Laa Loo / Laa Lau

The following are extracts from "Ordnance Survey Memoirs of Ireland – Parishes of County Antrim VII 1832 – 1838". Thanks to The Institute of Irish Studies, The Queen’s University of Belfast for permission to use this extract.

Ancient Topography

In Ballinderry and Templecormack townlands are the remains of 2 churches of great antiquity. The former, situated on the border of Lough Beg, is said to have been much resorted to at different periods for the performance of some religious rites. These meetings were called Laa Loo and were held on 4th August, and were only discontinued in consequence of the factious broils preceding the rebellion of ’98.(1798)…

Ballinderry or Laa Lau Ancient Church

The ruins of Ballinderry ancient church and burial ground is situated on a small but handsome island in the east side of Lough Beg, contiguous to Portmore and the village of Lower Ballinderry. Of the old church, nothing at present remains but the 2 gables. It was situated nearly east and west and measured 62 and a half by 24 and a half inside. Walls of whin and grey and a few freestones, 3 feet 3 inches in thickness, bound together by grouted mortar similar to other ancient buildings, and the masonry well executed. The gables are to a great extent covered with ivy, which gives them a handsome and venerable appearance. On the east gable, and 4 feet above the present surface, stands the ruins of an oblong window 6 feet 3 inches high by 2 and a half feet broad on the outside, but much larger inside. On the west gable also, and 2 feet above the present surface, stands the ruins of 2 oblong windows 2 feet 9 inches high by 8 and a half inches wide each on the outside, but larger inside. The tops and sides of these windows are much disfigured. The body of the church is now occupied with graves to a great extent.

Graveyard of Ancient Church.

The graveyard is large, enclosed by a quickset fence and tolerably occupied by graves. It contains several tombs and a large number of headstones bearing the family names who bury there. At the heads of many other graves are large stones taken from the church walls. 9 yards to the south west of the west end of the church stands a fount stone of the hard grey kind. The fount stone is of irregular shape, but measures 3 feet 2 inches in length, 2 feet 2 inches in breadth and 1 foot 3 inches in thickness. The fount approaches to circular shape, 1 foot 1 inch in diameter and 7 inches in depth, and a sunk passage on one side of it for letting out the overflow of water occasioned by the rain.

24 yards south west of the above stone stands a second fount stone, which seems to have had 2 founts in it but one of them is now nearly destroyed. This stone is the same quality as the one before described and measures 2 feet 10 inches long, by 1 foot 6 inches broad and 11 inches thick. The existing fount in it is oval shaped, 12 by 10 inches and 5 and a half inches deep, with a passage for the water to flow out as above described. The broken fount seems to have stood 7 inches in diameter and 8 inches in depth.

These stones are locally called St. Patrick’s Knee Stones, and said that the holes was left in them by ST. Patrick while in the attitude of prayer. They are frequently visited by hundreds for the cure of warts, which the application of the water contained in the stones is said to have effectually cured on various occasions, and other diseases also.

The graveyard stands a considerable height above the shore, or meadow ground enclosing it. The principal entrance is on the east side by 2 ancient piers of masonry also, but seem of modern date and stand at the entrance of the meadow above mentioned.

The graveyard, though only about 2 furlongs from dry land, is accessible by boats only during the winter months and floods, but in summer can be got into by 2 bridle roads leading to it, one of which approach the gate situated on the east side, and described (above). The other passage stands to the south west side, a considerable distance from the latter.

Names in Graveyard.

The following are amongst the names and surnames on the tombs and headstones in the graveyard.

Male names: Allen, Arthur, Charles, Domnick, Bernard, Hugh, William, James, John, Farrell, Robert, Patrick, Thomas, Anthony, Richard, Roger, Con, Henry, Enes,

Female names: Ann, Elizabeth, Cicely, Sarah, Susanna, Cathrine, Frances, Mary, Rose.

Surnames: McAravay, McDonnell, McDonald, McCorry, Magill, Magee, Crossey, Ravenscroft, Breedin, Brankin, Cormic, O’Brian, Lavery, Johnston, Clark, Gregory, Daragh, Hanan, Smith, Finn, Horbison, Gerneby, Closse, McKaven, McKavney, Lamb, Hant, Davey, O’Doran, O’Dowd, Monoghan, McGuickin.

There are several tombs and headstones defaced and cannot be read. The majority of families bury without tombs or headstones, save rude and unlettered ones. The oldest headstone legible is 1707, and 85 years the greatest age on any.

Inscriptions on Headstones.

Epitaph on headstone near the south corner of the west end of the old church:

DSBR 1732
A husband kind,
A father dear;
A faithful friend,
Lieth here;
My days is spent,
My glass is run;
Children dear,
Prepare to come.
Cormick O’Dowd, aged 82 years.

Inscription on a clergyman’s headstone inside the church: "Sacred to the memory of the Reverend Bernard O’Doran, late vicar of Killead, who departed this life on the 16th October 1815. This stone is erected as a small tribute of affection by his son, James O’Doran, also to Susannah, wife of the above, aged 81 years. Obit, 2nd February 1837." This is a very handsome cut stone, situated to the west gable of the church, inside. The above clergyman was in early life a Roman Catholic priest.

Tradition of St Lau

The church is said to have been founded by St Lau, a Justinian B&C, and to have been destroyed by Cromwell at the period of his destruction of many others. Ballinderry ancient church, better known as Laa Lau church, is dedicated to St Lau, who is said to be the founder of it, and in memory of whom, for time immemorial, the 4th August was held in great veneration, as patron day or day of indulgence of the above old church. At that period of the year thousands of persons congregated from here, from local and remote districts, and performed stations outside of the graveyard on the shores along the edge of the water, as well as about the church.

Along the shore or edge of the water stands a great number of stones, at arranged distances, and at each of which a portion of the ceremony was performed. These stones or stages are still visible when the floods fall in summer. However, about 40 years back, the multitude of all shades and grades assembling at the above old church became so great that drinking, quarrelling, cock-fighting and sundry other vices, as well a party feuds, practised on the occasion, destroyed the original design and endangered the peace and well-being of the surrounding neighbourhood, to such extent that the late Reverend William Dawson, the then Parish Priest of Ballinderry, found it necessary for the peace and safety of the neighbourhood to abolish the stations at the old church altogether 40 years ago. But before drinking, gaming, and quarrelling destroyed the original design of Laa Lau stations the meetings on the occasion were large and moral as intended, and regularly conducted by the clergy of the Roman Catholic religion.

On account of the beauty and antiquity of the place, situated in a large and elegant sheet of water, and the graveyard, partially studded with thorn and board-tree bushes, as well as the large assemblage of pilgrims collected on the occasion of the Laa Lau stations, the scene annually was most desirable and admired n the neighbourhood in which the old church is situated. Information obtained from James Johnston, John Magee, Patrick Green, and many others. 28th and 29th March 1938.

A Ballaun Stone at Laa Lau Graveyard

A Ballaun Stone at Laa Lau Graveyard

Another possible Ballaun Stone at Laa Lau Graveyard

Another possible Ballaun Stone at Laa Lau Graveyard

Headstone Transcriptions

The Digger has transcribed the headstones found in the Laa Loo Graveyard. View Headstone Transcriptions.

The gates leading into Portmore cemetery

The gates leading into Portmore cemetery

View into cemetery from the gates

View into cemetery from the gates

The Millfield Foundry, Belfast logo on the gate post

The Millfield Foundry, Belfast logo on the gate post

Part of the gable wall of the old church at Laa Loo, Portmore

Part of the gable wall of the old church at Laa Loo, Portmore

Ruins of Portmore

The following is an extract from "Original Poems, sacred, moral elegiac" by William Anderson, English Teacher, 2nd volume MDCCCXLI (1841). Thanks to the staff at The Linenhall Library, Belfast for their assistance in relation to sourcing this book.

The following names are included in the listing of the subscribers to the book.

Harden Byrne, Post Master, Ballinderry
George L. Bell, Esq. Glenconway, Glenavy
Rev. Daniel Bell, Glenavy
George Brown, Crumlin Mills
John Berryhill, Classical Teacher, Crumlin
George Bell, Aghanadarragh, Glenavy
James Boyd, Greenhill, Killead
George Carter, Aughalee
John Carrol, Ballinderry
James Campbell, Post Master, Crumlin
William Campbell, Ballytrummery, Crumlin
Miss Chase, Langforde Lodge School
W. Ellis, Moravian Minister, Ballinderry
William English, Waterfoot Cottage, crumlin
Edward Faloon, Teacher, Cartnagallon (Gortnagallon) National School, Killead
William Ferris
Thompson Ferris, Glenavy
William graham, Classical Teacher, Aughalee
John Gally, Ballymacrevan, Ballinderry
John Hall, Deerpark, Glenavy
Rev. George Hill, Crumlin
Rev. Henry Leebody, Ballinderry
Robert McCoy, Teacher, Ballinderry School
William McCartney, Glenavy
Rev. Wm Magill, Dundrod
Thomas Milford, Crumlin Mills
A lover of Poetry, Crumlin
Joseph Patterson, Ballymacrevan, Ballinderry
Richard Palmer, Crumlin
Israel Palmer, Killead
Mr Charles Reed, Methodist Preacher, Ballinderry
James Sherlock, Aughnamillan, Killead

Page 4 –

Stanza on viewing the ruins of Portmore, in the County of Antrim

‘Tis near to Lough Neagh, on the Southern side,
On the brink of a river there once did reside
The noble Lord Conway, of honor and fame,-
Was gallant and brave, and did gain a good name.

Conaway was his name – they told me ‘twas so,
As I was informed by them who did know:
I viewed the place, did view it o’er and o’er;
I inquired the name – told me it was Portmore.

It once was a grand and magnificent seat;
Its grand office-houses they were very neat,-
They could not be equalled by those who had seen,-
So complete were thy built, they might serv’d the Queen.

Fine walled-in garden was there to be found;
With walks and fine flowers it there did abound,
All in the first order and highest degree –
A place like Portmore it was rare then to see.

I oft heard it talk’d of, before I went there,
By old ancient people, who took every care,
The place could describe, and to tell it to me,
And give it a place in my work, which you’ll see.

But oh! now to think upon the hand of time,
Since that noble edifice was in its prime –
How it has cut down and moulder’d away,
Those noble, fine buildings, and gone to decay.

The remains of the walls are all mantled o’er
With ivy so green, at that ancient Portmore;
But ‘tis kept in memory, that fine, pleasant place,
Where there once liv’d a lord of a noble race.

It is close to Lough beg * – you will find on its shores
That old, ancient place that is still call’d Portmore;
Near to Ballinderry this place it doth lie;
A more pleasant country you could not espy.

For fine fruitful orchards, and plantings so grand
The Marquis of Hertford inherits that land.
For wheat, and for oats, there’s nought could it surpass
And also abundance of clover and grass.

With milk and with honey the place does abound –
The truth I do tell – I do write what is sound.
The next place I mention, they call it Laloo,
Lies hard by Portmore, and from it you can view

That old ancient church, and whose walls still do stand
And fine burying-ground for those in that land.
Who, wise to lie there, when their life it is fled,
And here be no more, but to sleep with the dead.

In the winter season it is surrounded o’er.
When floods they do swell all around by Portmore;
So that when a funeral doth go to the place,
I often have known it then to be the case.

That the corpse was ferried o’er to get there,
To a fine rising ground – interr’d there they were,
And there to remain until the judgement day,
And wait on the word, now, rise, come away.

* Loughbeg is a small lake about a mile distant from Lough Neagh, about four miles in circumference, and communicates by river that runs between them.

Along the way between Lurgan and the town of Antrim

The following is an extract from "Original Poems, sacred, moral elegiac" by William Anderson, English Teacher, 2nd volume MDCCCXLI (1841). Thanks to the staff at The Linenhall Library, Belfast for their assistance in relation to sourcing this book.

On the author travelling along the way between Lurgan and the town of Antrim

From Lurgan town I chanced to go
A journey unto Antrim town:-
Believe me, what I say is so, –
No finer country’s to be found.

For, as I passed along that way,
I had a fine prospective view
Of hill and dale; I now do say,
The country was to me quite new.

I only was a stranger there,
When I along that way did pass,
In summer time, could not forbear
To notice what fine corn and grass

Within the fields of that fine land –
As fine a crop as ever grew,
With plantings fine on every hand,
Appeared quite pleasing to my view.

The pasture- fields were mantled o’er
With grass so green and daisies bright;
Those rural scenes were more and more
Attractive still unto the sight.

But what I now have more to say,
In passing on along that line,
It sometimes caused me to delay,
To view the handsome dwellings fine.

Of farmers’ houses, neat and clean,
Respectable, and very grand,
‘Tis quite a pleasing lovely scene,-
Serve to embellish that fine land.

A land so fertile, and so good,
To equal it ‘tis very rare;
For wheat and oats, ‘tis understood,
That none with it is to compare.

Besides all that, no other place
In Irish ground, that you would see,
Could yet compare – it is the case –
With orchards fine, abundantly.

The fruit it is so good and fine,
Of various kinds that are so nice,
Those at a distance do incline
To buy those fruits at a good price.

And with them, they do cross the sea,
To other parts, as I am told;
They, for their pains, rewarded be,
When their fine fruit they have it sold.

Those fruits I need not mention here,
Nor to describes the various kind,
But what is common, say not dear,
As in that place you there will find.

Oh, what a fine and pleasant view,
To Westward, as I passed along!
To me, indeed, it was quite new –
I to that place did not belong.

Lough Neagh it to the left does lie,
Lough Beg another lake bear to, –
It is but small, it is close by
The larger lake which I did view.

In miles extend ‘bout twenty-four;
Its breadth is twelve, they tell to me;
From Western to the Eastern shore,
Lough Neagh would mind you of the sea.

In it there is an island grand,-
It is renowned for its fame;
Great numbers there they oft do land-
Ram’s Island it is called by name.

‘Tis two miles distant from the shore,
Unto that island of which I speak;
Some go to it health to restore,
And some for pleasure they do seek.

In it there is a building fine,
To ‘commodate those that so call;
Fine walks and flowers do combine
To please the minds of great and small.

The Derry mountains I did spy
Along, as I did pass that way;
Slievegullen, with its summit high,
I saw it plain most of the way.

Some handsome villages I passed through –
Namely, that place called Aughalee;
As I did on my way pursue,
It was quite pleasant unto me.

The next place, then, of any note,
Was Ballinderry – there I came;
‘Tis a fine place, tis’ not remote,-
I found it was of ancient fame.

Fine handsome buildings I saw there,
Fine shops and stores I there did spy;
The people to them do repair,
For every article they do buy.

The finest orchard in that place,
Is close by it, that building rare;
The distance but a little space
From off the building I saw there.

A fine Moravian Chapel there,
And Preacher’s house so neat and grand;
The people thither do repair,
Their duty then to understand.

And hear the Word of God explained –
The Scriptures good that they might know
Religion they have n’er disdained,
Lest it should prove their overthrow.

For we should still to it adhere, –
Be always ready at the call;
Then there is nothing we should fear,
But in peace and love with all.

A School-house, also, in that place,
For male and female children there,
To teach them good, and give them grace,
For which the youth they all repair.

Into Glenavy then did come –
An ancient village on my way;
The buildings few, yet there are some,
But almost are gone to decay.

The church is handsome, steeple grand;
It is adorned with clock and bell –
Low in a valley it does stand –
The hours that pass does truly tell.

Then straight to Crumlin I did go –
A village handsome to the view;
‘Tis most delightful, it is so,
When I my thoughts on it renew.

Some buildings there are fine and neat,
But most of them they are but low;
But, at the same time, are complete,-
In them there’s comfort, I do know.

Two Meeting-houses are in that town,
For Presbyterians, so direct;
They’re neatly built, and of renown:
Their Clergy they do much respect.

Beside, a School-house there, most grand-
It is for those of every sect;
Unto the village nigh at hand.
Instruction there is given direct.

There is a fine dispensary
Established in that small town,
Where medicine is got quite free,-
A doctor there to serve it round.

He is a gentleman of skill,
In which, indeed, it is well known;
His patients they do love him still,
Which every one of them do own.

Hard by that village, there does stand
Glenoak, a famous ancient seat;
It does adorn that fertile land –
That building fine, and very neat.

There are other buildings near the place;
But it would trespass on the time:
I find that it would be the case –
I’ll not be guilty of that crime.

Thus to describe them, one and all,
No farther here I will pursue;
Perhaps, again, that I may call,
And write you something that is new.

I straight set off for Antrim town;
The country, as I went along,
Was a fine rich and fertile ground,-
The people there were very throng –

At their employment, what it may:
Their labour was of different kind;
As in this world, where we do stray,
There’s divers work, of divers kind.

I now in Antrim did arrive,
A town both ancient and of fame;
In trade the people there do thrive;-
Industry good will do the same.

An ancient castle in that place –
A noble Lord does in it dwell;
He’s of a noble ancient race,
As many here do know full well.

So, I am at my journey’s end,
No farther here I mean to go;
My mind can hardly comprehend
These true remarks, I find it so.

I now did say my journey’s end,
Which, with man’s life, we may compare,-
We often here have to contend
With sorrow, trouble, anguish, care, –

Until, at once, we’re called away,
And taken out of this world’s din,
No longer in it then to stay –
No longer live in guilt and sin.

The following is an extract from "Diocese of Down & Connor Ancient and Modern, Volume 2" 1880 by Rev. J. O’Laverty P.P.M.R.I.A.

In the town land of Ballinderry (Baile-an-doire, "the town of the oak wood"), near the border of Portmore Lough, there is a hill on which are a grave-yard, and the ruins of Ballinderry Church. In the Taxation of Pope Nicholas, Ecclesia de Derbi is valued at 8s. This church was a mensal belonging to the bishop. The Terrier enters:- "Ecclesia de Ballinderrie, in Kilultagh, one mensal, both spirituals and temporals; the vicar pays in proxies, 6s. 8d.; refections, 6s.8d.; synodals, 2s." It also enters among the See-lands – "In Ballinderrie Mannor, six townes, spiritualities and temporalities," held by "Sir Foulke," as tenant under the See. In 1622, the Protestant bishop returns: – "Ballinderry ruinous. The Bp.’s mensal, but possessed by Sir Foulke Conway, Knight." The rectorial tithes continued in the possession of the representatives of Sir Foulke, until the Disestablishment, and the lands have been completely merged in their estate. In the graveyard, there are two Holy-water stoups, merely basins hollowed in coarse black stones. The Catholics of the neighbourhood formerly performed penitential stations around this graveyard. The church is popularly know by the name of Laloo. The Rev. Richard McLogan, P.P., Glenavy, and the Rev, Richard McLogan, P.P., Saintfield, who were natives of this parish, are interred in the graveyard. An inscription, commemorating the latter, is inscribed on the grave stone (see Parish of Saintfield). There is also a grave-stone commemorative of an apostate priest:- "Rev. Bernard O’Doran, late vicar of Killead, who departed this life on the 16th October, 1815." The records of the County Antrim Grand Jury, which are preserved in the Secretary’s Office, Co. Court House, Belfast show that O’Doran received from the rate payers, as "a Conformist Priest," a salary of £40 per annum, from 1778 till 1800, under an Act of Parliament, which rewarded in this manner, any priest who became a Protestant.

The following is an extract from "Glenavy The Church of the Dwarf 1868 – 1968" by Rev. Patrick J. Kavanagh.


In O’Laverty’s history of the parish of Cushendall, it is told that a young priest named Bernard O’Doran was appointed there in 1771. In 1773 he was suspended and though he appealed against this sentence and promised to do penance, he apostasised. The records of the County of Antrim, preserved in the Office of the Secretary of the Grand Jury show that O’Doran as a "Conformist Priest," received £40 per annum from 1778 until 1800. Finn’s Leinster Journal (Arch. Hib. vol. XVII) has this entry: "2 Feby 1774: On Sunday (30) last, the Rev. Bernard O’Doran late priest of the parish of Laid and Ardclinis, in the diocese of Connor, renounced the Popish communion and embraced the Protestant religion before the Rev. William Preston in the parish of Belfast." An entry in the Freeman’s Journal shows that in July 1774, "John Karr, Templepatrick, read his recantation … and embraced the Protestant religion before the Rev. Bernard O’Doran in the parish church of Dunigmore."

The only reason for mentioning this sad story is that he was appointed Vicar of Killead by the Earl of Massareene in 1801 and so was a resident in the parish for around 14 years, and a continual and scandalous reminder to the Catholics of the area of human weakness. Monsignor O’Laverty is almost certainly incorrect in stating that O’Doran was born in Lower Mourne. There is a local tradition that he was a native of Ballinderry, or perhaps from near Trummery which borders on Aghagallon parish. Among the names of the subscribers to Crawford’s "History of Ireland" (published 1783) there appears «Rev. Bernard Doran, Trummery.» Between his departure from Cushendall and his appointment to Killead he was probably living with relatives around his native place. The fact that he is buried at Laloo and not at Killead would further confirm the place of his origin. Another tradition has it that the lady who called herself his wife was a Miss Hunter of Antrim, "a lady of means."

Some years ago the large tombstone towards the west wall of the old church of Laloo fell and was cracked. It now lies against the ruined gable, and reads "Sacred to the memory of the Revd. Bernard O’Doran late Vicar of Killead who departed this life on the 16th October 1815. This stone is erected as a small tribute of affection by his son James Doran, also Susanna relict of the above, aged 81 years, Obit 2nd Feby 1837; also James Doran, son of the above, late Captain in the 59th Regt. Aged 51 years. Obiit 17 Jany, 1842."

Laloo graveyard is one of the most peaceful places in Ireland. On a spring day it echoes with bird song and smells of primrose and white-thorn. I never stand by O’Doran’s grave but I recall the old Irish verses:

Fill, fill, a rún 6,
Fill, a rún ó, is ná himigh uaim
Fill orm, a chuisle is a stór.
Agus chifidh tú an ghlór má fhilleann tú.

(Come back, come back, my dear one Come back, my dear one
And don’t go from me.
Come back to me, my pulse, my treasure,

And the glory will be yours on returning).

Fr. McLogan was succeeded in Glenavy by Fr. James Killen, a native of Cluntagh, Tyrella. He was ordained by Dr. MacCartan at Seaforde about 1761 and became P.P. of Kilmore in 1768. He was appointed to Lower Ards in 1780 and to Glenavy in 1783. He resigned this parish about 1786 and died 13 years later in Kilmore, being buried at Bright. After he left Glenavy, Fr. O’Hanlon was there for about a year, but whether as P.P. or administrator we cannot tell.

Naturalists’ Field Club Excursion

The following extract is from the Lisburn Standard dated Friday 31st August 1917.

Naturalists’ Field Club
Excursion to Ballinderry and Portmore.

The above club had the final excursion of the season on Saturday last, under the conductorship of Mr. S.M. Macoun, the places visited being Ballinderry and Portmore. Travelling in brakes, the party halted at "Jeremy Taylor’s Church," where Mr. N.H. Foster described the settlement of the district by the English under Lord Conway, who built a castle on the site of the older O’Neill structure. Jeremy Taylor settled here at the invitation of Lord Conway in 1658. Consecrated Bishop of Dromore in 1661, he died on 13th August 1667. The old church, restored about 20 years ago under the supervision of W J Fennell, is interesting as one of the few remaining Jacobean churches in Ireland, After inspecting the church the members drove to Lower Ballinderry Corner, whence a walk of about half a mile led to the ruins of the old church of Portmore. Here the members scattered to follow their various pursuits till four o’clock, when tea was served in the schoolroom, the catering being in the hands of Ye Olde castle. Afterwards a business meeting was held, at which Mr. A. M.I. Cleland announced that the average attendance at the excursions during the season had been about 50. On the return journey the Tansey Road was taken through Killultagh and past Stoneyford to Castle Robin, where a fifteen minutes’ halt was allowed. From here the party admired the Lagan valley spread beneath them, whilst inspecting the somewhat meagre ruins of the castle. The drive to Belfast was then resumed.

Headstone Inscriptions

The following extract is taken from "The Journal of Memorials of The Dead 1922".

In this extract some of the headstone inscriptions have been recorded.

Portmore Burying ground from Mr. W.F. Reynolds

Here lyeth the body of Con Davey who departed this life the 4th of March 1766 aged 77 years.

Here lyeth the body of Elisabeth wife of John Crossy who departed this life Septr. 15th 1738 aged 38 years.

I.H.S. Here lyeth the body of Patrick Crossey who departed this life March the 6th 1801 aged 61 years.

Here lyeth the body of Enies Clark who departed this life the 5th of May 1717.

Here lyeth the body of Henry McKaven who departed ye 23rd of May 1723 aged 26 years. Also Dennis McKaven who departed this life 18th of June 1730 aged 28 years.

I.N. & R.I.
Erected by Patk. Breedin in memory of his father and mother Patrick and Mary Breedin. Patk. Departed this life March the 5th 1720 aged 70 years. Mary departed this life March the second 1750 aged 65 years.
(remainder of this inscription is below ground level)

William Harbison, the Fenian Uprising and Portmore
by The Digger

William Harbison

William Harbison , a native of Ballinderry, who died in jail on 9th September, 1867. He is buried at Laa Lou, Portmore, Ballinderry.

The late 1850s saw the formation of a Fenian movement which had membership in countries including America, Ireland and mainland Britain and sought to bring about independence in Ireland using force. It attracted members from all walks of life including soldiers and civil servants, all of whom took an oath of secrecy.

In 1861, when the Civil war broke out in the United States, many in the movement joined up for military service, gaining valuable skills which they intended to utilise in a rising in Ireland. After the civil war ended in 1865 veterans began to arrive back in Ireland. In September that year several of the leaders were arrested. Veterans returning to these shores who had military service in the United States were viewed with suspicion. Locally, the arrest took place of a man called John McDonald in September 1865 in Hillsborough. It was reported he had been dressed in the uniform of the American Federal army – light blue trousers, dark blue serge coat with brass army buttons displaying the American Eagle, stars and stripes. He appeared before Hillsborough Petty Sessions several days later. He had in his possession discharge papers and certificates from “Baldwin’s Regiment of Ohio Volunteers” in which he had served for two years. He was questioned about comments he was alleged to have made about the Fenian movement. The Magistrates, having heard all the evidence, released him.


Death Notice — Mr John Reid

The following is an extract from the Belfast Newsletter dated 10th May 1926, and is reproduced with permission of the Belfast Newsletter.


Reid – May 8 1926 at his residence Portmore, Ballinderry, County Antrim, John Reid, Cattle dealer, husband of Mary Reid – RIP. Funeral from his late residence to the family burying ground at the Old Churchyard, Ballinderry, today (Monday) at 3 o’clock. Deeply regretted.

Felled Trees damage graveyard

The following is an extract from the Lisburn Standard dated Friday May 30th 1947

Portmore Graveyard

Mr. Arnold referred to the recent discussion regarding the ownership of trees adjoining the Portmore Graveyard and said that since then the trees had been felled. The men who had undertaken the work, he said, had done it in a disgraceful manner, the trees being cut in such a fashion that some of the fencing round the graveyard had been broken down. The men went so far as to take a Jeep into the graveyard
To transport the trees away. The turning into it had been left in such a condition that it was almost impossible to get to the property. He thought the place should be inspected and the damage put right because the graveyard had been very badly abused.

It was unanimously decided that the engineer inspect the graveyard and the owner of the property involved instructed to clear up the cemetery and make good any damage committed.

The chairman added that it was a great pity that such a famous old graveyard should be desecrated in such a manner.

Caretaker for Portmore Graveyard

The following is an extract from the Lisburn Standard dated Friday August 29th 1948

Graveyard Caretaker

On the recommendation of the local committee, Samuel Carlisle, Lower Ballinderry, was appointed caretaker of Portmore Graveyard at a salary of £15 per annum.

General view of graveyard at Laa Lau, Ballinderry, County Antrim

General view of graveyard at
Laa Lau, Ballinderry, County Antrim

Laa Lau graveyard is well worth a visit. It is situated in a remote part of the countryside and in a tranquil setting. It is well worth a visit.

One headstone in the graveyard is a poignant reminder of a tragedy that took place in the area in 1981.

Jennifer Cardy, a nine year old girl, from the local area, was snatched as she was cycling to a friend’s home on August 12 1981. Her little red bike was discovered in a field beside a hedge, not far from her home. Her body was found six days later by two fishermen at McKee’s Dam a few miles away near Hillsborough, Co Down. The police investigated the murder and in 2005 they made an arrest and questioned a 58 year old man.

The Walls of La Loo

The Walls of La Loo

The Walls of La Loo

The following is taken from the Belfast Newsletter dated Friday March 4th 1988 and appears with permission of the Belfast Newsletter.

The Walls of La Loo

So far as Ballinderry, in Co. Antrim is concerned, I’m going to put the place out of my mind altogether for a while – after this. The story about pre-Reformation La Loo church and graveyard fascinated readers from all parts of the Province.

But some have expressed disappointment that I didn’t include a photograph of the remains of La Loo, as that would have completed for them "the picture in words that I painted."

OK then! Here it is, and though you can see only two Irish yews trees in the photograph, the gable ends of the church that became a ruin about 1660 are surrounded by these long-living conifers – dotted around the resting places of the forgotten dead.

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