Ballindrait Field Day

Our final field trip of 2023 was to visit to Ballindrait, near Lifford, on Sunday 3rd September. Belinda Mahaffy was our tour guide for the day.

Participants met up at the Ballindrait Presbyterian Church at 2.30pm where Belinda Mahaffy give a background to the area from earliest days, high lightening the importance of Croaghan Hill and its ancient burial chambers. She spoke of the origins of the Presbyterian church and the various Ministers and families from the local area who were associated with it. Participants then moved on to the historic Ballindrait bridge to hear of various battles between the O’ Donnell’s and O’ Neill’s in this area, and the journey of Hugh O’ Neill, Earl of Tyrone, and his entourage crossed the bridge here while enroute to Rathmullen in 1607 for what would become known as the Flight of the Earl’s.

The group then moved on to “Guystown House”, Tamnawood, with owner Vincent Gallagher who give a fascinating history of this residence and the families who resided here. Perhaps it is best associated with the Porter family from 1720-1850 of whom the Rev James Porter is best known. He was the only ordained Presbyterian clergyman to be executed for alleged involvement in the 1798 Irish Rebellion at Grey Abbey, County Down. He was born here in 1753 and educated locally. Vincent has a number of title deeds to the house going back to the 1700’s on display.

The group then headed to Raphoe for a brief talk by Belinda on the history of the local area and families. We then went into the COI Cathedral for a talk on its early history, and some on the famous individuals buried in the adjoining graveyard.

The weather was beautiful and added to a wonderful afternoon. Thanks Belinda and Vincent.

Hugh

Field Day : Ballyshannon 2023

The field trip last Sunday 20th August to Ballyshannon was an excellent event. There were two parts to the proceedings. First, Anthony Begley conducted a Commemoration ceremony for the nineteen orphan girls who were shipped to Australia from the Ballyshannon Workhouse in 1848. The story was poignant, yet the sense of connectivity to the area was excellent. Each girl’s personal story was related, and a Rose placed in their honour at the Orphan Girls Memorial, interspersed with songs both local and from Australia.

You can read the personal stories from Anthony’s book which is out of print but available online: https://ballyshannonfamineorphanmemorial.wordpress.com/

The second part was a talk delivered by Anthony in the field in front of the old school adjoining the Workhouse, where he related the history of various buildings, churches, homes, and warehouses that could be viewed across the Erne valley on the opposite side. A large crowd were enthralled with his local knowledge. Thanks Anthony.

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