Sentry Hill is a 19th century farmhouse in the parish of Carnmoney, County Antrim, long associated with the McKinney family who first came from Scotland to Ireland in the 18th century.
James McKenzie, a highlander who took part in the Jacobite Rising of 1715 fled to Ireland in 1716 with Helen Campbell, his fiancée. The Campbell clan had fought on the Hanoverian side and Helen’s family were opposed to her marrying a ‘rebel’. James and Helen were married in Carnmoney Presbyterian Church in 1717 and it was not until the 1780s that a grandson, Andrew, occupied Sentry Hill.
Built in 1835 in the townland of Ballyvesey, Sentry Hill replaced the existing thatched farmhouse. In the 1880s it was improved with the addition of a front porch and conservatory, bathroom and kitchen. Each generation of the family made changes to suit the times they lived in yet the house’s unique personality remained with Sentry Hill providing a physical link between generations of McKinneys.
Remarkably, the contents of Sentry Hill have survived almost intact. A wealth of artefacts and archival material was amassed down the years, with credit due to William Fee McKinney who was born in 1832. His extensive collection provides a rare insight into the working lives, social activities, beliefs and values of rural families in Ulster during the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Sentry Hill house and farm remained in family ownership until 1996 with the death of Dr Joe Dundee, grandson of William Fee McKinney. The old cliché ‘there’s no place like home’ was far from clichéd for both the McKinney and Dundee families. Sentry Hill occupied a central place in their thoughts and feelings.