Vacant cottage now a hive of rural activity
Coyle’s Cottage is an attractive little thatched cottage marooned in a sea of modern bungalows and two storied dwellings. It is situated about a quarter of a mile from the shores of Lough Neagh in the parish of Ardboe, Co. Tyrone, and in the townland of Anneterbeg, Kinturk. Local historians estimate it to be at least 200 years old.
The cottage is believed to be the last authentic fisherman’s cottage in the area and was inhabited until quite recently. The walls of the house are constructed of clay with an external ‘coating’ of lime or whitewash to prevent damage by rain and frost, and it's probably the only building for miles around that has no front or back garden attached.
The dwelling is documented in Griffith’s Evaluation Survey of 1862 and the resident tenants are listed as Muldoon. Prior to 1862 another tenant named Carey occupied the house (Ordnance Survey, 1821) and the landlord to whom he paid rent was the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh at the time. Tradition has it that Mr Carey walked all the way to Cork to see the archbishop or his representative to complain about an ‘unjustified’ increase. Up to the present day, the site where the cottage is situated is still known as Carey’s Corner (pronounced ‘Keerey’s).
The last person to live in the cottage was Mrs Kate Corr (nee Coyle). Kate was a daughter of Jane Muldoon who subsequently married Joe Coyle. Kate returned to live there after the death of her husband some years ago. When Kate died in 1988 the house was left vacant and could very easily have dissolved back into the earth in a short time.
Then in 1991 the Muinterevlin Historical Society was formed and the cottage’s potential was spotted as the perfect place for holding meetings, lectures, storytelling and music sessions. Kate Corr’s son, John Joe Corr was formally approached about the possibility of leasing the cottage and having it restored to its former glory. He agreed and the dwelling got the facelift it required and it has been kept in pristine condition ever since.
Not only is the cottage the headquarters of the local historical society, it also doubles up as the centre for the Coyle’s Cottage Women’s Group. The group was founded in 1993 by Mrs Mary McCann and Mrs Rosie Ryan, two local women. The membership of CCWG averages between 24 – 30 and they meet every Wednesday. The centre runs a host of arts & crafts classes: quilting, crochet, cross stitch, knitting, embroidery, decoupage, flower arranging, chicken scratch etc. All the classes are delivered by qualified tutors.
Quite recently CCWG introduced two new items into the Arts & Crafts programme, making beautiful angels and cuddly Santa Clauses. Nor does the art and craftwork remain hidden from the eyes of the general public. Twice a year the group hosts an exhibition where the local community gets an opportunity to see the work of CCWG members.
CCWG is probably one of the most enduring and active groups around, it has been in existence for 11 years and shows no sign of slowing down. Indeed the members through their dedication and hard work now organise annual coach tours to places throughout Ireland and Scotland for people in the community who find it difficult to get away because of invalidity, age, isolation etc.
Similarly disadvantaged people are also afforded opportunities to visit garden centres and eat out at their favourite restaurant far more regularly. Coyle’s Cottage Women’s Group are unashamedly pro-women, pushing women’s issues to the forefront of local community concerns, and their courses in, personal development, reflexology, beauty therapy and good-health awareness reflect that.