"For the olden memories fast are flying from 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 The above more or less encapsulates the endeavours of our group, hoping that we might in some way be that 'kind hand' helping to preserve the memories of the long ago. These stories which could well have been lost forever, are an important part of the fabric of our history and perhaps add that little extra flavour and local colour to the more serious studies of our past. We enjoyed the many nights reminiscences and craic at our monthly meetings and wish to share these with you. Should you care to join our group we meet every 3rd Friday of the month. You are very welcome. Photographs for copy and any memorabilia or stories you may have would be much appreciated. Willie Crea (Chairman) Front Cover: Willie & Cissie Magee's Farmhouse in Ballynarry
Professor Ronnie Buchanan (Advisor)
Willie Crea (Chairman)
Brian Denvir (Vice Chairman)
Peig Denvir (Secretary)
Leslie McKibben (Treasurer)
CONTENTS ........................................................... 1
Willie Crea ......................................... 3
JOHN OF BALLINTLIEVE LIFE
Nicky & TV:· • D·t . 6 yy lnnle r 1 ZSlmons ............................. .
LOVE IN KILCLIEF
NOTED MEN OF LECALE
Laurence Breen ................................ 10
THE HILLS OF OLD DRUMROE
Isobel Magee .................................... 11
WILLIE CONWAY - A MEMORY
Sheila Campbell ............................... 12
My CHILDHOOD DAYS
Irene Orr .......................................... 14
THE SPITTAL FIELD OF DRUMROE
Mena McKeating .............................. 16
STRANGFORD DURING THE WAR YEARS
Eamon McMullan ............................ 17
My LIFE IN CASTLEWARD
Tommy Henderson ............................ 23
MEMORIES OF CASTLEWARD
George Jackson ................................ 26
AN EXILE REMEMBERS
Sean Denvir ...................................... 29
CHILDREN'S SCHOOL GAMES
Anne Ellis ......................................... 33
Jim Sharvin ...................................... 39
Jim Sharvin ...................................... 40
THE LAND ACT
Mena McKeating .............................. 42
Sheila Cultra .................................... 44
George Jackson ................................ 45
Leslie McKibben .............................. 47
THE POST ROUND OF THE COUNTRY SHOPS
MEMORIES OF LIFE ON A FARM IN BALLYNARRY
Rosaleen Fitzsimons (Denvir) .......... 51
To AND FROM SCHOOL
Brian Denvir .................................... 53
John of Ballintlieve by Willie Crea. Five generations of Rogans had lived on the hillside of Ballintlieve in the company of eight other families making up a little hamlet, or should I say, to preserve antiquity, 'clachan' and now that I have said it what a delightfully descriptive word it is.
Slievemoyle, Ballintlieve 1952
These families lived on quite a small acreage of land, from one to ten acres but we must remember that a family of five could live on one acre of potatoes. Well known names in Ballintlieve were McGreevys, Coopers, Hynds, Wrights , Doughertys, McMullans, Seeds, Greens and Browns. The famine of 1845-47 was a disaster for many of the families . Quite recently when land clearance took place in the townland, potato rigs were discovered, which had been planted, but which had never been opened and harvested, suggesting the sad story that the planters had not survived until the autumn or had been compelled to emigrate. The names of Seed, McGreevy, Hynds and Dougherty still remain in the neighbourhood but none in Ballintlieve other than John Rogan until his death in 1989. Situated where it is and with a name like that, one can understand why John continued to live in his thatched house for 77 years. Needless to say his life was a study in simplicity. On pension day he cycled to Strangford where he bought his provisions and had a drink or two. On this particular day in late December the Christmas spirit was pervading Strangford and John became infected. He celebrated more than normal, resulting in him not being fully capable of controlling his bicycle. Some of his friends tried to persuade him not to attempt to ride the bicycle home. The suggestion was almost an insl!1t to John. He was capable enough, he didn't need any help. It wasn't the first time he had gone home from Strangford and it wouldn't be the last. He wouldn't allow any assistance, and off he set very unsteadily.
The Doctor's hill was no problem as he walked it wheeling the bicycle, the one holding the other up. Being successful and feeling his confidence growing he mounted, and shopping bag on handlebars, headed up to Sally Moore's comer. The road camber was in his favour so a few swerves brought him safely through the bend and on to the four roads. He was now on the 'New Line' , a familiar name in his day, called so after it was constructed over 130 years ago to replace the old road to Strangford which came through Carlin up the lane through Tullyratty along Castleward wall down to the Causeway. This 'New Line' is now called Castleward Road. Continuing on, his confidence still increasing, he came through the Camp Hill bends jerkily but successfully. Now he could see the Dam and the Tullyratty straight where visibility was good and he could see Johnny Seed's comer approaching. He had had difficulty with this bend on previous journeys and he just didn't like it, even advocating that it should be taken away as there was no need for it anyway! The road sloped in the wrong direction, something which would not be in John 's favour on this particular evening and previous experience had taught him to be careful. He did the right thing, he slowed down but just a little too much and the machine developed a wobble, John tried to correct it with a vicious right, left, right of his front wheel but he failed and both of them ended up in the sheugh. I don't know who was the witness to this event, but I have been told that there was a lot of muttering in the briars, for John took time to apportion blame, mainly against the owner of the pub and the customers there at the time. After a lot of sprachling he eventually surfaced, crawled back onto the road hauling the bicycle after him. Both became upright again. John looked at the bicycle, managed a feeble kick and addressed it thus - "Hell roast ye, ye bloody ouI' ******* you have been trying to do this ever since we left Strangford". He was now much steadier but not having far to go he walked the remainder of his journey round Buttony comer and up the Ballintlieve loney to home and solitude.
John Rogan, Ballintlieve
He didn't have many visitors at Ballintlieve, but every year he had a much cherished international tourist. In April, without fail, John would be the first in the district to hear his faithful migrant visitor from Africa, the cuckoo, which would be his nearest neighbour and companion all spring and summer. When one would be talking to him he would announce with great pride "she's here", you had to guess who 'she' was but after a few years you knew. 'She' might not have been the right word to use as I have been told that it is the male that does the serenading, but I'm sure, out of politeness, 'she' would have acknowledged her suitor's overture. However John didn't know or care, she was a 'she' and nobody in his audience was in a position to dispute his word. Sadly Ballintlieve is now deserted for John lies in the family grave in Saul, but true friends never forget and that cuckoo, or maybe a thoughtful offspring, still comes to Ballintlieve in April, and her haunting lullaby still echoes across the hillside among the ruins of the Ballintlieve 'clachan'. Now this persistent and persuasive little bird is having great success. She will be no longer lonely and the town land's name will be with us for a long time to come, for the nephew of John Rogan has built a bungalow in Ballintlieve.
Life and Love in Kilclief by Nicky and Winnie Fitzsimons (as told to Peig Denvir). I was born opposite Kilclief Castle 1908 in a wee house down the Sandy Loney. There were two houses down there at one time. I had 10 brothers and 4 sisters. As a young boy of 9 years old my brother Bill and I worked in Maginn's beside the Castle for nothing. We stayed there overnight, got up at 6 0' clock in the morning to feed pigs, horses, light fIres and feed calves; a whole days work before we went to school. Then we had to walk to school or run to be in time for if we were late we got a hiding - that was two or three mornings a week. I started school in the old school at Kilclief as did my wife Winnie Hynds who was born in Cariff; we were both the same age. Nicky & Winnie Fitzsimons 1996
Master Kerr was my fIrst teacher and after I was there three months he retired and Master McMullan took over. Mrs W.J. Fitzsimons, Ballywooden also taught us. If we misbehaved or had not our work done she'd put a chalk mark on the wall and make us stand there and look at it all day as punishment. At the old school there was a partition between the boys and the girls. The girls passed notes through the slits to the boys and got us into trouble. My family later moved to the Mount and Kilclief School was renovated by Father McGowan. The subjects at school were R.I. in the morning then we did spelling and sums and the girls cooked. We used slates and pencils and if you made a mistake you just spat on the slate and rubbed it clean with your sleeve and went on to the next subject! Homework was written on a wee piece of paper. I would put mine in my waistcoat pocket and next morning I brought my homework to school neatly done on a paper bag that tea had been sold in. No free jotters or pencils, everything had to be paid for.
I was at school from 6 years old until 14 through to 6th class. My wife Winnie "taught" for a while as a monitor as they needed another teacher, that was how things were done in those days. She then had to stay at home to look after her mother. Dan Sharvin came with us to school each day. Dan would be at the fags. Master McMullan used to ride the bicycle from Strangford to Ki1clief which was on our road to school. One morning Dan gave me a fag and we tucked in behind the pillars to light up. It was a calm frosty morning but we didn't hear the Master coming. He got off his bike and asked us what we were doing. Of course we were "doin ' nothin"'. He told us to get on to school and we thought that was the end of it but we knew different when we got to school. The Master got the cane, pushed up his sleeve and gave us 4 or 5 each. That was a common thing. Different pupils took turns to clean the school, sprinkled water to keep down the dust before brushing it. Luke Fitzsimons and 'Big Willie' lived down the lane opposite the school and on threshing day in the barn they'd be looking for help. The Master sent us big boys down and we'd be there all day in the chaff and dirt for nothing. There were cut turnips in the haggard and we used to eat them. Luke had only 3 fingers but he could nip you and pull the bit out of you! Attendance officers came to the school but we always knew when they were coming. Mr Rooney from Portaferry had only one arm, I remember. If you missed school you'd be summoned. Dick Magee, Ballynarry, just a wee lad, but a great 'farmer', was called up by Mr Rooney. "Come up, Magee, where were you that day"? Magee scratched the head and futhered about a while "Sir, I had to stay at home for Murray, the pig-man was coming to buy pigs and I had to help"! Winnie was always very sorry for those who couldn't learn, for the teachers tried to hammer it into them. At lunch hour we played hurly as our fathers did before us. We couldn't afford proper hurls so we just took a whin root out of the hedge or maybe a walking stick, made a ball by tying a string round some rags and we were happy! This was the forerunner to the days when my brothers and I joined with Paddy O'Brien, Charlie Kerr, Paddy Corrigan, Hughie Murnin, John and Robbie Fitszimons and John Breen who played for the very successful Kilclief teams of the 20s/30s. Winnie played camogie and captained the Kilclief camogie team in her day. After I finished school I went to Fagan's to work at the steam-engines. My pay was a ÂŁ1 per week and my father got 30/- a week which was ÂŁ2 lOs for the two of us. The hours were Monday morning from 6 o' clock to Saturday night 10 o'clock. I was 5 years in Fagan's, running after these machines, shifting them from one place to another. Around 1936 these steam machines were going off the road, giving way to the tractor. We felt we were only futherin, getting up at 6 o' clock in the morning, on the bike to the farmer's haggard to get the steam going. Fagan then went out of business and I went to John Crean's for another 4 or 5 years. I was on the steam 10 years altogether. Of course this went on and on and then the marrying was on the job! Winnie and I took the plunge. Around 1936 I then went to Elliott's where I worked for 7 or 8 years. My job was canvassing round the country buying spuds and grass seed, grain and potatoes. Elliott then set up a Mechanic's Shop in Strangford and it is going still owned by Pat Hynds and Raymond Sheilds. I was 6 years there when the old man Ernest died. His son Ernest took over the 7
office in Portaferry and Joe Kyles was the manager in Strangford. Ernest then went into the threshing business and asked me to go and get them started as I had the experience. In 1942 I went to the Aerodrome where I had good hours and good money. I stuck at it while it lasted. In 1944, I went to Derry to Maydown with Priors; I was there for months. Eventually I came home and took a house in Strangford and then to Ballynarry. We lived in "Wee Pat's" beside Denvir's for 22 years. It was home and we were very happy working in Denvirs off and on. When the children, 3 boys and 2 girls left the Primary School in Kilc1ief it was bikes and buses to get to school and to any entertainment so we moved, reluctantly into Downpatrick for their convenience and here we are in the "town", the children all married and living in the country! !
Sadly Winnie died earlier this year
KILCLIEF BOYS NATIONAL SCHOOL 19th December 1917 Teachers: Master McMullan + Mistress Maggie Hynds Pupils from left to right Back Row (top) (1) Robert Sharvin (2) Jimmy Magee (3) Philip McKeating (4) John McKeating (5) Robert Fitzsimons (Brow) (6) John Breen (KiJcliet) (7) Tony King (8) Jonnie Fitzsimons (Jonnie Boy) (9) Paddy Rooney (10) Tommy Fitzsimons (Tullyfoyle) (11) Mick Conville (Drumroe) (12) Nicky Fitzsimons (Mount) (13) Tommy Fitzsimons (Strangford)
Second Row (from top) (1) John Reid (2) Tommy Reid (3) Dan Magee (4) Jimmy Magee (5) Dan Sharvin (6) Willie McIlmurray (7) James Magee (8) Richard Fitzsimons (Brow) (9) Barney Fitzsimons (10) George Crolley (11) Pat John McCann (Roe)
Front Row (1) Spud Murphy (2) Joe Breen (3) Joe Fitzsimons (Killard) (4) James McConville (Drumroe) (5) Robert J. Denvir (Father Bob)
Third Row (from top) (1) Jimmy Hynds (Drumroe) (2) Robbie Hynds (Drumroe) (3) Jack Ims Beattie (4) Charlie Reid (5) Joe Fitzsimons (Mount) (6) Jim McCann (Roe) (7) Pop Breen (8) Bill King (9) Bobby McKeating (10) Ned Sloan
(6) Willie Denvir (7) Emmett Fitzsimons (Brow) (8) Dick Fitzsimons (Ballyarrett) (9) Paddy Fitzsimons (Ballyarrett)
-------- 9 --------
Noted Men of Lecale by Isobel Magee. This part of Lecale 'is not without its great men of their time. To mention a few, Joe McGrath of Ballywooden with his own inventions (as covered in another article). James and Joe Mumin the famous boat builders of Cloughy. Mumin boats were used to fish the seas of Lecale around Strangford and Ardglass. Arthur Mason, writer, lived in a thatched cottage by Kilclief shore and later emigrated to New Jersey, America. Some of his books worth a mention were 'The Wee Men of Ballywooden' , based on the time of the big wind of 1839, published as: 'From the Hom of the Moon' , 'Wide Seas and Many Lands' about his sailing days. Our own poet Laurence Breen, was born in 1902, a brilliant scholar of Kilclief National school. His nephew Terence Swail recalls his mother's memories of her twin brother, of how he painted and wrote about life in Kilclief. Sadly his paintings, writings and most of the poems were destroyed at a fire in their horne. He had great skill making violins and on a summer evening the strains of the yiolin could be heard around Kilclief when the boys and girls met at the cross-roads or at the Castle and all had a jolly time dancing and singing~ A favourite pastime in those days as time was plenty and work scarce, was taking a dander with his pals over Cariff and Drurnroe hills with the dog and gun and raising hares and searching for duck and teal on Porter's bog (as it was known then). But as time went by his pals decided to look for work in far off fields, as times in Ireland were bad. Laurence was left to fish the seas off Lecale and make his living from the fish. He missed his pals very much as is written in his poems. Later the fishing trade was taken over by the trawlers and stearn boats, and in his last poem about his fishing boat, 'The Sailor's Lament' he referred to his own boat, his 'Brigantine', as he laid her to rest in Castleward Bay. The remains of these fishing boats can still be seen. What must have been his thoughts of his pals far away and the sea no more for him, as his health was failing? Some of these thoughts are expressed in his oil paintings of the sailing boats and the little thatched cottages by the sea.
In his poems some of his friends Dick Polly, Hughie Hynds and others are mentioned, as they roamed the fair lands of Lecale. One of these poems referred to is: 'Letters to a Friend' or better known as 'The Hills of Drurnroe'. His short life ended in 1932. His mortal remains lie in Kilclief Cemetery a short distance from the sea and the hills he roamed as a boy. I hope these few verses will recall happy memories of times gone by. There are other poems by Laurence to be enjoyed perhaps in later editions of Inverbrena Miscellany.
The Hills of Old Drumroe by Laurence Breen
o - ranl!e
fill in G7
J }' 1d - vi lle
a - cross
l' 1 J l' un· kind
J l' 1J~J
home._ ' Neath F G7
from Yo ur G' C'
J 1'1J. J
bl l I-
! 1F 0
(;.ir t., •
to -dav yo u're far
re - signed
sun -shine, hail F C 1
Far a - way from
....f .....!=- ......1 1
Drum - roe_
The hares that roam by the hills of home Have now no fear of you No more your dog by Porter's bog Comes even in their view You left the bunny to make some money In the State of Ontario Now your lot has fell in a big hotel Far away from old Drumroe The ducks and teal in every field All wonder where you have gone. No more your gun they have to shun As they swim upon the pond And the wily hares their wanders share As they mark the shining snow When with footprints light she takes her flight Oe'r the hills of old Drumroe. I pen these lines to Hughie Hynds, Our friend in days of yore. May his cares be light and days be bright When on a foreign shore And I hope that we may see Our cup of bliss o'erflow When we stroll once more on Kilclief shore On the hills of old Drumroe. Set to a traditional air and arranged by Eamon & Marcella McMullan Collected by Isobel Magee from Terry Swail.
Willie Conway - A Memory by Sheila Campbell. If it hadn't been for Willie Conway we might not be living in Kilc1ief now.
His big taxi was for my parents the only way of moving their 4 small children from Belfast to Killard for the long summer holidays. A generation before that in 1910 my grandmother had travelled with her children by train to Ardglass and then in Barney Magee's pony and trap out to the coastguard cottages. Willie's Austin car was a generation away from that and we went in style sitting high above the hedges. Our holiday began when his tall figure appeared at the door, his head on one side. We all cheered except my mother who was never ready. Even when hours later Willie looked discreetly at his watch and my father would ask in despair "Is she making marmalade or what"? She still wasn't ready and had to be persuaded to abandon the scrubbing of the kitchen floor. We all deserted our domestic posts and she used to complain "There's never any good got out of you once Willie Conway appears".
William 1. Conway, Legnegoppack 1946
Willie had endless patience and could always find room for prams, buckets, basins, teddies, dolls and anything my mother thought she couldn't manage without and anything we thought could do with a holiday by the sea. "See if Mr Conway could squeeze that in somewhere" she would say, handing us a sizeable bundle of towels. We thought she ought to ask him herself, but he never sent anything back to her. In the end when everything had been loaded inside and on top, the only one who could see out properly was the youngest who sat on my mother's knee with an old towel round her in case she got sick. We all thought it would be a terrible disgrace to be sick in Willie's car so we watched her. 12 -----------------------------
The rest of us squabbled for the two little spring seats that faced backwards. It was a great thrill to see our house and street get smaller and smaller through the back window of the taxi till we turned the comer. My father sat with Willie in front and caught up on a year's news which was usually about who had died. On Carryduff hill, Willie's taxi with all its load got slower and slower, the radiator steamed and we came to a halt at the Ivanhoe Inn. My father and Willie got out.to go for "a jug of water". It seemed ages before we saw them come out, wiping their mouths, and Willie poured a jug of water into the radiator. On and on we went and then fast down the Doctor's hill. We were still arguing about who had seen the sea and the lighthouse first, when we arrived in the village. Excitement was high then and the last 4 miles out of Strangford seemed the slowest stretch of all. It was usually evening when Willie stopped his car at our little house in Killard. Moving us had taken all day, but he was still smiling and good natured as he helped my parents to unload. We children had "escaped" over the wall, on to the beach and into the tide. When my father had seen Willie off with requests to make sure that Dickie Dougherty called with milk and Elliot's with coal, he too disappeared over the banks with a book to his favourite spot on earth, I think my mother made herself a cup of tea. Six sunny weeks later, and it seemed to us that Willie and his taxi had come back too soon. We would be back in the city too quickly. We were indignant to hear that Willie had indeed been summoned a few days early as we apparently needed to be "sobered up" for school. There he was and there could be no more argument. The images through the little oblong back window of Willie Conway's taxi live with me yet Killard Banks, the yellow rocks, the crab pond and our little house - small and distant now as then - a symbol of childhood moods and memories.
10- MOTOR S~RVICE ~[, RF.T \\
FrivatB Gars lor HirB, Dau or Niant. 0': :, Cars are a:l N~w and eq:lipped with the Lat est Improvementd , ,":;; .; :,;pec iaily Enclosed, for ',v:::l:-.er ?YIonths . Terms Y. oderate .
My Childhood Days by Irene Orr (Neill) (as told to Peig Denvir). I was born at The Shore, Raholp 1903, the eldest of the Neill family of 5 boys and 4 girls. I have lovely memories of my childhood at The Shore and the islands nearby. The summers were particularly memorable for bathing in the lough, I even got out of bed once when I was ill to go down for a bathe. I could sit there and dream of places far away as the waves lapped the shore line and I wondered where I'd one day be! Gore's Island, where the Fitzsimons family and Miss Spratt lived was the one I knew best. I stayed there once for a week but all are now dead and gone - not a soul left. It is supposed to be haunted. I remember Miss Spratt's funeral, the last to leave Gore's Island. She was a lovely old lady who lived alone. I'm not sure where she carne from but I think it was Ballyculter. I was 6 years old then and was at home with a sore throat and remember watching my father bringing the coffin, on a slipe from the Island up to our yard where the hearse waited to bring it to BaUyculter. I had never seen a hearse before but thought it was so beautiful, it gleamed and had lovely curtains on the windows. How it would make a lovely "wee house" I imagined! Miss Spratt reared hens and I believe all were left on the island running wild, laying eggs and clocking out wee chicks here and there; it was the real free range. I recall the launchers coming in on the high tide bringing timber into Killyleagh Mrs. Orr Ballyculter and Downpatrick. We enjoyed the activity when the farmers carne down with their cart loads of potatoes to be shipped the short distance over to Killyleagh rather than take the long journey by toad. I went to Saul school near St. Patrick's Church which was a mixed religion school and was always known as 'the school where tolerance is taught'. The master was Mr Smyth and assistants over the years were Miss Burns, Miss Sheridan and Miss Connolly. Mr Smyth used the cane severely as was the custom but was very good and well liked; we had picnics in summer and played lots of games. During religion classes when Fr. McGarry called, the master put one protestant between two catholics to keep them from talking, but sure we learned as much as they did as they recited their prayers! On Ash Wednesday when the ashes were distributed we protestants were annoyed when we were passed over so we'd put on our own ashes from the school fire! Mr Smith was very particular about hand-writing and we practised every day in copy books lined for the purpose. My sister, Nita got ~ prize for best hand-writing in Northern Ireland and others who got prizes too were Willie Watterson and Alfie McNutt. Mr Smith was very 14
proud of them. I loved music and went for lessons to Miss Crickard and her sister; one taught piano and the other taught school. Songs we learned at school were 'Kathleen Mavoureen', 'Corne back to Erin' and all those lovely Irish songs. I have fond memories of sportsdays when we had egg and spoon races, 3 legged races and danced on the grass while the old people sat on the chairs and watched on while Teresa Hynds made the tea. Then there were those lovely days in summer when we'd walk to Carnacaw and listen to the lovely music of Hunter's Mill- the ringing of the anvil as Pat Crangle hammered away in his smiddy shoeing horses. Mary Donnelly, an old lady lived alone nearby and my mother would send us up with maybe eggs or milk now and again. The river ran by her doorstep to the mill and we would watch fascinated as the racing water churned and flowed over the mill wheel and then babbled on as it made its way to Strangford Lough. Mary would give us a piece of bread and jam and God help her she had hardly enough for herself. Unfortunately she was burned to death. The old shack of a bed with bumps and hollows made of chaff went on fire and her few belongings were all burned. When I left school I worked in our shop in Downpatrick. This shop once belonged to a Col. Wallace who was in the army. He also owned a small house and he gave both to an army friend, Mr Tweedie. My eldest sister Nita served her time to the drapery business and carne to work for him and she eventually owned the shop which became Neill 's. I remember those who did embroidery coming in on a Tuesday to sell their work at the market - they got 4 1I2d per dozen for, their linen hankies. They would then call at the shop to buy thread and material for the next week's work. I was now grown up, my childhood days behind me when I met my future husband Sam Orr. I was feeding calves when he fust spoke to me and after that he'd corne every Sunday to see me. Eventually we married and I still fed calves and reared hens in Ballylenagh. Even though I never got to those far away places I dreamed of as a child at Castleisland shore I was very happy bringing up my own children on the farm and am proud of my son Dr John Orr, Margaret and their boys who carryon the tradition at Ballyculter.
Sadly Irene Orr died in April of this year
The Spittal Field of Drumroe by Mena McKeating. As I look across at the new bungalow in Drumroe I hear a blackbird singing from a tall thorn in the bank beyond, wood pidgeons fly into a sycamore tree, rabbits dart in and out of the tufty grass and disappear into the sandy bank. I sense a quiet peaceful place, but this is the Spittal Field. It is hard to believe that over a thousand years ago this was a leper hospital. St. Peter's Hospital was built here in the 9th century. Leprosy was rife in Ireland about this time. The disease must have made its appearance during the sixth century and remained until the seventeenth century. All through the middle ages it was the most common and the most terrible of afflictions.
Map by I. Magee
It is interesting to note that St. Peter's Kilclief, St. Nickolas, Downpatrick, BaIlee, St. Bride's Carrickfergus and two more, one in Dublin and one in Waterford were all along the east coast. Fish in such localities would likely be the main source of food and in the present day we know that fish, especially raw, putrid fish, is a supposed cause of leprosy. Those leper hospitals were always to be found connected with some monastic institution. At that time the monks were nearly the only persons with any knowledge of medicine. The lepers came here, not to be cured, but to be isolated and to prepare for death. The upkeep of the hospitals was helped by grants from Popes and Kings, apart from the lepers who collected alms. In 1387 Robert De Vere of Dublin committed the custody of the Leper house near Kilclief to Nicholas Lepying (clerk) and in 1415 the king committed the custody to John Fitzrichard (chaplain) and two others, to be held while in the king's hands, rent free. According to the late Bishop Reeves the church of Kilclief is mentioned by the Four Masters. It says: "In the first of these quarter lands is a plot called the Spittal Field which within living memory contained some vestiges of an ancient building. These were the remains of a Hospital of Lepers 'Yhich was standing here in the fourteenth century". Now in 1997 all traces have disappeared long since. Only the birds and rabbits remain to enjoy the peace and make their homes in its sandy bank.
Strangford During The War Years 1939 - 1945 by Eamon McMullan. The Spring of 1939 came warm and sunny to Strangford. In May the old Baroness De Ros died. Meetings held by the Strangford & Portaferry Regatta Committees decided on the 2nd and 3rd of August for their respective events. June came in, a young teenager was fined 6d for stealing 3/- worth of sweets. July arrived hot, stuffy and dull. Kilclief played Portaferry in a hurling match in Rossglass on the 8th and a landlord tried to evict a tenant on Castle Street. August - the weather deteriorated. On 5th August Fr. Haughey was killed having crashed into the back of a lorry between Clough and Castlewellan, and at the end of the month Downpatrick Golf Club played against Strangford in a Golf match. A Mr. P. McMullan and Mrs P. McMullan won their matches. That was on Thursday 31st August, 1939, the last summer of peace for six years, although none of us were aware of it at the time. That summer of 1939 gradually moved Strangford and its people unto a war footing and things began to change for the better because war brought prosperity of a kind. The people began to be involved in the different organisations that grew up around our idea of war readiness and then the arrival in the 'River' of two grey patrol boats, the arrival too, of the Air Force Personnel, and a few platoons of soldiers for short periods and finally the advent of the 'Yanks' and a German prisoner when the 'fighting was done' were the main events that made people aware of the great global conflict so far removed from us. The war was a distant thing on into 1940 but small changes and tightening of the belt were introduced with rationing of food, clothes and petrol and the most important things from an eight-year-old's point of view, the rationing of sweets and the 'Dandy' and 'Beano' coming on alternate weeks instead of every week. The bread became a grey colour, people said it was because of potato flour added to the wheat flour for bulk. Ways and means of getting an increased ration became everyone's fixation and many a Saturday I would 'visit' Nora Magee in 'Wee Ballywooden' to cadge the odd pound of country butter from her or the odd half dozen eggs. When the Air Force opened a radio station near the Row in Kilclief and the airmen were billeted in the village, they were welcomed because they brought with them extra rations. But imagine the culture shock for these young men arriving in Strangford from Glasgow or Cookham Rise or High Wycombe to fight for God and country? No picture house or dance hall, no electricity or transport - absolute rural solitude. The three or four miles from billet to the Row was covered by bicycle and the uniform of the day was supplemented by a pair of heavy Wellington boots, with a heavy pair of white socks which turned over the top. At first the men all complained about the rash at the back of their knees until it was pointed out that,
if they turned the wellies down about six inches, the top would not chaff the skin as they rode their bikes to and from Kilclief. In conversation with Bob Wilde, one of the fIrst airmen, Mrs Hugh Murphy said "I mind the time when I was at myself'. Bob had not the least idea what she was talking about and as he was billeted in her house could not, with good manners, ask. Some of the others who lived in the village as well as Bob Wilde were Bob Kellock, Archie Gow, Frank (stayed in McKeowns), Bob Haliwell, Jock McClelland, Tommy Carley, Fred Cornell, Bob Dick, Pat Colman, Jeff Grange, Andy Shearan. Another whose name was Len played the saw - but his last name I haven't got. Most of these men spent their off-duty hours in Hedley's or Sharvin's Pub. I'm sure a few romances bloomed but at eight years of age I was unaware of such things. In 1942 the aerodrome in Ballywooden Bog was started and as the building progressed the airmen gradually were called back to barracks but the prosperity brought by full employment in the area by the building of the aerodrome, made a huge impact and men who had spent time waiting for the next coal boat or potato boat for some casual labour, got permanent work for the fIrst time in their lives. An added bonus was the availability of all kinds of building material, anything from corrugated iron to linoleum and many a lorry had gone into the 'drome' full of sand, left with a different load altogether, which was then black market goods for sale. As the 'drome' developed it was used as a training base and small planes - martinettes - were used as tow planes for targets. SpitfIres and Hurricanes, based at Kirkistown and Ballywalter fIred bursts of machine gun rounds at these targets out over the Irish Sea and as they were towed back to Ballywooden sometimes the towrope broke - being made of some kind of waterproofed linen, the material was much sought after as stack covers etc. Many a schoolboy at Kilclief made a little extra by fInding one of these targets and selling it. I remember one target rolling in on the tide being chased by Johnny McDonald's ferry boat. Cryers and Farrens were the firms with major contracts for the building of the aerodrome and their lorries carted sand from a pit behind John Sharvin's at the Mount to Ballywooden. When completed the drome was officially known as Bishopscourt and at one time, much later, was considered as a possibility for Belfast Airport. It is now abandoned and the barracks and runways are silent now, except for the roar of the motor bike races now held there, and bits and pieces of the taxi ways begin to crumble and crack as nature begins to reclaim her lost bog drained by the deepening of the Turkish river. In 1941 the school at Cairnishoke was taken over by a platoon of soldiers much to the delight of the children for it meant extra holidays in good spring weather. About six or seven Nissan huts were erected at Kilcuddy Brae and the soldiers moved in. These were very basic structures . A concrete base with a circular framework of uprights clad with curved sheets of corrugated iron and heated by a pot-bellied stove in the middle. For a winter residence - not very highly recommended, especially for the poor guy at the door. Charlie Wraxton, who married one of the McGreevy girls was stationed at Kilcuddy - as was a man called McAree from Ballymena - whose family came down and lived in Kilclief for a short time.
Elliot's store on Castle Street, later the Sailing Club and now made into residences, was also the temporary billet of a platoon of soldiers for a short time in 1941 and the Welsh Fusiliers were stationed in Castleward for a time later in the war. All pleasure boats disappeared from the Lough and Harry Pitts and Lady Una's old moorings were purloined by the two grey
shapes of the patrol boats. They patrolled the river at night to guard us from German invasion and special permission had to be requested for late night crossings by the ferry boats coming from dances in Portaferry or the cinema on High Street on Saturday nights. Jimmy McMaster was the Captain of the flotilla and Les Peto and Philip Wade were two others of the sailors. Les married Betty McKeown, and Jimmy married Una Burnett, a niece of Harry Pitts, whose mooring he had stolen. On the night of the Easter blitz on Belfast the German bombers navigated up Strangford Lough, by air of course, to the docks on the Lagan and Philip Wade, being full-blooded and patriotic, left Sharvin's Pub to unleash the fury of his patrol boat's machine gun at the enemy. The locals by persuasion and maybe physical means made common-sense prevail. After all it was prudent not to have German bombs rain down on our village in answer to Philip's firepower! Philip was related to the Bangor family through an old dear who lived in the village at that time and her name was Mrs Coats-Cole - she was one of the gentry and was known by the locals as Mrs Goats-Hole. So the Army, Airforce and Navy were an armed force guarding the slipways of Strangford although all that ever slipped down them were keels of boats made by Dick Farrow and the Murnin Brothers at Tully or George and Tommy's ferryboats up for repairs. Not to be outdone, the local Militia was then formed - the Home Guard - manned by John Joe Shields, Siney Sharvin, Jim Sharvin, Johnny Shields, Tommy Shields, Paddy Beatty, George Lennon, Bob Sullivan, Godfrey Quaile, Tommy Ryan, George Jackson, John Coats, Peter Hinds and others. Each practice day these stalwarts donned uniform and rifle and reported to Castleward on their bikes and attacked and defended neighbouring villages. Sometimes their manoeuvres took place in Lord Bangor's estate and on one occasion during the thick of battle, Johnny Shields shouted to Jim Sharvin "Bang - you're dead" and Jim said "Brummmm - you can't shoot me, I'm a tank". And so the 'Dad's Army' of Strangford played their part in keeping us safe. The 'B' Specials also played a part and I remember a Sweet salesman called McGoohan nearly getting killed when he left a roadblock too early and a bullet, in the back and out the front of his van, missed him by inches - the poor man nearly died of a heart attack. Gas masks were supplied to everyone in case of gas attack and the unarmed back-up to the more robust defence of the area was formed to help prevent the worst happening when under attack from the air. Precaution was the keyword and as well as gas masks and the like the village prepared for the inevitable air raids that were sure to come by forming their own branch of the A.R.P. - Air Raid Precautions. A man called Bruce Stephens from Newcastle came down and organised the whole thing. My father was made chief warden and our garage was made into a H.Q. An ambulance built on the frame of an Austin) was supplied and Tommy Fitzsimmons was driver. James Denvir, John McKeown, Des McMullan were members. The Brownlows and some of the gentry joined at first but the whole thing became a farce that none of the locals took seriously and the gentry gradually dropped out. Then Ned Mc Ilheron joined and a great to do was made about uniform size for such a big man. The uniform was a boiler suit with 'ARP' on the pocket. Ned had to be measured. Everyone got in on the act. Ned was measured standing up, bending over and lying down. Tape measures were used to measure under his chin, over his mouth, his nose and to the top of his head and then down the back and the result divided by two. It was found that Tommy Fitzsimons was the same height as Ned - so obviously both had to lie down on the floor, 19
chalkmarks were made and Tommy was found to be six inches taller - again, obviously Tommy had cheated. More measuring was done and finally it was decided that Ned was the tallest man in the ARP - nine foot six inches with Tommy only eight foot six.
Front Row L to R A. Mathews W.Orr G. Johnston J. Coats H. Tomey G. Quayle H. Quayle B. Allen J. Allen R. Sullivan J .Henderson J. Grey P. Beattie
Back Row A. Hynds J .Mc Ilheron W.Jackson J.J. Shields G. Jackson J. Swaile
Front C. Pinkerton
Ned enjoyed his wee tipple in the pub and always, was somehow inveigled into deep philosophical arguments about 'why was the sky blue'. One night the argument was on inventions - what was the greatest? Some held out for the wheel, others electricity and it so happened that Ned had a vacuum flask in his dinner bag and with prompting from some of the local wags Ned said the Flask was the greatest and again with more prompts and remarks prefixed with 'Sure the man means - - ' . It transpired that the flask kept hot things hot, didn't it? Yes, and it kept cold things cold! - didn't it - Yes - but - how did it know the difference? Eh!!! Ned would 'depart the premises' with much back slapping and 'Good Lad Ned' ringing in his ears from his allies and the awed respect of his defeated enemies - fully convinced that he had won the day on his own merits but completely unaware of being verbally manipulated.
Ned was made 'head pump man' in the ARP and it was amazing how often the hose became blocked by some mysterious means and as soon as Ned arrived at the hose head to examine for the fault, suddenly out gushed the full force of water - time out of number poor Ned went home soaked to the skin. One bad, wet night Ned was invited to stay with a relative rather than head home the four miles on a bike. It was supposed that Ned had headed for Ranaghan's Pub but a few hours later he arrived back with his pyjamas from home having made the double journey in the storm for decency sake. Another time in one of these deep discussions it was discovered that Ned was originally from Irvinestown in County Fermanagh - but he also came from Walshes Town, in Castleward. The only logical conclusion, of course, after long argument was that Ned was the only man, in Ireland anyway, who had been born twice. Ned agreed that this seemed to be the only sensible explanation. The war finally ground to an end and the ambulance, which had so often developed some kind of engine trouble on a Saturday night and had to go in to Porter and Wiley's garage in Downpatrick, forthwith, naturally full to the doors with customers for the 'Grand' cinema, was loaded up with hoses, tin hats, gas masks, stretchers and boilersuits and disappeared up the Doctor's Brae and out of our lives for ever. However in the meantime other things had happened, the Yanks had arrived in Castleward, unceremoniously they dunted their tanks up against the walls of the estate and bulled on in among the trees for their manoeuvres in practice for their mad race from Normandy to the German border. We, as kids, were so impressed with the whiteness of their bread and even their generosity with 'K ration' sweets. Their favours somehow seemed to centre on a certain home whose daughters appeared in nylons, and whose sideboard seemed to be loaded with tinned fruit and real oranges - but again I never really understood why!!! The Yanks one day just up and went and then the explanation came - France had been invaded and many of these 'guys' never made it to the beaches. Those same 'guys', Burton, Ed Dillon and Dirby from Newark New Jersey were three names I remember, who had played 'odds and evens' using half-crowns against our pennies, and voiced wonder that there was not a bridge across from Strangford to Portaferry, in most cases did not survive the war. One of the final realisations of the meaning of 'cessation of hostilities' was when James Denvir, a friend of my family, who worked at Bishopscourt brought a young German prisoner to visit us. His name was Gunther Siebert, a great soccer player. James had befriended him and often brought him home for his dinner. A peculiar set of coincidences occurred just a few years ago. James had gone with friends to holiday in the Canary Islands. By chance he struck up a conversation with a German in a bar and mentioned that he had a good friend who was German and he mentioned Gunther Siebert's name. The German told James that Gunther owned the Oscar Bar not too far away. Next day James visited the Bar and met his long-ago friend. A great reunion was enjoyed, full of reminiscences of 1945 in Bishopscourt area. Some children who came to Strangford as evacuees from the air raids on Belfast, Liverpool and Coventry, like Billy Armstrong who lived with the McKeown family, Frankie Hughes, who lived with Mrs Gordon, Gusty Cardwell and his sister, who lived with Mrs Kyles and Stephen and Kathleen Maguire who lived with Mr & Mrs George, still hold the village in high esteem.
And then there were those from the village who were more closely involved in the war. Harry and James Hanna, Harry Sweetman, Willie Gordon, Alan McDowell, John Fitzsimons, John McConville and Barney McCullough who all 'joined up' and survived. Jack Sharvin was one who did not return. He was in the Air Force and was shot down over Norway never to be found. My last memory of Jack was in the summer of 1939 when he . rowed his wee white punt round the bathing box, past Mr Hildebrands moorings and into the little harbour on the right of the 'slip', with the water spouting in through two gaps in the planking. He pulled out the plug and let her fill up then got some big stones from the wall of the 'Green' to weigh her down. The timber absorbed the water and all the cracks tightened up. And so I learned my first lesson on the 'expansion of materia1' from Jack as he prepared for a summer on the tranquil waters of Lough Cuan in 1939. Unfortunately it was his last. And so Strangford moved back to its quiet solitude as I moved into my teenage years but it still retains a special place in my heart and my affection - a place where I am proud to say, I was born .
My Life in Castleward by Tommy Henderson (as told to Peig Denvir). I came here to Castleward in the 1920s. My father was Game Keeper and I was about 10 years old at the time. I went to Ballyculter School and my first teacher was Miss Mooney, then on to Mr McMurray's room. The cane was used as was common practice. I left at the age of 15 and went to work in Strangford in Brown's Grocers Shop where Johnston, then Dougherty used to be and is now a dwelling house. I was paid half a crown per week which was very nice and after 3 years I got a rise of 10/-. People came on holiday to the cottages in the Green Row in Castleward. A family called Bennington, who managed a motor works on the Antrim Road in Belfast, spent their summers there. He asked my father to let me go and serve my time with him. I didn't like it and only stayed for about 3 months; I wasn't used to the city life. I came home with the Benningtons one week足 end in the Spring and the birds were singing their hearts out. I thought to myself 'You're a right fool to Tommy Henderson, Crossgar. be in Belfast far away from the beauty around you'! So I didn't go back. I started in the Forestry, planting trees in Castleward. I loved trees and I may as well tell you this is where I was happiest. The 'Big House' started a syndicate, hatching and rearing 3 or 4 thousand pheasants and partridges and my father was Game Keeper. This was a busy time, 7 days a week round the clock. Some were hatched out in incubators and some with broody hens which were bor足 rowed from locals and even as far away as Kilkeel. When hatched they were then put into arks in the fields. The borrowed hens were returned to their owners when the birds were reared. I can't remember foxes but badgers would have lifted some of the birds. Then when the shooting season came round there were 4 shoots with about 8 guns for these events, with Lord Dunleath, Ford and some from across the water. I didn't like to see the birds shot after rearing them but it was an necessity and no one could do anything about it. The shoots went on until the war years and that put an end to it. There were many horses about Castleward; 2 race horses, 'Nicolette' and 'Johnny Mac'. Both these horses won races. There were 4 working horses in the farmyard along with the hunters and point to point. The groom was called McGurk. He looked after all the horses and later the cars. The chauffeur was Matthews who married McGurk's daughter and when McGurk died Matthews took over. George Jackson was assistant. There wasn't much free time, just a half-day on Saturdays except during the pheasant season when we were on duty full time. However we managed to form a cricket club and played in
an evening league. We enjoyed the Regattas in Strangford. Our pay was 30/- per week no matter what the hours. We had no choice and couldn't talk back or we'd get the sack. Locals employed were B. Laverty of Strangford and later Ballyculter who was an expert blacksmith; Ernest Swail was boatman. John McIheron was the joiner and maintenance man. The Coffey family looked after the farm; fed the pigs, cattle, poultry, turkeys and so on. The eldest son was the shepherd, George Sampson was the gardener and had three men working for him. One incident I recall as I mention these names is the day John McIlheron and I were travelling with Lord Bangor from Downpatrick. The car was one of those old type with the hood which was folded down. Coming down Buck's Hill McIheron's hat blew off. He never waited, just jumped over the back of the car to retrieve the hat. We thought we'd be picking up a dead man as he fell on the road but he just got up, grabbed the hat and ran after the car, jumped into his seat as if nothing happened. One day shortly after that we were going to Gun's Island with Lord Bangor in his boat. When we were going out past the 'Bar' it got breezy and a bit choppy. Lord Bangor turned to Ernest, the boatman and nodding towards McIheron said "Ernest, hold on to McIlheron in case his hat blows off'! ! In 1935 a holiday visitor asked me to go to work for him in his shop in Ballynahinch. I stayed there for 3 or 4 years and the war came and I came back to Castleward. During the war timber was very scarce and the best of the trees were taken out of it. v.P. Corrys of Belfast, who employed a lot from the Free State, cut the free timber and a lot of hardwood disappeared. The Castleward family used some of the timber for fencing posts. These posts were all cut at the mill in the yard. There was, of course, compulsory tillage at this time so a couple of binders and a tractor were purchased. John Creen did the threshing and all the staff were called on to help. Food, consisting of bread, butter and jam, was sent out to keep us going until we got home. Later Lord Bangor decided to let the land out in con-acre. When he died in 1950 the death duties were very heavy ÂŁ144,000. The Ministry of Finance took it over and offered it to the Ministry of Agriculture for a college but after a lot of tests they found that the land was not suitable, it was too stony. Eventually it was taken over by the National Trust who planted trees; hardwood and conifers. A lot of good work was done by the National Trust. The Alms Houses, which is now David Dunseath's, were originally for retired workers of Castleward Estate. They got an allowance of a bag of coal and 1/- per week. It was only a token from a trust which some branch of the family, who had money left to them, set up. Ballyculter Church and School and Post Office and a row of houses belonged to Lord Bangor. After his death they were sold for ÂŁ100 each. I was offered one but could not afford it. The School Teacher's house was on the right side before you go to the Church. Later Reggie Quayle lived in it and kept the Post Office. It is sad that lots of field names of Castleward are going to be lost. To mention a few "The Cocked Hat"; "Mad Dog Well" in Strangford Avenue, "Smiddy Brae", "Ladies Walk" and "Bunkers Hill". Maybe someone will do something about these field names in the near future.
Memories of Castleward by George Jackson (as told to Peig Denvir) As a boy I went to Ballyculter school which was a mixed school financed by Lord Bangor. Mr McMurray and Miss Mooney were our teachers. Lord Bangor ran a party every Christmas for the children and gave out the prizes for the exams set by the teachers. I started working in Castleward around 1926. During the summers I helped in the gardens. The main garden was 4 acres and then there was a small garaen at the 'Big George Jackson, Vancouver. House' modelled, I believe, on Buckingham Palace. George Johnston was the head-gardener and William Aiken was the Land-steward. We grew peaches, nectarines and grapes in the glass-houses. I remember pollinating the fruit trees with a rabbit's bun on the end of a pole going from one tree to the other. The grapes were thinned out with scissors. Four of us worked in the garden; William Johnston and son George, Tom Orr and myself. We grew vegetables, fruit and flowers for the House and sold the rest to D. Hanlon, Downpatrick and a shipment went to Portaferry every Friday. Twice a week the fruit of the season was taken up to the House by donkey and cart. The family were served fruit each night. We also grew Easter lilies, chrysanthemums, tulips and daffodils. These were cut and delivered to the Housefor flower arrangements. At Christmas the decorations were very elaborate. We twisted laurels around the pillars and erected the Christmas Tree. Ballyculter Church was also decorated for the Christmas Service so it was a very busy time. The family had many visitors for the Christmas dinner; Lord and Lady Londonderry, Fordes of Seaforde and the Weatherbys, (Miss Mary's in-laws). The house staff were all on duty but the servants had their Christmas dinner on another day which was provided by the Wards. Lord and Lady Bangor came for a few hours to the dance which followed. I also worked as groom for many years. I looked after 4 hunting horses; 'Johnny Mac', "
'Black Strap', 'Billy Button' and a grey called 'Nicolette'. These horses knew my step as I went into the yard, they'd play up and squeal knowing they were going to get out. Over the years we had many prizes; 1st and'2nd at Bright, 1st at Farmacoffery in Armagh and 1st and 2nd at Comber. There were 4 working horses as well. Ruby Jackson was the ploughman and Ned McIlheron was the carter. I remember the Christmas 'Shoot' when about twenty youngsters were brought in to beat the bracken and brush to send the pheasants and woodcock towards the guns which were about 11 4 mile ahead. Then there was a dinner of Irish Stew for everyone. When the war came the horses were sold. I was 44 years old and I went out to my brother in Canada and started working with Eaton, canning fruit and fish etc. Eventually I bought a few acres in Vancouver Island and retired there and now I am a 'landlord' myself!! My estate is called 'The George Jackson Ranch'!
Ballyculter School Built 1823
Viscount Bangors National School Ballyculter (around) 1922 No.3
Back Row (1) Lena Seed (2) Willie Johnston (3) Jim Morrow (4) Tommy Savage (S) Lenord Fitzsimons (6) Tommy Henderson (7) Jim Cleland (8) Mick Denvir (9) Willie Lowry (10) George McGleanon (11) Sammy Coats (12) Martin Fitzsimons (13) Jimmy Allen (14) Harry Seed
Second Row (1) Molly Magee (2) May Aiken (3) Eileen Mcllmurray (4) Ida Skillen (S) Elsie Rennie (6) Jonny Rennie (7) Harold Crea (8) Jimmy Teggart (9) Hugh Kearney (10) Sam Jameson (11) Johnston Hughes (12) Jim Denvir (13) Joe Savage (14) Danny Kearney (IS) Earnest Gilchrist
Bottom Row (1) James Lowry (2) John Finley (3) Francis Finley (4) Bridget Fitzsimons
Bottom Row cont. (S) Patricia Kearney (6) Lela Aiken (7) Rosaleen Denvir (8) Rachel Lowry
Third Row (1) Kitty Hynds (2) Kathleen Seed (3) May Morrow (4) Linda Hughes (S) Nora Magee (6) Laura Rennie (7) Maggie Denvir (8) Hessie Skillen (9) Evylin Strain (10) Nellie Curran
Fourth Row (1) George Nash (2) Rubert McCartan (3) Paddy Curran (4) Charlie Nash (S) Johnny Kearney (6) ? Rennie (7) ? Rennie (8) Maisie Savage (9) Teresa Denvir (10) Kathleen Curran (11) Neta Johnston (12) Olive Henderson (13) Bernie Kearney Fifth Row cont. Fifth Row (9) Alex Henderson (1) Barney Mcllmurray (10) Tommy Hynds (2) Mary Conway (11) Willie Mcllmurray (3) Eileen Conway (4) Lawerance McCartan (12) Archie Smyth (13) Barney Curran (S) Charlie Kearney (6) Walter Quayle (14) Willie Quayle (7) Albert Skillen (IS) John Coats (8) Willie Orr
An Exile Remembers Around the Cruck by Sean Denvir (New York). I will try to relate some memories of my childhood as I can best remember them. I was born in Ballynarry in 1924. Our house is located across the road where Ballynagarrick loney ends on the Ballynarry Road. This is now called Glebe Road. Across the road from our house was McGovern's. This house became McMullan's in the 1930's so they were our closest neighbours during our growing up years. Magee's house was about one hundred yards into Ballynagarrick loney so they were also close neighbours. About three hundred yards west of our house was "up the town" Denvir's - my cousins. We were known as 'down-the-town' Denvirs. Some town! Our cousins were ten in number as were the McMullans, while Magees and our family were six each. This count refers to children only. Our house was typical of many of the farmhouses around the country at that time and had a
Willie McEvoy's Kitchen, Blaneystown, Sheepland Mor 1955
large open coal fireplace in the kitchen with a metal covered hob on each side. Mounted on one side of the fire was a crane with a set of adjustable hangers. These hangers were known as crooks. Using this apparatus, either a kettle, a pot or a griddle could be suspended at the right height and swung around just above the fire. All the cooking and baking were done using this fire. Some houses had alarge coal range that was a more modem invention. These ranges usually had an oven on one side and a tank for hot water on the other side. The fire served as the main heat source for the house and was a focal point in most farmhouses. House lighting was supplied by an oil lamp which had two wicks and burned paraffin oil. For any work around the farmyard that required lighting, a storm lamp or lantern was used.
29 - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
There also was a paraffin lamp. The house lamp was eventually replaced for a short time by an Aladdin lamp and later by a Tilley lamp and in the end Ballynarry went electric. While on the subject of lamps, many will remember the old carbide bicycle lamps and the kind of trouble they could cause for the owner. To light one of these things and to keep it lit was a challenge to any night bicyclist, especially on a windy Ballynarry night. Remembering things that have changed also brings to mind some things that we now take for granted. Around Ballynarry there were no radios, no televisions, no phones and no cars. How did we ever survive? And we all remember drawing water from the well. We did survive though and with a good number of young people close by, managed to have a lot of fun. Most of our children's games were played on and around the crock. This is a triangular grassy knoll on top of the hill just west of our house. The crock seemed to have been well used back then and in my recollection the grass was shorter than it is today. Our games were normal children's' games and were not without their share of arguments and some fights. Sean Denvir, Ballynarry. We played games of marbles on the road. These could be individual or team games and were a lot of fun. Later on we played skittles on the road. It would be hazardous to try to play either of these games on the roads around Ballynarry today. Another place for a lot of our activities was the "Wee field" - a field close by "Wee Pat's". Here we played rounders, cricket, hurling and football. Some of us were not too good at these games, but some of our number were good enough to play for the Kilclief teams and eventually to play at all levels of the G.A.A. I recall going up to the field below the "Forth" (I think Fort is the proper name) to watch a football game between the Ballynarry Whippets and the Dam Rovers - a team from Chapeltown or Dunsford. Later these teams played in the "Black Hollows" and that was good for an evening out. Around this time Dan Kearney also coached a tug-o ' -war team from Ballyculter for competition at the Strangford regatta and they used to practice in the "Cruckins". This also made for a fun evening. I believe it was shortly after this that Ballyculter had a good football team consisting of among others Patsy Fitzsimmons, Martin Fitzsimmons, Gerry Braniff, and Peter McMullan. We all would go to their games in Polly's field in front of Kelly's. Kilclief had a camogie team that also used the same pitch. I'm sure there are others who could add to this lore with their own recollections of the period. There were other things that we did around this time such as gathering and picking potatoes, tying and stacking com, tying or lapping hay, thinning and snedding turnips, whitewashing, milking cows and brairding. These latter items were not nearly so much fun. We also
travelled to and from Kilclief School across the Ballynagarrick "Pads" five days a week and that in itself is a whole different story which I will leave to someone else to relate. I started this letter to relate our exploits as the Rhymers or Mummers and I will try to do that now. This involved Joe, Bob and Jack Magee, Dermot, Alphonsus and myself. I don't really know the origin of the Rhymers or if they still make the rounds as we did back then in the few weeks before Christmas. I think our version was of somewhat dubious origin. We would get dressed up in any kind of old rags that were available to us and that usually was adult clothes that were a few sizes too big for us. Add to this any old cap or hat that we could find and a grotesque mask or false face as we called it and we became an interesting looking lot of six to twelve year olds. Sometimes we bought the false faces and sometimes we made.them. We were ready for action. Other teams similar to ours but much older were also out and about the roads at this time. We would go from house to house and do our act which had a very simple story line. Joe Magee was our lead man and would enter the house and call out "Room, room gallant boys, give the Rhymers room to rhyme". The rest of his spiel was a call to allow the rest of us to follow in sequence, and ended with the words "if you don't believe what I say, enter in Prince George and he'll clear the way". Prince George '(Dermot) appears and struts around bragging about his exploits and his expertise as a warrior and ends up by inviting Oliver Cromwell to enter. Oliver Cromwell (Alphonsus) enters and after doing his share of bragging, challenges Prince George to a duel. After some "parry and thrust" action with cardboard spears, Oliver Cromwell falls mortally wounded and can only be saved by a miracle. Joe Magee calls for a doctor with much ado and I enter and give a long list of my credentials. I am then questioned about what medicine I would prescribe. After a long earthy dissertation I produce and administer some medicine and "oul Ollie" is up and about again as good as new. A transition spot is then filled by "Wee Divilly Doubt" in the form of Jack Magee. This brings us down from the high drama and back to reality again. Finally the man himself, Bob Magee enters with the lines "Here comes I, Wee Jack Funny, I'm the man that lifts the money. All silver, no brass, wrapped ha'pennies won' t pass. If you haven't got a penny a ha'penny will do. If you haven't got a ha'penny, God bless you". Bob then produced the tin cup for whatever donations could be collected. This was a key element of the whole operation. The rest of us stood around and took whatever razzing that was coming and maybe answered a question or two. Our travels from house to house on the cold frosty nights was not without danger as we were afraid of any sound we heard in the night, especially if we thought some bigger fellows would set upon us and rob us of all our hard earned money. Each house presented a different set of circumstances and we played for the most opportune times. A group of men gathered at our house once a week to play cards. These included Uncle James, Pat Magee, Willie Fay, Paddy Denvir, Willie Magee, and Paddy Corrigan, among others at different times, so this was a good time to play our house. We took some ribbing, but it was worth it if everyone made a donation to the cause. Different houses also presented some problems as not everyone was in the same jovial mood as ourselves and we had to be prepared for such inhospitality. On one occasion we went to a house whose owner shall remain anonymous and as usual, assembled outside the door to make sure all costumes were in order. After a whole night of tramping around the roads and breathing through the false mask it could become soft and distorted around the mouth - in fact we looked like "the wrath of God". Joe got himself straightened up, opened the door wide and made his usual blustering entrance striding across the kitchen. The owner, who was alone at the time and probably had more important things on his mind, 31
apparently was in no mood to entertain us or be entertained by us. He arose and made a bee line for Joe. It seems to me the words "Get out to hell" may have been used. Joe lost his nerve and headed for the door but in his haste the false face became twisted and he could not see. Instead of running out through the open door, Joe ran behind the door and was trapped. It took a few anxious moments for Joe to extricate himself from this predicament and we never put on our act at this house again. At another house a somewhat similar incident occurred. Upon Joe's entrance, the man of the house poured some very hot water in a basin probably to prepare for shaving - and Joe again headed for the door in a hurry and we all ran, thinking we were all going to !Je scalded. A third episode worth relating happened when our act was well in progress. After the duel between Prince George and Oliver Cromwell and just as Ollie fell to the floor, the homeowner's dog entered the act, either to attack or play with the fallen actor. Oliver jumped to his feet without waiting for the ministrations of the good doctor and the whole act ended in disarray. Lastly by way of happenings, we had to make a quick exit from one house as a small child there "took a fit" as we tried to perform. We were asked politely to leave - not too politely. We had a lot of fun with all these capers and I can recall ending up at Kerr's after a good night rhyming. Kerrs had a shop at this time and caramels, chocolates and such goodies could be bought there. We might end up the rhyming with sixpence each and considered anything we could buy for this to be a good bargain. These were some of the things that youngsters of the 1930's did for fun.
Games Played in the Local Schools by Anne Ellis.
Skipping Games EARLY IN THE MORNING. Instructions: This is a skipping game where two children skip together. Ol1e child drops a piece of paper, the other child has to pick it up while skipping. "Early in the morning, before six o'clock, I can hear the postman knock, Postman, Postman, drop your letter Lady, Lady, pick it up". AS I WAS IN THE KITCHEN. Instructions: Group Skipping. The child skipping must run out when the words "bogey man" are sung. The child is immediately replaced by another who must run in and start skipping while the rope is turning (2 children do this). "As I was in the kitchen, Doing a bit of stitching, In came a bogey man, And I ran out". TEDDY BEAR, TEDDY BEAR. Instructions: Group Skipping. The child who is skipping must follow the instructions outlined in the rhyme. "Teddy-bear, Teddy bear touch the ground, Teddy-bear, Teddy bear turn right round. Teddy-bear, Teddy bear show your shoe Teddy-bear, Teddy bear run right through. ON THE HILLSIDE (A SIMILAR ONE). On the hillside stands a lady Who she is I do not know. All she wants is gold and silver All she wants is a nice young beau. "Lady, lady, touch the ground, Lady, lady, turn right round Lady, lady, show your shoe Lady, lady run right through".
CINDERELLA. Instructions. A group skipping game. The child skipping begins at normal speed, however as the number increases so does the speed until the child is out. "Cinderella dressed in yellow Went upstairs to kiss her fellow How many kisses did she get"? 1-2-3-4 and so on. I LOVE COFFEE, I LOVE TEA. "1 love coffee, 1 love tea, I love the boys and the boys love me. I wish my mother would hold her tongue For she had a boy when she was young".
I AM A GIRL GUIDE. Children do actions as stated in the rhyme. (2 children holding the rope - one is King, other the Queen - I think) "I am a girl guide dressed in blue These are the actions I can do Stand at ease! Bend your knees! Salute to the King and Bow to the Queen Quick march over the arch and run right through"
I KNOW A WOMAN. THEY CALL HER MISS. Single skipping. When the skipper sings "like this" he or she must skip very fast. "1 know a woman and they call her 'Miss' And all of a sudden she goes like this" (can do other actions if liked) "Jelly on the plate Jelly on the plate A wibbly wobbly, wibbly wobbly Jelly's all ate". "Sausage in the pan Sausage in the pan Turn it over turn it over Sausage in the pan".
Ring Games. All start with: Gather up, gather up for a great big ring If you don't come quick you'll not get in"!
RING-A-RING-A-ROSY. Group of children form a circle and begin to move singing the rhyme. When they finish they fall down. Then they get up and restart the game. "Ring-a-ring-a-rosy A pocket full of posey A tishoo, A tishoo, we All fall down".
WALL FLOWERS. The ring moves while singing the rhyme. When a child is named the ring stops or slows down. The child who has been named, turns around facing away from the centre of the circle and then rejoins hands. The ring begins to move again and the children continue to call names until everyone is facing away from the circle. "Wall flowers, wall flowers, Growing up so high. We are all children Who do not want to die Except (name of child called out) He's (or she's) the only one, He can dance and he can sing And he can do most any old thing. Eee Aye any old thing. Cry for shame, cry for shame, Turn your face to the wall again".
HERE WE GO ROUND THE MULBERRY BUSH. Children join hands and move around singing "Here we go round the Mulberry bush". When they reach the second verse they must stop and mime the instructions and so on until song is finished. "Here we go round the mulberry bush, The mulberry bush, the mulberry bush Here we go round the mulberry bush On a cold and frosty morning". "This is the way we wash our face" etc. "This is the way we wash our hands" etc. "This is the way we brush our teeth" etc. "This is the way we comb our hair" etc. "This is the way we shine our shoes" etc. "This is the way we drink our tea" etc. "This is the way we run our school" etc.
THE FARMER WANTS A WIFE. Ring fonned. One child chosen to stand in centre (the fanner). At end of 1st verse farmer chooses a wife who joins him in the centre of the ring. Ring moves again singing "The wife wants a child" and so on.
"The farmer wants a wife The farmer wants a wife Hay ho, my dearie, oh The farmer wants a wife. The wife wants a child etc. The child wants a nurse etc. The nurse wants a dog etc. The dog wants a bone etc. The bone is left alone etc.
IN AND OUT THE WINDOWS. The children fonn a circle and raise their anns to fonn a series of arches. When the group begins to sing "Stand and face your lover (or partner!) the child selects the one closest to her who then holds the first child by the waist and both then start to weave through the arches. The game continues and the group increases by one person each verse.
"In and out the windows In and out the windows In and out the windows As you have done before Stand and face your lover Stand andface your lover Stand andface your lover As you have done before Follow him to London Follow him to London Follow him to London As you have done before". THE GALLEY GALLEY SHIP. Three times round goes the galley galley ship. And three times round goes she Three times round goes the gaIly galley ship As she sinks to the bottom of the sea. Pull her up, pull her up, my gallant sailor lads Pull her up, pull her up cries he Pull her up, pull her up my gallant sailor lads 'Ere she sinks to the bottom of the sea.
O'GRADY SAYS. A child is chosen to be "on". He/she becomes O'Grady, and shouts orders to the other children. For example O'Grady says "Put your hands on your head" O'Grady says "Stand on one leg" - everyone must obey these commands - if the name O'Grady does not precede the order, it is invalid, and must not be obeyed. Anyone who does is out. HOPSCOTCH. This game can be played by two or more children. A series of boxes are drawn on the ground and numbered. Each player takes turns in throwing an object (usually a flat stone) which must land in a square (Square 1) without touching the lines. The player must then hop to the object and without resting hislher foot on the ground, or touching any line, return to the base. On returning to base he/she must wait for hislher next tum and then throw the stone onto the next square (square 2) and so on. When they have completed hopping to all the marked squares, they must start again but this time hopping on the other foot.
Ball Games. DONKEY. Players stand in a circle with one child in centre. They take it in tum to throw the ball. If he misses they shout D. If he drops the ball again they call 0 and so on until they have called out all the letters DON KEY. Once that's over he's out of the game and another goes into the centre. QUEENIE. A child is chosen to be "on". He has a small handball and turns his back to the group of children. He then throws the ball over his head towards the group (he must not look round). When a child catches the ball the children chant the rhyme. The child who is "on" must guess who has the ball. If he guesses correctly the person with the ball is now "on" and the game continues. "Queenie Queenie Who has the ball?"
WALL BALL. Keep the ball in play while throwing it against a wall adding a number of actions to the throwing motions. For example. Clap - between throwing and catching Burl round - between throwing and catching Leggy - Bounce the ball under the leg while throwing it towards the wall. DODGEBALL. The children divide into two teams. They throw a ball at members of the opposite team trying to hit them below the knee. If a child is hit he joins the opposing team.
ROUNDERS. Players are divided into two teams. One team bats, the other throws and marks out the base points (usually coats!) When a child who is batting hits a ball he has to try and reach a base. If a player reaches a base they are still in the game and "safe". If the player who is protecting a base gets the ball before a batting player reaches the base the batting player is out. If a batting player runs through all the bases and returns to the batting point they get a Home Run.
PIGGY IN THE MIDDLE. Two children throw a ball to each other while another child tries to catch it. If they do so then the one who threw the ball goes into the middle and the game continues.
Other Games. STATUES. One child is "on" and faces the wall with his back to the other children. He calls out 1-2-3 etc. and the children begin to run towards the wall. When he shouts "statues" he turns round but the other children must remain perfectly still. He can try to make them move by talking, telling jokes, making funny faces etc. but cannot actually touch them. If they move at all they are out or must go back to the starting point. The child who reaches the wall first wins the game. CONKERS. A seasonal game. Conkers are collected from the horse chestnut tree. A hole is bored into the conker and string passed through. Two players take turns at hitting each other's conkers. The child whose conker breaks first loses the game.
WHAT'S THE TIME MR WOLF? One child chosen to be Mr Wolf who stands with his back to the others. He walks forward and they follow him silently and call out "What's the time Mr Wolf'? He turns round and says e.g. 4 o'clock. This continues until he calls out "Dinner Time" and they run back to safety while he tries to catch as many as he can. LEAPFROG. This game is played by children jumping over one another. The children line up and everyone but the jumper, bends down with their hands touching the ground. The jumper vaults over the other children and on reaching the end of the line bends down so that the next jumper can vault over himlher. The jumper is not allowed to knock anyone over while vaulting over them.
Young Star by Jim Sharvin. This was not a newly discovered star in the heavenly constellation, but a race horse owned and trained by Reggie Quayle. He was well bred but very delicate and was fed daily on Guinness and com to upgrade any deficiencies and become an international legend. I helped Reggie exercise the horse a few times, but unfortunately our tactics differed in many respects and after many arguments and a lot of frustration I quit. Reggie was left alone to manage his own affairs. John Lawther, the vet, was appointed as my successor, with the same consequences no agreement on the issue of exercise. Over the next few weeks the horse was exercised over the Ballywooden Road en route to the sands in Ballyhornan. I was "too set" in my own equestrian theories to offer my services again. It was six o'clock on a lovely May morning and
Frank Magee heard the clippety clop of the horses hooves on the road. Thinking it was one of his own horses who had broken loose, he peered out of his bedroom window only to be bombarded by "Are you going to lie all day Magee?" Frank's reply "If you can't sleep yourself why don't you allow the neighbours and that poor auld horse to have their rest?" Reggie's face was like a battle field as he proJim, Paddy Corrigan with "Clare". ceeded on his way, with Frank's reply singing in his ears, but it was nothing to the furore he encountered near Cargagh Chapel. The tranquillity of the country scene was shattered by the frightened ducks on the river. They scurried across the road, feathers flying, the horse snorting and rearing up, and Reggie lying (or resting) in the middle of the road with a broken arm. "How the mighty had fallen!". Dick Fitzsimons appealed to me for help; I suggested that he put a heavy saddle and a lead bag on his back (the equivalent of a human being) and lunge him on loose soil in a field. After eight days as St. Paul's says he "Had run the course" and I had kept the faith in his victory. Young Star was ready for the Downpatrick Races. He won! Celebrations began in earnest. They were unique in every respect. Reggie and the horse headed for Strangford to Hedley Quayle's (now The Lobster Pot) Reggie had his drink - the horse had its Guinness. Next stop Sharvin's (now The Cuan) and the same procedure. En route to Ballyculter the cortege stopped at Ranaghans (now The Hole in the Wall) and again the cup and bucket were overflowing. As the lorry had returned to base, it was 'shanks mare' to their final destination. Never in equestrian history was a drunken horse on record. I personally think that if Guinness's had been aware of this occasion, they would have certainly have entered it in the Guinness Book of Records. Just think how much glory Strangford lost! It could have became a great tourist attraction and maybe - just maybe changed its name to "The Town Of The Drunken Horse".
Recollection of the Gymkhanas 1940's and 1950's by Jim Sharvin. Gymkhanas were a very important part of my early life in the 40's to 50's. I attended most of them as a competitor. There were numerous venues for these events - Ballynoe, the grounds of St. Patrick's High School (Red High), Killyleagh, the Walter Meadow, Portaferry, the Slans, Ballywalter, Saintfield, Dundrum, Dromara, Seaforde, Ardglass, Castlewellan, Newcastle and Ballyculter. Prior to the event there was practice two or three nights a week. This entailed taking the horse out to the field on a long line, bringing him over one jump at a time until he became accustomed to the height. The next step was to form a circle of several jumps of the same height. This was all done on a long line. My father, E. Sharvin, did this part of the schooling for me. Then for me - on to the horse and over the jumps with hope and expectation of great things to come. The fences were graded in different degrees of difficulty. 1. Fence was called the trial fence and was built of whins. 2. Fence was a treble bar fence. 3. Fence was a different design and was called a swinging gate. The slightest touch of a hoof would have knocked it over and the rider was penalised with four faults. 4. Fence was called 'ins and outs '. The horse was expected to jump over one bar, then on to the next and finally over the third bar. 5. Fence was a treble bar fence which was called the style and was the most difficult of all. The first bar was 2'6", the middle was 4 ' 6" and the third was 2'6". It was called a style because of its resemblance to the old styles which gave access to different footpaths; in other words, short routes either to school or church. 6. Fence was a stone wall fence.
Prior to the event, road work had to be done with the horse. Paddy Corrigan and my sister Mary took on this responsibility, every alternative day. This was to harden the sinews in the legs. In winter Paddy took the horse to the hunt to keep it fit and in trim for the corning events. On the actual day, the gymkhana circuit was like the 'holy of holies' only the stewards were allowed a foot on the holy ground. It was their duty to guard the fences and restore the fallen ones to their pristine position. The penalties for knocking down a fence were - four faults; refusing to take a jump - four faults; the rider unseated was four faults. In the second round the fences were raised to 5 feet and those with a clear round competed against each other until the champion emerged. I competed in the events in all the different venues. The other local competitors were - Willie Press, Frank Magee, Reggie Quayle, John Press and Patsy Denvir. I rode "Black Magic" for
Paddy Corrigan and took home the laurels several times. The total prize money in 1945 was ÂŁ75 and the following year was ÂŁ175 - quite a substantial sum in post war years. Transport for the horses was a major problem and getting to Portaferry was particularly difficult. I remember the fust trip. The horse was taken in the horse boat by Johnny and George McDonnell. The second trip about 1945-46 was taken over on a landing barge which was previously used during the war and was piloted by the 'one and only' Tommy Hutton of Portaferry. Of all the events the one I remember most was the local one at Ballyculter. It was of special significance because of the involvement of our own local community. Names such as Frank Magee, Tommy Magee, Willie Kearney, Frank Reid, Tommy Murnin, John Press, George Martin, Paddy Doherty, Dr. Moore, Senan Sharvin (Brendan's father), John Orr come to mind. The greatest satisfaction came at the end of this event when we were able to present the proceeds of the day together with the proceeds of a dance in the Cuan Hall to the Downpatrick Hospital for the provision of equipment for the operating theatre. My "Ad multos Annos" to the new hospital in Downpatrick in 1997.
Jim Sharvin, practising
The Land Act by Mena McKeating. In the 1800s the Irish countryside was divided into huge estates which could be thousands of acres each in area. The landlords who owned these estates were often at the top of a pyramid of those sub divisions, with strong tenant farmers below them, and most notoriously "middle men" who let out lands to smaller farmers , including a vast mass of desperately poor people. Some farmers survived inside the system by various strategies. In western Ireland groups of families would combine to lease land and divide it among themselves. This system was known as the 'rundale' and applied to Lecale also. Even in Ulster where a system of "tenant right" gave farmers some security, eviction or the threat of eviction was a powerful weapon used by the landlords for payment of rent. The main source of income for these landlords was the rents collected by their agents.
In an effort to alleviate the discontent which had bedevilled politics in Ireland throughout the nineteenth century a system of land purchase was introduced by the Landlord Act of 1881 and in the experience of its working by successive Acts in 1885, 1887, 1891 and 1902. These were all voluntary acts, under which the landlords agreed with the tenants for the sale to the tenants, of the landlord's interest in agriculture holdings. The representatives of the landlord and the tenant entered into negotiations as to price usually based on the rents of the holdings. When terms had been agreed, forms of provisional purchase agreement were prepared by the solicitor and agent for the landlord's approval by the tenant's representatives and signed by the landlord. Many of the terms of these agreements were regulated by the Land Law Act and the agreements were conditional on the approval of the Irish Land Commission and on this agreement to lend the amount of the agreed purchase price on the security of the holding.
In this part of East Down the landlords were Lord Bangor of Castleward. Lord De Ros of Old Court, Strangford, and the Glebe lands were owned by the Church. Our lands in Drumroe Carrfreagh and Carravanish were owned by Glebe. Rev. Henry Leslie was rector of Kilclief Parish and resided at Glebe House for fifty years from 1820 - 1870, but the rents were paid to Yen. Archdeacon Gibbs. The landIS of Glebe were sold immediately to the tenant farmers, the money being advanced to the tenants by the Treasury to be repaid over 68 112 years, by annuities at a rate of 3 1/3%. The gale days for the payment of the half-yearly instalments were 1st May and 1st November each year. I have a letter from the Ministry of Finance informing us the money was advanced 22nd July 1892 and the final instalment paid off in November 1953. Land Act 1903.
Great grandson of Lord Fitzgerald, George Wyndham on taking office as Irish Chief Secretary 42 ------------------------------
in November 1900, thought the time was right to demonstrate to all, the benefits of the Imperial connection in Ireland. There was mounting alarm in the Treasury as he outlined his plans to wipe out poverty, rehouse a third of the population and get rid of landlords. A letter was sent to the press on 2nd September 1902 inviting landlords' and tenants' representatives to seek a final solution to the Irish question. The exploitation of landworkers was rife throughout Ireland at that time and in east Down there were many who believed they were being unfairly treated. A solicitor named Mr Woods who practised widely in east Down had a branch office in Downpatrick. Many of the cases he was involved in were to do with land issues, so as the 1902 election approached the tenant farmers asked him to stand as their representative. To Wyndham's delight in 1903, Westminister passed his Land Bill which encouraged landlords to sell entire estates. The Act was an immediate success, though it took a further legislation in 1909 to compel all landlords to sell. George McKibben relates the following folk memory: The story was told of a tenant farmer who lived in the Kilclief locality one hundred years or more ago when the lands in that area were owned by the then Lord Bangor of Castleward and the land rent had to be paid at the Estate Office in Dublin. This farmer travelled by horse and cart but when he arrived in Dublin the Estate Office was closed and would not be open again for a few weeks for the acceptance of land rents, so there was nothing else for the farmer but to come back home and return when he knew the Estate Office would be open. What a journey to have to make, all to pay the land rent! If the land rent wasn't paid then the tenant would have been evicted. Rent Receipt of 1869
The Rates for the Strangford electoral division were collected in Downpatrick by David Dickson in the 1880s.
Threshing in Ballywoodan - A Memory by Sheila Cultra. Harvest (usually com) was reaped August and September, it was cut with a reaper, drawn by two horses. The cut was called a "sward". The man sat on the reaper and let the com off in small lots, then the men gathered it into sheaves and put it into stooks, the stooks were left till they were carted into the farm-yard on a ruck-shifter. There was a stack-yard (or haggard as it was called) in each farm-yard, in it were hovels, built of stone, (some round, some square), built about 1 - 1 112 ft from the ground, so that the rats would.not get into the stack too easily~ . .'4
Threshing in Carrinteggart 1938
When the stooks were carted in, the From Left to Right Mary Seeds, John Rogan, James Mcnulty, ? sheaves were built up carefully into ? McCartan, ? Lennon, Seamus Reid, Mrs. Rosena stacks, they were built so far up, Seeds, Sean Seeds, Claire Seeds, Gerry Rogan, then tapered to a point, from about Peter Muliam, William Waterson. half way up, then that tapered part was thatched again with straw and a rope passed round it to prevent it blowing over or getting too wet. The ropes were made of straw, twisted on an apparatus called a "tweslin" . The thresher (steam engine's mill) was owned by a Mr Taggart and son (both now deceased). They usually threshed 2 or 3 farms at a time, in a townland, as it required 10 - 12 men to help, so the men from the neighbouring farms helped each other. The machine was driven by steam, stoked up by coal, the coal was stored in a bunker. Two men on the stack using long pitch forks, pitched the sheaves up to the top of the mill, one fellow opened the sheaves, the other loosened them and put them down through the mill. Bags were hung at the front of the mill and 2 men supervised the com coming out. Chaff hulls came out underneath and were cleared away. Then the straw (after it was separated from the com) came out at the back, it was put through a bundle and again built up into stacks, used for bedding animals and sometimes for feeding. In those days some women collected the chaff for filling their mattresses. There was much excitement when the threshing was around, as there was not much else on for the children. The woman of the house was well prepared, as she had to get ready a meal for all these helpers, she was relieved when the threshing moved on to the next farm.
The Ballyculter Post Round of The 20s by George Jackson (Vancouver). During Christmas time I helped Paddy Lennon with the post round. I will record it as a reminder of the people who lived there in those days. These deliveries were done on foot in hail, rain or snow, but you can sit back now in the comfort of your armchair and take a trip with me down memory's lanes and the pads of long ago. The Downpatrick to Strangford Post which was brought by jaunting car, was met at Ballyculter cross-roads and taken to Adam Porter's, the post master. He lived half a mile south-east of Ballyculter Church. This was our starting point. First call was Leo Laverty in the village, then on towards Loughmoney to Charlie Fitzsimons, Carrinteggart. Up to Barney McMinn (Soldierstown) and back to Miss Seed and Bob McDowell. Next up Branny's Mountain to Hughie Branny (Castlemahon) and down to Ted Stockdale and Tom. Left Tom's and up the Pole Mountain to Jimmy McMullan. Still heading for Loughmoney to Sam Orr's model farm (Ballyrenan) and McMinn's cottage. Off then to Hugh Porter in Loughkeeland and across to Tommy Denvir then on to Paddy and Joe Denvir's and hence to James. Next call was to Kate Connor of the Whitehills then across the Killough Road to Ba1lynarry and to James and Kate McCartan's cottage. Next over the Smiddy Brae, past Ringland's Trees to Cull's and Charlie McCorniskey's cottages. Round Greer's Tum and on to James Denvir ('up the town') then over the cruck and down the town to Cissie Fitzsimmons, Mick Denvir and Joe Creen, all in Ballynarry. Down Mary Jane's Brae, past the Stake Rock to Jimmy Kelly's cottage, past the Mass Loney, over the Stirling Bridge to Joe Polly. With the Spittal Field on the right, turned left in the lane to Harry Fitzsimons (wee Harry's). Followed that lane on round to Lizzie Watterson's shop, then cut across the pads to John Creen. Out his lane turned left past Drumroe Hall to Jimmy Hynd's cottage and McConvilles. Continued to John Conway of Legnagoppack and Fitzsimons of the Brow. Crossed the pads to Alfie Johnston, back out again across the road and down the lane to Robert John Denvir. We are now on the homeward stretch, over the stone bridge and back to Ballyculter, hungry and exhausted!
The Wee Post Edith Orr (later Mrs Scott) did the "wee post" She started at Adam Porters then to Finnanes, and Mrs Wright (the present P.O.) to Bob McDowell and Johnny Mcllheron (the thacher). Next Clellands of the Dam and to Caghey's Mill. On to McVeagh, Sammy Clelland, Joe Jackson (my home), Johnny Magee, the cobbler, up the nine acre pads to McGlennon of the Rogan Hill. On then to Bella and Tommy Curran, down the pads to Coats of Carrowcasey. Out the lane to Lennon's cottage (top of the Doctor's Hill). ----------------------------- 45
Over the pad to Sam Seed of Slieveroe (now Wm. Crea) back to the Alms Houses and down Englishtown Road to Churchtown where she delivered to the village in Ballycutler. Up the Killough Road (now Churchtown Road) to Sam Orr, Ballylena, over the pads to Teddy Owen of the Rocks, once known as the Honeymoon Cottage. Down the lane to Hugh Lawson, up the road to Bill Curran and across the road to Robert Polly, then Johnny Magee on the hill. Continued up the road to Joe Denvir, Hugh Brannigan and Paddy Reid. Down the Cargagh Lane to Pat McIlmurray then right to Pat McAlea, Harry Hynds, Patrick Murray and Susie Waterson all of Drurnroe. Doubled back to Willie Watterson beside Cargagh Church, past the Weasel House to Porter's of Ringcladdy (now Martin Lowe) up the road to Quayle of the Hillside and back home to Ballyculter. George Swail did all of Strangford and Castleward. His brother Sam started at the White Houses on the Shore Road to Ballyhoman and through Ballywooden and Kilclief to the Castle and round to Drurnroe to Magees, McCartans and into Cariff. Hope you were with me all the way and enjoyed the "trip" for old times sake! Sam Swail is remembered on his round from Strangford to Ballyhoman pushing his bicycle against the winter gales, his moustache a thatch of snow, and the rain dripping from the cape he wore to cover the mail. The letters all alTived dry.
The Country Shops and Packmen of Yesteryear by Leslie McKibben The advent of the Country Shop took place many years ago. Its purpose was to provide the rural community with items necessary for the well being of the home. Agriculture in those years, although basic, provided for those involved in farming, a sufficient supply of home grown cereals - oats, potatoes, and turnips for the maintenance of the home and feed for their livestock. Oats being fed to horses and cattle and also ground at the local com mill supplied flour for baking. Potatoes were the stable diet for the family, but were also boiled for pig feed. When pigs were fattened it was the custom to have one killed by the local pig butcher and cured for bacon for the family. Two or more cows were kept for milk in the home, for churning to make butter, and for feeding calves. This also enabled neighbours to obtain a daily supply of milk. Most homes in the country kept a few hens for eggs, and the rearing of poultry for table use. Those not involved in agriculture had a half acre plot which was cultivated annually to grow potatoes and vegetables, and in many homes poultry were kept. However with all these rural provisions there was still the need to obtain items necessary to maintain a living standard. Thus began the establishment of the first shops in the countryside. Joe Fitzsimons, James McKinney, Jimmy Sloan, Jimmy Maxwell. One can imagine what their Killing the Pig. appearance may have been. Perhaps a two roomed small thatched house, consisting of kitchen and bedroom, the entrance door with small door known as the half leaf, which was customary for the occupant to lean over and observe neighbourly activities. Two small windows with lace curtains to throw light into each room, the kitchen window displaying a potted geranium. No tiles or linoleum in those times to cover the floor. Just earth or flagstones, a small table in the kitchen displaying the items on offer for sale, a crock sitting in the comer which contained the well water for boiling or drinking, the black swinging iron crook over hanging the open fire supporting the large pot for boiling the potatoes and the black tin canister sitting on the hob in which the tea was brewed. There was always to be seen the lovely old dresser with the willow pattern plates and bowls, just the open fire and candle to provide evening light, the old wooden chairs with slats interwoven with hemp cord and perhaps a sofa.
The infonnation about country shops from the late 1800s to 1930, what they sold and where they were located, has been told to me by people in these areas from their parents' recollections and also from my own.
Caffrey's Shop just before demolition 1998.
THE FOLLOWING IS A LIST OF SHOPS FROM THAT PERIOD: LATE 1800'S
Miss Quayle - opposite the Mill Dam in Lower Ballyculter; it is not known what she sold. Bob Mullan - Tullyfoyle - sold boiled sweets, tobacco, candles and paraffin oil. Miss Blaney - end of BallyalTet Lane, sold boiled sweets, tobacco and candles. Mrs Rooney - The Row, Kilclief sold sweets. Children from the coastguard houses at Killard, returning from the old Ballycottin School at Kilclief called in to buy black balls which she sold at a penny each. Magowan -had a shop at the bottom of the lane of the Post Office in Lower Ballyculter. He went around with a pony and spring cart selling groceries. He emigrated to America. 1920's
Mrs Fitzpatrick - had a shop at BallymulTay crossroads on the comer turning from Ballytrustan to Bishopscourt. She sold cigarettes, tobacco, confectionery, candles and jam in crockery jars. Her son Dan drove a breadcart in Belfast and at the weekends brought home a bean bag full of goods for the shop. Mosey Matthews of BallynalTY would buy a half ounce of tobacco and she sold it to him at cost price. Local boys gathered jam jars and she bought them. In her home she played cards - '45' with the local men and would sit with a mug full of 48
pennies on her lap. Her daughter was marrieq to Dan Blaney who owned a pub, then later a grocer's shop in Saul Street, Downpatrick. Mrs Blaney rode daily to teach in Ki1clief School. The shop was later owned by Charlie Kearney. Lizzie Watterson's - shop sold tea, bread, sugar, paris buns and candles. It is said she wore a man's cap. Rhoda Wright - sold groceries in her shop where the present Post Office is in Lower Ballyculter.
1930's Bob McDowell- had a shop at the opposite side of the road at the entrance to Ballyculter P.O. He had a wooden leg. He sold cigarettes, sweets, and toffee and clay pipes. He moved to the Moat Quarry, Ballytrustan in the 40's where the evening children going home from Ballycruttle School would call. He sold big currant buns, two for three pence, a box of halfcigarettes, selling one and a half Woodbine for one penny, a packet of five for two pence. Mrs Hanna - had a shop in the comer house of Ballyculter village. She sat at her room window crocheting and embroidering which she then sold. She also sold lemonade, paris buns, candles and Woodbine which she cut in half with scissors. Around 1936. Miss Charlotte Seed - sold small groceries in her shop at the White Houses selling quantities of jam she made. She embroidered fancy white linen tray cloths with coloured flowers which were in great demand. Her sister Mrs McBride who lived next door bought blocks of ice in summer, made ice cream and sold it to those playing golf on the nearby golf links at Isle O'Valla. The Keown Family - had a general grocery shop in Ballyhoman. Wm John Buchanan - had a shop at Kilclief selling general groceries and paraffin oil. Mrs Nevin - Ballywooden, sold cigarettes late 30's into the 40's. Mrs Magee - Mill Quarter, (Hanna's) sold ice cream and confectionery. Mrs Charlie Kerr - At the Gaps Kilclief, sold cigarettes, tobacco, confectionery and light groceries. Mrs Reggie Quayle - in Ballyculter P.O., sold cigarettes, tobacco, confectionery and light groceries. Joe Hanna - beside King's blacksmith shop, sold cigarettes, confectionery and ice cream. Miss Caffrey - had a shop on the Shore Road by Kilclief, sold confectionery and ice cream.
1940's Mr James McConville - Drurnroe, sold cigarettes, tobacco and confectionery. 49 -----------------------------
Mrs Pat Hynds - at the Row Comer, Kilclief, sold light groceries, cigarettes, tobacco, bread, candles, matches and confectionery. Johnny Quinn - in his shop at the Mallard, Carlin, sold light groceries, bread, cigarettes, confectionery and paraffin oil. Johnny McMullan - Ballynarry, had a shop formally owned by Joe Creen who went to Belfast. He sold general groceries, flour, ice cream, paraffin oil and candles. Mrs Leo Laverty - in her hut at Ballyculter, sold cigarettes, tobacco, matches, candles, lemonade and paraffin. Ten Players cigarettes and a sachet of ten matches cost a shilling. Maggie Watterson - Corbally, sold cigarettes, tobacco and confectionery. 1950's Mrs Tommy Woods - Corbally, carried on in her own house after Maggie Watterson retired. James Denvir - Kilclief (formally owned by W.J. Buchanan) sold light groceries, cigarettes, tobacco, confectionery, papers and ice cream. Mrs Paddy Marron - sold cigarettes, tobacco, pastry, confectionery, lemonade and paraffin oil at Myra.
PACK MEN In the days when there was little mode of transport in rural areas these packrnen gave a great and much needed service to country people; they were also a source of information and contact with the goings on in the area. Mary Murray - from Portaferry travelled through Strangford area every two weeks selling pins, needles, odds and ends. Paddy Irishman - as he was known, sold lace and spools. Captain Peter Fitzsimons - from Ardglass travelled round this locality, first on bicycle and then by car. He sold clothes, boots and shoes etc. John Rogan - carried his wares wrapped in a large shiny black oil cloth which was strapped to the back of his bicycle. He laid the pack in the middle of the floor, opened it up and spread his goods on display.
Other packrnen mentioned were Madine from Portaferry and Bryan from Downpatrick who had a shop there but also sold drapery around the area. All this seems a long, long way from the multi stores of today which lack the personal one to one service of the country packrnen of yesteryear.
Brief Memories of Family Life on a Farm in Ballynarry by Rosaleen Fitzsimons (Denvir). Ballynarry:- Townland overlooking the whole of Kilclief Parish and beyond, across Strangford Lough to the Ards Peninsula and over the Irish Sea to the Isle of Man. Our home was a two storey farmhouse up 'the open' from the road and was known as 'up the town', whilst down over 'The Cruck' (Cnoc) to other family homes, was known as 'down the town'. There were ten children in our family, six boys and four girls. One boy died age 18 years in 1932. Our father was James Denvir and our mother was Agnes Kerr. Farming was not easy in the thirties and forties, so it was all hands to the grind. All remaining nine of us had to turn our skills to every crop ... potatoes, hay, barley, corn and turnips etc., during their attention-seeking seasons. Of course with nine in a family (twenty years separating first-born to last) there was always plenty of noise ... squabbles galore ... but mostly happy times with lots of mischief. We had a garden full of gooseberry bushes, and the juniors of the family used to steal the berries wholesale, but when caught by our oldest brother were staunchly slapped on the hands by him, using the bicycle pump. Needless to say this didn't stop us venturing again. The youngest three were often delegated to 'hurd the sows' - (keep them from breaking out of their allotted field) for pigs, as we all know can wriggle through any fence. Well, we used to gather up old rugs and coats and make a 'wee house' in the corner of the field, lie down on the coats and rugs and enjoy the sun, and one would read a story aloud to the others and forget all about the sows. After about an hour up would go a 'whillaballoo' and the sows would be in the corn field churning it up and destroying the corn to their hearts content. The three were in deep trouble now because it took half the family and more, to get the animals under control again. This happened time out of number, yet the three were still trusted with the job of 'hurding the sows'. There was no electric light in those days so each afternoon the lamps had to be topped up with paraffin oil, the globes cleaned and the wicks tidied. One day, one of the girls having the job finished to her satisfaction, proceeded to hang the main kitchen lamp on its chain from the ceiling, when 'crash' she had let the lamp slip through her fingers and the beautiful blue bowl, globe and all were in smithereens on the floor - what a mess! I can tell you she got little sympathy from the rest of us, we chanted "Oh! you'll get killed when Mammy and Daddy see that", but she got off lightly enough and somehow another lamp was mysteriously (to us) produced and all was well again. We all loved sport and had a go at all types of games. Our parents attended whist drives when possible but most of all they seemed to enjoy making up a foursome, and playing solo whist at home or in our uncle's house, with many a debate on who should have played 'what card' and who shouldn't.
Indeed my head is crowded with memories of cows being milked and calves being fed; hens and chickens being attended to and eggs being gathered. The boys looking after horses and cattle and the neighbouring farmers coming to our haggard for the 'threshing machine'. Us gathering snowdrops, primroses and bluebells and lying in the sun making endless daisy chains. Our mother baking griddles of wheaten, soda and oaten bread, the latter having to be 'harned' upright on a little iron fender - type gadget in front of an open fire . We loved the oaten bread when warm with plenty of country butter spread on and dripping off the edges and accompanied with a big cup of fresh milk. On Shrove Tuesday (in preparation for the lenten fast) or Pancake Tuesday as it is widely known we used to race home from school and sit down to a meal of boiled egg and pancakes, our mother baking away steadily as we ate. She used to wonder how our digestions' coped with so many hot pancakes but she always knew when we were satisfied as we used to bite holes for eyes, nose and mouth in the poor inoffensive pancakes and hang them on our faces and become both 'giggly' and 'rowdy'. With a satisfied sigh, she was able to put her griddle aside and get a bite to eat herself ... not pancakes ... and so the memories go on and on ... Like most families in our district, we were close knit and believed as they did that 'The family that prays together stays together' .
Charlie, James Snr. and Seamus Denvir getting ready for Spraying
To and From School by Brian Denvir I was born 'up the town' in Ba1lynarry in 1921, the sixth in a family of ten. My father was James Denvir and Uncle Mick Denvir, McMullans and Magies lived 'down the town'. The reason for this distinction was not of social class but a grassy triangular hillock known as the 'cruck' which was the centre point or common ground of this cluster of houses. We were on the upper end.
路 路 路: e,
____ '\'. ;路t~.",,~j '~'_'--.......', I,
All in all we numbered around twenty children spanning , as many years . Fr. Bob Denvir was the senior and was the first to set off across the pads to Kilclief School. We all followed in turn and I will try to recall these days as I remember them when I started out on my formal education. The 'cruck' it seems was the launching pad to our future into the academic world!
Each morning there was a sense of commotion and urgency as all the scholars emerged from their homes with shouts from all quarters "Go slow and I'll catch on ye" or "just hold on and I'll be with ye" from the slow coaches and the replies "Put a move on or we'll be late" and "Hurry up or I'll go on without ye". Maybe someone in haste forgot his bag and had to go back, much to the annoyance of the rest. The crisis over we all headed off down Ballynagarrick Loney and across the little stream. This stream was unique in that it flowed over a dip in the lane. With a bit of D.I.Y. engineering some of the local farmers raised up two thirds of the width of the lane thus creating a pool of water on the upper side which was used for watering horses and cattle morning and evening. The over-flow from this pool meandered down a man-made channel across the elevation. With its own natural filtering system we could lie on our tummies and drink the cool clear water on a hot summer evening - no worry about pollution! About ten yards past the stream we climbed the steps up the steep bank, through the little iron gate and across the fields. From here on, however, our journey could be, at times much more hazardous especially in the winter months so the older ones took care of the new recruits as we traversed the rivers and stiles, skirting the crops according to the season and suffered scratches and stings from the briars and nettles. Then over another style and a right turn past Thomas Magee's house and on to the 'gutthery gap'. This was a main cart track between fields or the 'trunk road junction' where carts and horses, animals and pedestrians converged. Here we joined up with the scholars from upper Ballynarry; Reids, Magees and others. We had to tread cautiously here for one slip and we were over the boot-mouth in mud. All of us now down the six-acre to the plank; a flat stone which breached the Caravanish river, which was anything but stable so required a balancing act to negotiate. In winter when this river flooded we had to abandon the plank and look for a narrow crossing where the bigger ones could jump across and then hand the younger ones over to safety. We weren't always
successful and the odd one fell in!
Across two more fields and a couple of stiles we were on to the Ballywooden - Kilclief road. We all eventually arrived to school with enough time to play hurley, football and rounders before the bell rang. The homeward journey was much more leisurely - no rush or panic now. The younger children who got out at 2 o'clock dandered ahead at their own pace. When we dispersed in different directions I remember well enjoying many summer days dodging along on my own looking for bird's nests, fishing for sticklebacks or lying in the grass in the six-acre watching the larks rise from their nests and counting them as they flew and gazing at the clouds as they drifted by, even on the odd occasion falling asleep only wakening up when the older scholars overtook. Those day passed, I was now among the seniors who were an enterprising bunch of mischief makers. Once as we passed through Hughie McGreevy's field we saw a pile of hay which we thought . was rotten so we set a match to it for a bit of excitement. We were now in big, big trouble when the R.U.C. met us on the road, questioned us and took statements. We ended up in the Courthouse in Ardglass and our parents had to recompense Hughie. Nevertheless we weren't all bad all of the time. A year or so later this same field which Willy Trainor had in con-acre, was now in oats, stooked and ready for stacking. All the other farmers had theirs in the haggards and saved but Willy, who was a blacksmith was dependant on help to save his crop. As the weather was about to break we held a 'summit' and decided to help out. The question was whether to ruck it or stack it. As we had no twine to tie down the rucks, stacking was the only option. We set to and built the stack up to the ring. Apart from it getting too high for us no one knew how to tum the ring. These were some of the problems we hadn't foreseen in our enthusiasm to do the good Samaritans. Further advice was to be sought by the 'builders' and we'd finish the job the next evening. Alas! the next morning Willy was up to the school to speak to the master. "Boys, we're for it now" whispered one boy. As Willy, the master and a local farmer went off to assess the damage or otherwise we anxiously awaited their return. There was no complaint about our work but it was deemed it would have to be re-stooked and then brought in to the haggard as the threshing machine could not get into the field later on. We were disappointed our efforts were in vain but greatly relieved that all we had to do was go out and re-stook it and anyway we got off lessons that afternoon. Our good intentions must have been taken into account as that was the end of it. I think perhaps the master, with a twinkle in his eye was proud of his pupils' ability and good neighbourliness! How different from to-day travelling in over-crowded stuffy buses and busy roads with their inherent dangers . No one worried about us, we all took care of each other and arrived home sometime but safely. These memories are recorded just in case future generations might one day wish to retrace the footsteps of their forefathers on their way to and from Kilclief School. 54
- - - - - - - - - - - -- - - - - - - -
Acknowledgements This publication would not have been possible without the help of those who willingly related their sories for us and lent us their photographs for copying. We thank them sincerely. Supported by
Down County Council Community Relations Section.
------------------------------ 55 ------------------------------