This book brings together for the first time in one volume excellent articles on our various Ulster customs which are repeated with the seasons each year. The contributors, who are all experts in their own field, include such well-known names as Linda M. Ballard, Professor Ronnie Buchanan, Cahal Dallat, Vivian Pollock and Paddy Tunney. This journal is likely to become a standard reference-book on this subject.
Phoenix, Eamon: Two Acres of Irish History: A Study through Time of Friar’s Bush and Belfast. 1570—1918. Ulster Historical Foundation, Belfast, 1988. Price £3.50.
Published as a text-book for students of history entering for the GCSE examination, this book provides an excellent examplar of using the evidence. As Tim McCall writes in the Foreword:
“The provision of a wide variety of historical evidence within the book, and the evidence on Friar’s Bush graveyard as historical evidence in its own right, will introduce those who make use of the book to many of the basic problems which historians have to face in dealing with evidence from the past and, hopefully, will help them to develop the skills necessary to study a wide variety of historical evidence.”
It is not, however, simply a book for the student. Anyone interested in the local history of any area can learn a lot from the pages of this most interesting book.
Cushendall Golf Club: Golden Jubilee Year: 1938 — 1988. Shanway Press. Belfast. Price £3.50. Available from the club.
What a delightful slice of local history. Congratulations to those who had the inspiration to get it all down and into print. Already this is a collector’s piece. So often we sit back and lament that so much of our local lore is being lost. The excellent photographs tell a story which no amount of writing, no matter how skilful can capture. We must have more club histories before it is too late. Well done Cushendall!
Hamlin, Ann and Chris Lynn (Editors): Pieces of the Past Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland; Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1988. Price £6.90.
This very well-illustrated book which is sub-titled — Archaeological Excavations by the Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland 1970 — 1986—has been written with the non-specialist in mind and should appeal to a very wide public. It is of particular interest to members of our Society especially as it includes an excellent chapter on the Deer Park Farms excavations which members were privileged to visit a couple of years ago. Other County Antrim excavations described include a cist grave site on Rathlin Island, a Bronze Age ritual burial site at Ballycraigy, a thousand year-old farm at Bally wee, enclosures and field systems at thousand year-old farm at Bally wee, enclosures and field systems at Ballyutoag, the old town of Carrickfergus, a mountain-side enclosure at Tildarg, Muckamore Abbey and Massereene Friary. All in all a very good read and a most enjoyable book.
Eire Thuaidh/Ireland North: A Cultural Map and Gazeteer of Irish Place-names. Dept, of Environment, N.I., Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland, Colby House, Belfast BT9 5BJ.
Place-name aficionados will welcome this splendid production not only for the clearly printed names in Irish with their accompanying English name but also for the excellent Irish-English/English-Irish Gazeteer of Settlements in Northern Ireland. We look forward to more detailed maps dealing with each county in turn or even sections of a county. When this project was first announced local historians and local historical societies expected to be involved to a greater extent than has been the case so far but perhaps that will change when the project begins to focus on minor place-names. Nonetheless an excellent beginning has been made.
Local historians should keep an eye open for the many publications dealing with the historic environment currently emanating from the Department of the Environment. These vary in size from the glossy Glens of Antrim A.O.N.B. (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) and Causeway Coast A.O.N.B. to the slim booklets such as Understanding Historic Monuments on the Farm, Farming and the Historic Landscape, Caring for Historic Monuments, The Care of Graveyards and the Heritage of Northern Ireland.These are extremely useful publications.
Bell, Jonathan and Mervyn Watson, Farming in Ulster — Historic photographs of Ulster farming and food. Belfast 1988: Friar’s Bush Press. Price £4.50.
A couple of seasons ago, Jonathan Bell delivered a most interesting lecture on ‘Ulster farming’ to the Glens of Antrim Historical Society and at that time I expressed the hope that the lecture would appear in print at some future date. My hope has been realised and the resulting publication contains a lot more editorial and pictorial information than any lecturer could hope to deliver in a month of Sundays This beautifully produced book is obviously the result of considerable research, and the word research here does not mean delving into handy volumes in the comfort of some quiet library. The authors have gone ‘out through the country’ seeking information at first hand and it is clear that such was their knowledge of the subject that they were able not only to ask the right questions but also to ask the right people.
The excellent photographs are well-selected to illustrate changes which have taken place in the various farming processes over the past one hundred years and the accompanying captions have been long enough to cover the subject.
The book will be of great interest to Glens folk containing as it does several pictures of local interest, e.g. Landscape near Cushendall p.9: Turf-walled cabin, County Antrim p. 12: Gathering seaweed on the Antrim coast p. 17: Girls working at lazy beds, Glenshesk p. 19: Cushendall ponies yoked to swing plough p.21: Pulling flax near Cushendun p. 34: Taking flax from a lint-dam at Cushendun p.36: Dipping sheep at Ballyucan p.58: Mrs. McCollum milking a cow near Cushendun. There is a wealth of material connected with farming practices and customs and apart from general interest I would see this book being of considerable benefit to pupils studying for G.C.S.E. in such subjects as Economics, Geography, History and Social Studies.
Blackfriars Press have produced another winner!