28th November 2018
I left the home where I was born and reared in fifty-four years ago in a little place called Killadeas, Co Fermanagh. Arriving in Co Antrim I was appalled by the ignorant folk who did not know where Killadeas was since for to me it was the centre of my universe! I doubt if there are many who not know the village of Moira, Co Down since it has been an important interchange on the M1 for more than forty years.
Driving or even walking through this quaint village does not in any way reveal a village with such a wonderful history. This is why David McFarland’s book, Finding Footprints makes such a fascinating read. It is one of those books that once started is difficult to leave aside until one has read the entire 169 pages.
The village was surrounded by raths and forts, dating back to the seventh century, most of which have disappeared. It was also the place of splendid homes including Moira Castle, occupied by the great and the good. These were folk who mixed with kings and some commanded the troops in the important battles that took place during the history of Ireland, especially in the counties of Down and Antrim.
The Rawdon family, the First Earl of Moira occupied Moira Castle and played a major part in the growth of the village. The early Rawdons were strictly Anglican and brooked no non-conformist movements but the later ones seemed a little more open. In 1856 John Wesley made his first visit to Moira and when refused permission to preach in the Anglican Church preached to a massive crowd from the steps of Moira Castle in the Moira Demesne. In 1759 a Cornish Methodist preacher, Thomas Seccombe came to Moira and developed tuberculosis. Lord Rawson took him into his house and was nursed there until he died. After witnessing his death, Lord Rawdon wrote to a nobleman in London, “Now, my Lord, find me if you can a man that will die like a Methodist.” Almost like John Wesley’s comment, “our people die well.”
Another worthy of mention is Anne Lutton 1791-1881 born in Main Street and managed to master several foreign languages including Latin, Greek and Hebrew. She really was the catalyst for the growth of Methodism in Moira and Donaghcloney.
Finding Footprints gives an insight into Moira’s history that most will find captivating. It will make an excellent Christmas present and especially for our nonbeliever friends since it opens the door to discuss the Gospel in a gentle and persuasive way.
Irvine Grey. Lurgan