Sport & Entertainment

“The main game”: Well we’d the usual hurling, it was the favourite game here. We played it mostly in the parochial field down here at the chapel. I think it was taken over at one particular time for some other event or something, and we played it in a field across the road away over there, and other chaps further down the road played it in a field beside them. In them days, you could have went into nearly anybody’s field and had a game of hurling, you could indeed. That was every evening you went, and you kicked football too, but hurling would be the main game here. Oh very much so, and then on a Sunday you had always the matches. They all paired up for them different matches and every man followed his own club. Sure it gathered a lot of folk together. (John Duncan)
We played hurling up round the road, or in somebody’s field, or somewhere like that. We just played hurling anywhere because we didn’t have any sticks and you went and cut a stick in, what was called the burn, and there’d be old rubbish of trees growing there and you took a saw and cut something resembling a hurling stick. We called it ‘camans’, and maybe we had a tennis ball or something like that. There was no money in those days at all. (Lawrence McHenry)

I played hurling. As well as that I was the secretary of the North Antrim Committee, aye. I’ll tell you what, I was more in the organising side I would say. That big lamp there was presented to me by the Feis Committee for 60 years service. The centenary took place in ’84. Siobhan McKenna, she captained the camogie team that won the All Ireland. I don’t know the exact date. She was a great actress. Oh aye she was a lovely person. But I went to hurling finals down in Dublin. The first time I went, the big stand was being built for the football final but for the hurling final we had to go to Killarney. That was a long run, but I enjoyed it very, very much, and from then until ’84 I never missed a final … Oh aye, the Feis, the Fair and the Final. That took up the year for you, from one thing to another. After the Final, the next thing you look forward to was Christmas. (James Clarke)
Gig Racing

The first ever I heard of gig racing was I heard my father talking about it, you know. I know at one period he was coxswain, but I do not remember which boat. There were boats in Cushendall here. There was one called ‘The Mile’ and one called ‘The Vagabond’ and one called ‘Nobody’s Child’ that I heard referred to. After that, there was one called ‘The Glens Girl’. I don’t know why, whether racing fell away or whether the boat was given away or sold, but she disappeared. Years after, it was starting to come back again. and there was ‘The Glens Man’. It was built by Pat O’Loan. After a while somebody had traced ‘The Glens Girl’ to some shed somewhere. She was tied up with a rope and they got it back again. But, by this time she was all cracks and Pat O’Loan put wee tiny pieces of wood on every crack, right around, and she was painted white and brown because the varnish couldn’t be used to fill the cracks, and she won race after race. That must have been around ‘36. The coxswain was Andy Stewart and then there was John McIlroy and John Finlay, Hugo Finlay and Hugh McIlroy. That was the crew. So they won a lot of races. And then after that there seemed to be a lull in it. There was a boat down in Cushendun called ‘The Maid of Moyle’. They hardly ever raced the boat, never could get a crew, so there was a brother of mine and a fella up the road, Benny O’Loan and they took a lend of the boat, and they took the boat up to Cushendall here and they got a crew, and the crew was Benny O’Loan, John Murray, Charlie Finlay and his brother Danny. They won races with her. The boat didn’t belong to them, it belonged to Cushendun and they left her back afterwards. (Chris McMullan)
In years gone by there was a boy or two drowned in the heats, they used to have boat races here. They were drowned on a windy night when they were going round the Black Rock round there. She overturned with them, there was two of them lost, didn’t make the shore. One of them was a good swimmer but they were caught in the tide and held by the tide where the wrack was growing. (Alex O’Boyle)
Then there was what was called fishing boat races. There were actually fourteen boats. There was great rivalry. I thought it was a very comical thing, A couple of the Cushendall ones, they went to races everywhere, won a lot of races and there was an objection. Apparently when they were measuring her, she was two inches too long. So they turned her up on the beach and measured her, and she was indeed two inches too long. So they went and got a saw and sawed her and took two inches off her, and they measured her again, and she was the right length, and off they went. They were very keen. There was a man called McCreavey, he had a fast boat in Cushendun. A man, Eddie OLoan and a fella called Henry McNeill, Henry Andy they called him, they used to row her. She was a fast boat and they won a lot of races, and actually Jack McCreavey sold that boat and big Frankie McCollam bought her, somewhere about Bangor, and she’s there yet in Frankie’s yard. (Chris McMullan)
Solo Canoeist

Aye, the boy who rowed from Scotland, that was Donagh McDonagh. I remember there was a lot of crowds. He came in over at Red Bay there in a canoe; that was the first canoe I think about here at the time and everybody thought it was sensational. It was a good few years before the War and that was the whole talk of the country. Aye, coming the whole way from Scotland in a canoe, and it wasn’t a very big one. He went away to Carnlough up Glenarm and he was going to try to go the whole way up into Ballymena, up the rivers but I don’t think he was successful. (Chris McMullan)
Long Distance Swim

One of my memories is, there was a German swimmer Mercedez Glitz, who came here. She was going to swim from Cushendun over to the Mull of Kintyre or the Island of Sanda. It was the 15th of August and I can remember her being greased. (Mary Delargy)
Horse Racing

Horse racing took place on the golf course in Cushendall what at they called Legge Green. There was horse racing down on the strand, down at the sea, there was. That was great. It was a great pity they done away with it. It was a great pity. They were talking about starting it up again but there’s no horses about Glenariff Glen, nothing but tractors. That would date back to the late ’20s when they stopped them there. In the summer time, the summer time when the tides would be out. The race started in the village of Waterfoot and it came right to the Bay Church. (James McHenry)
Earning a few pence

I spent a lot of time on the tennis ground in Ballycastle, you know, the people playing tennis. I’ve no time for that. I used to carry golf bags. Oh aye, I got paid for carrying them. I had to try and earn a few pence at the Golf Links and the tennis ground and all. (George McCullagh)
Cards and Ceilidhing

Everybody had a half door and the bottom of it was kept closed, for to keep the hens and everything out, or sometimes the hens would fly up and come in, but it kept out the pigs anyway, you know. The top half of the door never was closed. We would have played a lot of cards here, in the house you know, 45, whist and that, and boys come a whean of nights in the week and my father learned everyone of us to play cards, not poker. Nearly every night, there would have been somebody at the table, the big long table there and they would play cards. Oh aye, there would be plenty of ceilidhers here. It was just talking, you know, just stories, fairy stories and ghost stories. I never was too interested in them. I never was feared, you see. (Francis Quinn)
In our time they played cards in the wintertime. They come to our house and played cards from ten o’clock. There was an old boy, Charley McGill, he started to dance through it in the middle of the floor. Oh he was the greatest old boy. He was a big farmer, the greatest old joker. That went on the whole winter in that house, aye about 10 or 12 of them, in there playing cards. They had tobacco, they played for cigarettes and they played for bread and everything. That’s the way they passed their time. (Johnny Adair)
We’d a wee shop too and it was a source of ceilidhers for there were always people in it every night and they used to play cards and that. (Lawrence McHenry)

Music and Dancing

My father was a beautiful player. Every night he took down the violin and played to us and made us dance, all Irish dances. They came to our house. Well we didn’t call it a ceilidh, it was just to amuse us and then ones gathered in. And they were fixing the church and the Parish Priest got kind of mad because they were all gathered around my father’s house, you see. So he came over to my father and he says “Come on!” he says, “You don’t let your girls come out to the dances” … well he was making no money out of it. My father was good and he wouldn’t have liked to have done any harm. So anyhow, the Priest says, “You can come with them and you will be as useful as they are.” So we used to go out there and we did the dancing and my father helped with the music. (M.G. Walsh)

Every week there would be some of the neighbours in. My father and mother would go out too. Just like a chain, they would go round to McBride’s a night, go up to Duncarbit a night. They would go here and there you know. It was just a circle went round. Gossip and scandal! Oh aye. That’s how the tradition was handed down by the forefathers. It was good craic! We used to enjoy it as children because whenever somebody came in, then you were sure there was a biscuit or something put out. As soon as they went out you made a bee-line for the biscuit tin and you demolished it before your mother caught you. (Francis McCaughan)
There used to be big dances on in the neighbours’ houses, what we called ceilidhs at a time. Sometimes a fiddle and an accordion started a dance. I used to go to the dances too in Cushendall. My favourite place was over at Glenariffe, near Glenariffe Chapel. (George McCullagh)

From Culraney we used to have to go up to Cushendun to phone anybody. Nobody had a phone in them days. You were cut off really and all you really saw was the sea, in a way. Well, my opinion, we were far happier then, than they are today. We used to, in the winter nights, six of us would play ‘25’ for a penny. And that’s how we spent the night. You’d go a ceilidh to this house the night and go over to somebody else’s the next night. Mostly the men did the ceilidhing. Sure all the conversation they want now is up looking at a television. I would say maybe it would be nearly the ’60s before them changes came over, so it was. (Alex McKendry)
Now, when I was young, we might have went to the Bay to the ceilidhs and dances in the Bay Hall and I played the piano in the band. I would have got to Knocknacarry or something. That was the hub of the Universe in my young days. (Kathleen McAlister)
‘Dry’ dances and wet walks

You just didn’t go into pubs. I remember my first time going in. I remember going in with my friends, probably because I was away. I remember going in with some friends in Strabane, in the town … when you go in everyone gawks. And whenever we went to dances there was no drink at the dances, there was lemonade and crisps and stuff, there was no drink. I was about 14 or 15 when I got going there first. They didn’t call it a dance, they called it a hop in them days, just maybe a wee local band that was playing. It was a shilling or one and sixpence to get in, about five pence. At a dance, the boys would sit on one side and the girls was on the other side, and the only time that a girl would have asked a boy to dance, was if it had have been a ‘ladies choice’. Say a boy gave you a dance, and then the next one was the ‘ladies choice’ you asked them, and then they returned it after that, and that was three dances you were sure of. He would maybe have seen you home from the dance and he might have put a date on, it depended. They might have seen you the next night at the dance, the same thing would have happened. It would progress then, he might have come and picked you up and took you to the dance.  It was getting serious at that stage, whenever they were picking you up to take you to the dance, paying your way in and all. It wasn’t so nice when they met you at the dance and you paid your own way in. It wasn’t really too serious. When you knew things were going in the right direction, you would have invited them into the house then. (Kathleen Gallagher)
Times were different, you know. We had to make our own fun, aye. You know, when you went to a dance in the old days and you were home at 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning, and maybe you had to walk and it raining on you, or something like that there, you never thought anything about it. We’d a lot of fun. I had an old uncle, and he played the melodeon in those days, and he played for all the dancing, everywhere. My uncle Dan just travelled round and there was no money involved at all. He just come and played and fine if anybody played along with him. Oh well it would be old time dancing, like the Lancers and all that sort of thing and Polkas and Quadrilles. But, the Lancers was very popular, everybody danced. There used to be a dance in the hall down there and the women all sat on one side of the hall, that’s the way it was in my younger days too, and all the men sat on the other. And when they called out the Lancers it was just a big charge across the floor. It fairly must have frightened the life out of the women. Maybe some one was very popular, maybe half a dozen racing over to get her, that’s the way it was. And in those times there was a man McBride from Ballyvoy and he played at most of the dances in those days. (Lawrence McHenry)
You weren’t allowed much to go to dances. You never looked to get. I am sure I was nineteen maybe. It was more or less the Irish dancing that was done down here. There was no English dancing. It was just down here at the hall. I was maybe not very good at it, just kept on the move. I think years ago they would have had a lady’s choice you know at a dance. You didn’t really have any make up. Not at all, not when I was young. Washed your face and that was it. I don’t know what age I was when I used to go into Carnlough to get my hair done in Carnlough with the hairdresser, but not when we were young. (Margaret O’Boyle)
When we were in our teens Charley McAuley’s in Carnlough at the Bridge used to be a hotel at that time. There used to be dances there. Carnlough is as straight across as you can go from here -say six and a half to seven miles; much shorter than the road it is. I know every inch of the mountain. There was a crowd of us young boys used to live here and went across the mountain to the dances. We were fit to hit Carnlough bridge in about three quarters of an hour. You spent the night at the dance and then you had to be in a hurry home before the parents got up in the morning. Aye, it would be according to what attraction you had in either of the two places. That’s all the way that I can put that now. (James McHenry)
Well they used to have dances in the pub in them times. There was one time there had been some sailor came in here and died with Cholera. I think it was in the first pub up the street there and they locked him up in a room and they had a big dance and all the rest and it spread like wildfire and there was a lot died. (Alex O’Boyle)
Up here at Castlegreen was a very famous dance hall. It was very famous, right enough it was, it gathered great crowds. Then the had the old ceilidhs down here in the hall, down at the village of Knocknacarry. We, at that time had a local band. I played in it myself, you know. I played the fiddle but I wasn’t a professional, only what you call ‘by ear’. I didn’t learn by the book. They called us the ‘Merry Macs’. There was about five of us; two accordions and a drummer, maybe two fiddles sometimes. (Hugh McCormick)
Cushendun ‘On Air’

They had a broadcast here one time down at Rockport. There was a Mr. Walsh, he lived there at that time and they had a broadcast from Rockport and the man that took the programme was a Charles Freer. It was on the radio. Oh about ’49 or ’50 and Miss Ada, well she had a history of the Glens, an old man called Johnny McNeill from Cushendun, with a nickname – they called him ‘Johnny Baker,’ for what reason I do not know, but he was the local historian, you know, and then Katie Brogan, she sang a song called ‘The Sea Wrack’. And then there were two more men and myself played a bit of music and we got a guinea each. (Hugh McCormick)

The Cinema

We used to go to see a lot of films. Like, the money seemed to go further. We would have went on the bus to Strabane to see a film. We would have went to the fish and chip shop and then went to the dance. I liked the Westerns with John Wayne. (Kathleen Gallagher)
We had a picture house up there, up the street, and I was the projectionist, and I showed the first film in Cushendall. It must have been ’36 or ’37. Mrs Wann owned the Picture House. I worked there until around ’77 or ’78. I enjoyed it, I did, indeed. It was seven nights a week. It was the only place in Northern Ireland at that time that had a Sunday licence. I saw one year there was a change of picture every day during July, the holiday period July. There are no pictures now like them. Laurel and Hardy was good, clean fun. Anybody could watch them and they were good. There are very few of them I haven’t seen. I liked Westerns. I liked Walter Brennan and I like Wallace Beery and Lionel Barrymore. They were always in good pictures. Robert Taylor, Clark Gable, they were all usually in good pictures. But, then, there were some pictures they called ‘second pictures’, you know, they were some ones you never heard about. Ah, you watched pictures day in and day out. I suppose it closed because of the expense, everything went up. TV and videos came in. (Chris McMullan)
We used to go the picture house, a very famous place, that’s right. Oh well we were quite happy with it. That would be black and white then. John Wayne Westerns were good shows. (Hugh McCormick)

I joined the Young Farmers Club and they started a drama group in it one time and I was part of the drama group. And then there was always dances, Young Farmers’ dances in them days. I rode a bicycle to the dances. (William Glass)
I think there was more entertainment then, than now. There would be four or five touring companies here every winter and they put on the very best of plays. There was a man, he was a great singer at that time, and then he came on this occasion and he was with this company, I remember he was in the McAllister Hall and every night I was there and he was really good and then later on I became very friendly with him. As a matter of fact I sang with him three nights after the Old Lammas Fair. (James Clarke)
The Wireless

I remember the first wireless that was around the neighbourhood was near Torr Head You’ll have heard tell of the Eucharistic Congress that was in 1932. Well it was broadcast on the radio and everybody went into this house to hear the Eucharistic Congress. That was the only radio around in them days, Denis O’Neill and Liza. They lived in this house by themselves and everybody, you know, was gathering round the radio listening to it, and you didn’t get it too plain for it died down sometimes. Liza came over and she says “Will yous keep back and give the man room to breathe”. I remember that now and I was only about ten. “Ah, will yous keep back and give the man room to breathe”. (Alex McKendry)
I never really listened to music. There is the odd thing I do remember. Iit would be in the ’50s … I remember always listening to Radio Luxemburg on a Saturday night, Top of the Pops was on from 11 to 12. I remember having a radio then, it was a battery radio, I used to carry it from the kitchen to the bedroom. I remember that. You might have fell asleep and forgot to turn your radio off. (Kathleen Gallagher)
I remember the wireless coming in to force, well, I couldn’t say the wireless, the wireless was before my time, but I remember these other wirelesses coming in. I was just at school at that time. Oh, a long time ago. There was only one or two at that time, they were pretty expensive and then, ach well, then everybody had one. I’d see ones out in the town with a wee one in their hands. Oh, the television was very common and the Picture House in Cushendall, it was good. When the television come in, then and the Picture House faded away. Oh, George Formby was good and Denis Smiley, he was another, he was a singer, Nelson Eddie, he was a famous singer. (George McCullagh)
The Feis and The Fair

I was born in 1906 in Glenariffe. I was at the Feis. It started between 8 and 10 o’clock and it didn’t finish until late on. I had a white frock on me, my mother bought it, and wee white slippers. We did Irish dancing. I would have been eight, or maybe more. Just a wee lassie from the school, you know. They used to have it down in the field at the shore. Four Hand Reel and Eight Hand Reel and sometimes the Lancers. The fellows were the same age. They wore a nice wee suit. Oh aye. People come to see the Feis. It was a great day and that’s the truth. There was a man played the accordian, Mickey Duffin. He’s dead now. We danced back and forward all day. And then we had tea in the teahouse. (Sarah Gribben)
The Feis Committee, Ada McNeill, oh she was a big figure in it, a big, big figure. She was 99 when she died but oh she was a great woman altogether. Miss Dobbs was another and Rose Young. They were the big figures too. Miss Young lived with Miss Dobbs. I knew all of them. Miss Dobbs and Miss Young was still doing work for the Feis when I became a member. Miss Dobbs took the children round the Glens to different historical sites. Ossian and all these old figures operated and she took them. Oh she was wonderful, Miss Dobbs, and she did quite a lot of writing in big journals that you wouldn’t get into unless you were well established then. (James Clarke)
The things that was at the Fair! Your fortune told by a bird! They had a wee tray of wee envelopes and they had a parrot and they had a cage and whenever you paid your money they had a box for, I suppose, males and females. And they took this bird out on a wee stick about six inches long, and the bird sat on it, and he pulled out one of the envelopes with his beak, and you got it and a photo of your future girlfriend, and your fortune told by a bird.  The man with the monkey was a great thing. The man was an organ grinder. He had this wee box strapped round him … and a leg on it, and he wound a handle, and this leg was to set it on, and there was a wee monkey in a wee red frock with a big pocket on the front and you threw down the money and the monkey took it and put it in his pocket. (William Glass)
The Mass Rock Procession

In Craigagh there was ‘The Procession’. Oh a long tradition, in my young days. There used to be buses from here over to Knocknacarry parked. There were maybe, say, a minimum of a thousand people at it in them days, yes. I could not believe the difference now. That’s the first I’ve been there in a long time. Do you see, the Procession left the Chapel up here and went up to the Mass Rock. And Mass was said on the Mass Rock and the sermon give and then we turned back and there were choirs singing all the way up so they were. Lovely, and all along the road there was about six or eight arches made. The men in the Parish put up these arches the week before it, yes. Oh a lot of work went in them, but nobody ever thought anything of it. I used to have to carry the cross, the gold cross up in front of the Procession. You were called out some year to do it and next year it was somebody else. (Alex McKendry)

So you had plenty of recreation when you met up with friends, and they came over here, and you played, and whiles you fought too. So we had, oh by God aye, we had plenty of time for that, scourged hoops, just a round wheel. You made a sort of a ‘U’ in at the back of the hoop and away you went alongside the next fellow. Between that and climbing trees and paddling in rivers and getting into devilment awhiles too. Oh aye, and if you had a football, or even any size of a ball, you always got a game out of it. You did indeed. There were more folk about in them days. There’s only four dwellers here now and there used to be, oh there must have been, fifteen or sixteen and they had all families. (John Duncan)
In the summer time they would play horseshoes, and those kinds of things, down at the sea front. Oh aye horseshoes. There was some very good ones. They could just ring it … and there was others, well they would be challenging about the length and movement and all them things. I don’t know, I think ‘pitch and toss’ was illegal. You had to throw to some pit. or something like that. and the ones near it. well they got the first throw, and threw it up, and wherever it came down, if you were playing heads or hearts, you got the first throw. I’ll tell you where you would get it, at corners, especially blind corners. If you come to a corner where, well there was only just the street, there was nobody living in it and you just threw against that. I’ll tell you another thing, in the market yard long ago, och, away in the war years, the early war years, against some of the gables of houses, was handball. Oh there was some ones very good at it. (James Clarke)
Well I’ll just tell you what we did for entertainment. There’s a cross roads about six or seven yards down the road there, the Glassmullan Road you call it. The children from the head of the Glen, they gathered there, and we dug wee holes in the road and we started to play marbles just in the middle of the road. There was another set of children further down the Glen, they threw horseshoes. You know there was a peg drove into the ground and they threw horseshoes. They tell me that game is still a-playing yet. It was more the marbles that I played, the throwing of the horseshoes and we had a boxing school down the Glen. When we were young we had a boxing school. We bedded a great big shed with straw. We had boxing gloves and all. At a place called Graham’s. (James McHenry)
Even when you left school, whenever it came to Saturday night, whenever you got to fifteen, sixteen and seventeen or that and you wanted to get to Ballycastle on a Saturday night and you needed pocket money, you were very lucky if you got what you called half a crown, two and sixpence. You were very lucky if you get that. There was no money threw to you. We went to the pictures, and then when you got a bit farther forward, you were keeping your eye for a girl and so on, as you know. (John Todd)
There was a great character in this town long ago, a man called Anthony McKinley. Now Anthony McKinley was a great man. He had been in America for a long, long period and his brother was known as the Count. Anthony never married, but I’ll tell you what, Anthony set the season for boys. When it come to the time for playing marbles, Anthony had the marbles. Likewise, when it came to the time for Halloween. And you got your pencils and all up there at Anthony’s and Anthony was always with the boys. He was a great worker and he got weight lifting records. He set weight lifting records that will never be broken, at least not until now, anyway. I’ll tell you what, I remember going over with my father to Cregagh … on the way home away up in the mountain, just away along the Lough, there was Anthony, so he said to the driver “Stop, stop, stop”. So we pulled up and then Anthony came up alongside and we said “Anthony would you like a lift”? Anthony was insulted. Oh Anthony was a great walker. He went out every Sunday and went away to the hills. Oh aye, my sister Mary she was a great walker too. Herself and another girl that teamed up with her, they would walk away out to Armoy and around the Glen and away to Cushendun and back you know, right up the direct way, up through Carey and right down into Cushendun. They would have their tea there and then back round Torr and home. Well those were the simple things of those days and you just took them in your stride and that was it. When I went to school first, we used to play handball up against the school wall. There was a gable, you know, there was no windows in it and the boys used to play there. Canon Murphy would have the school all painted and tidied up! (James Clarke)

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