Here we print articles of interest contributed by our members:

Ardmore School

That Name!

Dad's Memoirs

The Cigarette Case

The Grandfather Clock

A New School for Ardmore!

This article talks about my Grandfather, Alexander Murphy, and how he helped Ardmore get a new school in 1931.  I've transcribed the article from The Lurgan Mail of 7th November 1931.


A popular seminary, where the children "long to get to their lessons".

After using an old police barrack for a considerable period the pupils and teachers of Ardmore district have now been provided with an up-to-date new school. About a couple of years ago a dispute at Ardmore led to the closing down of the old public elementary school. The Lurgan District Sub-Committee and the Armagh Regional Education Committee, alive to their responsibilities, at once procured the old Ardmore police barracks as temporary premises and a scheme for providing a new school was immediately started.
The new school is now a completed reality. Mr. J. St. J. Phillips, the eminent Belfast architect, is to be congratulated on his design. The building consists of two large twenty feet square rooms, each having three large windows facing the South, a scullery, a large porch and two cloakrooms. The building is stone finished and situated within sight of the shores of Lough Neagh. Mr. W. Kinney, Lisavogue, Portadown, was the contractor, the contract price being £1,050.


The Armagh Regional Committee were also thankful to Mr. Alexander Murphy, the owner of the land on which the new school was built. When the Committee first approached Mr. Murphy and asked him for a site he immediately replied: “Certainly, you can have the best site I have got” (applause), but that was not all. Mr. Murphy not only gave them the pick of his property, but added “and I am only going to charge you exactly what I paid for it in pre-war days” (applause). It was a great asset to the county to have public-spirited men like Mr. Murphy. It was a pity there were not more like him. They were very grateful to him and he deserved the thanks of the Regional Committee.

Speaking to the children, Mr. Carrick said he hoped they would fully appreciate all that had been done for them. He urged them to prize the furniture and equipment as their own and not in any way disfigure or harm it. Their fathers and mothers had not such luxuries and he hoped they (the children) were grateful for what had been done for them.

Referring to the teaching staff, the chairman said the first time he had met Mr. And Mrs. Pakenham he formed a very high opinion of them both and he could say that the better he knew them the more he liked them (applause). The Regional Committee had every right to be proud of the Ardmore teaching staff. They took a great interest in their school and took a great interest in the children. They loved the children and the children loved them. He (the chairman) had been speaking to several of the parents that day and they assured him that the children could hardly wait at home when the hour for school came round (applause).

In conclusion, the chairman said he was looking forward to and expected a great future for Ardmore School. The difficulties of the past had been removed and the scene changed. The new school was a credit to the locality; it had all the sunshine available, and the children were happy. He congratulated them all and wished them a happy and successful future (applause).

Ardmore School 1920s.jpg

Article Contributed by Member FM01


That Name!

“So what is your third Christian name?” she said.  “Never you mind!”, said I, laughing.  “My mother inflicted a name on me that I don’t know where she found.  I just want to forget about it!”  We continued to work on my family tree, something I hadn’t really had any interest in before. 

I live in a house on our family farm, built after we got married, more than 20 years ago. I never really thought much about the history of the farm and the area and the families who lived here, until after my Mum passed away.  I began to renovate the old family farmhouse and found a 'logie hole' window which had been hidden in the wall. I wondered just who would have looked through that window in the past.  I chatted to my friend, Joy, and she suggested doing a bit of research on the family and the farm and putting it all into a book for future generations to enjoy, and dedicating it to my Mum and Dad.  What a great idea!

I didn’t know where to start, but we met up regularly and gradually we found out more and more.  I was just entranced with all this wonderful information.  We uncovered maps showing that the old farmhouse had been there from at least the early 1800s and we found that many of the families who lived around us had also been here for generations and, of course, had intermarried.

I started to visit a few elderly neighbours to see what stories I could glean from them.  One very elderly neighbour told me about his memory of standing with his family at the end of his lane, aged 8, and watching the funeral of my Great Grandmother, which was in January 1925.  He described the funeral procession, led by two big black horses, with plumes on their head, pulling the hearse.  What a sight that must have been and it certainly made an impression on that 8 year old boy!

I knew that my paternal grandmother’s second name was the same as my dreaded third name and that I had been named after her, but I'd no idea of its origin beyond that.  As we developed the family tree higher and wider, we found that name cropping up time and time again.  We eventually counted 7 girls given THE name, the earliest having been born in 1852. Where on earth had it come from?

We had been researching the working of the land by my ancestors, looking at Freeholders’ Records and Tithe Applotments and also the history books.  We had found that the farm had once been part of the Rathfriland Meade Estate of the Earl of Clanwilliam.  The lands had been in the hands of Donal Og Magennis, Lord of Iveagh, but then King Charles II granted the whole of the lands to an Alderman Hawkins, of London, to thank him for his services in the parliamentary war.  The lands passed through the hands of the Hawkins and Magill families and eventually to the Earl of Clanwilliam through marriage.  I was able to send to the Norfolk PRO in England for a CD which had all the maps drawn of the lands and named the tenants in 1776 – a wonderful coloured map, a copy of which now hangs on our wall.  

And the mystery of the name was finally solved!  The first Countess of Clanwilliam, who had married Sir John Meade, was named Theodosia Hawkins-Magill.  Yes, that’s my third name.  Theodosia! Now I wear my Theodosia with pride!  The Countess of Clanwilliam died in 1817, but her name has lived on for many years in the surrounding families. It means ‘Divine Gift’ or ‘Gift of God’.  Now Emma, my daughter, we need to talk about your name. You only have two Christian names, and I think we should really add a third….a distinctive, historical nod to your ancestors and their landlords…..

Article Contributed by Member No FM14

Dad's Memoirs

My Dad was Henry Robinson, known as Harry and he was the youngest son of Isaac Robinson and Ann Elizabeth (also know as Liz-Ann) McAdam.   The McAdams were from Cloncore and Ballynarry in Portadown and belonged to St Paul's Tartaraghan. Isaac and Liz-Ann and their young family moved to Belfast for work reasons in the early 1900s. 


Harry recorded his memoirs and the following is an excerpt from his 1982 memoirs, contributed by Harry's daughter.


Article Contributed by Member FM21


The Cigarette Case


I remember hearing that during the 1st World War Serviceman were given free cigarettes. I don’t remember who told me. Maybe my Father?

This cigarette case inscribed SS Tuscania has always been in the house, I can’t remember ever asking my Father about it. He like many others never spoke about the war.

Recently I delved into the internet and found a website in memory of the SS Tuscania.

I quote from it as follows “Journey back into the time of the Gilded Age, whose time has come and gone. This was an age known for great Transatlantic Ocean Liners. The Titanic, the Lusitania and the Tuscania were some of the famous lost Liners during this era. The Tuscania was a luxury Ocean Liner built in Glasgow in 1915 for travel to and from New York via Liverpool. In 1916 it was requisitioned by the British Admiralty for war service as a troop ship. It made four journeys before it was sunk on February 5 1918 between the Island of Islay and Rathlin Island.”  


As I write I just realise it is February 5 2021!

The following account is by a newspaper reporter who was travelling in another ship in convoy with Tuscania and others in 1918, some of whom were on guard.

“Winter twilight was drawing in when we sighted land, Northern Ireland. Far away we saw the revolving light of a lighthouse winking. About an hour later we heard against our side a queer knocking sound like a boy dragging a stick along a picket fence. ‘I suppose that’s a torpedo knocking for admission’ said one. Then an Officer came to say that Tuscania was in trouble. She was not more than a mile from us. We were under orders to get away and knew that guardian destroyers would be hurrying to the rescue. Next morning when we arrived safely at an English port we were told that the torpedo was meant for us but our Captain had taken swift action and missed it by inches.”

Sadly 200 American and 9 British soldiers were lost on the Tuscania, some on the rocky shore of the Island of Islay. A Memorial was erected there in1920. I have a newspaper report of a special ceremony held on Islay to mark 100 years since the event.


The wreck of the Tuscania lies 7 miles north of Rathlin Island Lighthouse and was discovered in 1996 by a team of divers including Tommy Cecil from Rathlin Island. He sadly died in 1997, I remember hearing about it at the time but did not make the connection with the Tuscania, a sad happening on both events.

Did my Father travel on the Tuscania during the War and was this when he was given the cigarette case and cigarettes? In later years he crossed the Atlantic several times but on other ships. Did he know about the tragic event of 1918?  I can only wonder.

Article Contributed by Member FM10


What happened to the Grandfather Clock?

Map of clock.jpg

The grandfather clock referred to in the map above was made by Samuel Carrick of Portadown, probably in the late 1850s or early 1860s.  Samuel Carrick was born around 1837 and had a successful jewellery and clock making business in West Street, Portadown. He was a regular advertiser in the local paper.  He married Anne Eliza Fulton in June 1859 and in the early days of Samuel's business the family lived in Woodhouse Street in Portadown. 


Daughter Susan Elizabeth was born in 1860 and son William Fulton in 1861, both of whom died in infancy. Samuel James was born in 1865 (he was a jeweller, married and then emigrated to Australia in 1884), daughter Annie Elizabeth was born in 1867 and David George in 1869.  In 1870 another son was born who sadly died in infancy.  Four more boys followed - William West Fulton in 1871, Charles Henry in 1873 (he was also a jeweller and emigrated to the USA in 1895), Alfred Ruddell in 1875 and Thomas Edwin in 1877 - and the family was complete. However, Samuel died from cancer in 1893, aged just 56.

David George followed his father and became a jeweller.  In the 1901 Census he was 32 and still living at home with his mother and Elizabeth, West, Alfred and Thomas, all of whom belonged to the local Methodist Church.  They must have been quite well off as they had a live-in servant. In the 1911 Census the family were still living in West Street, but now only David and William were at home with their mother.  David was still unmarried and a jeweller, while William was a grocer.  David died of pneumonia in 1931, aged 61 and still working as a jeweller.


The face of the clock which Samuel Carrick had sold was cut from a sheet of steel with a chisel and the well-crafted mahogany case has simple lines.  It is a 7 day clock which strikes the hours. The clock face also has a date dial.

The clock face has beautiful rural scenes of Northern Ireland painted on it, presumably painted by a local artist.  The painting shows cottages in the upper left and lower right of the clock face, which are mirror images of each other. There is also a hay cart and wooden hay rakes in the painting. 

The first owner of the clock was a farmer named William Hampton, son of Seth Hampton.  From information received, research suggests that William lived in a townland in Kilmore Parish called Drumard (Primate), which is on the Loughgall Road from Portadown.  If this is the correct person, William was a widower when he married Mary Rountree on 11 October 1851 at Kilmore Church of Ireland.  We don't know what ages they were, but Mary was recorded as being a minor, which meant she was under 21 years of age.  As birth records don't begin until 1864 and there is no record of any baptisms online, we don't know what children they had until after 1864. Leonard was born in 1866, but died as a baby, and we've been told that he had a brother named Joseph, who must have been born just before recording of births began. When William died (we don't know when), Mary emigrated to New Jersey, USA - along with the clock!  But she must have been homesick, as she returned to Ireland just a year later, again bringing the clock with her.  

Mary remarried (we think to a man named Lindsay) and later lived in Belfast.  We're told that the Hamptons were related to the Redmonds and the Lees families in the Portadown area.  The Redmonds are said to have had a strawberry farm around 1900 and their son became a doctor, having graduated from Trinity College, Dublin.

William and Mary's son, Joseph Hampton, married Sarah Boyd, daughter of James Boyd, in St Anne's, Belfast in 1891.  Joseph was working as a fitter and living at 27 Bellvue Street in Belfast, while Sarah was working as a stitcher, living at 28 Drew Street.  Joseph and Sarah had 5 children - William John b 19 Dec 1892; Joseph b 11 July 1897; James Boyd b 3 Feb 1900, Henry Nicholl b 31 Mar 1901 (died Jan 1902); Mary b 9 Aug1903.  The grandfather clock found its way to Joseph in 1896 and we are told that Joseph gave the clock case a French polished shellac finish around 1900.

The family were living at 5 Isoline Street in Belfast when sadly Joseph died of pneumonia on 4 Jun 1906, aged just 39.  His eldest child, William John, who was 13 years old at the time his father died, inherited the grandfather clock.  In 1913, Sarah and the family emigrated to Montreal, Canada and the clock went too, but minus its original cast iron weights which were left behind in case they came loose on the journey and would damage the case.  Before leaving Belfast, the original weights were weighed and in Montreal, new ones were made from brass tubes and filled with lead to the correct weight.  Somehow the second hand was lost in the move to Montreal and so William John made a new one from memory.

The weights were originally hung on some type of cord and then later the family used fishing line.  The only problem was that this would eventually break, inevitably in the middle of the night, waking everyone up!  Eventually they changed to using stainless steel woven wire cables.

The family moved from Montreal to Chicago and then on to Cleveland, Ohio and the clock came too.  William John married Marion and they had two children, in 1929 and 1934.  Another move was made to Boston and then to Rhode Island and yes, the grandfather clock came too.

How do we know all this?  Because William John and Marion's son wrote a letter from his home in Rhode Island on 16 April 1979, to a fellow clock enthusiast in Portadown.  That letter has now turned up amongst a collection of photographs.  At the time he wrote his letter, the clock was in fine fettle.  We found out that he still lives at the same address, managed to trace his son, on Facebook and sent him a message.  His parents, Don and Sylvia, are well and have sent us these photos of Don and the clock - if you happen to be related to the Hampton family, who were originally from the Portadown area and then Belfast, or the Carrick family from Portadown, do please get in touch.

Article Contributed by Member FM07