Hanna's Close, Aughnahoory

Map Reference: J313164 (3313, 3164)

Location: About 2km NNE of Kilkeel. Signposted from B27

A clachan is usually taken to mean a small group of houses with tenants probably having a family connection. It is not large enough to sustain a public house or a shop, so cannot be thought of as a small hamlet. Nor does it have a church and so cannot be considered to be a small village. The Hanna Family came from Galloway in the 1640s and settled on a small plot high above the west bank of the Kilkeel River in Aughnahoory townland. Of the nine buildings which make up the clachan some may date from the 17th century but most of them seem to be from the 18th and 19th century.

The Hannas came from Scotland to escape religious persecution but arrived in a land that was troubled by rebellion. The houses of the close were erected with the front doors facing the central triangular green and with only small windows in the outer walls. This was an obvious defensive arrangement. The gaps between the houses would have been closed by strong fences or gates. Modern iron gates, based on 19th century designs now fulfil this function.

There was a ford across the river at this point and a fine set of stepping stones which still exist, along with modern footbridges.

About 2km N at Ballinran there is another fine ford and stepping stones. Ballinran is the site of a busy flax scutching mill which would have been used by the inhabitants of the clachan, since the growing of flax provided part of their income. Gradually the families began to move out of the close and the buildings were bought up by one member whose descendents still own the Close today. During the 20th century some of the buildings fell out of use and were allowed to decay.

Renovation began in the 1990s and eventually all the buildings were restored. One of the buildings is now used as an office and one is a communal building used for education and as a ceili house. The others are holiday homes.

The following photos were taken at Hanna's Close in 1990

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