A ‘Diversion’ on the Torr Road: I remember being at school and the teacher calling us all outside to see this bus coming over the top of the hill. Round the Milltown there was a turn in the road, and the driver took the wrong turn and went down that way to go to Ballycastle, and I remember that well, I wasn’t too old. Och, I couldn’t believe it to see this big bus. They weren’t roads like nowadays. There was only clay on the road. It was carrying tourists and the tourists were all walking after it. They wouldn’t sail in it because they were afraid. The driver had no place to turn, he had to keep going, so he had. The only one that sailed in the bus was the mailman. He had to walk you know from Cushendun down to Torr with the mail. Johnny Thompson was his name. Yes, and he sailed in the bus all the way. No fear, as long as he got a sail, that was all he wanted, so it was. Yes, I’m telling you, unbelievable. There wasn’t a car on the road and this big bus appeared. Oh going very slow, it was. I think they were English tourists. They were all walking behind it, crying. (Alex McKendry)
Head Of State Visits
De Valera came to Murlough. He came on the 3rd of August and he stayed in Portstewart in the Montague Arms and he came over to Ballycastle and he had his tea that evening before he went back to Portstewart. It was a huge, huge event. I would have been about forty at that time but that was a remarkable occasion altogether. That’s the biggest thing ever I saw. (James Clarke)
Roger Casement was a friend of my grandfather’s. This place has always attracted literary figures, you know, and people like that, and my grandfather knew them all. Then in later years Denis Ireland and John B. Stewart came, and people like that. But Casement used to visit my grandfather and grandmother quite a lot and he was the Casements of Magherafelt, as you probably know. His dying wish was that he should be buried down here. I knew Denis Ireland and there was a sort of a literary group around Belfast, at that time, that used to take Stewart’s cottage here at the shore, you know, take it as a holiday house and all of them, or a group of them, used to come down. (Frances Duncan)
Another Scottish Invasion
The Scotch Fairs were in July. There wasn’t a house hardly about Cushendall that didn’t keep some Scots in it. Oh, but heavens above, the place would be packed. There’d be bus-loads that came down, maybe three or four, and they all went to the various houses and they stayed there. They were there a week or a fortnight. And then I think it was the Glasgow Fair first and the Paisley holidays came in after that. The boat came into Larne and the buses all came then, packed. Not 20 or 30 or 40, but 100 or maybe 150. Every house was keeping two and three, some of them even more; the bigger the house, the more people. There was no complaints from them. The Tourist Board, I think, must have ruined the whole thing. They were all quite happy and all enjoyed their holiday, but then regulations came in that they had to have a hand-basin in every room and so on, and that ruled out a lot of the houses because they hadn’t the facilities. Later people went abroad a lot too. (Chris McMullan)
On The Fiddle!
The difference between Waterfoot and Cushendall was, that the ordinary people came to Glenariffe, to Waterfoot, and they took a house, the ones with families. They were Belfast people that maybe worked in the Shipyard. They were probably better off than some. Cushendall had the two hotels, and it was more the people who were better off that came to Cushendall, and they stayed in hotels. Holidays at that time were different than they are now. People came and stayed in hotels for a week or a fortnight. Like, we used to get an awful lot of clergymen coming to the hotels to stay. We could’ve had three or four priests, you know, at a time there saying, maybe, Mass on weekdays and that. But Waterfoot was more of a family crowd. Well we had the hostel, the one up above our own house. It was the old National School. It was one of the first National Schools in Ireland and it was the Tamlaght School, you called it. During the 1922s when the IRA were active, you know the old IRA, they had stored guns and things in it. It was left derelict, sort of, and then the new school down at the bottom of the Glen was built, the Bay School. Well that was the new school, that’s the school I went to, but this other one was before that. Me father bought it for one hundred pounds and he raised it, fixed it and made it into a big house. There was an awful lot of people came to stay. Oh I couldn’t tell you half of them and there was Scotch people came, and we used to love when the Scotch came. I can remember them having lovely knitwear and, funny, to this day I can remember one had a lovely red jumper and it had big wide sleeves, and I thought it was the greatest thing on earth, this lovely jumper, and there was sort of embroidery on the top of it. I can see it yet. A crowd of them used to come. So there was a good bit of life about Glenariffe. And I don’t know, the weather must have been better, because I was only a wee girl at the time, and I remember going down with them to bathe down on the shore. Now there was a Mr Marley who lived in Glenariffe. They had a house rented. That was another Belfast crowd and one of them was married to my brother. You know it’s funny how a lot of them married down here, you see. Mr Marley was a great fiddler, and Jim Mitchell was a fiddler, and the two of them used to sit on the ditch outside Mitchell’s there and I remember, we were right across the river and the river carried the sound of the fiddles, and we could hear the two of them playing over on our side. They were great. Paddy McAuley was another one. He lived up the road a wee bit and they used to gather in the ditch and play outside in the evenings, and they would go down to Waterfoot and play, and you would find them dancing in the street at night, moonlight even. Everything was awful free and easy at that time and they weren’t all round the pubs, you know. You’d have the ould boys in the pubs, but the young ones weren’t. The young ones didn’t go to the pubs in those days, but I can remember being sent down for Guinness for my father. He wasn’t well and me mother thought, ‘get him a bottle of Guinness.’ They all believed in Guinness. I had to go to the side door of the pub. I wasn’t allowed to go in the front door. (Kathleen McAlister)