Ardclinis is a historic graveyard set off the Coast Road, in the Parish of Ardclinis, the Barony of Glenarm, County Antrim. According to the information sign there is reference to it as early as 1306. The graves within are mainly illegible but fortunately what could be seen in 1975 was transcribed by Brian Turner and Fred Heatly. The graves transcribed date back from the mid 1700’s, to the mid 1800’s.
The Fairy Tree
Several Hawthorn trees have grown up in the grounds of the old graveyard. One in particular, with stones placed carefully around its base, is reminiscent of a ‘fairy tree’.
The Hawthorn plays a significant role in Irish folklore, a solitary tree is regarded as a place where ‘fairies’ or the ‘wee folk’ gather. It was and still is said, that if you cut a fairy tree down then bad luck will befall you. The practice of leaving single trees alone can still be seen locally. For example, in Glenariffe there is a well-known ‘fairy tree’, while close to Cushendall is Teiveragh which is known as the ‘fairy’ hill, again with a solitary tree on its slope.
Some Hawthorns were dedicated to saints, associated with Holy wells or involved in burial customs. Some believe that Christ’s crown of thorns was made from Hawthorn and that this link to Christianity gave the tree healing powers. It certainly has and continues to be used for its medicinal qualities in relation to cardiac and digestive problems. The Hawthorn tree can live to over four hundred years old.
(Taken from information board located at Ardclinis)
A closer look at the headstone information revealed only one that might yield some information using records available. Namely that of Denis Black who passed on February 5th, 1910 aged 76 years.
I first found Denis’s death certificate.
The certificate reveals that he passed at the Cottage Hospital in Cushendall aged 76 years, a widowed Army Pensioner. Cause of death was heart disease, two years, certified. A Harriet Ward was present at death.
I next looked-for Denis in the 1901 Census of Ireland. He was found living alone in house 3 in Gallanagh, Ardclinis, Antrim. He was described as a widower aged 67, an army pensioner.
Using this information, I have searched the Catholic Parish Registers in this area for a marriage of his parents or birth of himself and his sisters but have yet to find him or his family? Below, Ardclinis as seen on the Griffiths Valuation map.
I next decided to look for military records and signs that he may have lived elsewhere. I found many records in a mixed-up order but put together they read like so.
Denis is first seen in the 1851 Census of England, an unmarried 19-year-old ‘Private’ residing at Ashton Barracks, Ashton Under Lyne, Lancashire, England. Occupation, ‘Ag (Agricultural) Labourer’, birth place, ‘Glenarm, Antrim’.
British Army records show him there from the 1st January 1851 to the 31st March 1851
Denis’s discharge papers were available and give us a lot of information.
A closer look at page 1 shows us that Corporal Denis Black No. 3478 of the 50th Reg. of Foot was discharged at Auckland, New Zealand, on the 4th June 1866.
His character and conduct was deemed as having been good.
He is in possession of the Good Conduct Badge and the Indian Mutiny Medal.
It is noted first that he has no entry in the Regimental Defaulters Book although followed by the comment that he was corrected and sentenced to fifty six days imprisonment, hard labour and marked with the letter ‘D’ for desertion.
Page 2 gives us a statement of his service.
He joined the 50th Regiment as a Private and served from 26th February 1851-12th October 1851-(229 days). He then deserted from the 50th Regiment at Ashton Under Lyne on the 13th October 1851. Declared by a Court of Enquiry assembled at Ashton Under Lyne on the 19th December 1851. Agreeably with the 146 Article of the Articles of War to be illegally absent from his duty and a deserter from the 13th October 1851.
Denis re-joined on the 30th July 1860. He was tried and sentenced to be imprisoned from the 31st July 1860-25th September 1860. His former service of 229 days was forfeited.
Denis re-joined after serving his time as a Private on the 26th September 1860-7th August 1864 (3 years and 316 days) He is seen at Parkhurst below in the 1861 Census. It is unknown where Denis was or what he was doing during his time of desertion?
He is next seen at Parkhurst Barracks in the 1861 Census of England. An unmarried 29-year-old Private soldier born in Ireland.
He was awarded the Good Conduct Badge on the 26th September 1863. He is then promoted to Corporal and further served from 8th August 1864-30th April 1866 (1 year 266 days) Correct Service to the 7th June 1866 (38 days). His earlier service was then restored by the War Office Authority dated 21st July 1866. (229 days)
It is certified that the statement of the service of Denis Black is correct as of 30th April 1866. He then served a further 173 days from the 8th June 1866-27th November 1866 making a total service of 6 years 292 days.
Ophthalmia – affliction of the eyes. Originated December 1865 in an acute attack attributed to a condition of military life.
The condition will probably disable him to a medium stent for earning a livelihood.
No 3478 Corpl Denis Black referred to in the preceding pages by Trade a labourer was born in the Parish of Adaline (Ardclinis) near the Town of Glenew (Glenarm) in the County of Antrim and attested for the 50th Regt. At Newcastle Upon Tyne in the County of Northumberland on the 26th July 1851 at the age of 19 years.
His final description when discharged from service at Netley this 27th day of November 1866 age 34 years. Height - 5 feet 11 ½ Inches. Complexion - Fair. Eyes - Hazel. Hair - Dark Brown. Trade - Labourer. Marks of scars upon the face or other parts of the body – marked letter D for desertion.
Intended place of residence – Newport – Isle of Wight.
Records show Denis still in service until 1869.
Denis can be seen in the 1871 Census living in Newport – Isle of Wight as a widowed, head of family. A Pensioner and labourer from Ireland. He has 3 children with him. Margaret aged 8, (circa 1863) a scholar born in Newport. Denis anged 6 (circa 1865), a scholar born in Auckland, New Zealand, and John aged 3 (circa 1868) born in Southampton.
By the 1881 census Denis is seen remarried to Mary, he is noted as a Chelsea Pensioner and bricklayer labourer. Both from Ireland. No sign of Denis’s children?
1891 sees Denis and Mary still residing in Newport. Denis is noted as a Masons labourer aged 59.
Returning to 1901, Denis is seen back home in Ireland, a widower and army pensioner.
He passed on the 5th February 1910 aged 76. After living away from home for so many years he was laid to rest in his place of birth, Ardclinis. He left a will (no image available online) leaving his effects totalling £138 18s and 7d.