The Harland diaspora

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South wall viewed from gate
When planning his marriage (1880) John Harland built a fine new home, which he called “Hillside”. In the modern era the correct address was, ‘Hillside’ 29 Convent Hill, Bessbrook. BT35 7AW.

Hillside was perched near the top of Maghernahely hill, some 300 feet above sea level. Local people called it Harland's Folly' for they predicted, quite wrongly as it turned out, that it would have an unsure foundation and an ignoble end. The site became surrounded with trees that John planted, and had a large vegetable and flower garden, and, originally, a very large, commercial greenhouse labelled the hot house.

From the front door of Hillside there was and is a most spectacular view with an arc of almost 180 degrees, and the basin of County Down spread out before the eye, backed by a semicircle of granite peaks that are known world-wide as the Mountains of Mourne, They are tiny by world standards, but massively majestic in their beauty, To the south-south-west some eight miles away is Slieve Gullion (1893 feet). Camlough Mountain is much closer and seems more imposing than its 1385 feet might suggest. Next in line, to the southeast, comes the top of Carlingford Mountain (1900 feet) some 13 miles away and, to its left, Rostrevor Mountain (1660 feet). To the east lie higher peaks Slieve Bignian (2449 feet) 18 miles away, and Slieve Donard, the biggest of them all at just under 3,000 feet and 20 miles distant. After the eye has taken in the more distant vistas, one is soon drawn to the foreground where an 18-arched viaduct carries the Belfast to  Dublin railway line out of the valley bottom, as it runs down towards Newry station. 18 men died during its construction in 1851; a life for each arch. The sweep of the full semi-circle continues round to the northeast until Slieve Croob (1759 feet), the source of the River Lagan, 21 miles away can be seen. (These data come from a letter written by Wallace Harland (1888) to his niece Kathleen Harland (1919) of New Dorp, Staten Island, New York, in a letter dated 17 July 1946) .
Detailed maps of Hillside’s location and environs can be viewed here.