A romantic story of determined young people
AS the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Ulster Covenant approaches, a special heirloom of the Smith family has surfaced - and with it a romantic story of a determined young couple.
And had the story not had a happy ending, hard-working council members Woolsey Smith and son Robert would not be here today. Woolsey is one of a family of six, with their various off-spring, through three generations, and it all springs from the long-distance romance between Cootehill, County Cavan and Ahorey.
The Smiths have, in their possession, a framed copy of The Covenant, signed in Clones, County Monaghan, near Cootehill. Among the signatories is Robert James Smith of Cootehill, Woolsey’s late father, with Monaghan and Cavan being among the nine counties of the Province of Ulster and part of the UK in those pre-partition days.
He was one of 500,000 who signed, and a copy of the sheet on which his name was appended was, earlier this year, discovered on the internet by Woolsey’s son, the Rev David Smith, minister of Ardaragh Free Presbyterian Church, Rathfriland.
“We’re delighted that David discovered it,” said Woolsey, especially as all six of the family of Robert James and wife Annabella are still alive. And as he was photographed at the Portadown obelisk, with Robert and extended family members Jonathan Smith, Sharon Hartin from Laurelvale and Debbie Fletcher from the Canadian side of the family, the romance of the early 20th century emerged.
Debbie is the granddaughter of Woolsey’s brother who lives in Calgary, Alberta, and the alderman is off to visit him soon.
Anyway, RJ became friends with the Williamsons of Ahorey over 100 years ago when they visited Cootehill. He occasionally rode north on his bike to Ahorey, a total of 40 miles and it was there that he met Annabella. They decided to marry, and one day he piled all his worldly goods onto his bike, cycled all the way to Ahorey where he established a bicycle shop, and the rest is history.
A real coincidence is that Colonel James Saunderson was Westminster MP for Cavan and then for North Armagh – RJ’s two home area. The colonel, whose statue is in the centre of Portadown, was strongly opposed to Home Rule, but died in 1906, prior to the signing of the Ulster Covenant.
He famously stated in Parliament, “Home Rule may pass this House, but it will never pass the Bann Bridge at Portadown” -words that are included on the Portadown obelisk.
Said Woolsey, “It’s wonderful that all members of the family now have a copy of the Covenant and I am taking one out to Canada to show my brother.”
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Portadown
Friday 24 May 2013
Temperature: 4 C to 14 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 8 C to 15 C
Wind Speed: 9 mph
Wind direction: South