First Light

Until the completion of the harbour in 1835 and the arrival of the railway in 1855, Portrush was but a tiny insignificant fishing village, with but a few families huddled under the headland, separated from the mainland by a range of sand dunes.

With the harbour and the railway came investment, development, and the creation of a popular holiday resort. But in the late 1800s, Glenmanus remained a rural village, separated from Portrush by a belt of agricultural land.

In the centre of the following photograph can be seen a large white farmhouse, with an attached dwelling. That was Seaview Farm, the ancestral home of my mother’s ancestors, the Douglas. They lived and farmed in Glenmanus from the late 1600’s. It was there that my mother saw first light and where I spent my earliest years.

On the right of the photo, is the corner of a field, opposite a small group of farm buildings. It was there that my parents lived for a few years in a tiny wooden hut, while my father worked on his fledgling poultry farm across the road during the day and on his dance band at night.

Today, Glenmanus and all the fields have disappeared under an ugly carpet of council housing, caravan parks and private dwellings, and there is not a green field to be seen.

Glenmanus, as seen from Loquestown, circa 1900 (photo from internet)
Seaview Farm in the 1930s

I was not born in Glenmanus, but I saw my first light in the Mary Rankin Maternity Hospital, in nearby Coleraine, as did my brother and sister. The Mary Rankin was on the Castlerock Road, opposite the Court House. I passed it every day that I went to school at C. A. I.

The Mary Rankin Maternity Hospital (photo from internet)

Like Glenmanus, the Mary Rankin has long since been demolished and replaced by yet another ugly two-story apartment building. Gone are the lawns, the ivy and the trees, replaced by bricks and asphalt.

Perhaps it is pure nostalgia on my part, but I prefer to remember Glenmanus and the Mary Rankin as they once were.

The Wall of Death

In my previous blog, I wrote of some of my earliest memories of Glenmanus and nearby Portrush.  I wrote of a couple of stunt motorcyclists and their act, ‘The Wall of Death’, and how they boarded with my grand-parents at Seaview Farm.  My memory of their act is so vivid, but I could not recall their names, despite my mother often speaking of those years when they returned for the summer season.

I posted the article and next day I received a comment from Australia, from Iris, who like me, also grew up in Glenmanus.  She recalled the couple and said that she remembered their surname as being Goosen or similar.  The name sounded Dutch or perhaps German but rang no bells for me.

The Northern Irish marriage records over 75 years old are accessible for a fee, so on the off-chance that they married in Ulster, I went to https://geni.nidirect.gov.uk/.  And in 1938, I found a Theunis Christophel Goosen who married an Ena Birmingham in Saint Patrick’s Church of Ireland, in Ballymena.  And both had their profession as ‘Amusement Caterer’.  It looked as though I might have found them, but I wanted more evidence.

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When I searched on the internet, I found a site focused on the Goosen genealogy (http://www.goosen.nu/index.php/documents/192-wall-of-death) and in it was an article about Chris and Ena Goosen.

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Chris and Ena Goosen (from the Goosen genealogy site)

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I am almost certain that I have found the couple and how thrilled my mother would have been to read my little account.

Perhaps the warm and contented feeling I am experiencing tonight is a reflection of her approval, and maybe also that of Chris and Ena Goosen.