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Monreagh Heritage Centre
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The Bishop’s Palace, Raphoe

Raphoe Castle, or the Bishop’s Palace, was built in 1636 by John Leslie, Bishop of Raphoe.
In 1633 Leslie, the Bishop of the Isles, was
translated to Raphoe where he succeeded
Bishop Knox. Shortly after its completion,
the palace was besieged by Cromwellian
forces. The palace was captured but Leslie
was spared and allowed to remain until
1660 when he moved to Clogher. He was
paid an annuity during the British Republic
by Cromwell on condition that he remain
peaceably in the palace, the Church of
Ireland having been suppressed at that
time. The Palace was extensively restored in
the 1820s but destroyed by fire in 1838.

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Kids' Entertainment at Monreagh Heritage Weekend

Friday & Saturday 28th & 29th August: 12 Noon to 3pm.

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The re-building of Grianan of Aileach 1878

This rare photograph from 1878 shows the official re-opening of Grianan of Aileach following its reconstruction under the direction of Dr Walter Bernard of Derry. 

He based his design on surveys drawn up by Petrie (1835), Colby (1837) and Godwin (1858). all of whom reported that it was in a very dilapidated state. With no state aid, he started to rebuild the fort in the spring of 1874. assisted by more than forty local people working one day per week on a voluntary basis. 

He experienced most difficulty in the reconstruction of the western end; in 2003 similar problems were encountered when this section had to be rebuilt because part of the structure here had collapsed.

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Rosapenna Hotel in the Old Days

The origins of Rosapenna Hotel date back to October 1891 when Robert B. Clements, the 4th Earl of Leitrim invited Old Tom Morris of St. Andrews to lay out a golf course along the sand dunes of Sheephaven Bay. Shortly afterwards a hotel was commissioned to accommodate the many travelling golfers eager to test the skills of Old Tom.

It was in the early 1900's that two members of the Great Triumvirate of Golf, Harry Vardon and James Braid both journeyed to Rosapenna and made some changes to the course adding length and bunkering to Old Tom's layout but wisely leaving his perfect greens intact.
Rosapenna enjoyed many years of prosperous hotel keeping until May 1962 when the hotel fell victim to a disastrous fire.
With the original hotel completely destroyed by the fire the adjacent Sheephaven house was transformed into a small 12 bedroomed hotel with bar and clubhouse. It is at this site where today's Rosapenna Hotel stands.
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A Strange Coincidence!

Two couples, (the first couple from the United States and the second from New Zealand) arrive at the Monreagh Centre, on the same afternoon, in search of their Cunningham ancestors.
The young couple from New Zealand are Akisha Cunnigham and her boyfriend Declan Conboy. Sally and Ike Lassiter are from North Carolina.

So here they are; the distant cousins.
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Carrigans railway station served Carrigans, County Donegal in the Republic of Ireland

The Londonderry and Enniskillen Railway opened the station on 19 April 1847. It was taken over by the Great Northern Railway (Ireland) in 1883.

It closed on 15 February 1965
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Donegal Castle - from Atlas and Cyclopedia of Ireland (1900)

DONEGAL CASTLE.—The town of Donegal is beautifully situated on a bay of the same name, and does a thriving trade. To the tourist, the great object of attraction is its splendid old castle, the ancient seat of the O'Donnells, lords of Tirconnell. The ruin, compared with others in the island, is in a tolerably good state of preservation, and from what remains it must have been a noble mansion, and worthy of the rank of these once powerful chieftains. Two magnificent sculptured chimneypieces, in the style of James I, still remain in a very perfect state. The grand hall on the ground floor, is arched, from which several smaller apartments open; and upstairs the grand banqueting hall was lit by several Gothic windows, which look out upon the bay; and at one end are the remains of a great bay window the entire height of the chamber, which bespeaks its ancient magnificence. This ruin derives a melancholy interest from the affecting history of the life and adventures of Red Hugh, the last of the powerful line of the princes of Tirconnell and lords of Donegal.

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A family about to start their journey from the city to the New World. This photograph is a typical example of many of
the emigrants who left from Derry/Londonderry Quay.

Derry/Londonderry key role in the story of emigration from Ireland is a tale worth telling - and now, thanks to local historian Brian Mitchell, it’s one that you enjoy in a new book.

‘Derry-Londonderry: Gateway To A New World’ recounts the fascinating history of emigration from the Foyle by sail and steam.

Brian, who has been researching different facets of history in Derry since the early 1980s, says the city’s story of emigration is one that can be told with “authenticity.”

Derry, he recounts, was a major Irish emigration port throughout all significant phases of resettlement.

This includes the 18th century outflow of Ulster-Scots to colonial America; pre-Famine; Famine and post-Famine emigration to North American and further afield; and cross-channel migration to Britain via Glasgow and Liverpool.

Prior to the coming of the railways and, in particular, during the age of sailing ships from 1680 to 1860, Derry was the port of departure for the people of Derry, Donegal and Tyrone.

Indeed, from 1861 to 1939 - the age of the steamship and the train - migrants from Ulster, north Connacht and north Leinster all left Ireland through Derry.

Brian reveals that the journey for some nine million of the ‘Irish Diaspora’ - now living in Britain, the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa - started in Derry. It was in Derry that the story of their new life began.

or example, their ancestor may have boarded a sailing ship at Shipquay Place, or stopped at the Gweedore Bar on Waterloo Place on their way from west Donegal to Glasgow on the ‘Scotch Boat’ or, perhaps, arrived in Derry by rail, took lodgings in Bridge Street and, then, headed down the River Foyle, on a tender, to connect with a trans-atlantic liner at Moville.

According to Brian, Derry port had an ideal location.

“Owing to her westerly situation, Derry was seen as being halfway between London and the American colonies,” he writes. “A Derry ship ‘is no sooner out of the river but she is immediately in the open sea and has but one course.”

“Derry was, therefore, well placed to benefit from the emigration of Ulster people to North America.”

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The Gweedore Sheep War

The Gweedore Sheep war began in December 1856 when around forty local men raided the house of a Scottish shepherd and ordered him to leave the country within eight days. Raids followed on the large sheep enclosures. By August 1856 almost 1,000 Black-faced sheep had been reported missing or killed in the Gweedore area.
The resulting conflict was reported by media across Ireland, the United Kingdom and even the United States. Claims of missing sheep were investigated with force and in some cases the blame was laid on the shepherds as a result of negligence, combined with the harsh environment the Scottish-Black faced sheep were being introduced to. Police presence was raised in the area, and the increase in police constables were supported by imposing a tax on the local populace, which was labelled as the 'Police Tax'. By late 1857, numerous arrests were made, and the taxes and police presence had taken its toll on the local populace. By summer 1858 the Gweedore Sheep War was effectively over.

Gweedore was not the only region to suffer with the creation of large grazing areas for imported sheep. In 1861 Lord John George Adair evicted over 250 people from the Derryveagh region in order to create large grazing areas for imported Scottish Sheep. The effects of the mass evictions in Derryveagh can still be seen today, while much of the now uninhabited region has become part of Glenveagh National Park.

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Cavanacor House earliest Plantation house in Donegal. Ancestoral Home of US President James Polk.

Cavanacor House is situated one kilometre outside Lifford, on the road to Letterkenny. It is one of the earliest Plantation houses in Donegal and has been in continuous occupation since the 17th century. Protestant armies amassed on the flat plains at Cavanacor prior to the Siege of Derry and on 20th of April, 1689 James II dined at Cavanacor House during the Siege. Due to his protection the House survived his retreat from Derry. Ironically, while King James was dining at Cavanacor with John Keyes, Thomas and Frederick Keyes, his host's brothers, were inside Derry’s Walls, defending it against King James’ Army. 

In the 1690's Magdalene Tasker, (who was born at Cavanacor in 1634) married Capt. Robert Bruce Pollock. They and their children emigrated to America and settled in Somerset County in Maryland. In America the family shortened their name to Polk. James Knox Polk (born 1795), great, great, great grandson of Magdalene Tasker Polk, became the 11th American President in 1845 and held the Presidency until his death in 1849.
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