MEMBERS of Ballywillan Men’s Fellowship were delighted to welcome yet another distinguished speaker as guest at their weekly meeting in Ballywillan Presbyterian Church Hall, Portrush.
The well-known local historian Alex Blair took as his subject the remarkable Rev. James Brown Armour of Ballymoney, one of the most prominent political figures in North Antrim at the turn of the 20th century.
Mr. Armour was minister of Second Ballymoney (later Trinity) Presbyterian Church from 1869 to 1925 and an enthusiastic supporter of the Tenant Right Campaign which successfully culminated in 1881 with the Government allowing farm tenants to become owner-occupiers of the land they worked.
It was a popular campaign, unlike Mr. Armour’s other passion – Home Rule for Ireland – which he actively and vociferously supported despite his Protestant and Unionist background.
Loved and respected by the people of the area as a diligent and faithful pastor, he was none the less at odds with most of the members of his congregation, not to mention the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, which had little more than a dozen Home Rule supporters.
Mr. Blair painted a vivid picture of Rev. Armour and the times in which he lived, displaying a huge knowledge of a man who was a hero to some, a traitor to others, but who drew huge respect from both sides of the political community and was one of the few people for whom the Catholic chapel bell in Ballymoney was rung during his funeral.
The many questions put to Mr. Blair after his enthralling talk was an indication of the interest he had aroused. He was warmly thanked by the Fellowship president Dr. Michael Gardiner.
Speaker at this week’s meeting will be Mr. Hugh Hamill who will be offering “Visions of Singapore”.
It promises to be another interesting morning.
Ballywillan Men’s Fellowship meets each Thursday at 10.30am in the Link at Ballywillan Presbyterian Church Hall, with talks in the adjacent Octagon following half an hour of coffee and chat.