An 1874 account of the Giant’s Causeway and Carrick-a-Rede

The Salmon People Illustrations
23rd March 2020
Dear Diary… Recording Life in the Age of Covid-19
6th April 2020

An 1874 account of the Giant’s Causeway and Carrick-a-Rede

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History Group of the Holywood District U3A


History Group of the Holywood District U3A


24th March 2020

The History Group of the Holywood District University of the Third Age (U3A) recently received a donation of material from the Finlay family – previous owners of the famous Belfast soap and candle factory which, at one time, supplied candles to Harland and Wolff and exported soap to several continents.

Among the papers was a little pocketbook containing a pencil-written diary written over the summer of 1874. The author is, so far, not identified, but was clearly a young girl, maybe in her very early teens. Robin Masefield of the History Group suspects that she was probably not a Finlay by birth, but was perhaps a cousin.

On the 29th of August 1874, the diary records a trip to the Giant’s Causeway and Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. You can read the pages in full by clicking on the images below.

Aug 29. We drove to the Giant’s Causeway also Charlotte Moore. We picnicked on the grass, and afterwards went to the wishing chair, I wished for a carriage & pair. At the wishing well James wished to have a nice young wife & I wished to be married. I bought some views [post cards?] at the Giant’s Causeway.

We then drove to Carrick a Rede to see the wonderful hanging bridge. Near the village of Ballintoy is the wonderful hanging bridge of Carrick a Rede. A projecting headland has become divided by a terrific rent 40 feet across with a depth of 80. The bridge consists of two ropes across the chasm supporting planks a foot wide. Across this frail bridge at this giddy elevation, with no other aid than that of a light hand rope, the peasantry pass with confidence and rapidity. 

The History Group is pro-actively taking advantage of this period of social distancing and self-isolation to read and research the Finlay papers more fully. We very much look forward to hearing about their findings.