Autumn Outing 2016 – History Walking Tour of Portrush

On Saturday 15 October the OGA had its autumn outing to Portrush to take a guided tour with Nina McNeary, who was involved with a local heritage project studying the history of the town and its population around the time of the First World War.Nina was very informative, giving a view of life in Portrush at the time for those involved in the tourist industry and those visiting the town for their holidays.We learnt about the international staff working in the famous Northern Counties Hotel, about the impact on them and the locals when war took its toll.There was a realisation of just how many lives had been lost from the local population, when we visited the War Memorial in front of the Town Hall.

The turbulent times in Ireland pre-partition, during the Home Rule crisis and the Easter Rising were also put into context for Portrush with a discussion at the Harbour about the gun-running going on before the war, utilising the local steam boats.We also learnt about the U boats patrolling the sea between the North Coast and Rathlin Island and the debris from mines still washing up on shore today.

We were also interested in the lives of women at the time, hearing about the Suffrage movement and how different times were then – when the women were not allowed to bathe in the Blue Pool, which was solely for the men of the time.A nice snippet of information came from a Coleraine Chronicle report, where the Blue Pool attendant was concerned that his takings would be adversely affected by the women protesting and heckling the male bathers from the rocks around the pool!

Thanks to Nina who guided us round the town on a chilly, but dry morning ending before the rain arrived with some refreshments in KoKo and some more interesting discussions around our table about life and times in Portrush 100 years ago.