The William Carleton story was told by Jack Johnston at The Shepherd’s Rest pub near Draperstown. The well-attended event was hosted by Ballinascreen Historical Society. It include a reading by the Carleton Players from “The Party Fight and Funeral”, adapted by Liam Foley. William Carleton Society is part of the “Shared History, Shared Future” project financed by the EU Peace III initiative and administered by Magherafelt District Council on behalf of the South West Peace III Partnership. On Tuesday 14th May at 6:30pm at Ranfurly House/Hill of the O’Neill centre in Dungannon we will be launching the programme for the 22nd annual William Carleton international summer school. All welcome.
The picture shows a train from the Clogher Valley Railway in the Main Street of the border village of Caledon, County Tyrone. In the middle you can see the clock tower of the courthouse. The train is number 6, called Erne. It was built by Sharp, Stewart No. 3374 of 1887; 0-4-2 tank. It was in service until the railway closed on December 31st 1941 and was scrapped the following year. The other engines were Caledon (1), Errigal (2), Blackwater (3), Fury (4), Colebrooke (5) and Blessingbourne (7), built by Hudswell, Clarke & co.
The story of the railway was told at the restored Caledon courthouse this evening by Jack Johnston, who has written extensively about the history of the Clogher Valley. He illustrated the talk with slides, many of them black and white pictures of the operation of the railway which had been taken in the last century. Jack is also President of the William Carleton Society, one of five groups along with Caledon Regeneration Partnership, Donaghmore Historical Society, Killeeshil and Clonaneese Historical Society and South Lough Neagh Regeneration Association taking part in the EU Peace III-funded “Shared History, Shared Future” project.
The 3ft gauge Clogher Valley Tramway was incorporated on 26th May 1884, the second project under the terms of the 1883 Act. It opened for traffic on 2nd May 1887 linking Tynan in County Armagh and Maguiresbridge in County Fermanagh, both on the broad gauge Great Northern Railway, a distance of 37 miles. The route covered the Clogher Valley in County Tyrone serving the towns of Caledon, Aughnacloy, Ballygawley, Augher, Clogher and Fivemiletown. The railway followed public roads for much of its length and ran down the main streets of Caledon and Fivemiletown.
The railway had a dismal financial performance throughout its lifetime, belying the glowing picture of returns painted in its prospectus. Nevertheless the Company had extremely ambitious plans for expansion aimed at providing access to the port of Newry and connections with the Cavan and Leitrim line. None came to fruition however and the CVR remained a local line.
The Clogher Valley Railway lay within the six counties of Northern Ireland when partition occurred in 1922. The new government in Belfast recommended the takeover of the CVR by the broad gauge Great Northern Railway. The GNR refused to do this and the CVR retained its independence. In 1927 however the directors were replaced by a Committee of Management appointed by Tyrone and Fermanagh county councils.
The Committee did much to revitalise the line with more and speedier services. In 1932 a pioneering articulated passenger diesel railcar built by Walkers of Wigan was delivered, along with a diesel tractor unit which could tow a coach or a few wagons. These were successful in cutting costs and speeding up the service but could only postpone the inevitable end of the basically uneconomic line. For almost all of its existence the railway made a loss and it needed a subsidy from local ratepayers. The greatest profit ever made by the company was in 1904, only £791.
It was around this time that my great-grandfather John McCann J.P., an auctioneer in Aughnacloy, became a director of the railway. He served on the board for a number of years, under the chairmanship of Hugh de Fellenberg Montgomery of Blessingbourne, Fivemiletown, I still have a season ticket belonging to him.
For many years during the troubles in Northern Ireland the border village of Caledon in County Tyrone looked shabby, with many derelict and unused buildings along the main street. It looks very different nowadays, as the restored courthouse building testifies.
In 1984 the village was designated as a Conservation Area and six years later, this was reviewed and the boundary extended. DoE (NI) Planning Service produced a Conservation Area Guide to accompany the original designation, which included design guidance intended to help protect the historic fabric of the village.
The Caledon Regeneration Partnership was formed in 1994 to take forward a planned social, economic and environmental regeneration strategy for the County Armagh village. It is made up of representatives from the local community, local authority and Caledon Estates Company, which has an office in the main street.
One of the projects being undertaken is the restoration of a beam engine and engine house. Last year a total of £220,000 in funding was secured to finance the first phase. It is hoped that the engine will eventually be restored to a fully operational state, and become a tourist attraction for the area. The unique piece of equipment dates back to the early 1830s and is one of the earliest surviving steam engines in Ireland. It was once used to power the Caledon Flour Mill and then Caledon Woollen Mills.
William Beattie of Caledon Regeneration Partnership said he believed the beam engine is unique in these islands:- “There are only about eight beam engines in Ireland, and this one is the only one which has a housed engine, making it a very important piece of industrial archaeology. This is the only relic remaining of Caledon’s once famous mill industry, which produced quality woollen garments until the 1930s. The mill, which was built in the early 1800s, was demolished in 1985. During the summer, wood and coal was used to power the beam engine, when the water-flow was not strong enough to move the wheel. The hope is to get the engine functioning again, and to create a viable tourism attraction which will also faithfully record the history of the village”, he said.
In addition a Grade B listed property, a former worker’s building on the Caledon Estate, which has lain derelict for years, has received funding worth £30,000 under the Historic Buildings Grant-Aid Scheme.
Caledon estate was bought from the seventh Earl of Cork for £94,400 in 1776 by James Alexander (later first Earl of Caledon), an East India Company Nabob. The Earls of Cork and Orrery had only acquired the estate by marriage from the Hamilton family in 1738, but during the forty years of ownership, they had made it into a by-word for fashionable landscape design, complete with a gate lodge decorated with statues and Latin epigrams, a hermitage and a bone house.
Caledon Regeneration is one of five groups taking part in the “Shared History, Shared Future” project under the Peace III programme run by Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough Council. On Thursday evening (25th April) at 7pm, the historian Jack Johnston of the William Carleton Society will give a talk on the Clogher Valley Railway. The narrow gauge line ran through the main street of the village until its closure in 1941.
Saint Patrick might be known widely for the foundation of his see in Armagh, of which he was the first Bishop. But it is predated by his legacy in Clogher. To mark Saint Patrick’s Day, archivist Jack Johnston gave a talk on the history of Saint Macartan’s Anglican Cathedral. He pointed out that Saint Patrick came to Clogher and established a church there under Macartan before he went to Armagh, which is now the seat of the all-Ireland Primate in both the Church of Ireland and Catholic churches. The see of Clogher was founded by Saint Patrick, who appointed one of his household, Macartan, as first bishop in 454. Macartan was the ‘strong man’ of Patrick, who established the church in Clogher and spread the gospel in Tyrone and Fermanagh. It is said that Saint Brigid, Macartan’s niece, was present at the founding of the see.
The Precentor of Saint Macartan’s Cathedral Chapter, Reverend Noel Regan, who is originally from Sligo, organised a series of events to mark Saint Patrick’s Day, starting with the weekly Sunday morning Holy Communion service. There was a Lenten lunch to raise funds for the Us missionary organisation. It was followed by some musicians playing in the Cathedral, including a chance to hear the wonderful organ played by Glenn Moore, Director of Music at the other (later) diocesan Cathedral, St Macartin’s in Enniskillen.
The day was rounded off with an ecumenical evensong, featuring the choir of the Cathedral group of parishes and members of the choir from St Patrick’s Catholic church in Clogher, to a setting by Thomas Tallis. Canon Regan said, “As members of the Church of Ireland we have the great privilege of worshipping in some of the most significant and important sites in the Christian history of this land. In Clogher we have a fine Cathedral which stands on one of the most important Christian sites in the area. We are delighted to open our doors that others might come and together with us learn something of our common heritage and enjoy the surroundings of this holy and special place”.
Cllr Kenneth Reid & Michael Fisher
It promises to be an interesting four days in the Clogher Valley in August. The William Carleton Society’s summer school programme was launched at a reception kindly hosted by the Mayor of Dungannon & South Tyrone Cllr Kenneth Reid (who opened last year’s school) at the Council offices in Dungannon. Once again we are please to have booked Corick House Hotel in Clogher as the venue for 2012. The school will be officially opened on Monday 6th August and the keynote address by Professor CORMAC Ó GRÁDA is on the subject of “Carleton & others on famine’s darkest secret”. Dr MELISSA FEGAN (Chester) will speak about Carleton & the famine era. In the afternoon I am due to give a lecture on Carleton’s biographer DJ O’Donoghue, based on my researches at the UCD archive. The afternoon is rounded off on a lighter note with a reflection by County Tyrone native BARRY DEVLIN on life after Horslips. Tuesday’s events will start with a talk by the Society’s Vice-Chair FRANK McHUGH on Carleton’s Australian relatives. JOSEPHINE TREANOR from Knockatallon, Co.Monaghan, who joined us on the walk last year, will talk about her distant relation, Anne Duffy, the miller’s daughter (mentioned by Carleton). The Leitrim poet JOHN F. DEANE will give a reading from his works before lunch. The afternoon session begins with a performance by LAURENCE FOSTER (Dublin) of his one man show on Charles Dickens, who was born 200 years ago. For this year’s literary symposium we have invited CARLO GÉBLER from Fermanagh and MARY GUCKIAN a poet originally from Leitrim who attended the Carleton commemoration in Dublin in January. They will be joined by Monaghan native MARY O’DONNELL, a writer and poet, whose work has appeared in a number of collections. On Wednesday 8th August Dr SOPHIA HILLAN will speak on Jane Austen’s Irish nieces. Professor OWEN DUDLEY EDWARDS, the summer school honorary director, will give us his own unique insights into the work of William Carleton. Committee member LIAM FOLEY has once again adapted one of Carleton’s works for a reading: this year it will be “Phil Purcel the Pig Driver” followed by a discussion. The final act of the summer school will see CHRISTOPHER FITZ-SIMON, a former artistic director at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast, reflect on “Carleton on the stage: forgotten popular plays adapted from Traits & Stories”. Thursday 8th will be the day for a tour of the local area led by JACK JOHNSTON, Society President. The theme will be Carleton & his contemporaries, including Archbishop Hughes of New York. There will be a visit to his birthplace beside the border with Co.Monaghan and to Omagh.
The evening events include: Monday: Rathmore Bar Clogher Maguire family (traditional music); PJ Kennedy, poet (Belturbet) 9pm. Tuesday: Walk & talk Carleton with the Clogher Valley walking club to Fardross forest & Music by The Mountain Lark (Tydavnet) & reception at caravan park 8:30pm Wednesday: Concert with Fermanagh Choral Society (conductor Don Swain) at St Patrick’s church Clogher 8pm. More details at: http://www.williamcarletonsummerschool.org