Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Bush Telegraph - Summer Edition - 2017

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The Dark Hedges - and the Price of Fame 2



Posted 31 July 2017

Who and Where are the Guardians?



Posted 31 July 2017

Save The Dark Hedges Petition
[4570+ signatures October 7]


Added August 22 and 24



Another ancient beech tree fracturing under the strain


What once was vertical is now horizontal


Newish looking fracture at centre of image


The soft verges are now pock-marked by heavy traffic




A branch apparently ripped off a young tree


Added August 27 and 29

Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council

"Recommendation [November 2016]

The Leisure & Development Committee is asked to approve the transition of the project to Stage 2 within Council’s capital project management system. If approved, a tender report for the design, procurement and contractor services outlined above will be brought before Council for consideration to ensure the necessary infrastructure is in place to facilitate the pedestrianisation of the Bregagh Road prior to the summer season of 2017."


Added September 25


Conversion of verges to mud may have blocked the run-off sump


Some coaches are ignoring the 'unsuitable for coaches' signs



Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Giant's Causeway - McConaghy's Souvenir Shop or National Trust Toilets

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iPetition
Click link if you'd like to sign this petition

The National Trust has applied for a change of use from a shop and an office to toilets adjacent to its Visitor Centre at the Giant's Causeway.


Tommy McConaghy and others have submitted objections to the Planning Service but as far as I know the proposal has yet to be considered by Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council. Tommy's shop was relocated after the fire in the previous visitor centre.

McConaghy's Shop
Est 1947

Brian Fillis compiled the following item for the BBC's Your Place and Mine; Dan McConaghy is Tommy's father:

When Dan McConaghy came out of the navy after the war, he and his wife ran one of the eight shops that were along the bottom of the cliffs at the Causeway. These were timber-framed little cabins covered in galvanised iron where visitors could buy postcards, china, rings, etc. Together, Dan and his wife built up a thriving business, but in those austere times souvenirs to sell in the shop were hard to come by, so Dan set to and made his own. Shillelaghs were always a much sought after gift and Dan traveled throughout County Antrim seeking out the high hedges from which to cut the thorns. Then it was back to his workshop at the Aird where he fashioned them into the souvenir we know so well.

One popular trinket which many of the Causeway entrepreneurs used to make, was a little hand carving of one of the local features - the "Wishing Chair". These went around the world in their hundreds as tourists took them home. They were fashioned, not from the Causeway stone, but from a softer rock (Lithomarge). This was found in a nearby area called the Loom but was usually covered by the sea. Dan would dig out this rock then carve it with a penknife. Perhaps you still have one of these ornaments on your mantlepiece? If so please tell us. These pieces are now rare as the National Trust stopped the removal of the rock when they took over the ownership of the area in 1962, The turnstiles and the shops were also removed at that time. The little Causeway shops were visited by many hundreds of tourists from around the world. as Dan reels off the list of coach parties that used to arrive on a daily basis from hotels throughout the province.

Planning Application LA01/2017/0730/F
Proposal
Change of use from shop and office to ancillary W.C.facilities including blocking up internal access so thatfacilities are accessed externally only and alterationsto façade to include the replacement of doors with afixed glazed screen with hardwood painted frame.
Location
Causeway Hotel, 40 Causeway Road, Bushmills.
Applicant
National Trust, Rowallane Stableyard, Saintfield BT24 7LH
.
Main signage for toilets points to the Visitor Centre 
main entrance. These toilets aren't free.

There is a sign for the three free toilets but it's well
 above eye level and the print is small.


Added July 28 - 11 am

So far there have been almost 1800 NALIL pageviews and 44 Facebook shares since this blog was posted at 10 pm on July 26. If you wish to make a representation to the Planning Service, either for or against the National Trust proposal, please do do so as soon as possible. It's important that the Planning Service is well informed about the public mood. You can also track the progress of this planning application via the Public Portal.

Added July 31 - 1.20 pm

There are now almost 3200 NALIL page views [9000+ September 29] as well as 67 shares on my Facebook timeline and I've just received a photo of a carved Causeway wishing chair:


Added September 27 and 28



Heather McLachlan
@NTDirectorNI
NT Director for NI. Thoughts, news and views about all things wildlife, heritage and environment related

Perhaps the thoughts and views of local people have not penetrated the walls of NT NI HQ

National Trust - "Playing our Part": "The need for new, innovative ways to look after local, everyday historic and beautiful places is a challenge that charities, government, business and communities need to address together." 

NT can play its part by allowing and encouraging local businesses to trade on NT premises.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Bushmills - National Trust Ulster Gardens Scheme - July 29-30


Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 July 2–5pm

Mr and Mrs D I Page

Billy Old Rectory, 5 Cabragh Road, 
Castlecat, Bushmills, BT57 8YH

A mature garden of three acres on an historic site. To the front of the Georgian rectory is a large lawn with mature trees, a small peace garden, an ancient well and a developing woodland garden with a small fernery leading to a secret garden. To the rear of the house is another large lawn with contrasting borders of roses, herbaceous plants and shrubs, as well as an attractive pond area. A wooden rustic fence separates the long herbaceous border from the kitchen garden, with greenhouse, herb, vegetable and fruit gardens. Beyond the lawn is a large old orchard and an experimental area with wildflowers and annuals. Partially suitable for wheelchairs.


Location

From Ballymena take A26 towards Ballymoney. On Ballymoney by-pass go straight on at Kilraughts roundabout and then at Portrush Road roundabout take third exit, BT62 Portrush. Continue on this road, enter Ballybogey and turn right, signposted B67 Ballycastle. Continue on to Derrykeighan and turn left. Continue to Castlecat and turn right, signposted Billy 0.5 mile and then immediately fork left on to Haw Road. Continue to church and park on Haw Road. Garden is on the right on Cabragh Road.

From Coleraine take Ballycastle Road (B67). At T junction turn right and then next left, Benvarden Road. At Derrykeighan turn left, signposted Bushmills and on to Castlecat, from there follow directions as above.


Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Margaret Watton Neve meets her North Antrim Cousins

John Watt's "Watt's About"
Ballymoney and Ballycastle Chronicles


[click this link]


Ballymena Family History Group - September Genealogy Fair

The Ballymena branch of the North of Ireland Family History Society (NIFHS), in conjunction with Family Tree DNA (FTDNA), are hosting a family history and DNA research fair on 





Saturday 2nd September 2017

between 11am and 4pm at 

Bridge Street, Ballymena.

Local history groups, commercial genealogy companies and government bodies will be available to offer assistance in genealogy and local history research.

So if you are wishing to start your family tree or you are a more experienced researcher and you have come up against  "Brick Wall", come along and chat to the local representatives from the various groups who will  be taking a stall. 

Learn about the advantages of DNA testing and how it can assist in your family history research. DNA test kits will be available for testing on the day or to take away and have another member of your family take the test. 

Come along, admission is free and start to learn about your family roots and local history.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Bushmills Salmon and Whiskey Festival 2017 - All Over Now

A Brief Snapshot in Time



A cracking good time

Children's reaction

Recording session

Going global via modern media

Monday, 12 June 2017

Grange of Drumtullagh's Electric Brae

This morning I received an unusual request, an invitation to view the 'electric brae' on the Lisnagat Road, just west of Drumtullagh Parish Church [also known locally as Croshan].


The road rises gently to the spot marked by the yellow arrow and then appears to dip before the final steep ascent to the church.


The car is stopped beyond the same spot indicated by the yellow arrow and gently rolls back towards it ie it appears to freewheel gently uphill. The illusion is more obvious in reality than in those two photos.

Bushmills Salmon and Whiskey Festival - 17th & 18th June 2017




Sunday, 21 May 2017

Parades Commission - A Most Curious Apology

Just recently I noticed, in a newspaper report, a reference to an 'unnotified protest' in Ballycastle on July 12, 2016. This is incorrect. It was submitted electronically but very late to the Parades Commission website; it wasn't there early in the morning of July 12 but did appear a few hours later; it was subsequently removed without explanation.

I sent the following query to the Parades Commission [PC] on September 28, 2016:

I was following events in Ballycastle on July 12 on Twitter and other media. When I checked the PC website I saw details of a protest by an unnamed group. The protest took place during the course of the parade but was terminated following alleged threats of arrest. However, I subsequently discovered that this PC posting had been removed. When was it removed? Why was there no post outlining the PC response to this notification as would be the case when conditions are applied to protests and parades? Isn't the PC guided by the Model Publication Scheme provided by the Office of the Information Commissioner so that members of the public can easily see what decisions have been taken as well as why? Such responses should be in a format that is easily accessible ie searchable.

I received this very prompt reply from the PC Secretariat on September 28, 2016:

With respect to your correspondence of 28 September 2016, please note the following.

A protest notification was indeed submitted to the Parades Commission website in respect of the ‘Twelfth’ parade in Ballycastle and was therefore placed on the Commission’s website. Within a very short period of time, however, the protest notification was withdrawn* by the organisers and was therefore not subject to any consideration by the Commission. That being so, the notified  protest information was immediately removed from the Commission website.

If any protest against the parade did subsequently take place in Ballycastle on the 12 July 2016, the Parades Commission received no notification of same. Any such protest places itself in the category of an unnotified event and it falls to the PSNI to investigate, as the Commission has no powers in these matters.

Had the Parades Commission been required to consider a properly notified protest and issue a determination, the full details of the notification and the associated Commission decision would have been published on the Commission’s website.

I hope that this is of assistance.

[* Was the protest notification withdrawn?]

I received a second reply on October 3, 2016:

With respect to your queries about the ‘Twelfth’ parade in Ballycastle, please note that this parade was not regarded as being contentious**, therefore it was not labelled so. As no contention was attached to the parade it was not necessary for the Commission to consider it, or issue any determination.

I shall bring your other queries regarding the withdrawn protest to the attention of the Commission and will respond to you as soon as possible.

[** Such parades in Ballycastle are contentious but not to the same degree as other places. This would be well known to members of the PC and PC Secretariat or could be easily checked.]

and a follow-up reply on October 5, 2016:

Your further correspondence of 30 September 2016 refers.

The Public Processions (NI) Act requires the submission, to the PSNI, of the 11/3 notice of intent to hold a protest 14 days before the date of the event or if that is not reasonably practicable, as soon as it is reasonably practicable.

The 11/3 (proposed protest notice) was submitted online at 3.32am on the morning of 12th July proposing a protest to be held at 12.45pm at the LOL No 23 parade in Ballycastle later that same day.

The PSNI only became aware that the 11/3 had been submitted online when the organiser’s representative contacted them about it around 11.00am on 12th July. The PSNI immediately contacted a member of the Commission Secretariat staff to advise that a late protest notice had been submitted.

Although the Commission Secretariat offices were closed on 12th July, Secretariat staff were able to contact Commissioners about the proposed protest. By noon on the 12th July, details of the proposed protest had been provided to the Commission for its consideration. The Commission subsequently took the decision to reject the late protest notice.

The Commission’s decision to reject the late notice was relayed to the organiser’s representative and to the PSNI by telephone at approximately 12.15pm. Confirmation of the Commission’s decision to reject the late notice was also sent by e mail to the protest organiser.

The PSNI contacted the Commission Secretariat at 12.55pm to advise that the protest organiser had approached PSNI in Ballycastle to inform them that he was withdrawing his protest notice.

You have enquired about when details of the protest notice were put on and subsequently taken off the Commission’s website.

In this particular instance, the Commission Secretariat was closed on the 12th & 13th July therefore details of the submitted protest notice were not posted to the Commission’s public website. As a general rule, withdrawn notices of parades or protests are treated by the Commission as though they were never received. Once the Commission is informed that a notice has been withdrawn, details of the parade/protest are immediately deleted from the Commission’s public website. When Secretariat staff returned to work on 14th July, the protest had already been withdrawn so there was no need to post details on the public website.

Also, as stated in earlier correspondence, if an unnotified protest was held in Ballycastle on the 12th July, then this is a matter for the PSNI.

I would also reiterate that the LOL No 23 parade in Ballycastle on 12th July had not been deemed sensitive and the Commission did not formally consider the parade notice.

With regards your enquiry about direct contact between the Commission and the parade/protest organisers, the Commission’s statutory Procedural Rule 3.3 requires all representations by parties to the Commission be treated as confidential. Therefore, I am  unable to provide details of direct contact, if any, between said parties and the Commission in this matter.

I hope that this fuller explanation answers all of your queries. If I may be of further assistance, please feel free to contact me.

This follow-up reply was subsequently followed by a curious apology on October 12, 2016:

Apologies for my initial response of 30 September 2016, which was incorrect*** with respect to the placing of the notification on the PC website.  My detailed response of 5 October 16, sets out the correct position.

As the notification was received in the early hours of 12 July 16, and as the Parades Commission office was closed on both the 12th. and 13th.  of July, there was no-one in the office to place the notification on the website.

As it transpired, the protest had been withdrawn on the afternoon of the 12th. July, so when the Commission office had re-opened on the 14th. July, there was effectively no protest to be considered. This being so, it was not necessary to note details of the withdrawn protest on the website.

Any unnotified protest which may then have taken place during the parade on the 12th. July 2016, should be addressed by the PSNI.

I apologise for any confusion caused by my initial response, and I hope that I have now clarified the matter to your satisfaction.

[*** The initial statement about the protest by an unnamed group being placed on the PC website was correct; it's the apology/clarification which is incorrect. It should be obvious that the PC office wouldn't need to be open to the public for entries to be placed on or removed from a website.

There's a claim that the protest notification wasn't considered by the Commission and another that it was rejected by the Commission!]

PS There is now some doubt about whether or not the protest notification was withdrawn [see * note]. Confusion reigns!

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Companies House - Asleep at the desk?

Abraham Lincoln: “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.”

As I listened to an investigative programme some time ago it was claimed that not much was known about the business activities of a named company director. Had programme researchers looked at Companies House records all manner of curiosities would have come to light.

Companies House is the United Kingdom's registrar of companies and is an executive agency and trading fund of Her Majesty's Government.

The Companies Act 2006 was fully implemented on 1 October 2009 and the Northern Ireland companies register was fully integrated into Companies House. Companies House maintains a satellite office in Belfast, headed by the Registrar of Companies for Northern Ireland.

Before 1 October 2009 all limited companies in Northern Ireland were registered with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment and were subject to Northern Ireland law.

1250 Misleading, false and deceptive statements

(1)A person is guilty of an offence if—

(a)for the purposes of or in connection with any application under this Part, or

(b)in purported compliance with any requirement imposed on him by or by virtue of this Part, he knowingly or recklessly furnishes information which is misleading, false or deceptive in a material particular.

But just how thoroughly do Companies House staff cross-check the information supplied? A casual browse through current records would show that a crafty operator such as the fictional William James Alexander O'Kane might have many aliases, dates of birth and correspondence addresses. Just look at some of the permutations of forenames: William, William James, William James Alexander, Alexander James - and even Jim. His surname might be listed as O'Kane or O Kane. What about dates of birth? I dare say that three different dates of birth might slip through the large holes in the net eg March 1973, March 1975 and May 1975 - in addition to a few different correspondence addresses.

You won't find our fictional friend on the Companies House register but you might just find real directors with more than one alias, date of birth and/or correspondence address.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Bush Telegraph - February 2017 - Genealogy

A FREE copy of the Bush Telegraph 2017 Winter Edition is now available from some shops in Bushmills. The cover story is about the Patton brothers from the town.

[Click image to enlarge]



Monday, 23 January 2017

Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council - Muddling Through?

Politicians often come under attack from other politicians as well as attention-grabbing elements of the mainstream and new social media; sometimes they have to sort out the mess created by bureaucrats and bureaucracy. Are the officers in the recently formed councils struggling with the paperwork left behind by the legacy councils - as well as possible pressure from vested interests?

Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council has recently issued a licence for a temporary building in Dundarave car-park in Bushmills, a car-park that one of the legacy councils had issued a licence to the National Trust for use as a park-and-ride facility adjacent to the Giant's Causeway.


The temporary structure and metal cage clearly block the circular traffic flow. When I used the car-park a few days ago there were several large coaches and cars using the traffic bays and vehicles negotiated a path across vacant bays.

Added Saturday, February 4

There are many areas of outstanding natural beauty as well as special scientific and historical interest in the Council district and Portballintrae is no exception.


There's an area of special scientific interest on the west side of the main bay and alongside it lies the old lane that led to Seaport Lodge, now in a dilapidated state but once the summer residence of local landlords. The lane is a popular route for walkers, including those from the local district out exercising their dogs; it has also featured in exchanges in another of the legacy councils.

Recent conversations in social media would indicate that Council officers appear to be more concerned about the location of a few short and long resident concrete posts to the side of the lane than a more recent razor-wire erection further along.




Hopefully our elected representatives can sort out the muddle in the not too distant future and visitors as well as locals can enjoy the splendid scenic views that Portballintrae still retains.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

David Speers Exhibition - "Light of the Antrim Coast" - Belfast, February 6-28, 2017


Donegall Square North, Belfast

6th - 28th February, 2017

Northern/Members' Room

Admission Free :: All Welcome


"David Speers, artist, bookman, and local historian, knows every corner of his north Antrim coast. 
In this exhibition he brings together the mood, light and atmosphere of his northern heartland."
PLUS

David's brother Neill Speers has three play readings running at the same venue during the exhibition's first week. 

They mark the 75th anniversary of the arrival of American troops in 1942.

Dan Gordon of 'Give My Head Peace' and also with past Bushmills connections will be heading the cast.

who were stationed in Ballycastle.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Renewable Heat Initiative - Snippets from the Boardroom

The Belfast Deficit
[Click the link]
These snippets from the minutes illustrate a paucity of information, some confusion over the management of risk, a promised update which doesn't appear and a lack of information provided to Independent Board members. 

Only one of the two Independent board members was present in 2013 and 2014.

Treasury best practice stipulates that Ministers chair meetings of their Departmental Boards but Ministers aren't even present so that they could be advised and challenged by Independent members. The Ministers do receive regular briefings from their Permanent Secretaries but this falls far short of best practice. Also, I can find no minutes of such briefings or of those by the Departmental Executive teams [Permanent Secretary and senior colleagues].

The Office of the Information Commissioner should insist that Departments provide Model Publication Schemes so that anyone can easily search and peruse agendas, minutes and officers' report in order to offer constructive comment and, if necessary, sound the alarm. The DETI minutes are in image format ie non-searchable; the DfE minutes are searchable but, curiously, the minutes for July and September were created on 07/11/2016 but not modified. The October 25 minutes were created on 18/11/2016 and modified on 05/12/2016, one day before the BBC Spotlight broadcast.





Added

I raised the issue of the deficit back in 2012 with an Independent member from another Department and got the following reply: "I note your comment relating to the structure of the departmental board in *******. I did understand that the model in Whitehall is not mirrored by Northern Ireland departments. I took up my appointment on this basis. This is therefore a matter for the devolved administrations to form a view on and change if felt appropriate."