Joseph Ryan Glover

Random stuff.



I found the following poem in my grandfather’s papers. His name isn’t on it but I’ve searched excerpts in google and received no results, so I think it’s safe to say he wrote it. I like it because it’s an authorial effort beyond his typical mountaineering work and therefore seems more personal. I also appreciate any work thematically dedicated to the premise that time destroys everything. I did some research and I was able to identify the sports stars he name checks in the second verse– some known to me and some not– and what they all have in common is that they were active in the early 1930s. Unfortunately, I’m not able to identify the sports hero who let him down by getting old. Structurally, while I’m not quite as taken with alliteration as Joey, I applaud his flair for word selection, “bepaunched” being the stand out.

Was he not ten feet tall?
What deft Apollo of some forty years flown by
Whose feats the frenzied fans in terraced roar acclaimed
In long gone golden days by Summer suns sustained

His peers were Louis, Lindrum, Owens, Bradman, Budge:
And other giants whose names in banner headlines blazed
Ousting from pride of place – dirt – death – and musty politics.
HE was the grand occasion – HIS the immortal hour.

But who claims this vacant visage, glum and grizzled-grim,
That now empanelled, prisoner in this soulless box,
Mutters and mumbles, tepid, tame, ineptitudes?
Is this the foot, the canny hand, the cunning eye
That once wrote living history history in the record books?
Records ‘tis true, now long since dead, deserted dust;
Bests bettered by a lesser breed of men propped up
By scientific guile and gimmicks, more advanced techniques.
His were the noble arts of nature, native born;
Practiced perfection gained by simply playing the game.

He rambles round in tangents; fumbling, out of touch
With every question – answer: with future, present, path.
His mind’s a blank whereon vague ghosts of by-gone years
Bring back to life their half-forgotten phantom rivalries.

He falters, pauses, brooding, gnaws his pallid lip – and then
In one sad, senile, hotchpotch introspection
Entangles cricket, football, tennis, boxing, golf.
Has Well at Wembley, Lynch at Lords,
And Lovelock race ‘gainst Snead;
And Perry partner Peterson – in Wightman Cup!
His “In my day” and “When I was a boy”
Grate on the slate of schoolboy recollection.

Where has this shadow been since nineteen-thirty-nine
When heroes to the greater contest lent their lives?
The name’s the same – but nothing else, alas, survives.

Would that I had not switched my channel choice,
For ‘Frisco cop, or wrestling, kitchensink,
Were preferable to this bepaunched, lamenting goat
Who bleats and natters now in resurrected fame.
This whining, whinging, wan, would-be conquistador
Now tilts at tinsel windmills, splintered lanes askew.
Here is no hero – gone is the golden knight I knew.

Oh what a sorry, somber senseless sight is here;
My graceless, grumbling, greybeard God of yesteryear.


"BarnesmoreGap" by Detroit Photographic Company - Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. Via Wikipedia -

“BarnesmoreGap” by Detroit Photographic Company – Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. Via Wikipedia –

I found the following story in my grandfather’s climbing papers. The David in the story is David Ballantine Glover, my late father. The Alyson is Alyson Glover nee Bolton, my late grandmother. Kim is my grandfather’s faithful dog and climbing companion. Also, I assume, late. Editorially, I have added some paragraph breaks to the first part of the story to make it read better; I believe my grandfather would forgive me this indulgence as I have not otherwise changed the text. I find this story amusing because, at the time of this blog post, I have a 7-year old son. I suspect that my city boy would not fare as well as my father did in this story, if I could get him off his Nintendo and out to a mountain in the first place. Also: ‘Consternation!!’ is my new curse word in polite company.

SATURDAY, 28th July, 1956.



Shortly after lunchtime, Barbara, Liz, Edgar and Joey set out for a climbing expedition in Barnesmore Gap. A last minute addition to the party was Joey’s offspring David, aged seven. The A.50 proceeded uneventfully via Strabane and Ballybofey and came to rest as the west end of the Gap and in a short time all five were straggled out on the slopes of Croagconnellagh.

Before long Barbara stopped at a climb which she and Denis had tried out unsuccessfully last year. Joey went to the top to bring her up on the rope but first he instructed David to head on quietly upwards and to stop at the cairn if he was first to arrive at the summit. With Edgar’s help Joey then proceeded to bring Barbara up but the climb proved a tough nut to crack and Barbara was eventually hauled up by the combined efforts of J. E. and L.

Joey then decided it was high time to get a sight of David and dropping the rope he headed off the top at high speed. He was horrified to see how much mountain there was but relieved to see young David going over the skyline accompanied by Kim – though he was not heading for the cairn but heading N.W. along the top. Soon J. passed over the skyline also and strolled over to the cairn. No. David! Consternation!!

Shouts were unavailing as the high and cold wind carried them away. Joey now sped off N.W. along the top but saw nothing. After half an hour or so he dropped down along the S. side to contact the others. Barbara promptly organized the quartet into a search party but two hours of assiduous searching produced no David – or Kim. It now being past 6.00 p.m. it was resolved to organize a proper search party so Barbara and Liz descended to the A.50 (and Joey also for his boots – he had been in tennis shoes) and these two sped into Dongeal town to contact the Garda.

Meantime Joey climbed up once again to the rejoin Edgar and continue the fruitless search. The clouds had now descended and the weather was steadily deteriorating and about 9.30 p.m. they were about to give up when long blasts of the horn on the A.50 from the Gap attracted their attention. On descending they heard that David was safe and well and was in the Central Hotel. The search now appeared to be for Joey and Edgar!

Later, the details of this horrible afternoon were pieced together and it appeared that David had reached the cairn but fearing the clouds were about to come down he had headed off, not towards the Gap and the main party, but northwards towards Croaghaniwore. Descending to the Barnesmore River he had eventually followed Kim when he turned left and reached a rough bog road which led to a cottage. Here he accosted a Mrs. Martin and explained that he was lost and that lady and her husband drove him into Donegal town where he was delivered to the Garda Barracks.

While all this was going on, and while Joey and Edgar were floundering about Croagconnellagh, Barbara and Liz had contacted the Garda after some difficulty. Sergeant Martin Hughes took complete charge and in a very short time had got together several carloads of searchers. Almost immediately after these had set out David arrived and the search was called off. Those heading for the north and west of Croaghconnellagh searched for some time before they were contacted but eventually the question was “are Joey and Edgar now lost?”. However, all ended well and about 10.00 p.m. Joey and David were reunited and the whole party headed for Derry where they arrived at 12.50 a.m. on Sunday to find that Alyson had been busy ringing up various hospitals!

N.B. The Club Members may be in need of practice at searching for “lost” members but Joey feels that realism is not called for to this extent! However, this will teach him to keep an eye on his offspring!!


Across the Nephin Beg Range


This story was found in my grandfather’s documents on 13 pages of photostat-ed onion sheaf paper. The first page has a hand written note that  says “3,300 words uncut — too long!” which leads me to believe he wrote it for publication and needed to edit it for length. Throughout the document long passages have been crossed out in pencil but I have included the entire text here since electrons, unlike newspaper inches, are free. The type-written pages have several spelling corrections pencilled in and I made those corrections in the text below. I endeavoured to keep original spellings intact (e.g. pharaphanelia) for authenticity. The story was unfortunately undated but he does mention “ten years of hill walking” so this possibly places it in the early 1960s. Unusual aside: on the reverse of the last page of the story is written “9 eggs”. Hungry man’s breakfast?


Several years ago when perusing Bartholemew’s ¼” map of Galway and Mayo I noticed that a track was marked from Bangor Erris through the Nephin Beg range to Newport. My experience of these ¼” maps had taught me that these dotted lines represented anything from quite driveable roads to fantasies of the Batholemew mind – so beyond a thought that it should provide a good tramp if it existed I paid no further attention to the track. More recently I was examining the 1” O.S. Map of the Ballyoroy area and was most interested to see that the track existed “officially” – fifty years ago anyway. Later still I bought the ½” O.S. Map of North Mayo and here again the track was shown. This fine map showed the contours of the mountain range very clearly and as I studied the map a wild plan began to take shape in my mind. Would it be possible to walk all the way from Bangor Erris to Mulrany along the mountain tops – had it ever been attempted or accomplished?

Last Autumn I started to study the possibilities and difficulties of this project and to plan a route. At this time, in some ten years of hill walking, the longest route I had ever covered had been about fifteen miles – through semi-civilized mountain country – that is, country where the possibilities of “escape” routes existed at several points on the main route. The country in central Mayo however, is probably the wildest and loneliest in all Ireland and Nephin Beg range itself appeared to be hemmed in on all sides with the worst type of bogland and no roads existed for miles around.

The first thing to decide on was the starting and finishing points. I decided that for the benefit of the future climbers who might tackle the same project it would be better to establish definite, easily-found places. I felt that something like “about three hundred yards west of the second bridge on the main road to Ballina” would be unsatisfactory so I decided quite early on that Bangor Erris and Mulrany were the obvious starting and finishing points.

The next question was “which way round?”. This did not take long to decide after a brief study of the ½” map. North to south was the better way because (1) the dullest part of the route would be covered first (2) the views ahead would definitely be better going from North to South.

The total distance to be covered appeared to be about 27 miles with some 20,000 feet of ascent and descent and it would be necessary to make three major descents and re-ascents. It was also obvious, in my case anyway, that I would not accomplish the task with certainty, in daylight. I therefore decided that the best plan was to start late in the evening, walk all night and as much of the next day as was necessary. The alternative was to start at dawn and take a chance of finishing during the following night. I did not fancy that as I preferred no sleep at all to a short spell before starting.

The next problem was transport to the starting point and from the finishing point and I did not anticipate much difficulty about this as I felt that other members of the N.W.M.C. would willingly co-operate and indeed I expected that my trip would not be a solo one but that there might be three of us with a car-driver co-operating. Indeed this part of the plan did not take long to finalise and early in 1959 four of us were planning to tackle the route at the full moon in min-June, my companions being Barbara and Denis Helliwell.

Long before this I had been in touch with the Hon. Sec of the Dublin Section, to see if I could be put in touch with anyone who knew the area. I was given two contacts and one of these, Pat McMahon of Tuam subsequently gave me invaluable advice. He had, in fact already accomplished the feat in a south to north direction camping overnight midway along the route. IT differed very slightly from the reverse of the one I was planning, omitting only one top – Knocklettercuss, just south of Bangof Erris. I also received advice about bridges and other matters from Sergeant Hogan of the Gardai Barracks at Bangor so as May grew near I felt that I was as fully equipped with information as I could ever expect to be. I should mention, by the way, that it had never been my custom to plan very far ahead on my mountain outings but I felt that this was one where it might be dangerous to set out all “airy-fairy-like”!

The morning of Friday, May 22nd dawned very dull and threatening in Derry. I rang the Barracks at Bangor and found that the weather there was uncertain. I felt a fit as I had ever been and all keyed up but I realizes that unless the weather was settled and the night to come clear and moonlit tackling this route would be foolhardy. At 11.45 a.m. we four had a consultation and somewhat reluctantly agreed that it would be best to postpone our journey west until mid-June. As it happened the weekend that followed was as good as any this year! – but then that is typical of Irish weather is it not?

The next month crawled past and during it our driver dropped out of the project. We could not raise another one at short notice and since Barbara did not feel experienced enough a driver to handle a strange car it looked as if Dennis would have to tackle the trip from south to north while I tramped the other way. He was quite resolute in his intention of camping overnight before starting at 6.00 a.m. but this did not worry me as I knew he could comfortably cover three yards to my two and the time discrepancy would soon be gobbled up. Unfortunately Denis was off colour when June 19th dawned but he and Barbara insisted that I should go ahead as planned as they were quite willing to drive to west May and back to help me – such is the true mountaineering spirit! We had one other passenger as we set out from Derry at 2.30 p.m. – my little eleven-year old fox-terrier Kim, a faithful mountaineering companion for several years in many parts of Ireland.

I had planned a 9.00 p.m. start from Bangor and estimated I should arrive at Mulrany about 3.00 p.m. on Saturday. I should still have eight hour of daylight if I needed it. However, we rather ambled across Ireland, making business calls here and there and stopping for a meal twice. As a result it was nearer 10.00 p.m. than 9.00 when we finally drove into Bangor Erris. The weather when we left Derry had been a trifle dull and unreliable but as we drove westward it gradually grew brighter and more settled. At Bangor it was near perfect for such an expedition though perhaps a trifle on the cloudy side. So, at 9.50 p.m. precisely my dog Kim and I set off from the middle of Bangor Erris as the light began to fade and as Barabar and Denis made their plans to camp about a mile back down the Crossmolina road.

I had made a very exact plans of various parts of my route, basing these on the contours of the ½” O.S. Map and during the next five hours I was to learn how every accurate these maps are and the folly of heading over what I THOUGHT looked the best route (in moonlight) instead of sticking to the one planned.

Leaving Bangor I crossed the stone bridge over the Owenmore river and immediately found Kim was missing – maybe he had a premonition of what lay ahead! After he rejoined me I bore left across a playing field and very soon joined the rough track (Bartholemew’s!) climbing steadily across the west slopes of Knocklettercuss. The path was VERY rough and made heavy going so I took to the hillside rather sooner than intended, heading for the broad ridge-top. After some fifty minutes I was within sight of the top and here turned to look north to where in the gathering dusk I thought I could discern the spot where D. & B. were setting up their tent. I flashed our Club “call-up” signal and sure enough the car headlights flashed in reply. Somehow it made me feel less lonely and cut-off from civilization as I headed for the summit of Knocklettercuss (1,208’).

At 10.50 I arrived at the summit and sat for a minute trying to pick out my planned route across the bog to the east towards Maumykelly; this was to be probably the worst and dullest part of the route. I also took a last look at the sunset (indifferent I’m afraid) and at distant Carrowmore Lough before setting off on a more direct approach to Maumykelly than the one based on the contours. From where I stood I could see the great crescent of the hills I was to traverse and far away in the gathering dusk I could see Slievemore and the other heights of Achill.

Off I headed to the west and far the next hour I was time and again deceived in the half light and features (such as they were) that looked quite near proved to be disconcertingly far off. Land that looked like fairly level bog proved to be full of little dips with streams in them. I should have kept considerably father to the left than I did for the temptation to head straight for Maumykelly led me into trouble several times. However, after about 45 minutes I arrived at the bottom of this outpost of the Slieve Car group and crossed the last stream I was to encounter for hours. It was now quite dark and the moon being still quite low to the south-west and being hidden by the surprisingly step slope of the MaumyKelly (1,205’). This was one of those annoyingly hills which seemed to have an unattainable top – at least, I imagined on numerous occasions that “another few yards would do it” but I was wrong on all but the last occasion.

Arriving at the top (slightly to the east side) just before midnight I paused to watch various cars with headlights ablaze heading along the Ballina – Bangor road about four miles away. Behind me now lay several small loughs, just visible in the gloom but not at all visible when I had been amongst them half an hour before. The moon had gone behind a cloud, it was more than cool and fresh breeze was blowing. I shivered and not altogether from cold! I decided that this was my point of no return, early and all as it was on my route, because from here escape, although an irksome undertaking, was fairly straightforward. However I hadn’t come from Derry to give up quite so soon although I knew that what lay behind was simple compared to what lay ahead. I paused to debate my position for a moment. Night walking in bare open country, even by bright moonlight is quite a different matter from jaunting along in the bright sunlit day.

Slieve Car loomed far ahead and as it seemed a quite straightforward tramp to the huge cairn on top I set off. I was somewhat upset when I found myself descending into a distinctly dampish bogland and every step forward confirmed my opinion that I should have kept left. It was now about 1.00 a.m. and the wind sweeping over this lonely upland was getting colder and colder. Then Kim left me again and I stood whistling for him and wishing myself anywhere but where I was. Was it too late to turn back? Yes; Kim suddenly appeared from nowhere and off I set again hopping up and down through big – not quite of the jig-saw variety but tending that way. I kept to the east site of the broad top ridge overlooking a lough far below, and then another. Suddenly I felt very tired and dispiritied and I sat down for a good rest. 2.00 a.m. – would I never get to this so-and-so cairn. Up and on again – odd lights twinkling here and there, miles and miles away. Suddenly the slope steepened, the drop off to the left became quite abrupt and then the immense cairn appeared and at the same time the clouds cleared away and the moon shone bright and clear.

I scrambled to the top of the cairn (a burial mound I should imagine) on top of Slieve Car (2,369’) at 2.40 a.m. but did not stay long. Ahead to the south was a long stretch of high-level big and stoney ground which, according to my maps dropped fairly steeply off at the edges. The next forty minutes I spent circumventing myriad small pools and bogy patches but even now a pale, pale light began to appear in the east. Far ahead I could see the Nephin Beg and away behind and to the right I could just see the rolling mass of hills forming the latter part of my route. Achill was even visible as I pushed steadily forward across the plateau.

Eventually I reached the southern edge at Corsleeve (1,785’) and there was revealed one of the most strange and memorable sights I have seen in fifteen years of hill walking. A thousand feet below and stretching for miles to the south west and west were hundreds of little bog pools and streams with the bright moonlight using them to cut a glittering path through the black bogland. It was a sight never to be forgotten and one I had not expected.

Ahead and below me lay the twin pools of Lough Scardaun and beyond I could see the Nephin Beg wreathed in early morning clouds. Hoping these would soon disperse I pressed on and soon arrived at the west end of the Lough, forgetting Pat McMahon’s advise that I should keep well to the left. I was to regret this as there was an obvious ridge of higher ground leading on to Nephin Beg. However, I pushed on steadily. N.B. was another of these tiresome hills on which the top never seemed to get any nearer. Several times I saw sheep “on the skyline” but when I reached them I had just as far to go as below. I was disconcerted to se that the clouds had increased and they seemed to be blowing over top at a prodigious rate. The light was quite good now and I could see a great deal of the country around as I finally came up on to the large level top of the Nephin Beg (2,065’). Here I encountered the full force of the wind and found it a half gale. I certainly wasn’t going to be able to face into this sort of thing indefinitely and I became more than a trifle worried; I was not yet half-way. However I knew that just beyond the half-way mark the old track crossed my path and that this would serve me if I had to abandon the project.

By the time I had located the true top of the Nehphin Beg (a cairn of about five small stones!) I was well and truly off line so – out with the compass and map. Off I headed and after covering about three hundred yards I came down below the clouds. Nothing made sense – where there should have been mountains ahead there were valleys. No feature was recognizable and I knew that to make a major mistake now could be serious. Back I went to the cairn again – and the clouds! This time I headed slightly right (i.e. S.W.) instead of going S.S.W as I had first time. When I came out of the clouds again I seemed at first to be in as much trouble as ever but it was soon easy to distinguish one lough by its shape and then all at once everything made sense – moreover, the clouds suddenly lifted quite a bit and away to the east Nephin itself was plainly visible. The truly lonely majesty of these hills was most impressive.

Now I went down slightly and across to a subsidiary top at 1,356 feet. There was bright sunlight and the wind had vanished. Everything for miles was now clearly defined and as I sped down towards the old track now clear-cut in the valley below I suddenly felt exhilarated for the first time. Half way just passed, feeling fit though hungry and glorious hours of sunshine ahead – no need to hurry. The scenery was grand and in front to the S.W. lay Glenamong with its top wreathed in a small dark and persistent cloud.

It was 6.45 when I crossed the old track and paused for breakfast on the bank of the Bawnduff river. I took time to survey the scenery round me before setting off again at 7.00 a.m. on the long, long ascent to the top of the Glenmong (2,067’). The little cloud very slowly faded away and after heading slowly upward for about 1½ hours I finally reached the surprisingly broad top and had a chance to see what lay ahead.

There was a brief drop and then a rise to higher ground again surmounted by a very well erected and preserved cairn. Then there was a long gradual drop and a steady climb to the top of Cushcumcarragh (2,343’) from which a grand lateral ridge ran miles to the S.E. over Bengorm and the other tops terminating near Lough Furnace. There appeared to be climbing possibilities on the N.E. side of this ridge.

For some time now I had been keeping an eye open for Denis and Barbara. By prior arrangement they were bringing the car round to Mulrany and were to come eastwards along the ridge to meet me. As it was not yet 11.00 a.m. I was perhaps being a trifle optimistic! Doubtless I should see them from the next top. This was about 2,230 feet in height and lay less than a mile away. However, in between lay the most interesting obstacle I had yet encountered. A fine arête about 100/200 yards long. Although I had been feeling very jaded I decided this was too good to miss and my passage along the sides and top of this made the next fifteen minutes most exhilarating.

This ridge led up to the nameless top which we were later to call “the Green Monster” – a very apt name if one climbed it from the west as Denis and Barbara did. From the summit I was able to see most of the remainder of my route and I sat thinking deeply. It was obvious to me that one of two things would happen; either I would go too fast so as to finish in reasonable time and thus become completely exhausted or I would go slowly, not over-exert myself – and then fall asleep because I had been too long without any!

Just before mid-day I hurried off down the long western slope of the Green Monster searching ahead all the time for Denis and Barbara. Suddenly I saw them just west of the 1,446’ top above Glen Thomas. About mid-day we made contact and the feeling of relief heartened me no end. It was wonderful to have company again! For the last few hours Kim had been taking a poor view of the proceedings but the sight of a tin of dog-food, produced by Denis, heartened him too!

We sat and chatted about our experiences for fifteen minutes and then Denis and Barbara decided to take full advantage of the possibilities offered. They had intended to accompany me back to the car but we all felt it would be a pity if they had to retrace their steps when so much fine country offered itself. Off they set for the top of the Green Monster their intention being to push on to Cushcumcarragh and set off along the Bengorm ridge to the main Newport road about 2½ miles west of that town. Off I staggered, Westward Ho, finding that as I started uphill again that I was only just going to be able to make it.

The next top, 1,646’ seemed attainable. I would pause and consider carefully the alternatives of climbing down ten feet into a dip and up the far side, or walking thirty yards on the level to avoid this. The temptation to lie down and have a good long rest was almost irresistible – Kim succumbed to it several times!

The day was now brilliantly fine, there was no wind and it grew hotter and hotter. Stripped to shorts and encompassed all around by my pharaphanelia I struggled on. Going downhill even required stern resolution while each step upwards was torture.

Presently I reached Glebbanaddy Lough having covered 1½ miles in as many hours. The last top Claggan Mountain lay ahead and it seemed to have several tops in fact. I was mentally very weary too and changed my mind three times. First I decided to stick strictly to the main ridge right down to Mulrany – then I thought it would be more interesting to go out to the point overlooking Bellacragher Bay and come down to the main road. Having back-tracked for a time and reached this point I then decided I was better off where I had been so – back to the main ridge again! This became so irksome and bitty that I finally decided to take the shortest possible route to the road to the west. This was another mistake! – briars and later, man-made obstacles, such as barbed wire, made misery of this decision. Eventually however, I reached the road and in a heatwave set off on the last two miles to the car. How I made this I do not know – it was the worst part of the journey.

At probably 4.07 p.m. arrived at the car half dead from exhaustion and lack of sleep – and elated with the realization that I had achieved my ambition – and with the thought that I had to drive the car eight miles towards Newport!

I fell asleep innumerable times during that journey and eventually reached a stage when I had to stop the car every time traffic approached me from the opposite direction! And when I reached my “contact” point there was no-one there! I turned off the engine, settled down – and found that now I could not sleep at all. Denis and Barbara arrived about 5.30 p.m. having themselves covered about 15 miles in 8 or 9 hours.

Off we all set for Westport where I indulged in a hot bath and followed this with a steak and early bed. Surprisingly I felt fine now and not a bit sleepy but soon I was “off” and into the depths of twelve hours slumber.

Next day instead of setting off direct for Derry nothing would do us but a detour to Achill and Slievemore – just to taper off nicely.

A long story about a longish walk – try it sometime I can guarantee it is not overcrowded!

J.B. Glover
36 Strand Road

Joseph “Joey” Ballantine Glover

“… maybe someday they will see, they slay the land they strive to free”
Alan Tees

Joseph “Joey” Ballantine Glover (30 JUN 1916 – 23 NOV 1976) was my paternal grandfather. I never met him because he was killed by two teenaged gunmen on November 23rd, 1976 at his place of work, the Ballintine Timber Company, in Londonderry. He was likely killed by the Provisional IRA in retaliation for the shooting of a Catholic business owner the day before by the Ulster Freedom Fighters. He was shot nine times in the neck and chest. He was 60.

I started this post with Joey’s assassination to get it out of the way. His death was a brutal tragedy but it does not eclipse his legacy. Joey was a musician, a sportsman, a businessman and a leader in the community. He gave of himself for the public good, serving as the President of the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce and the Treasurer of the City of Londonderry. He was an accomplished organist, composer and arranger and his skills as an accompanist were sought throughout the North-West of Ireland. He was an early member of City of Derry Drama Club and the week of his death he was to be in a production of Antigone. He was a cultured man with many and varied interests.

Above all (quite literally) he was a mountaineer. He loved to climb the mountains of Ireland, Scotland, England and beyond and was a founding member of the North-West Mountaineering Club (NWMC). Formed in 1955 Joey was the spiritual leader of the club, pushing his fellow members with his passion for the sport, informed by his “intimate knowledge of the terrain of Donegal” and his irrepressible zeal. In his wonderful book, From High Places: A Journey Through Ireland’s Great Mountains, Adrian Hendroff writes that Joey was “an eccentric man of charisma and tenacity” with a “profuse enthusiasm and unflagging vitality for the hills”. These statements certainly characterize the man captured in the photos found on the NWMC website, which depict Joey as a quintessential outdoorsman, at home in his element and content with the world. I have gratefully reproduced a few of them below that I sourced from their photo gallery titled Times Past. The family has been so pleased to find these images as there are so few extant photos of granddad.

Joey 1955



The “brick-red sweater” that Hendroff describes in his book can be seen in the following photo, where Joey stands front and centre for the group shot. This photo is also precious to me because the first woman in from the left, the one wearing the brown coat, is my late grandmother Alyson Glover and the young woman in front of her is my dear aunt Lorna.


Joey was a fastidious recorder of his achievements, as befits a man who chose accounting as a profession (as has my sister!). In his journals he dutifully recorded each of his ascents, the mountain, the approach and date. When he was featured in a Sportsman of the Week article in the Londonderry Sentinel he concluded that Errigal must be his favourite mountain as he had climbed it 82 times. That data-driven answer belies my grandfather’s love for that mountain and it is on its peak that his cairn and grave marker were placed and his ashes were spread.


I have lifted this photo of Errigal (it is the centre peak) from Simon Stewart’s website about the Glover Highlander Walk. The Glover is a memorial trek first organized by the North-West Mountaineering Club that consists of a 20km walk from Muckish Mountain to Errigal over 8 peaks and with 2000 meters of combined ascent. In recent times the NWMC has been forced to curtail the Walk over concerns for erosion and other environmental impacts of having 300+ people tromp the course. While it seems that the walk hasn’t been officially run in a few years I did find a bulletin for the 2014 edition of the Walk so it still remains a popular challenge for ambitious hikers. I hope to one day visit Errigal and take the Walk but looking at the official walk profile (also sourced from Simon’s site) I’ll need to do some serious training before I attempt it.


I have written this blog post because I never knew the man whose name I carry and as I have gotten older, and had sons of my own, I’ve become more reflective. My father seldom spoke of Joey while he was alive and I was too young to understand why I should have pressed the issue. Thankfully, I have in my attic an old suitcase that is full of documents outlining my grandfather’s life. I intend to scan or transcribe some of them to share with the family (and whoever else may be interested) and when I do I will link them below for posterity.

Joseph “Joey” Ballantine Glover Fonds

ACROSS THE NEPHIN BEG RANGE – A transcribed first-hand account of a gruelling night-time walk of 27 miles written by Joey.

THE CHRONICLES OF BARNESMORE GAP or “THE DAY DAVID GOT LOST” – A transcribed short story about the time Joey’s son David (my father) got lost on a hike.

ON SEEING A BOYHOOD HERO ON T.V. – A transcribed poem in which Joey laments the corrosive effects of time.

Digging in the Past

On the occasion of my wedding to my wife in October 2004 my late father’s cousin Barbara gave me an envelope that was cryptically addressed “For the future”. Inside the envelope was a Pedigree Chart (courtesy of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints, naturally) on which Barbara had filled in the family tree on my paternal grandfather’s side going back several generations. This was a true gift because, due to my grandfather’s assassination at the hands of the IRA in 1976, my father and my grandmother spoke very little if at all about that side of the family. My wife and I marveled at the genealogy of it all and then stored the letter safely with the rest of our wedding cards.

I didn’t think much about Barbara’s gift until today, October 17, 2012, when a chance encounter with a co-worker who hails from Northern Ireland got me talking and thinking about my heritage. This co-worker was quite keen and he dug up several web pages that I had found in the past but also offered some new ones, such as the 1901/1911 Irish Census and the Wikipedia page for the Mayors of Londonderry which clearly notes that Gerald Stanley Glover, my great uncle, was Mayor from 1950 to 1952 and again from 1961 to 1963. I knew he was Mayor at one point, but it’s nice to see the specifics.

When I got home from work my curiosity was fired and I decided to use Barabara’s gift and the Internet to see what I could find. I first checked the 1901/1911 census for William Glover, the father of my grandfather, Joseph Ballantine Glover. Now, grandpa was born in 1916, so he wouldn’t be on the census, but William was born in 1855 and passed away in 1920, so he should be there, and he was. The details are a little scant, but I can confirm it’s him because he’s listed as married to Mary E. Glover or, as she is detailed on my genealogy form, Mary Elizabeth Ballantine. I searched a bit more for my great great grandfather John Glover, born 1818 and died 1907 (so he should have been caught in the 1901 census) but to no avail.

I decided then to research the Ballantine side of the tree, a name my father, brother and grandfather all share. I knew that the Ballantines owned a timber company in Londonderry, and that my grandfather was the director of the timber yard (as confirmed by this somewhat angry article near the bottom).

Having confirmed what I knew I moved up the tree to see if I could find out more about Joseph Ballantine, Mary Elizabeth’s father. I first looked for him on the 1901 census as he lived 1834 to 1905, but to no avail. I then Googled his name and found this web page that details the 1907 Belfast/Ulster Street Directory. It lists several entries for Ballantine, Joseph, Ltd. on Strand Road: once under Steam Saw Mills, once under Timber Merchants and once under Turners.

So this is interesting, but Joseph Ballantine died in 1905 so if his company is going strong in 1907 and is in an Ulster business directory (and was still going strong in the 1970s when grandpa worked there) it must be being run by someone. William Glover is listed as a farmer and since I was unsure if Mary Elizabeth had any brothers I went back to the Irish Census to dig a bit more. I mentioned how earlier I searched for Joseph Ballantine to no avail. That’s not exactly true, I found a Joseph Ballantine but at the time of the census in 1911 he was only 38, far to young to be the Joseph Ballantine born in 1855. But perhaps he was a son and therefore the sister of Mary Elizabeth. Here’s his census listing:

Interestingly, if you click the “Show all information” checkbox on the census it expands to reveal that his occupation was “Timber Merchant”. That pretty much clinched it for me and now I assume that Joseph Glover (junior for lack of a better term) took over Joseph Ballintine Ltd. from Joseph Ballintine the elder or, and this will be explained in the next few paragraphs, it might have been solely his company and not his father’s at all.

What makes me say that? Well, during my Googling for Joseph Ballantine I kept having entries returned from the Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720-1940 so I clicked on the link and found this:

It’s interesting, but perhaps it’s a different Joseph Ballantine. More Googling of the name led me to this page of “Marriages recorded in the Town of Strabane and parish of Camus-juxta-Mourne extracted from the Derry Journal, Londonderry Standard and Londonderry Sentinel 1860-69”. The page is long but if you search for “Ballentine” you’ll find this snippet:

So there he is, Joseph Ballentine, identified as an architect, marrying Anne Wilimina, daughter of Mr Robert Simpson, also an architect. I should mention that Barbara’s gift lists both Anne Wilimina Simpson and Robert Simpson in the appropriate spots. What the gift doesn’t have is their wedding date and for the record, that February 25th was in 1862.

So wonderful, my great great grandfather was an architect. That’s pretty cool. Did he build anything that is still around? I’m so glad you asked. This lovely brochure describes The Apprentice Boys Memorial Hall in Londonderry and explicitly notes that the builders of the original structure included Joseph Ballantine:

Here is a copy of the brochure from my server in case the other one ever disappears: mem-museum-booklet

And here is a nice Youtube video of the hall:
The Apprentice Boys Memorial Hall in Londonderry

So my thinking is that if Joseph Ballantine senior was an architect he either started a timber company to compliment his work or encouraged his son to do so. I don’t think I have enough details to make a decision either way on it but it’s clear that when William Glover married Mary Elizabeth he also married into a timber business and their son (my grandfather) decided to make the family business his career.

And, that’s all I have for one night. I hope this has been entertaining and educational and I hope that the great, all-knowing Google may find it, index it and make it available for future Glovers to peruse.

Bonus facts:

Joseph Ballantine Glover was the president of the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce from 1967 to 1968, and it’s listed on their history page.

On the page he is listed as an FCA, which likely means he was a Fellow of the Chartered Accountants of Ireland or the Northern Ireland equivalent.

While I can’t confirm that it is definitely him, Joseph Ballentine of Londonderry is listed as a member since 1888 in the 1890 rolls of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland. The link is a Google Book link and the publication is the Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland. Seeing as how he was an architect it makes sense that he would like antiquities.


The genealogy chart from Barbara has the spelling of Ballantine as Ballintine. When I type Ballintine into Google it corrects me. The Irish Census has it as Ballantine but the marriage note for Joseph Ballantine has him down as Ballentine. The only thing I know for sure is that Word thinks that every variation is a mis-spelling.