The Rambler 15/12/2000
THE preface to the Regulations of the Lisburn Benevolent and Friendly Society, written in 1835, caught my eye this week as I was researching the history of the parish of Blaris (writes The Rambler).
"Yes! Love and friendship in our work combine; next truth and justice step from line to line. Of our paternal and fraternal care: O, may we live to see this friendly plan extended far o'er Erin's fruitful land". (Initialed "J. G." possibly Joy Glenn President of the Society).
Contemporaneously the army officers who conducted a survey remarked: "The working classes seldom have good clothing, chiefly owing to poverty. "It is understood that the gentry have various drinks of foreign produce, but the principal drink of the common people is buttermilk and water."
A paragraph in the 1833 memoirs of Lieutenant Bordes, who carried out an ordnance survey, is headed "Parties and Factions" and reveals that little heed was being paid to the fine sentiments of Joy Glenn "...even the infant children of these people are taught to hate each other..." The few hills in the parish of Blaris were commented upon, with the 'large hill', i.e. Knockmore, 100' high being named as the highest.
The fine view of Belfast, Carrickfergus the sea, Lisburn, Moira and Lurgan, Hillsboro' etc., from Ballymullan Hill also got a mention.
Eleven church spires:
On the north was Divis, Colin, Whitemountain, Castlerobin and Plover Plain.
Farm implements of the 1830s were primitive: the Scotch improved plough, the spade shovel, mattock and hoe for the spring and the shearing hook, sickle, scythe, rake and fork for the harvest - all except the plough hand tools, no ride-on machines in those days.
I particularly recall the mattock which had a stout sharpened head fixed at right angles to the handle, a kind of oversized hoe. That was all that farmers had at one time for stubbing whins. Was there ever a tougher job?
Yet the inhabitants of Blaris "were remarkable for longevity". Twenty died in infancy for every one that lived to 70 or more and Patrick Rice of Knockmore lived to 113. Presumably, those who survived infancy lived to a ripe old age.