Bellaghy Historical Society – February 2002

There was a large attendance at the February meeting of the Bellaghy Historical Society to hear several subjects discussed.

The main speaker was Mr George McIntyre on the History of his native Drumlamph. This was followed by Mr Sam Overend on the History of the Construction Industry in Bellaghy, Mrs Mary Breslin on the History or the Diatomite Industry and Dr C.G.Lowry on the Medical History of Bellaghy.

The Society aims to paint a picture of what life was like for inhabitants of the village in days gone by and how people earned their living.

Mr McIntyre has compiled a data base of 5,000 to 6,000 names of people associated with Drumlamph families during the past 200 years and has gone to great lengths to discover who married whom, where people moved on to and noted where houses which no longer exist, used to stand. With the help of his computer he is able to trace the ancestors of most of Drumlamphs past or present residents.

He is keen for any one with interesting information or questions to visit his web site at
Mr Sam Overend told that about 300 men left Bellaghy every morning in the post war boom of building, to work in the Construction Industry mainly with the three Evans building firms. An apprentice to the trade in the early forties worked a fifty four hour week for a pittance. He ended
his very interesting resume with an amusing anecdote about the mother who said that her son made very comfortable coffins!

Mrs Mary Breslin gave a very scientific account of the discovery and development of Diatomite at the New Ferry which at one time employed 150 men. She traced its formation from minute crustaceans over millions of years and went on to state its uses for insulation, abrasives and even face powder. She noted the methods employed for extracting and drying it at the New Ferry before exporting it to England. She also gave the names and dates of Managers and workers connected with the industry at New Ferry and Toomebridge.

Dr Charles Lowry in his talk, recorded that the Bellaghy Dispensary was established in 1832, funded by the Vintners Company, the Grand Jury and some private subscriptions. He recorded the names of doctors who held the position of Dispensary doctor, and traced the development of medicines which enabled doctors to combat previously incurable diseases. The Health Service starting in 1948 made treatment available to everyone and laid the foundation for modern practice

Closing the meeting and thanking all the speakers Mrs Mary Breslin, Chairperson reminded members that the next meeting on 12th March would have as subject Emigration with reference to this area the talk being given by Dr Patrick Fitzgerald from the Ulster American Folk Park, Omagh

Speakers-at-the-February-meetingSpeakers at the February meeting, (L-R) Main speaker Mr George McIntyre (The History Drumlamph. his native townland);  Mr Sam Overend (The History of the Construction Industry in Bellaghy); Mrs Mary Breslin History (The Diatomite Industry at New Ferry) and Dr C.G.Lowry (The Medical History of Bellaghy).

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