Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Portavoe 1/12/08

Posted by Picasa

Some views around the reservoir at Portavoe, near Groomsport & Donaghadee.

I wonder what the people who lived in the house would think if they returned today and saw the dilapitated state of it, and the lake pooling around their front door?

I'm sure that there used to be many such houses around this area, but they've been dismantled and the foundations ploughed back into the fields. There was even a national school on the coast road near here; no trace of it remains.

These days, there are large farms covering many acres in the district, run by a single farming family. However, back in the 19th Century there was a thriving community at Portavoe. Most of the inhabitants were tenant farmers, scratching a living from the land and paying rent to a landlord. The Ker family of Portavoe lived in the 'Big House' next to the reservoir, though the latter is manmade and dates from sometime in the later 20th century.

Whether the Kers are still there I cannot say; I know there is a Portavoe house in the land adjacent where these pictures were taken, but I have never seen it & know not who lives there. There is a massive book called 'Portavoe' in Bangor library that I must read; it is a comprehensive history of the area.

There's some information about them in the Northern Ireland Record Office:

The family is descended from David Ker, a merchant of Ballymena, Co. Antrim, who
had taken a lease of the first fall on Sir Robert Adair's mill-race at Ballymena, c.1710.
He married Jean Boyd of Clontfinnan near Clough, Co. Antrim, and had a family of
eleven children of whom three were prominent merchants: William in Ballymena,
Hugh in Dublin, and David in London. David Ker settled in London and traded at
Cateaton Street, first as Ker & Elmes, then after 1755 as Ker, Elmes & Priest, and
later after 1758 as David Ker & Co. In 1765 he purchased the Portavoe estate near
Groomsport, in the Ards. He died in 1770 and was succeeded by his son, David,
during whose lifetime the firm traded as Ker, Pope & Dyson and later as Ker,
Brookland & Priest.

Anyway, the tenant families were often large, and only the eldest son could inherit the land. Many younger sons and daughters had to emigrate or move to the towns and cities. There wasn't the land to go round.

1 comment:

vanishing point said...

How come I didn't bump into you yesterday - I walked through portavo on the way to Donaghadee and from the look of the sun in those pictures it would have been around the same time.

Small world.