Castledawson mystery man Tom Tipping who lived with goats

Tom Tipping and some of his goats.
Tom Tipping and some of his goats.
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It would seem remarkable or perhaps strange for us today, but more than 60 years ago a Castledawson man shunned a more conventional lifestyle in order to take better care of his beloved goats!

Tom Tipping, from Leitrim, off the Hillhead Road, was part of a well known family who, down the years, at one time or another were high profile in and around the south Derry village.

Despite this, Tom took a more eccentric approach to life and he ended up tending, and living, with his goats in a shack at the moss near Thompson’s farmhouse just outside Castledawson.

He became a well known character in and around the village at the time.

The late Seamus Heaney fondly recalled and wrote briefly about Tom Tipping in the Mossbawn section of his “Preoccupation, Selected Prose” publication.

The Nobel Laureate described “the goat man” as a recluse he never saw, but on his way to school noticed a puff of smoke coming from a clump of trees that surrounded his shack.

This made him something of a mystery man, particularly to children in the area. Of course, there was no harm in Tom Tipping.

Indeed, he was very well liked and supplied many farmers in the Castledawson area with the goats that he so carefully nurtured in the latter years of his life.