Wednesday, 21 July 2010

The Commons Cattle Trail before the break-up

Up till now, I've only been able to show glimpses of the Cattle trail across the Commons of Carrickfergus as it survived after the Commons was broken up into farms after 1860.

It has taken me weeks to get hold of it, but at last I have a copy of the 1st Ordnance Survey map of the area in 1832. To my delight, it shows the whole townland of 2,730 acres without any farms, fields, fences or buildings. And right across it is an unfenced trackway which I have highlighted in green. It is exactly where it was anticipated.

Another thing that springs out (click on the map to enlarge it and see for yourself), is that the boundary of the Commons has a multitude of small houses lined right along the boundary. Before the 1860 enclosure, permanent dwellings were prohibited, so these were herds' houses, squatters' cabins, or shelters used by drovers and peat diggers.

The same thing is shown on the 1832 map further west, towards the middle of the Commons - small cabins or houses lined along the boundary, and the trail cutting across north of the source of the Woodburn River which flows down into Belfast Lough on the West side of Carrickfergus.

The source of the Woodburn River is marked on this (and later maps) as "BRYAN O'NEILL'S WELL".