Saturday, 23 May 2020

Storied Homes of Ulster – Galgorm Castle

The following is part of a series of articles which appeared in the Belfast Telegraph in 1953 under the pen name 'Fina'.


Galgorm Castle


THE road that leads to Galgorm Castle is dominated by woods on either side. It is a smooth, curving road with strongly built and well-kept walls. How different it must be from the road which Sir Faithful Fortescue travelled in the second decade of the 17th century when he was seeking a site on which to build a bawn.

Sir Faithful was a servitor of Queen Elizabeth; his very name suggests a plain and honest Puritan gentleman.

Whatever the condition of the road when Sir Faithful travelled it, he doubtless heard the rooks filling the air with the noise of their cawing, just as I did when I went to view Galgorm Castle on a day in early spring.

The Castle is set well back amongst great elms, and like the name of the man who first built on this spot, it has a Puritan air. Covered in creeper, the appearance of the house is most symmetrical.

There are eleven chimneys on either side, and one in the middle to complete the balance. Three parapets flank a curved Dutch gable, and this curved gable is echoed by the doorway.

The whole atmosphere of the place is one of utmost neatness, from the primly curtained gatehouse to the pairs of stone balls that line each side of the straight driveway. The ruins of a chapel in the vicinity serve only to emphasise the balance of the rest.

The castle that we see to-day is one built upon the site of the original bawn by Dr. Colville, rector of Ballymoney, in 1632. This gentleman purchased the estate from Sir Faithful and many stories are told concerning him.

In a pamphlet on witchcraft which Classon Porter brought out. It is stated that Dr. Colville's contemporaries accounted for his great wealth by alleging that he sold his soul to the Devil for a hatful of gold.

Such was the Doctor's craft that he arranged to meet the Devil on a limekiln at the Whitewall and slit his hat so that the gold fell through and filled the kiln as well as the hat.

In this type of story, the Devil is always represented as simple and good-natured, and when he later came to claim his victim, the Doctor pleaded for just sufficient time to let the candle by which he was reading the Bible burn away. When the Devil agreed, the Doctor immediately blew out the candle and locked it away in an iron box.

Whatever the truth of this tale, when alterations were carried out at Galgorm in the year 1850, an iron box, a candle, and a Bible were found.

FINA

Next week – Carrickblacker, Portadown.

Belfast Telegraph, Wednesday, 15th April 1953

Wednesday, 13 May 2020

Storied Homes of Ulster – Waringstown House

The following is part of a series of articles which appeared in the Belfast Telegraph in 1953 under the pen name 'Fina'.


Waringstown House


THERE have been Warings living at Waringstown House ever since it was built in the seventeenth century. The first Waring came to Ulster from Lancashire, fleeing the persecution of Queen Mary.

It was the grandson of this pioneer who introduced linen manufacture to the district. He brought artisans from Holland to help to establish the industry and it may be that the rather Dutch air of this house can be attributed to the influence of some of these Dutchmen.

Waringstown House fronts the main road between Banbridge and Lurgan. The facade is typically early Renaissance in that its most symmetrical. There is a very gay air about the house due chiefly to its wonderful coral colour. Built of enormous stones and mud, then covered with stucco and washed with this glorious soft pink, the house presents a challenge to some of our grey, modern cities.

Although the facade is so formal, a more human and boisterous type of architecture is revealed when the house is viewed from the garden.

A jolly Dutch gable is thrown up here and a bowed window juts out there. It is as if a joyous country lady had put on a stately countenance for a Court occasion, but could not suppress her roguish dimples. Indeed the house puts one in mind of a lady whose dress shows a beautiful sense of colour, for even the slates, grape blue, have taken on a hint of rose through the years. The clean lines of the windows are outlined in white, sharp against the coral of the house, and to heighten the effect of all this colour, an age-darkened yew hedge is set against the house

Succeeding generations of Warings have left their mark upon the place. Dean Waring of Lurgan wrought most beautiful carvings on the Irish oak of the hall and staircase. Some of the Dean's work is also to be seen in the lovely Jacobean church, built very near to the house on land given by the family. Pulpit, roof and pillars of local oak are wonderfully and lovingly carved with fruit, leaves and flowers. Over the family pew, Dean Waring carved a stork, the family crest. This lovely work is surely a most beautiful memorial of him, an unsung Ulster Grinling Gibbons.

FINA

Next week – Galgorm Castle.

Belfast Telegraph, 8th April 1953

Wednesday, 6 May 2020

Storied Homes of Ulster – Antrim Castle

The following is part of a series of articles which appeared in the Belfast Telegraph in 1953 under the pen name 'Fina'.


Antrim Castle


IN 1605, two years after the death of the first Elizabeth, a bawn was built where the ruins of Antrim Castle now stand. The castle itself was begun in 1610, and Hugh Clotworthy completed it in 1613. During the reign of the second Charles additions were made by the first Viscount Massereene.

Only the death mask of that gracious place now stands gaunt and stark against the sky. This facade, though windowless, is almost perfect, particularly when the castle is viewed from the terraced gardens. The interior is a complete ruin, destroyed by a disastrous fire In the early 1920s. The hall which once contained the Speaker's chair of the Irish House of Commons is now quite overgrown with ivy.

As I walked along the terrace by the river I saw two pigeons flying above the roofless shell to perch on the single chimney pot incongruously standing on one of the remaining walls. Two mermaids, gazing into a mirror, comb their hair above the door that faces the river, and a similar pair decorate the lintel of the main doorway.

Carved above the preening mermaids is the stone biography or the castle. The arms and portraits are in such good order, that the likeness of Charles I. placed there by the first Viscount Massereene, is still recognisable.

In great contrast to the ruined castle are the beautifully trim grounds. Terraced gardens rise on what were once the bastions, and mellow red brick, ornamented with graceful urns, form* a wall for an inner garden beyond.

Many legends attach themselves to this historic place. One concerns a certain Lady Marian, living at the time of the building of the bawn. Whilst walking one day she was attacked by a wolf and fainted in fright. She recovered to find a wolf-hound, badly wounded, licking her hands and face, and the wolf lying dead nearby. The hound was taken to the castle and treated as a pet, but disappeared without trace after a little time.

Many years later, after the present castle was built, it is said that during a battle a stone hound appeared suddenly on one of the towers, so frightening the attackers that the rising was quelled.

The stone effigy which thus averted disaster did not disappear in the mysterious fashion of its flesh and blood counterpart, for within living memory it was to be seen within the precincts of the castle.

FINA

Next week – Waringstown House.

Belfast Telegraph, Wednesday, 1 April 1953.



Tuesday, 21 April 2020

Storied Homes of Ulster – Mount Panther

The following is the first of a series of articles which appeared in the Belfast Telegraph in 1953 under the pen name 'Fina'.


Mount Panther


Here and there in the Ulster countryside are fine old Manor houses, castles and other buildings full of architectural and historic interest at which the passer-by today has scanty knowledge.

This is the first of a weekly series of articles and sketches outlining the features and recalling the stories of some of these structures.

It deals with Mount Panther, a landmark on the road to Newcastle between Clough and Dundrum. Next week’s subject will be Antrim Castle.



SOME time at the beginning of the Golden Age of Architecture, at the approach to the Mournes, Mount Panther was built. The actual date of erection is unknown, but it was prior to 1740, for at that date it was the residence of the Rector, Dr. Matthews. Drive along the one main street of Clough, go down the hill towards Dundrum and you will see the house in all its mannered grace. Heroically sited on a little hill in wooded parkland, it commands a panoramic view of the Down scene.

Looking at Mount Panther's symmetry it if easy to people park and lanes with the shadowy figures of ladies in flowered and panniered skirts and men in elegant waist-coats and breeches, for the grace of the early eighteenth century lies in every one of its 365 windows.

Amongst those who once visited Mount Panther was the renowned Mrs. Delany, friend of Swift and Dr. Johnson, considered by the latter to be “the highest-bred woman in the world and the woman of fashion of all ages." Her husband was Dr. Delany, Dean of Down and friend of Dr. Matthews

Extracts from her famous diaries tell us of the social life of Mount Panther and its environs. We build up such a picture of Dr. Delany and his wife riding from Mount Panther in 1751, and meeting upon the road Mrs. Annesley and Lady Anne Annesley when they were going “on horseback, to dine under a tent on cold meat, about a mile from that place where they are to build."

Even so do we learn of the beginnings of Castlewellan. What delicious images are conjured by those entries which tell of picnics to Ardglass, carrying paper and pencils, “for taking views," and walks to Wood Island, Mrs. Delany carrying her shepherdess's crook and Dr. Delany a stout cane to enable them to penetrate to the thickest part of the wood.

To-day the young oak under whose shade Mrs. Delany once sat is a spreading giant. The park has lost much of its former glory since many of the great trees have been laid low. A close inspection of the house itself reveals a declining elegance. The high walls and graceful wrought Iron gates still stand, but now, in the place that once stabled fifty horses are two high-powered American cars, and the stable clock is stopped at five past five. — (FINA.)

Belfast Telegraph, Thursday, March 26, 1953.

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Parting


Oh! sad is the hour – and ah! sad is each heart:–
And sad is the lovliest prospect to view;
When lovers so tender reluctantly part,
And pensively sigh out the lengthen'd – adieu!

Dear! dear is the kiss! – ah! how dear the embrace!
Their hearts cling together in unison sweet;
What tender solicitude speaks in each face!
What impatience again to be happy! to meet!

Behold the fond couple – now part – now unite! –
Behold the fond bosom – that labours with love! –
Behold the emotions that us'd to delight: –
Ah! see the sweet passion with anguish improve.

Yet – yet – once again – they take leave of each charm:
Time leans on his scythe, and surveys them with pain!
Then flaps his old wings: – love takes the alarm,
And – parting – they hope to be happy again!


Poem for Belfast Commercial Chronicle, 2 March 1805. Author unknown.
Image: Crop from The Parting of Robert Burns and Highland Mary by James Archer

Monday, 2 September 2019

Biographical Sketch of the Earl of Moira (1805)

Among the public men of our own times, there is not perhaps an individual who bears a more striking resemblance to the feudal chieftain, than Francis Lord Rawdon, Earl of Moira.

In tracing his career from his birth to the present day of his eminence and renown, we shall, most probably, be led to remark the strong resemblance which we have supposed to exist between his character and that of men who were distinguished for all that is illustrious and praise-worthy.

Earl Moira is sprung from a family which has been known in Yorkshire since about the period of the conquest. His ancestors migrated to Ireland during the last century; and from that country his family held its titles, until the present Earl obtained a British peerage. Sir John Rawdon, Baronet, his father, was, in 1750, created a peer, by the title of the Baron of Moira, and, in 1701, obtained the further honour of Earl of Moira, in the county of Down, with remainder to his heirs male. The present Earl of Moira is the eldest of six sons: these, with four daughter's, his father had by his third wife, Lady Elizabeth Hastings, sister to the late Earl of Huntingdon. His Lordship was born on the 7th of December 1754.

It may not be impertinent to remark, that, very early in life, Earl Moira (then Lord Rawdon) exhibited some of those traits of character which have distinguished his future life. Several anecdotes are related of him, which evince an early attachment to military pursuits, and an ardour of mind peculiarly tinctured with the enthusiasm of a daring soldier. When only a boy of 10 years of age, he was wounded in the leg by the bursting of a small brass cannon, with which he was battering an old folio volume. He was then accustomed to repeat, with all the fervor of generous youth, the following expressions of Zanga, when about to be tortured, and seemed to contemplate, with unspeakable satisfaction, every instance of heroic enterprise, and unshaken constancy of mind.
" The blood will follow where the knife is driven,
" The flesh will quiver where the pincers tear,
" And sighs and groans by nature grow on pain;
" But these are foreign to the soul: not mine
" The groans that issue, or the tears that fall;
" They disobey me. – On the rack I'll scorn thee,
" As when my faulchion clove thy helm in battle."
In addition to the improvement which his native country afforded, he visited the European nations that are celebrated for the refinement of their manners, or perfection in the arts of life: Thus animated, thus instructed, and thus polished, he entered upon the active business of life, and, at the age of 17, he, in September 1771, obtained an ensigncy in the 15th regiment of foot. He afterwards entered the 5th regiment of foot, in which he was a lieutenant of grenadiers: and in this corps he was among those who were destined to act against the Americans.

When we see a passion for military enterprize agitating a soul, in other respects endowed with the highest excellencies of our nature, we cannot fail to deplore the unfortunate co-operation of such means of mischief. We cannot persuade ourselves, that, in the instance of Lord Rawdon, we have not occasion to lament that he was stimulated by a thirst for military fame. His case furnishes a striking example of the influence of the military trade, in perverting the mind from the steady contemplation of what is correct and genuine in morality. Indeed, we could have wished to have seen the name of Rawdon enrolled in the list of those patriots who reared the hallowed fabric of American independence. An Alexander, a Caesar, and a Bonaparte, may be remembered, to the end of time, as the splendid destroyers of their race; but the fame of Wallace, and of Tell, of Kozciusko; and of Washington, will be imperishably recorded on every heart which beats with exultation at the triumphs of freedom, or sympathizes with the wrongs of the oppressed.

He partook, however, in all the dangers and vicissitudes of the war, and fought at Bunker's-hill, where he was one of seven, in the company of grenadiers with whom he went to the battle, who escaped from its ravages: His cap was shot through twice in this battle. He afterwards obtained a higher command, and acquired considerable reputation for skill and discretion in the lottery of war. So great indeed was his success, and so rapid his promotion, that, before he had completed his 24th year, he held the rank of colonel, and was appointed adjutant-general to the British forces under the command of General Clinton. He was entrusted with the conduct of various hazardous enterprises; and, in the separate command of which he was judged worthy, he displayed the wisdom of a veteran, and the consummate intrepidity of heroism.

The fatigues of war, and the heat of the climate had made an impression upon his constitution, and rendered it necessary that he should revisit England, for the restoration of his health. While labouring under the pressure of indisposition, a march which had been planned was countermanded, on account of his illness; but so keen was the ardour of his mind, that he gave new orders for it, when he had recovered from a swoon into which he had fallen. While on this march, he gave his orders from a cart, in which he was obliged to be carried. On the passage from America to Britain, the ship in which he had taken his passage was captured by a French man of war, and he was carried into Brest. He, however, at length reached England, and his services were much applauded. In November, 1782, his Lordship was promoted to the rank of Colonel, and to the command of the 105th regiment of foot, and was also nominated aid-de-camp to the King. On the 5th of March 1783, he was created an English peer, by the title of Lord Rawdon, of Rawdon, in the county of York. Thus honoured and rewarded for his exertions, his Lordship retired, for a season, from the bustle of public life.

During the long interval which occurred between the close of the American war and the commencement of the French Revolution, the name of Load Rawdon makes little figure in our public records. His time seems to have been passed in the enjoyment of private tranquillity, and the practice of the peaceful virtues. One eminent proof at least appears of the enlightened benevolence of his nature. The laws for the imprisonment of debtors, as they prevail in England, are of equivocal excellence. Various expedients had at different times been adopted for remedying this evil: one of these was an exertion of royal clemency, called an act of grace. Upon the accession of a king to the throne, or on any other occasion of public joy, it was common to release the prisoners from their bondage. There was another mode of effecting this, by what is called the Lords' act, which is a sort of perpetual law provided for compounding the affairs of debtors, whose debts do not exceed 100/. This limitation was extended, in the year 1785, to the sum of 200/. The prisons have also been, at different times emptied, by insolvent acts, when the measure was supposed to be absolutely necessary. One of these instances was occasioned by the riots in 1780, and another was attempted to be brought in the year 1783. The bill passed the Commons, but was rejected by the Lords. Similar attempts were made, with similar success, in the years 1784, 1785, and 1786. A bill was, in the year 1787, brought into parliament, and, on the 22d May, came to be read a second time in the house of Lords. It was supported by the Duke of Norfolk, who stated, that there were above three thousand debtors confined in the different prisons of England. Lord Rawdon stood up the champion of the unfortunate: He detailed the modes which had been resorted to, at different periods of the history of England, for compelling the payment of debt. Originally, it appeared, an individual was deemed so valuable to his family, and the public, that, when his property was seized, his agricultural implements were exempted from attachment. After various other stages, the system advanced, in the reign of Charles II, to the mode now in use, of detaining a debtor's person in confinement for an uncertain period. The bill was keenly opposed by Lord Thurlow; and Lord Rawdon's exertions were rendered ineffectual for a season. He again, in 1792, made another attempt; but, as the bill came before the Lords at a late period of the session, it was withdrawn, at the request of the Law Lords, who wished it to be fully considered. On the 7th of March 1793, he again brought the business before the House of Lords but to little purpose; for, upon the 18th ot that month, the Lord Chancellor made a motion, which was carried, that the matter should be remitted to the consideration of the Law Lords, by whom a bill should be framed, and brought in to the succeeding session of parliament, for remedying the defects of the law. These repeated discomfitures, however, did not diminish the perseverance of his Lordship; and his incessant application to Parliament on this subject affords the most satisfactory manifestations of his disposition.


From the Belfast Commercial Chronicle, 25th February 1805

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Belfast in the 1830s...

In the Belfast Telegraph of 14 July 1980, a letter appeared castigating columnist Billy Simpson for an article he had recently written for his weekly column in which he outlined an imaginary visit by a country boy to the Belfast of the 1830s. Between them, they do give a brief but interesting insight into the place and characters of the time. Here is that letter with the original article below...

Belfast in the 1830s


I AM a great admirer of your columnist Billy Simpson. His weekly article is one of the highlights of the Telegraph. His humour is always original, droll, spontaneous and funny. But on reading his article on Belfast in the 1830s, there are so many vague generalities in it, which are open to question, that I have reached the conclusion that Billy has added a subtle touch of his humour — that he is pulling our legs and laughing at us for treating him seriously.

Growing

The dirty evil-smelling Belfast, with its ignorance, darkness and harlotry, was — if it existed at all — only a tiny part of the growing town. Years before that, Michael Atkins — proprietor of the Rosemary Street Theatre — described Belfast as the Athens of the North! Not only did he bring the greatest actress of that time, Mrs. Sarah Siddons, to his Rosemary Street Theatre but, shortly before 1830, he brought her back to the Theatre Royal.

The only Belfast women that Billy could find in 1830 were painted prostitutes plying their trade everywhere. But the town had also ladies like Mrs. McTier and I think Billy should consult her many letters that are still preserved. Mary Anne McCracken, a saintly woman, lived in Rosemary Street in 1830, and many of the things she wrote are still with us.

He did not mention the practical Christian work that Mary Ann McCracken and other women from the First, Second and Third Presbyterian congregations in Rosemary street — did in Clifton House, then as now, the home of the Belfast Charitable Society.

Festivals

It amazes me that Billy did not direct the country boy to one of the many Harpers' festivals held in Waring Street, or to one of the two theatres in Smithfield, where there also circuses, fun fairs and singing public houses. S. M. Elliott, a Ballymacarrett writer of the last century, records that at night there was a gay Bohemian atmosphere in Smithfield Square.

Presbyterianism in Belfast in 1830 is summed up by Billy in a narrow-minded quotation from a dim-witted devine who was opposed to railways operating on Sunday. But this gives a false, and indeed an offensive, picture of Presbyterians then in the 1830s, they were doing much to educate children in Belfast, they were concerned with morals, with the teaching of the Scriptures and many of them tried sincerely to be practical Christians.

As well as this they were only 30 years away from the finest hour in their history. In 1798, hundreds of Belfast Presbyterians fought and many died to try and establish more liberty and better justice for all in this country.

People were better educated in 1830 than Billy Simpson suggests. The National Schools had not arrived but there were many church schools. There was a Society for Promoting Knowledge that still lives in the Lurenhall Library. There were also public schools some of which still survive. Does Billy not know how Academy Street got its name?

I think he should visit the old and historic First Presbyterian Church in Rosemary Street some time. It has been then since the mid 18th century. In it there are memorials to many Belfast folk who lived in our town around 1830. If he studies the inscriptions on some of them, I feel sure he will realise that, in his article he has been unfair and ungenerous to his ancestors.

LOUIS GILBERT, Islandmagee.



Here is Billy Simpson's original article from the Belfast Telegraph, 18 June 1980.

Billy Simpson goes back in time to 1830 and tells of the sights and sounds a spirited country boy would have met on his first visit to the city.


ONE HUNDRED and fifty years ago, before the great famine and the industrial revolution combined to create the urban explosion just a few years on, the "city" of Belfast had a population of around 30,000.

The small farm was still the backbone of the economy and provided the livelihood for most people whether squire, tenant farmer or labourer. Around 30 pc of all families still lived in one-room cottages.

There were no railways, although construction of a line between Belfast and Lisburn had already begun. Roads were narrow, rough dirt tracks. The well-to-do could travel by stagecoach. The poor walked. Although indeed few people travelled more than a few miles from their home throughout their lives.

Places that could not be reached on foot, and returned from on the same day, were not likely to be visited by the rural citizen. It was a darker world by night, brightened only by the candle or oil lamp.

A handful of gas lamps had begun to appear along the cobbled streets of Belfast, but if an aircraft could have flown over the Ireland of the 1830s at night the pilot could have been unaware that there was land below at all. The forest of jewelled lights we see today from the air did not exist.

Few people could reed or write. The National schools had yet to be set up although there were some schools in existence teaching the children of the poor their letters and numbers

Laws were harsh. Theft of a shawl could lead to seven years deportation to Australia. Assaulting a man to steal sixpence could lead to the gallows. The wounds of the '98 rising were still fresh. Sectarianism reared its head at times and in the interests of peace the Government had on occasion to ban Orange marches.

Robbers and footpads stalked the highways and travellers armed themselves as well as finances allowed. For the well-to-do there was the pistol and sword. For the coachman, a blunderbus — and for the poor man, a stout staff or club sufficed.

It was the age before petrochemicals changed forever the taste of the air we breath. The world did not smell any better, but it was different. There area little plumbing. The larger towns held some water supplies in dams but spring water or the village pump was the only source of drinking water available to most people.

A spirited country lad who managed to gather together a few shillings would inevitably be tempted to make the long journey to the city, his curiosity aroused by tales of gigantic buildings and ships with masts taller than a high hill. Of mills powered by steam engines. Of shops and stalls filled with an endless variety of mysterious things. Of the Glasgow steamer that brought secondhand clothes twice a week to the markets for sale. Of women who painted their faces like the wild Indians of the Americas. Of rogues and dandies and golden carriages.

Before leaving home he would breakfast on thick porridge washed down by sweetmilk. Tea was an unheard of luxury indulged in only by the rich since it cost between three shillings and 12 shillings a pound and had to be brought from the Orient

His mother would wrap a soda for him to take to eat on the way and warn him not to talk to strangers or drink city water which could be poisonous to a lad raised on clean spring water. His father would smile and warn him to stay away from the wild city woman and keep his money close to his skin where be could always feel it.

The lad would perhaps walk some miles, get a lift part of the way on a passing farm cart and finally reach the hills above the city where he would catch his first sight of the blue ocean and the clutter of streets hugging the river and the lough shone partly hidden in a haze of chimney smoke.

Walking down through the outskirts he would meet more and more people; and probably make the countryman's common error of trying to have a friendly word for each of them, only giving up when the numbers grew too many, and his "That's a brave day" greeting was ignored too often, or when he was frightened off by the rapid jabber of an alien scent that left him baffled.

Nearer the centre of town he would possibly be overpowered by the evil smells of the place. And would once or twice have had to step smartly to avoid being doused by slops thrown from an upstairs window into the street. The noises and the constant shouting would unnerve him. The clattering wagons on the cobbles and the neighing of hundreds of horses.

When he got to the wide avenue of Hercules Street (now Royal Avenue) the air would be rancid. It was a street of butchers and fishmongers. The entrails and waste of a thousand dead animals would lie behind the shops in steaming piles. Flies hovered over the piles like clouds and some crawling through the eye sockets of decaying skulls.

Escaping from the jostle and the throat-clutching aromas of the street of butchers, he might wander to the docks to breath fresher air from the sea.

Here the jostle would be almost as bad. Tail sailing ships from exotic ports would be in the process of being loaded or unloaded. Piles of tanned cowhides would sit high on the wharf waiting for export as chests of tea, coffee and tobacco were lowered ashore in nets by a crane mast.

The city men working the docks seemed incredibly small and frail for such heavy work, belying the wiry toughness under the dirty shirts.

A more rugged breed seemed the sailormen on the decks. Some, he would note, wore rings in their ears and, more shocking still, some were not even white men.

It was here that he met the painted women he heard of. One or two smiled and jabbered at him in their incredibly fast speech that continued to mystify him but the implication of the invitation was difficult to misunderstand in any language and he hurried off red-faced, automatically checking that his money was still there.

On a quieter street he noticed for the first time the lamp at the roadside. He want over and sniffed the strange odour and decided that they were unhealthy things and destined eventually to poison the inhabitants. At the same time he wished it was dark so that he could see one lit up.

Back on the wider avenues the market stallholders were shouting their wares. The odd drunken scut staggered out of an ale house and wandered off talking to himself.

There was a crowd at a corner surrounding a hell-fire Presbyterian preacher calling the Lord's wrath to descend on the Ulster Railway Company for planning to run trains on a Sunday when the new steam engine began operating between Lisburn and Belfast next year.

"I would rather join a company for theft and murder than the Ulster Railway Company because its business is sending souls to hell at the rate of sixpence apiece. Every sound of a railway whistle is answered by a shout in hell," he bellowed.

Some of tha crowd shouted "Hallelujah." Some of them shouted other things. A man with ale on his breath started shoving and a scuffle developed until someone shouted "It's the Peelers." The young man hadn't seen a Peeler before and stayed where he was while part of the crowd disappeared.

The constable was a tail, serious-faced individual in a blue frock coat with bright buttons. Closer to, the youth realised it was the tall hat that made him seem larger than he was. The constable walked through the throng in the firm and obviously correct, belief that his mere presence would quieten tempers.

Admiring his strut, the young man thought such a personage would be a highly decorative addition to his neighbouring village and regretted that the local folk had voted against having Peelers in the area since it would reflect on the honesty of the people of the district.

Back in the markets the hawkers, peddlers, water carriers, fish merchants, egg wives and wagoners kept up their cries and the young man struggled through the crowds to enter an ale house where he paid his 2d for a jug of Kane's Beer, brewed nearby in North Street.

Here he would over hear yarns of varying degrees of veracity. A sailorman might tell of seeing a sea serpent two miles long from bow to stern and someone recently back from America would tell of a newly-invented cart that loaded itself with scoops attached to the wheels. "It can do the work of 20 men and will take all our jobs if we allow them in here."

Another man complained about the new gas lamps being against nature since God had specifically made an endless supply of whales in the sea to provide oil for lamps.

Outside again the young man wandered through the streets for hours. Tay Lane, Clabber Lones, Cripple Row, Leggs Lane and through the rich Georgian street called Linenhall (now Donegall Place).

A street crier for the Dublin stagecoach company shouted the virtues of this wonderful mode of transport guaranteed to get to Dublin in just 14 hours — and for the ridiculously cheap price of only £1 16s 3d.

The young man wondered who on God's earth had £1 16s 3d. to spend on anything — never mind throwing it away on a tedious journey to another city. Having seen one city he had begun to appreciate the virtues of the farm.

By nightfall he would stand for some time watching the gas lamps being lit before finding lodgings for the night and a warm supper. He would not buy anything until he was starting home tomorrow. A few small shillings would be easier to guard from suspicious looking strangers than the few gifts he would purchase.