Big thank you from

In search of a Whitehall

by The Rambler 07/06/2002

IT'S interesting what changes the DOE has made in recent years in the topography of this country.

The postmen in their wee red vans now have sign-posted roads and numbered houses to guide them, nearly every house gets mail every day (I certainly do) with junk prolific. It was not always thus.

I thought I knew the Montiaghs but when I went rambling in that direction last week I expected to meet Tony Blair around some corner.

Firstly, I came on Whitehall Road, then Downings Street! I turned right there, then I took the first left turn, along a mall, ie a sheltered walk, and there I spotted 'Number 10' and 'Number 11'. You couldn't miss them, the numbers are blazoned on sizeable chunks of granite positioned on the roadside. (I expected to spot the Houses of Parliament next!).

Let me retrace that trip. When I travelled on a push bike pre-war, I used to turn left off the Lurgan Antrim Road (an old stagecoach road) just after I crossed the Down/Antrim county boundary at Heaney's Bridge.

I headed down the Cranagh, over the canal bridge with that name, and over 'the pig's back' hump. At Downing's pub, I would have turned right along `the Feather bed' (now Montiaghs Road).

Next at 'Cute Joe's' house I would have turned left to find the cradle of the centuries-old basket making craft, ie, Hannon's. Hannons hasn't changed except that it has now got one of those granite stone number plates.

The 'Cranagh' took its name from the 'cranoges' (lake dwellings) of the Montiaghs of which Lough Money was the largest. I could write a book about it but that must wait.

At this time of the year turf cutters used to lose a lot of sweat around Lough Money (which incidentally is in the townland of the Montiaghs), but nowadays only acres of sedge ripples in the wind. A stout wooden gate, securely padlocked, bars vehicular traffic and a DOE signboard proclaims - The Montiaghs: Nature Reserve. There is a timber stile for walkers but all traces of 'cranoges' have long since vanished.

When the Cranagh Road was first signposted `White Hall Road', some years ago, I suspected the DOE of ignoring history and blacking-out the cranoges relic but I was mistaken.

White Hall (two words) actually appears in Ordnance Survey records made in the 1830's. There were Sunday School classes held in a day school then, at White Hall. Where was White all and who owned it? I should like to find out.

Joe Clarke's farmhouse, Tom Moffetts' shop, Bill Magee's Smithy and a sub-post office have all been named as having been around White Hall corner. Did any of those replace a white hall?

Ulster Star