St. Lurach’s Church of Ireland

St Lurachs Old Church, Magherast-lurachs-church-front-sd-lytlest-lurachs-church-of-ireland-circa-1905st-lurachs-church-of-ireland-maghera-by-morren-copyright-walton

The Church of St. Lurach and associated religious sites in the Maghera area can be said to be the foundation stone that the town was built on. In fact, the name Maghera is derived from the Irish Machaire Rátha meaning “plain of the fort”. However this is itself derived from the older name for the parish, Ráth Lúraigh, meaning “Lúrach’s fort”. One manuscript states that Lúrach was from Ráith, which hints at an even earlier name for the parish before Lúrach’s name was suffixed to it. A Rath or fortified homestead would make sense when you consider that Lurach was of the family of Colla Uais, King of Ireland and they were local chieftains and held a degree of political importance in the area, with seven descendants of Lúrach’s father Cuanu being kings of Airgíalla. There is circumstantial evidence to place their seat of power at Ráth Lúraigh.

Lúrach mac Cuanach was himself the 6th-century patron of the eccesliastical parish, with the local parish church which he is credited with founding, St. Lurachs, named after him. His connection with early Christianity is most probably gained from his Uncle (his mother’s brother) St. Patrick himself. Lurach was nicknamed “Lurach of the poems” and was bishop of Derrygloran, County Derry. St’ Lurach’s church is the centre of a monastic settlement which also includes the monastery (later church) on the Mullagh hill and the convent at the Grillagh.

St. Lurach’s church was plundered by Vikings in 832 according to the Annals of Ulster, and in 1135 was one of several churches burnt down during a period of internecine wars. The ruins of the medieval church still stand in the town of Maghera in the townland of Largantogher, with the earliest remaining sections dating to between the 10th and 12th centuries. Within the old church there is a beautiful carving of the crucifixion, which is thought to date from the 10th Century, but the church is of varying ages of construction; the tower, for example, dates to the 17th or 18th Century. The east end was built about the year 1790 at the expense of the parish of Killelagh, which at that time was united with Maghera. This is therefore a very ancient and historically colourful site.

In 1111, the parish of Maghera was incorporated into the diocese of the Cinéal Eoghain, the seat of which was located at Ardstraw. In 1150 however the seat was transferred to Maghera, until 1254 when after complaints of its isolation from the “mainstream of civilisation” it was removed to Derry.

As a result of the Plantation of Ulster in 1606, the lands of the parish of Maghera were divided among three of the London livery companies, namely, the Drapers, Mercers, and Vintners and a large portion of land around the modern settlement of Maghera was given over to the Established Church.[

The Old church continued in use until 1819 when it was dismantled and part of the stones used to build the new church just across the road. It has always been speculated that there were tunnels emanating from the old church to various parts including the Mullagh hill, St. Lurach’s well etc. The Presbyterian church is close to old St. Lurach’s and when the foundations were being dug for the new Presbyterian church, a workman’s shovel fell down into a cavity. This hole was then investigated and a subterranean room was found in which wsas discovered a wooden watering can, a book and the remnants of an old turf fire. Clearly the room has been occupied at some time unknown.

St. Lurach’s Baptism records 1786-1838

St. Lurach’s Baptism records 1840-1867

St. Lurach Marriage records 1845 to 1918

St. Lurach’s funeral records


Census Records

Census records can provide a wonderful insight into not just who lived in a particular place at a particular time in history, but can provide a social history of a townland, town or place. We have presented here the available census records (more will be added when time allows). It should be noted that the eaarlier census records will only list the head of a family and, unfortunately in most cases, no other information will have been recorded.


Religious Census of Parish of Magherafelt, 1766

1831 Census of County Londonderry (MADGHS transcription to be added soon). These can also be searched at the National Archives of Ireland by following this link 1831 Census  and selecting 1831.

1841 & 1851 Census returns were mostly distroyed. However, when the old age pension was introduced in 1909, these records were used to prove a pension applicant’s elgibility for the OAP and these searches still exist. They can be checked by clicking on this link and selecting the appropriate year.

1901 & 1911 Census returns are available at the National Archive of Ireland and can be searched free of charge

Religious Cenus of Parish of Magherafelt 1766

A Religious census of the Parish of Magherafelt 1766 contained in Parliamentary Returns as to Religion as preserved in documents in the Record Office, Dublin (Bundle 76, No.674)  for the Parish of Magherafelt in the Dioceses of Armagh in the barony of Loughenshollen in County Londonderry. Whilst the rector of each parish was obliged to complete this return, few actually did (or if they did, the returns have been lost). Luckily, the return for the Parish of Magherafelt still survives and is preented here.
A list of the several families in said Parish. Taken the 28th day of March 1766.

Revd. James Richardson Recr.Page 2James SemplePage 4Bryan McTeigPage 8
Edward BettyPage 2James BowmanPage 4Cormick O'NeillPage 8
Samuel McElroyPage 2Mattw. JohnstonPage 4Patrick JudgePage 8
Abraham KeightlyPage 2Hugh GarvenPage 4John O'NeillPage 8
Robert BrodlyPage 2William DickeyPage 4Phelemy O'NeillPage 8
Robert RedfernPage 2William GalwayPage 4Edward TolePage 8
Benjamin ReffernPage 2William RobinsonPage 4Edward McWilliamsPage 8
James LenoxPage 2George StuartPage 4Bernard McCannPage 8
Margt. McConnel, widowPage 2Thomas JohnstonPage 4Patrick McTeigPage 8
James HoldonPage 2Neal McMullenPage 4Roger O'LaganPage 8
William LenoxPage 2Thomas DalePage 4Henry TolePage 8
William HodwellPage 2John StuartPage 4John McAtierPage 8
Matthw. HodwellPage 2Samuel StuartPage 4Darley MorronPage 8
William Hodwell youngerPage 2David EvansPage 4James DowdalPage 8
Richard HawthornPage 2 Joseph EvansPage 4Patrick MulderigPage 8
Tracey DawsonPage 2Mattw. EvansPage 4John GriffinPage 8
Richard DawsonPage 2Samuel EvansPage 4John MorronPage 8
William HawthornPage 2Robert McErlainPage 4Patrick GriffinPage 8
Daniel ReynoldsPage 2Adam RobinsonPage 4Torlagh McLaughlinPage 8
Gerard CareltonPage 2Joseph BellPage 4Roger McGillanPage 8
Elisabth. Campbell Widw.Page 2William McGarveyPage 4Cormick O'LaganPage 8
James LeekeyPage 2Moses ThompsonPage 4James O'LaganPage 8
Henry HallPage 2James BrownPage 4John MorganPage 8
George McCallaPage 2Thomas ShannonPage 4Daniel MulhollandPage 8
John DowningPage 2Samuel ShannonPage 4Owen O'HempheyPage 8
Joseph ReynoldsPage 2Hugh Cor ? ConPage 4Neal O'DevlinPage 8
John ReynoldsPage 2Robert WileyPage 4Archbd. McDonaldPage 8
William WinchesterPage 2John WileyPage 4Tole GilmerPage 8
Mary Reynolds, Wids.Page 2William DoolPage 4Owen McWilliamsPage 8
Henry ReynoldsPage 2Hugh MillerPage 4William GilmorPage 8
Alexander LawsonPage 2James TaylorPage 4 John DowdalPage 8
John JohnstonPage 2Joseph PattisonPage 4Robert BordlyPage 8
Archibd. BrodlyPage 2John BrownPage 4Hugh CossilyPage 8
Thomas RedfernPage 2Hanna Dunban Widw.Page 4Maurice O'MurrayPage 8
Roger PalmerPage 2Thomas DittyPage 4James McQuillanPage 8
Jane Brown Widw.Page 2James BrownPage 4Daniel O'NeillPage 8
Elisabeth FullertonPage 2Robert SteelPage 4Patrick NocherPage 8
William McLanePage 2Thomas EakinPage 4Dennis McElhonePage 8
Edward MarlinPage 2Jane Eaken, WidowPage 4Roger McCamelPage 8
William MarlinPage 2James RicheyPage 4John McGonnigillPage 8
James CollinsPage 2Alexr. GravesPage 4Patrick ConaryPage 8
Daniel McGonigillPage 2James GilmerPage 4James McAtierPage 8
Henry DernamPage 2Robert GilmerPage 4Thomas HenryPage 8
George BurrowsPage 2 Andrew HaysPage 4Bridgt. Henry widw.Page 8
John BuntinPage 2 Adam CostinPage 4Owen TonerPage 8
Samuel PuePage 2William StuartPage 4Michael McCannPage 8
Anthony BuntinPage 2Mattw. McKeePage 4Philemy ConaryPage 8
Mary WilliamsPage 2Mary Purvis, Widw.Page 4Nicholas LedanPage 8
John HillmanPage 2 Francis MortonPage 4Ferdinand DevlinPage 8
Michael BuntinPage 2 Margt. Morton Widw.Page 4Hugh McCannPage 8
Charles GreerPage 2 Andrew MortonPage 4Dennis ConaryPage 8
Olivia FoxPage 2William GrayPage 4Bryan McKelveyPage 8
Charles BrownPage 2 Stuart MortonPage 4James McLaughlinPage 8
John HamerslyPage 2James McMullenPage 4Andrew McLaughlinPage 8
James PardeePage 2 Alexr. WierPage 4John McTeigPage 8
Ralph BrodlyPage 2Moses MoorPage 4Thomas McTeigPage 8
Thomas McGurkPage 2 James CathcartPage 4Bryan McTeigPage 8
Thomas GravesPage 2 George BadgerPage 4Phelemy CahanPage 8
Robert GarvenPage 2 William BadgerPage 4John GillaspeyPage 8
Patrick HillmanPage 2 Joseph PaulPage 4George LawsonPage 8
Edward TipperPage 2 George CampbellPage 4Henry TamineyPage 8
Francie GarvenPage 2Jacob WilsonPage 4Owen O'MorronPage 8
William TaylorPage 2Thomas CaulfieldPage 4Hugh CorrPage 8
Francis SearsonPage 2James PaulPage 4Adam WardPage 8
Daniel McQuilkinPage 2 James LongPage 4Maurice WardPage 8
George HowlesPage 2 Hercules DouglasPage 4Roger FarrilPage 8
Thomas McMurrayPage 2 Thomas DunlapPage 4Fergus WardPage 8
Elisabeth Conyngham Wid.Page 2 George EakenPage 4Patrick TamineyPage 8
Thomas ManPage 2 Alexr. WileyPage 4Margt. O'Neill widw.Page 8
James YorkPage 2 John EakenPage 4Gloshney McGinnisPage 8
Jane Graves Widw.Page 2 William HunterPage 4Mary FollertyPage 8
Thomas LawsonPage 2 James StittPage 4Robert CoshilleyPage 8
Henry HallPage 2 Kennedy HendersonPage 4Roger McCorleyPage 8
Joseph DonnisonPage 2 Samuel CrawfordPage 4Connor McAnalleyPage 8
James KanePage 2 Sophia Birkby Widw.Page 4Bryan DevlinPage 8
Henry YorkPage 2James WilloxPage 4Roger LorcanPage 8
George FosterPage 2Jane Garven Widw.Page 4Hugh MulkennenPage 8
Samuel MurdaghPage 2Thomas WoodworthPage 4John ScullionPage 8
John Leskey, youngr.Page 2John CaldwellPage 4Cormick O'NeillPage 8
Joseph MallardPage 2James CrawfordPage 4Allin McQuaidPage 8
Richard MardockPage 2Neal CampbellPage 5Lewis WalshPage 9
William BrownPage 2Neal McErlainPage 5Daniel O'LoreanPage 9
Francis MorganPage 2John FinlayPage 5Manasses MulgruePage 9
Alexander BrownPage 2Alexr. McCoolPage 5Michael O'ConnorPage 9
William PeacockPage 2William FarlowPage 5Michael MulgruePage 9
John BrownPage 2Alexr. SemplePage 5Bryan McGonnigillPage 9
John BoggsPage 2Ann Reed Widw.Page 5Jane Morron, Widw.Page 9
Thomas McVeyPage 2Joseph WardenPage 5Dominick DowdallPage 9
Robert NelsonPage 2William MarksPage 5Henry O'NeillPage 9
Alexr. MontgomeryPage 2William DempsterPage 5William StevensPage 9
George ArmstrongPage 2William ProctorPage 5Owne KellyPage 9
Margt. NewtonPage 2Thomas RooneyPage 5James McGurkPage 9
John JenningsPage 3Francis DavisonPage 5Bryan McGurkPage 9
Ralph BrunkardPage 3Robert CrawfordPage 5Gilldoe TrolanPage 9
Edward BrownPage 3Mary Wilson Widw.Page 5George McCamelPage 9
Christophilus ReynoldsPage 3Robert CrawfordPage 5Dennis McCarrolPage 9
Hugh McElhonePage 3John WatsonPage 5James FlaniganPage 9
Adam HendryPage 3Andrew FullertonPage 5William ChieversPage 9
Richard WilliamsPage 3William ParksPage 5Patrick ChieversPage 9
Robert DawsonPage 3William ClownishPage 5Thmas CoshilleyPage 9
George RodgersPage 3Edward McGarveyPage 5Hugh CoshilleyPage 9
James BrownPage 3John CreightonPage 5Patrick McNavallPage 9
Arthur TraceyPage 3Adam VancePage 5Manasses McNavallPage 9
Joseph EvansPage 3James LittlePage 5Thomas McNavallPage 9
Phillis Warburton Widw.Page 3John PattersonPage 5Hugh McNavallPage 9
Alexr. BradeyPage 3Matthw. LindsayPage 5Bridget McCannaPage 9
Thomas JohnstonPage 3William LeePage 5Charles DiamondPage 9
Jeremy HaineyPage 3ames JohnstonPage 5Michael WalshPage 9
Thomas BordleyPage 3John BrownPage 5Nicholas WalshPage 9
James McGarveyPage 3John JohnstonPage 5Bryan McAlpinPage 9
Thomas BarnettPage 3John WilsonPage 5Bryan McCorreyPage 9
Joseph BennettPage 3Thomas RobinsonPage 5William BarnettPage 9
Robert BrownPage 3John StuartPage 5Daniel MulderigPage 9
James CarothersPage 3Hugh StuartPage 5William MulderigPage 9
Richard StanleyPage 3 Thomas StauntonPage 5Daniel CoshilleyPage 9
Thomas DeaconPage 3James CaldwellPage 5Patrick WalshPage 9
Bartholomew ClarkPage 3Arthur ForbessPage 5Peter BrodleyPage 9
John DevlinPage 3David DuncanPage 5Neal O'BoylePage 9
Randle CoxPage 3Matthw. HarbisonPage 5John McOwenPage 9
Michael StanleyPage 3Thomas McClatchyPage 5Miles McOwenPage 9
James CoxPage 3Thomas LeePage 5Michael ShortPage 9
Elisabth. Lawson, Widw.Page 3Robert ClarkPage 5Thomas MulhollandPage 9
Richardson WilliamsPage 3John Johnston Eldr.Page 5Bernard McGuckianPage 9
James MillerPage 3John Johnston youngr.Page 5Mary DunnPage 9
Thomas RichardsonPage 3James MillikinPage 5Henry MaddenPage 9
Sarah Badger, Widw.Page 3Rowley MullenPage 5Edward BoylePage 9
William BadgerPage 3William DobbinPage 5Patrick SlanePage 9
John LeckeyPage 3Duncan CampbellPage 5Michael McNavallPage 9
Margery Huey Widw.Page 3Matthw. JohnstonPage 5John McFillonePage 9
John RedfernPage 3John BuntinPage 5Patrick McMahonPage 9
Joseph RedfernPage 3William BuntinPage 5Hugh McNavallPage 9
John MorrowPage 3James HodgePage 5Col McTeigPage 9
John NelsonPage 3Robert LeePage 5Daniel McGorraryPage 9
Mary Vance Widw.Page 3Alexr. ChristeyPage 5Eveng BrodleyPage 9
Mary Mullen Widw.Page 3Robt. MaxwellPage 5Patrick SmithPage 9
Edward WhitesidePage 3Joseph RicheyPage 5Daniel MulhollandPage 9
John WhitesidePage 3John DittyPage 5Matthew BoylanPage 9
Jane Whieside Widw.Page 3John CannonPage 5Torlach McAllesterPage 9
Hugh MullenPage 3Henry BarryPage 5Owen HughsPage 9
John MullenPage 3James SteelPage 5Dennis McTeigPage 9
Archibd- WilliamsPage 3Elisabth. Foster Widw.Page 5Thomas McTeigPage 9
Andrew FrazierPage 3John McCulloghPage 5Edward McLaughlinPage 9
William CuddyPage 3James SlossPage 5Daniel CrawfordPage 9
Hugh RodgersPage 3James Sloss youngr.Page 5Duncan GilmerPage 9
Thomas RodgersPage 3John JohnstonPage 5Patrick GilmerPage 9
Thomas ManPage 3Alexr. McKayPage 5John McGownPage 9
Richd. GarvenPage 3David DuncanPage 5George SmithPage 9
Ezekiel RichardsonPage 3Samuel CrossenPage 5Owen DonnellPage 9
David Duncan youngr.Page 5Patrick QuinnPage 9
William TaylorPage 5Patrick ShieldsPage 9
James DuncanPage 5Mary Henry Widw.Page 9
Sarah Duncan Widw.Page 5John ConwallPage 9
Mary Duncan Widw.Page 5John HenryPage 9
Mark MorrowPage 5Thomas HaganPage 9
James BoothPage 5Richard McAllesterPage 9
William BarryPage 5John DiamondPage 9
Henry CarPage 5Daniel McGuirePage 9
William HillsPage 5James McQuaidPage 10
William RayPage 5Richard McQuaidPage 10
Matthw. BodenPage 5Phelemy DairyPage 10
Mary Campbell Widw.Page 6John DoehertyPage 10
James BrownPage 6Cornalius McGonnigillPage 10
Andrew RicheyPage 6James McGonnigillPage 10
William BerrymanPage 6John ScullionPage 10
John GravesPage 6John CarganPage 10
John StauntonPage 6Daniel O'CahanPage 10
Mary Given Widw.Page 6Francis McCrystallPage 10
John LaurencePage 6John McDonnellPage 10
Catherine Given Widw.Page 6Alexander McDonnellPage 10
William GivenPage 6Charles McCamelPage 10
Margt. Trotter Widw.Page 6Cormick McNicholPage 10
William BerfootPage 6Alexr. McNicholPage 10
Catherine MaghlinPage 6Andrew McNicholPage 10
Michl. WallacePage 6Christopher McKayPage 10
Hugh WallacePage 6Neal QuigleyPage 10
James McCrackinPage 6John SmithPage 10
William MullenPage 6Daniel O'DonnellyPage 10
Robert HoustonPage 6Edward KeenanPage 10
Andrew ShannonPage 6Francis McTeigPage 10
Matthw. TaylorPage 6Phelemy DevlinPage 10
James TaylorPage 6Manasses MulhollandPage 10
Thomas RamsayPage 6Patrick CoshilleyPage 10
Duncan SwaineyPage 6 James BordlyPage 10
David ArmstrongPage 6Edward KeenanPage 10
John GreerPage 6Edward LavertyPage 10
James GreerPage 6Bryan KerneyPage 10
Elisabth. Johnston Widw.Page 6Daniel KerneyPage 10
John MurpheyPage 6Dennis KeenanPage 10
William PeacockPage 6James O'CahanPage 10
Isabella Burney Widw.Page 6Edward O'CahanPage 10
Esther Brunkard Widw.Page 6Bryan O'CahanPage 10
William SteelPage 6John O'CahanPage 10
Samuel LairdPage 6James O'Cahan youngr.Page 10
John McNeillPage 6Michael McEldoonPage 10
George PattersonPage 6Neal KeenanPage 10
Thomas DittyPage 6Murtagh KeenanPage 10
Robert SteelPage 6Dennis McCannaPage 10
John LewisPage 6Bryan CarPage 10
John GlenholmesPage 6Charles McQuaidPage 10
Joseph ThompsonPage 6Richard MulhollandPage 10
James DittyPage 6
Joseph ThompsonPage 6
John McMurdeyPage 6
David JenningsPage 6
John GrahamPage 6
Anne FultonPage 6
William ScottPage 6
Matthw. KylePage 6
James MaghlinPage 6
David McGarveyPage 6
John StittPage 6
John HunterPage 6
Hugh GrahamPage 6
David MulhollandPage 6
Cornelius CostinPage 6
Mary Semple Widw.Page 6
Archibd. McGinnisPage 6
John RicheyPage 6
Nathanl. MitchellPage 6
William StittPage 6
Mary Johnston Widw.Page 6
William KirkpatrickPage 6
Alexander McCrackinPage 6
George WoodsPage 6
John TombPage 6
William TrotterPage 6
Abrahm. MatthewsPage 6
Alexr. McMullenPage 6
Andrew LittlePage 6
George BendermanPage 6
Matthw. AllisonPage 6
Jeremy LindsayPage 6
George LindsayPage 6
James HoustonPage 6
Robert ConningPage 6
Andrew RicheyPage 6
William OarPage 6
Martha Taylor Widw.Page 6
Andrew DavidsonPage 6
William DuncanPage 7
Robert ArmstrongPage 7
Mary Loughey Widw.Page 7
Samuel BatesPage 7
George GrahamPage 7
William GrahamPage 7
David ReedPage 7
William DunlapPage 7
Adam BurrowsPage 7
David GrahamPage 7
Robert BurrowsPage 7
John DittyPage 7
John Ditty youngr.Page 7
Samuel DittyPage 7
William DittyPage 7
George WrightPage 7
Benjamin BrownPage 7
John BrownPage 7
James BrownPage 7
William BrownPage 7
Mary Ann Brown Widw.Page 7
John WallerPage 7
John Waller youngr.Page 7
James McNaughtPage 7
James McNaught youngr.Page 7
Robert McMasterPage 7
Hugh BrownPage 7
William EakenPage 7
Thomas WallacePage 7
Robert LovePage 7
John McKeePage 7
Thomas MaghlinPage 7
George PhilippsPage 7
John AskinPage 7

Kilrea Bann Bridge

Two hundred forty-eight years ago, the following advert appeared in the Belfast News-Letter:
“WHEREAS a Bridge is intended to be built next Summer across the River Bann, at Portneil near Kilrea in the County of Londonderry, with Stone and Lime Piers, and covered with Beams after the Plan of Colerain Bridge. Any Person or Persons, who will undertake to finish the same, are desired to send his, or their Proposals to Alexander Stewart, Esq, at his House in Henry-Street, Dublin, or to Abraham Hamilton, Esq; at his House in Bellaghy. Francis Clinton of Killrea will shew the Place where said Bridge is intended to be built.
“Dated this 7th Day of April, 1767.”

by Alison Kirkpatrick

Hugh Cunningham’s Horse Stolen

Belfast Newsletter 11th February 1785
A HORSE, the property of Hugh Cunningham, near Maghera, county L:Derry, strayed or stolen out of his stable, on the night of Tuesday the first instant: He is a dark bay, about 14 hands high, a few whit hairs in the forehead, black mane, and the hair off the tail, unskilfully cut so that the rump appears, well forehanded, hunter-made behind, travels well, and rising five years old.
Whoever returns said Horse to the present Sovereign of Armagh, to Thomas Campbell, Esq: of Moy, or to Hugh Cunningham, near Maghera, shall be generously rewarded; but for Horse and Thief, four guineas shall be given. Dated at Maghera this 7th day of Feb. 1785.