Rambling through the memories of the 1832 ordnance survey
The memoirs of an Ordnance Survey officer
THE army officers who carried out the ordnance survey of 1832 compiled extensive memoirs.
These make most interesting reading. Here are a few entrants.
Aghalee Protestant Church is not in the village of Aghalee although the ruins of the ancient church of Aghalee lie less than a quarter of a mile north east of the village.
The present church, which is believed to be about 311 years old, is in the townland of Poobles while the glebe house is at Killough, halfway between Aghalee village and Aghalee church, better known as Soldierstown church.
Aghalee parish is bounded on the north and east by the parishes of Ballinderry and Magheramesk, on the south by the parish of Moira and on the west by the parish of Aghagallon. It is oblong in form and measures about three miles north west to south east and contains 2,500 statute acres.
Soldierstown derives its name from a troop of horse and two companies of foot soldiers having been stationed there during the 1641 wars.
Tradition has it that these soldiers used an ancient round tower at Trummery as a target for cannon fire, virtually demolishing it.
In 1832, 'Broommount' an ancient mansion situated almost opposite the church was seat of William Gorman and the demesne attached to it contained some 180 acres of land including rich plantations which included acres of native timber.
Broommount house and farm was for a period annexed to Aghalee church as a clergy's residence.
A Dean Walsh is said to have been the last clergyman to occupy it. His late widow is said to have sold her right to it to the Gorman family.
The house is said to have been built three hundred years ago, in 1695, by Edward Waltington, the then Bishop of Down and Connor. Latterly it has been in the ownership of the Hayes family,
'Big' James Mulholland of Aghagallon, the basket maker, is said to have 'flitted' the Hayes family to Broommount and to have acquired a number of fir trees growing in Broommount plantation to manufacture ribs for potato baskets in return for his services.
Tommy Hayes, the first of the name to occupy Broommount 'flitted' i.e., came from Killyman.
In 1832 Robert Hill was the rector of Aghalee. Folklore has it that he lived to a ripe old age at which stage he was the victim of a cruel hoax.
He took his worn-out horse to the fair at Lisburn and unscrupulous dealers took advantage of his senility. One purchased his old nag and accomplices doctored it with ginger and dyed its mane, tail, white feet, face etc., then sold the animal back to the aged clergyman before the end of the fair day.
The nag is reputed to traveled well on the journey home, but when the rector handed the reins to the sexton on reaching the rectory the animal promptly headed unbidden to its accustomed stall in the stable. (That legend was rehearsed for me by the late Jimmy Matchett who spent the latter part of his life at an address contiguous to the rectory). If the vulnerable clergyman was 'far through' it is possible that with the aid of a couple of glasses of spirits he could have been exploited in the manner described.