Local Stories Publications

The Life of Charles Thomson

John McHugh (A MHC Member) has made a very informative and enjoyable video on Thomson’s life and achievements. Charles Thomson was a patriot leader during the American Revolution, Secretary of the Continental Congress, signatory to the First Declaration of Independence and designer of the Great Seal of the United State.

He was born here in Maghera in 1729. He emigrated to America as a young boy and, although he arrived as a penniless orphan, he rose to become an eminent figure in his adopted homeland.

John McHugh’s video about the life of Charles Thomson.

He was known for his honesty, humanity and strict principles as well as for his abilities in regard to business and politics.

It is great that such a remarkable person be honoured in his hometown. We thank John very much for the idea of producing this work and for sharing it with us.

John himself was born in Fortwilliam outside Tobermore and, like Thomson, moved to America as a young child. However, he has always kept up his connection with the area and we are delighted with his support and promotion of our history and heritage.


Maghera gets knitting

Inspired by the great work of the Derry Square Knitters we are starting a group:    Knitting Together: Maghera, to support their project.

The Square Knitters ask people to knit 6 inch squares from left-over wool. The squares are joined up to make blankets and these are shipped out to refugee camps where they are distributed to help those with babies and young children.
Aideen Hughes
from the group explained that they came together in response to the heart-breaking picture we all remember of little  Alan Kurdi’s body lying on a beach in Turkey as this project works to help other children who are still suffering as refugees.  Already well over 1000, blankets have been distributed and with people from the North going out to see the situation on the ground you can be sure that they are reaching those who need them the most.

As many of us have more time on our hands at the moment it seemed a good opportunity to start something positive and get involved in this great project. All you have to do is knit the squares and drop them in to us at our new premises, Maghera Heritage Center 11 Main Street, Maghera BT46 5AA  via appointment. We will arrange to have them joined together and passed on to the Derry Square Knitters who run regular shipments abroad.

When the current crisis is over, and we can meet up again, we hope to continue the work in our premises and have more social occasions – but until then we can work together from home and feel we are making a positive contribution.

In addition it has been found that knitting reduces stress , can give an increased sense of well-being and promotes social connection. So all the more reason to get knitting!!

For more info or to arrange a drop off, get in touch.



MHS Newsletter Issue 2

Latest Newsletter available to download here.     MHS NEWSLETTER ISSUE 2


Newsletter Issue 1


The first issue of our Newsletter is available here to download. If you have any ideas or suggestions for material to include in upcoming issues we would be delighted to hear from you.






Googling and reference books allowed. It will still be tricky. Hint: some of the answers can be found in back issues of Maghera Times.

All correct entries submitted by June 22nd will be entered into a draw for a £50 prize

The draw will take place in the Hub at 3 pm on the 24th June and the winner notified

                                     Return to  MHS Heritage & Culture Ltd. The Hub, 7 Main Street Maghera BT46 5AA   

 Or email to:

PEOPLE (10 questions)

  1. Name the prizewinning author, born in Maghera in 1928, who went on to write over 250 books for children and young adults?
  2. This Maghera woman, born in Walsh’s Hotel, went on to serve in the Irish Dail and Senate. What was her name?
  3. Born in Knocknakielt in 1887, who was awarded the Military Cross, the Distinguished Order of Merit (twice) and nominated for the Victoria Cross during World War 1?
  4. Born in Gorteade, he left Maghera as a child and his name appeared on the first published version of the American Declaration of Independence. Who is he?
  5. Who led the Oak Leaf minor side to Ulster glory before heading south to play for the Hawthorn football Club in the Australian Football League?
  6. Who gave his name to the Glenshane Pass?
  7. Name the designer of the farm house constructed from shipping containers who featured on the Chanel 4 series ‘Grand Designs’?
  8. What is Wendy Houvenaghel from Upperlands known for?
  9. Born in Grillagh, who is commemorated by a statue in front of the Royal Belfast Academical Institution?
  10. Which former research director of CERN (1933-2016) was born in Maghera, the son of the manager of the Embroidery Factory?

 THE TOWN (8 Questions)

  1. What was the original name for Hall Street?
  2. What year did Maghera Station close to passengers? For an extra point what year did the final line closure take place?
  3. Which local hostelry was once known as ‘The Inn of Maghera’?
  4. What local hostelry is known as ‘Ireland’s highest bar and restaurant’?
  5. Identify the following shops (now sadly gone) from Maghera in the ‘50s.

a) This general drapery shop which advertised itself as a ladies’ and gents’ outfitters stood where Allie Mae’s is today.

b)  This shop was previously on the site of the catalogue shop and Rankin’s shoe shop. It was the largest drapery shop in Maghera in the ‘50s and had a ‘Cash Carrier’ which sent money to the cashier by a system of wires and pulleys.

c) A general merchants store, this shop stocked everything from timber and hardware to groceries, china and household goods. They even had a petrol pump outside. Now McKeefrey’s furniture outlet has taken over the site.

  1. Can you identify these shops with a long history, still open in Maghera?

a) Around since 1961, opened by the father of the present owner, this shop has helped many people over the years. It is opposite where the old Picture House stood.

b)Known for its gifts and previously for its hardware, and founded in 1936, this shop has seen many changes. It is no longer owned by the original family but continues to keep the name. It recently had a facelift.

c)The origins of this shop go back to 1898. It remains in the same family and has expanded its products over the years –                       famous for its pies!

  1. In what year was the Ulster Bank in Maghera, designed by Jackson Thomas, built?
  2. Where in the town can you find the Scales of Justice?

TOWNLANDS (6 Questions)

  1.  In which Barony is Maghera located?                                                                                                                                                 
  2. Which of these townlands is NOT in the Civil Parish of Maghera? a) Gulladuff, b) Kirley, c) Dergenagh, d) Culnady e) Fallagloon?
  3. Where in Maghera do the townlands of Craigadick, Moneymore and Tamneymullan meet?
  4. True or false: Guy Pearce the famous actor once visited a disco in Slaughtneil
  5. Does Drumard mean: a) High Ridge, b) The place of the Drum, c) Drummers’ Fort?
  6. In which townland was a Classical School founded in the early 1800s by John Mac Closkey?


  1. Name Ulster Wildlife’s largest Nature Reserve located 1.8 miles south of Maghera?
  2. How high is Carntogher? 1,521 feet, 1,956 feet or 2130 feet
  3. What river was Seamus Heaney referring to when he wrote:

            ‘she flowed black-lick and quick under the sallies’

      4. Where near Maghera would you find McCartney’s Oak?


         Name the local historic buildings from the descriptions:

       1. Built into the side of a hill, this stone structure was used to treat fever and pain.   

      2. It stands on the summit of a small hill….all that remains of it are the foundations and part of the east gable………….the oldest               tombstone in the small graveyard is dated 1748.





‘Stuck for Words?’  with:  Sheena Wilkinson

Sheena Wilkinson

Stuck at home? Stuck for something to do? Stuck for words?

Why not try a fun creative writing workshop?

Working online with an experienced writer, you’ll have the chance to escape lockdown by travelling somewhere safe but limitless — your own imagination and memory. In these short, interactive workshops you’ll be guided to create lasting mementoes of how we’re living now, or memories of how we used to live: it’s up to you! All you need is pen and paper, an internet connection, and the willingness to have a go.

Sheena Wilkinson is hosting two virtual creative writing workshops for MHS Heritage & Culture Ltd. on Saturday 20th June and Saturday 11th July at 3.30 pm. Each workshop will be hosted on Zoom and will be about an hour and a half long. Sheena’s way of working is very relaxed and informal and she has run a creative writing event with us before based on a walk through Drumnaph Woods which was very enjoyable and inspiring.

There is no charge for taking part but it will be necessary to book your place in advance. To do this either ring the MHS Centre at 02879642677 or email us at

For those who made not have used Zoom before- it is very easy to access- simply click on a link to join a meeting. We can discuss this with anyone who may be trying Zoom for the first time, and explain how it works.

Described as ‘one of our foremost writers’, Sheena Wilkinson has won many awards for her fiction. Her recent novels, Name upon Name, Star by Star and Hope against Hope, have been published to commemorate the Decade of Centenaries, and are coming-of-age stories set against the turbulent events of the 1910s/1920s in the North of Ireland. Sheena is a very experienced workshop facilitator in all sorts of settings from forests to prisons to universities.

Events News



Due to the ongoing Covid 19 crisis we have decided to cancel this years Agrigriculture Show. It is with a heavy heart we do so as the show has become such a huge success over the last few years and is very dear to our hearts here at MHS Heritage & Culture, however we are already planning next years show for Saturday 3rd July 2021 and intend for it to be bigger and better than ever.

In light of the ongoing lockdown we are planning a few Covid related video projects, which we are in the process of sourcing funding for.  One of the videos focuses on our Agri Show contributors. If this sounds like something you wish to be a part of or want to know more about do get in touch, although we will be contacting contributors in due course.




Renovation work gets well underway.

Renovation work at MHS Heritage & Culture Ltds’ new premises in 11 Main Street Maghera is now well underway. We are excited about our new space and the facilities it will provide to the local community and marks the expansion of our organisation as we will be able to offer more services and embark on new projects.

If you would like to know more contact us at:

7 Main Street Maghera BT46 5AA or



Events Past Events

Volunteer Recognition Event

Our recent Volunteer Recognition evening in Friel’s Bar Swatragh.

The  Heritage Centre wished to show all it’s volunteers their appreciation for all the many hours contributed by its members and directors.

Teresa Murphy who has recently joined the staff at the Heritage Centre was our compere for the evening and during her introductory speech thanked all the members of the organisation and said that she was delighted to be part of such an organisation that felt the Heritage & History of the area was so important in being preserved for future generations to inherit. Teresa also thanked the key players in the organisation for their innovative ideas, forward thinking, dedication, enthusiasm and commitment ensuring that the MHS Heritage & Cultural Centre remains in place for many years to come.

As a token of appreciation each of the following received a certificate and an inscribed plaque recognising the individuals contribution.
John Marquess for his expertise in the IT world, Joseph McCoy for his invaluable local historical knowledge, Pat Rafferty for his ongoing support and contribution to the organisation, Annette Rafferty for her continued support to the organisation, Jean Dunne for her continued support at front of house, Raymond McNamee for his general overall ability in organising events, Bruce Clark for his continued support since the organisations formation. Maeve O’Neill for her continued work as Editor of the Maghera Times. James Armour for his vision, hard work and enthusiasm ensuring the organisation’s sustainability since being formed in 2015.

The organisation paid special thanks to the Hutchinson Brothers who have been part of the musical scene at all our events’.


Table Quiz McKenna’s Bar Maghera

Table Quiz

McKenna’s Bar Maghera

Friday 17th January @9pm

entry £5/pp