The Townland of Ballyhannon

The Irish for this townland is Baile i h-Annechain, which when translated to English means O’Hannahan’s or O’Hannon’s homestead.

This townland is situated in the old pre-plantation territory of Clann Breasail which was in the Northern corner of the present County Armagh to the East of the river Bann. The area is now known as the Barony of O’Neilland East. This division originated in the period 1605-1608.

Ballyhannon is one of the 47 townlands of the Parish of Seagoe and is situated in the Manor of Carrowbrack. In 1610, when the plantation of Ulster came into effect, Lord Saye and Seale received a grant of 2,000 acres which formed the new Manor of Carrowbrack. In 1611 Lord Saye and Seale sold his lands in Seagoe and Loughgall to Sir Anthony Cope Bart.

In 1660 Captain Valentine Blacker purchased the Manor of Carrowbrack from Sir Anthony Cope of Loughgall, thus making the Blacker family landlords of Ballyhannon. In John Rocque’s map of 1760 Portadown appears to have barely 20 houses, and one of the most important highways in those days was the road from Knock Bridge by Ballyhannon, Upper Church Lane and Church Road, ending when it reached the River Bann at Derryvore.

Ballyhannon townland consists of 275 acres. It contains neither rivers nor lakes. It does however contain the highest hill (202 feet) in the parish, known as Drumclogher Hill (Irish – Droim Clocheir – hill of the stony place or stony ridge). It is sometimes called Standard Hill or Flagstaff Hill because the local Seagoe Yeomanry positioned a 73 feet high flagstaff here on which flags were to be flown in event of an emergency such as an invasion. The hoisted flag could be observed by most of the Seagoe Yeomanry who were to gather at the spot fully armed when required.

The majority of the inhabitants originally were of English descent, attending Seagoe or Knocknamuckly parish churches. Following the firm establishment of a Methodist Society at Bluestone in 1770, a number of families became Wesleyan Methodists.

Ballyhannon House

This is an account of Ballyhannon House written by my late husband, Samuel Cuthbert Lutton, who was born there in 1916 and lived there until he was 8 years old.

The house was built in 1850 on a 24 acre farm originally owned by the Nelson family. The owner, Mr Nelson, married a Miss Ballentine. He died in 1896. William James Lutton of Breagh (Grandfather of S.C. Lutton) later married his widow. She left the property to her step son, Samuel Lutton, and he lived in Ballyhannon House from the date of his marriage in 1908 until it was sold to a Mr Matchett in 1924. In the late 1930s the house was again sold to Rev. Dickson Patterson, retired Church of Ireland minister. In 1961 he sold it to Robert Heathwood, building contractor.

Random memories of my old home as I remember it in 1920 – 1924.

No electricity, lighting from oil lamps. In the kitchen there was a two-wick type lamp on a counterbalanced pulley. Later we had paraffin or petrol pressure lamps, also a petrol iron. Heating was from coal fires. There was a range in the kitchen for heating and cooking. There was a tap on the range to draw off hot water. The water came from a well situated behind the house with square sandstone capping. Water was pumped to a storage tank in the roof space. There was a large hand operated pump in the scullery to pump water from the well, but I believe rain water was also collected from the roof and also ran into the storage tank. There was one W.C. and a septic tank or cess pool at the back of the house. For the maid and the man servant there was a dry earth closet in the orchard behind the out-buildings. About 1920 a small electric generator was installed in one of the out-buildings. It was composed of an oil engine driving a dynamo and producing 24 volts D.C. The current generated was fed into wet batteries (about six coupled together).

The original cow byre and stable was housed in a building adjacent to the road with a loft above and a door to the road about 6 or 7 feet above the road. I remember oats being hand threshed in this loft. The loft was entered by a stone outside staircase from the farm yard.

My father had a new stable and cow house constructed about 1921/22 with a barn above and piped water supply. There were drinking troughs for the cattle operated by nose pressure. This building was constructed with concrete walls and corrugated iron roof of Belfast roof construction (a smooth curved roof supported on trusses which feature diagonally interlaced pieces of thin pine).

The facade of Ballyhannon House was in Georgian style and of stone construction with 5 sash windows above and 4 below. Later a porch was added to the front with coloured leaded-light glass. There were windows on either side with stepped flower pot stands with geraniums and ferns on them.

There were rooms in the roof space lighted by gable windows. The maid servant slept in a partitioned-off section of one of these rooms. The man servant had a bedroom on the first floor of the return with a staircase from outside. His name was Johnny McLaughlin and he came north from County Cavan in the troubled times.

Transport

There was a medium weight horse which was used for both transport and farm work. There were three horse-drawn vehicles: a stylish trap for personal transport, a spring van for collecting groceries etc from town and local personal transport, and a standard heavy cart for general farm work. My grandfather, William James Lutton, rode a large tricycle with pneumatic tyres into town.

There were six in our family, all going to school in town - Thomas Street Public Elementary School - the two eldest later attended Carleton Collegiate, the school in Carleton Street. We travelled to school by bicycle, by trap or on the back axle of grandfather’s tricycle. The older members of the family made our way home (1½ miles) by foot or on our bicycles.

My father rode a bicycle to Spence Bryson’s factory in all types of weather.

Samuel C. Lutton

The other houses in Ballyhannon in the 1920s and 1930s

(See map and numbers of houses.)

  1. Small cottage which belonged to Quarrybank. Jim McBride lived in it and worked as a road man. The house was at the junction of the old Lurgan Road and Reservoir Lane (now Ballyhannon Road). Miss Jean Corbett later used it for religious meetings.
  2. Quarrybank, built by Mr S.S. Corbett on the edge of a quarry in 1912. It had extensive grounds and beautiful gardens. The family owned a large outfitters shop in Portadown.
  3. James Mitten and his wife lived in this cottage, which had a small garden.
  4. 2 tenant cottages, both of them thatched, owned by the Martins.
    • William Sturgeon and his daughter Mrs Jane Elliott lived together in this cottage.
    • Mary MacKay and her two sons, Sam and Jim, lived here. They came from Scotland following Mary’s husband’s death. He had been a soldier.
  5. Ballyhannon House as described previously.
  6. McDonalds - 2 unmarried ladies, Annie and Lucy, lived in this fairly modern cottage beside the old reservoir. They were members of one of the oldest families in the neighbourhood and were related to the Robinsons on an adjacent farm. One or two members of these families were employed by the Great Northern Railway.
  7. Thomas Coulter lived in the 2 storey house beside the old reservoir. It was built for the caretaker of the reservoir. His duties included supervising the water supply, reading meters etc. Most people had meters in their houses and paid Lurgan Rural District Council for the amount of water they used.
  8. Drumclogher House – a 2 story house. On this site there formerly stood a long thatched cottage owned by a Mr and Mrs Robinson. When Mr Malcolm Best purchased this holding he demolished the cottage and built the present house in 1920. Among adjacent Yew trees he discovered an old tombstone with the inscription ‘Here lyeth the body of Ann Robinson etc. date 1765 AD’. Mr Best thought that, as there were yew trees, there may have been a church or churchyard on the site. However, subsequent enquiries showed that, when renovating the family grave at Seagoe, the Robinson family had removed the gravestone and brought it to Drumclogher. In the Second World War the army dug out trenches in this area in preparation for invasion by the enemy.
  9. Martin – a thatched house formerly lived in by a Mr and Mrs John George McNally. The Martins came to live here in 1935. It was formerly used as an Orange Hall and during McNally’s time it was used for Methodist Cottage meetings. It had an open fire place with an iron crook, pots, pans, Dutch oven etc. It also had a jamb wall. Across the lane or loanin, there was a well of the windlass type enclosed by three stone walls in a triangle. There were about 28 acres of land extending to the Bocombra Road. The Flagstaff, before mentioned, was in Martin’s orchard, situated beyond the farmyard; from it there was a commanding view over the countryside.
  10. William McRoberts. He was married to a Miss England, sister of the Rev. John England, a Methodist minister. This neat cottage had a monthly rose at the front door. As a boy, William had been taken to a hiring fair; later, when older, he moved to a house opposite Thomas St. Methodist Church, Portadown and became caretaker of the church. Their daughter Sarah lived with them. He grew vegetables and other crops and sold them in the market in Portadown. McRoberts’ cottage had originally been two cottages; a man called Carson lived in one. He and his daughters were hand loom weavers, their cottage had two bays and the looms were in the larger one with four windows. Both cottages were thatched and had lofts over their open hearth fires with cranes etc.
  11. Thomas McCormick lived in this cottage with his wife Lizzie and four sons, Jim, Ernest, Cecil and Alex. He had a small farm with crops and cattle.
  12. Mrs Best’s cottage – a very old lady who lived alone, known to everyone as Granny Best. Relatives brought her food etc. and delivery vans also called.
  13. Thomas and Olive McAdam lived in a house which was partly one storey and partly two storey. They had a small farm with at least 8 milking cows, and made butter with a windlass churn and sold it. They also grew strawberries, apples and rhubarb which, when in season, went every Friday to Belfast market by their brother’s lorry. They had four daughters. Their farmhouse was situated on the slopes of the conical hill – Drumclogher hill (hill of the stony place). The fact that the farm was on sloping ground and at a fairly high elevation may have been a factor in avoiding damage to crops by frost. In the days of horse-drawn ploughs, carts etc. this farm was considered very hard to work as, owing to its location on the slopes of a hill, it was all up and down hill work which was normally very hard work for man and beast. This house and farm was previously owned by a Morrow family. There were two sons in the family: John Joseph who died on 18th June 1947 from Tuberculosis at the age of 46 and William Herbert who died 29th December 2000 at the age of 88 - he was living in Kilkeel at the time. A daughter named Martha died on 7th March 1932 at Ballyhannon from Tuberculosis at the age of 22. Note: the printed version of Review erroneously stated that the were three sons in the Morrow family who had died of TB.
  14. Sam Best and his wife lived in a two storey semi-detached house. There was a cowtail pump at the front of the house. Sam worked in a Portadown factory.
  15. Tom and Ann Jane Neill lived in the other semi-detached 2 storey house. Tom worked at the Great Northern Railway Station in Portadown. They had a son and a daughter.
  16. Turley – previously owned by families called Ripley and Calvert. This was always a well kept house with good out-buildings. Turleys have been in the pig business for at least four generations.
  17. England – Jack and Rachel, brother and sister, lived here. A very neat house, formerly thatched. Alongside the house was the Englands’ former home. Still standing today are Monkey Puzzle (Araucaria) trees in the front garden.
  18. Breen - Tom or Tam’s house, a small whitewashed cottage. He was unmarried. He had been in the army, suffered from shell shock. He wore leather leggings and a waistcoat and had his thumbs in its sides as he strolled along the road for walks. .
  19. Neill - Bob and his sister Emily lived here. They had a small greenhouse with a vine and tomatoes. He sold tomatoes and tomato plants to neighbours. Another sister, married to a man called Ramsay, lived with them.
  20. Overend – a quiet reserved woman whose husband had died lived here in this small bungalow.

In this survey of the Townland of Ballyhannon in the 1920s and 1930s I have used much material written by my late husband Samuel C. Lutton and have also received a great deal of factual information from Isa Maginnis, Mary Simpson and Helen Greenlee who have lived in this area for all or most of their lives. Mr Mervyn Cander was also very helpful with the map.


Elizabeth Lutton


Ordinance Survey map of Ballyhannon in the 1920-1930 period.
Cottages and houses marked 1-20. with apologies for poor quality and any inaccuracies.