Saturday 17 September 2011 was a big day for these 'East of Eden' chronicles (and for me), as I met up with Ray Cowan after almost 60 years at his childhood home farm in Bellahill - for my long-awaited exploration of the last unaltered stretch of the old cattle drove road from the Commons to Dalway's Bawn.
Ray now lives near Dublin with his wife Helen (uncanny again, as my own wife is called Helen too). We recently re-established contact after our early years at Eden Primary School in the 1950s, when he stumbled on this blog and an old photo taken at his 7th birthday party at his farm in Bellahill.
The detail shows Ray and myself in the middle - Ray sporting his birthday present of a toy gun.
I had posted this old photo in July 2010 in 'An uncanny gathering at Bellahill farm, near Dalway's Bawn, in 1953' and since then we have been in frequent email and telephone contact.
But our reunion had, of course, to be back at his scene of this 'uncanny gathering' - now his brother's farm, and a walk together down the 'Cassie' (the local name given to the old cattle drove track from Beltoy to Dalway's Bawn).
Both these farm photographs show something I didn't know in 1953 - that the trees behind the farm house mark the line of the old cattle drove road from Beltoy to Dalway's Bawn.
The following map shows the line of the 'Cassie' (Ulster-Scots for 'causeway') in blue, and the present Cowan farm is marked on this map as belonging to John Davison in 1860. As followers of this blog may recall, John Davison bought Dalway's Bawn at the end of the 19th century when Marriott Dalway emigrated to Australia, and the Cowans moved to this farm about the same time - from the one immediately to the north, marked 'John Cowan, 1860'.
The walk with Ray down the Cassie was a walk 'down memory lane' in more ways than one, and as there is too much to report in one posting, the next few will be photo-journeys and commentary on this 2-mile dander. It started where the Cassie crosses the Beltoy Road, behind the Cowan farm (to the right in this photo). Another previous post (29 September 2010) had covered the journey I made with my wife from Lough Mourne to the Beltoy Road: 'Along the Cattle Trail - In sight of Scotland'.
Well, just to prove we did finish it, here is Ray at the bottom end of the Cassie, where it comes onto the Dalway's Bawn. It was a great and memorable day - full of nostalgia and new information gleaned from Ray's encyclopaedic knowledge of every farm and field along the way.
To be continued ....