Welcome to the Website of Bellaghy Together. We are dedicated to sharing the life and times of the village of Bellaghy and its surrounding area. We will keep our readers posted on a range of exciting and ambitious events and projects as we endeavour to change the physical, social and economic ambitions of our historic village and its hinterland. Of course, as well as all the good news, we will share things that impact negatively on all of us who call this place our home, or whose heart lies here.
The Very Warmest of Welcomes!
A Little Bit of Bellaghy History
Bellaghy has been inhabited almost continuously for at least 9000 years.
Like many localities around Ireland, Bellaghy’s history stretches much further back than written record. Church Island in Lough Beg reveals some hint of the Vikings and the Early Christian period around the beginnings of Irish History. Early man fed well on salmon, eels and even wild boar. Woodland provided birch, pine and hazel for tools and shelter. Sandy soils were easy to cultivate. The very early settlers brought flint from the coast 9000 years ago, stone for axes were brought from Tievebulliagh (North Antrim) 5000 years ago, gold from the Sperrins 3000 years ago and iron from Bannion around 2000 years ago.
The quantity and quality of archaeological finds from this area is astonishing. Hundreds of thousands of fine Mesolithic flints, dozens of Neolithic flints and axes, many fine Late Bronze Age and Iron Age weapons, such as swords and shields, tools, cauldrons and horse bits showing superb, sophisticated ornament, have been found in and around the Lough Neagh, Newferry and Lower Bann area.
Firmer and more documented connections relate to the Plantation era (17th C) when it was settled by the British. Bellaghy was one of the first planned towns in Ireland. The village itself dates back to the 17th C. It was one of many towns settled and built under the authority of an English company as part of the Plantation of Londonderry, in this case the Vintners Company of London. The company hoped to rename the town from Bellaghy to “Vintnerstown” but the name didn’t catch on and its original name endured. Other towns were successfully renamed by colonising owners such as Salterstown and Draperstown. The work on making a new town here was started by John Rowley around 1614 but he died soon after in 1617. The Vintners company then took the opportunity to relocate Baptist Jones to complete the project. Jones had been working on the production of Salterstown and was apparently noted by the company for his lack of productivity there.
The first certain known names of the area are those of Saints. St. Taoide was the patron of Church Island. St. Lurach at Maghera and St. Colman at Ardboe.
Other earliest names appear to be mostly of clergymen. Clergy names of the 14th and 15th century are known to be: MacCawell, O’Neill, O’Hagan, O’Doyle, O’Henry, O’Hegarty, O’Corr, O’Dugan, O’Gormley, McBeagh, O’Mulligan, MacDonnell. Most of these names are still to be found in the area today.
Family names from early times include Scullion, O’Heaney, Carberry, Mulholland.
The present day population of about 1000 has a mainly rural identity. The main industries in the immediate village area include SDC Trailers and Premier Electric, though most people travel to their places of employment. The central location of the village means that most areas of N. Ireland can be reached within an hour.
We are a fountain of knowledge here at Bellaghy Together – if we don’t know the answer, we probably know someone who does. Contact us using the form below and we will get back to you as soon as we have the answer!