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Discovering Mosside

A book for all the villages in Ireland

For years many people have passed through Mosside on the main Coleraine to Ballycastle
road with hardly a glance. Recently I came across a new book called Discovering Mosside.
I wondered what there was to discover about Mosside that could fill 170 pages. Jon
Marshall, the well-known local archaeologist, historian, broadcaster and author has shown
that this little place has enormous importance and has featured in the history of Ireland at
many of its most significant moments.
Quite rightly (and not surprisingly, given Mr Marshall’s archaeological background) the
book begins in the deepest past, with the story of the first settlers in Ireland who provided
themselves with food and shelter with nothing except their intelligence, the wood and
stones of the place. Some sites at Mosside have been dated to the time of Mountsandel,
almost 10,000 years ago.
Despite our modern sophistication, I wondered how many people today could begin to
build a life with nothing but the countryside and their wits. The book describes their
progress, how they tamed the land and how the population grew as they began the first
farming and permanent settlements, shaping the countryside we see today.
The book describes the Bronze Age places and finds from Mosside at a time when Ireland
was the richest land in the known world. I never realised that our people were so important
or that 4,000 years ago people from North Antrim were trading as far as Scandinavia and
the eastern Mediterranean! After all, it was only in the 1960s that the first package holidays
to sunnier climes became available to the better off. It is amazing to think that people from
here were travelling so far, so long ago. The accounts of gold, bronze and other objects
and the facts of how far we were advanced of the cultures of Egypt and Ancient Greece
are truly amazing.
Later, the customs and culture of the Celts became central to the place names and folklore
of the area and the interpretation of the local townland names in this book are a treasure in
themselves, painting a picture of the landscape 2,000 years ago which can still be seen
today. Other sites such as the cult centre of Drumtullagh which gave the Grange of
Drumtullagh its name and the ornamented Celtic cult stone of Derrykeighan Stone are
shown. I hadn’t realised that this stone was one of only six such pieces known in Ireland. I
believe that the Derrykeighan Stone may soon return to Ballymoney Museum. Nor did I
realise that there were so many holy places scattered about the area, from early churches
to holy wells to inauguration sites to the original sites of midsummer bonfires which
became the 11th of July bonfires of today.
And who would have thought that Saint Patrick himself would have chosen Mosside for
one of his five original churches of the north and who could have expected that the lost
lake at Loughlynch would be the single largest concentration of prehistoric logboats
around its ancient shores?
As I read on, Discovering Mosside was producing a lot of really important facts which were
not just local but also had national and international importance.
It became obvious that in those far off times, the influence of Scotland is clear and that the
Ulster-Scots were a force to be reckoned with, long before the English Plantation of the
early 1600s.
There are stirring accounts of the rebels and the people of Mosside in the 1641 and 1798
risings, stories of a famous Scottish hero born on the island in Loughlynch who featured in
the stories of Sir Walter Scott and the identification of a previously undocumented
Plantation Castle. As I read on, the amount of important features of Mosside was quite
incredible and almost unbelievable for such a tiny area.
In this book, folklore stories of cures and remedies, an architectural heritage and the
effects of wars are combined with the constant background of the agricultural community
and give an account which must make the people of Mosside proud.
When I had finished reading, I thought that few communities in Ireland or the UK could
have such an important local heritage and how privileged Mosside is to have such a
volume about its people and place.
It used to be that all the history taught in schools was either English or Irish or, in other
words, the politics of London or Dublin predominate. Discovering Mosside is a real history
of the people and makes for fabulous reading. Every village should have one! A fantastic
read, no matter where you come from.
The book is silver blocked hardback on black laminate covers, 171 pages, beautifully
illustrated with more than 64 line drawings and maps and available from outlets local to
Mosside at £10.00 or from J Marshall, Clegnagh House, Mosside, Armoy, Ballymoney
BT53 8UB at £13.00 UK post paid. Overseas enquiries are welcome to

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