Clachan Project

The Clachan Project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

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Introduction to the Project
The changing face of agriculture and the amalgamation of smallholdings left many vacant and derelict rural houses across the Glens. Many members of the Glens of Antrim Historical Society asked the Committee if these could be documented before they disappeared for good. After a lot of discussion it was decided that to try to document the history of all these individual properties would be an impossible task. From extensive consultations with both members and other interested bodies, it was decided to look at clusters of houses found throughout the Glens. These clusters were sometimes referred to as clachans. For a fuller explanation of the term clachan, read ‘What is a Clachan?’

The Society approached the Heritage Lottery Fund for finance for this project and successfully secured a package which enabled an extensive study of clachans in the Glens to take place. Certain elements of the school project were supported by the Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust.
The aims of the project were:

  • To make a record of clusters of houses (which might be clachans) presently recognisable in the Glens area.
  • To trace the physical, economic and social history of these settlements from at least the 1850s to the present day.
  • To examine their current relationship with the present day community in the Glens area.
  • To involve members of the society and the general community in the Project.
  • To involve local schools in the Project.
  • To produce a range of outputs such as a comprehensive website, publicity leaflets, tutorial material for schools, photographs and material for exhibition purposes.

The Project ran from March 2004 to December 2007 and the work was divided into four stages.

  • Stage 1 involved a field survey of the nine Glens and Rathlin Island to identify any clusters which might have been clachans, map their location and make a photographic record of each clachan.
  • Stage 2 involved a look at life and work in clachans with particular reference to the families who inhabited them from the middle of the nineteenth century to more recent times – why some survived, why some disappeared, etc.
  • In Stage 3 a number of clachans were studied in more detail. Displays, workshops and visits to clachans were organised for the general public. There was also participation in various local festivals
  • Stage 4 involved publicising the project through TV programmes (Countryfile UK, Lesser Spotted Ulster etc), newspaper articles and providing conducted tours for academics and visiting Historical Societies. A hugely successful Traditional Skills exhibition was held in May 2007.  Day 1 was reserved for schooolchildren and some 600 children from schools throughout the Glens of Antrim visited our exhibition. Day 2 was open to the general public. Two books and a dedicated ‘Kid’s Website’ project were produced. Two books, ‘A Wheen of Things That Used to Be’ (which provides additional information to the website) and the children’s book, ‘How It Used To Be’ were launched in November 2007. Both are on sale in the Society Bookshop.

All stages of the Project have been completed. Forty-five clusters, which were probably clachans, have been identified. The basic information collected on each clachan was uploaded to this web site. Read ‘Sources used in the study’ for an explanation of how we collected this information. In Stage 3 we studied fifteen of the clachans in more detail. Again, this extra information was added to the website. A number of workshops, lectures and guided visits to particular clachans took place during 2005/2006.

The information on each individual clachan has been organised under the nine glens and Rathlin Island and can be accessed via the links on the right-hand side of this page. However, before you do this you might want to look at a ‘Map of the Glens’ which will show the location of each of the nine glens.

There is basic information on each clachan within each glen, ranging from photographs to a list of families who lived there in the 1860s and 1900s. As mentioned above, there is extra information for some of the clachans in each glen.  We have added a page which contains a summary of our findings.

The Schools link
will take you to work carried out by the local schools. This work has involved many schools in the area and the amount of material now available on the website, produced by the schools, has expanded dramatically since the beginning of the project. In addition, we have designed a complete project based on the work of schools and the information generated through our research. This ready-made project is aimed at upper Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3 (Year 10). Tasks may be used on-line or downloaded for group use.  Teacher information has been provided. A well-illustrated book, ‘How It Used To Be’, showcasing the work of schools and using the children’s words, has also been produced.  Copies are available from the Society for a small charge.

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