From the pages of the Down Recorder, April 10, 1979

From the pages of the Down Recorder, April 10, 1979

10 April 2019

MOURNES — A full-scale operation was launched on Monday to bring 33 frightened schoolchildren down to safety from the blizzard-swept Mourne Mountains.

Amid blinding snow and freezing mist, two local rescue teams struggled to reach three parties of children who got into difficulties when preparing for the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme.

The Mourne Rescue Team, led by Mr Teddy Hawkins, set out to rescue two of the parties and a team from Ardnabannon Outdoor Pursuit Centre went out to help the third party.

The rescue drama began when three young climbers scrambled down from the Mournes and telephoned Newcastle police with the news that a 14 year-old girl had collapsed at Millstone Mountain on Donard.

When the Mourne team arrived the girl, suffering from exposure, had already been put into a sleeping bag and bivouac by her colleagues. She was put on to a stretcher and whisked to safety to a police Land Rover waiting in a forest track.

The other schoolchildren in the party were soon brought down to safety by Mr Hawkins’ team and were given a change of clothing and a cup of tea at Newcastle police station.

The second stranded group were rescued from the Commedagh area above Tollymore Forest. Two members of the party managed to make their way to Tollymore Mountain Centre to report that a 14 year-old girl had collapsed with exposure. She was brought down to a rescue vehicle by the others in her group and they were all taken to safety in a minibus.

The Ardnabannon team handled the third rescue operation when children got into trouble at Luke’s Mountain. A 14 year-old boy collapsed and a teacher who was with the party carried him on his back to meet the team.

After the rescue operation was completed Mr Hawkins warned that a serious accident could occur if young people continue to camp out in the Mournes during severe weather conditions.

DOWNPATRICK — A Downpatrick couple had to escape through an upstairs window using a ladder when their house caught fire on Sunday afternoon.

Mr and Mrs S McKeown, of Pegasus Walk, made their escape after they discovered their house was on fire at around 4pm. Local firemen were called to the scene and using breathing apparatus confined the damage to the living room. Damage to this area was extensive.

Later in the evening firemen were called to Major Corbett’s home at Tyrella and had to remove the fireplace to prevent further damage. On Friday they had to attend a chimney fire at the home of Mr Sean Quinn, Pemberton Park, Downpatrick.

BALLYNAHINCH — The Earl of Clanwilliam’s mansion and 500-acre Montalto estate at Ballynahinch have been bought by a Belfast partnership for well over £1 million within three weeks of the property being put on the market. The partners are two large and long established private companies, James P Corry & Co Ltd, the noted timber merchants and builders suppliers, and John Hogg & Co Ltd, Ulster’s biggest flax merchants. Both firms have extensive involvements in the agricultural industry.

Public reaction to the sale is cheerful as Montalto will continue to be run as an agricultural enterprise and will not be stripped of any of its assets.

The future of the mansion will be carefully considered by the new owners. They have bought the whole estate so that they can control everything that happens and they are anxious that nothing is ruined or destroyed. The estate workers have been offered continuity of employment.

Both firms clearly recognise the esteem in which the Clanwilliam family and the property are held and they aim to preserve the traditions and attaching goodwill.

Lord Clanwilliam will be remaining in residence for some months until he acquires a home in England. He and Lady Clanwilliam are moving to be nearer their six daughters.

According to the agents, Brown, McConnell & Co, the fairly quick sale is the result of “very competitive bidding after a colossal display of interest.”

NEWCASTLE — The death-defying International Nile Canoe Expedition — which included 23 year-old Newcastle man Marcus Baillie — has returned home triumphant.

The team, which set out last October to start one of the longest journeys ever made by canoe — 3,000 miles down the River Nile — has successfully completed the mission.

The team faced torrential rapids, dangerous wild animals, swamps and deserts, as well as an unexpected tumbling block when at 2,900 miles into the trip they were refused permission to continue through a military zone in Egypt.

Marcus said: “We had been unofficially assured that there were no military installations of national importance in the area, but in a country where every bridge is classed as a military zone and guarded accordingly with armed guards 

and spotlights, it is not surprising that the authorities were a bit touchy.”

DROMARA — Nineteen year-old Christine Brown, from Dromara, has just completed a unique family record by carrying off the Co Down Dairy Princess title. Last year Christine’s elder sister was voted the county’s dairy princess.

On Friday night in the Millbrook Lodge Hotel, Ballynahinch, Christine completed the double when she was nominated to represent the county at this year’s Ulster Dairy Queen competition.

Christine, an active member of Spa YFC, is a student nurse in the Royal Victoria Hospital. She holds the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award and is a sub-officer in a local Girls’ Brigade company.

KILLYLEAGH — If the one-day festival of family fun in Killyleagh is to be a smash hit this year then the public meeting called for April 24 must attract a large groundswell of public opinion in the area.

The public meeting is being organised by Killyleagh, Shrigley and District Town Committee and the festival is due to take place in June.

The Town Committee chairman, Mr Winston Maguire, said: “We hope to make it bigger and better than last year’s.”

DUNDRUM — There was a large attendance at Dundrum Development Committee’s annual meeting earlier this week.

It has been the purpose of the committee over the past 20 years to further the interests in Dundrum and district in every way and to promote the welfare of the area with the assistance of local government and public authorities.

A spokesman for the newly-elected committee said afterwards that the committee have set two targets for the incoming year. One is the improvement of footpaths and road services and the other is a children’s play area.

“Dundrum is one of the few villages without a playground for children,” he said. “An area close to the beach has been earmarked as a picnic and play area and the committee are going to seek the help of local councillors to push forward this project.

BARNAMAGHERY — Wellington Memorial Silver Band from Barnamaghery, near Crossgar, took first place in the junior section of the Brass Band League of Northern Ireland annual spring contest at the weekend.

The band, since they came under the baton of Ken Brown from Comber, have improved steadily with an ever increasing membership. Last year they attained second place in the same competition and also gained a second place in the North of Ireland Band Association contest.

SPECIAL OLYMPICS — Children at Knockevin School in Downpatrick have been picked for the Northern Ireland Special Olympics team.

They are John McGreevy, Sean McClelland, Stephen Dickson, Janet Moore, Catherine Duignan and Kathleen Sheppard and will go to Gormanstown, Co Dublin, next Friday to take part in swimming and athletic events in the national finals.

SOCCER — Three Downpatrick teenagers are set for the holiday of a lifetime when they go to South America on a soccer tour in September.

The lucky trio, who are attending University College, Dublin, are 18 year-old Brian Deeny, 18 year-old Gerard O’Reilly and 19 year-old Anthony Evans. The tour is being made by UCD Freshers soccer team.