Category Archives: 2009 – 2010

Bellaghy Historical Society – May 2010

A.G.M. of Bellaghy Historical Society, Tuesday, May 11th, 2010.
The minutes of last yearʼs A.G.M. were read by the secretary, Ciara Nic
Gabhann. They were passed and signed.
The treasurer, Pat Henry, presented the Financial Statement.
The chairman, Séamas Mc Erlean, reminded members of the upcoming
outing on June 17th to Belfast City Hall and to the Titanic Quarter. He asked
those interested in going to register their interest with the outing organisers,
Patricia Lowry and Mary Breslin.
Election of Officers facilitated by the nightʼs speaker, Clive Scoular.

Chairman Séamas Mc Erlean proposed by Mary Breslin
seconded by Patricia Lowry
Vice-Chairman Pat Brennan proposed by Margaret Evans
seconded by Séamas Mc Erlean
Secretary Ciara Nic Gabhann proposed by Séamas Mc Erlean
seconded by Mary Breslin
Treasurer Pat Henry proposed by Patricia Lowry
seconded by Margaret Evans
Committee Members re-elected en block: Sam Overend, Ena Hammond,
Margaret Evans, Dermot Keenan proposed by Séamas Mc Erlean
seconded by Ciara Nic Gabhann
Lifetime Honorary Members Patricia Lowry and Mary Breslin
Clive Scoular then gave a talk on The Theft of The Irish Crown Jewels from
Dublin Castle 1907. Or, to be more accurate, the star and badge consisting of
rubies, emeralds and diamonds mounted in silver, belonging to the Order of
St. Patrick. They had been given to the Order by King William IV in 1831.
Very expensive -valued in the 1830s at £65,000. There followed a story of
intrigue told in Cliveʼs most entertaining manner, involving Sir Arthur Vicars,
Keeper of Jewels and Herald of Ireland-based at Dublin Castle; Frank
Shackelton (brother of Earnest); Lord Aberdeen, Chancellor in Dublin Castle.
The jewels have never been found.
At end of the evening, the Chairman asked all committee members to remain
for a short meeting after the tea.

Bellaghy Historical Society – April 2010

Alec Blair: April 13th, 2010
Rev. W.F. Marshall: Bard of Tyrone
Born 1888, William Forbes Marshall was the second of three sons of a schoolmaster,
Sixmilecross, Co. Tyrone.
He attended the Royal School, Dungannon. At age 16, he left for Queenʼs College, Galway
from where he graduated, 1908, with an Arts degree and with an LLB, 1910.
W.F. arrived in Aughnacloy, 26-06-1913, to serve as minister, his first posting.
He took up ministry in Sixmilecross, 1916, where he married Suzanne Mc Kee of Belfast.
They had three children-Charles, Margaret and John.
He later moved to Castlerock where he served longest as minister.
He regarded the Presbyterian Ministry as his calling and as the most important thing in his
life. He was most elequent as preacher. He wrote his sermons late Saturday night. None
was ever published. however, he always gave childrenʼs addresses during his sermons-in
fact, he was a pioneer in this area.
He was expert on the communion service: he studied Calvin, the Jewish Passover as well
as Eastern practices. He lectured in Oxford on the subject.
He studied the Ulster dialect and in 1942 was made a member of the Royal Irish Academy.
In 1952 a Doctor of Divinity honorary degree was bestowed upon him.
He lectured at Magee in elocution for student ministers.
W.F. said of himself that he was not a poet but a bard, a verse maker. He was a product of
the place from which he came. He used the speech or parlance of the people of the areawhich
was unusual for a Presbyterian minister of that time.
His most famous verse, “Me and Me Da” (“Drumlister”) was written in 15 minutes! It
became very popular at concerts and gatherings. It propelled him into notoriarty when
broadcast on BBC Home Service.
He went on to use radio as a vehicle to provide literature to the populace. His BBC
broadcasts “Ulster Speaks” were published 1925- 6p for 5 0r 6 books in the series.
Six post bags of mail would arrive at Castlerock and he answered every letter!
He used different local Tyrone/Derry?antrim speakers to illustrate the subtlties of
dialectical differences.
He wrote Shakespeareʼs “Midsummerʼs Night Dream” in Ulster speech which proved to be
closer to the original version than present day modern English!
W.F. had hoped to produce an Ulster Dialect Dictionary but his lifeʼs work was destroyed
when his pupate the script!
He then wrote a novel, an adventure set in the Sperrins, “Planted by a River”.
1943- he published “Ulster Sails West”, telling of the emigration of Ulster people to the
U.S. in the 1880s. He gave the proceeds to the Ulster Unionist Council to help fund
campaigns in America opposing De Valera and Irish Republican politics.
Marshall wrote a play “Cordoroy Bag” -with 32 scene changes!
It is for verses that he is deservedly remembered.They were written for pleasure, to give
others a laugh. He was a humourist and he became a household name. He wrote about
the people of Sixmilecross; fishing was his hobby; ceili-ing was an enjoyment.
Upon his death, 25-021-1959, Blackstaff published ʻLiving in Drumlister”, a collection of
most of W.F. Marshallʼs verses.

Bellaghy Historical Society – March 2010

Moira OʼRourke. Lough Neagh Partnership.
March 9th 2010
The Lough Neagh Partnership(LNP) aims to develop the
economic sustainability of the Lough Neagh(LN) area. The
Heritage Lottery has made available funding to promote LN.
There are 81 townlands surrounding LN. The LNP wishes to
compile information on the townlands based on
archealogical sites, industrial heritage, defence heritage,
desmenes, battle sites, folklore memory and placenames.
NE of Lough Neagh, the land is high and arable. SW,S,SE is
boggy and low lying.West of the Lough lie the flood plains flat,
marshy land.
LN was an economic hub in the 14th-18th centuries for
agriculture, weaving and distilling-before the onset of canals
and railways.
The NI Environment Agency, Hill St., Belfast has maps,
databases and a website pertinant to LN.
Ordnance Survey Memoirs give an insight to life in 1830s
Ariel photography and topographical files are held in
Armagh and in the Ulster Museum.
The LNP wishes to create a heritage tool for future heritage
and conservation research by publishing collated
information in book form and on a website.
The LNP will provide for local community input into the
gathering of heritage information.
The LNP will launch a three year programme,funded by the
Heritage Lottery to include community based projects;
excavations(on a small scale);field walking and recording;
building restoration; publications; exhibitions; creation of
heritage trails, etc.

Bellaghy Historical Society – February 2010

February 16th 2010 Dr. Dermot Devlin: From Aileach to Tullyhogue
Aileach ( Co. Donegal): stoney place
Tullyhogue (Co. Tyrone): Tulach na nOg: where young men gathered round their chieftan.

In fifth century Ireland, Donegal chieftan Niall na Naoi nIallach (Niall of the Nine Hostages)
saw the seas as a path to a better future and plundered England-the future patron saint of
Ireland, St. Patrick, being one of his captives.
Niall left behind him 14 sons, including Eoghan (Inis Eoghain) and Conall (Raphoe).
In the 8th and 9th centuries, Niallʼs descendants pushed into Derry and central Ulster.
Struggle for power ensued between the OʼNeills and the Mc Loughlins. At a battle at the
banks of the Stule,Omagh, the OʼNeills wiped out the Mc Loughins, leaving the Oʼ Neills as
political head of central Ulster.
The OʼNeills were politically astute. Scotch soldiers-Mac Donalds- from the gaelic islands
settled at Galbally(townland of the Galls(foreingers) fought OʼNeill battles and remained
loyal to the chieftan.
The Devlins,Ardboe, were constables for the OʼNeills; the Donnellys, solictors; the Quinns,
Ballyquinn(Mountjoy) civil service. The OʼHagans, descendants of Eoghan OʼNeill,played a
leading role in the wipeout of the Mc Loughlins. The same OʼHagans lived on a hill at
Tullyhogue. The Campells were a church family as were the Mallons. The Mc Guires of Fermanagh and the Mac Mahons of Farney. Each family had a poet: OʼCathain\OʼKane; McNamee .

The latter was the OʼNeill poet: he had equal status with OʼNeill but no power.
All these families around the OʼNeills elected OʼNeill as their chieftan at a secular ceremony
at Tullyhogue. Oʼ Kane, yielding a white wand, would have directed OʼNeill to honorably
impose law on all. OʼNeill would have placed his foot on the mark of a shoe in the stone
chair (which had been brought to Tullyhogue fron Aileach). The poet would have
declared,”this is the OʼNeill”.
In the 14th and 15th centuries, the OʼNeills began to split:
from Clandeboye to south Derry:Aodh Bui from Tyrone to Portugal;
south Armagh, OʼNeill of Fews,survived to the 21rst century;
Strabane- they never stood together; there was always conflict between them.
Each of the big families had poem books or handwritten manuscripts in which were the
familyʼs history/genealogy; except for the Tyrone OʼNeills as the Tudors had banned the
surname OʼNeill.
In 1604,Mountjoy smashed the stone at Tullyhogue. Caulfield got the OʼNeill lands.
There hangs in the Vatican a portrait of Hugh OʼNeill with the Pope and the Spanish

Bellaghy Historical Society – November 2009

Another first for Dawson Stelfox! The first man from Ireland to conquer Mt.
Everest {1993} stood in Bellaghy for the first time Tuesday last, November
10th, to address the Bellaghy Historical Society on vernacular architecture.
An architect and conservationalist, Mr. Stelfox spoke on the relationship
between people and their environment and how their dwellings are a
response to that relationship.
He showed slides of mud walls and thatched roofs of Nepalese housing,
reflecting the steep slopes of the paddy fields.
Rural homesteads in Ireland were built in the shelter of hills from the SW
winds. Trees were planted to provide shelter from the same SW winds.They
were set at right angles to slopes to allow for drainage of water down hill.
Houses were one room deep because of the size of roof timbers.
In1600s Ireland, extended family members built their houses in close
proximity to their family group-these dwellings are known as clachans.Most
have been replaced by single homesteads. Mr. Stelfox showed slides of
Hannaʼs Close in the Mourne Mts., one such clachan which has been
restored by a community development group in Kilkeel, Co. Down. It is
possible to retain the external vernacular features, keeping the relationship of
the building with the landscape, while having the comfort of all mod cons
within the house!
The Natural Stone Database for N.I. is a website set up to show the identity
of stone types and stone sources and to encourage the re-opening of local
stone quarries. What a pity granite was recently imported from China and not
mined in the Mournes for new street paving in Newcastle, Co. Down.
However, locally sourced basalt will,Mr. Stelfox assured us, be used on the
facade of the new visitors centre at the Giantʼs Causeway.
We were delighted with Dawson Stelfoxʼs visit to Bellaghy: his talk was most
interesting and informative and the slides fascinating!