Always something new at Tory Bush

In my previous blog i mentioned that I would check out that Clonachullion really did mean the ‘Hill of Holly’, well I was only partly correct, it means Meadow of Holly, although an alternative interpretation may suggest that the second part of the word i.e. ‘…chullion’ could come from an Irish source meaning steep unbroken slope, but the reference book I use ‘Place-Names of Northern Ireland, vol 3 County Down III, The Mournes ‘ suggests that when the first part ‘cluain’ is used, and that definitely means meadow, it makes more sense to conclude that it is Meadow of Holly, rather than ‘meadow of the steep slope’ which is a bit of a contradiction in terms, one imagines meadows to be large tracts of flat lush land.

Ironically the truth is that Clonachullion hill is rather a steep hill as can be seen from the photo in the previous blog. One interesting feature on this hill and which is visible from Tory bush Cottages are a number of parallel ridges in one of the fields running up the hill. It is my view that these are ‘Lazy Beds’ which were the technique for growing potatoes in this area prior to horse ploughing, and these ridges are still visible as the farming family that created them either died or emigrated as a consequence of the potato famine which lasted from 1845 to 1849. A fuller explanation is given on the cottages website and click the Genealogy button . It has been estimated by scholars that the population of Ireland declined by between 20 and 25% as a consequence of the famine, either through death or emigration.

It has to be said that the landlords in Ulster, the northern nine counties of Ireland were a lot more caring about their tenants than in other parts of Ireland and offered relief by means of food in return for work. Many of the long rambling walls around the Estates and Demesnes of these landlords were built at that time.

Every day at Tory Bush something new or different seems to happen, to-day at short notice we had a group of walkers from Dublin come down from the mountains just to shower and change before travelling back to Dublin by coach. We have never had this type of usage before, and I only got the phone-call last night.

Equally on Thursday night I got a call from a youth group in Lisburn that they had been let down by a bicycle hire company and could we provide 13 bicycles for a group of young people aged 13 to 15 on Sat morning at 10.00. Thankfully we were able to help, as in partnership with my son Ronan, we operate a bicycle hire business on the same site as Tory Bush, it did mean a bit of a last minute flurry as though we have quite a few bikes not all are sitting ready to go out on hire, esp. at this time of year and in particular the smaller sizes required by this young group. Ronan was at work all day Friday so it meant we brought the bikes to be used into the large meeting room at Tory Bush, having covered the floor, and Ronan worked on them to about 10.30 pm.

We like the bikes to go out in good order and the leader did comment on how well the bikes performed and in particular the gear changing, which is a particularly difficult thing to get right.

For some reason this month I have lots of meetings and most business related, perhaps the organisers recognise that Nov. is a quiet month in our type of work and a good time to hold meetings. I don’t think of meetings as work but I guess they are an essential part of operating my business, I will report back on some of them in future blogs.

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