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1913 Tel. directory    1824 Pigots (Belfast)  &  (Bangor)   1894 Waterford Directory
1898 Newry Directory      Bangor Spectator Directory 1970

Bits n Bobs

back to Index for 1943      next - Photographs 1    Photographs 2    Photographs 3


     This was the ancient name of a territory in County Antrim, called after Cairbre Riada, one of its chiefs.  In the sixth century a band of Irish from this quarter settled in Argyllshire under Fergus MacErc, and founded the kingdom of the Scots in Dalriada.  After being almost extinguished, the Dalriadic line received in the ninth century when Kenneth Macalpine, seizing the Pictish throne, gave kings to the whole of Scotland.

Age of the Horse

     To tell the age of any horse
     Inspect the lower jaw, of course
     The six front teeth the tale will tell
     And every doubt and fear dispel

     Two middle nippers you behold
     Before the colt is two weeks old
     Before eight weeks two more will come
     Eight more the corners cut the gum

     The outside grooves will disappear
     From middle two in just one year
     In two years from the second pair
     In three years corners, too, are bare

     At two the middle nippers drop
     At three the second pair can't stop
     When four years old the third pair goes
     At five a full new set he shows

     The deep black spots will pass from view
     At six years from the middle two
     The second pair at seven years
     At eight the spot each corner clears

     From middle nippers, upper jaw
     At nine the black spots will withdraw
     The second pair at ten are bright
     Eleven finds the corners in sight

     As time goes on the horsemen know
     The oval teeth three sided grow
     They longer get - project - before
     Till twenty, when we know no more

Psalter of Tara

     This was a volume in which the early kings of Ireland inserted all historic events and enactments. It began in the reign of Ollam Fodlah, of the family of Ir (B.C. 900) and was read to the assembled princes when they met in the cenvention (convention?) which assembled in the great hall of that splendid palace.

Ulster Badge

     On the institution of the order of baronets in England by James I. a sinister hand, erect, open and coupled at the wrist, gules, the armorial ensign of the province of Ulster, was made their distinguishing badge, in respect of the order having been intended for the encouragement of plantations in Ulster. This badge is sometimes borne in a canton, sometimes on an escutcheon, the latter placed either in the fess point or in the middle chief point, so as to interfere as little as possible with the charges of the shield.

Galway Jury

     This was an independent jury, neither to be brow beaten or led by the nose. In 1635 certain trials were held respecting the rights of the Crown to the counties of Ireland. Leitrim, Roscommon, Sligo and Mayo gave judgment in favour of the Crown, but Galway stood out, whereupon each of the jury was fined 4,000

Old Belfast

     Although noticed in the old Irish histories and topographies as existing as far back as the middle of the twelfth century, Belfast as a city is of comparatively recent date. The first castle of Belfast was probably built by Sir John de Courcy, about the end of the twelfth century. The last was erected by Sir Arthur Chichester, Lord Deputy of Ireland, early in the seventeenth century, and was accidentally destroyed by fire on 25th April, 1708, when the Ladies Jane, Frances and Henrietta, daughters of Lady Donegall, lost their lives. The accident was occasioned by a servant, who left a fire of wood burning in a room which she was airing. Catherine Douglas, a servant, and a daughter of Parson Berkley also perished. In 1316, when sacked by Edward Bruce, brother of the great Robert Bruce, Belfast was, according to authentic records, one of the many "very good towns and strongholds which he wasted."

Old-Time Superstitions

     When ants are unusually busy, foul weather is at hand.
     The mark running down the back of an ass, and cut at right angles over the shoulders, is the Cross of Christ, impressed on the animal because Christ rode on an ass in His triumphant entry into Jerusalem. Three hairs taken from the "cross" of an ass will cure the whooping-cough, but the ass from which the hairs are plucked will die.
     A barnacle broken off a ship turns into a solon goose.
     Bees will never thrive if you quarrel with them or about them. If a member of the family dies and the bees are not told of the death they will forsake the hive. It is unlucky for a stray swarm of bees to light on your premises.
     The sneezing of a cat indicates good luck to a bride. If a cat sneezes thrice, a cold will run through the family.
     If a milkmaid neglects to wash her hands after milking the cows will go dry.
     Crickets bring food luck to a house. To kill a cricket is unlucky. If crickets forsake a house a death in the family will soon follow.
     If a crow croaks an odd number of times, look out for foul weather; if an even number, it will be fine. If crows flock together early in the morning and gape at the sun, the weather will be hot and dry; but if they stalk at nightfall into water and croak, rain is nigh. When crows forsake a wood in a flock, it forebodes a famine.
     When dogs wallow in the dust expect fine weather.
     If you count the number of fish you have caught you will catch no more.
     To meet a frog is lucky, indicating that the person is about to receive money. When frogs croak more than usual it is a sign of bad weather.
     When gnats fly low it indicates rain at hand. When they fly high, and are at all abundant, fine weather may be expected.
     The black spot on each side of a haddock, near the gills, is the impression of St. Peter's finger and thumb, when he took the tribute money from the mouth of the fish.
     If a dog bites you any evil consequence may be prevented by applying three of the dog's hairs to the would.
     Hedgehogs foresee a coming storm.
     If a person suffering from whooping-cough asks advice of a man riding a piebald horse, the malady will be cured by doing what the man tells him to do.
     A horse-shoe fastened inside a door will preserve the inhabitants of a house from the influences of witches and the evil eye.
     The lapwing is a handmaid of the Virgin Mary. Having purloined one of her mistress's dresses she was converted into a lapwing, and condemned for ever to cry, "Tyvit! Tyvit!" ("I stole it! I stole it!)
     The lizard is man's special enemy, but warns him of the approach of a serpent.
     To see one magpie is unlucky; to see two denotes merriment or a marriage; to see three, a successful journey; four, good news; five, company. When the magpie chatters it denotes that you will see strangers.
     A person weighs more fasting than after a good meal.
     It is unlucky to kill a martin.
     To eat food which a mouse has nibbled will cause a sore throat.
     If owls screech with a hoarse and dismal voice it bodes impending calamity.
     In each of the forefeet of pigs is a very small hole, which may be seen when the pig is dead and the hair removed. The legend is that the devils made their exit from the swine through the forefeet and left these holes. There are also six very minute rings round each hole, and these are said to have been made by the devils' claws. The bacon of pigs killed in a waning moon will waste much in the cooking. When hogs run grunting home a storm is impending. It is unlucky for a traveller if a sow crosses his path. To meet a sow with a litter of pigs is very lucky.
     No person can die on a bed or pillow containing pigeons' feathers.
     The red of a robin's breast was produced by the blood of Jesus. While the "Man of Sorrows" was on His way to Calvary a robin plucked a thorn from His temple, and a drop of blood falling on the bird turned his bosom red. It is unlucky either to keep or kill a robin.
     Spitting for luck is a common superstition. A blacksmith who has to shoe a stubborn horse, spits on his hands to drive off the "evil spirit"
     Small spiders, called "money spinners," prognosticate good luck if they are not destroyed or removed from the person to whom they attach themselves. No spider will spin its web on an Irish oak. Spiders will never set their webs on a cedar roof. Spiders indicate where gold is to be found.
     It is unlucky to kill a stork.
     If a swallow builds on a house it brings good luck. To kill a swallow is unlucky. When swallows fly high the weather will be good.
     Swans cannot hatch without a crack of thunder. The swan retires from observation when about to die, and sings melodiously.
     If anyone kills a wren he will break a bone before the year is out.
     No animal dies near the sea except at the ebbing of the tide.

Strange Cure for Rheumatism

     Bridget Behan, of Castlewaller, in the county of Wicklow, retained the use of all her powers of body and mind to the close of her long life, 110 years, in 1807. About six years preceding her death she fell down stairs, and broke one of her thighs. Contrary to all expectations, she not only recovered from the effects of the accident, but afterwards walked stronger on this leg than she had done for many years before. A short while before her death, she cut a new tooth. Another remarkable circumstance relating to the fracture was that she was cured of chronic rheumatism of long standing.


     Chocolate has been known in Europe, and especially in Spain, as a drink ever since the discovery of America, but the idea of eating it is comparatively modern. Originally it was drunk cold, and was bitter to taste.

O'Donohue's White Horses

     The boatmen of Killarney so call those waves which, on a windy day, are crested with foam. The spirit of O'Donohue is supposed to glide over the lakes every May-day on his favourite white horse, to the sound of unearthly music.