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
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
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?
- 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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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;
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
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.
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
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,
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.
- 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
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
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
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
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
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.
- 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
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
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
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
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
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!
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
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?
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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
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
· Among the juvenile sports of Easter Monday, rolling
hard-boiled eggs, stained in a variety of colours
is one of the principal.
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!
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!
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
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
Limelight on Cavehill
- mapping the mountains