Sunday, 23 May 2010

Sentry Hill

Yesterday afternoon I visited Sentry Hill, which was for many years the home of the McKinney family.  It is owned by Newtownabbey Council and is described as the History House.  The McKinneys were originally called McKenzie and they came to Ulster from Scotland after the 1715 rebellion led by James Stuart, the 'Old Pretender'..

The McKinneys settled in the Carnmoney area, a thoroughly Ulster-Scots community, and the history of the family illustrates much of the history of that Ulster-Scots community in east Ulster, with stories of emigration, Presbyterianism, the 1859 revival, a Liberal tradition that gave birth to Liberal Unionism,  and the loss of a son at the Somme in 1916. 

I would ertainly recommend a visit to Sentry Hill as a way of learning more about our history and a way of spending a very pleasant afternoon.

As we were leaving I went into the reource room and came across a history of Ballycraigy Congregational Church.  This contains the following quote from the report of the Irish Evangelical Society for 1853 - 'The district of Ballycraigy was first occupied and a chapel built through the efforts of the Haldane brothers of Scotland.'  They were followed by another Scottish preacher named Douglas, who preached in the open-air in 1804 and 1805 and drew large congregations.

Robert Haldane
The Haldane brothers, Robert Haldane (1764-1832) and James Alexander Haldane (1768-1851), were the sons of Captain James Haldane of Airthrey House in Stirlingshire.  They were thoroughly evangelical and fervently evangelistic and their opposition to the established Church of Scotland led to the formation a Congregationalist church in Edinburgh in 1799.  They were leading figures in Scottish Congregationalism but they also came over to preach in Ulster and Ballycraigy is one of the fruits of their labours. 

Many people imagine that the Scottish influence on religion in Ulster was restricted to Presbyterianism but in fact it was much wider than that.  The Scottish influence on Congregationalism is but one example of that wder influence and other examples include the Faith Mission, which was born in Scotland but has a strong presence in Ulster, and Scottish evangelists such as Seth Sykes, who were regular visitors to Ulster.

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