Kerr's Corner

Kerr's Corner is a regular feature in East Antrim and Newtownabbey editions of The Wizard. David Kerr would like to hear your memories of life in your own area. Maybe you'll trigger some thoughts for a future column.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Mystery Headstone In Ballycarry Churchyard

ANOTHER fascinating item in Donaldson’s History of Islandmagee refers to a mysterious headstone in the churchyard in Ballycarry. This bears the inscription:

James Burns, born 1775Christ 61s th2 64rd th1t spak2 3tH2 t44k th2 Bre1d 1nd Br1k2 3tAnd 6h1t th1t 64rd d3d m1k2 3tTh1t 62 b2l32v2 t1k2 3t

James Burns was an old croppy who turned out in the Battle of Antrim in June 1798. He died at the age of 92 in the Larne workhouse. The figure writing has puzzled many passers-by who thought that there was something Masonic or esoteric about it. The key to the message is to subsitute the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 for the vowels a, e, i, o, and u. The letter w is represented by 6. See if you can work out the message. Th2 1nsw2r w3ll b2 3n th2 n2xt 3ss52.


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