Ballynoe Stone Circle

Ballynoe Stone Circle, the earliest and the largest Megalithic Structure surviving in Ulster Photo © Eric Jones (cc-by-sa/2.0) Just a few miles inland can be found a large and impressive circle of 100 feet in diameter with more than closely spaced unhewn 50 monoliths of Silurian rock or granite. The largest, 6.5 feet high and 3 feet thick....

Holywood Spectacles

Finlay’s Stone Sitting in the middle of a lawn at Willisden nursing home, Church Road, Holywood is a great block of stone.  For years, this remarkable stone has fascinated mathematicians especially lovers of geometry.  It looks rectangular but we are told it could be cuboid.  Seemingly it’s all about proportions. By now, you are saying...

Irish Natural Pearls

Irish streams and rivers provided many fine pearls. It is a fact, for many generations, the River Struel, which flows from Omagh to Newtownstewart, was noted for its pearls. The pearl industry centred around Omagh and the district has supplied many fine specimens. Although nature conspires against all but the very observant.  The shellfish shows...

Helen’s Bay Railway Station

Helen’s Bay Railway Station (1971) Photo © The Carlisle Kid (cc-by-sa/2.0) The trains still stop at the little railway station at Helen’s Bay, one of the most fantastic railway stations in the U.K. This splendid Victorian railway station was built to the specifications of Frederick, First Marquis of Dufferin and Ava, in 1863, for his private use, ...

Stories from the Grave

There is something macabre in stories of graves and graveyards. Death customs such as stopping the clocks and covering up the mirrors when someone dies in the house; also the placing of a dish of salt in the proximity of the dead.  All these things and the carrying out of the corpse feet first and...

Ghostly Apparitions

GHOSTLY APPARITIONS Ulster has its quota of stories that tell of spirits that come back to keep a tryst, to give a warning, or perhaps to visit the scene of a long-forgotten tragedy. Traditionally, Halloween is the time when restless spirits are abroad – a time when a benighted pedestrian, hurrying along an unfrequented country...

Annie’s Grave

If you look close enough at an ordinance map of the Lecale district in County Down you will note a crossroads where the townlands of Coniamstown – Whigamatown and Bright converge, it is called Annie’s Grave.   ANNIE’S GRAVE A very ordinary-looking crossroads, nothing to mark it out on the spot. Turn off on the way...

The Highest Railway In Ireland

The cuttings, embankment, and bridges of the old narrow-gauge railway from Ballymena to Retreat Station are still visible reminders of an unusual if unprofitable service. It was called the Ballymena, Cushendall and Red Bay Railway (BCRR) and it was the first narrow-gauge railway to be authorised by Parliament.  It was opened firstly for goods from...

World War II Relics

In the large beautiful landscaped gardens of Tubber House, Kircubbin up till a few years ago an underground World War II bunker was to be found. It was named ‘THE WAR HOUSE’, the former sector operations room which controlled Ballyhalbert airfield. This top-secret location was one of the most significant buildings in Northern Ireland. The...

Strangford Lough

Twice every day 400 million tons of water rushes up the Strangford lough through the deep seething strait, and down again into the Irish Sea. When the wind is in the east and the tide is ebbing, the bar is a very dangerous place. Here the tide runs at 6 miles an hour with the...