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.