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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

New guide traces Hayward’s local landmarks

A new trail honouring one of Mid and East Antrim's leading cultural figures is set to take you through the allure of the Antrim coast and countryside.

Although born in Lancashire, Richard Hayward (1892-1964) moved to Larne in the mid-1890s with his family, where the Antrim coast held a lifelong affection for him.

Through his singing, acting, filmmaking and writing, Hayward became a leading cultural figure during the middle decades of the 20th century. He was also a broadcaster, folklorist, tour guide and dialect collector. His later fame was in no small measure due to the formative years of his upbringing in Larne. He loved roaming the countryside, hills and glens, as well as the coastline.

In a renowned singing career, Hayward recorded Orange ballads and traditional Irish folksongs and played the harp. His literary talents ranged from poetry, a novel and journalism, to 11 travel books on Ireland. In between times, he sold sweets for Fox’s Glacier Mints and Needler’s Chocolates.

More than fifty-five years after his death in a car crash near Ballymena, tribute is now being paid to the life of Richard Hayward with a touring brochure of the Co. Antrim places he loved. In the 1930s, his major feature film, ‘The Luck of the Irish’ was made in Glynn, while ‘The Early Bird’ was filmed in Glenarm and Carnlough, and ‘Devil’s Rock’ was made in Cushendun.

Much of his singing and dialect collecting centred on the area, and his two Ulster travel books showed the special appeal for him - in particular of Islandmagee and the Gobbins which featured in his early poetry.

The brochure features rare photographs from the early and middle decades of the 20th century and stunning present-day images. Many reflect Hayward’s connection to Larne, where he was educated at the Grammar School in the early 1900s. The trail takes visitors on a tour of the areas he celebrated from Islandmagee, through Larne, over the Sallagh Braes to Slemish, and north to the glens. These are all places where Hayward spent time in his youth which played a vital role in his multifaceted activities.

A digital version of the brochure will be available on Larne Museum & Art Centre’s Facebook page from 3 April 2021. Hard copies will be available from Larne Museum & Arts Centre when the venue reopens following the current restrictions.

The ‘Richard Hayward’s East Antrim’ trail booklet has received financial support from The Executive Office through Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s Good Relations Programme.

Copyrighting is by Paul Clements, the author of Romancing Ireland: Richard Hayward, 1892-1964, and a former BBC journalist. Photographs are by the landscape photographer Trevor Ferris.

Contact details: Marian Kelso, Larne Museum & Arts Centre, 2 Victoria Road, Larne, BT40 1RN.


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