James Kennedy, Sr.
Aged: 82.1 years
The Cranagh River Draft Netting Station was the most productive fishery in the area. It was the key site in the lucrative Bann Fishery which was granted to The Honourable The Irish Society in perpetuity by King James, It is now the Cranagh Marina - reached by a private road leading from Coleraine/Portstewart Rd. The field to the left of this road was known at the "Well" field, owned by my grandfather, named because it has a fresh water well at the bottom of the field close to the fence. During summer months it was nice to run down to that field, remove my shoes and socks, and bathe my feet in that cold, cold water.
The University of Ulster at Coleraine is currently situated on the land that was once the Cranagh House and Farm - only the ruins of the house remained when my daughter and I last visited in 2009. On our previous visit in 1985 we were told it was going to be restored. I also visited in 1979 with my sister, Rita, when James Kennedy, Jr. was still living at Cranagh House.
The first two children were born at Pleasurestep which is close to Ballymoney, County Antrim; I assume they were living with my great-grandmother, Mary Stewart Tweed - they married in Jan 1893 following the death of my great-grandfather, William Tweed, in Oct 1892. All of the other children were born at Gills, District of Aghadowey, Coleraine. It appears my grandparents, James Sr., & Mary Tweed Kennedy, moved to the Cranagh sometime after 1906 when James Jr., their last child was born.
There were Pattersons in the Crannagh for a long period. Samuel Patterson of the Crannagh (1708-1794) married Elizabeth Hazlett (1716-1800). 1518.1.9 (Hamilton Papers - P.R.O.N.I.).
Birth Certificate: Ref: T9417 Entry No. 414; March 6th 1866; Bellury Desert (a 504 acre townland in the civil parish of Desertoghill, Poor Law Union and barony of Coleraine, Co. Londonderry, Ordnance Survey sheets 18 and 26). Births Registered in the District of Garvagh, Coleraine, BK. 1., James, Male, Father William Kennedy of Bellury, Mother Charlotte Kennedy formerly Long, Rank or Profession of Father, Farmer, Registered March 14 1866
When James Kennedy, son of William, married at 1st Kilraghts Presbyterian Church in 1893 his residence is given as Drumreagh. This is a 166 acre townland in the civil parish and Poor Law Union of Ballymoney, Barony of Upper Dunluce, County Antrim, Ordinance Survey sheet 16 and 17. The Civil Parish of Ballymoney adjoins Kilraghts Parish. Drumreagh is the place of residence for Charlotte Long in her father's (William Long) will written 13 Oct 1888.
1901 Census: House 3 in Gills (Somerset, Londonderry):
James 35, Head of family, born Co. Derry; - my grandfather
Mary 33, wife, born Australia; - my grandmother
Margaret S, 7, born Co. Antrim;
William T 5, born Co. Antrim;
Samuel G 3, born Co. Derry;
Charlotte E L 1, born Co. Derry; - my mother.
Mary Tweed 69 mother-in-law, born Co. Antrim; - my great-grandmother.
William Graham 19 Farm Servant, Presbyterian, born Scotland, not married.
Religious Denomination of the family is Reformed Presbyterian. There are 16 houses listed in the Townland of Gills; the landlord for houses 2, 3 and 15 is James Kennedy.
1911 Census: House 21 in Ballysally: James 45; Mary 43 born Australia; Wm Lwen(Tweed) 15; Saml Gialar (Guiler) 13; John Stewart 9; Hugh Calderwood 8(the family always said Calderwood but his registration is Catherwood); Mary Lwen(Tweed) 6; James 4; O'Hara, Wm James 28, Servant; O'Hara, Robert J 26 Male.
James Kennedy's other 2 daughters, Margaret Stewart Kennedy & Charlotte Elizabeth Long Kennedy, are shown in the 1911 census return of their grandfather, Wm. Kennedy, then living at The Crescent, Portstewart.
Landlord for Houses No. 21, 22, and 23 in Ballysally is listed as James Kennedy - it may be that Cranagh House is No. 21 & the 2 workers cottages that I remember (now gone) at the end of the avenue leading from the Portstewart Road up to the house are Nouse Numbers 22 & 23. House No. 25 listed as Fishing Station & House No. 24 a private dwelling Landlord is The Bann Foyle Fishing Co. - these most likely are the old Cranagh fishery down by the river (now the Cranagh Marina). House No. 26 occupied by James Henry is also listed as having Landlord James Kennedy.
House No. 21 had one each of the following: Stable, Coach House, Cow House, Calf House, Piggery, Fowl House, Boiling House,Barn, and Shed. It did not have an turf house, potato house, store, forge, or laundry.
House No. 21 was the largest of Houses #15 to 26 in Ballysally. Religious Denominations: Presbyterian: 2 males; Ref Presbyterian: 6 males, 2 females.
Probate Belfast 1950: Margaret was Executrix, solicitors were MacAuley O'Neill & Martin, 83 Royal Avenue, Belfast.
Aged: 70.7 years
Death Certificate, held by family, Ref: 054072/01, Bk 5, No 182. Place of death says Ballysally - (Cranagh House is in township of Ballysally); married; 70 years; farmer's wife; cerebral hemorrhage twenty-one days certified; James Kennedy Jr. son of deceased present at death Ballysally.
Mary Tweed Kennedy 1868-1938
In Victoria, Australia, there is a place called Coleraine. Obviously it would have been founded by people who would have originated in Coleraine in the northern part of County Derry.
Mary Tweed was born on a sheep station, Thalia Station, St. Arnaud, Victoria, Australia, 15 March 1868.
Her father and mother, William and Mary (Stewart) Tweed, married 6 November 1863 and on 21 November 1863 they left Liverpool aboard the steamer, Royal Standard, and sailed to Melbourne, Australia. The Royal Standard was the first steamer commissioned 1863 by White Star Line. The ship's manifest records that William Tweed was age 28 and his wife Mary Tweed was age 26. The ship left Liverpool on 21 November 1863, arriving in Melbourne on 9 February 1864, approximately 80 days at sea. The number of ``soulsÃ‚Â´Ã‚Â´ on this vessel totaled 255 as follows: Adults: 94 English, 10 Scotch, 89 Irish and 355 from other countries; there were 12 English and 10 Irish children between the ages 1 and 12; plus 4 English and 3 Irish infants. Some passengers embarked at Queenstown (now Cobh, South Ireland) - a notation shows one of these giving birth to a girl born at sea, however, elsewhere it shows none born at sea and it appears that one may have died at sea.
The family returned to Northern Ireland about 5 years later, in 1868, when Mary, their only child, was about six months old. It is believed that she nearly died on the voyage. Her father and mother worked on the sheep station to be able to return home with enough funds to buy land, in keeping with other emigrants from Northern Ireland. It was always said that Mary's husband, James Kennedy, married her for her money. James' father, William, had his own business as a grocer in Garvagh, so noted in Bassett's Books, so I have to believe that James was not altogether poor. Mary was 25 years old and, according to family history, had been a school teacher when she married James on 12 January 1893 at First Kilraughts Presbyterian Church in the
District of Ballymoney, County Antrim.
I remember being told by my mother that her grandfather, William Tweed, had been crossing a field when he fell and broke his neck. The Ballymoney ancestry records that I found on the internet confirm that William Tweed accidentally died by a fall. When I uncovered that little bit of information, I made a special connection with William, my great-grandfather - it was deja vu!
Eight children were born to Mary Tweed and James Kennedy in a span of twelve years, between 1894 and 1906; the first two, Margaret Stewart Kennedy, and William Tweed Kennedy, were born in Pleasurestep in the District of Ballymoney, County Antrim; the other six children, Samuel, Guiler Kennedy, Charlotte Elizabeth Long Kennedy, John Stewart Kennedy, Hugh Catherwood Kennedy, Mary Tweed Kennedy, and James Kennedy, Jr. in Gills, Aghadowey, County Derry.
I have always understood that James, Sr. owned the farm known as "Ballysally" in Coleraine as well as the Cranagh, and at some point transferred ownership to William (Willy) who kept it until his (Wm's) eventual retirement to Portstewart.
The Cranagh farm was said to be about 365 acres. It was mostly a dairy farm with wheat, flax, and potatoes of course. During WWI James, Sr. made a good living supplying flax to the army for use in making military uniforms, however the dairy farm was the farm's primary purpose. In his younger days, James, Sr. delivered the milk, carried in large canisters placed in a horse-drawn cart to the townspeople. In later years when James Jr. owned the farm, bottling of the milk took place on site, and when I lived at the Cranagh during WWII it was my job to bottle the milk after school - quarts, pints, and half-pint bottles. I can still see myself doing that but it is hard to describe. I only know that one had to have dexterity.
My mother grew up at the Cranagh and it was a very hard, cruel, life that she and her brothers and sisters lived with a father who was cruel in every sense of the word. Everyone was up before dawn to milk the cows or work in the fields. If James, Sr. was not satisfied with their work he would kick them with his hob-nailed boots. He was equally cruel to his wife. When her children were grown they encouraged her to lock him out of her bedroom. He was known to have extra-marital affairs and was even rebuked by his Church.
Regardless of family life, boys and girls know how to have fun. They would go into town (Coleraine) and attend dances in the Town Hall. The girls would leave the house with their brothers and when they returned home with someone else, the dining room window would be open for them to slip back into the house without disturbing their father.
Religion was interwoven into their daily lives. Even though the records show that Mary and James were married in a Presbyterian Church, they attended church and raised their children as Covenanters (Reformed Presbyterian), an old Scottish Order. In this church there was no organ or piano played and only psalms were sung. Mary and James, Sr., had good voices and led the singing. It was customary to use a tuning fork. Playing cards, dancing, and many forms of entertainment were frowned upon by Church elders. When any infraction occurred, as in the case of my Grandfather's indiscretions, the culprit was called before the Synod for investigation and was duly punished.
While my sisters and I were growing up, travel from Belfast to Coleraine was either by train or by bus. Taking the train would leave us at Coleraine Railway Station and there we would catch the bus to be dropped off at Coleraine/Portstewart Road just below where Cranagh House stood. There was a long avenue up from the road to the house; in springtime daffodils covered the lawn on either side of the avenue from the road to the house. Granny always knew when the bus stopped and would walk down the avenue to greet us. As she walked she was removing her outer apron so that her clean apron was exposed to her guests. Mother always said when Granny removed all her garments underneath she was a very small woman. I remember traveling on the train with her and she kept chewing crystallized ginger - I guess for stomach problems.
When I was about nine years old, Granny had a stroke and my mother and I spent almost the total twenty or more days until her death and funeral at the Cranagh. Following her stroke, she was placed in the "good" bedroom, just as had been done when John Stewart Kennedy accidentally shot himself and lay dying (that is a separate story). I can still picture that room because some years later I would love to curl up on the window box, looking out over the Bann River, reading a good book.
During Granny's illness I was pretty well ignored until one evening I was told to sit in the "good" bedroom and watch over Granny. In my mind's eye I can still see it all; I am sitting on a chair in front of the fireplace (nearly every bedroom had its own
fireplace), the only other lighting is a paraffin lamp (it was before gas was installed), and I am listening to Granny groan every now and then. Then, all of a sudden, she points her finger over my head toward the painting above the fireplace and tries to say something. Other members of the family said she had done this when they were present and they assumed she was trying to say she wanted to return to Australia where she was born because the painting was a scene from that country. Believe me, I couldn't wait to exit that room, but, since I was an obedient child, I didn't move until I was relieved by her nurse.
When Granny passed away, she remained in the "good" bedroom, in a coffin, and everyone for miles around came to pay their respects. My cousins and I took turns escorting guests up to see her. Cousins James and Nancy and I went down to the fish hatchery, just below the road, alongside the river, and the wife of the caretaker gave us beautiful bouquets of flowers from her garden to take back up to the house to place in Granny's room. Aunt Margaret, but mainly, Aunt Tille (Matilda Nevin Kennedy), who was a great cook and baker, organized the kitchen help and served every one of those visitors finger sandwiches, pastries, and pots and pots of tea. The hustle and bustle between the kitchen and the drawing room where guests were served was exciting for a little girl.
I can't recall seeing my sisters at Cranagh House during that whole period but they could very well have been there too. When the funeral cortege finally took off down the avenue I was told that the cars extended for almost three miles (that must be an exaggeration). Usually when they go through Coleraine there is a round-a-bout (The Diamond) that vehicles had to take; the traffic police said they should have passed the procession directly though without the round-a-bout. The women in the family didn't go to the graveyard; it wasn't customary. The house was prepared as was the custom with shades drawn, mirrors covered in black cloth and stationary ordered with black borders. It was, perhaps, the most memorable and impressive event in my young life. In later years, I would come to recognize the respect and admiration that Mary Tweed Kennedy was shown in those, her final days.