"To unite Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter under the common name of Irishmen."

Proud Rebel Mallusk rose in 1798 in the cause of Ireland

Out and about with Joe Graham

"Lest we forget"

Jimmy Hope

Francis Joseph Biggar was born on the 17 July, 1863 , the seventh son of a seventh son at "Ardrigh" on the Antrim Road. Died December 9, 1926. Among his many patriotic friends visitors to his home "Ardrigh" were,

Roger Casement

Cathal O'Byrne

Ethna Carberry, Bulmer Hobson, Alice Milligan, Denis McCullough and Joseph Campbell who wrote of him, The lordliest type of mortal Irishman, It has been my lot to know"

Biggar's home "Ardrigh", (High King) was demolished after falling into disrepair in 1986, a new complex, Ardrigh Court, was build on the site.

Francis Joseph Biggar loved all things Irish and left us a great legacy in his works, most of which are to be found at Belfast Central Library, they include..... The Ancient Franciscan Friary of Bun-na-margie [... &c.] (Belfast: Marcus Ward & Co. 1898) [Ulster Journal of Archaeology]; The Northern Leaders of ’98 [No.1 William Orr] (Dublin: Maunsel & Co. 1906) [no more published], xxxviii+201pp.; Crossing the Bar (Belfast: W. E. Mayne 1926), ill. woodcuts by John F. Hunter.  Miscellaneous, ed. The Reliques of Barney Maglone (1894); Preface to Thomas Matthews, The O’Neills of Ulster, 3 vols. (Dublin: Sealy & Bryers & Walker 1907); Intro. to James Mathews, Ulster Land War of 1770: Hearts of Steel (1910); ed., with preface, William Lutton, Montiaghisms: Ulster Dialect Words and Phrases (Armagh Guardian Office 1923), 46pp.; Seven Sketches (Dublin 1927), articles. Qry, Some Recent Archaeological Discoveries in Ulster (PRIA vol. 33 sect C. No.1; [?]1937, &c.)

It was Biggar who took home the bones of Henry Joy McCracken salvaging them from the desecration of town planners when the graves of those buried at the old St George's graveyard in High Street were being levelled for redevelopement , he later re-interred the bones in the grave of Mary Ann McCracken, Henry Joy's sister at Clifton Street graveyard.

Mary Ann McCracken, she wept at her brother's scaffold on High Street Belfast.

The Biggar link to Mallusk comes from the fact that Francs Josephs’ great-grandfather owned a wool factory in the area which was to be renamed Biggarstown, he also owned many factory workers houses there.

Mallusk Co. Antrim

The Family Grave of the Hopes, on the left the stone in memorial to James, his wife Rose, whom he endearingly wrote of as his 'Rose Bud', his sons Robert Emmet Hope, and Henry Joy McCracken Hope. The memorial was erected by his great Friends Israel Milliken and Mary Ann McCracken. The stone to the right is that of his son Luke Hope the founder of the original "Rushlight Magazine", the inscription on the stone tells us it was erected bu his friends who valued his worth. Away back about 1956, I would have been about 12 years of age, myself and my father rode on bikes from Ballymurphy over the Hightown Road to the Village of Mallusk, it was just to be another excursion on a sunny Sunday, one of many that we would have taken, but this trip was to be different, it left a lasting impression on me and indeed influenced my life. After having bought ice cream at the tin hut that passed for a shop/kiosk, we wandered into the nearby old Cemetery, nothing new in this, we often looked at old headstone inscriptions on similar treks, we had been to Ballycarry to the grave of the Ballycarry Martyr, young Willie Nelson and indeed , viewed in the same graveyard the tomb of James Orr, The Ballycarry Bard , we had been to Templepatrick to see where the noble William Orr resting in the grave of his beloved sister Ally. as I have said, this trip was nothing different,,, but it was.Here is the grave of Jemmy Hope the 98 man, his wife Rose and sons, in that grave lies his other son, Luke, my father said, and just there is the grave of Biggar.. .

Somehow my eyes became transfixed on the stone to the right of Jemmy Hopes.. to that of his son Luke, it seemed sad to me that he was buried there alone while all his family were together under the other stone.. And what was this Rushlight mentioned on his gravestone. It was later that I learned that The Rushlight of Luke Hope may be viewed by many as a failure.. and yet.. This failure rose him to eminence? , I was impressed by the success of the failure of this simple mannered man and his humble Rushlight, named after a form of candle used by the working class. I read the inscription on his stone and was to return there many times over the years to read it again and again, later, I brought my own children and my grand children..it reads

To the Memory of

Luke. M. Hope

(Editor of the Rushlight)

Whose life was distinguished


The superiority of his talents

The purity of his principles


The simplicity of his manners

This monument

is placed by a few of the many friends

Who valued his worth

And regret his premature death.

The tear that we shed though in secret it rolls

Shall long keep his memory green in our souls.

Luke Hope, a compositor, launched his

Rushlight on Friday, December 3rd 1825 from Clarke & Hopes General Printing Office, High Street, it was an eight page paper and sold for 3 (old pence), Lukes dream faded with issue number 41 on September 9th 1826 after only 10 months this issue carried, The Last Will And Testament Of Rushlight in this will Luke wrote that although no coaxing or canvassing was made for unsolicited patronage for the journal .. the encouragement received, however above our deserts, has been insufficient to ensure our success . After an ephemeral existence, our paper, is this day extinguished; for want either of intrinsic merit, or adequate support.. and so the Rushlight was sadly extinguished . Luke Hope went to work for a while at The Northern Whig but was dead soon after, at the young age of 33, yes Luke partook a little too much of the old Water Of Life Luke may have had a fondness for strong drink.. but he had a dreamand as a drunk once said, I may be lying on my back in the gutter,, but I am looking up at the stars, things may not always be as they seem. And so, I rekindled the Rushlight in 1972 , I took the name of Dr. Drennans Belfast Magazine and since then used it as a sub title. and have kept it lit ever since, by Lukes principles, ie, never, never did I coax or canvass support from any quarter what so ever, no grants, no advertising, it sinks or swims on its own merit.. and yes, I am sure there are many commercial wizards who would see my Rushlight as a failure but hey, I love the success of failure and if I have kept the Rushlight lit these 32 years .. I know I have not besmirched the memory of the noble Luke Hope by using his papers name in a way he wouldnt.. .. Little did I think, back on that sunny day in 1956 I would be doing this for the biggest part of my life and I still enjoy it, and of course Rushlight has survived all these years through the support of you readers, together.. we have kept It Lit,…“Kept Luke Hopes memory green

Note ; The Gravestone Of Irish Patriot  F.J. Bigger was restored by local council April 2013

Here Sean is laying a wreath at the grave of the great Francis Joseph Biggar, perhaps Belfast's greatest historian of all time. A man who didn't bend the knee to the history re-writers  but projected history in all its truthfulness. The stone memorial to his memory, as you can see, was destroyed by a loyalist bomb in 1980. I am at a loss as to why they should have done this as Biggar in his writings was a champion in protraying the evil and terrible injustices enacted against the Presbyterians by local landlords in the early 1700's in particular, I again  blame ignorance of history. I would urge that this stone be repaired or replaced to return the dignity to the last resting place of this great man. It is sad that the grave of a man who strove all his life to retain for us the monuments and memorials of our heritage should be so ignorantly selected for desecration, shame on those who done it , bigger shame on those who allow his grave to lie in dereliction.

It is ironic that his friend, Alice Stopford Green, after his death in December 1926, wrote:  'He had what is far from common, a vivid sense of the dignity, the value, and the wide range of the history that lies behind the people of Ireland… He had a jealous care for the preservation of old monuments and carried on a ruthless and necessary war against their desecration. The wide information he had gained by ceaseless observation, and by his remarkable collections, was at the service of every worker for Ireland. "

Ceilidh for Roger Casement At Biggar’s home “Ardrigh”

By Cathal O’Byrne

THE scene, set in the long ago, was the library of “Ardrigh,” Belfast, the residence of Francis Joseph Bigger, antiquarian, historian, litterateur and host to the Gaels of Erinn. It was in the time of winter. The rain was on the roof, amid great storm came shouting in from the sea, racing wildly over the low-lying. level reaches of the shore to the to the south yonder, flying inland from the hay of knock Fergus across the intervening meadows and slopes, and crying havoc through the lawns and gardens of “Ardrigh” on its mad flight to the hills above.

Beyond the curtained windows the tossing trees complained ; one tall blue gum-tree—--strange exile from its southern suns in this dull, cold northern clime— seeming to wave imploring arms in frantic desperation to the heedless sky.

Outside was rain and storm and dark ness. Inside in the great library the lights were lit—a céilidh was toward—and the heaped up turf fire glowed on the wide hearth, around which was gathered a merry band of young and old, with the hospitable host, happy and jovial, in their midst.

Beside the ingle a piper sat playing. In the deep embrasure of the window a harper fingered soundlessly the strings of his harp. He would play for the singing later. The priceless Persian rugs, with their milk-white fringes, were rolled away, and the oaken floor laid ha re on whose shining boards blithe dancers threaded the mazes of an eight-hand reel to the tantalising lilt of the piper’s tune.

And close to the warmth of the blazing hearth, on a heaped-up pile of cushions, lay the guest of the evening, the man for whose pleasure and in whose honour the ceilidh had been arranged, Roger Casement. With hair and beard black as the wintry night outside, his deep-set eyes. like p’ shadows, that seemed to accentuate the pallor of his grave and kindly face, he lay among his cushions, his dark eyes flashing with pleasure at the sincerity of the genial Irish welcome, and the joy, deeply-sensed, of being home amongst his own once more. Happy just to be back iii Ireland, and especially happy to be back at “Ardrigh” under the same roof with its prince of hosts and his warm friend, Francis Joseph Bigger, and, above all, to be in the midst of the cultured, courteous and laughter-loving young men and maidens, with their singing and dancing and story telling in the Irish-Ireland atmosphere he loved so well.

And so, Roger Casement lay beside the fire on that wintry evening long ago—suffering as he was from intermittent malaria, a legacy of his stay in Putumayo in the Belgian Congo, to him the warmth was grateful—if the banshee called outside through the wintry storm, she called un heeded. To those who laughed and sang and danced the hours away, no thought of tragedy for the generous, chivalrous and noble-souled Irish gentleman who was our guest, came to darken that lightsome hour or to mar for an instant our joy in it.

Tragedy came, alas, and all too soon. but I have memories of many happy hours spent here and there throughout Ireland with Roger Casement and the splendid host of “Ardrigh” before the clouds began to gather above the heads of the true men of Erinn, and before their shadows fell to darken my own particular pathway.

And so, on that wintry night, in the great library of “Ardrigh”, to the music of the harp, and in the ruddy glow of the the fire, I sang the old songs that Roger Casement loved, particularly that lovely old lullaby “The Castle of Dromore,” which was his favourite of all the songs, the one he was to recall, with other memories of that happy time, on his last night on earth, and to mention in his last letter from his prison cell,

So many stories have been told of Roger Casement’s life and upbringing

stories true and half true —that perhaps a few facts at first hand may be of interest even in these later days.

On September 15th 1864, Roger Casement was born, His father, after whom he was called, was a Protestant, and his mother was a Catholic. As a baby he was baptised in a Protestant church in the Isle Of Man , but later when he was four years old , to a Catholic Church in Rhyl his mother took him with the other children, and had them baptised conditionally. All his life after he remembered ’being sprinkled with water by the priest’ on that occasion, but, as a Protestant he never gave much thought to the significance of the ceremony until after his conviction and sentence., when at his request, a copy of the Register of Baptisms in the church of Rhyl was procured.

Shortly after his visit to the Catholic church at Rhyl, Roger Casement’s mother died , and under the direction of his Protestant friends he was educated and brought up a Protestant.

But from his earliest years, in his passionate love for Ireland and her people, he proclaimed that “no one could love the Irish people without loving the religion that made them what they are.

At heart Roger Casement was a Catholic always, and when his book describing the atrocities in the rubber plantation of Putumayo shook the world, he told the English government of that day that the only cure for the horrors that were of hourly occurrence in the Congo was the establishment of the Catholic Mission there. And when, through his influence, a little company of Franciscan fathers from Forestgate, London was chosen to be sent to Putumayo, he attended the farewell service to the missioners, and was the first layman to wish them “Godspeed”.

On entering Pentonville Prison, on June the 29th, 1916, after being sentenced to death, Roger Casement registered himself as a Catholic, giving as his reason for so doing - “He thought he was more likely to meet an Irishman in a Catholic Priest than in a Protestant parson” . And it is good to be able to put on record that he was not disappointed. The Catholic Chaplin to Pentonville Prison was at that time a Limerick man, the Rev. Thomas Carey, Rector of the catholic Church at Eden Grove, Holloway, who, on being informed that Roger Casement was in Pentonville and had declared himself a Catholic, visited him immediately. Father Carey explained to the condemned man that his desire to die a Catholic must not be because it was the religion of the Irish people or from any similar motive, but because of his conviction that it was the religion of the one ‘ Church, and that his duty to God and his soul demanded the change. A cultured and educated man Roger Casement readily saw this viewpoint, and in the end admitted, as he said, that there was no choice for him “between the Catholic Church and religious anarchy , between the infallibility of the Pope and religious chaos “.

And so in the prison cell at Pentonville Roger Casement made his submission to the Catholic Church and doinf so assured his Chaplain, “ that he wholly accepted , wholly believed, and wholly trusted in the Divine Plan - Christ’s Catholic Church”. and added that if he wished for a few years it was for one reason only - that he may show what a loyal son of Mother Church he was, and that he had joined her from conviction and from no other motive.

The Rev. T.J. Ring, Rector of SS. Mary’s and Michael Church, Commercial Road, and one of the best known Irish priests in London was chosen by Fr. Carey as Roger Casement’s confessor; and when, on the eve of his execution, Father Ring came to the prison Chapel to hear his confession he found the prisoner had divested himself of his shoes and prison jacket so that in so far as he could he “ he should make his his submission to the Catholic Church in the garb of a free man”. After confession he gently protested against Father Ring assisting him in the putting on of his jacket and only consented when the priest asked to be allowed “the privilege of assisting a true penitent and a servant of God”.

Of Father Ring Casement asked that some farewell messages should be carried to his friends, and before me as I write is a copy of the last letter written by him from his cell.. It is written to Brigid, Mr. Bigger’s housekeeper at “ Ardrigh,” a merry-hearted kindly Irish woman, who had “ mothered “ him on the many occasions when he was ill, and who understood him and loved him as perhaps no other human being ever did, And here is the letter:.—“My Dear Brigid,—I am writing, you

through a friend, asking her to this letter to you, as she will be able to timid out where you are. Your letter came to me yesterday in this prison cell, and it wai. like a glimpse of the garden, with hint wall flowers and the Japanese cherry, to get your message.

First, I want to tell you that your crucifix, the medals and the medal and the scapular came to me three weeks ago, but the letter only yesterday. They are always with me. and, please God, will be as long as I am here,

“Remember me to so many, and thank those friends who pray for me—and don’t pay any attention to the lies, they are compliments really, and we need not mind compliments, you and I, Biddy dear.

“Do you remember the cradle song I liked so much? Get Cathal to sing it for me and give him my love and thanks from my heart, also to Colm, if he is near you, and Dinny and Seaghan Dhu whenever they come back to you and the old room again. I dreamt last night I was lying before the fire in it, and the boys were there too telling stories, and you standing at the door. I have thought of you often and of the garden and the last time I saw you, and the message I gave you. Do you remember’? I know you carried it out, dear Brigid, because I heard you did. And so, farewell. and may God’s blessing rest on you in your work, and may the heartfelt thanks of one in much sorrow and affliction of soul be part of your reward for your affection.”

It may he of interest to state here that the “Colm” referred to is Colm O’Lochlain, of “The Three Candles Press.” Dublin. “Dinny” is Denis M’Cullough, formerly of Belfast. “Seaghan Dhu” is Sean Rooney of Lusk, (‘o. Dublin, and the cradle song that Roger asks me to sing for him is “The Castle of Dromore.”

On learning that Roger Casement had been received into the Church I procured at statue of Our Lady, and taking it to a dear old, learned priest, I asked him to put at blessing on it, And how well I remember his look of consternation when I informed thin that I was sending Our Lady to gaol, Amid the fervour of the old priest’s blessing, I am certain, lost nothing through his knowledge of the circumstance.

The little statue, for which Roger in his letter expresses thanks, remained with hint to the end. he left to me the only thing he had to leave—a copy of Rupert Brook’s poems that he had with him in his cell, on the fly leaf of Which he wrote a verse from one of my own poems—

“ Oh, Friend of my Heart!

‘Tis a debt I pay in this telling for hours of delight,

To lay my wreath of bays at your feet I would climb afar to your height;

I would walk the flints with a terrible joy if at the journey’s end

I would greet you, O, Friend!

Of the dead who died for Ireland all has been said that should have been said,

and by abler pens than mine, and so, of Roger Casement, my dear, dead friend,

I shall content myself by saying:

“Gracious God, keep him, and grant to me

By miracle to see

That unforgettably most gracious friend

In the never-ending end,”

Sean,(my grandson), at the former mallusk home of Jimmy Hope at Trench Lane. originally I would imagine it was a one storey building, the second floor having been added later.

Lovely historic cottagey homes at the site of the old Beetling Mill