One of the photographs in the Belfast Boxing Ring exhibition caught my attention and it was not so much becasue of the boxing but rather because of a name. The Magill family from Meetinghouse produced several boxers who were also members of the RIC and the RUC. The story of the Magill family will be told in a book by Paul Magill which is due out later in the year but where is Meetinghouse? Paul explained to me that Meetinghouse is the old name for Cairncastle.
The origin of the Old Meeting House or Presbyterian Church in Cairncastle goes back to the 17th century and of course in the past a Presbyterian chruch was known as a Meeting House. The first minister was Patrick Adair, who arrived there in 1646, just four years after the first presbytery was organised in 1642. He was prominent in Ulster Presbyerianism as a pastor, a negotiator and the first historian of Presbyterianism in Ulster. Is this Old Meeting House the reason why Cairncastle was called Meetinghouse?
The name has also been taken by the local public house, which was known as The Meeting House and more recently as Mattie's Meeting House. According to the website of the bar it is said that at one time the judge had his 'court sitting' in the bar and that this was origin of the name of the public house.
So did the church give the name to the hamlet? How did the public house get its name? Did the public house give the name to the hamlet or the hamlet give the name to the public house?