With the help of Miss Mary Blaney from the Glens of Antrim Historical Society we will be doing a study of clachans in the Glens of Antrim for our history project.
Clachans are small clusters of houses that are common in the Glens of Antrim.
Most clachans are in ruins or are derelict but a few are still inhabited and some are fully renovated.
The clachan that we are going to study is at Knockban which is not far from our school.
Yesterday the class, Miss Blaney and Mr Close all went to Knockbane. The walk up the lane was very steep and sore on your feet. We also had to cross a field with sheep in it so we had to be careful not to scare them. Once we got to the top we had a fabulous view of Garron Point and the Glens. Our school looked like a shed far away in the distance.
When we arrived we explored the ruins of the old clachan but we had to be careful because some of the tin was falling off the roof of one of the houses and the brickwork was dodgy. All the houses in the clachan were made from the same stone called schist.
We found that some of the houses had extensions because of the different brickwork. We also found evidence of a barn, a byre and a hen house(there might have been a pigsty). In some of the houses we found remains of nails, fireplaces, cubbyholes and even bullet holes. We know which houses were more modern because of the different fireplaces and brickwork.
We were able to see the direction the old road took across the mountain and we also saw what were lazy beds in which the inhabitants grew vegetables and potatoes. After trying to work out how many rooms were in each house we set off down the hill to the school. We passed the site of the old Glenann School that closed circa 1870. I think this trip was very cool and exciting.
Drawing of Knockban by Adam
Yesterday P5, P6 and P7 went up to Knockban with Miss Blaney and Mr Close. The lane we walked up was very steep and sore on our legs. When we got up we went into a field and made sure we didn’t frighten the sheep. We saw the fabulous view of the Glen and our school looked like a little house.
While we were up there we explored the ruins of the clachan. While we were exploring we had to be careful because the houses were dangerous.
All the houses were built out of a stone called schist. We also found evidence that some of the houses had new extensions built on to them. We also found a little house that looked like a barn, byre or a hen house.
Inside the house we found the remains of old fireplaces, cubby holes and some bullet holes.
We were able to find out which houses were more modern than others because of the red brick and the fireplaces. We were able to see the direction the old road took across the mountain. We also saw evidence of lazy beds, or rigs, where people grew their potatoes.
After trying to work out how many rooms were in each house we did a work sheet and then we headed for home.
While we were in the vicinity of Knockban the temperature was very warm. When we left the temperature got colder.
I thought Knockban was very interesting.
A Day in the Life of a Knockban Resident
Hello my name is Adam. Iam 27 years old and I have lived in Knockban for 26 years after my family moved from England. During the summer my day starts at 6am but during the winter it starts between 8 or 9am because there is less sunlight.
The first thing I do is check the fire and put more turf on it. Then I open the door and the first thing that hits me is the smell of wild mint. The first thing I do outside is go and milk the cow and then I go and collect the eggs and then I get my breakfast.
After breakfast I start on the extension for the house, so it will be more comfortable and warm. After that I have a dinner that consists of potatoes, cabbage and milk.
After that I went up to the mountain to check on the goats but I found that one was missing so I went and told my neighbours to look out for a fox. I decided that I will check it out tomorrow. Just before supper I go and check the crops. After supper Patrick and John come over and we tell tales and smoke our pipes and have a very good time. After they leave at 11pm another day ends in Knockban.
A Day in the Life of a Knockban Resident
My name is Paddy McLaughlin and I am 21 years old. I live in a house in Knockban. First thing in the morning when I get up I go and see if the fire is lit. If it is I will put more turf on it and then open the door to let the smoke out. When I open the door I can smell the wild mint. I go outside and see if there are any eggs from the hens. After that I go and milk the cow. When I have done that I go up and I see the goats. One morning there was only one goat alive. I saw the other one lying dead. I ran back down and I got the other people to come up to search for the fox. We shot it. In the evening we have dinner which is usually potatoes and cabbage. After dinner some of my friends come over to play cards. We usually play 45. When the boys go home I check my animals before I go to bed. Then I close my door and that is another day gone at Knockban.
My name is Detty McCambridge and I am 25 years old. I have a husband called Bernard and I have two kids called Madeline who is 9 and Archibald who is 7. I have lived in Knockban all my life.
Every morning I get up at about the usual time which is 6.30am and I go in to the living room and check the fire and add a little bit of turf to it. Then I have to go and open the back door to let the smoke out. When I open the door all I can smell is the wild mint. Sometimes when I open the back door I go down the field and look at the beautiful view of Cushendall from Knockban. Then when I come back up I go to the hen house to see if the hens have laid their eggs and then I go to milk the cow.
So for my breakfast I have tea, soda bread and eggs and we all sit at the table and eat it. After breakfast I leave my children down the lane and when I come back up I go down to the vegetable plot and get the potatoes and cabbage for dinner. When the children come home from school their dinner is sitting waiting for them on the table and after dinner we play cards. For supper we have bread and tea and that is the end of another day in the life of a Knockban resident.
The potato was a very important crop in Ireland. It could be grown on quite poor land and only a spade was needed to cultivate it. It was the main diet of poor people in Ireland. When the potato was affected by a disease called blight in the 1840s, Ireland was devastated and over one million people died. The picture on the next page showed that everyone had to help with the work in small family farms.
Conversation between two Sisters setting Potatoes on Ridges
Mary: “This is hard work isn’t it, Ann?”
Ann: “Yes, but it helps you know.”
Mary: “But where are the men, they are supposed to help aren’t they?”
Ann: “They are doing other work so just stop talking and get on with it or I will tell your husband that you were not working.”
Mary: “Okay, but can I at least talk quietly?”
Ann: “Okay. God my back is killing me. I feel like someone hit me with a tree.”
Mary: “I know, these spades are really heavy. Why do we have to do this?”
Ann: “Do you not know, everybody has to help out.”
Mary: “I didn’t know that, oh well all I want to do is get this work done.”
Isobel: “This is terribly hard.”
Mary: “I know, its not fair.”
Isobel: “I think we deserve a break.”
Mary: “I know. We have been at this for days and days.”
Isobel: “No, weeks and weeks.”
Mary: “We haven’t been working that long Isobel so don’t even start.”
Isobel: “No, don’t you start”.
Mary: “Okay Isobel, okay.”
Isobel: “Do you want to go and have a rest.”
Mary: “No way Isobel, we will get into trouble.”
Isobel: “I was only joking. Come on and do the rest of these potatoes.”
Plant Life in Knockban
One of the most extensive growing plants in Knockban is Wild Mint. The Latin name for Wild Mint is Mentha Sativa. It is a herb and is common in Britain. It can also be found in Northern Europe and in Russia.
Wild mint is a perennial plant (lasts for many years). It can grow to a height of one and a half feet, (about 45 centimetres). It has oval shaped leaves with serrated edges.
People are advised when growing plants in a garden to keep Wild Mint in a pot because it can spread very quickly and leave little room for other flowers to blossom.
Wild Mint can also be used to cure stomach upsets but a doctor should be consulted first.
Drawing of Fuschia(right) by Laura, Drawing of Wild Mint (left) by Adam