BallyLinny Co. Antrim, By Joe Graham
Here I am in the enclosed ancient Irish Catholic cemetery, the stone walls you see are the stones which remained taken from the desecrated chapel all traces of it every having been identified with Irish Catholicism has been wiped out, intentionally or otherwise, gone are any visible signs of the heritage and culture of the people who fled from the wrath of the invading armies, their graves unmarked, their even having existed obliterated, the old ancient village is untraceable. This is merely one ancient Irish site that this is continuing to be overlooked through out the six Counties.
When one speaks of ‘ethnic cleansing’ then one must recognise this is a significant part of the programme that started centuries ago. If native people can be scattered and their culture obliterated, be there centuries between, it is still a thread of Ethnic Cleansing. In these days of supposed “Parity Of Esteem” I am writing to the committee of the old Cemetery hoping to influence them to erect a memorial to the memory of those people in the centre of the graveyard where the ancient stone Chapel would have stood. At present there are a few standing stones, where Peter Garland is standing (above) which represent where the original walls of the Chapel had been. This having been a stone Chapel indicates very clearly that it would have been founded by the Apostle St Patrick himself or one of his disciples in the 5th Century, Papal records go back as far as the early 1300’s for the church, the ancient deeds of the church and hopefully some records of the original grave inhabitants are presently held in Dublin. In the left hand corner of the cemetery there is a stone built building which would have been used as a “Watch House” where family members would stay to protect the remains of their recently buried friend from Body Snatchers.
Ballylinny, the townland of the pool, hints of a Holy Well, similar to that at Templepatrick where St. Patrick baptised his followers. Ballylinney by the way is just outside Ballyclare close to Ballylinny Presbyterian Church, although the church has nothing to do with the old Cemetery. A walk down the long narrow specifically defined lane will give you a feeling that you are walking back through the years, the centuries, and if you have eyes and ears you will hear the screams of fleeing people, swishing swords and galloping Calvary horses a re-enactment of a savage time in our sad history. Look around the lush countryside today you will find it impossible to find trace of an Irish Catholic freehold property stemming from the late 1600’s, Cromwell after murdering women, children and priests put the vital touches to the ethnic cleansing when he uttered the evil words “I meddle not with any man’s conscience. But if by liberty of conscience you mean liberty to exercise the Mass, I judge it best to use plain dealing, and to let you know, where the Parliament of England have power, that will not be allowed of ”.
In these words Oliver Cromwell made known his idea of religious tolerance. And when he was victorious in Ireland he soon let all men see that there were many things as well as the Mass that he was determined to end for all time in this superstition ridden country. Before a Catholic could have even the faintest hope of being allowed to live where he was born it was necessary for him to publicly take an oath known as the Oath of Abjuration, drawn up by Cromwell himself, a declaration so insulting that no Catholic of spirit could take it under any circumstances, , It reveals the bigotry, hatred and intolerance that ruled the mind of a man who was supposed to be- honest, upright, fair minded and tolerant. - Here is Cromwell’s Oath of’ Abjuration: — “I, AL. B abhor, detest and abjure the authority of the Pope, as well in regard of the Church in general, as in regard of myself in particular. I condemn and anathematise the tenet that any reward is due to good works. I firmly believe and avow that no reverence is due to the Virgin Mary, or to any other saint in heaven; and that no petition or adoration can be addressed to them without idolatry. I assert that no worship or reverence is due to the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, or to the elements of bread and wine after consecration, by whom soever that consecration may be made, I believe there is no purgatory, but that it is a Popish Invention; so is a/so the tenet that the Pope can grant indulgences. I also firmly believe that neither the Pope, nor any other priest, can remit sins as the Papists rave. And all this I swear without any gloss, equivocation, or mental reservation. So help me God.”
This degrading and insulting oath was not meant merely for presentation to weak-kneed Catholics who went to the ‘Cromwellians’ looking for some favour. It was ordered that the Oath be administered publicly to every Catholic in Ireland over sixteen years of age. The penalty for refusal to take it was confiscation of two-thirds of everything he possessed, this fine to be imposed each time ‘the Oath was presented to him and he refused to take it. And in case there might be any leniency this clause was prominent in the Act of Parliament which introduced and legalised the Oath of Abjuration :—‘ , - “Each justice of the peace who shall neglect his duty in fully carrying out this order will be fined £20; each parish clerk will be fined for a like neglect £10 each registrar of assizes for each person that he omits in the registry, £20 and of all these fines, one-half will be distributed ‘to’ the poor of the parish, the other half to the accuser.” ‘The accuser’ mentioned here was any spy or informer who would successfully lodge information leading to the conviction of any Catholic who refused or evaded the Oath.
There were several other clauses and more severe penalties in the Act, all aimed at the degradation or impoverishment of Catholics; but In spite of the Lord High Protector, his central and local tyrants, his touts, informers and spies, the Superior of the Jesuits in Ireland, Fr. Richard Shelton, was able to report to Home in April, 1658, that ‘every effort is now made to compel the Catholics, by exile, imprisonment, confiscation of goods, and other penalties, to take the sacrilegious oath of abjuration, but all in vain, for as yet there has not been even one to take it”. We still have our faith. but who has our land?
Habits of the People: Occupations
According to the enumeration returns of 1831, the population of this parish amounts to 445 families, consisting of 2,412 individuals, which would give an average of 5 and a half individuals to a family; and with respect to the area (5,362 acres 2 roods 15 perches), of 1 person to 2 and a quarter acres, By these returns 268 families were employed chiefly in agriculture, 111 families in trade, manufacture or handicraft. 57 occupiers of land employed labourers and 196 did not. There were 105 labourers employed in agriculture and 39 in labour not agricultural, 186 males employed in retail trade or handicraft as masters or workmen, 5 professional or other educated persons and 90 female servants. Of the persons employed in retail trade, 4 are spirit dealers and 4 are grocers. The former sell on average 2 puncheons of whiskey annually. Since the foregoing analysis of the population was made their habits and occupations have undergone a considerable change, a much greater number being now than then engaged in agriculture, in consequence of the great decline in the linen trade, in which a large proportion of the population had previously been either wholly or partially engaged. Until within a few years farming had, except by the more extensive proprietors, been almost neglected and resorted to only so far as was necessary in providing their families with potatoes and oatmeal, and in growing flax to occupy the females in spinning and providing yarn to be woven b the men. The introduction of mill-spun yarn has quite taken the manufacture of it out of the hands of the females, and the low wages which weaving now affords has obliged the males to have recourse to farming as their only means of support. A weaver cannot at present earn more by the greatest industry than 10d a day, while an agricultural labourer with less exertion can ear a 1s.
The appearance of the parish indicates at once the little attention which has been paid to agriculture. There are a few farmers who hold from 30 to 50 acres each, and as they have been exclusively engaged in farming, their farms are neat looking and their system of farming modern and respect able. But in general agriculture is in a backward state, the fields being partially cultivated, badly enclosed by rotten sod fences or low, dry stone walls without hedgerows and surrounded by a broad border of wasteland which serves as a nursery for weeds.
A large proportion of excellent land is under pasture of a poor description, and some of it is spouty or springy and almost waste and profitless. Cultivation has, however, from the causes as signed become more general and the state of agriculture is improving. There is every facility for the drainage of the ground in the undulation of its surface, and for its reclamation in the proximity of lime, besides the very great encouragement held out in the proximity of such a market as Belfast.
The better description of farmers, who constitute but a small proportion of the population. are a shrewd, intelligent and enlightened class, quite on a par as to civilisation and information with those of a similar class in the adjoining districts. They possess much taste for, and enjoy, consider able domestic comfort in their houses and in their style of living. Their houses are mostly 2-storeys high, substantial, comfortable and neatly finished, built of stone and roughcast. Most of them are slated and they are in general roomy and commodious, having a neat and well-furnished parlour, with 2 or 3 good bedrooms. They are lit by modern sash-frame windows of good size. In many instances, and generally with those recently constructed, their offices are well planned and are roomy, but those of the older houses are irregularly constructed and are in but indifferent repair.
There is a cluster of trees about most of the farmhouses, and many of those of modern date are surrounded by a little planting and have some little extent of lawn in front of them.
The houses of the less extensive farmers are mostly, and with but a few exceptions, low 1- storey cottages, badly roofed with thatch, constructed of stone but unadorned by roughcast.
They receive light from small lead windows and, though tolerantly roomy. are badly and injudiciously contrived. They usually consist of 3 apartments with earthen floors, which are but indifferently supplied with old-fashioned furniture.
In their external appearance they are anything but neat or cleanly, and in their internal arrangement they are untidy and slovenly, though more cleanly in reality than in appearance. Their offices are of a very inferior description, being dilapidated and confined, and anything but com pact. Their manure heaps and cesspools occupy a large space in front of the house, with a narrow and ill-paved causeway between them and by which alone the door can be approached. In the rear of the house is a small and badly-enclosed garden. part of which is in winter occupied as a stackyard. In this a few early potatoes, some cabbage and sometimes some leeks and onions are raised.
In the southern districts of the parish there is an almost total absence of planting and hedgerows. The lanes and private roads are wretchedly bad and the fields are small and badly enclosed.
The cottages of the cottiers, weavers and labourers are all built of stone and lime and roofed with thatch. They are small, consisting in many in stances of but 1, but generally of 2, small and indifferently-furnished apartments. They are pretty well lit by 2 or 3 lead windows. The almost total absence of lime in the adorning of their interior or exterior gives them an appearance of neglect and want of attention to cleanliness which they do not altogether deserve, though they are far from being neatly kept; but they are dry and warm and sufficiently roomy. A little garden, in which some early potatoes and cabbages are planted, is attached to each cottage.
There are a few of the better class of farmers, who are an intelligent and respectable class, possess ing good ideas on most subjects and enjoying much comfort in their mode of living: their houses, in their internal arrangement and furniture and in their external keeping, indicating considerable taste on the part of their owner; and their habits. conduct and conversation betokening the respect able rank they hold in the scale of society. They possess much taste for information and are on most subjects tolerably conversant. Most of this class subscribe to some of the Belfast journals, generally to those advocating Whig or Radical principles.
The less extensive farmers, who constitute the bulk of the population, are a most uninteresting class. They possess, it is true, a taste for acquiring information to a certain extent, but they are dogged, illiberal and incommunicative, very obstinate in the pursuit of any object, without possessing a particle of energy or talent. They are shrewd and cautious in their transactions, very jealous and suspicious, and regard every attempt at improvement as an innovation to which custom alone can reconcile them. in their houses and persons they are negligent and untidy. and in their style of living they seem to enjoy but little comfort.
In their habits the\ are rather industrious. The men work at the farm, as do also the women in the seasons of seed-time and ha est. The latter. during the remainder of the year and while disengaged from other domestic affairs, spin yarn, either to be manufactured into linen for the wear of the family or as an alternative to being idle, more than from anything they can earn by it. Formerly the females could easily earn 6d a day by spinning but now it is an almost profitless employment.
The children of this class are sent to school at an early age, usually from 6 to 8. If the school be distant they do not attend it in winter, and in summer they are kept from it for several days together on the merest pretence. for herding. keeping the house during the absence of the family and a variety of similar pretexts. They leave school the moment they can be of the slightest assistance at home, usually about the age of 12 or 13, and but a few attend it afterwards.
This class of persons is peaceable and amenable to the laws. Theft is of rare occurrence and there is no such thing as crime, but they are prone to whiskey drinking, particularly at fairs. when they are quarrelsome and unruly. Though honest in their dealings, they cannot strictly be termed a moral race.
The weavers and labourers are a hard-working and peaceable class, but fond of indulging in whiskey whenever an opportunity presents. They live but poorly and possess little notion of domestic economy or comfort.
The cottiers live on the farm of their employer, to whom they pay their rent parka by labour. The usual rent for a cottage and garden. with leave to keep pigs, ducks and hens. is from l pound I Os to 2 pounds 2s. according to the size of the garden. 3 pounds is sometimes paid by weavers and labourers for a cottage and small field, but this is unusual. The cottagers spread their manure on, and plant their potatoes in, the ground of their landlord, for which they pay from ld ha’penny to 2d per perch by the ridge.
The usual wages of labourers is Is per day in summer and 10d a day in winter, without food. Sometimes during the hurry of harvest, men and women receive 8d or 9d a day, besides their food, but except at this season they are rarely fed by their employer. At other seasons women receive 6d per day. Each cottager keeps a pig. A few of them keep 2. besides some hens and ducks. The eggs of the latter are sold to persons v ho go about collecting them for exportation, while the pig is killed at home. usually about Easter. and sent to Belfast market.
There is now little, if any. difference between the circumstances or mode of living of the weavers and agricultural labourers. The former were. until the last 10 years, much better off and lived much more comfortably. While the linen trade flourished they could have earned from 2s to 3s per day, but now weaving does not produce more than l0d a day and it has almost been abandoned.
This class of the population are very apathetic with regard to the education of their children, who are in a very backward state, particularly as to moral instruction; and it is only within the last 2 or 3 years that an effort has been made. by the introduction of Sunday schools and since the ordination of a minister to the recently established congregation. to promote their moral or intellectual education.
There is among all classes a bigoted antipathy’ and prejudice to the Established Church and to tithes. There is no party spirit but there is a strong political feeling in opposition to principles of the Church of England. They are very independent in their religious opinions and consider themselves very liberal, though they are [ much the reverse as it is possible to conceive. They are very superstitious, having an implicit belief in the existence of ghosts, witches and fairies, and in enchantment and witchcraft.
Potatoes and oatmeal form the great basis of food for all classes, but the latter is now less generally consumed and more raw coin is sent to market than formerly. The more extensive farmers live well and comfortably. but at the same time with some degree of frugality. Tea is used by them generally twice a day. Animal food is daily used in some shape. but chiefly in boiled, corned or hung beef or bacon. or fried meat. Cheese, bakers bread and stirabout are their other principal articles of consumption. They exhibit much comfort in the preparation of their meals and in the manner : which they are provided and appointed. Among some of this class spirits is in almost daily use,
The less extensive farmers live substantially. though in a rough and homely manner, eating with their servants and observing but little attention to comfort in the preparation of their meals. Potatoes and milk generally constitute their break fact. in summer, when potatoes are scarce and old, stirabout is used. Tea is occasion ally, and generally on Sundays. used at breakfast, with some oaten cake or baker’ S bread. Their dinner consists chiefly of potatoes and fried salt meat with eggs. or of broth made with meal, cabbage and onions and some salt meat. Salt herrings are much used by them. Their supper usually consists of potatoes or stirabout arid milk, and occasionally tea, vegetables are but little cultivated or used.
The food of the cottagers chiefly consists of potatoes, a little meal made into stirabout. and buttermilk which they purchase from their land lord at id a gallon in summer and 2d a gallon in winter, and for which they pay by their labour. Animal food is rarely used and tea is b them considered a luxury. Salt herrings are much used by this class.
Some of the more opulent farmers burn coal in their sitting rooms, but turf is the usual firing of the parish. It is procured from the King’s bog at the southern extremity of the parish, which is nearly cut out. Fuel is therefore, particularly in the northern districts of the parish and with the cottiers, scarce and dear, and during the winter, brambles. bushes and sods are burned by them. The average price of fuel throughout the parish is from is 6d to 2s in summer and 2s 6d in winter, per cubic yard.
During the week all are carelessly and indifferently attired, and most of the lower classes are almost slovenly in their own persons and in those of their children; but on Sundays and at fairs and markets the appearance of all is respectable and decent, and on such occasions scarcely inferior to that of the inhabitants of any of the neighbouring districts.
Longevity and Marriage
There are not any remarkable instances of longevity ,but they seen to attain a good age: and in each townland persons of from 70 to 80 ears are to be found in full possession of their faculties.
They don’t marry very early, but still rather more so than the inhabitants of Carnmoney or Doagh. Females usually marry between the ages of 18 and 25. and men from 28 to 35. The average number in a family is 5 and a half.
Their taste for recreation has declined with their ability in indulge in it. The better class of farmers are social arid occasionally meet in each other’s houses. They are s cr1 partial to dancing: scarce a week during then winter elapses without a dance in this or some of the surrounding districts, attending singing schools for the purpose of learning sacred music is another favourite amusement.
There are 2 idle days at Easter, when numbers go to the Cave Hill in the adjoining parish of Carnmoney. which is frequented by hundreds from the surrounding country. At Christmas there is some times a littie horse-racing along the roads but this has been nearly given up. At the same season there are shooting matches for poultry, generally either geese or turkeys. They are also fond of attending the summer fairs in the neighbouring towns
Cock-fighting at Easter and card-playing were formerly favourite amusements, but they have almost been given up.
Language and Character
Their dialect, accent and idioms are strongly Scottish. Their accent and manners are particularly. and disagreeably. so. Generally speaking they are cit ii, and some of the better class are courteous. but the majority have a stiff, dogged and incommunicative manner, which is unpleasing and unprepossessing.
During the period 1836 to 1837 and 1838 only 26 individuals emigrated from this parish; none of these have returned. 8 of them sailed for New York. 2 for Philadelphia and 16 for Quebec. They were almost all either weavers or labourers, to whom inducements had been held out by friends who had previously emigrated, or who had been discouraged by the decline of trade at home; see Table of Emigration, Appendix.
There is not any migration from this parish.
There is not any local record or tradition of this
SEE RUSHLIGHT MAGAZINE ARCHIVES
TEL 028 90626631