables. The boundary wall in front has been lowered to a height of two feet from the ground, and an iron railing about two feet high fixed upon it, connected from each end with the building by side railings, on the outside of which are the paths leading to the schoolrooms. The ground in front will thus be private, and Lady Bangor purposes having it laid out as a flower garden". Then as now, school parties were important events in the academic year, and in the 1870s these were hosted by the local landlord. On the afternoon of September 26 th , 108 pupils ofStrangford School were entertained by Lord de Ros in "the picturesque grounds of Oldcourt. The children arrived punctually at 3 o'clock, when Lady de Ros kindly distributed a variety of handsome and useful prizes. Tea and cake were then abundantly supplied; and after a number of games had been indulged in, the children, under the





superintendence of their respected teacher, Mr Lord, sang the National Anthem; and having given three hearty cheers for Lord and Lady and the Hon. Miss de Ros, who had been most indefatigable as well as successful in their endeavours to amuse them, returned home, having spent a very enjoyable afternoon. Amongst those present were Lady Catherine Coke, Miss S. Coke, Miss Kerr, Miss C. Kerr, Hon.A. Dawson, Mr E. Boyle, Miss Norah Ward, Captain and Mrs Hill, Rev.A. and Mrs Vesey, Mrs Thetford, Mrs Hockley, etc". Local landlords also played an important role in the farming community, both Lord Bangor and Mr Maxwell of Finne brogue being mentioned as encouraging the breeding of short horn cattle in a notice referring to the annual cattle show of the Lecale Farming Society held in July. "We are glad to see among the winners of prizes the names of Mrs Hughes of Churchtown, and Mr Hugh Magraw ofBallylena, both residents in our own parish". Strangford Lough figures in several articles , the most interesting perhaps, those which deal with navigation and hazards to shipping. In the November issue for example, reference is made to charts of the Lough compiled by a Captain Hoskyns of the R oyal Navy who is quoted as stating "If it (i .e. the Lough) were lighted, there would be no better harbour of refuge in the United Kingdom for all classes of vessels, including menof-war". The article continues: "Great inconvenience and loss of life and property have been occasioned in consequence of the want of a proper light at the entrance. It has been stated by a ship owner in Strangford, that between 1833 and 1867 seventy vessels were wrecked or seriously injured, and forty- three lives lost, and it is attributed chiefly to this cause. The pecuniary loss was estimated at about ÂŁ 19,1 25. A lighthouse was petitioned for in 1846, and built on Rock Angus, being completed in 1853; but unfortunately it has never yet been lighted, notwithstanding its fitness for the reception of the very necessary apparatus. It now simply stands on a rock at the entrance of Strangford Lough, as a beacon, between Killard Point and Ballyquintin, and is forty feet in height. We hope, as was mentioned by us before, that the appeals will not be made in vain, and that in time the all important light may be supplied, to guide vessels in and out of the harbour, and enable them to obtain the proper and needful shelter which the roadsteads in our Lough afford" . The need for a light on Rock Angus is emphasised again in the March issue: "A coasting vessel went ashore near Killard Point, and another German vessel was lost close to the entrance of our Lough, the owner of which said that she had been wrecked on account of there being no light, although a lighthouse tower was there. Within the eight years ending December 31 st , 1874,3357 vessels have entered this harbour for trade, and 1577 for shelter, in tonnage amounting to 137,952. Notwithstanding this fact, shipowners and mariners are told that Strangford Lough and harbour are not of sufficient consequence to be properly lighted" . At least one navigational hazard, Pladdy Lug, on the Ballyquintin shore, had been dealt with by 1877, with the recent erection of a stone tower, replacing an iron perch. A Pladdy the article states, "signifies a flat sunken rock, whereas a rock always above water is termed a "Skerry" . A poignant reminder of the hazards of the sea is the story ofWilliam Jordan of Killough, recorded in the March issue: "He was for many years one of the most fearless and successful fishermen along the coast, and was enabled by his industry to keep his family in comfort and respectability. He was drowned one stormy morning last month in Killough by the capsizing of his boat, leaving his invalid wife and three helpless young



children utterly destitute. We appeal to our readers on behalf of those bereaved ones, and request their aid in raising a small sum for their present necessities. Contributions for this object will be thankfully received by the Hon. Somerset Ward, Isle O. Valla House, Strangford; and the Rev.]. O'Flaherty, Killough, Co. Down". On a more cheerful note, an exciting proposal is reported in the January issue, a proposal to build a narrow-gauge railway between Belfast and Portaferry. "Should this project be carried out, it is manifest that our parish and its vicinity must derive much material benefit form its operations. As it is proposed to carry this line to the shore of Portaferry, the promoters of it will doubtless in studying their own interests, place a suitable steamer ~n the ferry to ply constantly to and from Strangford, and thus much increase their traffic in passengers and goods of various kinds, as well as in many ways greatly convenience the general public of this populour and important district of our county. We heartily wish this useful scheme every success, hoping it may be the means of developing the many neglected resources of the shores and harbours of Strangford Lough". It never happened!

ef2ines 速n Dhe clfethodift clfeetli1!f deous~ 6alackcausewtIp/ Qfytran!Jfird Rev. W.E. Kennedy

Beside the roadside lone I stand, Without a glance men pass me by, Around my walls Death's ivy creeps, My roof gapes open to the sky. No more from cheery hearth within The curling smoke ascends on high, No more can I snug shelter give, My walls grow weak, my rafters sigh. Though by the roadside lone I stand, Beyond the span of human care, I on whose walls no look is cast Was once in time a house of prayer.

The Methodist Meeting House as it is today

For 'neath my roof, now crumbling fast, Met godly folk in days of yore, And from my walls, like incense sweet, Rose high the strains of praise and prayer.


clfonths Anon January brings the snow, Makes our feet and fingers glow. February brings the rain, Thaws the frozen lakes again. ~


March brings breezes sharp and shrill, Shakes the dancing daffodil. April brings the primrose sweet, Scatters daisies at our feet. May brings flocks of pretty lambs, Sporting round their fleecy dams. June brings tulips, lilies, roses, Fills the childrens' hands with posies. Hot July brings cooling showers, Apricots and gaily flowers . August brings the sheaves of corn, Then the harvest home is borne. September then brings lots of fruit, Sportsmen then begin to shoot. October brings the autumn blast, Hark; the leaves are falling fast. November comes and shakes them down, Days are bleak and drear. December comes and ends the year.



rYentenarp 0/ G$Zi!clzt[c9 A .A . rYlub J 3 0

J - 200 J

Peig Denvir

't I

Oral tradition tells us that hurley was played in Cariffback in the late 1800s. Here there was a clachan of houses, 11 in all which were homes to over 25 people. Two families of McKeatings, two of Denvirs and Creens owned farms and over a period, Hynds, Rogans, Buckleys and McCartans occupied the other dwellings. 1916 - Down S.H.C. Winners These small farmers Back L - R Frank Mageean, Tom Mageean, ?, Henry McCann, ?,?, Robert and workers, when the Conway, William Savage,Joe Hanna. Middle Row L - R Master Kerr, day's toil was over, Willie Fitzsimons, Fr. O'Rawe PP, William Sharvin, Hugh Hynds, Thos.J. gathered III the Fitzsimons, Michael Denvir,John Fitzsimons, Willie Kearney, Fr. McKee, evenings to play hurley James Denvir. Front Row L - R Patrick Fitzsimons,John Kearney, (Child - or shinty as it was Unknown),Joseph Corrigan, Thomas Sharvin, Nicholas Corrigan (Childsometimes known. The Rev. R. Denvir), Patrick O'Brien, ?, Robert Fitzsimons. spoken language was Irish up to the beginning of the 19th Century. It is thought that hurley was also played in other townlands; Caravanish, Tullyfoyle, Ballynarry - though none in an organised way. Around this time the people of Ireland were recovering from the harsh Penal Laws, the Famine, dispossession of their lands and immigration. Those left behind were very low in spirit and self- esteem leaving them with little hope for the future. But in times such as these there are always people of vision and courage who reach out to those in need. In 1884 Archbishop Croke, Michael Cusack and others met in Hayes Hotel in Thurles seeking some way to lift the hearts of their people and help them to regain their self-worth. The revival of their ancient games and pastimes, which were on the verge of extinction, seemed to be the way to achieve this and so the Gaelic Athletic Association was founded. It was designed to cater for all ages and abilities; on the playing field, in administration and on stage giving pride in themselves and their achievements. Michael Cusack had strong links with Co. Down having taught in St. Colman's College, Newry 1871 - 1876 and married a Co. Down girl. This is possibly the reason why Co. Down was one of the earliest counties to affiliate to the G.A.A. James Denvir ofBal1ynarry was the first president of the county committee, and held the first meeting in Drumroe Hall, Kilclief on 24th April 1903. In Kilclief around Christmas 1901 a group of enthusiasts, hearing of the success of the G.A.A. in other areas, came together to establish a local club. They named it "The 15

Red Hands" and it took to the field in 1902. The interest in the game was such that a second team was formed in 1903, "The Hearts of Down" . Sadly, at this time there was disharmony and division in the Parish in which the "Hearts" and "Hands" were embroiled. Eventually Fr O'Kane pp re- united the sides at a meeting held on Kilcliefbeach. The foundation was now laid for the future of the Kilclief Club "Ben Dearg" - so named after their first home on the Banks of Killard. Our chairman Willie Crea, recalls as a boy, his father taking him to Ben Dearg to watch the hurling matches . He remembers a great hurler called Fitzsimons. Now 100 years later the Club centenary book "Le Croi is Lamh" - "With Heart and Hand" tells the story in great detail. Looking at the photographs in its pages it is fascinating to see 1952 Kilcliif Camogie Championship Winners Back L - R Fr] Campbell, K. Breen, L. Kearney,A. Denvir, R. the family resemblances down the Denvir, P Kerr, P Fay, C. Kerr,] Reid. generations and the family names Front L - R E. Fitzsimons, M. Sharvin, E. Teggart, S. Magee, recurring to the present day. M. O'Brien, M. Fay, E. Fitzsimons. Eight years ago a small committee headed by George Conway, assisted by his son Michael, Nuala Colhoun, Dick Cull, Michael McConville - all descendants of Kilclief families and myself took on this daunting task. We began by researching old papers, minute books and oral stories to recapture the fun, the humour, the lows and the highs of 100 years. Our plan was to gather former members of earlier decades in order to tape memories of their playing days of Under '14' Hurling Feile 1983 hurling, football B. Row L - R Gabriel Carlin, Gary McConville, Rory Sharvin, Danny and camogie. At Kearney, Eoin Murphy, Liam King, Gregory Curran, Fintan Sharvin, Richard first there was many Watterson, Neil Sharvin, Eugene Curran Front Row L - R Christopher a furrowed brow as Carlin, Mark Kearney, Gareth Curran, Paul Kearney, Patrick Kearney, Ciaran they tried to Fahy, Roy Matthews, Gary Cull,jerome Sharvin, Ambrose Kearney. remember. Then Michael Conway asked a few relevant questions from his research to encourage recall. It was like opening the window of the past, their faces now animated as memories flooded forth. The banter, the humour, the arguments, and camaraderie of old were relived and




the cup of tea was left to go cold! The camogie girls also gathered to tell their stories. These were very happy occasions as they greeted each other and there was much laughter and gaiety as they recalled the excitement, the hilarious incidents and the rivalry between Ballycruttle and themselves which brought bus loads of supporters to these contests. Michael and Nuala have transcribed "gems" from these recollections and interspersed them in the pages of our centenary book. Of course too, there were the "Scor" Competitions during the winter months in all the clubs throughout Ireland. Halls were packed to capacity for a night of song, dance, quizzes, drama and instrumental competitions, culminating in an All Ireland night at the end of the season. The Scor saw many major trophies come to Kilclief and it was in this facet that the girls were foremost. T here are also many interesting and amusing stories contributed by individual members of the club giving an insight into the enthusiasm andjoy of three generations ofKilclief people. Stimulation, motivation, visual aids etc. were not words in their vocabulary, nor was personal financial gain their object - just a love and pride to belong to an association which served them well in their development. Kilclief's hurling prowess was unrivalled in Down but in the 1930s football was introduced. It was in this code in later years that the club had two players and two mentors who greatly contributed to Down's historic first All Ireland in Croke Park in 1960 and 1961. Again in three more All Irelands 1968, 1979, 1994 Kilclief players were represented. The camogie girls played their part when Down were All Ireland Senior finalists in 1948 and again on the All Ireland Junior winning sides in 1968 and 1991 and Intermediate in 1998. The work on the ground still goes on apace with upgraded playing facilities and a new club house to be opened shortly. To celebrate the 100 years Kilcliif Football Sevens 1956 of this great club a banquet B. Row L - R Rob Polly, Bobby Kerr, Kieran Denvir, Brian Denvir, was held in November 2001 F. Row L - R Pat Curran, Sean Hynds, Axy McMullan. in the Slieve Donard Hotel where over 250 guests - octotenarians to 6 year olds - enjoyed a wonderful family night of entertainment. Joe McDonagh from Galway, past president of the G.A.A. was the guest speaker. Representatives from the Ulster and county boards were also present. Our dancers gave a magnificent display to add to the nights enjoyment. The book tells it all in over 400 pages. It ensures as far as possible that no-one has been omitted in his centenary history, so that the young members of today can read the exploits of their grand and great grandparents who left them the legacy which they can enjoy today. In conclusion, if the parish club is the strength of the Association then Kilclief, in all codes; hurling, football, camogie, song and dance, has contributed in abundance. Good luck Kilclief for the next century! I don't think I'll be there - will you? 17

A olfemorp By D1: Maurice Hayes Kilclief was hurling. More than that, it was long perfect summer evenings which seemed to go on forever. Double SummerTime was in force, two hours later than Greenwich, with another twenty minutes added on for God's Time, bright enough for hurling up to eleven o'clock. Well, after ten, anyhow, the last few pucks in the gathering dusk, shadowy figures moving across the pitch in a rising sea-mist, unwilling to give up the game until the play became dangerous or the ball was lost. Then home on the bicycle, all seven or eight miles, across the White Hills, Loughmoney, the Road Houses and the Running Water, past the Horse Park, the wind cooling, no fear of traffic, on a lightless bike, hurley strapped to the bar, boots and togs tied to the carrier, cutting down by the back of Hanna's of the Acre in order to avoid the cops lurking at the Asylum Four Roads, picking a way in the moonlight between the craters and the boulders on Gallows Hill, then down the sweep of Scotch Street, across the corner and home. Kilclief was waiting for the bus to pick us up for a match in Belfast in the South Antrim League, outside the hotel on a Sunday afternoon with Paddy Frazer and Brother Cornelius. Paddy, expansive, talkative, weaving magical tales of Arravale Rovers and Army Metro, North Africa and Anzio, hurlers alternating with generals as he marked Mackey and Ring out of it or faced down Montgomery. And listening to Paddy as he picked in his mind, county and provincial teams, and knowing that if you were included it was going to cost you something, and that if you were in at mid-field instead of corner-forward, he was going to ask a big favour. Or thoughtful conversations with Patsy Swail and Tommy on long bus rides or in taxis, the wisdom of the land and the shore. Or lining out in Corrigan Park against Belfast teams, O'Connels and Mitchells, Kevin Armstrong and Noel Campbell in their hey-day, and dreading the slope of the pitch from the hump in the middle down to the sidelines. For a winger, the ball was always below you, running away, and could be topped, or missed or stuck in a rut in the mud. In Kilclief there was the green sward and the brine on the sea breeze over the Bar and the sun glistening on the white stump on Rock Angus. The older people boasted of epic struggles on the Barlks of Killard, the best natural sod ever, desecrated now by a radar station, one that never should have been abandoned for a man-made pitch. And shuffiing on wet knees around a graveyard when Sunday afternoon practice was interrupted or replaced by Cemetery Sunday, or waiting impatiently for people to come out from May devotions in that devout place so that the important business of hurling could begin. Or crossing the Lough in an open boat to play one of the Ards teams, or Ballela with Danny Doran, hard as teak, but honest with it, driving through the backs like a batteringram. 18




And long days spent fixing hurleys, in the scarcity, smuggled from the South, bought from visiting players for half a pound of tea (a quarter if you could get away with it). Banding them with strips of tin off packing cases, hammered into shape, bent over and made to fit, pierced with a nail and riveted, slipped over the handle or on to the toe and hammered down tight. Or binding a cracked hurley on the shaft with snoudin, wrapped round tightly, the last four rounds over an exposed loop through which the last coil would be slipped and pulled down under the others to conceal the fixing, leaving it a thing of wonder, with no visible knot, to be varnished and waxed when the hurley was being rubbed with linseed oil for greater pliability. Or the oldste~s boasting of ash- trees spotted for years, cut out of the hedge at night, with just the right bend at the root, the grain running even and true from top to bottom, no knot or blemish to weaken it. Then split and weathered and taken to Joe Murnin the boatbuilder to be made into a hurley, the best ever, spokeshaved and sand-papered and snug to the hand. And smoothing the hurley with a bit of glass, and wrapping insulatingtape round the handle for grip. Or bringing the sliotar to the cobbler to prolong its life, watching while he made up the wax-end, piercing the leather rim with an awl, threading the cord through from both sides, wrapping it round the handle of the awl and the leather-mitted hand and pulling tight. Then, with a hidden knot the ball was as good as new, or good enough to do when they could only be got new on a rare visit to Dublin. Kilclief was hospitality and friendliness - an oasis of rural calm which had not yet been invaded by the commuter and the summer bungalow, and where the young people had not left for the town. Kilclief was Brian and Peg's hospitable kitchen for long nights discussing games past and to come, and setting the world to rights, and the twins, and helping to calve a cow before rushing to the boat to play a County Final in Portaferry, and running the whole way with Brian from Cooke Street slip to the new Park, and the satisfaction of winning. Mostly it was the joy of hurling, of meeting a ball in the air and sending it back, of doubling on a dropping ball, straight and true over the bar, or the sharpness and speed of ground hurling, the satisfaction of a forward as a ball hit the net, or the glory of a sideline-cut, rising like a bird from the mown grass, higher and higher and seemingly endless, after the fear of wondering whether it would rise at all, topped and driven into the ground, or missed completely in a fresh-air shot. There was the transfer of weight from foot to foot, the hands lowered to ensure height, the blade drawn across the ball to give it spin, and, every now and again, the satisfaction of a score. There was the side-step, throwing a back offbalance, and running with the ball glued to the boss of the hurley, and the team playing intricate patterns as the ball crossed and criss- crossed the field, the warmth and comfort of the sight of a green and red jersey, quartered for the hurlers, not striped in bands. There was the mystery of the mechanics of it all, of the instinctive calculations the brain had to make to bring boss and hurley into place at just the right time and at the right point in the arc of the swing to connect with a dropping ball and send it curling over the bar. Or the co-ordination of mind and hand and eye with muscle power, agility, speed of reaction and fleetness of foot which enable you, unconsciously to be in the right place at the right time to meet the ball in flight. Or a body trained to such a pitch that you could sense a ball with the stomach muscles and reach down blind and grasp it, knowing it was there. Or the joy of the team game, all pulling together, knowing the backs would hold out, or the goalie make the impossible save. Knowing the midfielder would knock the ball


out to you if you could break free. Knowing the other forwards were in place to take a pass. Knowing that no match was ever lost until it was over. Aud knowing too that when it was over, it was over, the camaraderie of hurlers, no rancour left, only a match being replayed in the mind and remembered, the satisfaction of winning, yes, but best of all, the joy of playing. It could not all have been like that. There were wet days, and cold days, and hailstorms in May, and the bleakness of the wind blowing in off the sea that would cut corn. But these are forgotten, blue-pencilled by the censor of memory. But all the time memories, memories of dead hurlers, memories of great friendships, memories oflost innocence and sweat and tears, memories of matches lost and won, of games that spilled over into fights, or hard hurling and close marking, but memories mostly of fitness and sharpness and running free, of high skill, memories of pure joy and satisfaction.




C1fJome olfemorlf3S of c;;Kl!clztfand dootball Pat Fitzsimons

1 ~

I must have been about three when I found it. The thing was quite heavy and round, or rather roundish, as the stitching in one or two of the panels had rotted and somewhat disfigured the bladder - for that's what they called it. It was kept under the pantry shelfin Denvir's ofBallynarry amid a variety of clothing • and footwear which sent out a strange pungent smell which I later discovered was stale sweat. The pantry was a strange place of old wood and cup hooks and jars of malt and a churn with its lid sitting separately against the wall - I took the ball. Across the road in Wee Pat Denvir's field behind the house where I was born I set the thing down and kicked at it. I can still remember standing close to it and swinging my left foot . It moved. Discovery! If you stood back and ran at it and got your timing right it moved even further so I stepped back and ran and kicked, ran and kicked, round and round and ran and kicked. "Who allowed you to take that ball?" says Brian "In future if you want that ball you ask for it" . So every day after school - or so it seems - I was there asking "Can I play with Brian's ball?" Yes, believe it or not I was at school in 1944 when I was still only three, drafted into U .c.K. (University College Kilclief) to keep the numbers up to prevent the loss of a teacher. Off I went every day with Dick Magee and Eamon McMullan via Ballynagarrick loney, the stream, the steps and the gate, down Thomas Magee's field, by Thomas's oul' house and the Guttery Gap, over the plank and over Kerr's stile to the church where we blessed ourselves before heading on to the school. A school of jotters and nibbed pens and ink made of dark ochre And blots and copybooks and books of tables And catechisms and inkwells and more blots. And fires made of coal and cold quarter-bottles of milk And rain and John McCann the cobbler across the road And lunch sandwiches made with blackberry jam Wrapped in last week's Irish Weekly. And The Messenger sent home with us to be distributed, To whom I will never know. And foreign missions, and tickets and black babies And parish Christmas draws for a quarter ton of coal. Childlike I thought "Who would want a quarter ton of coal?" The first prize should have been enough money and coupons To spend in my uncle Pat's shop at The Row. Money to be spent on Cowan's toffee, only three pence Or plug tobacco which Willie Armour "wasted" his money on. Or strings of liquorice which you could chew for a month And still not get any taste. Or the ultimate in drugs "Craven A" Which" do not affect your throat" . 21

But I digress. Football and hurley were the only reason many of the boys went to school at all. While the girls were knitting or baking rock buns, the boys played out in the field. Coaching as we hear about it today didn't exist then. You learned on the wing. There was no question of practising a skill like free-taking or tactics, we had "Kickin' in and out" which was great, no formal game with referee and umpires and strict rules. "Kickin' in and out" allowed your imagination to work. The whole crowd gathered between the "40" and the square. You could be an attacker and float the ball in high and watch them squabble over it and see them fall and rise and fall again and hear Tom Sharvin, the goalie cry "Hey, boys give me more protection!" Or you could sidle in and be that defender and play the game ofTo by protector. This kickin' in and out was not part of the structured league of winning and losing but we loved it. I loved short pants but some cruel tradition dictated that boys grow into "longs" somewhere after First Communion (something to do with reaching the age of reason perhaps, or making a boy a man?). Now you couldn't comfortably play football or hurley in "longs", the sweat made them stick to your legs. They had to be tucked into your socks too when you were jumping rivers and even then the briars tore at them slowing you down. I led a minor revolt over the shorts, insisting on finding them myself and wearing them to school, but I knew I was defeated when one day I saw my mother using them to apply Mansion polish to the linoleum in the bedroom in Wee Pat's. At the age of 13 after half-ten Mass in Kilclief, the "committee" assembled at the chapel gate and told me that I was "playing the day" against Leitrim. I didn't have the gumption to ask was it football or hurling. Home in Ballinarry it struck me - "I have no gear!" I went over to Brian Denvir: "I have no gear!". He looked at me, went into the Engine room and came out with a pair of boots - Certs. Now Certs were real leather boots which went high over the ankles, nearly up to your shins and Brian had cut them at the upper lip, as he always said that an athlete needs to allow his ankles to move. "You'll need some pages from The Messenger or Zane Grey in the soles of these boots", he says, "to keep the nails out of your feet. And there's no laces so you'll have to use binder twine" . I was happy enough, I had boots. I knew the jersey would be provided but what about the "Togs"? My mother was never known as a seamstress, her talent lay in the griddle bread, but she produced a pair of togs that day made from a white meal bag. And then another difficulty, how to hold them up. Aunt Mary Lennon came to the rescue pulling the elastic out of her knickers (or whatever you called them then - we weren't allowed to talk about such things) she said "That'll do Winnie", and it did. So on my debut, long before Adidas or Nike were heard of, I appeared against Leitrim with "John Thompson Flour" emblazoned on my left buttock and a pair of ill-fitting boots laced with binder twine on my feet. But we won. Four years later Brian and I were tying hay in the field behind Lisheen and Peig came out with the three o'clock tea bringing with her a photographer from the Irish Independent. He had come all the way from Dublin, to take a photograph of me and Brian on the tractor because we were bound for Clones the next Sunday to take on and beat the best of Cavan in the Ulster Minor Football Final. And who special was there to cheer us off Clones field? Leo and Belle McShane. They never missed a match in their Morris Oxford. In 1960 I was nineteen. Wee Pat's field all of a sudden, it seemed, became Croke Park. Down vs. Kerry, the "Two Kingdoms", they dubbed it. The roar of some 90,000



people will never, ever leave my ears. The pitch was immaculate but 1 was a sub and couldn't get into the fray. Then there were no tracksuits. 1 sat in my Andy Irvines's suit pulled over my togs and boots and red and black socks. Paddy Doherty fell heavily in a bad tackle and 1 heard a shout from Danny Flynn "Pat! You're on!" 1 struggled with Irvine's britches and, thankfully, by the time I had them off Paddy was up and going - 1 breathed again. Later, much later, in The Maples Hotel, a man with a cardboard box full of gold medals tossed one to me. I caught it in my right hand - the hurler in me - and sank back in my chair. ~


@nverbrena (Wisdom - collectedjiom monthlp meetings How do you spell Inverbrena? Spell nothing at it - write it down! Teacher: Boy: Teacher: Boy:

Spell 'physics' FIZZICKS That doesn't spell 'physics' Please Sir, what does it spell?

Pupil's note to teacher:1 have wrote "I have gone" 100 times. Now I have went home. Heard in Greasy Spoon Cafe, Derry: "Is youse uns gitting?" "Yes, usuns has our orders giv" Woman to newsman at barricades, Belfast 1972 "Whose news are yous? Get down out ofthatlYou're not going to photograph things that aren't happening!" Neighbour looking over the hedge in a year of late spring: "Mrs Trohear, I never saw your front so far behind before!"



~ 15b ~


cYeurbn!f IS er werp ofljfo In r::;$Zllcbtf. PJ Lennon in the 60s recalls the late Dick Mullan. Some people in this life have the ability to relate the most ordinary of stories and yet make an audience double up with laughter. Dick Mullan of Kilclief is one such person and I had the good fortune to meet up with him on the last day of the Ardglass festival. Without any preamble Dick launched into tales of a half century ago and for a time his business wasn't very well attended to. Like many lively talkers there was just no way of knowing beforehand the direction the chatter would take either of us but I knew that sport would certainly be mentioned and particularly that of hurling. There used to be a saying that any boy child born in the Kilclief district arrived with a hurley in his hand. The late Dick Mullan 'Oh there is no doubt about it, a hurling stick was a very popular item with the boys and young men ofKilclief' said Dick. As a result of his closeness to and interest in this national game young Dick was soon involved in games. 'I played my first match when I was around 17 and in the 20 years that followed I turned out regular in goal for Ben Dearg. 'My first game between the sticks was against a Ballela team and I got my chance when the established keeper of that period John Reid had to work and couldn't turn out'. Obviously Dick did his job very well for the following year he was selected to play fo r the county team. In those years Ben Dearg were fortunate to have the services of many top class players and to underline this Dick recalled one occurrence which clearly marked the strength and ability of the Kilclief team. 'In one instance a Newry team which was so highly thought of was selected to represent the county and soon afterwards by chance they met Ben Dearg in the final of the McVeigh Cup. 'Quite naturally the Newry side were odds on to win the contest. The general opinion among the pundits was that Kilcliefhadn't a dog's chance. 'Well they met and they played and the result certainly must have shocked the hurling enthusiasts of the day for Ben Dearg ran out winners by the remarkable total of 32 24




points to N ewry's nil'. That game is still remembered with pride in the area to this day. Hurling in Kilcliefhas always been a way oflife. Their players were second to none and just could not abide being beaten by a small or large score. 'It's a fact, we hated to lose and I remember one game in which we were beaten by a small margin but we were so upset that we took the huff and refused to go in for our tea after the match. To be beaten was too awful for words' laughed Dick. Like any other game the world over there are always a few who stand out as naturals . 'I believe that among the players of my time Tony King and John Fitzsimons were two of the very best but who could forget the performance of John Breen, Jimmy Hynds, Robbie Fitzsimons - you could go through the whole team and find a match winner in anyone of them. 'Over the years others also guested for the Kilclief team - men like John Dowling and Paddy Frazer and Fr J. McAteer. 'As for those I played against I can tell you they were in the majority of cases tight chaps and sound hurlers. To name but three from the other side of the river, Hugh Cummings, Sean Emerson and John Blaney. The Ards always produced an abundance of good players'. There is generally one unforgettable moment in the sporting life of a player - one which he never forgets . Dick Mullan's cherished recollection didn't happen during one of the league or cup matches - so far as I know - but at a game played at a sports meeting held at Ballynagross - 'that day I made the best save between the sticks I ever made' . True, moments like that do live on.



CKobodp S O<Yatiยงhter Sheila Campbell I'd hurry home, my little girl Scrubbed and pink in pyjamas To carry you on my back Your brothers unseating you For their turn Laughing, till your mother came up And put us all to bed. I held you close And dried your tears And dried my own at your triumphs With bullies, camogie stick and exams I'd hear your key in the door And greet you in the hall "Where's Mam?" I'd hang around the kitchen door Waiting for a break Waiting to be let in To the table where you and she shared such intimate, Female talks and laughs I'd go to the sink for a cup of water Just to see your lighted faces There's nobody here Your head bent now in your books At the empty table. You'll be there in court Righting wrongs fighting for strangers I'll be there at your wedding To give you away, a part of myself. "There's no point in coming home" you say "There'll be nobody there" .




rchree (j7jerints in ®ne Eilis Fitzsimons

CatUn of Kilcl ie f, Co. Down. Moc hltc of Ntndrum, Strangro rd Lough, Co, n own. Cae/Coo ey of Tcmpluooty, Ard.'lI)CnimHl la, Co, non-T!. ConaU of Iniscaoil, C o. DOJltgfl1.

Col m{in. mac I.uachain. Lann, CC). Westmeath. C.illin on'en llgft. Co. Leilrlm. CIICinU of [ ch-inis, T,ough Co r rih, Co. (;A l w~y.

CaUs" of Ouc k Island. olfSlyne hcad, (:0. (;fllw:l,:Y. Cllclnn of fn is Cl'JlUra. Loug h fh'I'j!;, Ot. Clll r ('. Cltoi of Kilkt.e, C o. C lan. l\bc Cllilinn ofLusk, Co. Ou blin.

1'Iact nll mc c\' idtllce only: C Ull of Kjl roo, Co. nom l. C aol of Kjlkt'el, Co. n Onl•• Cill cn of A ch ad C~i l, D Ulujnlm, Co. DOWI1. Moc haI'! of Kilmllchir, On r il\g hy, Co. Alltrim. I\foch le ofKilmIJchie. TeJll plepAIr!ck. Co. A ntrim.

?l\fo("h1tcl orTirnaktel, Orumcret. Co. Ar mllgh.

--<lti" ';.5'


Sites associated with St Caelan St. Caelan, St. Mochae and St. Cooey T h e townland of Kilclief, at the mouth ofStrangford Lough may appear today to be an insignificant place but it was for centuries an important ecclesiastical centre. Because the Anglican church occupies the early Christian site no real archaeological research to establish its structure can be carried out. Kilclief is mentioned in the sources as associated with early Christian saints and in the ninth and early eleventh centuries it was wealthy enough to attract raids by the Vikings who took from it great prey and prisoners. In the twelfth century John de Courcy confirmed the possession of the village of Kircleth to the bishop of Down and gave him the power give it the status of a borough which had an element of independence, having its own court and certain relief from taxes. In 1410AD the seal of the "Ville de Kilcleth" was attached to a letter to Henry IV appealing for help against attacks by the native Irish and the Scots. In the seventeenth century there are records of disputes over the church lands although the church is described as being in ruins at that time. As late as the nineteenth century the "village" of Kilclief is recorded as having 351 inhabitants. That there was a saint Caelan in Kilcliefis recorded as far back as the 12th century in


the Book of Leinster. In the genealogies of the saints they include: "Mac Tail Cilli Culind et Caelan Cilli Clethi" - MacTail ofKilcullen and Caelan of Kilclief. Reeves in his Ecclesiastical Antiquities of Down and Connor states that the parish church was styled "Ecclesia Sti. Kelani de Kylcleth" . His name is still remembered in the place name Loughkeelan and, in an article in an earlier edition of this magazine(1999), Isobel Magee describes the location and the traditions of St. Caylan's Well. Was he then merely an obscure local saint, understandably forgotten after centuries? I would argue that he was in fact a saint of great stature whose cult spread throughout Ireland in the early centuries of Christianity. In this article however I will merely look at the presence of his cult in Co. Down.

The Names Caelan, Mochae and Cooey Ireland, as we know, is known as the "land of saints and scholars" and this is hardly surprising as many hundreds of saints are listed in historical records. There are more than a hundred SS. Colman, scores of SS. Mochua and Molua and dozens of Ciarans, Finnians, Aedans etc.recorded in the sources. Padraig 0 Riain, the foremost authority on early Irish saints, points out that the notion that so many saints existed in a relatively small area, in a relatively short period of time "flouts the most basic rules of common sense not to mention historical criticism". The most crucial and complicating factor in the study of early Irish saints is the use of pet names(hypocorisms). How these names were formed is even today but vaguely understood but at least one pattern has been identified. It appears that when referring to their local saint the people in early Ireland often prefixed the word "mo" ( "my") to the name and in many cases then dropped the last syllable. One striking example of this practice is the variations of the name Finnian who is known and venerated under many names: Finnbarr; Finnio; Finnian; BairrFhinn; Mo Bairre; Do Bairre; Bairre; Do Fhinnu; Mo Fhinnu; Finnu. Each variation became, over time, recognised as a name in its own right but, in reality, as demonstrated by 0 Riain, the different names represented merely the spread of the cult of a single saint, Finnian of Moville. People in early Ireland would have been much like people nowadays, susceptible to propaganda and anxious appear up- to- date in their choice of heroes or saints. Initially, perhaps the saint would have been simply revered as a famous holy man but gradually the people of the place would claim the saint as their own, give him a local genealogy, refer to him by their pet name and claim that he personally had founded their local church, drunk at their wells and prayed on their mountains. Looking at the name of our saint the basic stem of the name would have been Caol meaning slender, the diminutive suffix an denoting "small or "beloved" .The name Caeldn then changing as his cult spread to >MoChaelan>Mochae> Chae>Cae (anglicised Cooey). Again we must appeal to common sense. Is it likely that three saints with the same original name would have existed in the same small area at approximately the same time?


A10chae Nendrum Kilcliif

of and

Except for sparse mention in the genealogies no information about, Caelan of Kilclief is given in the early records but, as Mochae of N endrum, he is recognised as a saint of some ----'==----~ importance. Nendrum, Nendrum Abbey, Strangford Lough situated on an island in Strangford Lough, Mahee Island (in Irish Oiledn Mochae), is one of the most important early Christian monastic sites in Ireland. It is in a beautiful setting and well maintained and serves as a model for the reconstruction of monastic life in many heritage centres, including the model 1ll the new St. Patrick's centre in Downpatrick . In a short article such as this I do not have time to give details of its history but it is said to have been founded by St. Mochae. Mochae is recorded as having been baptised Nendrum Abbey as it is today and ordained as a very young man by St. Patrick. Their first meeting took place somewhere between Saul and Bright which would suggest that there was a tradition that Mochae was originally from Lecale. As Abbot of Nendrum he established a famous school there and is recorded as being a teacher of other saints. He died on 23rd. June 497 AD. Recognising Mochae as a form of Caelan is not a new idea. In the Martyro logy if Donegal, when recording the death of Mochae of N endrum a note is added -" Caelan was his first name". Later historians like Reeves and 0 Laverty have identified Mochae with Caelan of Kilclief and Isobel Magee in her article quotes Surgeon Tate telling of a tradition that Mocha's mother, Bronach, daughter of Milchu, Patrick's captor, came with 29

D. Rooney at Caelan:s- Well, Drumroe

her husband to Kilclief. They made a dwelling for themselves in a bank above the Spital field at Drumroe and it was there that Caelan/Mochae was born. I would suggest too that Mochae's connection with Kilclief is reflected in the name of the church itself Cill Cleithe,The C hurch of the Wattles.

The Legend cif Mochae and the Bird A legend about Mochae is recorded in the 9th century Martyrology oJAengus and later developed in the Martyrology cif Donegal. It tells how Mochae went with a group of his followers to cut wattles to build a church and as Mochae was working he heard a bright bird singing.This was no ordinary bird but an angel of God and as he sang Mochae was enchanted listening to him. He thought he had listened only for a little while and when he awoke he lifted his bundle of fresh wattles and went in search of his companions. The bird's song, however, had lasted for three hundred years and none of the people recognised him until he told his story. Then they revered him and made a shrine of the WATTLES he had gathered and afterwards built a CHURCH at that place.

Saint Cooey cifTemplecooey, Portqferry St. Cooey's Wells, a few miles south of Portaferry towards Bally Quintin, have for centuries been visited by pilgrims to pray and to drink the curative waters.The site was restored in 1976 and it is a beautifully restful place with a definite aura of sanctity. Some rags tied to the thorns beside the wells testifY to the antiquity of the tradition. What little is known about St. Cooey is based on what J. 0 Laverty,has written in his History cif the Diocese cif Down and Connor. His derivation of the name Cooey has been unquestioned and his statement that St. C ooey died in 73 1 AD has been so completely accepted as fact that it has been put on the plaque at the entrance to the wells at Templecooey. 0' Laverty states that "the name Cowey, which in Irish is written Cumhaighe, meaning "greyhound of the plain", or metaphorically " hero of the plain" is modernised in every part of Ireland as Quintin". This would appear to be an educated guess based on the coincidence of other local placenames being called after Quintin(Quintin Bay, BallyQuintin).The Placenames Research Project at Q.U.B. agree that there is no evidence to support this theory but have come up with no alternative derivation. More important 30

than this, however, is the fact that 0' Laverty himself contradicts this theory in the second volume of his history when referring to Cowey in Moville who he says " is unknown to our hagiologists if he be not Cuanan Glinne of Moville who died in 731AD". He is admitting that he is looking for a saint whose name sounds like Cooey - in fact, making another educated guess. In the light of modem scholarship it is much more likely that Cooey is, as I suggested above, another pet form of the name Caelan as is Mochae. 0' Laverty's suggestion that Cooey was an eighth century saint would appear to be contradicted by local tradition recorded in a newspaper article in 1924.The writer, one J.M., says "When 1 was a boy I got the impression that he belonged to the very earliest days of the Irish church, and was perhaps a disciple of the National Apostle himself. This tradition would definitely coincide with what was written about Mochae ofNendrum. A very important element when attempting to identify early saints is the date of their feastday. We have no record of any feastday or festival for Ca elan of Kilclief nor in Saintfield parish does there appear to be any memory of celebrating the feastday of Mochae ofNendrum, but every year a Mass is celebrated at the end ofJune at St.Cooey's Wells. Father Morgan, P.P. of Portaferry, who was responsible for the renovation of the wells, wrote in the Parish Chronicle in 1976 that Mass would be celebrated at the wells on the Sunday after the 29th ofJune -feast day ofSt Cooey. The feast day ofMochae is recorded as 23rd ofJune and the fact that the feastdays are not exactly the same does not weaken the argument.As P. 0 Riain points out "The saint's octave very frequently led to the duplication of his feastday." I would suggest that the Mass at Cooey's Wells represents an amazingly strong tradition, which has survived for fourteen hundred years, of the veneration of an important saint of this area - St. Caelan/MochaelCooey.



@Sabe/s Vlew}lam rYarifCJl611s Isobel Magee After a mild misty day, the May evening has turned to lovely sunshine. It is time for me and the dog Skip to go to Cariff Hills to check on the sheep before nightfall. Skip as always likes a ride in the jeep and to gather the sheep for me. As we turn into Carifflane the pheasant greets us with a loud cackle as he skims over the low hedge into the nearby field, possibly his mate is sitting on a cluck of eggs or has her chicks under cover. As we go down the back lane the crane is standing on one leg gazing into the near by sheugh ready to dive for the frogspawns which are there in plenty, so she takes off with a long low flop, flop, and long legs spread out behind her, to wait somewhere till all is quiet again. Having opened the gate and gone through, and closed it, we make our way up the hill. When something takes my eye, it is a shelduck, coming out behind a nearby gorse bush, she flaps along giving me that broken wing distraction so as to take my attention. I get out of the jeep and quietly look around the gorse and sure enough the little ducklings are spread flat in the grass, not to be seen. I leave quietly and follow mother duck as she still persists with her injured wing, but when she knows all danger is past off she flies away into the distance. These shelducks come up from the shore at Kilclief, lay their eggs in the banks, such as a disused rabbit burrow, after the ducklings are well able to travel they make their way back to the riverlets that lead down to the seashore. Having reached the top of the hill I stop, and Skip gathers the sheep around me for counting. Having finished his work, Skip goes in search of a bunny. Having found one hiding in the grass, he gives chase only to be out run into a nearby burrow. The sheep are grazing again and as I stand in the middle of the flock, the swallows glide so close by over the sheep's backs, catching the small flies. The metallic blue of their wings and backs looks so beautiful you feel you could reach out and touch them. As I walk over and lean against the front of the jeep and look around at the wonderful view, where one has not to go far from home to see the history that surrounds me here. So I invite the reader to join me in my view of this part of Lee ale. There are two sailing yachts going up Strangford Lough towards Ballyquintin point probably practising for the regatta later in the summer. Their white sails standing out in the blue calm waters. Over the lough the Ards peninsula with the fields looking so green and the farmsteads bright ih the evening sun. A few of the fields already cut for silage. Tara hill with the grove of trees and down to the water's edge at Tara Bay. Looking up to the end of the Ards peninsula Ballyquintin bay and Ballyquintin point where many a ship was wrecked for the want of a light-house. A light-house was petitioned in 1846 and built on Rock Angus at the entrance to the lough. It was finished in 1853. But the light was never finished in it. It is thought that businesses might have been diverted from Belfast to Strangford. So Rock Angus never had a light. Beyond in the distance you can see the outlines of the Isle-of-Man. On this side of 32

the lough a high mound known as the Mount an ancient fort. A short distance up the shore road. Kilclief Castle built by the Anglo Normans. Lough Cuan was named by the Danes who plundered and burned much of this part of Lecale. The yachts turn now at Ballyquintin and come back down the lough again. Kilclief Castle is a building of the fourteenth century and was the ancient see-house and manor of the Bishops of Down. There is a chamber in the castle called the hawk's chamber. There is a figure of a bird resembling a hawk carved on a stone in the chimney brace in a room on the second floor. ' It is thought to be part of a gravestone similar to the one in the vestry room of the nearby Church. The parish ofKilcliefbelonged in ancient times to the Archdeacon of Down. The Ordnance Survey includes all the lands of the Archdeacon in one townland which is called Glebe, Drumroe, CarifI, Caravanish. On the hill above the Castle is Kilclief Parish Church. In the days of St. Patrick this was known as th e "hurdle church". The structure was built of wattles and boards . Wattles or sally bushes would have been gathered from the banks of rivers and marshy ground. The church was dedicated to St Caylan. As I look further to my right on the shore Kilcliif Parish Church road in the late 1700 there was a little hamlet of houses and it was called Kilclief village or on the older maps Kilclief cottages. Lawrence Breen lived in a cottage here. Lawrence was the Kilclief poet. Some of his poems of note were "The Blacksmith" referring to Robert Breen's smithy on the corner below Glebe House, "The Old Herring Cart" when the pony and spring cart went around the country side with the herring fresh from the sea, "The Hills of Drumroe" where he roamed as a boy, and his last poem in memory of his boat "Brigantine". Kilclief village may have been associated with fishing and the Corn mill and Flax mill further up the coastline at Mill Quarter. John L'Armour once owned it, but in later years Patrick Hanna leased it from the Leslie Estate. The flax mill closed in later years when flax went out of production. Then the corn mill also closed. The mill has now been replaced by a dwelling house. Beyond the nearby hill you can just see part of Bishopscourt aerodrome which was developed in 1940 and brought much needed work to Lecale and beyond. Close by we have Glebe house and land's which were church lands. The Rev Henry


Leslie collected the rents of Glebe which were paid to the Venerable Archdeacon Gibbs. The trustee of all Kilclief lands was Charles A. Leslie, a brother of Henry. The Rev Henry Leslie died at Glebe House 1870. After theWyndham Land Act of 1903, the church lands were sold to the tenant farmers to be paid over a period of 68 half years. This was paid 1st May and 1st November. The last payment ended in November 1953. After a fire Glebe house was rebuilt and in time was owned by the late Surgeon Tate. It is now a holiday home run by the Harmony Trust for children. Then further along the coast line I see the banks of Killard where in May 1946 the Georgetown Victory lost her way and came aground on Killard rocks. That caused quite a stir. As I look to the west the evening sun is getting lower. The Mourne Mountains away in the distance stand out as dark blue. The rolling countryside stretches out to Saul mountains. Other familiar places I see, the Wind Mill stump, Ballynarry Fort, Cargagh Chapel rebuilt after the troubles of the 16th and 17th century in 1754. The place where the fever hospital at Ringcladdy once stood in the 17th century. The field is called the Wheasel field. The year of the bad flu (hence the name 'wheasel' meaning chesty), so many died that coffins were said to come out of it every day. Back to the North West the Pole mountain stands overlooking the townlands of Carrinteggart Castlemahon and Ballyculter. Ballyculter was known as Coulter's town as there were many families of Coulters lived there. Christ's Church Ballyculter was built around the mid 1600 by the Wards who originated from Cheshire in England. As I look at the Church with its tall spire high above the trees it looks very much like an English setting in an Irish countryside with its lych-gate in the foreground. At the back of the church on the other side of the main road is Ballyculter National School, also built by the Ward family, the Bangors. It was built in 1823. It is now a private dwelling. It is thought that behind the school-house there was once the old chapel of St Malachy destroyed in the trouble times of the 1600's. The field is called Kilmalock or Kil-ma-Iack. The last rays of the sun are going down behind the Pole mountain. As I look North up the main Churchtown road to Castleward overlooking Strangford lough. Castleward the seat of Lord Bangor was named Carrick-na-Sheannagh (Foxes' Rock) . It was purchased from the Earl of Kildare. The story is told of a Judge Ward who wanted to plant fir trees nearToberdoney side of the plantation, so he evicted the people from their homes . The remains of the foundations of these wee houses still can be found there. The story sao.ys that the evicted people stayed for the night in St Tassach Church Carlin before emigrating to America. Maybe they would have been sailing to America anyway? As the last rays of sun disappear we leave Castleward behind the forest of trees and look over the lough from Castleward. Above Portaferry stands the old windmill.You canjust see it in the fading light of the evening. It was built in 1744 and destroyed by fire in the year 1873. So dear reader we have come full circle of my view of Lecale. Skip is anxious to get home. The mists of the evening are now rolling like balls of cotton wool. It is on such an evening as this you could see after the rain in the morning


Willo-the-Wisp as he floats above the marshy ground with his sparkling blue phosphorus light and then disappears into the mist. Skip jumps into the back of the jeep. We go down the hill with the remains of Cariff town below where once ten families lived and Gaelic was spoken long after the English language had taken over. In the distance I hear the cry ofReynard the fox as he comes out for his nightly prowls. Now we leave dear old Cariffhills to the peace of the night.

OCorspeparslep Pat Fitzsimons He cut the cocksfoot in the middle, A very delicate plant wouldn't grow In the headrakes . . The other side of the wall has profusion Coaxed by human hand. Most superior plants. He is Sic's child, Driving an angry machine, Laying everything bare to the stubble Except forgotten tennis balls And old ha'pennies Watched by two, one thirteen The other nine. The cocksfoot is down. Pervasive tidiness restored. Godliness and horseparsley remain.



CJfrom 速tl ~crmp to cJ<'eon ~ig"hts. Eamon McMullan Winter evenings can be long and dark no matter where you live. Growing up in the 1930's and 40's in Strangford, the evenings were made that little bit longer by the fact that we still depended on the old oil lamp - or even sometimes the candle to lighten our darkness . I had the misfortune to live in a three storey house and bedtime became a traumatic moment in my day in the late 30's because no-one wanted to climb to my bedroom on the top floor to see me safe between the sheets. It was therefore necessary for me to negotiate the three flights by myself, in the dark, past all kinds of nooks and crannies inhabited by God knows what kind of other world beings, maybe John Nod, or worse still, Rawhead and Bloody Bones, characters from Sam Swail's repertoire of ghost stories which he told at his doorstep to every child who happened to pass. It was a case of being "talked" up the stairs, with me legging it as fast as my short legs would carry me, shouting "Are you still there?" to whichever of my sisters or brothers had been assigned the job. They would answer, and this got me to the top floor. However there was in my room a picture of God, sitting on a cloud lining and no matter how dark, he would be almost visible, looking out of the side of his eye to the left or right or glaring straight ahead, all seeing, all hearing. He scared the dickens out of me and I'd be in and under the clothes in no time flat. What a blessing it would have been to have a candle! But I was too young to be in charge of a naked flame, for so many people had had near catastrophes, even to my own limited knowledge at that time. No - candles were dangerous and for limited use only. On the other hand oil lamps were a necessity. We had two water-clear glass bowls filled with paraffin oil with the two wicks from the double burner coiling down into the liquid, like white snakes with blue markings, having a drink. ' The brass double burner with its side by side flat wicks had two winders on one side and a control, to extinguish the flame, on the other. This was screwed into the bowl and topped with a globe, a narrow chimney of clear glass to enable the flame to burn without smoking. The charred tip of each wick had to be trimmed each night before lighting. A lopsided wick tip gave a lopsided flame which would smoke on the high side, and any little irregularities would give the flame a high or low point and also smoke. This would blacken the chimney. The globes were always getting cracked, a sudden cold draught, a drop of water splashed accidentally, or worst of all, the oval globe put on the wrong way and the wick turned up meant that the flame touched the glass and again a new globe



was needed. Trimming the wick was a skill in itself in order to get the correct shape of flame. My mother had the necessary experience to do the job well. She always said that nothing beat the hands-on method. It was a case of trimming the burned ends of the wick with the finger and thumb drawing all the loose charred material to the top and then trimming the irregularities with scissors, repeating the process until a final level top was created on the wick. The dark streets were something we were used to and before the war they were only lit by the light of oil lamps in the front rooms of the houses. After midnight Mass on Christmas morni~g, Siney Sharvin would have a hurricane lamp hanging on the finger post (Ardglass 8 3/4 Downpatrick 8 1/2) at the spot where Elliot's weighbridge is now, and that was our street lighting. When war came in September 1939 blackout made the place even darker and was the cause of me "seeing a ghost" on a winter's night, but that's another story - after the war we soldiered on without mod cons and electric and a blind acceptance of our neglect. Eventually when it came - it came almost like a "bolt out of the blue". No more "wet batteries" to be charged in the Black and White garage in Downpatrick. When Elliot's got their generator they did the same job - necessary to power the wirelesses in a lot of houses in Strangford. I remember when Elliot's got their generator installed just across the lane from Stella Maris Hall it was possible to run a line across to the Hall and Anthony McMullan of the Hawaiian Band could pluck and play the electric guitar for the first time ever in our village. When electricity came to Ireland, as with gas today, it came to the cities first. It was into the 30's before it began to filter out to the country areas and then it was industry that required it as a first priority. Ardglass got a line and was lit up, because of the fishing industry and so was able to have a cinema, in the Shield Hall belonging to the entrepreneurial Milligan family to which us Strangfordians flocked. Portaferry had the "Wareroom" which had its own generator and so had the "Cinema" belonging to the Hinds family. Tommy Quail and George McDonald did a roaring trade on the ferry boats when "Snow White" played in the "Cinema". And so the march of progress continued, by-passing poor oul Strangford and as war time crept up on us in 1939 the chances of electrification dwindled into the background. Rumours would start from time to time. Strangers were seen at the Black Islands taking sights and measurements. Hydro Electricity? Our own Ardnacrusha? - at that time a giant scheme on the Shannon. But it all came to nout. Bishopscourt was started in 1942 - it was only 4 miles away. Four miles was nothing. But it was war time and poles could not be spared and although poles were at that time coming out of Castleward and Downpatrick to Bishopscourt, poor us still got - nothing. My father had a small generator to which he added a wind charger but the blades kept breaking and we were more often in the dark than with light. In any case it was just for light that the generator served a useful purpose as it did not create enough power for us to have an oven or iron or a fridge. The only dependable alternative was to go back to the old oil lamps. The narrow clear glass Kosmos chimney fitted the single burner lamp of the same company and was usually hand movable. Then an invention in 1865 brought the Hinks Duplex burner. This had two parallel wicks which improved the luminosity of both flames and thus improved the quality of light. This Duplex system was still in vogue in Strangford in the 1930's. I remember my sister getting severely reprimanded for cracking


the globe by not aligning it properly with the wicks. Then the Aladdin, and the Framos incandescent lamps came along and although they were developed in 1890's they were expensive because the mantle was so fragile, made of silk or cotton impregnated with thorium and cerium. There were two types, pressure and non-pressure. In some cases the Duplex fitting could be interchanged with the new mantle fitting. I'm told that the Aladdin non-pressure lamp is still in production. The pressure lamps by Primus,Tilley, Coleman,Veritas andAladdin gave out much more candle-power than their predecessors and by wars-end had replaced the old Duplex. DUPLEX LAMPS Noises started to be heard at council meetings regarding the electrical neglect of the eastern Lecale area and gradually, as the ration- ridden years of post war rural Lecale became the 1950's, definite word began to filter through that the "Power" was on its way. Finally, in 1954 electrification at last reached us in Strangford - although the rest of the area did "little note or long remember" the event. The only mention I could find in the back copies of the local newspaper was that the Church of Ireland Bishop, Dr Kerr did the official "turning on" in Ballyculter Church in October 1954. The installation being a gift of Mr & Mrs Samuel Orr. Also at Kilclief Church of Ireland Church, Dr Kerr did a similar job - the installation there being the gift ofMrsA. Johnston of Tully in memory of her husband Alfred. By the time this great event came about I had left my place of birth so I cannot describe the thrill of the time but I'm told that Father Crossin had a ceremonial switching on oflights in the Chapel and great rejoicing and celebration was the order of the day. Sorry I missed it.




derrets @.,emembered Leslie McKibbin Through many years, those engaged in hunting and catching wildlife such as rabbits, used methods like terrier dogs, traps and snares as well as the gun. It was also common to use ferrets with nets . The purpose was to locate the burrows and peg nets across , the entrances. The ferret was muzzled to prevent it from catching a rabbit, killing and eating it over a course of two or three days, which was called "lying in". A few minutes after the ferret had entered, it was common to hear loud thumps down the burrow which was made by a rabbit thumping its foot to warn other rabbits that there was an intruder present. Then with the ferret in pursuit there was a mighty clamour to get out thus entangling themselves in the nets at their burrow entrances. My memory of ferrets goes back many years when I recall my father and Jimmy Curran coming in a lane way on the farm and catching a ferret which most probably had lain in, while ferriters were hunting rabbits. A wooden box and wire-run was hastily made to keep the ferret in. Jimmy Curran said that if it was a female ferret, to his understanding they had to be bred. Inquiries were made and the ferret was taken on an intimate holiday to the home of Mr John Henderson game keeper at Castleward who kept ferrets. After this two week honeymoon period the ferret was brought back to Ballyculter. A careful watch was kept and nine weeks later, one morn was heard a squeaking sound inside the box, which was the arrival of the first of eight tiny yellow creatures. As they began to grow they wandered out on to the netting wire-run and it was noticeable how quickly they were growing. The next problem was how to get rid of them. It was agreed to put a notice in the Down Recorder "Ferrets for sale. ÂŁ1 each". After a few days, into our yard came a man on a bicycle with a box tied on the handlebars. He got offhis bicycle and asked "Have you ferrets for sale"? I brought him down to the house where they were kept. I lifted a stick and tapped the box where they had been sleeping. Like a sheet of lightening they were all out on to the wire-run. They must have been eighteen inches in length with red eyes staring at you and lovely cream coats. The man put his hand in to his pocket, pulled out a leather glove and reaching in to the box lifted up a ferret and put it in to his box. He gave me a pound. He said his name was Geordie Kearney and he lived in Bailee. He thanked me and off he went. On a wet day a few years later my father asked me take the horse around to Tom King's smithy in Kilclief and get him re shod. The horse was haltered and off I went. Arriving at the smithy I was lucky to find there were no other horses in front of me,just Tom the blacksmith, his brother Bill King and two men Paddy McKeating and his brother from the Row were there. Tom got the nippers, pulled the old shoes off, pulled out a length of shoding iron, cut off four lengths which he would put in to the smithy fire and shape into four shoes. Then with a coarse, smithy rasp he trimmed the horses feet. Looking out of the open smithy door we saw a man on his bicycle coming from the direction ofKilclief. He kept looking at me then he said "Bill there is not many young fellows around here I don't know. But I cannot place this fellow". Bill said "Here is one fellow you should know, didn't you always say the best ferret you ever owned you got it in Ballyculter". I said "That is many years ago, you would not have the same ferret still?" Geordie replied "I still have one but it is not the same religion!" 39


@rish ?2roverbs collected by Isobel Magee The older the fiddle the sweeter the tune. There's no need to fear the wind if your haystacks are tied down. A boy's best friend is his mother and there's no spancel stronger than her apron string. There never was an old slipper but there was an old stocking to match it. An old broom knows the dirty corners best. Its no use carrying an umbrella if your shoes are leaking. Its difficult to choose between two blind goats. A silent mouth is sweet to hear. There was never a scabby sheep in a flock that didn't like to have a comrade. A nod is as good as a wink to a blind horse. The fox never found a better messenger than himself. You'll never plough a field by turning it over in your mind. The longest road out is the shortest road home.


A Ef2etterjiom O(])own to aJeenrp


'4' oAo(])

Bilis Fitzsimons The Norman/English who were granted lands by John de Courcy in the Earldom of Ulster in the latter half of the twelfth century were continually under threat from those whom they termed the "marauding Irish" and this letter from County Down clerics and nobles illustrates to what dire straits their descendants were reduced by the beginning of â&#x20AC;˘ the fifteen hundreds. To this dolorous petition are annexed the seals of the Bishop of Down, the Prior and Archdeacon of Down and of the Abbots of Bangor, Saul, Inch and Greyabbey. Also attached are the seals of Baron George Russell and of the towns of Down, Ardglass and Kilclief. O'Laverty recorded that the seals of the towns of Down and Ardglass have disappeared but that the seal of the Ville de Kilcleth along with the letter were preserved in the Chapter House in Westminister. I obtained a facsimile of the seal, which depicts a galleon in full sail, from the British Museum Archives and here I have tried, not very successfully, to reproduce a copy on paper to accompany the letter. A ROUGH MODERNISATION OFTHE LETTER To the King our sovereign lord: We meekly beseech your most noble Highness and pre- excellent grace, your humble subjects and servants, whose seals unto this present are affixed, with all the faithful and true free people of the Earldom of Ulster, which some time was named the third most royal earldom in C hristianity and now in default of lordship the people are by your enemies daily destroyed and under constant tribute and thraldom. Graciously consider this thraldom by the wars on your free people which is continued daily by sea and land. From the sea by the Welsh and the Scots of the Outer Isles who are in league with Irish enemies of the land - 0 N eill \\. Bui,O Kane, McQuillan, Henry 0 N eill, Con 0 N eill, MacGuiness, MacCartan Seal of the Ville de Kilcleth 141 DAD and the 0 Flynns - who in a short time will finally and utterly destroy your Earldom and people unless your most gracious highness will send people to inhabit and defend this ground. Send them to your faithful and truly loyal servant Janico Savage, your Seneschal of Ulster who has kept and defended your country with great adventure. Daily he and his men with great fear, hunger, thirst and bloodshed have waged slaughter against your mortal enemies and in these battles many of his most dear friends have been slain and have passed on unrewarded as yet. '~ ,;



Unless he gets some money soon with which to hire soldiers to resist your enemies and keep your country safe your people will finally be destroyed and your country conquered by the Scots of the Outer Isles and the Irishmen allied with them. These problems to be remedied by your pre-excellent grace. We meekly at the reverence of almighty Jesus, who by his prophet Moses delivered the children oflsrael out of the thraldom and bondage of King Pharaoh, beseech in way of charity and we daily pray for the preservation of your royal majesty. Beseeching meekly moreover your pre-:excellent grace that it might please your highness to trust the bearers of this letter, Thomas Lambert and David Callan with anything you may send.

OfJimpbcitp Rev. WE. Kennedy

I'm just a simple farmin' man, By the name ofJimmy Todd, My farm is in the County Down, Nor far from Ballydrod. The farm is not so very big Just twenty acres odd, But it gives me all I need, besides, I've health and strength, thank God. I'm not as young as once I was, I don't get out so much, But, I like to dress when Sunday comes, And make my way to Church. I like to meet the neighbours there, And get a bit of news, To have a good look when inside, And see who's in the pews. I like to say a little prayer, And thank God for His care, To think of them who aren't so well, Who have a cross to bear. And so, I dander home again, My heart and soul content, I've thanked my God for life and friends, And all that He has sent. 42


~ ~ound


<Che Avenue.

PJLennon Travelling was just as difficult for me last weekend as it was for thousands of others. So I just had to stick to the locality. I got as far as Strangford and while I was there found time to take a dander around the 'avenue' .


Over the years this delightful traditional old walk hasn't really changed much. Generations of villagers have used it daily and without a doubt appreciated that it existed. I know when I was a lad running around there I would likely visit Oldcourt most afternoons after school. And it was particularly popular with us during our long summer holidays. It must be admitted that as lads we perhaps didn't show a great interest in the historic side of the place. The ancient church, built by George, XVI Earl of Kildare in 1629, to which a tower and chancel were added by the 23rd Lord DeRos, were thoughts not occupying our minds as we walked through. But features like Sally's Well, Sarah's Well or the ancient bathing house, we had a lot of time for. For the past two years an Enterprise Ulster group did some tiling in Oldcourt and what a great difference their labours have made to the area. I noticed for the first time in my life the title of Sarah's Well and cut into the same stone the name David Dryden. I was thinking a lot about names when I went into the 'bathing house' . The old stairway has disappeared but I could still see plainly many names etched on the wall, names of people who still live or have lived in the village upon a time. There were drawings still plain on the mouldering plaster, there were a few hearts entwined and odd looking arrows piercing them - but a marked absence of ... 'John loves Mary'. Isn't it remarkable the pull a virgin white wall has for some folks or is it a sense of history? Certainly some of those manes have been there for many many years. Who in the district reading the names ofWhoriskey, Curran, McConville, McConvey, McCullough, Hynds, Ranagan, Hanna, Quail, McDonnell, Swail, could fail to tie up the handle with a face. I searched in vain for my own name. Oh, it should have been there somewhere for I was just as handy with a knife for hacking my initials on a tree as with a pencil to scrawl across a wall. Of all my memories down those days connected witn Oldcourt there is one time that stands clearly and something I enjoyed very much and that was Regatta Day. The estate featured largely that day and I would go around the "avenue" to a little group of rocks just below the home of the late Sammy McKeown and sit there amid the elders of the village listening to them discuss the weather, the breeze and the boats. All with great authority. Well, when I was around there on Saturday I could see the sailing boats from the road. Some things go on forever ... but not people. A name scratched on a wall is often 43

all that remains to remind you of grand people and great characters that once people the village. "Would you take our photograph?" queried the group of young ladies sitting in the sun in Strangford. And before I had time to say yes or no they added .. . "it will fill a space in the paper this week." How could I refuse such a direct request form Moira Quail, Barbara Denvir, Siobhan Shields, Rosemary Hanna and Pauline Kerr.

dames ~oden - er postscript WCrea This is the last chapter of the story of James Boden, one of Strangford's famous characters. In the 1999 issue of Inverbrena we left Jimmy in the Downe Infirmary recovering from his near fatal fall into the water at the slip on that cold winter night. His exposure to the elements and recovering consciousness in the strange surroundings of the hospital had seriously upset Jimmy's body functions . Jimmy was worried and he complained to the nurse for a couple of days but she told him he wasn't taking any harm. Jimmy waited until the next morning and confronted the doctor with his problem who that night sent him round two pills. Jimmy was still on the pot the next morning, all smiles, when the doctor was doing his rounds. Of course by now the event was no longer a secret for it had advertised itself. "Well James?", says the doctor, "How are things today?, any movement?" "Movement, movement?" "Aw be Jasus", says Jimmy (he seems to have been in touch with some higher authority). "Be Jasus there was plenty of movement. There's a fellow away with the first bucketful. Did ye not meet him" . Boden was back to normal. Soon after this he was back in his "house" in Kilclief and again visiting his many friends in the pubs in Strangford and, doubtless, recounting many lurid stories of his sojourn in the hospital until his final settlement in Ballyculter churchyard on the 21st October 1953.


cYastleward A poem written 1884 by J W. Montgomery of Downpatrick collected by Senan Sharvin, Strangford.





.. Front facade. Castleward) Strangford.

o thou lovely Castleward, With thy glades of velvet sward. Thou hast stolen my heart away; Here, beneath thy grand old trees Murmuring in the evening breeze, Would my muse for ever stray!

By thy temple o'er the lake, Where the swans their pleasures take, She would weave her sylvan rhyme; Rusticating, she would sing, Through the winter, through the spring, Midst thy secrecy sublime.

With thy deer that graze around, She would walk the open ground; Or, outstretched upon the grass, In some cosy, leafy nook, With a bright instructive book, She would let life's troubles pass.

o thou charming rural scene, In the robes of emerald sheen. Thou art graven on my heart; I have loved thee well and long, And would here present a song Votive offering ere we part.

Or, whene'er the sun rode high, Blazing in the noonday sky; She would seek the deeper shade There, within thy groves of yew, Where the courting cushats coo, Would her cool retreat be made!

May the scion,just of age. Study well the honoured page, Which records the deeds of yore; May there still be pure-toned joy Happiness without alloy, On by Strangford's smiling shore!



c2Jlebe OCtJuse Mena McKeating Glebe House is in the parish ofKilclief, County of Down, two miles from Strangford. A former Church ofIreland rectory, it was built in 1816 by the Board of First Fruits at a cost of £500, of which £450 was given and £50 lent. Rev. Henry Leslie, a rector of Kilcliefparish lived in Glebe for fifty years from 1820 - 1870. After the Land Act when most of the land was sold off to tenant farmers the rectory was rented out. Fortunately it was empty on the night of May 1922 when it was burnt down as the result of the 'troubles' in Ireland at that time. Dr T.M. Tate a retired surgeon of Down County Infirmary bought and rebuilt the house. As he was a keen horseman, he also built stables and employed a groom, Pat Williams. As a very respected and much liked man, local farmers gave him permission to hunt over their lands. He was also interested in local history and folklore, and wrote a book - Tales and Legends of Le cale Co. Down. Sadly he died in September 1935. He was riding his horse at Ballyculter when he had a heart attack and died immediately. The Tate family lived on at Glebe House until 1975. His daughter Miss Ruth Tate sold it to the Harmony Community Trust. Glebe House was ideal from the Trust's point of view, as it is situated out in the countryside and near Kilcliefbeach. It is a holiday home for children in need of relief from troubled urban areas . Protestant and Catholic children come during school holidays and at weekends where they live and play together. In the summer they take part in a cross community residential course for ten days . The activities available are camping, swimming, arts and crafts, ponyriding, walks and day trips to Newcastle and Castlewellan. The farm has animals including sheep, goats, ponies and donkeys. The children meet the animals and look after them and sometimes milk the goats . The house has residential staff and the helpers are volunteers from all over the world who do wonderful work for our community relations in Northern Ireland.

Glebe House) Kilcliif. 46


1Sb ~ A 9!:!ea Do Dhe O(j}estropers 速J9!:eace Rev. WE. Kennedy I'm just the average Irishman Who comes from North or South, Who wants to live in peace with all, For God's sake, give me peace. ~

I'm sick of all this politics That keeps good men apart, I'm sick of all this strife and hate, For God's sake, give me peace.

For God's sake, give me peace. We hope to live in heaven as one, With neither North nor South, Why can't we now that bliss begin? For God's sake, give us peace.

I love the land that gave me birth, In spite of all its faults, I'm proud to be an Irishman, For God's sake, give me peace. I love to walk the mountain tracks, To fish the rivers deep, To feel the sea spray on my face, For God's sake, give me peace. I love my wife and family, I'm happy in my work, I love the simple things of life, For God's sake, give me peace. I want to bring my children up To love both North and South, To live their lives in happier days, For God's sake, give them peace. If wrongs there be in North or South Which discontent produce, I want to see them all put right, For God's sake, give me peace. But yet, you will not put them right With bullet and with bomb, You only will increase the hate, For God's sake, give me peace. Our life is short at longest span, Both in the North and South, I want to spend mine happy here, 47

~ 1Sb ~ ~orn Again!

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Eamon McMullan In 1809 mass had been said in an old warehouse on the Newry Quay where Pat McKeown had his hen run. It belonged to Samuel Norris a Strangford businessmanpossibly he had been the former customs officer who had built Strangford house around 1790. The parish priest at that time was a Father Denvir. From a religious point of view the local "papists" were in a poor way of going. Around 1820 Lord Fitzgerald donated a chapel and ÂŁ10 per year to these poor people and so the property at the top of what is now known as the Chapel Hill became the religious focal point for the Catholic community. In the 19th century penal laws were still in vogue but Strangford seemed to be immune from the worst vestiges of them and the Fitzgeralds and DeRos families seemed to be quite tolerant and benificent to their Catholic tenants . One of the earlier parish priests was known as Priest Maginn. He lived at the Castle corner at Kilclief. Some time after him, came a Father Boyle and after him came Father Rawe. Fr Rawe was famous for his introduction of himself from the pulpit - he said "Well first you had them Boyled and now you have them Rawe". Eventually we come to what would be a living memory. It was around September 1930 that a careless altar boy left some smouldering charcoal and the church of St. Mary built by Lord Henry Fitzgerald in 1820, with his two crosses, burned to the ground. In 1932 the newly built chapel, a lovely building was opened and Margaret Polly (Fitzsimons) and myself were the first two to be christened in it. It was always referred to as "the Chapel" never the church. The Protestants had "Churches" and even the Presbyterians had "Meeting Houses", the one in Strangford having been built in 1846 and Star cif the Sea Church, Strangford 1932 opened by Dr Henry Cooke - the "Black Man" in College Sq. Belfast. My own memory span starts around 1936, the parish priest at that time was Fr Magowan and after him, Fr Crossin. Fr Magowan was a small rotund little man blessed with an overbearing dictatorial personality so often acquired by men of small stature. However he was what was needed in Strangford in our misfortune, an effective and able manager, sharp in tongue and manner, a man to rebuild and restore our dilapidated parish. Unfortunately he was unpopular and also slow at saying Mass, his Holy hour was 48

usually a Holy hour and a half. But he left the parish in great shape. I don't mean he himself was in great shape but the structures and finances ofKilclief- Cargagh - Strangford were on a solid footing. Whether or not he ever lost his pot belly is something beyond my ken. He rebuilt the chapel and also the new school in Carnashoke, and Stella Maris hall and the billiard rooms which he later turned into a school when he objected to not having a say in the management of the integrated school on the Quarry Hill. These billiard rooms became the two-room primary school, Stella Maris, for a couple of generations of Strangford's children. "Billiard Room" was written on the door of the Master's room throughout the school's life. Fr Magowan ~threatened, squeezed and cajoled his parishioners in the hungry early 30's, collecting money, then in very short supply and in an impoverished area, to accomplish his building projects. The new chapel cost around ÂŁ7,500 but it was his determination that accomplished the impossible. Tickets for his "Grand Draw" were sold throughout Ireland and even in the Ards, to gather funds. The finished article was a great source of pride to the people but more so to the " reverend father" and I often wonder did he live long enough to become a Canon. He richly deserved it for his tough single-minded drive in getting ajob done and done well. Imagine his frustration when he discovered one morning that one of the small stained glass windows was cracked. He reported it to the police and insisted that every pellet gun in the village be confiscated and the owners crossexamined. My father always claimed that a car caused a stone to fly up off the road and that's what did the damage. In the early 40's Fr Crossin arrived. He was an academic and had spent his days teaching in St Malachy's College, Belfast. He came with one of the maids in the college as his housekeeper. Her name was Kate and she was always known as Kate Crossin. It must have been a great shock to the system to leave the hollowed halls oflearning and descend to the ordinary everyday life in a small isolated village in County Down, but descend Fr Crossin did and immediately he tried to bring learning, art and hygiene, to our benighted lives. On a visit to Kilclief school sometime in the late spring of his first year of residence, he found all the boys in bare feet, now we all thought it was Fr. E. Crossin very macho to get the shoes off in May and June, get tar on the soles and crig a toe or two and see who could walk furthest over sharp stones, only the toughest could do it. You could say it was a preparation for Lough Derg. In any case perhaps it was the smell that offended his sensitive city nose but from then on - no more bare feet. Once too, at a particularly bloody encounter between Kilclief and Ballela on the hurley field, fists and sticks flew in wild abandon and Fr Eddie nearly lost his mind and did his best to stop the match there and then and discourage the game in general. Stronger forces prevailed and the game is still played today with great gusto at the Mount. Another ofFr Crossin's innovations was the "Stel1a Maris Band" consisting ofDesmond


McMullan piano, Paddy Dougherty violin, Gerry Curran accordion and Austy Curran drums. The 1/= dances were the "whole go" for quite a while in the old hall. To follow on the existing crop of alter boys Maurice Carson, Frankie Huges, a refugee from Liverpool, and myself were instructed in the Latin by Fr Eddie. Pat and Jim Quail and Tom Travers had served hard and well and now had come the time for a new crop to fill the need and us three were the boys to do it. "Ad Eum Que Letificat" etc. at least that's how it sounded to me, I have to admit I was not a great Latin scholar - as a matter of fact it was the Latin that made me fail my Senior Certificate. Anyway it wasn't long before we three could serve at Benediction. I'll never forget my first appearance on the altar, I was a nervous wreck. The first thing I did wrong was put the veil on the shoulders of the unfortunate Fr Crossin the wrong way round. Well he fiddled and fumbled around for about five minutes with the catch getting more and more irritable and bad tempered by the moment and loosing his cool at a terrible rate before he realised what was wrong - now I didn't do it on purpose but you would have thought I had planned the whole episode with malice aforethought just to annoy the holy priest and the tongue lashing I got in the vestry afterwards made an everlasting mark on my memory. I soldiered on until my next turn for Sunday Devotions. This time it was the chains on the thurable that were my downfall. There were six altogether, four holding the base and two for raising and lowering the lid to allow the priest to put incense on the charcoal. Well I must have got the chains twisted and every time I went to raise the lid the whole thing" couped" to one side nearly spilling the red hot charcoal on the carpet. I can tell you I thought it was bad to put on a veil the wrong way but the man was fit to be tied. This time there was a "laying on of hands" and from then on my career as an altar boy was blighted - and as far as becoming a priest well that sank into the mire of impossibility. Because, you see, I was taking this whole religious thing very seriously - at 10 years of age I had realised that being an altar boy was as close to God as a kid could come. I thought "That's what I want" . I remember being by myself in the chapel late one evening during a forty hour prayer marathon. Someone had to be in the Chapel all the time so it was my turn that evening. The smell of candle grease and incense seemed to linger and pervade the whole building and a hushed silence was on the whole world. I thought to myself"OK God - now's your chance, there's nobody here but you and me - just pull back the curtains of the tabernacle and wave out at me" - I thought He could do that much for me - but no, nothing happened. Then I thought "OK - just make the sanctuary lamp go out" but He wouldn't do that either - I was very disappointed and further, very disillusioned. How was a fellow to believe in the ultimate goodness of God ifhe was treated in such a cavalier fashion . Just then Fr Crossin introduced the Friday novena to the Mother of Perpetual Succour. You could write out your petition on a page and put it in a box, thef:L on Friday night these would be read out and everyone prayed through Mary to get God to pay some attention to what people wanted. I thought - yes that's for me, if He wouldn't do it for me, maybe he would if His mother told Him - after all didn't she tell Him to change the water into wine at Cana? Didn't He? I definitely thought "This is the way to go". I wanted badly to go to Toome for my holidays. My sister lived up there and it was great crack, swimming in Lough N eagh, and riding around in sand lorries - so I wrote a note, it said "To get to Toome" - it wasn't even read out. But - I got to Toome, "Not bad" I thought "so I'll try another one". I had planted mushrooms which were slow to show themselves - I wrote "To get a good crop of mushrooms" . This wasn't read out


either - I had a feeling that Fr Crossin was being a bit vindictive but a fellow can't help not knowing about thurable chains and vestment catches so why be bloody minded about the whole thing? However the mushrooms came thick and fast and I made a good profit and with the unusual roughness of cash I put a bet on a horse. 'My Love' was its name so I wrote my note "For my love to win" and sure enough I had an 8 to 1 winner. I was really on a roll and the obvious conclusion was if you wanted ajob done - don't ask the man, ask his Ma. I often wondered in later years what Fr Crossin thought of these peculiar requests especially "For my love to win", did he guess? Was my distinctive handwriting giving me away? I never found out. There is no doubting the depth of Fr Eddie's faith nor his prayerful nature. He was a very holy man - human - but holy. He prayed constantly, before Mass, during Mass and after Mass and manys the time I could have seen him far enough when I would be in a hurry home for my breakfast before going to school. If you ever saw him coming down the street you ran like blazes to hide, otherwise he would have you walking beside him saying ejaculations and prayers as he went to visit the sick. He blessed my hands once - they were covered with warts, over forty, for I had them counted - I never felt them going but one morning my mother was washing my hands and noticed them all gone. Now that really did impress me and I was ready for the priesthood again. For you see I had been cutting up potatoes into 40 pieces rubbing each wart with a piece and putting the whole shebang into a paper bag, leaving it on somebody's window sill and who ever picked it up would get the warts and I'd be free. Or rubbing each wart with a live snail and sticking it on a thorn and as it rotted so my warts would rot. Or dipping my warts into a hole in a stone - I would have tried anything for a cure but this minor miracle made a major impact - I tell you I was definitely for the priesthood. I started to emulate Fr Eddie and trying to sing the long Latin response at Benediction in one breath as he did - unfortunately I got the wrong feedback from my mother who had an expansive sense of humour. She thought my take-off on Fr Eddie hilarious especially my verbal attempts at the classical Latin and she made me repeat it for all who would listen. For a while it became my party piece. Now my journey to virtue was not all in a forward direction, for on occasion I would fall from grace and as summer progressed I couldn't keep my beady eye off the gooseberries in the garden of the parochial house. There were about a half dozen bushes of nice yellow berries and as they ripened in the summer sun my greedy alter ego was tempted. So when the opportunity presented itself, myself and a pal or two raided the bushes. I justified this crime by a twisted piece oflogic that went like this. Of my fellow altar boys Maurice and Frankie - the first left and the latter had a difference of opinion with a bus at Kyle's Corner, at the bottom of the Chapel Hill and ended up in Downpatrick hospital for an elongated period - thus leaving me, as the only survivor, to shoulder the burden of every weekday morning mass. Me, who loved his Saturday lie-in who preferred the 'Beano' and 'Dandy' to the missal, who was the first into the chapel when Mrs "Sham" was seen heading for confessions - she told everything out loud - once it was "Sham hit me with the frying pan and spilled gravy over his good uniform". Mrs Sham was the proud possessor of three names other than her own "Mrs Sham" Mrs York and "Ann ahoy". However I digress - you can understand that I felt badly put upon, so I figured I was owed a bit of a bonus - so I fined Fr Crossin a few pockets full of "goose gabs" . 51

In the final analysis "his reverence" and I did not hit it off well. I was a "personality kid". I would sing for people at the drop of a hat and had the oddest collection of adults as friends . I had a great flow of discourse and could keep the craic going. Perhaps it was all bluff and Fr Eddie could see through my mask. Many's the house I called in and could depend on a chocolate biscuit or bread and butter with sugar - I was a well fed child. The final nail in the coffin of our relationship was when he caught me being artistic. This took the form of decorating the polished wood of the altar steps. The card with the Latin written on it was made of a hard plastic like material, rectangular in shape. If you balanced it on one corner and put your thumb on the diagonal corner and then spin it round it bored a little hole in the varnish. An artistic chap like myself could make shamrocks and all kinds of interesting designs during a Mass as time allowed between responses and bringing the water and wine etc. I must have been a week into this creative period before Fr Eddie discovered my masterpieces - his appreciation of my efforts was less than ecstatic and what had been a strained relationship finally reached the point of collapse. I think that when I reached the age of 13 and went to board in St Malachy's College we both breathed a sigh of relief. He did have the la~t laugh though, for when he visited the College as he did regularly he made it his business to "interview" me. He would say "I was going to give you a halfcrown but the teachers tell me you are not being attentive to your studies - so your not getting it". And so a budding priest in the making bit the dust. I decided that I wanted to be a joiner like Gip Denvir, my confirmation godparent - a man who could tell a great yarn and laugh so much himself that he infected everyone who listened to him. Fr Eddie reported back to my parents about my lack of industry and advised that I needed a "darned good thrashing". My parents, luckily were not made of such stern stuff and I continued with my laid- back existence. My Dad, known to his pupils in Carnashoke academy as" oul Paddy" or "the Dinger", this last being a family nickname that followed the family from Kilcoo a couple of generations down the line, was a moving spirit in the local scheme of things. It was he who did MC at the fundraising "Whists", who produced the kitchen comedy plays and other events to raise funds for the debt- ridden parish. He also took up the collection in the chapel. Before my time, so the family story goes, my sisters used to comb and set my father's hair, as little girls sometimes do, on one occasion they had put in a curler or two. The unfortunate thing was that it was a Sunday morning and in his rush to get out to 9 0' clock Mass he forgot to remove the ones at the back. He took up the collection, dressed in his best, full of his own importance only to find when he got home that he still had two curlers in his hair - his "street cred" hit an all time low. And so my ambitions went from being a tar-boiler man, a priest, a t arpenter to what I am today - a man of leisure. In fact I find so much pleasure in my retirement that I think I should have retired when I left school. I still would like to be a sincere believing Christian but I am a doubting Thomas and am consequently never satisfied with the depth or sincerity of my faith, I am always looking for proof. They say " while there's life there's hope". Perhaps even at this late date He will pull back the curtains of the tabernacle, give me a wave and remove my doubts.


~~ CJfJeme and CJ{dmeme WCrea Up until now not a word about the wee girl from Bushmills, who keeps saying, with increasing frequency and with seemingly greater conviction that "years and sense should go together but don't". I find it difficult to counter this innuendo and my defence took a severe knock when somebody told her that I had been up on the Church roof on a stormy day cleaning the gulleys, valleys and spouting. I tried to turn her insinuation round by saying, "But, my dear girl, you must have patience, sense will come to you sooner or later." My remaining shreds of defence were shattered when another "informer" informed her that I had been up on the Church another time with Leslie McCullough going round the parapet during a blizzard in March inspecting the repairs to the spire. Leslie must have been confronted on this issue for he said that "someone" hinted that he, at least should have had more sense, if no-one else had. Then to bring matters to a head, he produced a photograph of repairs being carried out to the spouting. Now it's very difficult to deny a photograph! Restrictions were imposed and I was only allowed up on the glass-house roof after the Xmas storms under very strict supervision. However I don't intend to take all this lying down and I intend to retaliate. I have already threatened to give her no more rides on the back of my motorbike. It is quite possible, of course, that she might be right.




Giducatl&n cYomes 1;0



WCrea It is over two hundred years ago since Dan Murnin left his home in Hilltown to spend his life among the people of Sheepland Mor and Ballyhornan. His name is still recalled by a few with veneration. This is the curious story of his coming. His father made heather besoms which he sold throughout the country. Dan was the oldest of the family, and, though ten years of age, being small, still wore a skirt or petticoat, the customary dress for young boys of that period. He accompanied his father on a journey through Lecale and one sunny day on their way between Ballyhornan and Sheepland they passed two men on the headland who were trying to take an observation of the sun. The boy watched them and they seemed to be in difficulty with the calculation, so he showed them how it should be done. They were astonished at his knowledge and persuaded his father to allow him to come to teach the children ofBallyhornan. They built a small house for him near the present Watch-house. This was known as a "hedge school". He was a great success, possessing the gift of imparting knowledge and awakening enthusiasm for work. Later on he built a school for himself near N ewtown where he acquired great local fame. Many of the boys studied navigation under him, and afterwards sailed the high seas as captains in the merchant navy. He taught them to swim, marching them on the summer days to the lovely beach at Portnacoo. There were no books available then to encourage them to read, so he taught them out of the great book of nature. They learned to observe and to know about the stars on their courses, the way of the tides and the changing seasons, and it is still told of the old men, former pupils, when they ploughed the moorland pastures in the spring, if they saw in front of them a lapwing's nest with it's four speckled eggs, they would stop the horses and gently lift them and carry them in their coat pocket to keep them warm; replacing them when the day was over, for they knew, if exposed to the bitter March winds they would perish. When these people left school and grew to be men they were happy and contented. If the day brought hardship and toil, it brought also interests to restore and refresh the spirit. For the friends of their schooldays, the love of work and the lot'e of nature, were beside them - the good companions - to sustain and support them on the roughjourney of life until the evening when their work was done. Dan never married. When the national system of education was introduced in Ireland, his school was one of the first to be recognised, but he was then well on in years and in declining health. Soon after this he gave up the school and died about 1855. Picked up at odd times, these scattered leaves from the story of his life, though now sere and withered, have still their fragrance: they are laid in silent homage as a tribute to his memory. Note: this is an extract from T.M. Tate's book "Tales and legends of Lecale", written 54

in the 1930's. Needless to say there was no school bus in those days, so the pupils going to Dan Murnin's school from the Ardglass road, Blayneystown, Newtown and Sheepland Mor would have walked down Gracey's loney, over the stile, down the path to Portharnish, locally known as Gracey's harbour, and then on to the Watch-house.

速n <Uhe (Jfjtrangfird r::Jferrp Rev. WE. Kennedy (A Photographer's Nightmare) He dreamed as he tossed on his warm feathered bed, And wrinkled his snow- white pillow, To-morrow I cross to the Camera Club, But I bitterly dread the billow. What if the waves like huge mountains should rise And engulf me like prints in the dishes? I'd lie in the deep with nothing round me But water and big hungry fishes. Lightly they'll talk of myself when I'm gone, (Yet express their regrets to my rnissus) , And will say to themselves that my slides were no good, But that I was quite good - for the fishes!


@nverbrena f!2ocal aJeistorp c9roup Edie Hynds Anne Ellis Isobel Magee Mena McKeating Eamonn Seed Brian Fitzsimons George McKibbin Eamon McMullan Ronnie Buchanan Willie Crea (Chairman) Peig Denvir (Secretary) Leslie McKibbin (Treasurer) Sheila Campbell (Editor) and members of the Strangford community

Ap%gp In last year's issue, in my article "Building Inverbrena Community Centre", I overlooked to include Dick Cull's name as a trustee. I hope he will accept this apology for my senior moment!

Peig Denvir


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Inverbrena 2002  

cMemories yom the C15trangftrd Area I I The name first appears in the Annals if the Four Masters as ((Inver Brena" - the mouth if the Bren r...

Inverbrena 2002  

cMemories yom the C15trangftrd Area I I The name first appears in the Annals if the Four Masters as ((Inver Brena" - the mouth if the Bren r...