The Derganagh Boat

Today, the Ballinahone (or Ballynahone as it is on the Ordnance Survey maps and Griffith’s Valuation of Ireland) Bog is a raised bog, and Area of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI) and it’s conservation is protected by law. However, it should be remembered that this was not always the case. In fact, in the distant past, this area was a large lake created after the end of the last ice age and in the eight to ten thousand years since its formation, the lake has gradually silted up and filled with the dead vegetation of the plants than grew around it and on / in it. So, it should come as no surprise that today ancient boats might be unearthed. One such boat was discovered in 1813:

“On Monday, 7th of September, 1813, Mr. Thomas Armstrong of Darganagh, in the parish of Termoneeny, found in his land, at the foot of Knockloughrain hill, four feet from the surface of earth, an oak boat, 23½ feet long and 6 feet wide. It was made after the manner of the Indian canoes, of one large tree, and was perfectly sound, its bottom being thickly coated with a hard bituminous substance, something like pitch. On the stern was a projection, with a hole in it for a cable, and it lay alongside a small quay. Under the boat lay several oars or poles, which were quite rotten. Near the place where this ancient boat was discovered, the banks of what was once appeared to have been a canal, communicating with the lowlands adjoining the bog, may be distinctly traced.”

Reverend John Graham, 1813.

A Statistical Account or Parochial survey of Ireland. Parish of Maghera, William Shaw Mason, et al., Grainsberry and Campbell, 1814

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

Hegarty’s Horse stolen

Hegarty’s Horse Belfast Newsletter 22nd June 1804
ON Wednesday night the 13th instant, a BAY GELDING, about 14 hands high, eight years old, black mane, and tail set, both hind feet white, hoofs striped, with a small white star on forehead.- Two Guineas Reward will be given to any person who shall deliver said horse to the owner William Hegarty, Knockaneal, Parish of Maghera, or who will give Eight Guineas for Horse and Thief, on prosecuting the Thief to conviction. June 21.

A New Graveyard for Tobermore?


Belfast Newsletter 3rd January 1896 Edition

MAGHERAFELT BOARD OF GUARDIANS.- A special meeting was held yesterday- Mr. James Shivers, deputy vice-chairman, presiding. The other Guardians present were Colonel Sir W.F.L. Conyngham, K.C.B; Messrs. Andrew Brown, J.P.; Brigade-Surgeon Waters, C.B., J.P.; James Sinclair, J.P.; Wm. Eakin, J.P.; Thomas S. Ash, J.P.; W.J. Derby, J.P.; John Keenan, J. P.; Wm. Harbison, J.P.; Felix Ferran, J.P.; James Caldwell, Thomas Daley, J.P.; Daniel McKenna, James Garvin, Alexander Burnett, Thomas Shiels, George Mullan, Thomas Houston, Hugh Barkley, William Rutherford, J. P.; Robert Eakin, Wm. Anderson, Andrew Lattimar, Nicholas Mulholland, Joseph Carson, Charles Convery, Henry O’Neill, J.P.; Robert Bell, John O’Kane, Robert S. Murdock and Thomas Carleton.
… The Board was specially summoned to consider a memorial from ratepayers in Tobermore, praying that a public cemetery be provided by the Guardians for the district. A memorial against the proposal was presented by Mr. Anderson, Guardian of the division, the grounds of composition being –
1. That there are at present three burying-grounds around Tobermore, in which the members of the different Protestant Churches who have existing rights have full liberty to bury.
2. That it has always been customary for each of the denomination (the Baptist denomination excepted) in the division to provide a burying-ground of its own. Many members of the Baptist Church have undisputed right of interment both in the Parish Church and Presbyterian Church burying-grounds.
3. Under the foregoing circumstances there was no necessity for a cemetery being provided.
The memorial was influentially signed. Dr. Waters, C.B., J.P., Whitefort, in moving that a public burying-ground be provided, dwelt on the fact that one of the graveyards mentioned in the memorial was closed for upwards of twenty years, and that the Presbyterian graveyard was practically closed. Regarding the new parish church graveyard, the Church authorities had resolved that, except in a few instances, no one outside their own congregation would be allowed to bury there, consequently there was no place of burial. Mr. Caldwell seconded Dr. Waters’ proposition. Rev. Mr. Stevenson, Tobermore; Rev. G.K. Moriarty, Kilcronaghan; and several other laymen, appeared before the Board in support of the memorial against a public cemetery being provided, and were heard at length. Mr. Murdock moved, and Mr. Mulholland seconded, an amendment that a public cemetery be not provided, which, on a poll being taken. 19 votes for and 33 against.

Terrible Explosion at Maghera


Long before Maghera experienced destruction in the IRA bombings in the 1970s, Maghera was the scene of a large explosion some eighty years earlier…

The Belfast News-Letter, Friday, January 20, 1893 edition
MAGHERA, WEDNESDAY.- This usually quiet village was yesterday evening the scene of one of the most terrific explosions that has ever occurred in the neighbourhood. Being the usual weekly market day, large numbers of the farming population were in town. Suddenly, about one o’clock, a tremendous report was heard; concurrently with the report of the explosion glass in the windows of many of the houses in the lower end of the town was heard to break, while inside the houses furniture and other articles were hurled about. Some of the people rushed out almost panic-stricken. For a time the scene can be better imagined than described, and it was only when the people found the real nature of the occurrence that anything like calmness returned. The explosion occurred in the rear of the business premises of Mr. Thomas A. Lytle, hardware and general merchant, where a quantity of powder for blasting and other purposes was stored. The shock occasioned by the explosion was so great that it was felt, more or less, in every house in town- in fact, nearly every house bore some testimony of the terrible nature of the explosion. One most fortunate feature of the occurrence is that happily no human life was sacrificed. It is true two men have been seriously injured. However, when it is considered the number of people whose business brought them convenient to the scene of the explosion, it is really surprising that a more distressing tale has not to be to-day recorded. Te roof of the store where the explosion occurred, which was slated, part of the walls and almost everything in the adjoining stores were scattered to atoms, some of the larger stones of the walls of the store smashing and injuring the roof of the houses adjoining. Fortunately none of these dangerous missiles were blown in the direction of the main street, but in some of the out-of-way places many narrow escapes are recorded. After the explosion the debris ignited, and it was not without much difficulty a serious fire was averted. It was with considerable difficulty any reliable particulars of the occurrence could be obtained, as every person connected with Lytle’s place seemed to be equally ignorant as the outside public. The following particulars, however, were gathered:- A respectable farmer, named Henry McPeake, residing at Terhugh, called at Mr. Lyttle’s shop for the purpose of purchasing a grate for a new house he was after building. He grates, it appears, are kept in a large store at the rear of Lytle’s premises. This consists of three apartments- in the first of which corn is stored; the next a variety of general hardware goods, and the third is the place known as the powder magazine. It should be stated that the entrance to this is by the same door as to the other two apartments, and there is nothing to prevent customers passing from one part of the building to the other. McPeake, being unable to get any person belonging to the place to accompany him, went out to the store to select the grate himself. On going into the store another farmer named Mr. James Dripps, of Terragarah, was selecting a pan. These three apartments are on the first storey. Underneath there is a timber store, in which Mr. Robert Lowe, of Moneysharra, and his nephew were selecting timber. None of the parties can tell very much about the explosion. McPeake says he was not long there when the explosion occurred, and that it was so sudden and the shock so great he can tell little about it. At all events, Messrs. Dripps and McPeake are both badly injured about the face and head. Dr. William McGowan happened to be passing Lytle’s place at the time the explosion took place, and ran into the yard. McPeake was coming out of the entrance to the store. Seeing he was able to walk the doctor did not mind him, but inquired if there was any other person inside, and on being informed that there was went into the store and found Mr. Dripps struggling to get out of where he had been knocked down by falling fragments. Dripps was immediately taken to Dr. McGowan’s surgery, where his injuries were attended to. When McPeake descended the ladder it was found that the back part of his pants were burned away and his legs injured. Dr. McGowan also dressed McPeake’s wounds. Both the injured men were permitted to go to their respective homes during the evening. Meantime, the two Lowes, who were in the timber store, made their appearance, little the worse of anything save fright. Both had a very narrow escape, and certainly would have been crushed to death by the floor of the second storey falling in had it not been for the large stock of timber which was in the place that prevented this floor from coming down with a crash. A large crowd quickly gathered, and Sergeant Neely, Acting-Sergeant McCorry, Constables O’Rielly, McGinty, Drunan, and Osborough were early on the scene, and succeeded in extinguishing the fire, which at that time was spreading quickly. It is at present impossible to suggest how the explosion was caused, as both the injured men denied having used matches while in the store. The damage done to the store and the adjoining buildings is considerable, but we understand Mr. Lytle has his property fully covered by insurance. It is stated that there was only a very small stock of powder in the store on Tuesday, and that things would have been much more serious had the usual stock been in the store. If the explosion has made clear anything, it is that powder of any kind should not be allowed to be kept in any place where other goods are stored. No person should have access to a place of this kind save the retailer; in fact, it would be much better that powder magazines should be altogether detached from other buildings where the general public have access.

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.

Man leaps from train near Maghera Station

Belfast Newsletter 10th March 1890
MAGHERA, SUNDAY.- After the departure of the 5.40 train last evening Acting-Sergeant Dolan and Constable McDonagh, who were on duty at the station heard sounds as of some person moaning along the line a short distance from the station. Constable McDonagh proceeded in the direction, and had only got about 100 yards down the line when he found a young man named James Mellon close to the rails apparently suffering great pain. The station-master, the acting-sergeant, and one of the porters carried the injured man on a door to the waiting-room, where he was examined by Dr. McGowan, who was in attendance. The doctor found that Mellon’s right leg was broken a little above the knee. Questioned as to how the accident occurred, Mellon said he joined the train at Kilrea, intending to get out at Maghera, but he mistook the station, and on finding his mistake he jumped out of the railway carriage, with the result already mentioned. A cart having been procured, he was removed to his father’s residence in the townland of Ternoney.

Draperstown, Tobermore, and Maghera Farming Society annual ploughing match

Banner of Ulster – Friday, 10 March, 1843
DRAPERSTOWN, TOBERMORE, AND MAGHERA FARMING SOCIETY. — The annual ploughing match of this Society took place at Macknagh, near Maghera, on Monday, 27th February. The day being favourable for ploughing, great numbers were assembled to witness the proceedings, amongst whom were the Rev. William Spencer Knox, the Rev. James S. Knox, James J. Clark, Esq., R. L. Malverer, Esq., and many other gentlemen who have long very zealously and efficiently exerted themselves in supporting and promoting the interests of the Society. Thirteen well-appointed ploughs started, and finished their respectable lots in due time. The judges — Messrs. David M’Kane, John Brooks, and James Duff — after a most careful and attentive inspection, awarded the Society’s premiums in the following order: — 1st premium and the Silver cup to Mr. Massey M’Elree, plough held by himself; 2d, to Mr. David Kenning, plough held by his son; 3d, to Mr. Samuel M’Gown, plough held by his servant; 4th, Mr. Robert Wallace, plough held by his son; 5th, Mr. Samuel M’Elree, plough held by his servant; 6th, Mr. James Paul, plough held by his servant; 7th, Mr. P. Duffy, plough held by his son; 8th, Mr. T. A. Dickson, plough held by his servant; 9th, Mr. Abraham Kennedy, plough held by his servant; 10th, Mr. W. Young, plough held by his servant. In the evening, the Society met in the Maghera Hotel, and sat down to an excellent dinner, prepared by Mr. Mulholland, in his best style. James J. Clarke, Esq., presided, and in the course of the evening made many useful and highly interesting observations relating to the Society, and the means of extending this usefulness. The cloth being removed, and the health of the Queen and many other loyal toasts being given and duly honoured, the health of the “Judges of the day” was proposed and drank with great enthusiasm, all present vieing with each other in testifying the high opinion entertained of the superior kill skill and integrity of the judges. The health of the several friends and supporters of the Society, some of whom were unavoidably absent, was given and responded to in the most cordial manner. “The successful candidates,” “The unsuccessful candidates,” and many other toasts, were given and replied to in the most friendly spirit imaginable,. Several challenges for stock and crops were given and accepted. The meeting then separated, the greatest harmony and good feeling having prevailed throughout the entire proceedings.