Written by Jack McCann.
“Mary Stone died on the 6th of April, 1977. Word of her death sent my thoughts jostling down the years, past ghost and ghost, to sunlit summer holidays, pictuire-postcard clear. Nothing much happened in our quiet corner of Red Bay. The tides came and went. It was all so peaceful; so personal too, even the char-a-bancs had names – like Henry McNeill’s — ‘Maid of the Mountains.’
A two mile walk to Cushendall was worth every step of the way to linger and look around in Mrs. Stone’s shop, with all the time in the world to decide what our coppers would best buy, while she talked history with the grown-ups; not the ‘far foreign fields’ stuff we were reading about in school but of people and places, customs.and curiosities in the wee townlands around us. She was a tourist attraction to visitors in search of ‘the quiet land of Erin …… “sure the man who wrote that air – ‘Aridicoan’ he called it – lived down Cushendun way. McCambridige was his name, a Gaelic-speaking ancestor of Lord Glentoran.”
In due time my children were swithering between her toys and toffees while I learned the local lore ….. “Did you know that a Chief Justice of England defended a woman from Waterfoot here in Cushendall…..?”
“Have you over heard tell of Ailsa McFredjin …?” “You’ll have seen the McAlaster stone in Cregagh Churchyard . . ?” “The Pope called the other day to talk about Eoin MacNeill … ” “Sean Murray was a gentleman . . .” “John Hewitt’s ‘Fame’, there’s a poem about poets for you …” “He could whistle like a blackbird, young Gore . . .” “Did I tell you about Shane the Proud and his …” “You’ll have to call back then.” And I did, again and again, to hear about MacDonnells and McQuillans, McAuleys and Turnlys, Crommelins and Breckenridges, countrymen and boleymen, raths and racing gigs.
The thought that one day it had to end prompted the idea of a local body to encourage interest in the story of the Glens. So when Mary Stone shut shop, for the last time she had the pleasure of knowing that the Glenns of Antrim Historical Society was carrying on where she left off, and that she was, its first honorary life-member.
Her last days were spent among her own in Clushendall Cottage Hospital as Glensfolk campaigned against a Ministerial decision to close it down. That they won was due in no small measure to their awareness of ‘their history’. Now Mary Stone is part of that history, part of the quiet land.”