Eisenhower and the Bishopscourt link now revealed

Eisenhower and the Bishopscourt link now revealed

24 November 2021

THE latest edition of the Lecale Review begins with the unexpected arrival of the future 34th President of the United States at Bishopscourt at the end of the Second World War.

It was August 23 in 1945 when General Dwight Eisenhower, commander in chief of Allied forces in western Europe, and his entourage landed unexpectedly at the local airfield due to fog problems at Nutt’s Corner, near Belfast.

Written by Colm Rooney, the story of how Eisenhower came to visit Belfast to receive the Freedom of the City honour is just one of the fascinating stories in the annual publication.

Compiled by the Lecale and Downe Historical Society, this year’s journal was unveiled at Inch Community Hall, outside Downpatrick, last Saturday.

Despite yet another lockdown at the beginning of the year due to Covid-19, the editorial committee has once again managed to put together another gem.

Frances Bailey provides a detailed account of Mary Ward — who lived with her family in the splendour of Castle Ward near Strangford — and her life and work as pioneering microscopist, writer and astronomer.

The story of one of Downpatrick’s first pharmacists — then known as an apothecary — is told by William Stranney and how a 14 year-old Roden Johnston left home to start an apprenticeship and ended up running an apothecary in Irish Street for 50 years.

Mike King, assistant director of Down County Museum, writes about the former Ballykinlar army hut which has been rebuilt at the museum as the centre piece of a fascinating history project.

The hut was one of many which provided accommodation for soldiers being trained to serve in the First World War. It was also used to house prisoners during the Irish War of Independence and prisoners and refugees during the Second World War.

Mike tells how personal belongings such as mugs, draughts sets, mementoes and letters were found when the last of the huts were dismantled. 

One of the main characters told from artefacts found was World War one soldier James Hughes from Belfast and his story can also be found at the museum.

Elsewhere, a poignant personal story is told by Lenore Rea, whose portrait was painted by a German prisoner of war. She visited the camp as a camp with her father, Ernest McKibben, who was resident engineer during the Second World War. 

Robert Trotter gives an insight into the life and times of Downshire family and their links with Dundrum, while Berkley Farr looks at the changing face of Downpatrick down the years.

Get your copy of the Lecale Review, priced at £8, from Downpatrick Post Office, Down County Museum. St Patrick Centre, Kevin Og's, Strangford, and Kingfisher Crafts, Killyleagh. For further stockists visit the society’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/LecaleHistory.