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16 October 2014
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Cavehill

Your Responses

You've been posing questions and chatting about Cavehill.....

The Cavehill, overlooking Belfast
 
return to the article
 

Your Response

Dave - Aug '08
Does anyone know if it is true that the United Irishmen hatched their plans at McArts fort before the uprising? I believe Drennan and Tone and others met here to discuss the over throwing of the religist elites at the time.

Sam Murray - May '08
My wife and I returned to Ulster from Australia for a visit in 2005. One day we walked down the Lynn Road to Daddystown ruins which we found buried in undergrowth. I spent many happy weekends at Daddystown with my fellow Scouts of the 29th Belfast from 1954 to 1966.
On another day I tramped with a few of my old scout friends from Belfast Castle up to McArts Fort and over the back of the Hill to the Daddystown site. We returned to the Castle via the Limestone Quarry. A day I will never forget!
I well remember a couple of contributors to this article (Sam Speers and David Ellis) and would be happy to make contact with them as I have photos of the cottages featuring some of the boys and leaders of the troop. We also had annual visits from friends of the 1st Dublin Scout Troop. These visits were reciprocated when we travelled to the "fair city".
Our years on the Hill were filled with adventures and wide games that took in large tracts of the countryside. Many members of other local scout troops used to visit to undertake training and testing to gain scout badges.
Feast of the Harvest celebrations took place each Hallowe'en with a massive meal, followed by indoor feats of strength and agility, induction of new members to the Woodcraft League culminating with fireworks in the quarry.
But there was also tragic incidents. One weekend some of the younger scouts stumbled across the body of a young man who had fallen about 25 metres down the face of the quarry. I shared in the grim task of manning the stretcher to the top of the Cavehill road to a waiting ambulance.
I was also among those who witnessed the loss of Tommy Beattie, a grand leader and old boy of the pre-war 29th, when he plummeted from an aerial runway to the rocks of the Lynn stream in 1958.
We had the privilege of meeting many interesting characters over the years. I have a photo of Leslie McCurdy, a local strongman, performing a handstand on the chimney of the scout cottage at Daddystown.
One of our scout leaders, Gerry Nevin, became the first holder of the black belt in Judo in Ireland.
Sam Clyde was a remarkable man. A poet, artist, musician and extremely fit for his age (he performed handsprings at the age of 60). He rewarded scouts with a hand-painted wallet each year when they achieved 50 or more nights sleeping out in tents, woodcraft huts or under the stars. He became a grandfather of Scouting as he was a brilliant exponent of woodcraft and was authorised by the Scout movement to conduct testing for dozens of scout badges.
Sam frequented the Hill and had a cottage at Daddystown for decades until his death in 1958 at the age of 82, shortly after the passing of his lifelong friend Tommy Beattie whom he treated as a son.
Yes, if the Cave Hill could speak, the libraries of the world could not contain the stories it could tell.
To those of us who have had the privilege of spending our formative years adventuring on the Hill there is only one word: "magical".

Marty Wilson - Mar '08
The Cavehill holds a special place for me, it will always be the place I call home. I live a few miles further away in Bangor, but i used to wake up every morning in my parents house and stand and stare at the hill watching how it changed depending on the weather. My father always said we were fortunate to live in God's territory, I always wondered what he meant, but looking back to those days I now know exactly what he meant.

John - February '08
As a young boy I lived with my parents at the top of the Hightown Road,near Ross's quarry.This was the 1940's and 50's. In those days we used to watch the motorbike riders on thir trial bikes dirt track riding and grass tracking. In the summer and at weekends there was always the regular ones showing of their skills. My older brother and I managed to save our money and buy our own bikes. When I was Fourteen I had a Francis Barnett and my brother had a James Captain.We used to mate around with the great Sammy Miller on his SHS and Dinger Bell on his Dot. There was some great riders who used the hills in those far off days and some become world champions. Good Luck. Keep the stories coming in and keep this page alive. John.

Alan Caulfield - February '08
My Father John (Jack)Caulfield lived in a cottage known as Cavehill Cottage - a thatched cottage which was accessed by walking up the Upper Cavehill Rd until the road petered out and became a limestone strewn pathway which led up the slope towards the quarry area. The cottage is still there to the left side of the path but know has its own driveway and been well looked after and renovated.

Just opposite the cottage on the other side of the pathway was the sparkling well mentioned in other tales. Everyone who walked the steep path on up the hill knew this well as a stop for refreshment. You walked down a steep little stairway made of rough stones to the edge of a small gravel filled basin which was fed from the cool stream coming off the Hill. It was for a long time the only fresh water supply for the cottage and I can remember as a child going to the well with white enamel buckets with wooden handles to fill up with water and carry back to my Gran.This was in the 1940 - 1950's. My Grandfather William Adair Caulfield was a postman and married to Nelly Caulfield (nee Ellen Wisener)) from Lisnagunague outside Bushmills.

I remember my father Jack telling me that my Grandfather was paid a small sum - I think £5 - to keep a large rock at the top of Cavehill (on the forehead) painted white as it was used as a beacon during the war for pilots landing at Nutts Corner airfield during blackouts when the lights of Belfast could not be seen.

I also remember a story of a neolithic grave being discovered on their land close to the Cottage - has anyone any memories of this time and place?

 

Dennis McCracken - Feb '08
I lived in Tramway st in 1940 at number 7,i see Currie School is still there but no Tramway st,my name is Dennis McCracken,now bought a house in Hamworthy Poole in 2001.I represented Northern Ireland in 3 of the 1st COME DANCING series & i am 68 now & still dancing...

L N Watson - Feb '08
Hi to Malcolm Heath - my family lives in Northern Ireland, and after seeing the movie 'Closing the Ring,' I recalled that my Grandpa lived on Cave Hill with his grandparents during the war, in order to be safe duing the Belfast Blitz. I asked him if the story was factual, and it turned out that he remembered the incident very clearly.

Apparently, my great-great-Grandfather went with some of their neighbours to find out what happened, and was there before the fire crew and police. He didn't tell my Grandpa much of what he saw, but later, he explored the crash scene with some friends (he was only 6 or 7 at the time!!) and took some glass prisms he found there home - by then, the weapons and bodies had been removed.

Years later, he was very interested to discover that a ring had been found at the site and returned to an airman's widow, as he actually recalled the incident.

That's all I really know about what happened when the plane crashed, but I hope that it has been of interest to someone!!

Robin Stewart - Jan '08
I live and have grown up virtually all of my life in Toronto, listening to stories that my mother told to me about her life on the Horseshoe. Her name then was Margaret Harper nicknamed Bunty. I would guess that they lived on the Horseshoe during the 1930's through to the early 1950's. She had two brothers Billy and Bobby. Reading some of the articles hear I recognize the Macadam. I was wondering if anyone recalls the Harper family. All of the older generation has gone and the younger ones have moved on to North Down area.

Sam Moore - Apr '07
I have just finished writing about Daddystown where my grandmother had one of the cottages from 1933. I would like to be able to include some more photos if anyone can help.

I would be glad to exchange photographs.

D. curry
Having lived all my life in view of the Cavehill I thought this site very interesting. My uncle joined the merchant navy when he was a youg lad and travelled all over the world but his heart belonged to Belfast. To be more precise, to the Cavehill. After marrying an English girl and raising a family there he told all of his family members to make sure he was brought home after he`d died and his ashes scattered on the Cavehill where he spent so many happy hours as a child. That is what happened exactly two years ago, I never see the hill without remembering him.

Emily Joyce - Apr '07
How far is it from Belfast Castle to Napoleon's Nose?
How long does it take to walk from Belfast Castle to Napoleon's Nose?

Ton and Carmel Hoenink - Mar '07
We live near the cavehill (arn"t we lucky) and we walk to the top most sundays.Every week is so different and the climb does not get easier!We love it.
Climb the cavehill and you will see bears two giraffes and deers.We always look out for them!

Valerie Poole (Nee Taggart) - Mar '07
Reading all the entries on the Cavehill and surrounding scenery has brought back wonderful memories to me.
I was very fortunate to have grown up in the house I was born at 29 Lismoyne Park. My dad built the house and it was situated right at the top of the hill overlooking a large part of Belfast and even across the Lough to Holywood etc.
We were the last house on top of the hill and our garden wall separated us from the largest garden anyone could have had, the Belfast Castle grounds.
Many an hour was used up on imaginary horses galloping round a real castle and treating the building like we actually lived in it. We even went as far as to "find" (for want of a better word) a secret entry into the basement of the castle whereby we would spend endless hours inside the castle itself. No one ever caught us thank heavens. We never damaged anything, We just wandered round it in amazement and became Kings and Queens for short periods of our wee lives.
When it snowed, the forest at the bottom of Cavehill became a fairyland.
I can't remember if I noticed the dawn chorus when I was waking up or just coming home, but it was fabulous.
Our family of Taggart's owned the quarry at the time up behind the hill and Dad would take us with him when he had to go there. We would romp all over the back of the hill and sure enough we even played where and with the remainds of the old plane wreckage .
I wonder if any of you readers might be some of those who used to come in droves to Lismoyne park when it snowed to join in the fun and sledge races we had down the hill which we closed off to traffic?
I would love to hear from anyone that might have joined us in those days either being knighted at the Castle when I was Queen or simply sliding down Lismoyne Park on a tin tray.

Bernie Seyburn ex DLI - Mar' 07
I was stationed at hollywood barracks in 1944 and missed home for the six months I was there.On a Saturday afternoon a group of soldiers used to climb Cave hill to look towards Scotland as this was as close to home as we could get.I visited Belfast several times since and always had an attachment to the site, I to visited the zoo and the floral hall.Belfast at this time was one of the ports used pior to D Day and sailing from Belfast loch was the last site until the landings and I am sure a lot of the American army Boys willr emember cave hill as a nostalgic sight.

David Kelly - Mar '07
Hi for Malcolm Heath. The film is set in Belfast during WWII and when a b-17 crashes near the city, the dying rear gunner asks a local to return his ring to his girlfriend back home. Half a century later, a young Belfast man finds the ring, learns its history and tracks down the old girlfriend, who turns out to have married the gunner's best friend in North Carolina. Don’t know when it’s being released. The film is called ‘Closing the Ring’.

Alison - Feb '07
A comprehensive history of Cavehill and its Limestone Railway can be found in the book "The Cavehill Waggon Line, Belfast's Forgotten Railway", by Stewart McFetridge, my Father. Published in 2000 but now out of print (but much sought after) should now be available in Public Libraries.

 

Malcolm Heath - Feb '07
Hi All, One of my buddies is the nephew of Flight Lt. Joseph V. Nobilione, who was the navigator on the B-17G, serial number 42-97862, that crashed into Cave Hill on June 1st, 1944. Joe was initially buried loacally in Belfast, but was later moved to the American cemetery in Cambridge, England.
The pilot was Lester B. Brooks. The crash was recorded under inquiry number 12-440601-500 USAAF. Total 12 pages. Unfortunately, all the crew perished in the crash. Joe was from New York and my buddy, Frank, lives in Locust Valley, NY. Frank has many photographs, including one of the crew, He aso has letters from Frank to his Mother and Girlfriend and also one from the Commanding General of The US Army Air Force. Any local information about the crash would be greatly appreciated.

Dennis William McCracken - Jan '07
Dennis William McCracken born 1939 Belfast. I lived for quite a few years at number 7 Tramway sreett, there were about 12 houses in this small, then cobbled stone street & on our side of the street at Limestone road end was a general shop called "HETTY HENNEY'S ( if my spelling is right) & on the opposite side was the cobblers David Mayberry. I now live in Hamworthy Poole Dorset,if anyone wishes to contact me.

P Quinn - Dec '06
Great site I must be around the same age of most of the people contriuting to this site. I once went to the floral hall to a dance the band playing was Dave Dee, Beeky Mick and Tich there was only about 15 to 20 people there but my friend still remember it was a great night.

Malcolm Heath - Dec '06
Hi, One of my buddies is the nephew of Flight Lt. Joseph V. Nobilione, who was the navigator on the B-17G, serial number 42-97862, that crashed into Cave Hill on June 1st, 1944.

The pilot was Lester B. Brooks. The crash was recorded under inquiry number 12-440601-500 USAF. Total 12 pages. Unfortunately, all the crew perished in the crash. Joe was from New York and my buddie, Frank, lives in Locust Valley, NY.

We would dearly love to know the location of the graves, particularly that of Joe. If anyone knows were these braves boys' remains are buired, we would be highly appreciated to hear from you.

We would also like to erect a small monument for them on the hill. My name is Malcolm Heath and my email address is heathmt @ msn .com

M MCCausland - Nov '06
I grew up close to Cavehill, and the place was my playground in my childhood and youth. Now living in England but on any trips back I feel obligated to take a walk up the hill. Miss the place dearly and great to know its a place place appreciated and enjoyed by many others.

Gerard Friel - Oct '06
Great stuff. Now what about Alexandra Park? Some people would like to put a football pitch in the top half, never mind the pond, and retain the fence that still divides it. Trouble started in the 'Alex' the first week it opened, in May 1877, and it had to be closed to visitors due to rioting factions on the Limestone Road and park environs. Huh! It still happens occasionally. However, the idea of creating a single identity, (don't try telling me it'll be anything else, if I can believe what I read in the NB News), community facility in a public, Victorian Park is sad to say the least. This park is an integral part of the Milewater River system that flows from the Hill via the Waterworks and should be treated with respect, and sorry, but I heard there were 23 acres going at Girdwood Barracks - though that's harder to get hold of.

We have a responsibly to develop a Community Greenway from the Cavehill to the Loughshore by means of our local park space in North Belfast, not to promote division. It is unthinkably selfish to exclude the majority of potential and current users in the wider area, many who may not play football, and deprive future generations of this great old park.

Paul Clarke - Aug '06
I have become very interested in the stories of the B17 which crashed into the Cave Hill during WW2. I want to research the story in detail and would be grateful for more information or guidanece which may help. I would be grateful if anyone with relevant information, especially those with personal reminiscences would contact me at pclarkeathome @ aol.com. Does anyone know of photograhs or newsreports of the crash? Thankyou.

C.Smith - Aug '06
I just found this site and enjoyed reading the comments. I walked up the hill in April and really enjoyed the experience as it must have been at least 20 years from when I previously had walked it. As a child I walked the hill ever weekend with my father and have many fond memories.

Leslie Holmes - Aug '06
I have really enjoyed browsing your site on Cavehill. It has brought back many memories of long hot summer holidays spent in the "Castle Grounds" (From the gates of the castle to the caves at Napoleon's Nose, from Carr's Glen to Bellevue" in the late 40's, early 50's.
We also did a lot of cycling in those days and one of our favourite trips was from Mountview Street, up the Oldpark to the Ballysillan, up the Buttermilk Loanen, round the Horseshoe and up the Hightown Road(some push without gears), across past the Quarries, down the Sheep's Pad into the Castle Grounds and home along the Antrim Road past the Waterworks.

Many of my friends of those days now live in Canada and New Zealand. I'm sure they will be able to pick this up.

Joe - Aug '06
I enjoyed reading these comments, many referring to a seemingly simpler time long gone. A trip to Cave Hill and the Zoo was a real treat for a poor wee fellow from Lisburn in the late forties. My cousin used to take my brother and me. I last went, with my fiancee and a couple of my siblings in 1959. I would hate to return and spoil the magic of happy memories.

Jim Fleming - Aug '06
I spoke to you on the top of Cavehill when I was with my friend Michael Weatherup. He was born in Tyndale Park (has it been renamed Carr's Glen Park?) and I lived in 33 Formby Park from 1943 to 1951.

I wish you well with the film. It is very pleasing to see projects like this, which will be of so much interet to so many.

Weby - July '06
I just came down there from the cave hill and was a great day out for me and a few friends, the path way that leads you from the cave to the devils slide has been destroyed and is not safe any more, does any one know if there is going to be a improvement to the path ways as i would like to join in and help improve it, it is something that was done a few years ago but scramblers n quads ruined them, it will be more safe for our visitors and children too, trees that have been blown down with the bad weather could be cut and used in the paths and seating areas, I noticed new benches at the top path very handy and hope they last.

S Pickersgill - July '06
I loved reading about Cavehill. Fifty years ago I lived in the White city and saw the Hill everyday. It surely must be a magical place. All the folk on the site seem to feel that too. I have lived in England all this time but I still dream about Cavehill and surrounding area. I think your site is wonderful. A video would be great!

Toni Maguire - July '06
I grew up on the Oldpark Road and I remember my Dad taking us kids up into the Cavehill for long walks; I can still see the fields of Bluebells growing under the cover of the trees and the sunlight filtering through the leaves. As an archaeology student at Queen's, Belfast I'm delighted to discover your site and see that the rich oral tradition of Belfast survives. With this in mind I would like to ask for some help. I'm researching for my dissertation on the subject of 'Cillini' or children's burial grounds across Co. Antrim (unbaptised) and would like to ask anyone who thinks they can help me locate such sites in the Greater Belfast area (or Co. Antrim) to please get in touch at 02894 423415. or my e-mail address: m1355902@qub.ac.uk

Bob - July 2004
re: Is the Cavehill an old volcano?

Yes I did a cavehill history search and found this,

Geologically, the Cave Hill is at the southern end of the Antrim Plateau, which was largely formed about 65 million years ago (yes, just at the end of the age of the dinosaurs) by great lava eruptions that continued for millions of years. The basalt rock which resulted was worn down by subsequent ice ages and weathering into the smoother formations seen today.

Weby - July '06
I think Belfast needs to come together and put a headstone for those poor guys that died in tha crash, i'm a great Cave Hill lover like yourselfs and when I walk up there its like being in another world, away from the traffic and noise, I tend to go up to clear my head and think quietly. It brings you closer to God in away to, strange but true. The view is breath taking and pieceful on the hot summers days it has to be a family day out. The last 4 times i've been up in a month was disturbed by the scrambers and quads. They are distroying the land and proper paths which we used to have.

Bill Green - July '06
Do some people remember in the Cavehill area the Saturday nights Jazz nights at Ophir Rugby Club around 1954, in Salisbury Avenue with the Jimmy Compton Jazz Band, and no Bar.

Marie Toner Moore - July '06
Re questions about the WW2 plane crash on Cave hill I quote from 'Cavehill; a short illustrated history, by Sean Girvan, Glenraval Local History Project (1994).

'There is an interesting story surrounding the Floral Hall around the time of the Second World War involving the US military stationed in Northern Ireland. The dramatic events that were to unfold remain in the most part still a mystery to this day. Reports of a plane crash near the Bellevue Zoo area reached the authorities in Belfast. Fire and ambulance crews were despatched to deal with the incident. But after the initial operation by the emergency services it was clear that the US military were taking control of the situation. The area around and to some extent beyond the crash site was strictly out of bounds. It was out of bounds both for civilians and Non-American military personnel with a security screen being erected to keep out intruders.

It would seem that the pilot while approaching the Cavehill experienced difficulties and unable to clear the hills at Bellevue crashed in the vicinity of the Floral Hall.

Observers who witnessed the comings and goings of US Army personnel to the crash site were bewildered at the strictness of the security and secrecy surrounding the site.

Slowly and laboriously each item of wreckage from the whole crash site had been cleared. Large transporters were then employed to take away any evidence and as quickly as the security screen had been erected it was dismantled. Much speculation about the mission of the plane and its contents ensured among locals, the veil of secrecy surrounding the event ensured that the topic was much talked about and there was speculation that highly sophisticated weaponry or bombs were being transported to the Allied forces to be used against the enemy. But these and many other stories were never confirmed or denied by the authorities and it still remains open to speculation'

And if the Elephant in the Zoo saw it all he or she kept a low profile!

Diane G - July '06
This is an amazing site. It's good to know that I'm not the only one who feels truly 'home' when they can see the cavehill from an aeroplane window! It's such an ominous and austere looking geographical feature, but it gives you such a feeling of familiarity...like the town is being held in a giant stone hug. I lived in Carrick, and one of my favourite things to do while going to Belfast in my dad's car, was to see if Napoleon's nose had any snow on it yet. It made me very happy as a kid if it did!

Just one of those places that gets totally under your skin, whether you lived near it, on it or under it. Should be one of the wonders of the world!

Kay - June '06
In response to Colin McKernon's question about the german aircraft crashing during the war...

Your mother is not far wrong Colin. A military aricraft did crash on Cavehill during the Second World War, but it was American not German. I am not sure how the story goes, but I was told that the American plane was returning to base (after a mission or after practice I suppose) but a fog had covered Cavehill and the poor pilot flying too low, crashed right into the top of the Cavehill.

Hopefully someone can verify my version or give you a better answer. Hope I have been of some help to you.

Kay - June '06
Great to see so many comments about our beloved Cavehill. It's a brilliant place to go on a clear sunny day, with Carrickfergus on your left, Bangor and Hollywood straight ahead over Belfast Lough, all the way to the Mourne Mountains of Newcastle! Fantastic place to have a mini picnic with the views, the caves, the greenery, the castle and the sheer drop into the Devil's Punch Bowl (particarly discomforting if like me you are scared of heights hahaha). Very fond and peaceful memories of my time spent upon Cavehill with my 2 brothers and especially of my father who adores old Napolean's Nose. I had been over on holiday in England until just yesterday (29/06/06) and had to make the long journey up from Dublin to Belfast, but as soon as I seen Cavehill's silhouette against the cloudy skyline I knew I was home in good old Belfast!

Terry Jay Cooper- June '06
I just found this site, I have been living in England for almost 50 years now, but I still go back every couple of years, and I always try to get up to Cave Hill - fond memories of the whole area. I was born near Glengormley, way back in '29, and we moved to Belfast at the beginning of the war. I was also one of the boys who clambered up Cave Hill to gawk at the crashed American Bomber. Great site, I hope to visit it on a regular basis.

Marie Toner Moore - June '06
I have 'cavehill' a short illustrated history by Sean Girvan and published by Glenravel Local History Project (1994) if anyone is interested I may lbe able to let them have sight of it. Alternativly i expect the Linen Hall library has a copy.

Nick Hannon - June '06
I grew up running around Cavehill, Bellevue Zoo and Belfast Castle, and have many great memories, for me anyway. I live in Switzerland now on the bank of Lac Leman (Lake Geneva). On a dark evening I can convince myself I am home on the Cavehill, with Geneva to the right of me as Belfast, the big lake on the left as the sea, and Evian across the way as the lights of Bangor & Holywood! If you make a video documentary for the web, I'd like to help if I can.

We have and you did ! Watch Nick convince us that Belfast and Geneva are indeed similar...

John - June'06
To Wolfie(Canada) June 06
I remember the Rabbit field. It ran down the side of the waterworks, as kids we would take a short cut down through, cutting out the Horseshoe bend. It was a close knit community in the 1950s. We all knew Russel , his older brother and family.

I also went to the Boys Model School. I left in August 1954. I cannot remember Russel being there at that time. The head master was Mr Bull, nicknamed the Bulldog when he was't around. My brother and I would cycle out to the seven mile straight to watch the Ulster Grand Prix. In those days it was known as the Clady circuit. Everyone just got down behind the hedge and watched their heros like Geoff Duke and Artie Bell going over the humps. It was a great childhood with a million memories to reflect on.

Marie Toner Moore - June '06
Re Sheila Mc Adams comments Nov '05. I think you would have been a fair wee bit off Atlantic Ave had you been at the ceilidhe in the Ard Scoil which was on the Falls Road at Divis Street, That part of Belfast is overlooked by 'Divis' which was our 'mountain'as we grew up in west Belfast. But maybe you would have been unlucky enough to have been on your way home! My late husband's cousins lived in Brougham Street and were all killed that fateful night, Brougham Street is of course only a short walk from Atlantic Ave.

Wolfie (Canada), previous comment November '05 - May '06
( To John; April'06)
Very pleasent surprise to hear someone mention 'Russel McAdam' in connection with the Cavehill, Hightown and Horseshoe Road areas. Russel went to the Boy's Model school and was the same age as me. I was always happy to speak to him as he lived at the 'Horseshoe bend' in a house right beside the 'rabbit field' In fact I believe his family owned that land. To children like myself the rabbit field was a big deal. When my mum and dad would take me on a 'wee run' to the seven mile straight or wherever out that way, in the Austin 7, they would always make the announcement, (in a musical tone), just before the Hightown road "We're coming up to the rabbit field" and then I would have my eyes skinned on the field to see how many rabbits I could see. Russel was a lovely quiet spoken boy and his death had a big effect on me at the time and still does to this day; God bless him! I was invited up to his house that tragic week to see his pidgeons, which we both had an interest in. (who in Ligoneil didn't in those days?). After more than 50 years, during which time I have been in the RAF and been away in Canada for 33 years, I still remember Russel and other absent friends in my prayers every night.
In the movie 'Field of Dreams' someone said to Kevin Cosner "Never sell this field" and so I say to the organizers of this column "never close this website" for mostly the same reasons --- "It's magic" Thank you!

Ken T - May '06
A few things, having grew up on the Upper Cavehill Road Belfast we attended Cavehill Primary School (the latter site on Upper Old Cavehill Road). We studied the Cavehill as a wee project and unearthed a few interesting things . The Cavehill Diamond was indeed dazzling sailors in the morning light, as it rose from the east, those boats equipped with cannons would shoot towards the stone in order to dislodge it then rise to search through the debris. Madame Tussaud had apparently bought it but retains no record of this. Ben Madigan is the real name for the hill which is 3 meters under being called a mountain. Madigan was the son of the famous McArt. where the fort retains its name. As is with mote and baily construction the fort has a hand dug defensive mound surrounding it. I found a lump of quartz incidentally that had a vein of gold running through it , I remember it having a good lump attached to it as well! Carrs Glen down held a good head of trout no longer than 9 inches!
I remember when I was 7 having a friend who was 11 teaching me how to tickle! It blows my mind still thinking a boy of that age could be so attuned, McArts fort was also known amongst other names as "liberty Cap "and" the Lovers Leap" Napoleons nose may arise as a name relating to the fact that Theobald Wolfe Tone met there with Henry Joe McKracken, who were incidentally protestant, took a stand against old blighty as the United Irish Men. Wolfe Tone then became a general of Napoleons when on the run and the name could have been attached to the fact that at one point the french were going to help the Irish fight Britain. Could an invasion landing of Ulster and McArts Fort seen as the seat of such treachery gave birth to Napoleons Nose? A place of disgust were men sought to destroy the throne the McArts? Can any sleuths help with this

Alan - May '06
My Grandparents lived in a thatched cottage just where the Upper Cavehill Road narrows turn to a track that leads up towards the quarry. The cottage has been renovated now but much the same. There was a well on the other side of the path where folks stopped to refresh after the climb up Cavehill.

Raymond O Regan - May '06
What connection has belfast castle on the slopes of Cavehill with the statue of Eros in Piccadilly london?
The connection is the Shaftsbury family. Harriet Chichester married into the Shaftsbury family and it was their money that helped complete the building of the castle in the 1870s Back to the statue of Eros ;it was erected in memory of Lord Shaftsbury a great 19th. century social reformer.
The castle was given to the people of Belfast in the 1930s with the stipulation that it was not to be used as a home for mental patients.
During the Second World War it was used by the ministry of war The original Belfast Castle c. 1613 was where aprox. British Home Stores stands to day in castle lane which is why we have all those names in this area e.g. Castle St. Castle Lane, Castle Junction.
When this castle was almost completely destroyed by an accidental fire in1708 ,killing three of the chichester daughters,the family shortly afterwards moved to England.
In 1802 the second Marquis moved back to Belfast to avoid his creditors and would eventually move into a large house in what is today Ormeau Park.
In the 1870s the family moved to the Deerpark on the cavehill building the present day castle with the help of the Shaftsbury money brought on board when Harriet Chichester married into the shaftsbury family.

Bookworm - May '06
I have been browsing the Cavehill site and am totally amazed at what has grown from my original query.

Ruairi MacLeanachain, Sept.05 states that it is debatable whether or not there could have been a throne of the O'Neills on the Cavehill as there are also claims of a throne in Castlereagh.

It is quite possible that there were two thrones, or maybe more, because the great Irish chieftains O'Neill were a clan.

In Cathal O' Byrne's book "As I Roved Out"one can read about the Grey castle, home of the great Con O'Neill which was situated in the Castlereagh hills. This was an ideal vantage point for watching if enemy boats had entered Belfast Lough.

The name Castlereagh is a derivative of the Irish for Grey Castle, also the local river the Conswater still bears his name.

 

David Kelly - May '06
I'm still living up on the old part of the whitewell road leading on to floral road, i still go up to the cave hill every summer and have been for the past 20 years, for the people who have not been there for a while nothing has changed and hopefully it never will.

Alison - May '06
There used to be some curious stories told about the Cave Hill Diamond before it was unearthed.
One of these was that mariners entering Belfast Lough used to be dazzled by its glints and used to set their course by its brilliance. Then there was the legend that Finn McCool used to wear it on his watch guard until he dropped it one day and in disgust deserted the Cave Hill altogether.
The Cave Hill Diamond was also believed by some to be a piece of Limestone.

In George Henry Bassett's Book of Antrim published in 1888, the entry for Whitewell.
"Last year a very good example of the Irish Diamond was found at Cave Hill, it is 11 inches in circumference and weighs about a pound. Mr J Erskine of North Street, Belfast purchased and advertised the crystal as the 'Cave Hill Diamond' and then selling it at a good price to Madame Tussaud's Gallery, London"

Nick Hannon - April '06
I lived on the Whitewell Road and remember a white cone-shaped building that contained, er, a well - hence Whitewell? I and friends climbed into the well and jumped up and down on the a protective grille over the shaft to prove what brave (idiots!) we were. The building was at the original junction of the Whitewell & Antrim roads, on the Cavehill side of the road (now entrance to the Zoo I think). Now it just seems a hazy, nice dream. Anybody and details/photos of the well?

Tania - April '06
Does anyone remember the remains of a large house that were in the grounds of Belfast Castle? I remember visiting the site with my father around 1986 and there was only the floorplan remaining (tiles, paving stones etc.) with the house itself being completely flattened.

My father said that he used to play there as a boy (around early 1950s) and at that time there were stables remaining from the house, which were apparently underground with a staircase going up to the ground floor, but still no walls etc. of the actual house. This wasn't very far from the site of Belfast Castle, on the lower slopes of the Cave Hill.

I visited there again recently (April 06) but we couldn't find the site, and I can't find any references to it on the Internet. Just wondered if anyone here can shed any light on it?

David Wilson - May '06
I was a member of the 29th scouts in Hesketh Park for some years around 1967. My brothers Edgar and Brian Wilson were scouts some years before me. We all spent some time on Cavehill at Daddystown before they were eventually burnt down.
I know my brother, who now lives in Canada has photos of the scouts and quite possibly Daddystown. He is still in regular contact with other scouts eg the McConnell Bros ( Big Mac and Wee Mac). Its hard to look at the Cavehill without reminiscing those week-ends and thinking of Peter Nesbitt another 29th scout and police reservist who was killed in a bomb blast at Ardoyne.

If one can read a book called I believe " The History of South East Antrim " it will explain a lot about Mc Arts fort and the ditches which once surrounded it. It also mentions Daddystown, Mummystown and possibly Nora's grave. As as a member of the 29th scouts in Hesketh Park, I spent a few weekends in the cottages at Daddystown, especially at the "feast of the harvest ", and many more camping out.

John - April '06
Jimmy Stevens had a big farm by the Horseshoe bend, but he owned land away over the top of the Hightown called the Bailey lands.He also owned part of Carr's glen.The rest of the glen was owned by Joe M'Connel whose farm you passed on the way up through the glen.I remember a young farm lad called Russel Mc adam who was drowned in an accident at the WaterWorks dam on the Horseshoe. Could that be the same family as the Mc adam mentioned in the last letter? The other dairy farmer was Jack Magill who farmed the land from the top of the Hightown down into the glen. It is a long time ago but my childhood memories are still there. I spent twenty three years in the Navy and sailed around the world many times but Carr's glen will always have a special place in my heart.

Sam Speers - April '06
David (Ellis)
I was a member of the 28th Scout Troop and went most of my week-ends "Up the Hill" to Sam Clyde's cottages when I was 10 years old. Naturally I knew him very well and often went to his house for scout training. My brother Dennis (Speers) was the next person to cross the rope bridge when Tommy Beatty crashed to his death at Lin Head (Thanks John! ) I used to take Tommy Beatty's 3 Collie dogs out walking for his widow after school. Recently I have been writing about my childhood and recall all these events very clearly.
Jon, Thanks for the info. Mr Clyde was called "Daddy" Clyde and now I can understand why...Daddystown Jimmy Stevens owned the hazel wood just below where you lived, isn't that right?
Does anyone have any photos of the area ? I didn't have a camera at that time and I don't remember anyone in the Scouts taking any photos. I have sketched the cottages from memory with the aid of the computer but a photo would be fantastic.
Thanks for the help and memories!!

Alex - March '06
This is for John: My father (McAdam) also owned land in that area and at some time sold it but retained the ground rents. We owned the cottages in Sunningdale Park until the thatched one collapsed in 1987. As a child, I used to roam Carr's Glen and play beside the stream that runs down parallel to the rear of Sarajac Cres.

Jim - March '06
Well I'd mentioned it in my May 05 posting and I'd thought I'd seen some mention of it somewhere - but as there were no responses I then thought I must have been suffering from an overactive imagination.

But, no, today it is a leading news item - the film to be called, "Closing the Ring", directed by Richard Attenborough and starring Christopher Plummer, Peter Postlethwaite and Shirley MacLaine (and "Mischa Barton" whoever that is) began filming in Belfast today 28.03.06.

The story, as you will no doubt have seen reported in the media, is about the crash of that B-57 bomber, the dying airman, his request to a local man to return the ring to the dying man's fiancee in USA and of course the sequel 50 years later - all the stuff of Holywood - sorry that should have read Hollywood.

Anyway I hope our beloved Cave Hill looks well on a misty day on the big screen. Watch this space!

Catherine Mulholland - March '06
I too was born in the shadows of the cave hill I lived in longlands road near the whitewell road when I go home I also feel at home, I used to go there a lot as a child. I love going back there and find it very comforting to see the hill.

Jim B - March '06
Does anyone know of music recitals or evenings held at the old Limestone quarry? I read about it many moons ago but can't remember where.

John - March '06
The scouts cottages were at Daddystown. My brother and i sometimes took a shortcut on our way home from school up through Carrs Glen and on up the lane past Daddystown and over the bridge by the water fall know then as the Lin Head.We lived at the end of that lane where it came out onto the upper Hightown road, I remember there was some talk of a scout master falling over the Lin Head during a scouting exercise. My dad worked for Jimmy Stevens who owned most of the land in that area at that time. My dad helped to build the bridge and put it in position with use of two horses and a Ruckshifter.That was soon after the war.

John G Thompson - March '06
Did you know that Dean Jonathan Swift got his idea for the book Guillver's Travels from the Cave Hill?

At the time he was minister at the Church of Ireland in Ballycarry. Being good Presbyterian folk up around there, it is said, he and his horse were the only two members of the CoI. In those days you were paid by how many members you had in your church so Dean Swift was quite poor.

He was courting a rich Belfast bankers daughter and one summers evening he went up to their home in Warnings Street. Her father refused point-blank to let his daughter be seen going about with this poor minister and told the Dean to stay away.

He went to the end of Warnings Street in sadness, looked up, and saw the up turned face of Cave Hill (what we now know as Napoleon's nose) and suddenly the story came to him.

David Ellis - March '06
I lived in Joanmount gardens from 1943 until 1959. I spent my childhood wandering about the cavehill.. Does anyone remember Sam Clyde who owned one of the cottages on the side of the hill. He was also involved in the 28th scout troop along with tommy beatty who fell down the waterfall and died. I now live in england and since the death of my sister have little reason to return, anyone remember me?

Robert - Feb '06
Stumbled upon this great site by chance i have a six year old boy who is very interested in the ww2 bomber that crashed on the hillside.If anyone could shed some light on the exact whereabouts of the crash it would be greatly appreciated.

Sam Speers - Feb '06
Ex-neighbour Tommy, Thanks for the memories. Do you remember if there were small thatched huts in the field where the fire was located ? I built one and used to sleep in it on week-ends. Looking at a map now, I think the location of the cottages was Squires Hill. I always thought of the whole area as Cave Hill and don't remember anyone calling it Squires Hill. Correct me if I'm wrong.

John - Feb '06
I lived with my parents in the cottages at the top of the Hightowm road in the early 40,s where Squires hill joined the Cave hill and Collinward. It was a special magical place to grow up.My brother and I would roamthe glen where honeysuckle, hazel nuts primroses and violets were in abundance, It was a long way to walk to school but walk we had to winter and summer.My grandmother had a little shop and sold lemonade, cigerettes and cakes to hill walkers and courting couples. The mountains and Carrs Glen were unspoilt areas in those days. Truly great memories.

Trevor Anderson - Feb '06
I have just discovered this wonderful site - long may it continue. I grew up in the shadow of the Cave Hill and its profile is indelibly ingrained on my memory. I lived on the Serpentine Road during and after the war and well remember the occasion when a bomber crashed into the Cave Hill.

It was on a day when the Hill was hidden by low cloud. I remember hearing the sound of an aircraft going overhead very low and my parents saying "it's going to crash into the Hill". I then remember seeing a red/orange flash in the mist followed by silence. For some reason, I don't remember the crash itself making any sound. Some days later I went up the Hill with friends and we found the crash site. Most of the debris had gone but I remember finding a piece of twisted metal. It was painted a yellow/green colour and I remember thinking how light it was.

I also seem to remember (as Bob Smith reports) that there were appeals to hand in anything that was found, but my dad kept this piece of twisted metal in our garage for many years.

Tommy - Jan '06
Sam, I was born and raised in the street below you, Stratford Gardens, and I also have great memories of the Carr's Glen and the Cavehill, and I remember your scout troop in the cottage on the side of the hill, we helped your troop one day to put out a large fire on the hill, just to the right of your cottage. Oh for those lazy hazy days of summer, long gone.

Sam Speers - Jan '06
I was born in 1942 in Velsheda Park Ardoyne. I remember going every Friday night to a boy scout meeting in Hesketh Park and afterwards rucksack on my back treking up the Cave Hill to some cottages the troop had rented. Sometimes alone and others accompanied. This was from 1953-57. I have incredible recollections of the glen, the lane, the camels humps, the quarry, the Horseshoe bend and the hazelwoods. I loved growing up in Belfast at that time playing churchie-one-over in the street before going to bed and making slides of ice down the street slope in winter. In the scouts, I was a very good rope spinner as well as yarn-spinner ha!ha!

John J - Jan '06
I assume that everyone knows why Napoleon's Nose is so called. From a certain angle, eg going up the lower part of Cavehill Road, the rocky promontory forms the nose, Cavehill the brow - and there is also a chin - of a reclining head. That's true - my father told me so and he always new everything! And, when I looked for myself, it was true.

Bob Smith - Jan '06
Yes, John J. I well remember the bellevue buses. They ran from the main entrance up the steep, winding road to the plateau on the top. I remember the passangers sat in rows facing forward and there was a narrow running board along the whole length of the bus. The conductor had to be as agile as one of the monkeys in the zoo above as he swung from row to row via the running board, collecting fares. As schoolboys in the 1940s, we used to hop on to the rear bumper in the hope of getting a free ride and the conductors would get rid of us by snatching our caps off our heads and chucking them away.

MartyMac, Belfast - Jan '06
I have been reading the theories as to where the name Throne originates and what connection it may have with the Cave Hill. I have got another theory for you. As you may know, part of the Cave Hill is known locally as Napoleon's Nose. The following excerpt from a local website explains it: "This brings me to the matter of Napoleon's Nose, a popular soubriquet for almost two hundred years. Before that it would have been simply "the nose". There are numerous hills or mountains in the Scottish Highlands named "An t-Sron" which is Gaelic for "the nose" and which is pronounced, approximately as "untrone". This accounts for the name of an area on the Antrim Road, under McArt's Fort, which is called "the Throne". "The nose" was a translation into English, and "The Throne" resulted from a change of meaning due to a similarity in sound." Elizabeth K.C. Madill: April 2000. Whatever the real reason may be, I fully understand people's fascination with the Cave Hill, while at school, I used to spend my summer holidays on it's slopes and know every part of it and whenever I have friends from other parts visiting, it's the first place I take them.

John J - Jan '06
Belfast Zoo and Floral Hall have been mentioned. I have been trying to remember about the open topped bus that used to run in the grounds and cannot remember exactly whether it ran only from the entrance up to the top or whether it ran from the terminus that was just past the Antrim Road / North Circular Road junction and St. Peter's C of I Church. We called them Toast Racks because of the slatted wooden seats. Does anyone remember (I'm talking about the 50's)?
I remember Floral Hall. A girl in my class had a birthday party in a room there - and she kissed me! At age 8 it made a lasting memory. It's really great to see that the area still stirs the memory.

Bob Smith - Jan '06
Lovely to read the memories of Cave Hill which towered above where I lived as a boy. I actually witnessed the American B17 Flying Fortress crash into the lower slopes during the war. Most of the hill was hidden under a thick blanket of fog and the bomber just flew straight into it. I remember myself and a few pals who were early on the scene, managed to salvage belts of maching gun ammunition only to have them confiscated by the police who toured the schools threatening a terrible fate if we didn't hand them over!

Karen Wesley - Dec '05
I was borrn in Belfast in 1944 and lived in Prestwick Park, off the Ballysillan Road. My earliest memories are those of Prestwick Park and Cavehill. I remember when I was about three my father used to take me for a walk. We would cross the Ballysillan Road at the top of Prestwick Park (after passing through a little wooded area) and walk up a lane that my father called Carr's Glen. It always seemed to be muddy and I remember there were black and white cows which sometimes we had to walk past in the lane. I remember being very frightened of the cows so probably had to be carried by my father. We moved to England in 1948 and often returned to Belfast for holidays. Both myself and my younger brother always remembered Cavehill and looked out for it. Two years ago we both paid a visit to Belfast together with our partners. We were not disappointed but my only regret was not having time to climb Cavehill........still next time.

Jim - Dec '05
Please do keep these wonderful comments coming in - they're all fascinating and I hope BBC do keep this section of the site open and available to all from near and far for many years to come. The Cave Hill is really a truly magical place and whether we're fortunate enough to see it every day or perhaps now only in our fondest memories of years long long since gone, the Cave Hill will always have a resonance in our memories and a significance for all of us who have "been there" - it's what makes us rooted in Belfast and it's part of who we all are.

Wolfie (Canada) - November '05
Belvue and Robin's Well (Divis Mtn.)

When I was about 15, I went with a few pals to Belvue and, to cut a long story short, while looking up to the 60 foot small cliff to my left , I saw someone fall to the trees and bushes below; just like a ragdoll. I shouted to my pals 'did youse see that?' Didn't really wait for my comment to sink in and I started running up into the forest in the direction of the fall. After looking around on the forest floor, I found a wee fellow of around 8-11 years old. He had a bad head injury and was unconscious. Somehow I instinctively knew not to move him and one of my pals, who had followed me up, ran and had an ambulance come. This happened in the late 50s (approx 1957-1958). I always wonder from time to time what happened to the wee fella.

Changing the subject slightly; when I used to roam Carr's Glen, we called the small hills leading to the Cave Hill area 'The camels humps' I remember 'tickling trout' in the Carr's Glen river. Roamed Divis Mountain for many a year as a kid. Loved the hatchet field, the bluebell field, St. Mary's cricket club and not to forget, the river changing colour every day, courtesy of Glenbank mill. Loved to walk to the outer limits of our universe; Robin's Well.

We always used to look down into the well's water to see the one resident trout. Didn't have the foggiest idea at that time that my granny had spent all her life as a young girl living in the house at the well. Her parents had come down from Co. Tyrone and her dad crossed the fields every day to work somewhere on the Crumlin Road.

 

Sheila McAdam - November '05
Delighted to hear so many people still walk over Cavehill. I was born in Mileriver Street and every Sunday morning my father took the four of us over the hill while mother made dinner. (After dinner we had another walk).

I visited Belfast Castle this summer and found the heritage centre to be a wealth of information about the area. In later years I married and went to live in the Cregagh area but my mother wasn't happy coming to visit as she didn't like to be out of sight of the Cave Hill. We lived in Castleton Gardens during the war so were there all through the blitz. My father wouldn't let us go to the ceilidh in the Ard Scoil on Easter Tuesday, otherwise we might have been in the Air Raid Shelter at top of Atlantic Ave which got a direct hit, killing all occupants, I believe 17.

I have great memories of walking up Cavehill Rd under the arches. Does anyone remember Norah's grave which we always visited. At Belfast Castle it tells the whole story of Norah and George. I now live in Canada.

Sean, Bellevue - November '05

My pleasure Rob, I'm sure you have read Alice Milligan's most beautiful of poems about our Cavehill.

Mountain Shapes

Look up from the streets of the city
look high beyond tower and mist
what hand of what Titan sculptor
smote the crags on the mountain vast

Made when the world was fashioned
meant with the world to last
that glorious face of the sleeper
that slumbers above Belfast

Rob Harbinson - November '05
Thanks Sean, you answered my unasked question. I was trying to remember the name of the park that we used to go to on the cave hill. Where the Floral Hall was, also the Zoo. "Hazelwood"!!!!

Rob Harbinson - November '05
Just found out about this site. Great to read it, 'specially as I have lived in USA since '68. Dave Sloan brought back a few memories just by mentioning Bellevue Zoo. Anyone else remember The Floral Hall?

Sean, Bellevue - November '05

The secret

Gazing through the hazelwoods below
I am dazaled by it's atmosphere of history
As generations of disciplies have trod the ground of palestine Tiss birth right to whom I am endebted For it has afforded me, my peace and glory But this selfish feeling of possession
Has not been mine alone.
For ctizens past and present
Who recalled in tale and song
Those delights on Easter Monday
And maybe if you dare to climb
Ben Madigan of old,
Remember
If you too are smitt
let not it be told.

Some of the emotions our Cavehill stirs in me.

 

Greg Thompson - October '05
My late Grandmother's first husband was from the Antrim Road area and one day, after visiting his mother, he went for a walk on Cave Hill. My Grandmother expecting their first child at the time. During his walk the ground gave way beneath him and he fell to his death.

This was just after World War Two. My Grandmother was made a widow at an early age. My late Grandfather's first wife died shortly after giving birth to one of her children and they went on to meet each other and fall in love.

I often visit Cave Hill now and wonder where it was that my Grandmother's first husband was killed.

Irvine Jones - Oct 05
Re -query by H Stewart June 2005, about Mammystown and Daddystown, Cavehill Belfast. Yes, these cottages were about 2/3 & 1/3 mile uphill from old stone, arched bridge carrying Ballysillan Road over Cavehill Road. A railway ran at one time, under bridge, down from the Quarry, down Cavehill Rd. to Limestone Rd. and docks. With a friend, I once stayed overnight in Mammystown , the higher-up of the two, maybe in early 40's. My friend's father was in North Belfast Harriers - - - who rented the cottage. The walls inside had clippings of Harrier events!

In 2000, or was it 1996, I went up Carr's Glen & over fields to Mammystown, but only found debris, weeds and old mossy stones ! Both Mammystown & Daddystown were on an old road running Northwesterly, away from , the Limestone Railway. This old road was overgrown, even in the 40's, but had hawthorn hedges on both sides, it came out on the Upper Hightown Road above the Horseshoe Bend.

Between the Blitz 1941, and 1952 my family home was in the Deerpark Rd/ Deerpark Drive area, before that, the Limestone Road area --- so the Cavehill was a wonderful wilderness area for kids and adults ! In a paperback book " North Belfast " is a photograph of Mammystown with reference to refugees, due to the Blitz - - - staying there in 1941.

I remember as a small boy, my dad taking me to " Trundle" colour-dyed Easter Eggs - - - somewhere uphill from the old bridge over Cavehill Road and Ballysillan Road ! Then, there were also cottages just lower from the bridge, and the Harriers had their club Hall there too. At the lower end of the Limestone Quarry was the clearest, purest bubbling spring water, you only had to kneel down ! Always a stopping place, going uphill or down !

See " Ordnance Survey Northern Ireland Greater Belfast, street map, scale 1: 12000. "

 

Charles Cooke - Oct '05
What a lovely site to find. I too lived as a boy below the cave hill. I was told that debris just above the nursery garden thats above St Gerards was the place the bomber plane came down I remember seeing the remains back in the fifties .

William - Sept '05
I was born in a house which backed on to Carr's Glen & my father came from the Limestone Rd . He seems to know about the railway & the old cottages with a small water wheel at the side . At 46 I only recall one cottage where a wee old woman lived until the mid 60's then it fell into disrepair.

They were about 500yrds up the "Glen" from the Ballysillan ( ps. the pathways were made by me originally on my m'bike ! Whoa ! What an achievement ! SAD LAD) anyway , to the person asking about the old quarry 8 gauge railway , it ran from the bottom of the Limestone up the Cavhill Rd into the Upper Cavehill Rd straight on up the "Hill" to the "Quarry" or the "Mounds" as we called it . The only indication now is a narrow path between 2 fields lined by trees.

It can also be easly reached from the path to Belfast Castle . To the left of it is a huge crater which was caused by a bomb dropped off course by a German plane during a raid ! Not the crash site of the plane which i believe was American and indeed crashed just north of the castle after getting lost from a base in England ! Lastly McCarts Fort - All Iknow is what I've seen myself of it - just north of the zoo there is a large " hill ?" at the top of which is a rusted monument with the name of the fort on it (don't remember what else but the view really is amazing as the mound of earth juts out from the side of the hill whereas the top of the hill doesn't really have a high point on it) As a child it was often referred to me as the " Seat of Kings " The story has it that the Kings of Antrim and Down planned their escape to France ( Flight of the Earls ) in a small wooden castle (McCarts Fort) just there . Having been there believe me you CAN see both Antrim & Down at the same time and to climb there would be the perfect place of safety . If anyone can tell me more i would be very interested as i don't believe anyone would carry half a ton of metal up there on the basis of a myth- try carrying a Labrador !

Ruairi Mac Leanachain - Sept '05
The Throne on the Cave Hill was known as the Giant's Chair. There is a debate whether it was the coronation throne of the O'Neills or not as there was another throne in the Castlereagh area which was said also to have been used by the O'Neills.

Ancient throning chairs were usually situated in high places with a hollow in which the foot of the would be chieftain was placed however on the Cave Hill Throne a stone had been added to it in the shape of a glove to allow the right hand to be placed in it.

The Cave Hill Throne was destroyed by loyalists in December 1896 after a reference was made to it in an article in the nationalist paper 'Shan Van Bocht'. Parts of it may be avilable to view at the Ulster Museum. Si Samuel Ferguson did indeed build his house 'The Throne' in reference to this feature.

A native of N.I. - August '05
"MCCCARTS FORT'- IS IT REAL? ?"
I remember as a child hearing stories of McCarts Fort. (Not sure if spelling is correct) As I'm returning to N.I. quite soon to visit I wondered if anyone could let me know if this is a real fort & if so its whereabouts as I've told my family that if possible we'll go to see it. Can anyone tell me if it does or ever did exist? Please post any answers on site. Many thanks. Kind regards.

Tommy - July '05
Hi,
Just found the website, I have been around the world in my young days, and every time I came up the Belfast lough and looked up to the Cavehill, I knew I was home, what a beautiful sight.

Neil - July '05
Sorry if this has been mentioned before but today me and my dad went up to Napoleon's nose and after eating our lunch we went to the hill behind McArts Fort there we found a depression in the ground with about five or six large boulders circling the dip. Does anyone know what this may be?

Jim - July '05
Further to my May '05 comment about the crashed WWII bomber - in case anyone is interested - I was walking on Cavehill recently with a party of other people and one of them remembered the crash occurring and visiting the site shortly afterwards (presumably as a young boy) where he found part of the fleece lining from an airman's jacket. He told me that the bomber crashed what sounded like a little bit above the Floral Hall and at a location that I understood from him to be about where the spider monkey enclosure would now be in the Belfast Zoo or slightly further over towards the foot of Napoleon's nose perhaps, maybe where the Polar Bear enclosure is. Does anyone have any more information?

H Stewart - June '05
Does anyone know about two terraces of cottages on the slopes of the Cavehill, one near the quarry, which were called Mammy's town and Daddy's town ?

[ed: see reply above by Irvine Jones in October 05]

 

Jim - May 05
Colin McKernon mentions a German Bomber crashing into the side of Cave Hill. I'm just a bit too young to remenber anything other than, as a wee boy in the 1950's, it being mentioned to me that the Germans had bombed Belfast. I believed that the large crater below the caves (the "Devil's Punchbowl"??) was caused by a German bomb and I found, and still to this day, find that strange large inverted cone of a depression in the ground fascinating - whatever the geological or mechanical orgins. But back to the crashed bomber - I was at a business meeting a few years ago and a well-known Belfast industrialist told me that he was standing at a bus stop on the Antrim Road, Belfast, going to school (BRA) one morning during WWII when he heard a plane flying very low overhead in apparently very poor and misty conditions. There was a loud explosion and it was clear that the aircraft had flown into the side of the Cave Hill. The gentleman in question told me that he forgot all about school and made his way directly to the scene where army/police were keeping spectators back from the scene. I believe that it might have been an American not a German bomber. As a postscript - was there to be made a Holywood movie called "the Ring" about someone who found a ring at this crash site and returned it to the family of one of the deceased American airmen. Anyone know anything about that or am I imagining this?

 

Kim Irwin - March '05
Does anybody know the story of the Cavehill diamond?

Florrie Binn - March '05
I think that the query below relates to an article written by Mr Cathal O' Byrne ( As I Roved Out ) regarding the ancient crowning throne of the Antrim / Down branch of the O' Neill Clan.

Indeed, logic dictates that if your lands covered the counties An trim and Down there would be no better place to oversee your Kingdom than on top of the Cave Hill.

The sad thing to report is that in about 1898 a number of youths - ones without historical sentiment - went to the site armed with picks and bars and prized the ancient monument from its foundations, only to let it succumb to gravity over the cliff edge. I believe that, if so inclined, a thorough search of the foot of the cliff might just turn up some debris of the ancient monument ...

Peter - February '05
Hi everybody, I have just come across this webpage and I'm glad to see so many people taking an interest in the Cavehill and its history. I was born and raised under its shadow but have only recently started to become curious about those who have gone before me and their impact on their environment.

I'm hoping someone can tell me something about the stones set in a depression on top of the rath which sits behind McArts fort as you look towards squires hill. I know there are rumours of more caves on the hill and was wondering if perhaps a well or something had been filled in?

All the best, Peter.

Philip Hull - February '05
My father has climbed to all the caves in the Cavehill.

Rosetta Laddie - December 04
My sister and I were evacuated during the war to Dromara, but we both cried all the time and so we were sent back home. I don't suppose we were there more than a couple of days. Still we survived, LOL

David Martin, New York State - November '04
Back in 1950, my brother, sister, mother, and I were visiting Belfast, mainly to see my grandfather. We took a couple tours of CaveHill. My brother and I had loads of fun trying to climb the rock face. I have been back to the Belfast area a few times, in the 70's, but, had forgot about Cave Hill. It was nice to see it again in your pictures. Still have family living in the Belfast area. I live in Niagara Falls, N.Y. I hope to get back to Ireland some day.

Brian O'Neill - October '04
Yes I do know where the stone is it was broke into a thousand pieces by a by the lord deputy of Ireland. This was back in 1609 I think, after the excile of" THE ONEILL" Hugh O'Neill Earl of Tyrone. The O'Neills never coronated any of their clan on cave hill. They were coronated outside Cookstown and of course at Navan Fort long before the English destroyed the clan system .

Jim Turkington - September '04
I live quite close to the Cavehill and over the years I have been intrigued about the old Cavehill railway ( or tramway ). I have been trying to find out for myself all about this marvelous feat of engineering, but the only info I came across is old photos on display in the Cavehill Inn" and the shape of the Antrim/Cavehill/Limestone junction is a feature of the railway course. There used to be a street at the bottom of the Limestone called Tramway St. I also have seen old maps of Belfast (circa 1889) showing the railway at the lower end of the Limestone.

Bob - July 2004
Is the Cavehill an old volcano?

M. Regan - May 2004
Yea, I know where it is [coronation stone]. It's located on the right hand side of Napoleon's nose, or to the left if you approach it along the back path. It is heavily eroded and covered in graffiti.

Stephen Hall - May 2004
The note about the inaugral thone of the O'NEILLS smashed in 1896.
Could it be that it is in fact still there. The rock that is from time painted a different set of colours. It is a white rock and I have known it from my childhood.
I did hear tell that the O'Neills guarded valuables in the caves that are apparently linked.
I have never heard of the throne before but if you walk up to that white rock now, or what ever colour it happens to be at the moment, it is rather throne like and you can survey the land below like a bit of royalty.
Who knows, there could be some link with the rath at MacArt's fort and the inaugral throne. The rath could have begun life as a ritual site due to its location. This is of course speculation but it is certainly the right sort of height and a very special place.
The Cavehill. Those of us who grew up there all feel we belong to the hill. It is special to us. Now that is an ancient emotion indeed and a fairly natural response to "The Sleeper".

Margaret McCroskery, Castlerobin Residents Group - May '04
Whitemountain Lisnagarvey (ring of the forts) once home to the kings of ulster the o'neills. now this place on the mullaghglass road will become a dumping ground for several councils to dump their rubbish. you can help by supporting the castlerobin residents take their story to the press. thanks to bbc radio ulster for their coverage. all environmental and wildlife issues are important to us. whitemountain/mullaghglass was the route over colin/divis /black mountain to cavehill to mc arts fort part of history. read this in any history on the mountain castlerobin.

Jake
- May '04
Lovely hill, lovely memories, its the best thing just to look up at the hill, or to look down from it ,at the beautiful views of Belfast and the lough. Its home!!

William Gregg - April '04
During the late sixties and early seventies I lived in The Boys' Model area, in fact right at the foot of the Glen. Many times I walked with my dog for miles up through the Glen, towards the Quarry, and then up towards Napolean's Nose. I remember once, as my father and I came down through the back of Belfast Castle our dog went missing and at the same time we noticed an awful smell. We went merrily along but It turned out the next day in the "Tellie" that the body of a homeless man had been found. Last year I paid a flying visit to Belfast and I stayed in The Landsdowne on the Antrim Road, right at the foot of the Cavehill. The sight of the Cavehill, just coming out of the morning mist brought back memories from years ago.

Susan Close - April 04
Hi
What a wonderful topic - I live in the valley with the Cavehill and Carnmoney hill as my 'protectors' - The cavehill holds a huge place in my heart - Every morning I have a 30 minute dander with the Cavehill in full view...and everyday it looks different...very mystical when there's fog. I won't ever tire at the sight of it. It is home. I sound like an old timer...I am infact 26 lol.

I took my son there over easter....to the zoo...for tradition's sake. With our hard boiled eggs we spent all morning painting. It was bunged to the gills ....it brings the good ol' folk of N.Ireland together irrespective of religion which is always a good thing :o) We go hiking up there quite a bit over the better weather - it can be a bit dangerous as I fell down the devils slide and broke my a** hahaha...it was my own fault so don't let that put you off going. The views are breath taking....words don't describe. Makes you feel like you're king of the world. lol. The heritage it holds is extremely intriguing..... go for a visit....the mountain ~( as I call it....coz technically it should be a mountain not a hill ~) really is worth a day out.

If you'd like any questions answered or directions give me a shout - I'd be more than happy to help - take care...

P.S someone queried how to actually get up there...well if you come along the antrim road and take the turn up to the 'cavehill country park' (watch coz blink & you'll miss it) and walk up to Belfast castle ....go around the back and walk towards town...once you pass its car park you'll see a sign on the left....with a map & info - walk up there and you can follow the recommended route to save you getting lost. Hope that helps. Good luck.

Courtnie (March 2004)
Does anybody know how to get to Cavehill? I study in Ulster University at Jordanstown. I am eager to go there! Tons of people recommend me to go!

Editor
Belfast Castle on the Antrim Road, in North Belfast lies on the lower slopes of Cavehill. Belfast Castle is surrounded by Cave Hill Country Park. A walk through this park will bring you up onto Cavehill. I hope this is helpful and that you enjoy your visit. Let us know how you get on..

Green Eyes writes:

The inaugural throne of the O'Neills stood on Cavehill until 1896 when it was rolled over the summit by anti-Irish protesters and smashed to smithereens at the base. The residence named after it belonged to a Sir Samuel Ferguson and was subsequently a hospital/convalescent home. I got this info from an old book of anecdotes about Belfast 'As I Roved Out' by Cathal O'Byrne.

Colin Mc Kernon sent the following e-mail:

My mother in law remembers a german aircraft crashing into the Cave Hill overlooking Belfast in 1941. Do any others have a memory of this?

Bookworm
I do not remember hearing of a German plane crashing on the Cavehill but I clearly remember as a very young child how my family, along with many many others from north Belfast, spent nights sleeping on the slopes of the hill in the hope of escaping from whatever air raids might take place. Unfortunately my mother tired of this nightly trek with four children and on the night of the Easter Tuesday air raid we were at home on the Antrim Road which was quite badly bombed.

Lone Walker
I thought that a great number of schoolchildren were evacuated to the countryside before the Easter blitz. Obviously you weren't. Were you ever evacuated - if you were, where did they send you? Did you lose friends in that air raid?

Bookworm
Yes we were evacuated as an entire family because our house and all its contents was destroyed. We had several short stay moves and eventually went to stay with distant relatives in Portadown. This turned out to be a wonderful experience, or learning curve as they say now, for us city children. In answer to your other question, yes several of the children I went to school with and played with and their parents were killed in the Easter Tuesday air raid. Now back to the Cavehill, do you ever do any of your lone walking there? Granted it is not a very big challenge to an experienced hill walker but the view from McArt's Fort is quite spectacular.  

Dave Sloan
As a wee lad back in Belfast we used to climb to the top of the Cavehill and roll our Easter eggs down until they cracked. It was a great time of fun with all the friends and relatives. Seems to me there was a Zoo around there, I think it was Belvue Zoo, anybody remember it? I reside in sunny California now but retain those wonderful memories of the beautiful Cavehill area.

Lone Walker
Yep the Zoo is indeed called Belvue and it's still there, although it's been modernised in the last few years and is a really excellent zoo now. I too have rolled Easter eggs on the cavehill as a small boy and a couple of years back took my own small boy to do the same. The cavehill is a splendid place. It's easy to get up to - not too strenuous - and offers wonderful views over Belfast and the lough. Then of course there are the caves.. I've only ever been in the first one but a few brave souls have managed the second and the third. A few souls a little braver than their ability have also been taken down over the years by the fire brigade! There's another conversation thread somewhere on this website about the Cavehill and McArts fort. There appears to be a great history to the cavehill that I suspect many citizens of Belfast have no idea about these days. Anyway - I'd imagine that 99% of the Belfast population would swap with your sunny address right now as it seems to have been raining for months. Good to hear from you from the other side of the pond.

Volsung
Indeed easter has long been a special time on the Cave Hill. From early times up to the mid 19th century the citizens of Belfast used to congregate at the Devils Punchbowl just below the caves to roll eggs, drink ale and generally carouse. The practice was stopped mainly due to the influence of the clergy and powers that be who thought the party was getting out of hand! I quote a part of a much longer poem written in the early 19th century which celebrates this special time:

The Hill of Caves

XVI

That Mount I sing reveals a living scene
When April comes so gay and debonair -
Like young coquet, now frowning, now serene -
And lures a thousand idle truants here,
Who while the day in revelry and cheer,
And cull the first-born blossoms of the dell,
Wherewith to die for many an urchin peer
The snowy egg.* ye simple joys that swell
The pulse in life's young morn - be ever blest your spell!

· Among the juvenile sports of Easter Monday, rolling hard-boiled eggs, stained in a variety of colours is one of the principal.

XVII

Yes! sport ye reckless ones! your sunny hour,
Gay as the rich plumed songsters of the spring:
Too soon Delight resigns her magic power;
And Hope forgets to wave her golden wing -
Though now so full of sweet imagining!
The day - alas! that any could foreshadow -
The day shall come when Disappointment's sting
May rankle in a heart of cureless wo. -
But this is not my theme - ye livelier numbers flow!

XVIII

What notes proclaim the bliss of Easter morn!
The heavens are sheen, the birds are blithely singing -
Buds bathed in dew are glistening on the thorn,
The far flocks bleat, the merry bells are ringing -
The streamlets gush, the primrose banks are springing -
The huntsman's horn is echoing through the dale -
The clear cascade its diamond sparkles flinging -
The milkmaid carols in the fragrant vale -
And all these mirthful sounds give music to the gale!

XIX

Now group on group is seen to follow far,
Like to a Persian army in array;
On foot, on steed, coach, jingle, cart, and car -
Tow'rds the high Hill of Caves they wend away;
But, at the base each equipage must stay;
Proud steep! thou well dost ape that summit bright
Where whilom strung his lyre the God of Day;
For wheels - save those which hurl the car of light
O'er crimson-skirted clouds - can conquer neither height!

XX

Here might you mark life's anxious, ardent strugglers,
Of every hue - whate'er their cast or calling -
Musicians, pedlars, show-men, dupes and jugglers -
Not Babel tower had echoed to such bawling!
Carousing, begging, singing, laughing, brawling,
The fiddle's flourish, and the bag-pipe's grunting -
Shrill barking curs, and embryo caitiffs squalling,
Maids screaming out, for men are most insulting -
Here brays a panniered ass, there boys are badger-hunting.

XXI

With laugh, and jest, and antic feat, they rise
The mountain's side: but many a grievous trip
Doth send more woful music to the skies,
From luckless wight foredoomed by Fate to slip;
Whilst youthful imps the giddy pathway skip,
And gibe at those whom time hath tardier made;
Too fat to climb, with bottle at the lip,
Some think their fellow's toil but ill repaid -
Who pity them in turn, and scorn the midway shade.

XXII

Nor these the sagest - they who love to climb
Up steeps of solid earth, or slippery fame -
And, trust me, this is truth, though told in rhyme -
Will find the climate as they rise grow breme;
Keen cutting winds assail th' unsheltered frame
On mountain summits; and their virgin snow
That foot that sullies is consigned to shame:
Yet, when the sun shines o'er them, few below
Would deem it smoothly said - they glare, but never glow!

XXIII

Full many a well-heaped basket lines the way,
Where tempting fruits, and witching liquids spread;
But, such must grieving gaze as cannot pay -
For that grim guard, with mob-capped muffled head,
Scans through an eye by fell suspicion fed
Each lounger near, lest such should slily spring,
Unstored with coin, by lawless longing led,
Upon that nest of luxury I sing -
Now foul may him befall would do so base a thing!

XXIV

Hard by, and gazing on that merchandise,
An elf, with watering teeth, pulls forth his store,
Late won by well-conned task - O envied prize!
Yet won, ere long, to grieve his heart right sore -
So Fortune tantalizeth evermore!
On fruit and coin his looks alternate rest -
But, early read in scoundrel niggard lore,
To squander pence it pains his little breast,
And, gnawed too soon by care, he trembles to be blest.

 

Relevant Links

Limelight on Cavehill - mapping the mountains

 


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