(Approximately 55 Minute Walk)
To get to Portglenone from Ballymena take the A42 to Portglenone. Follow the Main Street and turn right at Gortgole Road before the bridge. Free parking is available at the Marina car park. Follow the pathway from the car park back towards the bridge. The walk will take approximately 55 minutes. Take care on roads at all times. An adult should accompany children. There are toilets and a tearoom at Portglenone Monastery.
Stage 1 – Hanna’s Shirt Factory
Hanna’s shirt factory was originally located on Main Street. This building was built as a potato store. Potatoes would be carried up river by barges or ‘Lighters’. In the past the river was the main thoroughfare for trade in the village. Lighters transported seeds, fertiliser, coal, and building materials along the Bann to Portglenone. In the same way, Portglenone exported its potatoes, grass seed, livestock and ‘Bann bricks’.
Stage 2 – Bann Bridge
Portglenone has been an important crossing point on the lower Bann for centuries. Engineer Charles Lanyon designed the present 3-arched bridge in 1846-47 to replace an earlier seven arched bridge of 1824. A swivel or swing section was inserted in 1853 following a scheme to facilitate river navigation by the Board of Works.
Lanyon was born in Sussex in 1813. Appointed Surveyor of County Antrim in 1835 he quickly established himself as one of Belfast’s leading architects and included in his significant architectural works are The Palm House in Belfast Botanic Gardens, Queens University, Belfast Custom House, St Stephen’s Green Unitarian Church, Dublin and in 1853 Portglenone Bann Bridge. The location of Belfast’s Waterfront Hall was named Lanyon Place in his honour.
Stage 3 – Castle Gates
This gateway leads to the lower farm yard on the former Alexander Estate. The Royal Artillery were based here during the Second World War. The farmyard and stable block also provided accommodation for the Alexander family during the War as they vacated Portglenone House for ENSA (entertainment service
provided for the troops).
Stage 4 – Timothy Eaton (1834 – 1907) (D. Logan’s shop)
Eaton was born near Clough on a tenant farm.
In his teens he was apprenticed to William Smith who owned a general store on this site before following his brothers to Ontario, Canada in 1852.
Stage 5 – Northern Bank
In 1920 the Northern Bank Company converted two houses for their use. This listed building is still in operation as a bank. The bank residence was formerly located next door. A replica of the bank prior to modernisation is at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, Cultra, Co. Down. Portglenone Lighting Company formerly provided gas lighting from this site.
Stage 6 – Church of Ireland Parish House
Erected c.I735 by Francis Hutchinson, it became the parish church proper in 1840. Plain of appearance, the church is constructed of fieldstones. A tablet is erected inside the church to the memory of Dr Hutchinson, who is buried in a vault underneath the Sanctuary. Some of the old Communion service ware and a copper collection plate held by the church were gifts from St John O’Neill, who lived briefly in Portglenone Castle. He was an uncle
of Lord O’Neill of Shane’s Castle.
Stage 7 – Portglenone House and Site of Portglenone Castle
Dr Alexander, Bishop of Meath, acquired the estate in 1800 building Portglenone House c.1810 and may have demolished the castle. The house now forms part of the Cistercian Monastery of Our Lady of Bethlehem. Elements of the estate landscape still survive including an ice house, demesne walls, wooded areas (Decoy Wood) and a
Francis Hutchinson (1659 – 1739)
Francis Hutchinson was born in Derbyshire and was appointed Bishop of Down and Connor in 1720. He lived in Lisburn until 1730 when he moved to Portglenone, residing in Portglenone Castle. He is probably best remembered for building St Thomas’ Church on Rathlin Island in 1723 and having the catechism printed in both English and Irish for the benefit of the native Gaelic speakers.
Stage 8 – Masonic Hall
The Masonic Hall was originally built as a schoolhouse funded by the Erasmus Smith Trust who ran nearly 200 ‘English’ schools throughout Ireland. By 1903 it had been converted into a creamery by the Portglenone Co-operative Agricultural and Dairy Society Limited. In latter days it became Portglenone Masonic Hall Lodge No. 450. Portglenone Masons originally met in the house of William James Greer in premises now converted into a Chinese takeaway. An unusual feature of the building are the stones embedded in the point work.
Stage 9 – Portglenone Forest
Portglenone Forest is an ancient woodland site, once part of great woods that stretched from Lough Neagh to Coleraine and west to the Sperrin Mountains. The plantation of Ulster brought intensive deforestation in the 1600s. Significant aforestation did not occur until 300 years later. Dredging work carried out between 1930 and 1942 created riverbanks, known locally as the ‘Bann Dumps’ . These were planted with spruce, pine and larch between 1938- 41.
Stage 10 – Augustine Henry (1857 – 1930)
Stage 11 – Glenone National School
Glenone National School. A very grand school for its time, Bannside, was by no means the typical National School.
Glenone National, (later Public Elementary), School was built in 1836, near Portglenone Bridge, on a site donated by Daniel Daly, a local merchant. A two-storey building, 31ft. by 20 ft., with walls 1ft.10 in. thick, it had a slate umbrella roof and was built of black quarry stone. It had one door, 10 windows and an 8-dayclock on the wall facing the bridge. There were two outdoor toilets and a small shed.Boys were taught in the lower storey and girls in the upper.
The total cost of the erection of the building was £155.75 and of this, the National Board contributed £103.85. The following are named as having given donations;- Rev John Rogers, PP of Tamlght £2; eight local merchants, W.H.Holmes, Daniel Day, John Daly, Sen., John Daly, Jr., Dr Heaney, Pat Mooney, John Hamil and James McEntire, all gave £1 each. The remainder, £36.90, was contributed by, “benevolent persons of all denomination, in sums equal to the circumstance”.
Reproduced from “Making sense of it all” By Damien Clarke
The school, then known as Glenone Primary, closed in 1962. The teachers at this time were Mrs Maura Clarke (Principal) and Mrs Margaret Fox. Glenone School was demolished in 1986.