Tuesday, June 15, 2010

An important oul stane at Café Manor, Donaghadee

(NB: If you're reading this on Facebook, you can read this post in full on my blog)

Hilary and I were in Donaghadee at lunchtime, and went to the Café Manor beside the library (I'd just borrowed a few oul copies of WG Lyttle's Robin's Readings and Sons of the Sod to see if they were any different to my own copies). The sun was shining so we went through to tables in the walled garden. There, on two polished concrete plinths, was a big slab of cut stone about 4 feet long and a foot thick. I had seen it years ago - Donaghadee historian Harry Allen (author of this excellent history of the town) had told me about it, and had helped me track it down. It had been rescued from likely destruction from a back alley in Donaghadee, and bears the following inscription:

"The Manor Pound, Donaghadee, alias MONTGOMERY" - This commemorates Sir Hugh Montgomery's attempt in 1626 to rename Donaghadee as "Montgomery" and Portpatrick (on the opposite, Scottish, coastline) as "Port Montgomery"*.

So I lost all composure and in a loud voice I called out to Hilary - "LOOK - IT'S HERE, THIS IS THE STONE!! IT'S HUGH MONTGOMERY'S STONE!!".

That's not really the done thing on a sedate lunchtime in Donaghadee, and I startled the folk who were already eating their lunches in the garden. So a woman called over to me "So are you going to give us all a history lesson then?". Now I couldn't let an opportunity like that go, so in about 2 minutes I told all of the folk there the story of Hamilton and Montgomery and the attempt to rename the towns. The folk were delighted, and were going to head off to the Parish Church to see the stone above the church doorway which also commemorates Montgomery having built it too. One of the staff came to ask more, and so now she has a great story to tell their customers.

So, next time you're in the 'Dee, go to Café Manor and get a look at a great piece of Ulster-Scots history. However, thrifty Ulster-Scots beware, access to the walled garden costs an extra £1.50 a head!

(* the Glasgow General Assembly of 1638 included a Rev James Blair, minister of Port Montgomery - so the new name hung on for a while at least.)


Unknown said...

WOW! As always, I love reading your post. I feel like I've got a friend across the ocean. I'm going to send this link to other clan Montgomery members. Thank you again.

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