From the pages of the Down Recorder, June 24, 2000

From the pages of the Down Recorder, June 24, 2000

24 June 2020

BALLYNAHINCH — Sectarianism in Ballynahinch is to be confronted head-on by a newly formed residents’ group.

Group members want to rid the market town of any negative image to ensure people from both sides of the town can live free of the kind of sectarian confrontations which have dogged the town.

The Hillcrest-Windmill Community Association, which draws its members from both sides of the religious divide, was formed recently and has already secured the backing of the town’s politicians and the statutory agencies.

It was formed in the wake of increasing weekend incidents in the Windmill Street area where rival gangs have been clashing after pub closing time, fighting and hurling sectarian abuse at each other.

There have been many violent scenes over the past few weeks and elderly residents living in the vicinity of the Windmill Street area have been afraid to go out of their homes at night.

Windmill Street has become a battleground for rival factions, but now the residents say they have had enough and have launched the new residents’ group with aim of cleaning up the area to enhance the overall image of the town.

DUNDRUM — A lone black swan spotted at Keel Point outside Dundrum last week may soon be returned to its rightful owner.

The mystery bird caused a stir in recent weeks following its unexpected arrival at the village, but the enigma surrounding its origins may soon be solved.

A local couple believe the swan may be theirs, claiming it is one of a pair which was given by the man to his wife as a Valentine’s gift.

The disappearance of both swans from their home outside Killyleagh was noted by the couple after they returned from a stay in England some weeks ago.

But the owners are convinced, by distinctive markings on the Dundrum arrival, that they have now found one of the errant pair. A second black swan has now been spotted in County Clare, the likely other half of the couple.

DOWNPATRICK – A lonely graveyard within the walls of Downshire Hospital in Downpatrick has been restored as a mark of respect for those interred in it over the last 130 years.

St Dympna’s graveyard was last used 40 years ago for patients who died in the hospital, often without family.

Their final resting place was only marked by a score on a stone wall enclosing the cemetery.

But members of Downpatrick Lions Club have now completed months of restoration to the graveyard, which will be rededicated to St Dympna in a special service on Sunday.

Skilled stone masons offered their help as the cemetery wall was restored to its original condition, while local business people dedicated trees, daffodil bulbs and a granite plaque to make the area an attractive resting place.

CASTLEWELLAN – Down Council chiefs have this week warned if vandalism continues at a Castlewellan playground the facility will be closed permanently.

They have also made it clear to teenagers in the town that their antisocial behaviour will no longer be tolerated in the vicinity of council facilities.

Details of the council’s no-nonsense approach to a series of problems which have dogged a playground at the Mourne Gardens area in the town were made public at last night’s monthly meeting of the local authority.

Council chiefs say they intend to press ahead with plans to relocate the playground to another part of the site and erect gates so the facility can be closed off at night to prevent local youths using it as a meeting place and vandalising play equipment.

NEWCASTLE – Down Council this week began an ambitious process aimed at producing a ten-year development plan for the district.

In a unique move the council has given ratepayers an unprecedented say in the development of Down 2010, a plan to make sure that future needs are identified and planned for. The council has come together with the Down Partnership Board in a bid to produce what will be the district’s first ever fully integrated plan.

The process began in Newcastle on Monday when over 150 representatives of community and voluntary groups, statutory agencies, schools, local businesses and politicians were taken on a fact-finding tour of the district.

Three specially chartered buses took groups to all the villages and towns in the district where they heard at first hand the problems and suggestions of local people.

CROSSGAR – A Crossgar man had his work within the Northern Ireland pig industry honoured at the weekend, when he was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

Mr Hubert Gabbie, who lives on the Ballywillin Road, said he was “totally shocked” to receive notification that he was to be awarded the distinguished accolade.

“I was amazed when I found out, it is a real shock and an honour,” he said.

Mr Gabbie, who has a keen interest in various agricultural committees, associations and societies, currently holds some major titles within various bodies.

SAINTFIELD – Thousands of people flocked to Saintfield last week for a festival of pig racing and crazy capers in prams.

The town’s Main Street was a sea of colour as the pigs thrilled the huge crowd as they battled for position.

Meanwhile, the pram race was equally entertaining. The action was fast and furious and while there were a few close shaves along the way, accidents were few and far between.

Ian Dornan and Gary Crothers, alias the Brookvale Babes, won the men’s race, while in the ladies’ race, Grainne McMullan and Christine Rabbitt crossed the line ahead of the chasing pack.

Local councillor Robert Burgess has paid a glowing tribute to the organisers of the event, which formed part of the town’s millennium festival celebrations.

“The town was heaving at the seams and thousands of people were in Main Street to soak up an incredible atmosphere,” he said.

STRANGFORD – Down Council has unveiled plans to divert a long standing and recognised right-of-way in Strangford.

The path runs from an entrance off Castle Street called Squeeze Gut, through the De Ros estate and back out on to the Downpatrick Road.

But Down councillors were told at last night’s monthly meeting that the landowner wishes to create a path which would lead away from the existing right of way to a viewpoint at the edge of a wooded area on top of Compass Hill.

It was also confirmed last night that part of the new path would pass by a pond which would enhance the right of way.

Members of Strangford Village Committee have already been briefed about the plan and have given their approval to the change.

PORTAFERRY — The summer would not be the same without the popular Portaferry Gala.

New events and competitions are promised for the 34th festival which will run from July 15-21.

Craft stalls and treasure hunts, the long shovel race and the creative fancy dress wheelie bin competition are just some forms of planned entertainment.

A junior triathlon has also been introduced to this summer’s itinerary as has go kart racing, a 10-mile race and best kept garden competition.

Meanwhile, a busking competition guarantees music filled streets on the gala’s closing night.

CASTLEWARD – History will be recalled at the beginning of next month when the Vikings invade Castleward for a massive fun day.

An advance party landed at Castle Ward’s boat house on Friday, but the invaders’ real party is scheduled to take place on July 1.

Vikings will be out in force in full invasion regalia, complete with an authentic 35 foot longboat replica.

During the family day out, there will be a historic re-enactment of a pitched battle between the Viking invaders and local defenders, a children’s disco, bouncy castle and face painting.