Friday, 25 April 2014

Ballysillan - street names and place-names (1)

Ballysillan Road
Ballysillan is the name of a townland and it appears in a record of 1604 as Ballynysillan  It comes from the Irish Baile na Sailean [pronounced bala na salan] which means 'townland of the willow groves or sally groves'.

Crumlin Road was the road from Belfast to the village of Crumlin.  The name Crumlin is from theCromghlinn [pronounced krummlin], which means 'crooked glen'.  This refers to the winding valley of the Crumlin River.

Carr's Glen was named for an early Scottish settler.  In the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland there is a sixty-one year lease to John Carr, dated February 1692.  The name Carr or Kerr is Scottish and many Scots came to Ulster in the decade after the Battle of the Boyne.  In the funeral register of the First Presbyterian Church for 1733 there is mentioned 'Mr John Carr of Oldpark'.  He was a linen manufacturer and corn miller and his property included Carr's Glen.  He renovated the old hunting lodge of the Donegalls into the house of Old Park and later this house passed to the Lyons family, who were his relatives.  Beyond this little is known about him.

Legoniel or Ligoniel comes from the Irish Lag an Aoil [pronounced lag an eel] which means 'hollow of the lime'.  There are several disused limestone quarries in the townland.  The Ligoniel Road was the road up to the village of Ligoniel.

Oldpark and Deerpark take us back to the first deerpark in Belfast, which was enclosed by Sir Arthur Chichester in the first decade of the 17th century.  According to the Plantation Commissioners this park was three miles in circumference.  It was enclosed and contained a fortified house, which was occupied by a park ranger.  Around 1641 the deepark fell into disuse and was replaced by another at Cromac.  The original deerpark then became known as Old Park.  In April 1755 David Lyons, a merchant, was granted a lease for 'a part of the Old Deer Park, commonly called and known by the name of Old Park.'  The Lyons family built a mid-Georgian house and George Benn wrote in 1877 that Old Park was 'a beautiful rural home, with fine gardens and trees and a convenient distance from 'the madding crowd.'  Now, in our time, the forty-two acres of which the demesne consists are advertised to be let in lots for villas and streets, which will doubtless be the case in our time.'

The Horseshoe Bend is named from the bend in the road, which is in the shape of a horse-shoe.  The cottages at the bottom of the Hightown Road were known as the Horseshoe Cottages.

Lavens Drive was named for Lavens Mathewson Ewart (1845-1898), a member of the Ewart family, who were linen manufacturers and he lived in Glenbank House.  He was a noted antiquarian and one of the founders of the second series of the Ulster Journal of Archaeology.  Lavens Ewart was also a prominent Freemason and Orangeman.  He was a governor of the Linen Hall Library and after his death on 13 December 1898 his extensive collection of 3,500 books was donated to the library.  His father Sir William Ewart had married Isabella Kelso in 1840 and she was a daughter of Lavens Mathewson Kelso of Newtown Stewart in Tyrone.  The son was then named after his maternal grandfather.

Loughview Street off Crumlin Road at Ligoniel had a fine view of Belfast Lough.

Bilston Road runs between the Ballysillan Road and Crumlin Road.  Today the name is Bilston but in the street directories at the start of the 20th century there is a Billstown above Loughview Street.  This Billstown would have been named after a person or family whose surname was Bill and indeed there was a Bill family living at Billstown in the middle of the 19th century.  The name of the road is therefore probably a variant of Billstown.

Joanmount estate was developed by Sir William Frederick Neill (1889-1960), an estate agent and an Ulster Unionist politician.  He was Lord Mayor of Belfast from 1946 to 1949 and MP for North Belfast from 1945 to 1950.  Neill bought the land from Cliftonville Golf Club, which was thereby reduced from 18 holes to 9 holes, and he named the estate after his daughter Joan.  Some of the streets in Joanmount were named after places in Great Britain - Hoylake, Formby, Meyrick, Coombehill and Prestwick.

Wheatfield comes from Wheatfield House, a large house and estate of 26 acres.  In the early part of the 19th century it was occupied by members of the Ewart family and later by a businessman named James Lindsay, whose family built the Ulster Arcade.  Later it was home to Charles Owen Slacke (1872-1916), who was killed on 1 July 1916 while leading his men into battle at the Somme.  The house was still occupied in the early 20th century.

The Sunningdale estate was built in 1948 and comprised 94 dwellings, the majority of which were occupied by ex-servicemen.  Sunningdale Park and Sunningdale Park North were built some years before this.

Silverstream was the name of a  house on the Ballysillan Road and the name refers to one of the streams that flow down from the hills towards Belfast.  The house was demolished to make way for newer housing.

Flush Road is off the Upper Crumlin Road near the present city boundary.  The word flush is an Ulster-Scots word meaning 'boggy ground' and there is also a Flush River.

Cavehill was so named because there are caves on the face of the cliff.

Kirkwood's Brae was the old name for the Old Ballysillan Road.  It was named for the Kirkwood family who lived in the area and the name Kirkwood is Scottish in origin.

Squire's Hill is the name of an actual hill and also of a housing estate.  It is possibly a reference to a 17th century lawyer Henry le Squire but it is much more probable that it is a reference to Sir Arthur Chichester who was the 'squire' of Belfast.

Wolfhill is said to have been the place where the last wolf in Ulster was killed.  Wolves were once common in Ireland but were regarded as a threat and were exterminated in the 18th century.  the following is from an article on Extinct Animals of Ireland, which was written by SMS and appeared in The Gentleman's Magazine in August 1834: 'According to several accounts, the last wolf observed in Ireland was killed in the county of Kerry in 1710; tradition says on the Crany River, Carnlough, near Glenarm; and another account adds that the last wolf seen in Ulster, was shot by Arthur Upton, on Aughnabreack, or the Wolf-hill, near Belfast.'  The Upton family lived at Castle Upton at Templepatrick.


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