Exiles Forum

Lisburn, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland



Popular columnist launches Glenavy history website

ONE of the Ulster Star's most popular columnists has launched a new website with the aim of providing an insight into the 'rich history of the village and surrounding district of Glenavy'. is the brainchild of 'The Digger', who fears ongoing development in the area will 'sweep away former homesteads, farms, buildings and green pastures' confining them to memory.

The idea was formulated after he became involved in research being carried out by an Australian woman into her family history.

Web designer Viki Strickland asked her husband Tom to visit some local headstones relating to the Oakmans during a trip to Europe.

"Vicki had got information which unfortunately included some misleading details about the location of graves in the area," The Digger explained.

"Tom was, however, spared a fruitless and disappointing visit. Prior to his departure from Australia I found Vicki's own website relating to the Oakman family and made contact with her."

During a two day 'whistle-stop tour' Tom and The Digger managed to visit six properties formerly owned by the Oakman family, two graveyards and a place known as Oakman's Hill.

As a way of thanking our columnist for his help Tom offered Viki's services to set up a website to provide a forum for the large amount of historical material he has accumulated on the area over many years of research.

His Ulster Star articles can also be accessed through the site.

The Digger explained aims to 'capture the days of yesteryear', and 'piece together the jigsaw of past generations using a variety of sources to include newspapers, photographs, postcards, local ballads, poems and memories. Surfers will find tales of ancient times, ring forts, folklore, folk charmers and water diviners.

"Presently you can read about the 1829 affray in Glenavy, the violin maker Hugh Gordon who is buried in the Parish Church, Sergeant Samuel Hill, a native of the area who was awarded the Victoria Cross in 1858 in relation to acts of bravery the previous year in India and other long forgotten events. I can foresee a time when the site will be an invaluable tool for those wanting to explore their family history," he said.

If you have any material of a historical nature relating to the Glenavy area (photographs/postcards/memorabilia/memories) that you would like to share with others please contact The Digger at

Ulster Star