BELLAGHY HISTORICAL SOCIETY
TUESDAY 11TH, FEBRUARY 2014
Dr.DERMOT DEVLIN: BRIAN BORUʼS LEGACY: PEACE and POETRY
born 926, Dal Glas, Brian Boru became King of Munster and High King of Ireland.
died 1014, at Battle of Clontarf (as did his son, Murchadh). He had been reading the
psalms in his tent when the viking, Brudair, entered it. Both men died.
buried at Protestant Cathedral, Armagh (under the pulpit, according to legend).
Boru is not a surname (til the 11th century), but means cattle tribute (wealth tax). There is
a place called Boru in Co. Clare, on the banks of the Shannon.
Brian Boru was a tax collector-of all the little kindoms in Ireland under his control
(peacefully). His father was over lord of Dal Glas.
He captured, peacefully, Limerick from the Vikings.
He designated the protestant Cathedral, Armagh the principal church of Ireland (Put 20
ounces of gold in the altar), when he was welcomed to that city. (He henceforth expressed
the wish to be buried there.)
1002 and 1005, Brian Boru made circuits of Ulster, collecting tributes. He sent young men
to Europe to return with ideas and books.
The poet had status in society because of his close connection with the over lord.
BELLAGHY HISTORICAL SOCIETY
Tuesday, JANUARY 10th, 2012
Dr. DERMOT DEVLIN: IRISH LITERARY REVIVAL
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
Yeats-sifts through Irish folklore; Irish Literary Society(London); Abbey Theatre, Dublin.
Pearse, poet % educationalist.
Penal Laws applied to 18th century Catholics and Presbyterians.
They had little to do with religion-they were to do with property.
The ascendency classes owned 90% of the land by the end of the 18th century.
With the penal code 1698/1700 onward, the native Irish owned 5% of the land.
catholic land was divided among all the family as opposed to being passed to the first born
Under penal law, Catholics and Presbyterians had no vote; could not stand for parliament;
were deprived of education; couldnʼt join the professions; rents were absurdly high; were
subject to great poverty-which reduced them to slavery.
The native Irish were aligned to the stewart cause.
The law of the land assumed no such thing as Irish Catholic.
They were not barred from the trades and some of them made money.
Regular priests had to leave Ireland at once.
All diocesan priests had to go to the nearest town to register (with two guarantors) with the
local magistrate and to give such information as where they were born; where they were
living; where they were ordained and by whom; their parish. (many Protestant names
were used to guarantee catholic priests).
No catholic church buildings could be used until 1745.
Mass was held at Mass Rocks-can still be seen at Lavey, Swatragh, Moneyglass and The
Loup. At Milltown Chapel Magherafelt, a barn owned by a Protestant was given to
Catholics for Mass.
An oath of loyalty (ab-duration) to the king which denied the authority of the pope, was to
be taken by all priests. Only 30 took the oath-none from South Derry took it.
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
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
The first meeting of the Bellaghy Historical Society for the 2007-2008 season was addressed by Dr.Dermot Devlin of the N.U.Ulster and a noted authority on Irish Studies and Language. His topic was “Rose Young of Galgorm” – a lady who was born in 1865 into a wealthy family of stout Presbyterian and Unionist background and who was devoted to the study and encouragment of the Irish language. She was one of a group of wealthy young ladies who had espoused the cause of keeping the Irish language alive.She was brought up in Galgorm Castle with an great many servants but thought nothing of walking to the Glens where she sat and conversed with native Irish speakers. She was, like the ladies who had formed the Ladies’ Gaelic Society in Belfast in 1833, determined to learn the Irish spoken by the plain Irish people and the Gaelic League formed in 1893 brought together people of all classes and religious and political affiliation. Rose Young was educated privately and learned the language first of all in London, then in Belfast and made many trips to the West of Ireland to study there while retaining her contact with the ordinary people of the Glens. She went to live in Cushendun and Ballycastle and her great neice, the late Rosemary Lady Brookeborough who made Rose Young’s diaries available for Dr.Devlin to study, recalled being taken as a child to visit her on many occasions thus exploding the myth that Rose Young had been cut off from her Unionist family because of her association with the Gaelic Societies. The other ladies prominent in this Gaelic revival were Margaret Emmeline Dobbs of Carrickfergus, Margaret Hutton, wife of a Belfast Industrialist and Ada McNeill, a cousin of Lord Cushendun. Miss Young’s crowning achievement was her publication in three volumes of a selection and presentation of very moving and beautiful songs within the Irish tradition. She died in 1947 and although a Presbyterian, was buried in the graveyard of the Church of Ireland in Ahoghill, the church attended by of her mother, Grace Savage from Co.Down. Mrs Mary Breslin, Chairperson, thanked Dr.Devlin for his absorbing talk and reminded members that the Speaker for next month would be Mr. John Stuart from Ballymena whose topic would be ” Railways in County Antrim – an Historical Perspective “.
Dr Dermot Devlin of the N.U.U. guest speaker at the October meeting of the Bellaghy Historical Society.
The November meeting of the Bellaghy Historical Society was addressed by Dr. Dermot Devlin of Magherafelt and the N.U.U. on the subject of “The Bell of the Testament” – the bell in question being the bell of St. Patrick on which oaths were sworn at one time and which is now in the National Museum in Dublin.
Dr. Devlin told his audience that it is mentioned in the Annals of Ulster as early as the year 521. St. Patrick set up a Diocesan system of government in the church at a time when there was great competition for supremacy between Derry and Armagh.
Thereafter the monastic system prevailed for many years when the monasteries were not only a source of religion but of teaching and healing also. In the eleventh century there was even a woman bishop, St. Trea, who ruled a monastic church. The family of Mulholland was very important in early times and it was Henry Mulholland who when dying, told a Mclean where to find the bell of St.Patrick which he had hidden.
History does not give Irish scholars of this time enough credit for their erudition and Dr. Devlin stated that the two main languages in Ireland at that time were Latin and Irish. Scribes who were involved in the work of writing a Latin version of the Bible often wrote very interesting and touching notes in the margins in Irish. The Mallons were also a very important family and when deprived of their land and sent ” to Hell or Connaught” one of them wrote a very forgiving poem in Irish pointing out that spiritual values were more precious than possessions.
Dr. Devlin’s talk was greatly enjoyed by his large audience and he was thanked by the Chairperson Mrs Mary Breslin. She also reminded members of the Society’s book “Life in the Past” which would make a very acceptable Christmas present for relatives now living in other countries and which is on sale at The Bawn, the Vivo and Costcutter supermarkets in Bellaghy, at The Bridewell, O’Briens and Andrews in Magherafelt and at the Monastery in Portglenone. She reminded members that the speaker at the December meeting would be Mr. Alec Blair on his very informative and amusing topic ” Ulster Dialects”.