When my friend Francis Devine heard about the wonderful Swift colony in Dervock, he was inspired to write this prose.
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The Swifts of Dervock Presbyterian Church
Dick Glasgow and Stewart Laverty
Whether screeching black arrowheads ever flashed over the earliest dwellings in Dairbheog is unknown, but soon after 1835, when the spire of Dervock Presbyterian Church first stood proud in the north Antrim skies, Swifts - for some then gabhlanai gaoithe - began investigating its possibilities.
Caretaker Stewartie Laverty had craned skywards since he was a wean to watch the birds swirl around the steeple, their squealing screams heralding summer, fields of pastel blue flax, ripening oats, margins of pale yellow meadowsweet. Each late April, he searched the skies, ear cocked as he tended his duties for that heart-lift anthem that wound itself around the stone as joyful solstice garland.
Today he leads the faithful to the tower top, dark perforated zinc sheeting inside the louvres acting as screen to allow them unobstrusively observe the nesting Swifts without disturbance. Thirteen families are documented, the enumerators' smiles broad, a mystery of two centuries solved, allowing Stewartie a quick laughing calculation as to how many Swiftlets had been baptised in his lifetime.