Our History In The Making – NI Beyond 100 is a NI Office programme collecting stories showcasing Northern Ireland “on the world stage”. It has lent its brand to the Ballycarry centenary boards shown in today’s post, which have black-and-white photographs on the left (beginning with “Home to Ballycarry – General Sir James Stuart Steele visits his birthplace”) and colour photographs on the right (beginning with children visiting the Steele monument).
A ‘Stand With Ukraine’ flag and Ulster Banner fly above the walls; a bonfire is being hastily erected in the background.
Ballykinlar barracks in County Down was originally Abercorn barracks, used by the British to intern IRA prisoners during the War Of Independence, and the use continued under the new Northern Irish government (WP); the camp held about 2,000 prisoners (McGuffin, ch. 5). The prisoners attempted to maintain their military structure and perform drills; they created a currency using cardboard discs (images can be seen at Old Currency Exchange) – and, as a way to keep up morale, worked on “autograph books” in which prisoners would write dedications and verses for one another and occasionally draw pictures. The pages shown here are from books currently exhibited in Monaghan County Museum; Offaly Archives has digitised an autograph book; a few more images from a book in the Kilmainham collection can be seen at the BBC.
Benjamin West painted The Battle Of The Boyne in 1778 and his composition – with William moving from left to right on a white horse and Marshal Schomberg dying in the bottom-right corner – has become the standard representation in loyalist culture, perhaps due to versions of it appearing on the covers of songbooks for the Orange Order and the Apprentice Boys soon after (Belinda Loftus 1982 Images In Conflict). It appears here on the wall of Whitehead Orange Hall, along with a board connecting service by Irish soldiers in British forces in WWI and Afghanistan (see previously: Time Changes in east Belfast).
Glentaisie Drive – site of this mural by Friz (web | tw | ig) – is named for Glentaisie, the glen – one of the nine Glens Of Antrim, at the foot of which lies Ballycastle – and Glentaisie is named for Taise Taobhgheal (Taise the bright-cheeked), daughter of King Donn of Rathlin island, renowned for her beauty, and who lived in the glen with her husband Congal, who had to kill the Norwegian king Nabghdon to prevent her being carried off (Archaeology Ireland). Or so they say. She also inspired the name “Fair Head” for the local cliffs. Or so they say.
In later years (1565), Sorley Boy MacDonnell was taken prisoner by the O’Neill’s after a battle in Glentaisie (WP).
“If our shores are threatened/We will take up arms/To defend our loyal cause/Our culture and our heritage/Our freedoms and our laws.” Moygashel’s own (William) Wesley Somerville, a member of both the UVF and UDR, was killed by a bomb prematurely exploding as he placed it on the minibus of the Miami Showband in July of 1975. Three members of the band died, one of them Protestant, along with volunteers Somerville and Harris Boyle from Portadown (WP). “He died for Ulster” (on the plaque).
“The Glorious Revolution for civil and religious liberty.” King James II of England – a Catholic convert – had a son in 1688 that replaced his (Protestant) daughter Mary as first in line for the English throne. In order to prevent a Catholic succession, William of Orange, Protestant ruler of Holland and Mary’s cousin and husband set sail in October with 40,000 men in 463 ships (WP). He is shown in this new board in Main Street, Markethill leading his troops across the Boyne in Ireland. His success in deposing James would become known as the “Glorious Revolution.”
There are three Biblical references inside the band: Psalm 60 v.4 “Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth”; Isaiah 13 v.2 “Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them, shake the hand, that they may go into the gates of the nobles”; Psalm 95 v.7 “For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.” and a possible signature “RGm”
Poet Seamus Heaney died on this day 2013 and the gravestone erected in St Mary’s, Ballaghy, on the same day the following year. The epitaph is “Walk on air against your better judgement” from the poem ‘The Gravel Walks” in The Spirit Level.
Cousins Francis Hughes (Ó hÁodha) and Thomas McElwee (Mac Giolla Bhuídhe) were the second and ninth of the 1981 hunger strikers to die. They share a grave in St. Mary’s churchyard in their hometown of Bellaghy, Co. London-/Derry. The image above shows their gravestone “erected by the people of Co. Derry and Co. Antrim”.