Welcome to Hanna’s Close
There are seven cottages in Hanna’s Close and three a short distance away. The map below shows you the situation of each cottage within the Close. A very short stroll down from the cottages brings you to Kilkeel river where you have a number of picnic benches and fishing spots.
History of the Close
A ‘Claghan’ of individual cottages at the foot of the Mournes
The Hanna’s originally came from Sorbie, Galloway, Scotland, around 1642 because the conditions where they lived were so difficult. During the 1600’s there was great religious persecution of the Protestants in Scotland and they fled to Ireland in search of a better life. They were granted the lease of some acres of land in Aughnahoory, which would have had to be cleared of trees, bushes and stones, before they could start to build.
They built their cottages on the bank above the river flood plain, because in the 1600’s the river was larger and flooded in winter. The houses were built close together for protection. Aughnahoory may not have been a very safe place as there were bandits around who plundered property.
A noticeable feature of the Close is that the cottages only have a front door facing into the centre of the Close and only small windows facing the surrounding countryside, this was designed to protect them against attacks.
In 1834 there were four Hanna families living in Aughnahoory but it is difficult to ascertain which of these were Close Hannas. In 1860 there were eight families of Hannas living in the Close. The land around the Close and on either side of Cassie’s Loanen was divided them, probably on the basis of good, and not so good land. George Hanna, who also had a shop in Kilkeel, where he made and repaired shoes, appears to have owned the larger portion, and it is on his land that six of the houses were built, the other three seem to have been built on William Hanna’s land, but still in the Close area. George also had his own ford over the river and a lane leading up from it to his “street”. The rest of Hannas used a communal ford and lane which crossed the Commons. This was an area of a little over 1 acre along the river where each family had the right to graze a goat or a donkey. There was also two small lint holes in the Commons where the flax could be “retted” or steeped.
To the north of the Close was a well, known as the “boiling” well; it never dried up and the water from it was used for cooking purposes, especially butter making. The other well was to the south of the Close and it is still in existence. George Hanna’s son George inherited most of the close, or bought the others out, and the property is now owned by George’s only child, Mrs Norma Fisher. Some of the Close land was owned by the Poor Rate Hannas. Robert Hanna, the son of William Hanna became a prominent grocer in Kilkeel.
Tommy’s Cottage houses a small collection of artefacts and information relating to the Close its surroundings and the people who used to live there. There is a meeting room in Tommy’s, which is available for use by groups for a small fee.