Loughan Bay Ruins, County Antrim

Deserted Cottages above the Irish Sea

We pulled off the side of Torr Road for this fine view on the way to Torr Head to take in this view of the Irish Sea.  The steeply rising distant headland is the Mull of Kintyre. Loughan an Lochan, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.

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We parked on a turnout above the Loughan Cottages, near this farmer’s sheep pen.  He drove up in a huge tractor and conversed with Pam while I was below shooting the cottages. He made a good impression.

Loughan Bay Farmer – CLICK ME for my Getty Portfolio.

Roofless walls of a cottage more substantial than the other deserted ruins above Loughan Bay, with two fireplaces a walled porch with a view. A number of outbuilding foundations lay around. The integrity of the walls, chimneys and gables speaks to the quality of construction. A freighter in the North Channel of the Irish Sea is visible in the distance above the upper ridge. Beyond is the island of Islay, Scotland, about 30 miles distant. Loughan an Lochan, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.

I am happy to report a series of thirteen (13) photographs of these ruins were accepted for publication by Getty.  You can click any of the photographs in this posting for my Getty portfolio.

Loughan Cottages Ruins above Crockan Point – CLICK ME for my Getty Portfolio.

The land slopes steeply to a rocky beach.

Ruin Above Loughan Bay – CLICK ME for my Getty Portfolio.

A thick growth of ferns, grass on the gable was once a home with a view of Scotland’s Mull of Kintyre 13 miles across the North Channel of the Irish Sea.  The Isle of Sanda just visible on the right of the far gable.  A landform named Alisa Crag is just visible in the distance, to the left of the nearest gable. 

Single Room Loughan Bay Cottage – CLICK ME for my Getty Portfolio.

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Copyright 2018 Michael Stephen Wills, All Rights Reserved.

Loughan an Lochan Ruin 03

Romance of Ruins

….continued…..

In this multi-part blog series:

Part 01: the romance of the ruined cottages of Loughan Bay was introduced, the following questions stimulated:  “Who were the people who lived here?  Why did they leave?  Why is nobody here now?”

Part 02: the scene was set, the townland of Loughan named and visualized.

In this Part 03, some contemporaneous people are introduced, more information on the environment provided, some previous residents named and imagined.

Michael Wills with View of Loughan Bay
On the way to Torr Head we stopped at this spot in Coolranny Townland to take in this view of the Irish Sea. The land overlooks Loughan Bay toward the Mull of Kintyre and Sanda Island, Scotland. County Antrim, Northern Ireland.  Coolranny borders Loughan Townland on the east.

To understand the full beauty of a place, it is necessary to live it, to experience the seasons, approach the land from different aspects; pass the same place many time, noticing overlooked features, enjoying old favorites.  We did our best in this single day and took the exploration of this Antrim County coast slow, savoring all the views we noticed as this is a once in a lifetime experience.  Imagine our amazement to find Scotland so close at hand.  In the past, on a fine day the trip across the North Channel, up eastern Kintyre peninsula shores to Campbeltown at the head of Campbeltown Loch, was easier than a land crossing to a closer town.

I picked Campbeltown because my great great grandfather, a sea captain, emigrated from Scotland to County Louth where my great grandmother, Anne Campbell, married John Mills.  In this way Captain Campbell escaped persecution for his Roman Catholic faith.

Anne Mills

Late in her life, Anne Mills posed for this portrait.  I can tell great grandmother Mills is facing north from these clues:

— the press of the eternal east wind on her dress, against her left left and flowing away from the right.

— the sun shadow on her cheek.  It was around noon.  With the sun, at this latitude, in the south the shadow from her right cheekbone is darker than the left.

Stressed Costal Hawthorn
Rowan Tree directional growth from a constant east wind, County Antrim on the Torr Road nort of Cushenden.

A few miles before Loughan Bay, at Coolranny, are informative placards describing the area.  I thought the white flowering trees, or shrubs, on the slopes were Hawthorn.  On revisiting my capture of the placards I learned these are a different plant named Rowan Tree, aka Mountain-ash.  This wind stressed specimen is an typical example of Rowans on this coast, stunted and little more than a bush.  This individual is slanted westward from a constant and stiff east wind, as with Anne Mills’ portrait.  Residents, past and present, of this coast know this damp, persistent wind well.  Note the lack of blossoms on the east side, blossoms that ripen to small dark red fruit called poms (also called rowans).  The leaves turn red in the fall.  More time, for the fruit to form and leaves to turn, was necessary for me to be certain my identification of this, as a Rowan, is correct.

Loughan Bay Farmer
We parked on a turnout above the Loughan Cottages, near this farmer’s sheep pen. He drove up in a huge tractor and conversed with Pam while I was below shooting the cottages. He made a good impression.

On this day, Friday, June 6, 2014 I did two rounds of shooting the cottages.  The first, handheld, with a Sony Alpha 700.  Upon returning to the car for the Canon, Pam was talking to a friendly sheep farmer who pulled up in a large tractor pulling a tank.  It turned out we parked below the turnout for his sheep enclosure built on the hill west of Torr Road.  His flocks grazed the surrounding land. He and I talked, too briefly, about the hard lives of the people who lived here.

The Coolraney placard, up the road, claimed the cottages were deserted in the 19th century.  I found evidence, in the 1901 Irish Census, of three Roman Catholic families, 19 men, women, children, living on Loughan Townland.  In Part 02 of this series, setting the stage, Loughan is sized at 112 acres, a single photograph captures Loughan entire.  These families had nowhere else to live, in Loughan, other than the cottages.

The smallest, and poorest, the poorest of the poor, family was 32 year old Mary Corbit and her two children, 10 year old Mary and Robert, 2 years.  The Corbit family lived in a one room, stone walled, house with a wood or thatch roof.  Unlike the other families they had no outbuildings, structures to house livestock or to support a farm operation.  The house owner was Marj Delargy.

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Here is a single room house among the ruins, four low walls, the east/west with intact gables, the stones collected from the hillside.  The west wall higher up the slope, the floor now thick with fern.

Little Mary most certainly took care of Robert for part of the day.  Did Mary, with Robert along, gather rowans, and other forage?

Single Room Loughan Bay Cottage
A thick growth of ferns, grass on the gable was once a home with a view of Scotland’s Mull of Kintyre 12 miles across the Irish Sea. The Isle of Sanda just visible on the right of the far gable. Alisa Crag just visible in the distance, to the left of the nearest gable.

Mary Corbit: head of household, occupation laborer.  There is a footnote to Mary’s “Marriage” entry as Married, “husband at sea.”  The “C” of her census signature exactly like my mother signed her name Catherine.

CorbitMaryCensusSignature

Mary Corbit and her children were not listed in Loughan Townland for the 1911 Census.

….to be continued…..
Copyright 2017 Michael Stephen Wills, All Rights Reserved.

Loughan an Lochan Ruin 02

Romance of Ruins

….continued…..

Setting the Stage

For me, the romance of a place is settled in exact knowledge as much as a feeling. Starting with a recollection of the ruined cottages making such an impression we found a parking place and hiked into them loaded with photography equipment, three years later returning to use the photographs, bringing back a rush of memories and feelings, it is a matter of using the set of photographs from that day to build the location.

This much I knew, going in: we were touring Antrim Glens entering at Cushendall, after visiting Glenariff Forest Park, proceeding up the coast through Cushendun to Torr Head. A fortuitous encounter with a village of abandoned farm cottages (“ruins”) happened somewhere in between.

AntrimGlens

There was a photograph of a notable church prior to the ruins and a fine view, from a place named Greenhill, afterwards.

LoughanBayOverviewCountyAntrim

Here is a picture of the terrain with the three pushpins:

  • A fine church just off Torr Road, to the west. I found the location in Google Maps, marked as “church”. Google earth showed buildings at the location, this set the “church” pushpin. Associated with the church, using the date/time stamp, were images of signage naming Coolranny townland.
  • A sign identifying a location as “Greenhill” was after. Neither Google Maps or Earth lists this as a place. It took hours searching web sites of Irish townlands before I found the reference. Greenhill is not a townland; it was listed as a place on one of the maps. Just above the notation was Torr Road, two unique bends in the road. I used these bends to identify the turnoff where I photographed the “Greenhill” sign.

LoughanTownland

For reasons to be explained later, it is important to know the name of the ruin townland. The place name sign presented in post 1 was a clue (“Loughan an Lochan” — or Loughan Bay), as well at the web site (see link below) listing Irish townlands. The web site map names “Loughan Bay.”

Click for a site providing the exact boundaries of Loughan townland

With this information I was able to peruse Google Earth, found the turnoff and the ruins!

See the above Google Map image sized to approximate the Loughan townland boundaries.

The scenery was jaw dropping lovely the entire time, so I captured view and view. Here are two landscapes time stamped just prior to the church, views including Coolranny and Loughan townlands with Torr Head in the distance.

That is Torr Road….

Coolranny and Loughan Bay

……a bit further along. It is possible to locate the ruin site from the Google Earth picture. There is a signature grove of bushes on the slope below the ruin site, sandy beach along shore. In the landscapes, Loughan Bay is cradled in a curve of coast.

Loughan Bay

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Click for the first postings of this series.

Imagine the effect of this environment on the inhabitants, the love of it grows with time.

To be continued…..

Copyright 2017 Michael Stephen Wills, All Rights Reserved.

Loughan an Lochan Ruin 01

Romance of Ruins

Introduction

Here is a photograph from our day touring the Glens of Antrim.  While making our way up the coast to Torr Head a group of stone walls resolved into ruins. A cluster of cottages on grassy slopes above the Irish sea above Loughan Bay.  This is the townland of Loughan.  Along the road are wonderful signs providing in handsome carved letters the place name in english and gaelic.  Here a signed only provided a gaelic name: “Loughan an Lochan”…near enough to meaning “Loughan Bay” in English.  The bay is a shallow scallop shaped indentation of the coast, a margin of narrow sand strand.

Ruins are spread across the slope.  Immediately before the views are traces of a foundation above the grass.  Beyond the top of a gable, an entire gable to the left.  On the far ridge, just visible, is an entire structure with doorways, gables, walls.

Across the Irish Sea, 13 miles distant, is the Mull of Kintyre.  In faint outline, rising above the horizon, find the highlands of Islay more than 30 miles.  Both are tips of peninsulas jutting from Scotland.

Loughan an Lochan Ruin 01

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The ruins lead to curiosity over who live here?  What were their lives like?  Why did they leave?

To be continued…..

Click link for the next post in this series.

 

Copyright 2017 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Tain Way Poetic Finale

A Poem to accompany our arrival at Carlingford

To close our time on the Tain Way I offer a poem written and presented to the congregation of the First Unitarian church of Ithaca New York 25 years ago, 1992. Interspersed are final photographs from our walk on the Tain Way of 2014.

The poem content is not directly biographical / confessional although it draws upon my experience as a single parent in the 1980’s through 1990’s.

A Poem Read To The Congregation

I

a crisis threatened an Irish village
men women children filled the meeting place
everyone participated especially the infants

Ram on Slieve Foy
The Tail Way descends from Goliyn Pass to the northeast, passing among commons grazing. I attempted to identify the breed of this ram, but gave up. I can say sheep on the Cooley Peninsula are primarily bred for meat and there are black faced breeds known for meat production.
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Ram in profile on Slieve Foy
The flocks of County Louth commonly carry paint brands to identify ownership. Paint branding lessens wool value. This is less of an issue if the livestock are primarily raised for meat.

in spite of it all a plan was arrived at
after the vote
from the back of the room a man called out

….you know the type…

THIS WILL BE OUR PLAN
UNTIL
WE FIND OUT WHAT IT IS.

Walls and Battlements of King John's Castle
The ancient portion of Carlingford. I called the top of the castle “battlements” in the loose sense, as the ruin now longer has a walkway.

II

my son John and I have a photo of him at 5 years
washing dishes
standing on a chair up to his elbows in rubber gloves
the caption reads “Two Men On Their Own.”

i had agreed to accept a divorce from helen
only if john was left with me

one night in particular stands out from that time
i did not sleep for planning what john and I would do

Walking the Tain Trail to Carlingford
Unbranded, perfect white marks this lamb among an extensive fern bed. Tain Way steepens on approaching Carlingford. Below is the residential Carlingford, the Greenore road running to the right. The large structure with two rows of dark windows is the Four Seasons Hotel where a substantial brunch is served Sundays.

III

seven years passed
not a long time
since then we’ve moved
found another a better life

Ram and Lamb in pasture
We descended below the ridge to pass into excellent pasturage. The growth of fern hides a lush grass pasture.
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raising John alone was not part of the plan
Its been just john and me
helen gave birth to john
to have a part of me
in case of loss
i felt the same way
and she understood

Walking the Tain Trail to Carlingford

a welcome
feminine voice in our home
“Little House on the Prairie”
and
“Little House in the Big Woods” twice.

Gorse against the slopes of Slieve Foy
Plants and livestock on these slopes of Slieve Foy contend with adverse conditions in the form of a constant east wind. The stress is evident in the stressed trunk, although this species thrives in this environment, as seen in the strength of bloom and the yellow patches on the slopes, all of which are gorse. Gorse flowers are edible; the entire plant can be used as fodder when crushed to the consistency of moss. In Scotland there’s a museum with a roundish boulder called a Whin Stone.

V

Here is an excerpt from a newspaper article by Wilder
called “HOME”
that has an emotional resonance for me
dated 1923
Wilder was in her 50’s.

Out in the meadow, I picked a wild sunflower, and as I looked into its golden heart, such a wave of homesickness came over me that I almost wept. I wanted Mother, with her gentle voice and quiet firmness; I longed to hear Father’s jolly songs and to see his twinkling blue eyes; I was lonesome for the sister with whom I used to play in the meadow picking daisies and wild sunflowers.

Across the years, the old home and its love called to me, and memories of sweet words of counsel came flooding back. I realize that’s all my life the teaching of these early days have influenced me, and the example set by Father and Mother has been something I have tried to follow, with failure here and there, with rebellion at times; but always coming back to it as the compass needle to the star.

So much depends upon the homemakers. I sometimes wonder if they are so busy now with other things that they are forgetting the importance of this special work. Especially did I wonder when reading recently that there was a great many child suicides in the United States during the last year. Not long ago we had never heard of such a thing in our own country, and I am sure there must be something wrong with the home of a child who commits suicide.

Tain Trail Enters Carlingford
The trail detours around sheep pasture just before descending to the outskirts of Carlingford.

VI

we give so much to our children
what’s left over though
is ours

Red Poppies front a Fieldstone Home.
The first Carlingford home passed by the trail is a solid fieldstone home with a slate roof fronted by a natural garden featuring red poppies.
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William Carlos Williams wrote
it is difficult to get the news from poems
yet men diet miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there

Ruined Cottage, Carlingford
This ruin lies off the Tain Way as it descends through the outskirts of Carlingford town. Constructed of stones, mortar and what looks to be concrete. Long slate slabs protect the eves. It’s been abandoned for an age. What a story it must have, long slow and full of life.

it is not difficult to understand this
to live it is another matter

The Abby Bar
Named for the Carlingford Priory, a nearby ruin, the Abby Bar is located on Dundalk Street (R173), Liberties of Carlingford, Carlingford, Co. Louth, Ireland. Liberties of Carlingford might be called greater Carlingford in the USA.

you have to live it
in order to have something
left over

Metal Cover with Celtic Motifs
A metal cover, about 8 inches in diameter located in the sidewalk on the left side of The Abby Bar on Dundalk Street, Carlingford. The triple spiral triskelion symbol has become a Christian symbol of faith for Celtic Christians around the world, a visual representation of the Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) and eternity. In Ireland, the symbol acquired its Christian meaning prior to the 5th century. The triskelion predates Christina and even Celtic culture as petroglyphs of the astronomical calendar at the megalithic tomb Newgrange (3,200 BC). The symbol is associated with Neolithic cultures throughout Western Europe.

VII

never the less
my emotional resonance in reading that piece
“Home”

Entrance with Calla Lilies, Carlingford
Caring touches to a well-tended home entrance along the Tain Way, Carlingford, County Louth, Ireland.

did not come from the sentiments Wilder so skillfully evoked
though I shared them it was that sharp part

Church of Saint Michael Grounds, Lamp Post
Lamp post on Church of Saint Michael grounds.

i did not agree with it lacking a reason
and so must have re-read
“Home”
fifty times a hundred
who knows

Church of Saint Michael Facade
The Church of Saint Michael is a Roman Catholic Church on Dundalk Street (R173), Carlingford.

so committed to speak today
and began to write
something was bound to shake loose

Church of Saint Michael Grounds

then those lines form Deuteronomy
gave themselves to me

Before you this day is set good and evil, life and death.
Choose life, that both you and your descendants might live.

Church of Saint Michael Grounds

“Home” was a twist of these lines

as long ago as 1923
Wilder was experiencing our present
contemplating the unthinkable

Wilder held her own experience as a shield
and denied such a tragedy
could ever touch her

for me the result
is a beautiful poisoned apple
innocently offered
by a treasured friend

Final Tain Trail PHotograph
Pam Wills and Sean Mills on the grounds of the Church of Saint Michael, Dundalk Road (R176), Carlingford.
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VII

life is a gift
not entirely under our control
Yes we must be careful
but for some this is not enough

Walking the Tain Trail to Carlingford
Michael Wills and Sean Mills on the grounds of the Church of Saint Michael, Dundalk Road (R176), Carlingford.

we must forgive others
and ourselves

************************************************************************

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Copyright 2017 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Leprechaun Rock along the Tain Way

The Last Leprechauns

Rocks such as this are a favorite perch for leprechauns to rest and contemplate the works of man who have invaded their world. Inhabitants of Carlingford who wander Slieve Foye have come upon them often enough, their stories and certitude in the existence of the Little People are resistant to manifold doubters with their reasons and arguments.

leprechaunRockCarlingford-02245

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Kevin Woods, aka McCoillte, was a doubter until worked on a stone wall on property he owned on Ghan Road, Carlingford. His belief did not arise on the discovery of the leather purse, covered with ages of dust and lime, nor with the gold coins inside. McCoillte pocketed the coins for luck. As luck would have it, McCoillte loved to walk on Slieve Foye. It was on one such walk he and his dog encountered Little People who paralyzed them to escape. His unexplained absence led to troubles with the wife.

EuHabitatsDirective-02267

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This experience brought McCoillte around to enough of a belief that he, with lots of help, succeeded in petitioning the E.U. European Habitats directive to recognize leprechauns a protected species.  According to a page on the Celtic Times web site, “The E.U. sent Madame Isobel Jeanne from Fecamp in Brittany France to Carlingford with the official letter declaring Carlingford Mountain (Note: otherwise known as Slieve Foye) protected, on the grounds that they could not prove or disprove their existence.”  The page is titled “The Carlingford Leprechaun.”  Google “Last Leprechauns” learn more about McCoillte’s stories.

I came upon this rock on June 9, 2014 on a day my cousin Sean Mills invited us to walk the Tain Way over Slieve Foye. It was such a finely shaped piece of what I suppose to be granite, the view of Carlingford, the lough and farmland so compelling, I spent time composing this landscape.

You can make out “King John’s Castle” just over the ridge and its yellow flowering gorse, on the margin of the blue lough. It is the boxy, grey structure; crenellations are visible on high resolution versions of the image. Carlingford is known for the castle, the popular name is for the English monarch who spent time there, although it was built by another.

Click for our next and final chapter on the Tain Way.
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Copyright 2017 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Farmland Southeast of Carlingford

Beauty of the Cooley Peninsula, County Louth, Ireland

I offer here a continuation of descriptions of a 2014 walk on the Tain Way, an appreciation of the lore and beauty of Ireland.

Descending the Tain Way from the ridge of Golyin Pass the sweep of Cooley Peninsula spread before us. Louth is the smallest of the Irish Republic counties, a peninsula which is mountainous where it is not farmland, one exception being Carlingford with the most people, population 1,405 in 2016.

Residential Carlingford continues along the Greenore Road, farmland adjoins then continues southeast along the Cooley Peninsula margin, the Irish Sea beyond. Greenore Town and deep water port on upper left.  These photographs are views from the Tain Way on the slopes of Slieve Foye, the highest mountain of County Louth.

Greenore Town and Deepwater Port

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Wander through the place names: Chapel Hill, Liberties of Carlingford, Moneymore, Leminageh, Crossalaney, Mullatee, Millgrange, Ramparts, Muchgrange, Ballyamony, Mullabane, Petestown, Ballagane, Willville, Whites Town.
There is a deepwater port on Carlingford Lough adjacent to and part of Greenore Town. The port employed Cousin John Mills years ago, supplementing his farm income. Across the lough is Greenecastle, Newry in Northern Ireland.

Greenore Town and Deepwater Port

The Irish Sea opens on the far side of Greenore with the Isle of Man about 52 miles east and a little north.

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Copyright 2017 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved