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Collection of axe-heads and scraper

Brockley. Tese sites can only be visited with permis- sion from the owner. Porcellanite axes made from a vol- canic plug were made here by

Neolithic man and exported all over the United Kingdom and Ireland. Tey were mainly used for clearing forests. Such was the demand for axes that Rathlin established a flourishing trade. Ships from as far away as Crete called. Te occasional axe head is still unearthed during plough- ing. Richard and Angela Green, who live and farm at Brockley delighted in showing me their collection of axe heads. Earlier I mentioned that there were no badgers on Rathlin. Te strange thing is that brock is another word for badger which makes me wonder if they did exist on the island in some earlier time. Te clachan hidden behind the Green’s modern house was not quite what I had expected. It appeared more Victorian rather than the older cottages described by Estyn Evans in his article on the traditional houses of Rathlin. Here he refers to the older cottages as being of


lower class and, with few exceptions, wretched in appear- ance. Tey were mostly one storey with a thatched roof and walls of stone with little mortar. Tey housed, on average, a family of five. Frequently there was no chim- ney, causing asthma and diseases of the eye due to the sulphurous smoke circulating in the cabin. People living under those conditions had very dark complexions even to the point of looking mixed race. At one time there were one to four clachans in each townland and none of the cottages whitewashed. Most of these older dwellings have long since been abandoned though some have been incorporated into modern homes. Te ground rises again at Cleggan. I’ve been told this

stretch of road is called ‘Dream’, a local pronunciation of the Irish word drum, meaning hill. People here would say they are walking ‘up’ to the lower end of the island when in fact they are going downhill. Confused? But then that’s the charm of the place. In spring and early summer the most delightful primrose specimens can be seen in shady ditches along this stretch. Rathlin is one of the few places where corncrakes, some- times referred to as landrails, visit and hopefully breed. Corncrakes only live for about five years, they may have two broods per season and lay as many as eight to twelve eggs. Te young are mature enough to breed the follow- ing season on return from the Mediterranean and Africa. Now that they are an endangered species these birds get a good press compared to years ago. As a young boy living close to the Bog Meadows in Belfast, there were those

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