Sunday, 15 February 2009

Writings on North Down, Ards and Strangford Lough

I've drawn up a rough list, which I'm sure is not comprehensive, of creative writers who've made reference to the North Down, Ards and Strangford Lough areas of County Down in either English or Ulster-Scots. The challenge is can you think of the ones I've left out!

Starting with the earliest:

Francis Boyle (c1730 - post 1811) – Local places mentioned in his Miscellaneous Poems (1811) include Gransha, Moneyrea, Comber, the Ards, Gilnahirk, the Stay Brae, the Brenniel [sic], [Crossna]Creevy, Moneyrea, Dundonald, Knock, Drumbo, Lisleen, Ballygow'n, Crossgear, Downpatrick, Donaghadee, Dunover, Mount Pleasant, Meharg's thorn (a local landmark in Gilnahirk) Bangor and Ballygaskin (near Crossgar). Many other places further away in County Down, County Antrim, Scotland and England are also named.

John Meharg – of Gilnahirk - mentions Gransha in his Epistle To Francis Boyle published in Francis Boyle's Miscellaneous Poems (1811).

Andrew McKenzie (1780-1839) of Dunover – Poems And Songs On Different Subjects (1810) - Writes about the Ards Peninsula

Robert Huddleston (1814-1887) – Poems and songs published (1844 and 1846) plus an unpublished novel and unpublished poems and songs. He writes about the Moneyrea area, Comber, Saintfield, Ballygowan, Ards Peninsula and Strangford Lough, Ringneill, Reagh Island, Killinchy etc. Other references include Newtownards, Donaghadee, the Lead Mines, Greyabbey and Mount Stewart.

W G Lyttle (1844-1896) – Betsy Gray, Daft Eddie, Sons Of The Sod and Robin’s Readings are all set in the North Down and Ards area and include references to locations on the Ards Peninsula, Strangford Lough, Newtownards, Tullynagardy Glen etc.

Hugh McWilliams – of Ballysallagh. Two books published in 1816 and 1831. Poems And Songs On Various Subjects (1816) includes topographical references include Crawfordsburn, Bangor, Conlig, Cairn Wood, Clandeboye, Ballysallagh and Portavoe.

George Francis Savage-Armstrong
(1845-1906) was born in County Down and was Professor of History and Literature in Queen's College, Cork. He produced two volumes on the history of the Savages of the Ards peninsula (his mother’s family) plus copious amounts of poetry and Ballads Of Down (1901) which included MacAnanty Fairy King Of Scrabo Hill.

Edward Sloan of Conlig - In his poetry book The Bard’s Offering (1854) there is a poem entitled The Lovely Glens Of Crawfordsburn (he dedicated the book to Sharman Crawford who lived at Crawfordsburn House) and in A Farewell he writes of walking through "Pirrie's Grove" (Little Clandeboye at Conlig was owned by William Pirrie) and "gazing upon the shores of Scottish lands".

I'm not famililar with the works of these next three, but have left them in the list to remind me to check them out!

William Cleland - Collection (1838)

William Bleakley of Ballinaskeagh - Moral and Religious Poems (1840)

Robert Gilmore - Collection Of Poems And Songs (1843)

Leslie Alexander Montgomery, aka Lynn Doyle (1873-1961) – He wrote of the Downpatrick area and Strangford Lough

Sam Hanna Bell (1909-1990) – December Bride is mainly set in the Ravara area, but much of the filming took place on Island Taggart and on the Ards Peninsula.

John Stevenson - Bab Of The Percivals (1926) is set on the Ards Peninsula and Two Centuries Of Life In Down (1920) while not fiction, includes a lot on North Down, Ards and Strangford.

Margaret Norris - Glenreeba (1939) is actually Greyabbey

J S Andrews (born 1934) - The Bell Of Nendrum (1969) is set in and around Strangford Lough

Van Morrison (born 1945) – The song Coney Island (from his 1989 album Avalon Sunset) mentions Shrigley, Killyleagh, the Lecale, Downpatrick, Ardglass and St John’s Point as well as Coney Island, which is a headline between Ardglass and Killough. The Song A Sense Of Wonder (from the album A Sense Of Wonder 1985) mentions Newtownards, Comber, Gransha and the Ballystockart Road.

Michael McLaverty (1904-1992) - Buried at Kilclief, Strangford – Wrote about Strangford Lough.

Michael Faulkner – wrote about his experiences living with his wife in a cabin on Islandmore on Strangford Lough in The Blue Cabin (2006)

Seamus Heaney (born 1939) – Even “Famous Seamus” refers to “Strang and Carling Fjords” (Strangford and Carlingford) in his poem Funeral Rites.

Joe Tomelty (1910 -1995) was born in Portaferry. Although better known as a film and stage actor and for BBC Radio’s The McCooey’s, Joe Tomelty also wrote novels and plays. Two of his plays, All Soul’s Night and April In Assagh are set in a fictional village on the County Down coast and another, Idolatry at Innishargie, on the Ards Peninsula.

Basil Abbott - Norfolk man Basil, whose mother is from Newtownards, recently produced a short play entitled Scrape The Beetle about the Flush Hall murder (of Willie Quinn) which took place in Newtownards in 1915. A CD of this is also available.

Colin Bateman (born 1962) – The novel Divorcing Jack (1998) is partly set in Bangor Market (although the film version uses Lemon's Wharf in Donaghadee as the location).

Captain James Moore writes of Portavogie and the County Down fishing industry.

I'm sure there are also numerous other references in songs. The Flower Of The County Down mentions Scrabo Hill, Lisnadill, Comber etc and The Greba Lasses is from Greyabbey. Then, of course, there are the Orange songs like The Hills Of Carrowdore and The Bright Orange Heroes of Comber.

Not forgetting Hamewarks Fae Ballyboley: The Cless O 2004:
Philip Robinson writes about The Dominie O Ballyboley Schuil;
John Wright writes of Donaghadee, Ballyvester and Millisle;
Jack Thompson mentions Carrowdore;
Sheena McCullough mentions Ballyboley school;
Fiona McDonald writes of Newtownards, the Ards, Bangor and Loughriescouse;
Will McAvoy writes of Mid-Isle on Strangford Lough;
Will Cromie writes of the Ards Peninsula; and
Noel Moore mentions Portavogie and Ballyboley;

No comments:

Post a comment