Click name board above for home or choose from the menu below
Where is Dundonald?
The name Dundonald is an ancient one. It translates as “the fort of Domnall” (The modern form of Domnall is Donal). This probably refers to a rath which was situated on Moat hill, now the site of St. Elizabeth’s old church and burial ground. A rath was a circular construction, usually a high bank surrounded by a ditch built to protect a homestead. The discovery of several souterrains in the nearby area seems to confirm this. A souterrain was a stone lined tunnel built as a hiding place for people and property in the event of attack.
The motte at Dundonald is one of the largest in
Dundonald the village
picture was taken some
Click >> here << to read an extract from the 1924 edition of the Belfast & County Down Railway Company’s Official Tourist Guide to County Down and Mourne Mountains.
Gape Row was demolished in 1934 to make way for more modern
housing. In a way its passing was symbolic of the wider changes that befell
the village. At the
They’re tearin’ ould Dundonald down
They’re tearin’ down Gape Row,
The ould folks left their hearts behind
Their ghosts now come and go.
If you should dander down that way
You’ll hear the soft winds sigh,
‘They’re tearin’ ould Dundonald down
Goodbye Gape Row, Goodbye.’
Gape Row just before demolition in 1934
Agnes Romilly White was the daughter of the Rev. Robert White,
the rector of St. Elizabeth’s
She lived at Dundonald between 1890 and 1913. The life of the
village was the inspiration for her two novels, Gape Row (1934) and its
sequel, Mrs. Murphy Buries the Hachet (1936). Both books are a good read. Particularly
humorous is the conversation which is in the Ulster Scots dialect that would
have been used in the village at that
The blurb on the back cover describes Gape Row as follows:
“Can Jinanna escape the poorhouse? Will young Johnny Darragh jilt Ann? Will Mary get saddled with the awful Andy John McCready? Or will Happy Bill, the wayside preacher, nip in first and win them all for God?
A boisterous, rich, nostalgic book which immerses the reader in the cheerful chaos of everyday life in a small Irish village on the eve of the First World War.”
The only mention of the railway is the following fleeting reference:
“Gape Row went to bed early, and considered it scarcely respectable to hear the ten-thirty train whistle, as it rushed through the station.”
The characters mostly make use of the tram that came as far as
the cemetery on the
The map below shows the village in 1902. The road running across the centre is the main Newtownards Road.
Click >> here << to see a larger map of the surrounding area.
Dundonald village 2004