SOME of us will be aware that there's a slight stretch in the evenings. My old English teacher, Wee Tipps we called him, used to remind us of this on the first day back in school after the Christmas Holidays which was January 7. He solemnly informed us that we looked glum because we had lost our freedom having to return to school. Instead, he told us, our hearts should lift with the turning of the year and we should realise, whether we were aware of it or not, that spring is in the air. Within two months the black wood would be green and violets would be growing in the laneways.
Whenever I think of what we call Christmas boxes my mind goes back to the first time I sat on a trolley bus in Belfast. This was in the early 1960s on the Friday before Christmas.
ARRANGEMENTS are being made for mass vaccination using the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
A FRIEND of mine missed out on going on a trip to see the continent of Europe last summer because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite his disappointment he now has his sights set on going there next summer on a longer trip. When I saw him last week he was wearing earphones, had a phrase book in his hand and was mouthing foreign words with the help of phonetic symbols. His efforts jogged my memory for I remember a chap doing the same thing well over fifty years ago. A neighbour of ours had been working in Central Europe and had brought home a phrase book which covered many languages including the Queen’s English. (It might well have been the King’s then.) However, the English was very different from the language we used. I can still recall him saying: “I myself wash at eight hours.” and “In the garden of my uncle and of my aunt there are of plum trees and of peach trees.“ Of course, there were no recorders in those far off days but listening to my friend last week I'm not sure that much has changed. When I asked my friend what he was saying he told me he was practising the equivalent of “How are you?” in Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch, Norwegian and other languages too numerous to mention. I have to admit he has lofty ambitions. I did not want to dishearten him so I listened to him and congratulated him on his great achievements and then got off the bus. I had noticed other passengers giving queer looks in his direction as they listened to his strange utterings. On crossing the road a motorist wound down his window and shouted, “Wjatabout ye, mucker?” and on reaching the footpath another man said, “Howyeh?” It dawned on me that nobody says, “How are you?” in English except people who don’t know English and are using a phrase book and perhaps a recorder. Nearly all the people you meet regularly use a variation of ‘Howyeh’ but it is an empty greeting. They are not in the slightest way interested in how you are because they see you frequently and can make their own judgements just as they do about your sobriety when the pubs and clubs are open for business. It is when you meet people who haven't seen you for a while that the greeting takes on real meaning. I find this when I head down the country to a funeral. “How's the health?” “How's the heart?” These are psychological queries which don't really need an answer. A smile suffices. They are the equivalent of “It's good to see you.” There's no subtlety. A man might be eating well, sleeping well but still slicing his one iron drives on the golf course or gasping his way from payday to payday. He may have an appetite like that of a horse but it may be down to trudging around looking for a job. When a man drops in beside you and says,”Howyeh doin’?” you know he's seeking information. You can answer, “Everything I can.” Or you can counter, “How are things with yourself?” which might include the family, receding hairlines and/or receding bank balances.
I found myself thinking the other day that the sooner the pubs are open the better. Away back in April I made the cardinal mistake of telling Wee Jap that when the hairdressers reopen he should get sorted out asap. My big mistake was that I said this within earshot of Billy Gillen. Billy weighed in about possible styles, emphasising that short back and sides has long been out of date. Wee Jap hasn’t been in a barber’s shop for years just as Billy sheds tears when laughing, he shed the crop on the top of his head a long time ago. Just as Jap was leaving my house last week he pointed at the garden fence and said, “Get that painted before the pubs re-open.” I assured him I would. However, I'm fairly sure that either my wife or neighbour overheard him as he was quite loud and he was laughing as he drove off. So after a lapse of many years I find myself painting the garden fence. On the question of how often a garden fence should be painted there is some difference of opinion but I have long thought that give a year or two either way I should not let a decade go by without wielding the brush. After all one can't be too careful about one's property and it's as well to do the painting whilst there is something to paint. I must admit that I had thought hard over the summer about starting the job but with the uncertainty about when the pubs and clubs would reopen I postponed the undertaking rather than be caught out halfway through the job. I even bought some tins of wood stain in Tesco a few months ago but when my daughter told me she had just had a new fence erected in her back garden I gifted the stain and brushes to her. Now when a room needs papered or the skirting needs a lick of paint or a door needs touched up I have no hesitation in calling in others who have greater claims to craftsmanship than me but when it comes to putting a stain on the fence I’m your man. The technique of fence staining looks simple to passers-by. I know this when I see them raise their eyebrows as If to say, “he's dipping and sloshing.” Maybe it's my imagination but they all seem to be on the footpath on the other side of the road as they pass me by. Now I admit there is no washing down, no smoothing with differing grades of sandpaper, no flat undercoating. I find if I keep my head down and my right elbow near my side I can get on with the job. However, although the passerby would not see any difficulties, I find that I have to keep my wits about me for every plank in the fence is different! I have long recognised that someone as finicky and fastidious as Wee Jap would never make a fence stainer. You have to recognise that some planks are more thirsty than others. Experience has taught me to take each plank unawares and slap on the stain before the wood has time to mop it up. To slightly vary the words of Kris Kristofferson’s song it's a case of “One plank at a time, Sweet Jesus.” Another problem which the likes of Wee Jap are oblivious to, is the appearance of creepy crawlies. You have to give them a reasonable chance of escape on their wee legs but you can't afford to wait all day and even the most humane fence stain has a fairly high casualty list. This is totally regrettable but death is the price of progress. The passers-by will also be unaware as they look on this task as a brutish kind of work, that there are advanced mathematical calculations to be made. While some fence stainers will work away until the tin is emptied or spilt on his trousers, the enlightened fence stainer will do an audit every time he lights his pipe or takes a drink from his flask. Thus if he has stained seventeen out of the one hundred and fifteen planks, he will know he still has almost eighty two and a quarter percent of the work to do. Passers-by will be unaware that the squiggles of stain on the next three or four planks from where he is working are the “sums”. One of the big advantages in being involved in staining the fence is that you are absolved from doing other chores. I don't have to put out the bins or post letters. In the past this might have seen me excused from helping with the homework. Passers-by will notice the smudge stain on your nose and realise that as the evenings are drawing in fast, you are striving to get the job done. It's now got to the stage where no-one could be expected to work in the open after tea. This year has been a bad year for fence-staining. On some days I got into my painting trousers, brought the stain, brushes and steps out one by one onto the footpath and then down comes the rain! Everything must then be returned to the garage without any perceived achievement. What appears to be a simple job has become a campaign. It's now coming into the Christmas season and days are getting shorter. I'm of a mind, what with the dark evenings, the cold mornings and the poor light – not to mention the incessant rain – to take my Christmas holidays and set a definite target of having the job finished before the clocks go forward for the official start of Summer time. And when Billy Gillen makes the remark about a good first coat I'll do what I did over a decade ago. I'll bite my tongue and literally “sit on the fence.”
JOE Brolly told us last week how he got to know the incoming President of the United States of America, Joe Biden, when he came to Ireland in 2017 as a private citizen at his own expense to turn the sod on the Mayo Roscommon hospice for which Joe Brolly is an ambassador. Joe further told us that Joe Biden is a decent and gentle man and will make a good, steady, logical president. Many observers have made similar remarks about the incoming presidents but I particularly value the remarks of Joe. However, my attention was drawn to Joe’s story about having a private meeting in the Shelbourne Hotel (where else?) during which the Delaware Joe said to the Dungiven Joe: “I have something for you Joe. Something to thank you for your work in organ donation.” He gave him his specially designed vice-presidential cufflinks. I suppose that cufflinks are a link with the past. It's said that when the Vikings came to Ireland they bored holes in their shirt sleeves and fastened them with wooden skewers connected by lengths of cowhide. Later the button was invented but in the times of Queen Victoria the world went back to the skewer, albeit more refined,and called it the cufflink.
BILLY Gillen refers to me as a ‘country man’ and try as I might to present myself as a Belfast man I can't, so it is incumbent on me to say that Billy is right. Now the truth is that In most situations I rarely agree that Billy is right. As a country man (or a culchie as Billy calls me behind my back) I measure the year in landmarks rather than in months or seasons. After the first daffodils we wait for the first cuckoo, and having marvelled once again at the magic of the apple blossom we go through a number of days when it seems as if it will never get dark. Then our eyes are drawn to the big round bales (we used to see the corn stooks) in the fields of Meath and Louth as the train rolls northwards after our last trip of the year to Croke Park. After some time counting the swallows on the telephone wires as they gather noisily while preparing to migrate and before we see the advertisements for the much-needed goods for Christmas I usually get my first cold of the season. It's then I look to see if the heavy woollen jumper I was wearing last year has any holes in it as I hold it up to the light.
Being confined to the house has many drawbacks but it leads to many unforeseen moments too. Last week I was doing a ‘bit of redding up’ in the loft when I came across a box of tin whistles. The first one I pulled out was an old black Clarke’s. I attempted a few toots on it and I was glad to find that I could still get a few notes.However, I was aware that no-one could hear me (you have to be careful nowadays as being overheard playing the scale of D might give grounds to an unseen listener for a committal order). In no time at all I was halfway through my imaginary Armagh Pipers’ book and was quite pleased with my efforts on Roddy McCorley. I managed a Kerry polka and a slip jig before I decided to place the box close to the loft door where I could reach in, pick up a whistle and play when I knew the coast was clear and I could be sure no-one would be listening. I can remember my first attempt at blowing a tin whistle. Away back in 1961 on St Stephen’s Day my Uncle Paddy arrived at our house with two Basset hounds. He had been out hunting, had retired to the local pub and was now visiting his sister for “a bite to eat”. My mother told him about me passing my driving test earlier that week and Paddy told her that he had heard that and the reason he had called was for me to give him a lift to Mary Ann’s where the huntsmen were gathering for a social evening. Having dropped the hounds in an outhouse we arrived in Mary Ann’s to find the place full and an evening of song and music in full flow.
ON browsing through Facebook on my phone a few days ago I found a tribute to a dear departed old friend of mine and the accompanying photograph brought back some great memories. Just then, the bus I was waiting for arrived so I put my phone back in my pocket, donned my mask and presented my freebie travel card to the machine while grunting, “All the way,” to a disinterested driver. Without much thought I made my way upstairs and sat down in the front seat. I unconsciously chose the left hand side and as I automatically retrieved my phone from my pocket I once again looked at the photograph of John O’Connor. John loved the buses. Being of country origin he liked cars too but he used to say, “The cars for the country and the buses for the town.” And so he became a regular user of the city’s buses as he travelled to and from his city centre pub from his apartment on the Antrim Road. His favourite seat was front right on the upper deck whereas my favourite is front left. In my opinion the best seats on the bus are upstairs, or as they say in Tandragee, “on the roof”. I can remember speaking to John about travelling “on the roof”. We agreed that it enabled us to “look down” on everybody else. John admitted to being surprised that I had spotted him upstairs for he maintained that when people on the street look into a bus they usually concern themselves with the lower deck.
AT an inquest court in Belfast in April 1922, Thomas Flack stated that at about 6.30pm on March 8 he saw a British army corporal fire a volley of shots from the corner of Union Place and Great George’s Street. He said he then saw Herbert Hazzard, aged 24, fall at his feet in Isabella Street. Hazzard was pronounced dead a short time later in the Royal Victoria Hospital. He was just one of three people who met a violent death in Belfast that day in a spate of violence which had begun in July 1920. Between then and 1923, 460 violent deaths were to occur in the city (258 Catholics and 159 Protestants.) In the month of February 1922 there were 138 killings in a three-week period, (96 Catholic and 42 Protestants) so the death mentioned might well not have been noticed. The funeral, however, resulted in more violence and became part of the folklore of the village of Greencastle, then a mixed district, which had escaped the worst aspects of the violence in the city.
PETER McKernon passed away last week. Aged ninety three years. Wee Pete, as he was affectionately known, was one of the best known faces in Glengormley. Born and reared in the district, nobody (except possibly his best friend, Paddy Duffy) knew more about the history and people of Glengormley than he did. As the new school building was nearing completion at St Mary’s on the Hill in 1970, building contractor Harry Keenan was showing PP Shaun McCafferty round. He was delighted with the state of the art building and he said to Harry: “Now I've got to find a caretaker to look after all this.” Harry pointed over to his left and said: “Look no further. That’s your man.” Peter was caretaker for over twenty years and then became lollipop man for another twenty, retiring from the road crossing at the ripe old age of eighty-six. Wee Pete had an easy going manner and never forgot a name. He knew every child who passed through the school and kept in touch with them afterwards. At his funeral a man came up to me and said” “I was speaking to Pete about three months ago. I couldn’t get over him remembering my name but I was astounded when he told me that he remembered my da’s first day In school. He remembered him bawling his head off.” He had a great memory. In the early 1970s I remember standing at the back window of the Bellevue Arms, which looks down to the shore of Belfast Lough and is now a blaze of light. Manus Keane, Paddy Duffy and Pete used to meet up on a Saturday night and reminisce. All three men lived to be over ninety and they had some stories. Pete told me that night that he remembered looking out that window one night in 1948 and he spotted the first street light in Holywood across the Lough. ”Aye, that was the first night Duffy told the story about Lizzie McRoberts,” joked Peter. It was inevitable that he would have to tell the story again and taking a good gulp of Guinness he began. “ If I heard this once, I heard it a hundred times from my grandfather.” Paddy had been reared in the now deserted village at Whitewell with his grandfather.He told us: “Away back in the 1920s just after I was born there was a court case in Belfast which set the Whitewell alight. A fella called Robert Martin had been a lodger with the McRoberts family and he got close to their daughter Lizzie. Then one Monday night at a dance in the Fountain Hall in Greencastle he asked her for a dance. She refused him and he hit her on the face with his cap. “At that time they came to Greencastle and Glengormley on the trams in droves.”After the dance, which ended at 10.30 pm, she went up the Whitewell Road with John Watson. As Watson was leaving Martin arrived and Watson said to him, “Come on Ginger, are you coming home?” Martin told him he was going home with Lizzie. She said he was not. When Wee Pete prompted him Paddy told us: “She told the court that he said he had a wee thing to tell her. She said to hurry up and say what it was. He put his arm around her neck and she felt his hand fumbling at her jumper and when she put her hand up she got her finger cut with what seemed to be a razor. She then found that her throat was bleeding. She screamed and ran away.Two boys found her and took her to the doctor who dressed her wound.” Martin was arrested and appeared in the Custody Court. He was remanded for a week. At the second hearing he collapsed in the dock as Lizzie McRoberts told the court that he tried to cut her throat on the Whitewell Road after a dance in the Fountain Hall and that three weeks earlier he had threatened to shoot her if she took up with other fellows. The case was sent to the Commision Court in Belfast. Paddy’s grandfather and a few others from the Whitewell were in the courtroom. He said that all the lawyers and the jury were laughing, smiling and enjoying the proceedings knowing the story that Lizzie McRoberts was going to tell in court for the third time. When she mentioned going home with John Watson the judge had asked was he the successor? She told the court she was wearing a ring given to her by Martin but it was not an engagement ring. She said that she never wanted Martin as a sweetheart. The ring was just a present. Answering the judge she said she would take a ring from anyone. Martin's lawyer, George Hanna MP, then produced a letter which Lizzie had written to Robert Martin. At this stage Paddy put on his glasses, produced a piece of paper from his pocket and pretended he was reading the letter: “Just a few lines to let you know I got your letter. Well... you seem to be worrying when you can’t sleep or eat. I told you on Sunday I would stick to my word no matter what my father says...” “What is your word?”“I do not remember.”“...so I say to myself he can go to hell. Mother says to please myself. She told my father that she was going down to the Minister so I'm never bothered. So, Ginger, don't worry I'll see you down the Shore Road on Friday night or at Glengormley on Saturday night.Yours TrulyLissie McRoberts Paddy then told us that Mr Hanna said There were forty kisses and SWALK (sealed with a loving kiss). Lessie said she didn't know what SWALK meant nor did she know what ILY (I love you) stood for on the back of the envelope. The judge remarked to loud laughter that she must be the only person in the court who didn't know. “What did you think he was fumbling your jumper for?”“I don't know but I didn't think he was going to cut my throat.”Dr Hogg told the court the cut was almost an inch long and just skin deep. Martin told the court that Lizzie was his sweetheart. He wanted to go home with her after the dance but couldn't because of her father's objections.He had the razor with him to get sharpened. It was when she resisted that she cut herself. Amidst the roaring laughter Mr Hanna suggested his client would plead guilty to common assault. The judge thought this an excellent idea and said he must not interfere with the girl again. If there was to be a rapprochement, let her make the first advance. Martin was bound over for a year and released. Paddy told us his grandfather said it was the best morning’s entertainment he ever had.When Charlie O’Kane asked tongue in cheek if they ever got together again Wee Pete said we would have to leave it till another night as Bar manager Alec Hughes was calling time. We never got back to it. Now that lifelong friends Paddy Duffy and Peter McKernon have passed away within fifteen months of each other we won't hear any more of their yarns. Between them they had a store of entertainment. When you had a conversation with him Peter’s parting words were, “May your God be good to you.” Two men who were great company. CHARACTERS: Wee Pete McKernon and Paddy Duffy have passed away within 15 months of each other
WHEN the body of Colonel Smyth who had been murdered in Cork was brought to his hometown, Banbridge, on 21st July 1920 for burial, anti-Catholic feelings grew quickly. Catholic businesses were attacked and Catholic workers evicted from the mills in which they worked.
PADDY O’Kane was the first Catholic to buy a house on Hightown Road, Glengormley. Originally from Ballinderry on the Tyrone/Derry border, his family had moved to the Antrim Road Belfast some years earlier and when Paddy married he took a liking to Glengormley village, settling there in 1962. Paddy often told me how small the community was then. There was just one Mass in St Mary’s on the Hill with an attendance of about thirty. The M2 motorway was under construction and there were no houses other than a few farmhouses beyond the M2 bridge on Hightown Road. “The only people who passed up by our door were courting couples,” he recalled. “It was known as the road to nowhere.” While some locals ignored him, others originally greeted Paddy as Mr Kane but he quickly reminded them that there was an O in his name. Paddy watched Glengormley grow and become more and more integrated.With the rise in numbers in the Glengormley district new schools were needed with the great influx of young families. A new Catholic parish was created in Glengormley with Father Shaun McClafferty as first PP. No man was better suited to the task. He identified and purchased land for future development. A run-down large property known as Elmfield House on Antrim Road became parish headquarters with a Nissen hut serving as an oratory and the construction of a new primary school quickly set in motion. This development acted as a magnet for incoming Catholic families and Elmfield estate house prices began to rise. The onset of civil unrest might have bypassed Glengormley. Given that the vast majority of the homes were being purchased with 25-year mortgages the district might well have remained unscathed. However, events in Rathcoole and other large housing estates had their effect. In the 1970s the Catholic population of Rathcoole came under pressure. Eventually the whole Catholic population, estimated as a third of the total, was either physically evicted or intimidated into moving. It was the biggest movement of population in Europe since World War 2. Many of the families moved to West Belfast to new estates such as Twinbrook. Others were more fortunate in having savings and a good number of them bought houses in Glengormley, many in Elmfield, and as you can guess they were determined never to be intimidated again. Some of the families evicted from Rathcoole refused to move to “the outskirts of Lisburn” as one man put it to me. They feared that the same thing might happen again. One man I knew split his large family up with children staying with different relatives while he pressured the Housing Executive for accommodation nearby. He ran into every possible obstacle. The RUC had no record of any attacks on his Rathcoole home though he had contacted them twelve times. Eventually a former neighbour gave evidence that he had sat in their house for three nights armed with a shotgun after windows had been broken. The response of the RUC was to attempt to take away Paddy’s gun licence. They failed. Eventually the Housing Executive bought a house in Elmfield and let it to the homeless family. I became aware of this scheme one day when I went to the shop in Elmfield to buy a newspaper. As I was walking along a voice rang out: “Hi, stranger, are you not talking to anyone?” It was the voice of a man I had been speaking to in the Bellevue Arms a few nights previously. We stood chatting at his garden gate, joined by his wife, when a clergyman came out from the house next door. He must have assumed that I was either of his or a similar persuasion for he began explaining his mission to all three of us. “You two are buying your own home here,” he said, ”and it gives us independence and security. People own their own houses and have to look after them. You have to pay your rates so you have to budget. People who come here have to sink or swim. If they can't afford to live here they move out. The Housing Executive have told me they can't build any houses in Glengormley for they have no land but they're buying houses here in Elmfield and letting them out. Some people here are struggling to pay their mortgages and then find” (at this stage he waved his arms and pointed to a house opposite) “that they are living next door to someone who is paying a small rent. You'll be glad to know I have got them to stop.” And with that he moved on to knock the door of the next house. The couple were embarrassed with Mrs Thompson saying: “Is it any wonder I don't go to listen to him on Sundays? He does go on a bit.” I discovered later that the Housing Executive had bought a number of houses in Elmfield to house families evicted from Rathcoole and had stopped the practice, not because of protest by people like that clergyman, but because prices had risen sharply. I later discovered that the house identified by the clergyman had been allocated to a good friend of mine. Had it not been for the clergyman’s intervention no neighbour would have been aware that the house was rented. That family would have been seen as the best neighbours anyone could have and when the youngest daughter of the house took up a career in a bank she bought the house! Since the boom around 1980, Glengormley has changed. Most of the shops mentioned in the first article are gone. The building of a Tesco superstore at Northcott and the development of the Abbey Centre have meant that the demand for commercial premises in Glengormley is practically non-existent. The recent development of Eurostar on the Antrim Road has killed off any of the smaller shops still open. The most common sign in Glengormley now is TO LET or FOR SALE. Fast food takeaways vie with estate agents for prominence. Car parking is no longer a problem. Many comments have been made about how town centres have been silenced by Covid-19. Glengormley didn't have to wait for the pandemic. Despite having the worst credentials for being included in the motto for Newtownabbey, ‘Seven shall rise as one’, Glengormley has become more recognisable than any of the other six. The notion of Newtownabbey as being a recognisable town has long ceased to exist. The new council, Antrim and Newtownabbey, is very much an administrative entity. Historically the district has had its share of community tensions but with greater integration it is hoped that we can improve with time. The absence of the Orange arch in the centre of Glengormley this year because of Covid-19 was welcomed by a great number of people. This was the first year we haven't had the contentious ‘Opening of the Arch’ parade. On July 12th the local Orange band from Queen’s Park made their way to the War Memorial in Lilian Bland Park before visiting localities where they were welcomed. No-one was offended. They laid a blueprint for the future. Steps should now be taken to make sure the arch never reappears in the centre of Glengormley and that the main thoroughfare can be free of flags.Glengormley has become a secure residential entity. Many who live there work in Belfast and transport services are adequate. There are a number of housing developments ongoing. Gone are the days of the standard semi-detached villa. Bigger housing units are being developed and many of the children of those who migrated here in the 60s, 70s and 80s are happy to settle here. Paddy O’Kane’s ‘Road to nowhere’ – the Hightown Road – now boasts several housing estates of varying size and design contrasting with the monopoly of semi-detached villas elsewhere and is a model of social integration. The presence of a cinema and bowling alley, the nearby leisure centre, golf, rugby, soccer and GAA facilities all help to make Glengormley a good place to live – and we are only 15 minutes away from the centre of Belfast. We even get snow when few other places have it.
“HAS the place changed much since you went there?” I was asked last week after I had admitted to being in these parts for over 50 years. After all this time I’m still a blow-in. I came to live in Carnmoney in 1969, moving to Glengormley in 1973m and I’m rightly regarded as an outsider. How to answer the question? Yes and no. On Tuesday, April 1, 1958, Newtownabbey came into being when the first meeting of the new council was held at 9am in the Town Hall, Hazelbank. After a short meeting the councillors travelled to Shore Road, Greenisland, where the Minister of Health and Local Government, John Andrews, unveiled a boundary sign containing the words, ‘Newtownabbey Urban District’. It was a school holiday for the children but the adults went to work as usual and only a few passers-by witnessed the unveiling. Later the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church conducted an interdenominational service in the assembly hall of Whitehouse Primary School and reminded those present that it would be easy to remember the date of the opening, All Fools’ Day. Professor Robert Wilson continued: “If people who live at a distance ask where and what is Newtownabbey we shall tell them it is where the mountains of Cave Hill sweep down to the sea at Greencastle, Whitehouse and Whiteabbey, through Glengormley, Carnmoney, Monkstown, Jordanstown and Whiteabbey passing Abbott’s Cross and Rathcoole on the way down.” The Church of Ireland Bishop of Connor and the Head of the Methodist Union of Ireland also took part while High Mass and Benediction were celebrated at St Mary’s Star of the Sea, Whitehouse. There followed two weeks of celebration with concerts, plays, dances etc. Much was made on All Fools’ Day 1958 of the motto ‘Septum In Uno Resurgent’, translating as ‘Seven Shall Rise as One’, including the seven ancient villages mentioned above, but excluding Rathcoole and Abbott’s Cross as mentioned by Professor Wilson. Rathcoole had to be excluded because, while being the biggest centre of population in the new urban district, it was still under construction, hence the decision to include only the seven ‘ancient’ villages. However, there is nothing ancient about Glengormley. In 1863 the only building was a gate lodge to the Whitewell Print Works. There was another, still in existence at Collinbridge, but most old timers would say that it was in Whitewell. Glengormley began to develop on the periphery of the Whitewell Print Works, the remnants of which can be seen in Glengormley Avenue and the little row of houses on Hightown Road. The print works occupied the area from Collinbridge to Farmley on the left side of the Antrim Road travelling from Belfast. A dam used by the Print Works and laundry was filled in to accommodate the construction of the M2. A row of houses where Farmley estate now stands was known as Damtown Lane. The village of Glengormley continued to develop when a tramway service connecting it to Belfast began operating in 1882. By the early 20th century it became a popular resort, with amusements and variety shows in the old Bellevue Gardens and licensing laws which permitted persons who had travelled three miles to have a drink on Sundays. As the new northern government revised the licensing laws, the village became much quieter and began to serve as an overspill for Belfast.
SINCE the outbreak of Covid-19 most of us have curtailed our social activities.