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I visited Mount Stewart, Co. Down recently and the gardens are a fascination.  They were laid out by Lady Londonderry from the 1920s and contain interesting motifs such as topiary based on Irish mythology.  On her mothers side she was descended from the Earl of Antrim, McDonnnells an old Antrim gallowglass family.

Back down the Ards Peninsula heading for the ferry you pass the Nugent Estate in Portaferry.  This is the same family (originally Savage name changed) who came to the area with the Normans.  An interesting account of their finances is contained in a recent history of big houses in the North of Ireland (The Big House in the North of Ireland; Olwen Purdue, UCD Press 2009) where Colonel Nugent’s investments from the proceeds of land sales in 1879 are given, US railroads, ‘Portugese’ Bonds gas and mineral companies.

Afterwards I was looking at Robert Lloyd Praeger’s wonderful book, ‘The Way that I went’ 1937, which covers the area in archaeological, historical and botanical terms.  I saw that there was a thriving monastery in Bangor for almost 800 years before its destruction by the Vikings.  A remnant, the Antiphonary of Bangor, survives in the Ambrosian Library in Milan which came there via the monastery at Bobbio.  It its contents include prayers for the abbots who presided at Bangor and it is dated at between 680 and 691 ad.

The contents are in Latin and translate as

(To such a one did Colman succeed,

A man friendly to all;

Now he sitteth on high, to Christ

Singing hymns. The fifteenth (Abbot)

May Cronanus lay hold on life:

May the lord preserve him.

(These they are) whom the Lord shall summon

To the seats of the kingdom of heavens.)