If we set aside the party political considerations ( please) a story in today’s Belfast Telegraph shows the conflict between the desire to memorialise via a Heritage trail and the wish for local employment in a living industry to continue. Not unlike the collectors who drove species to extinction so that their stuffed remains could be “saved” for posterity.The “Kingdom of Mourne” in Ireland’s youngest mountains has had a long history of Granite mining. A small place, known because of it’s size as “the half Barony of Mourne” ( Walter Harris, 1744) this isolated and relatively crowded coastal fringe relied on more than fishing and agriculture for the local economy, but in an unusual seasonal movement Annalong men went across the Atlantic in Spring to fix the sidewalks of New York that had been damaged during the winter. The great days of the granite industry were in the mid 19th century to the early 20th Century when many thousands of Tons of Granite were sent as sets and kerbs to pave the streets of Belfast and towns of Lancashire, employment that gave succour to people during the Famine years and the lean times until the Land purchase Acts.
An area of tremendous historic significance.
(Drawn from the Thomas Davis Lecture , given Radio Éireann 1944 by Estyn Evans and published in his book “Ireland and the Atlantic Heritage )