By the 'Rambler' 02/09/2000
THE hamlet of Portmore lies between Lower Ballinderry crossroads and the lough shore.
There are heritage centres springing up nowadays at almost every hole in the hedge, but none at Portmore, famed in song and story down through the centuries.
O'Neills Castle, later the site of Lord Conway's mansion, a monastic
settlement the church of Saint Loo, etc. etc. are only a few of Portmore's
Bonnie Portmore you're fairly undone!
Where once your fine buildings their equal had none,
With your ivory tables, and windows of ash
Where Lords used to dine, but where people now thresh.
----- of your far-famed beauty I ever shall tell!
One could write a book on the history of Portmore, many have.
But I will confine myself to rehearsing what I have heard about Portmore social life in the early part of this century.
Obviously it was a lively hamlet thanks to Johnny Green, a man called Robert Langtry and the squire of Oatlands, Mr. Walkington.
Green was a smallholder, widely known as an authority on horseflesh who made a point of always acquiring a better going steed than his neighbours.
Dog fighting was popular and Johnnie kept a ferocious Kerry Blue, whether as a watchdog or a fighter I have not been able to discover.
Langtry bred racing donkeys and did so much to promote that sport that there was a ballad written about him. He was famous for the size of his feet! Regular race meetings were held at Lower Ballinderry.
Most of the horse owners around the district went to Lisburn market and on Tuesdays they travelled in convoy.
There was always a bit of oneup-manship. One day
Walkington organised a race starting at Longstone. (Competitors would have had spring carts - a kind of flag wagon on springs with iron shod wheels).
He laid a wager and imperiously ordered Green to put his old nag at the rear of the convoy.
Green upset his applecart at Brookmount Dam. He drew level with Walkington and nudged him into the shallows on the perimeter of the dam by striking the nave (wheel center) of Walkington's vehicle with the nave of his own van. He passed by and won the wager.
Handloom weaving was carried on in nearly every home at Portmore.
Langtry had three sisters who were weavers, Mary Jane, Harriet and Sarah.
Being remotely situated, the weavers had a long way to trudge on foot delivering their webs of cloth to the factory and collecting bobbins.
Ireland Bros. of Queen Street in Lurgan has been named in this context a very long walk indeed from Portmore of about ten miles.
There's not much excitement around Lower Ballinderry nowadays to inspire a balladeer.