Antrim Coast – 1908 Feis in Waterfoot


A Scottish man, who referred to himself as “J. O’D. D.” came over via ferry to Ireland in 1908 for a holiday, and travelled, via bicycle, along the beautiful North Antrim coast.  The Glaswegian paid a visit to the Feis in Waterfoot.

Here is what he had to say:—

Ireland, oh, Ireland, centre of my longings,
Country of my fathers, home of my heart.

No people possess a greater love for their homeland than the Irish race. This love and longing for Ireland affects not only the Irish exiles, but their sons and daughters.

garron tower
Waterfoot and Garron Point

I have witnessed those who have never been in Ireland toil and work for the betterment of its people with much ardour and enthusiasm as those acquainted with the economic defects and the bad social and labour conditions that prevail through having lived in the country.

GLASGOW MAN’S SUMMER 1908 VISIT TO ANTRIM COAST

Ireland is, indeed, the centre of the longings of the Irish exile, and this feeling is responsible for the great trek to Ireland that occurs every summer. This year I spent my annual vacation in County Antrim. Larne, where Edward the Bruce landed in 1315, was my headquarters. Olderfleet Castle, where he landed, is now in ruins.

COAST ROAD – NOTHING LIKE IT IN ENTIRE UK

On the day of the Feis at Waterfoot I cycled 24 miles to witness it.

The journey was along the coast road. And what a road! I know of no road to equal it in the United Kingdom. It is well kept, an ideal cycling road.

From Larne to Waterfoot on one side are towering rocks, towering chalk, and red sandstone, green fields, well-kept ditches and hedges. On the other side, within a few feet of the road, is the sea and on a bright day the outline of the Scottish coast can be seen.

Scarcely two miles from Larne, I passed through Blackcave Tunnel’ near the “Devil’s Churn,” and some distance further on is a rock in the midst of the water bearing remnant of O’Halloran’s Castle.

GLENARM TO WATERFOOT

Six miles from Larne is the “Halfway House,” owned by a sturdy descendant of the old McQuillans. A few miles cycle run from here brought me to picturesque Glenarm, which nestles at the foot of several hills. Glenarm possesses a pretty glen, the old castle of Sir Randall MacDonnell, and one mile distant are the ruins of a Franciscan monastery and church.

From Glenarm to Waterfoot, the visitor passes through Carnlough, with its charming bay, sandy beach, and the pretty little waterfall of the cranny in a wooded glen. Four miles further on is Garron Point. From here can seen many headlands, a varied coast line, chalk cliffs, and wooded hills.

A few miles cycle ride brought me to Waterfoot, where the Feis was in progress. I have been in many parts of Ireland, and the dress of the people evidences the extent of the poverty that prevails in many districts. At the Feis were to seen well-dressed cailini and stalwart specimens of Irish manhood. Many girls took part in the various competitions; in fact they predominated. Tis a good sign.

GLENARIFF GLEN

I spent some time in Glenariff Glen and the surrounding country. Abler pens have described the beauties of the most charming of the Nine Glens of Antrim, and my visit to it and the countryside around led to a still greater appreciation of the thoughts expressed in Moira O’Neill’s poem, Corrymeda-

“Over here in England I’m helpin’ with the hay.
And I wish I was in Ireland the livelong day;
Weary on the English hay, an’ sorra take the wheat!
Och! Corrymeela an’ the blue sky over it.”

My task is about complete. These are the thoughts of one that greatly enjoyed a visit wandering round the Antrim coast. Columns could be filled describing the people, the scenery, the coast line, and the historical associations of the district.

MORE PROMOTION NEEDED

Comparatively few visitors there are from Scotland. The visitors from England outnumber them. If those in County Antrim who are interested went in for even a little campaign of advertising in the Irish papers that circulate largely on this side the Channel, hundreds of visitors would, I believe, be induced to sojourn in a district that possesses air balmy and healthful, a picturesque countryside, deep bays and rugged headlands, here and there sandy beach, many waterfalls, rocks towering against a sky of varied colours, miles of a grand road along the coast, a district full of historical associations, and around the Glens a remnant of the old race.

Source: Ballymena Weekly TelegraphSaturday 1st August 1908

 

 

Trudger

"I have spread my dreams beneath your feet. Tread softly because you tread on my dreams."

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