Category Archives: 2011 – 2012

Bellaghy Historical Society – April 2012

Tuesday, APRIL 10th, 2012.
Sean Diamond of Oldtown Joinery, Bellaghy, gave a talk on and showed slides and film on
the building, by his firm, of the replica of the Titanicʼs Grand Staircase for the new Titanic
Museum, Belfast.
Northern Ireland Archive then showed digital film of Captain Smyth on the bridge of the
Footage after the disaster-N.Canada, ice-infested waters and icebergs; mary Sculley the
press boat; Carpathia arriving in New York with surviving passengers and crew; Fr. Hogue,
passenger on Carpathia first spotted survivors in the water; showing life jackets on crew;
press hysteria-White Star offices, New York-100s of people waiting foe news; Marconi
interviewed survivors on Carpathia; recovery boat, Mackay-Bennett.
More footage: “I Remember”, 1999, John Parkinson, whose father was joiner on Titanic
build, tells of launch-12 tug boats up river to Hollywood/swish of propellers/crowds waving
hankies and shouting goodbye.
Silent footage- 1920s Harland & Wolfe yards and quays.(H&W started 1858).
1920s-35,000 workforce in H&W; 1980s-3,000; 2012-500.
Footage-Mrs. Neville Chamberlain in Belfast; launch HMS Belfast, 1938; previous day,
launch of aerodrome, Belfast.
Footage-1940s, W. Churchill grateful to people of NI; 1944-Ulster at Arms; building/
repairing ships at H&W.
1960s-silent footage, taken by workers, R&S Canberra-final passenger ship built by H&W.
Super 8 Stories-ordinary people donated super 8 footage to BBC-2 deepsea dockers
reminsce-timber from Scandinavia, Brazilian mahogany, logs from Africa.
1986-David Hammondʼs RTÉ/C4 documentary-social history of H&W, showing workers
reminiscing, “Steel Chest, Nail in Boot, Barking Dog” (menʼs nicknames).

Bellaghy Historical Society – February 2012

Tuesday, FEBRUARY 14th, 2012.
Hannah Sheehy Skeffington, b.1877. Educated St. Maryʼs College, Belfast, BA and MA.
Her father, david Sheehy, MP, member IRB; her uncle Fr. Eugene Sheehy, involved with
Michael Davitt, Land League. Visitors to family home included Parnell.
Married Francis Skeffington 1903-both took both names!
Became involved with Irish Womenʼs Franchise League along with Constance Marcievik
and maud Gonne, and became more militant as rime progressed.
Suffragist-one promotes by constitutional means;
Suffragette-more violent means.
HSS-arrested and imprisoned and on hunger strike many times. She met James Connolly,
socialist, who helped her-the only man to do so.
1909-gives birth to son, Eoghan.
1913-the Dublin Lockout.
1916-Easter Rising. FSS, anti- looter campaigner; on day two of rising, arrested, brought
to Portobello barracks, met Capt. Coldhurst and shot along with two journalists.
HSSʼs fight for vote put on hold til she fought Dublin Castle and English Government over
FSSʼs execution. She met the PM and eventually, Coldhurst was court marshalled,
declared insane and found guilty of the unlawful death of the three.
1918-HSS went to USA to give lectures/fundraise for womenʼs rights. Stayed several
years; met US president. Returned to Ireland after WW1. Women over 30 allowed vote.
Before WW1, 700,000 on electoral register (population 5.5million); after WW1, 2 million on
Emily Pankhurst died day before vote over 30 for women announced.
HSS became involved with families of prisoners.
1927-Constance Marcievik dies;HSS executor of her will.
1930s-travelled to Russia for international womenʼs conference. Met maud Gonne &
C.Dispard there.
After WW2, dies, aged 68.
Charlotte French Dispard, b. 1844, Kent, England.
Brother of John French, last Viceroy of Ireland.
Interested in Garibaldiʼs politics.
Married Despard, Laois-self made, wealthy(tea), 1870-had never previously been to
Ireland. Travels world with husband & sees what women are not entitled to. Despard dies
after 17 years marriage-no children.
CD back in London & starts good work.
1890s-Battersea-opened community centres for poor, elderly, disadvantaged.
Charlie Chaplin, his mother & brother were helped by CD in this way.
She pushed the needs of women in every organisation/socoety she was in.
1909/10- CD bombarded PM about the situation. She realised constitutional means not
enough. Was imprisoned several times, where she met Maud Gonne and Constance
Marcievik.Met Connolly in Dublin during lockout.
After WW1, people more pacified.
1918-stood for Battersea seat and lost by few thousand votes.
1921 (aged77)-moved back to live in Ireland-met M. Gonne again-they set up Roebuck
House together, a co-operative, food growing/sales, very successful.
1927-de Valera wanted CD and MG in Westminster for announcement of womenʼs vote.
At 86, CD went to Russia for womenʼs conference & met HSS there.
1934, aged 90, left Dublin for Belfast, Newtownards Rd., and became involved with
women/children of East Belfast.
1935, built house at Whitehead, Co. Antrim (house still there).
Died aged 95.

Bellaghy Historical Society – January 2012

Tuesday, JANUARY 10th, 2012
1918, Florence Wilson looked at aspects of the 1798 rebellion, in particular, the fate of
Thomas Russell, “The Man of God Knows Where”.
Tailors and weavers often travelled to ply their trade and were often also ballad singers.
Most towns had printing houses which printed papers and ballda which they sold at fair
days, at races and at patterns.
Orange ballads were surprisingly identical-the airs and internal meters were gaelic;
there was less sentiment in them; they celebrated victory over enemies; recounted faction
fights and family feuds.
Issues of 19th century Ireland: 1760-the end of penal laws; Catholic emancipation/
OʼConnell monster rallies; the land question-absentee landlords-Parnell broke landlordism;
Education Act 1831; famine 1845-7.
Continental Europe-romanticsm; the cultivation of self; great books written.
Societies formed in Ireland-Celtic Society; Celtic Hibernian Society; GAA; Gaelic League
(Douglas Hyde).
Yeats-sifts through Irish folklore; Irish Literary Society(London); Abbey Theatre, Dublin.
Singe, CAsey-playwrights.
Pearse, poet % educationalist.

Bellaghy Historical Society – November 2011

Tuesday, NOVEMBER 8th, 2011
RODDY HEGARTY: The development of a Road System in Ulster

A road system reveals the economic history of a region/country.
Here, there is a highly developed road system/more roads than elsewhere in Europe.
Roads are an essential prerequisite for economic development. Roads open up the
countryside and provide a link between goods and the marketplace.
1843, mail coach between Belfast and Derry travelled the coastal route-there was no A6
The 18th and 19th centuries saw the expansion of road construction under the
stewardship of local landlords, parishes, grand juries, Boards of Works, councils, postal
service, etc.
Probity of wills, roads and licencing of liquor was part of parish work in the 18th & 19th
A large part of the local tithe payments went towards the upkeep of roads in that parish.
Ancient roadways-neolithic tracks of 4.500 years ago served as paths between
communities and many underlie roadways today.
Rivers V Roads- standing stones, from the 8th & 9th centuries, along route ways may have
been early sign posts.
There is little or no Roman influence in Ireland.
Slighe Mór-wide enough for two chariots; linked major regal/ecclesiastical sites and are
strongly featured in the epics of the 4th & 5th centuries. There is archaelogical evidence of
a paved route way between Carntogher and Pontarosa.
Placenemes, bóthar/bealach, suggest a route way for people and/or horses.
Until 1601/03, the interior of Ulster was not known to the English because of the Irish
Gaelic fegal system.
Pre plantation, it was a cattle-led economy and settlements were not towns as was known
Post plantation, 1609-1612, lands were granted to the English/Scots, tenants paid rent and
made money from farming. A cash economy with markets and fairs meant a road system
was built.
1615-Roads Act.
Role of the parish: the new Church was not representative of the entire population.
Catholic and Presbyterian workers built/repaired roads in Anglican parishes. They worked
6 days a week, Easter to mid summer; load bearing animals/carts were supplied by local
landowners/farmers; to raise a levy for tools, there were no wages; no bridges were
provided for; each parish built itʼs own stretches of road. The vestry minute books record
evidence of the parish road building system.
It was a piecemeal & problematic system and proved unable to adjust to change in the
18th century-the linen industry.
Armagh-Tullahogue, the first map of Ulster shows roads built by the English military-a
military strategy to dominate the O Neills.
Raven-drew the first map of Bellaghy.
toll Roads-were used by the mail coaches as they were straighter than regular roads.
1735-50, turnpike/toll roads were built on the east coast: Dublin to Coleraine; Dublin to
The tollgate still remains on the A5, Strabane at the Five Tree Hotel; and at the High
School, Derry Rd.
East of Lough Neagh, because of the type and volume of traffic, there were more
turnpikes.1855-turnpike trusts wound up.
Taylor/Skinner maps show mail coach routes. The first mail coaches in Ireland appeared in
1792-the post office was given funding for the upkeep of postal routes only.
1820-grand juries had responsibility for bridges.
1831-Irish Board of Works took over; the OPW had responsibility for all roads.
Samson 1802 map of Derry was redrawn 1813 because of the change to the road system.
Rocks=drew map of Armagh road system; Rendwick, the road system of Antrim.
O.S. Memoirs 1832/4, mention broken whinstone, 22ʼ average breadth; the main Garvagh-
Toomebridge road, through Bellaghy.
The second edition, 1852/4, shows field boundaries and lanes.
Lewisʼ Topography Dictionary 1837, shows county maps with roads and by-roads between
Maghera, Tobermore, Castledawson, Bellaghy, Magherafelt.
Grand Juries built roads between market /postal towns or to ports.
Lanlords were allowed use the system to self-grandiose and designated hamlets as
market towns.
1760s, the Grand Jury system facilitated the growth of the linen industry and of Lanlordsʼ
1710, the parish system was bypassed.
The presentation books of grand Juries til 1890s show that gravel was used; landlords
and/or their agents were on these Juries and gave instruction on where roads were to
built/repaired and on who the workers would be-they were paid per perch.
1890s-Grand Juries were replaced by county councils. Paving also built/repaired in towns.
End 18th century Young states all transport- one horse carts; carried linen; better quality
roads because of lighter traffic.
1815-Bianconi travel established, superseded railways.
1852-Sligo-Derry route established.
Bianconis became feeders for trains.
Where railways served areas more than roads did, the roads fell into disrepair, but, for only
50 years. Linen transport stayed on the roads.
1930s-daimler international combustion engine; Bedford lorries.
1931-21.5% passengers travelled by train; 78% by road.
-36% freight by rail; 55% by road; 7% by canal.
Number of motor vehicles in N.Ireland: 1922-16,000;
Road surfaces-tar/bitmac.
Concrete roads-1927 Toome-Castledawson.
Speed limits-introduced Belfast, 1938/9-30mph; 1960s elswhere.

Bellaghy Historical Society – October 2011

Tuesday, OCTOBER 11th, 2011
The placing of blue plaques on buildings to mark the residence of a significant person or to
mark the site of a significant event began in England 1866.
The Ulster History Circle began the practice in 1983/4. To date, (October 2011), 141
plaques have been issued.
For selection, the person must be deceased for at least 20 years or have reached 100
years since birth; must have made a significant contribution in his chosen field; no other
memorial in place; one plaque per person; the plaque must be visible from a public
Buildings being marked must be sites of significant social/historical interest.
Funding for the plaques: heritage Lottery, private donations, councils.
To make a nomination, all bibliographies to Ulster History Circle.
Dictionary of Ulster Biography-published by the Institute of Irish Studies, (QUB), is now
also available on line.