In Memory of the Air Crews

Posted on July 17th, 2010 by by admin

Canadians from a far off land

Extended to us a helping hand

Catalina’s set forth in the dead of night

Valiant men off to the fight.


For freedom and the defence of you and I

True heroes of land sea and sky

Sunderland’s too – along the Donegal Corridor fly

Mighty thunder of the engines, through clouds high.


Called to arms to go and serve

With great courage and great nerve

What must have been a wonderful sight?

In the early mist of morning light.


Ooh what stories you could tell

As you flew into the jaws of hell

For some there will be no return

And those with regret we will mourn.


These men so generous – gave their all

In answer to this nations call

Who are now fleeting spirits passing through

Blessed by deeds they did do.


Crew and comrades in eternal sleep

At rest in Atlantic waters deep

Who now await the trumpets roar

And will reply to the flag once more.


This memorial in your name

Enshrined in our hearts you will remain

So soft rain keeps green the fern

Another day dawns over the Lough of Erne.


Helene Turner.

Guide to Belleek

Posted on July 17th, 2010 by by admin

The village of Belleek has become over the years a place of worldwide renown, principally due to the famous Parian China. It has the distinction of meriting the word Belleek in the Webster Dictionary. In compiling the script to be used in a walking tour of the village and its surroundings care needs to be exercised not to over elaborate on the history either military or political. Several distinguished authors have produced excellent publications that deal with the above matters; these are available to students interested in those periods.

        The first important settlement in the district was a pre-Christian Rath on the hill overlooking the River Erne and the ford that gives the place its name. Beal Leice meaning the Flag Stone Ford. The hill still bears the name Rath More = The Rig Rath. In that era Lough Erne was a natural division between too ancient Irish Kingdoms. On the north of the river was the Kingdom of Mulleek meaning the Central Hollow. It stretched from Pettigoe and the Boa Island to the modern border with Donegal. In this Kingdom were a number of Raths, some small, others large, the principal one being Rath More.

        Raths were a man made circular structure of clay topped by a wickerwork fence. In the enclosure were houses built in the same way as the fence. The Rath was not as we might think a fort; rather it was a secure enclosure to protect at night the cattle and other livestock from the many wild animals who roamed the countryside. On the south of the Erne was the other ancient Kingdom of Toura meaning the Kingdom of the Rath People. It stretched from the Barr of Wealt to near the coast at Ballyshannon. There was no conflict in those times between the two Kingdoms, wealth was measured in cattle and there was plenty of grazing for the livestock.

        Looking at a map of Fermanagh one can see how the Flag Stone Ford was of great importance. It was the first place that the Erne could be crossed west of Enniskillen. From the broad lough until the Erne entered the Atlantic Ocean four miles away at Ballyshannon there were only three fordable places. The one at Belleek being the best and most assessable. Once the area became of military importance to rival factions the situation changed completely. A castle was built near the ford and a fortress was constructed on Cloghore Hill directly above the ford. The original fort was of wood and destroyed and rebuilt as a result of numerous battles fought in the area. The present stone structure as built by General Lake in 1790 as was a permanent stone bridge that replaced the ford.

        It must be remembered that a residential village was not constructed until the seventeenth century following the Plantation of Ulster. The Caldwell family of Castle Caldwell were the landlords of the district, the village would have been built to house the Yeomen who were under the control of the Caldwell’s. The Vikings were one of the first foreign invaders into the Erne region. They arrived at the coast near Ballyshannon and as the river could not be navigated by boat they took their vessels over land to Belleek where they were launched again on the Erne waters. From here they traveled inland to plunder and rob the many Christian Monasteries in Fermanagh.

        Many villages on these islands have been described in prose and poetry as sleepy quiet places. The natural silence being broken by the noise of the domestic stock and forms of wild life. The mooing of cattle, the early morning call of the rooster, the braying of a donkey, the barking of dogs and the song of the many birds including the call of the hooper swans and of the cuckoo and corn crake. Man made sounds would have come from the peel of a church bell, the ring of the hammer striking the anvil of the blacksmith or the sledge breaking stones in a quarry.

        Belleek was somewhat different, it had special sounds of it’s own. The River Erne in bygone days had a voice a distinct voice of it’s own. The river rises in County Cavan over 60 miles to the south east, it forms it’s first lake in the east of Fermanagh, changes to a river that encircles the island town of Enniskillen, From there it becomes a great broad lake and slowly the water makes it way to Belleek. From the Erne enters County Fermanagh until it departs and enters Donegal at Belleek it only has a drop of two feet for a distance of over 40 miles. At this point the massive volume of water thundered over the once famous Belleek water falls, from there until it reached the Atlantic at Ballyshannon a distance of four miles it cascaded through rocky ravines and over more water falls that tested the endurance of the numerous salmon and trout making their way upstream to the spawning beds of the great lake. From Belleek to the estuary at Ballyshannon the water fell 150 feet.

        It was the large volume of water that gave the Erne this special Voice that first lost it’s its sound when the falls were blasted into history in 1880 in an effort to relieve the flooding in the upper regions of Fermanagh. The final destruction took place in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s with the construction of two hydroelectric generating stations between Belleek and Ballyshannon. Until then it had been one of the most famous rivers in Europe for salmon and trout fishing and for its eels.

        No more can be heard the noise of the ratchet of a big brass reel as a fisherman played a salmon with his split cane rod. These noises are now no more and the place is the poorer of it.

        Going back to the nineteenth century the invention of the steam engine brought a major change to Belleek and to Lough Erne. Paddle steamers were introduced to the lake and goods and passenger were carried between Belleek and Enniskillen. A railway was constructed along the north shore and the famous pottery was built by John Bloomfield of Castle Caldwell. Eventually the steamers gave way to the railway and it in turn gave way to road transport. The pottery brought much need employment; houses were built to accommodate the workers. Rathmore Terrace became the home for the English Potters who came to teach the skill to the locals. It became known as the English Row. Another set of houses were built for the locals, it was Hawthorne Row and became known as the Irish Row.

        In the early 1900’s the first public housing scheme was started, this took the form of about 30 houses known as labourers cottages. Many of these house still survived in a modernized from. The original Belleek village has undergone considerable change, where once it stood on it’s own, new housing developments have taken place with the result that the once population of a few hundred has expanded to over two thousand for the area that was once the ancient Kingdom Of Mulleek and part of the Kingdom of Toura.

        As locals can tell you, during World War 11 Lough Erne was a most important base for the flying boats that provided protection from the dreaded U-boats for the shipping convoys in the Atlantic Ocean. That portion of the neutral Irish Free State territory from Belleek to Ballyshannon was used by the flying boats and was known as ‘The Donegal Corridor’.

        A Fermanagh comedian once boasted that his home county is the only county in Ireland that rhymes with BANANA. This admittedly impressive plaudit aside, the area is best known for its waterways, though the high ground surrounding the rugged borderland near villages like Roslea and Belcoo is every bit as impressive as the Erne. Fermanagh people pride themselves on being a perfectly distilled blend of the extremes of character they find themselves surrounded by. Belfast cockiness, Derry city delusions of grandeur and Cavan thriftiness, are the malts blended to form the rounded welcoming, humorous brew that is the people of the Erne county.


There is not much written information about the Viking period and the effect that it had on Belleek. It is known that they landed at Ballyshannon and as it was not possible to navigate the Erne river form there to Belleek they moved their long boats over land and then launched them again into the Erne at Corry.  In the year 924 one raiding party spent the winter at the river which was known as Caol Uisce the Gaelic for narrow waters. From there they sailed into the Broad Lough were they plundered the Abbey’s at Devenish, White Island and Inismacsaint.


 Belleek when translated into the Gaelic is Beal Liece which means the Flag Stone Ford. This ford was the first crossing point over the Erne west of Enniskillen a distance of 25 miles. The first Fort on the hill overlooking the village was built by Gilbert de Costella in the year 1211, it was a wooden structure and it was destroyed by fire in an attack in 1212.  Forty years later the Normans built a replacement fort but it was destroyed by the O’Donnells about 1252.


As the flag stone ford increased in importance many battles were fought there as it was the principal gate way between Ulster and Connaght. In 1580 the Fermanagh Maguires were defeated at the Battle of Belleek. The Plantation of Ulster in the early 1600’s brought an end to the old Gaelic way of life; things were never to be the same again. The Cromwellian period from 1649 onwards ensured the destruction of the Abbeys and other church property.


   Remains of the old stone fort still stand on the site to this day. ( 2008)  It was built about 1790 by the English General Lake, it was a star fort and known as “Belleek Redoubt”. A stone bridge replaced the earlier wooden structures and it had gates of iron at its south end which was guarded by Yeomen. The original village was designed and built by the Caldwell family who wanted to give it the English sounding name of Wellsboro. Goods for Fermanagh were shipped into the Port at Ballyshannon; from there they were transported over land to the quay at Corry, Belleek. From there paddle steamers and other vessels brought them to Enniskillen and other parts of Fermanagh. An ordinance survey taken about the 1830’s tells us that the Erne above the waterfalls was very deep and about 150 yards wide. As there was an abundance of turbary in the area large quantities of turf were shipped to Enniskillen. This created a lot of employment in the area.


 There were two mills below the falls the were owned by the Donaldson and Stephan’s families. One was a tuck mill, the other a corn mill. They were powered by twelve foot diameter wooden mill wheels. The river was one of the best fishing rivers in Europe and anglers came from England and other countries to fish. The average annual catch of salmon was over 60 tons with an equal tonnage of eels being netted.


 The village was described by a visiting fisherman in the mid 1800’s as being neither cleaner or tidier than many other Irish villages, but is more pretty and picturesque than most. The only two story building was the thatched hotel owned by the Johnston family. Before the founding of the Royal Irish Constabulary about 1835 the area was policed by one constable and five sub-constables, the local magistrate sat twice each month to deal with petty crime. Until then there were no dispensaries or provision for the poor. When the courthouse, police barracks and dispensary was built about 1835 the first resident medical officer was Dr. William Irvine. Yet seldom was a beggar refused relief from even the poorest cotter. The population was about 280 and the average family had about five members.


It could be imagined what kind of village Belleek would have been without the Pottery or the railway. The founder of Belleek Pottery – John Caldwell Bloomfield read a paper to the Society of Arts, titled, “The Development of Irish Industries”. He described the village as one of the poorest in Ireland filled with ragged children’ who’s maximum of art lay in the making of mud pies in the street. He saw Belleek as a wretched hamlet, inhabited by squalid occupiers of hovels unfit for human life, there only since the use of the tongue and fist, their extent of art a mud pie.


The men of the village were unable to emerge beyond their position as a laborer and were still contented with inferior dwellings and dress. There was little employment to be found for either women or men. For women the opportunity of getting a job would have been either very limited. Only the land lord class could employ domestic staff, conditions would not be good and wages poor. Few dressmakers were needed as the people could not afford to have clothes made. Emigration to a foreign land was an option even though this meant that they would never see their families of home land again. Many of those who did emigrate would send money home to help other family member so leave home. The money helped to pay the rent ad to buy food. It was to be in the early 1900’s before most farmers could afford to have a cart. Some young men joined the army and there learned a good trade.

  The Belleek of the 21st century has come along way.






Greyson’s Lime Kiln Belleek

Posted on July 17th, 2010 by by admin

Destroyed in the name of Progress.


Local residents were stunned to put it mildly, to see, as dawn was breaking on Monday morning 9th November a mechanical digger starting to demolish Greyson’s limekiln, which was situated near the Kesh road on the outskirts of the village in the town land of Rathmore. One hoist from the jib and steel bucket was enough to damage the structure beyond repair. Many words have been used by the locals this past week to describe their feeling about the wanton destruction of one of the most important historic structures in the pottery village. Outrage, anger, hurt, disbelief and rage that a listed structure could be wiped from history in seconds. The actual owners of the Lime Kiln were the people of the area, they were not informed by its custodians or consulted that it was to be destroyed.


For generations the Greyson family were prominent in the area as farmers and business people. It is very doubtful if there is to be found anywhere in Ireland a lime kiln similar to the one at Belleek, it was a large commercial kiln with the limestone being taken from the adjoining quarry. For generations it supplied the lime to improve the quality of the land. It was used to white wash the homes of people in the area. The walls of the traditional Irish home were plastered inside and outside with lime mortar long before the invention of cement. One of the last acts carried out by local families as they left their home land to seek a better life in the New World, was to remove a small piece of the white washed plaster from the walls and take this with them, often on the notorious Coffin Ships after eviction from their cabins by ruthless landlords.


The nearby St. Patrick’s Church was built with stone from Greyson’s quarry; the lime was mixed with sand to build the walls. Now there is nothing left only an empty space with nothing to mark the spot. Senior citizens of the area recall their school days and how as the made their way to and from the Commons school they could admire the Kiln and watch its fire burning the lime stone. There were so many uses for the lime apart from treating the land and building walls. Before the coming of piped water, the spring wells that supplied the needs of the people were drained and cleaned out several time a year and purified with lime.


Next to the Village Pump and drinking trough on the Main Street, Greyson’s lime kiln was the most important structure in the area. About 25 years ago during the reconstruction of the village side paths the Village Pump was actually seen to be slung for the jib of a J.C.B. digger. Fast action by a local resident, which included a number of frantic phone calls to people with knowledge of preserving our historical artefacts, ensured that the Pump and Trough remained where they belonged rather than in some far off place never to be seen again by local people. By starting the destruction of Greyson’s Lime Kiln just as dawn was breaking on a Monday morning it was ensured that there was no stopping of the work before it was damaged beyond repair.


Most of the members of the Clogher Historical Society who reside locally have expressed their sadness and disappointment at the loss of the structure. For they more than anyone else appreciate that the aims of the society is the preservation of our history and heritage. It would not have been a major job to make the structure secure, safe and preserved for future generations.


Claims have been made that the structure was dangerous and liable to collapse, when one thinks that it took a large digger almost a week to completely demolish the kiln, this argument does not stand up to scrutiny. As one past pupil of the Commons school pointed out, generations of children had passed by it for 130 years and none ever interfered with it of got hurt playing near it. Local publications on Belleek village contain articles on Greyson’s Lime Kiln and photographs of the structure. Now all we have left are our memories and a few faded pictures.

Fr. Eugene Coyle Story

Posted on July 17th, 2010 by by admin

Fr. Coyle was a native of Three Mile House, Co. Monaghan, born about 1875; he served as Curate in Pettigo, the parish of Carn from 1901 to 1906. Later while serving in Brookborough he came to prominence when in the town land of Cooneen where a local family were terrorised by a supernatural presence in their home. The incident became know as, ‘The Cooneen Ghost’. Fr. Eugene Coyle had to give spiritual comfort to the family who eventually immigrated to America. A play was written on the story and was broadcast by Radio Eireann. It the early 1920’s Fr. Coyle was appointed to Garrison where be became the Parish Priest. There he became involved in an incident that happened during the troubles of the 1920’s. Amongst the effects of the late Fr. Frank Little, West Port, Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal were found documents that gave an account of the Garrison incident. It appears that Fr. Little took this information down in long hand from his informant, a Mr. Frank Flanagan, a native of Garrison then residing in Ballyshannon. The first portion is typed; the second portion is hand written on a school type jotter and so is difficult to read. Neither is dated, but it appears that they were compiled after the death of Fr. Coyle as the statement refers to him as the late Canon Coyle.



Frank Flanagan.


  Maggie Ann Fallon, teacher in Cashel School, 1922, daughter of Mick Flanagan, Rate Collector, Cashel; gives the following.  “On the night of the 1st Friday – April/May/ June? – Maybe – , probably June, a tall stranger called at Mick Flanagan’s house round 11 p.m. Mick had just returned from trout fishing on Latoon Lake: a net full of trout was on the kitchen floor: the stranger asked Mick Flanagan, rate collector, to come with him. The stranger, and show him, the houses in the district. Mick refused: the stranger told Mick, he – the stranger – now knew he – Mick was now (no) mere boy. That was the night Michael McLaughlin was shot in his bed in his house in Cashel by one Johnston – a local Orangeman. There was a closing station in Garrison round this time; all the priests attending the “station” called on McLaughlin – he had not been removed to Manorhamilton yet – the late Cannon Coyle was P.P., the late Peter Connolly was curate. Canon (Fr.) Coyle accused Capt. Beatty of shooting McLaughlin in Fr. Connolly’s presence, Coyle refused to go to McLaughlin’s home; Peter Connolly went; McLaughlin’s sister did not identify Capt. Beatty as the man who shot her brother – he was moved by the boys in the meantime to Manorhamilton Hospital; in the room where McLaughlin was shot, McLaughlin’s sister said to Fr. Peter Connolly. That – Capt. Beatty – is not the man who shot my brother; the man who shot my brother was much taller; he had to stoop down going through the door into the room where my brother was shot. On returning to Garrison, Coyle still maintained that Beatty shot McLaughlin; Capt. Beatty took an action for libel against Coyle, and the Independent; E.P. Rodgers defended Coyle; Rodgers had just arrived from the South-West in Ballyshannon – he was the only sympathetic – Sinn Fein – solicitor in the area then. It took great persuasion to get Coyle to settle a hopeless case out of court in Belfast The man who did shoot McLaughlin was later identified as one red haired Johnston, who had also fired on Peter Connolly. A certain Carson later when drunk in Garrison stated that the tall stranger intended to shoot Mick Flanagan and others.


                                                        *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *


   The ambush on the Rossinver road by members of the Sligo I.R.A. in which a Black and Tan was shot. How the body was recovered by Fr. Peter Connolly and the Minister Mr. George O’Keefe. The suspension of Mr. O’Keefe by his bishop; his approach to Fr. Connolly re his reinstatement. In return the handing over of 60 Carson-Orange –rifles via Fr. Connolly, to the local unit of the I.R.A.


     *   *  *  *  *  *  *  *


The death of Mrs. O’K; the case the McBrines, Belleek took against Mr. O’K.    Mr. O’K’s retirement by R. Hall Reed, Sol. Ballyshannon to a private mental hospital in Dublin; the return of Mr. O’K to the Hamilton Hotel. His call on Fr. Peter Connolly now in the Orphanage offering to make his – O’K’s (will) – in favour of Fr. P. my very good friend, to whom I owe so much. Peter refused. Ralph Hal Reed got the money – £6,000 -/. The last illness of Mr. O’K. in the Sheil; his reception into the Church by Fr. Connolly; his death the next day. My (Francis Flanagan) meeting with O’K’s nephew from Canada on the Bridge in Ballyshannon during the Erne Scheme. (Late 1950’s)


   The two visits to Canon Coyle by Owen O’Duffy; on the vote on the Treaty/ on the occasion of Dev. Firing O’D. from the Comm. of the Garda sequel – the Blue Shirts. 1933.


Un-typed script.


Frank Flanagan now residing in Bishop Street, Ballyshannon, left Garrison (on the run) April 6th 1922. The Free State/Republican split was budding. April 5th 1922 Constable Plum was shot dead in ambush on the Garrison/Rossinver Rd.  The Ambush was carried out by a group from Sligo area under a _ Glynn. The Garrison unit, under Frank Flanagan, was ignorant of this ambush – Frank Flanagan should have been consulted and the ambush carried out under his orders. The Sligo group it appears were a Republican or Irregular group. It remained in the area in possession of a hill for five days after the ambush. Plums body lay in an evacuated farm house for two or three days. The Black and Tans were appointed to recover his body. They threatened to burn Garrison if his body was not returned within a certain time. Rev. Mr. George O’Keefe, Church of Ireland minister, Garrison with Fr. Peter Connolly learned this from Capt. Bellie in charge of the Black & Tans operation.


Approached, Capt. Bellie was to confine the Black & Tans to Barracks for five hours – Fr. Connolly to proceed ahead alone to the house where the body lay; Mr. O’Keefe to follow with a pony and cart. Fr. Connolly proceeded to look around if any identifiable objects were left behind; he found in the yard of the house – a trench coat and a cap. These he put in the cart. When Mr. O’Keefe arrived he turned his back to where the Republicans were in observation so as not to recognise or identify any of them. With the assistance of a few neighbours who were called to the scene the body was put in the cart, accompanied by an elderly man Mr. O’Keefe proceeded with the body in the cart to Garrison preceded by Fr. Peter Connolly.


Garrison was closed but when the Black & Tans were allowed out they went mad – for drink – the Misses O’Brien refused to serve them – the sisters were taken out to the street & threatened to be shot. With the greatest difficulty Rev. O’Keefe and Capt. Bellie succeeded in calling the Black & Tans off and getting them under control.


After Fr. McCleery P.P. died and before Fr. Coyle succeeded him, the British Military arrived in Garrison. The Parochial house was the only vacant house in the village, so they proceeded at once to occupy it. Fr. Peter Connolly arrived on the scene at the Parochial House and remonstrated with the officer in charge, to no avail. Mr. O’Keefe arrived on the scene and also protested – he offered his residence to the officer; the officer accepted; the troops moved in; the O’Keefe’s moved out. When the troops moved out the O’Keefe residence was in a sorry mess. It is not known if Mr. O’Keefe was compensated later.


                                           *    *    *     *      *     *     *


The shooting of M. McLaughlin – Bullets McLaughlin – afterwards was employed by Leitrim County Council.     June 30th – Frank Flanagan in Ballameehan – called in July to see McLaughlin in Manorhamilton Hospital. Capt. Bellie visited Bundoran in later years – he stayed in Saddlers guest house, he was in the Insurance business in Belfast and called to see Fr. Peter Connolly.


The case taken by the McBrine family of Belleek, (they were members of the congregation of the Rev.O’Keefe) was a breach of promise case. When Mrs. O’Keefe died Mr. O’Keefe became friendly with one of the daughters of the McBrine family and probably under duress proposed marriage. There would have been an age difference of about 50 years between the parties. Wiser council prevailed and marriage plans were cancelled, a substantial amount of damages was awarded to the young lady.


Note difference in spelling of the Captains name, in the first portion of the account it is spelt Beatty, in the second it is Bellie. No reference is made to Canon Coyle having been a prisoner in the Crumlin Road jail.

A Fermanagh Person

Posted on July 17th, 2010 by by admin

A Fermanagh born comedian once boasted that his home county was the only county in Ireland that rhymed with banana. This admittedly impressive plaudit aside, the area is best known for its waterways; through the high ground surrounding the rugged borderland near villages like Rosslea and Belcoo is every bit as impressive as the Erne.


 Fermanagh people pride themselves on being a perfectly distilled blend of the extremes of character they find themselves surrounded by. Belfast cockiness, Derry city delusions of grandeur and Cavan thriftiness, are the malts blended to form the rounded, welcoming, humorous brew that is the people of the Erne County.

Evictions on the Caldwell Estate

Posted on July 17th, 2010 by by admin

Much has been written about the history of the Castle Caldwell estate but the evictions that took place in it are not so well documented. Major evictions were not common in Fermanagh, never the less they did take place in the county. Benjamin Bloomfield the son of the founder of Belleek Pottery, John C. Bloomfield had taken over the management of the estate and in the early 1800’s he took the decision to evict a number of tenants for various reasons.


   The first was in Tawnagorm, the holding was of about twenty acres of poor hilly land. A company of the Royal Enniskillen Fusiliers came by train to the local railway station where they were joined by another large group of military, a contingent of the R.I.C. under a Resident Magistrate and accompanied by a Sub-Sheriff. The group of almost 70 men marched to the remote mountain farm, the tenant owed several years rent and claimed that over the period he was due almost £50-00 by the estate. His effects were taken from the house and the property handed over to the bailiff.


The military proceeded further up the road to the next town land where they evicted another tenant along with his wife and family of small children. The next family to be evicted had paid his rent but still owed the costs for the proceeding, never-the less he and his children were put out of their home. People present witnessed the sad scene of a blind father carrying his sick child from the house. Moving to another town land the authorities insisted in having the seriously ill wife of the tenant removed from her home. Despite receiving medical and spiritual aid the poor woman died that evening. The final tenant to be evicted was a poor widow; neither she nor any of her neighbours were shown any sympathy by the land lord or his bailiff. Is it any wonder that the names of the landlord and his bailiff are no longer to be found in the area, while the family names of those evicted still live and prosper in the district?


  Bailiff is obviously derived from “bail” and bail is adapted from a Latin word which means to bear a burden. The person who “goes bail” for another takes a burden on himself – as many citizens have painfully discovered. The word “bailiff” is authoritatively defined as “a sheriff’s deputy”, one appointed to make arrests, collect fines, summon juries, etc.

   The land lord, the agent and bailiff were the terrors of rural life for generations. The landlord demanded rent that had not been earned; the agent saw to it that the necessary legal steps to enforce the demand were taken; the bailiff appeared on the scene, armed with his writ for seizure or for eviction. And in his train were the armed forces of the Crown. He generally had assistance (under-bailiffs); it was their business to attend to the details of the work-search for and seize goods, or ply the battering ram against the walls and apply torch to the roof. Thus bailiffs were mainly identified in the people’s minds with the operations of landlordism.


  An old street ballad illustrates the tragic relations between the officials and the peasants:



                                             My father died, I closed his eyes

                                             Outside our cabin door,

                                             The landlord and the bailiff too

                                             Were there the day before.


Posted on July 17th, 2010 by by admin

Non- fatal.




Catalina Z2153      crashed on Lough Erne   on 3rd December 1941

Catalina W8414    crashed at Castle Archdale on 26th May 1942.

Catalina  FP 194    crashed Killadeas on 10th May 1943

Catalina  FP101    hit ground on Lough Erne on 7t August 1943

Catalina   Z2147    crashed Killadeas on 9th January 1944.

Catalina AM266 Damaged at Kiladeas on 3rd march 1944.

Catalina AH541   Sank in Lough Erne 17th April 1944

Catalina JX 576 Wrecked on rock 20th July 1944.

Catalina FP 203  Undershot at Killadeas on 16th August 1944

Catalina  Z2152  crashed Killadeas 20th August 1944.

Catalina AH 536 sank Lough Erne 7th May 1941.




Sunderland NJ 184 Ran aground on Lough Erne 8Th May 1945.

Sunderland W 4001 Hit rock Lough Erne on 4th October 1942.

Sunderland  W 3995 Ran aground on Lough Erne 10th & sank 11th January 1943.

Sunderland  EJ 157  Engine went of fire at Castle Archdale 12th May 1945.

Sunderland  W 4003 damaged in storm at Killadeas on 21st October 1945.

Sunderland  SZ 574 struck  obstruction in Lough Erne and beached on 31st May 1949.


Posted on July 17th, 2010 by by admin

Royal Tribute to ‘Embroidery Instructress’. –Mr. W.J. Mansfield, principal, Enniskillen Technical School, has received the following letter from Mr. W.H. Holden, Secretary and London Managing Director of the Ivy Linen Corporation, Ltd., London:- “It is a pleasure to inform you that their Imperial Majesties the King and Queen visited and inspected our exhibits here today (at the British Industries Fair). I was able to introduce Mrs. Keown to her Majesty, who expressed her admiration as well as that of H.M. the King in the handiwork of the Royal Empire supper cloth and the patience and skill displayed. They also admired the embroidery work on which she was demonstrating and examined some of her personal handiwork with highly complimentary remarks. We are indebted to you and the Ministry of Education for granting her permission to demonstrate here in the interests of the Ulster Linen Industry”. 


   The Royal Empire supper cloth referred to was embroidered last year by Mrs.Keown’s pupils in the Belleek district. The cloth was presented to their Majesties who commanded that their thanks be conveyed to the workers.


  Mrs. Mary Anne Keown nee Dolan was born in Killybeg, Roscor, P.O. Belleek on 12th May 1886. She died on 12th July 1968. She taught sprigging (embroidery) in Belleek Court House, in Mulleek School and Cashel School. Her grand father Pat Connolly was from Aughnaha, Rossinver, Co. Leitrim. As there was then no school in Cornahilta Mary Anne went to live with her grand father in Rossinver and went to Ballinameehan School where she made her first Holy Communion. She remained there until she was 13 years old when she returned home to Killybeg and went to Cornahilta Primary School were she was taught by Mrs Dick. Master Dick taught in Roscor Primary School.

     She then went to the Technical School in Enniskillen, travelling by bicycle a journey that took one hour. It was there that she was taught the craft of sprigging. Mary Anne was sent to Hyde Park in London by the school in 1925 where she remained for 6 months giving demonstrations on the art of sprigging.


    Mrs. Patricia O’Reilly, daughter of Mrs. Keown.


My mother took on an agency for Spirella Corsets, in her spare time in the long summer evenings when she finished her work, she would travel by pony and trap to Leitrim to canvas for clients, she got lots of sales for the Spirella Company.

    One night when leaving her grand fathers house her cousin said he would leave her by the Garrison Chapel and as they were passing the Church the mare in the trap reared up and would not pass. Patrick who was on horse back took off his jacket and put it over the mare’s head and led herby. There was supposed to be a haunting at the Chapel.

  When we were young our Postal Address was Kilybeg, Roscor, Belleek and then in later years it was changed to Garrison. Barney Daly was the postman and he refused to come up from Cornahilta as there was a big hill and he wasn’t fit for it.

Donna’s Poem

Posted on July 17th, 2010 by by admin

I know I never met you, I am very sad to say

But I feel that I know you through Joe

Who spoke so warmly of you, to me the other day!

Joe said you were so beautiful – it came from deep within

It shone through your smiling eyes, to your lips and glowed upon your skin

In your eyes he said, everyone was equal, whether they be rich or poor

It didn’t mater about their colour, creed, or politics

Or what type of clothes they wore

To their stories you would listen. Then tell some of your own

And when the challenge got tough, you laughed out in defiance

Instead of just sitting down to moan

Your thirst for knowledge was endless, you travelled far and wide

But there was always the Irish lass, whose homeland was her pride

Once you started on a project, you ensured you saw it through

It didn’t matter who they were

If they were needed, you hauled them into help out too

Your family and friends were devastated, the day you passed a way

You touched so many people’s lives, in the short time you came to stay.

And like Joe, they will talk of you often, and the joy you gave to all

If what he says is true, you’ll be creating a big STIR right now

up in the Angels Hall.


Patricia Mitton.

30th July 2007.

Bill Thornhill

Posted on July 17th, 2010 by by admin

Bill was born on 11th May 1888 in No. 10 Rathmore Terrace, Belleek, the only child of Edward and Mary Thornhill,  Belleek, Co. Fermanagh.Bill’s mother was a member of the O’Shea family of Druminillar. Eddie Thornhill had one known brother, George Thornhill who lived in what is now the Thatch Coffee shop. It is thought that the Thornhills came to Belleek as potters when the Belleek pottery was founded in 1857. There are a number of unusual events if the family history. Mrs. George Thornhill had been born on the Rock of Gibraltar. Her parents were members of the McGoldrick/Walsh families from the Mulleek district of the parish. Her father was a serving soldier in the English army and in those years a soldier could be accompanied by his wife on campaign. Her father had served in the Crimean war that started on 28th March 1854 when Britain and France declared war on Russia. He was transferred from the Crimea to Gibraltar and it was there that the wife of George Thornhill was born.

      A grandson of the Thornhills – James Nelson was born blind and as young boy the first and only place that he could go alone was down the street two doors to the bicycle shop of Tommy O’Loughlin. Jimmy would go down the steps from his own front door, with his hand on the wall he made his way to the as he fondly called it ‘The wee bicycle shop’. There he listened to the workmen and customers as they discussed the current affairs of the period. As he grew older he became a student at a college for the blind where he trained as a telephone operator. Jimmy would come home to Belleek on his holidays. Then his uncle by marriage – Willie Dolan would take Wee Jimmy for walks along the banks of the River Erne. As they walked Willie described every thing about the river and the landscape to Jimmy, the good fishing throws and pools, the water falls and the rocks.

          The result being that the little blind boy could describe the area better than any sighted person. Although there were not many motor cars in Belleek then, Jimmy knew by the sound of the engines who owned them. He also knew who owned all the carts in the area. After his mother passed away Jimmy never returned to Belleek. I had the good luck to visit him once in the home for the Blind in Warrenpoint in Co. Down. He knew immediately that I was one of the O’Loughlin family, but was not sure which of the sons I was. With great emotion and feeling in his voice he asked me if the ‘Wee bicycle shop’ was still there in Belleek.  He had so many happy memories of the shop. I lost touch with Jimmy for many years when he was moved to a nursing home in Kilkeel, Co. Down. There with my wife and I visited him again. He had thought that any one in Belleek who knew him had all died. So he had made arrangements to be buried in Kilkeel. Due to the efforts of his social worker Gabriela McBreen plans were made that when Jimmy would die that he would be taken home to be buried in Belleek with his mother and the Thornhill/Nelson families. A short time late Jimmy passed away suddenly and he was brought back to Belleek for burial. His final wish granted.

       The father of his cousin Bill Thornhill was an expert fishing man and sad to say this led to his financial downfall. Supported by local clergymen and some others he took a law case against the Erne Fishery Company and in the courts won for the people the right to have free trout fishing on the River Erne from the County Wall on the Fermanagh/ Donegal border to the broad Lough. It is said that by appeals and other means the case went all the way to the House of Lords where Eddie Thornhill won the case. Attached is a copy of the permit issued each year to local fisher men. As can be seen from the attached photo Bill’s mother was an elegant lady and as a boy Bill was dressed in the latest fashion. As a youth he was a member of the local Hibernian Band and often told of their travel by train to play in Dundalk.

            When his parents died Bill was evicted from the family home. Local business people and neighbours built him a comfortable little cabin on the Rath Lane. The manger of the pottery, Eric Arnold who lived on the Rath Fort hill gave Bill a free electric light supply and each winter gave him a present of a bag of coal. Blessed with a fine pair of hands Bill would repair clocks, gramophones, umbrellas and broken fishing rods. He had a great interest in wild life and would feed the birds and other creatures during the cold days of winter. Like his father before him he was an expert fisherman, I have a clear memory of him with a large pike being brought by Bill up the Main Street, it was so big that he laced a rope through its mouth and gills, even with the rope slung over his shoulder the broad tail of the fish was trailing along the street. His favourite drink was a glass of Rum and his smoke a Woodbine cigarette. He had a beard long before they became fashionable and when funds were reasonable he would dress in style in Plus Fours and long stockings.

      A proud man Bill would never accept charity, but from people that he trusted he would accept a loan which would always be paid back. At one time he was given a present of a miniature steam engine and he claimed that with this machine he could control the weather. There were many lovely stories about Bill and his love of nature. He was also quite a good painter and the local curate Fr. Peter McCluskey would employ Bill to do the painting in the church and on the gates and surrounding railings. Each town and village in that era had its own unique character; few could match Bill Thornhill or have been as popular in their locality as he was. When he became of advanced years and in ill health Bill ended his days in comfort in a nursing home in Enniskillen. There he received regular visits from his friends and neighbours from the Pottery village who always ensured that he had never wanted for a smoke or a little drop of rum. Like his cousin Wee Jimmy Nelson – when he passed away aged 87 in November 1975 – Bill was given a fine funeral and laid to rest with his parents in St. Patrick’s Cemetery, Belleek quite close to where his little cabin had been on the Rath Lane. Recently a memorial stone has been placed on his previously unmarked grave to ensure that one of the greatest characters of the Pottery village shall never be forgotten.


In one generation of Bill’s mothers family there was only one son John, who had seven sisters, they all married locally. They became know in local folklore as ‘The Granny Shea’s’. They were Mrs, Mortimor, Mrs.McGarrigle, Mrs, McCauley, Mrs.Montgomery,  Mrs.McCabe, Mrs. O’Neill and Mrs. Gallagher.