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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.

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Christmas Edition of the Maghera Times

PrintThe December edition of the Maghera Times will be available to buy from next week!! . This beautifully produced, full-colour, magazine is not only a great read  – but would be a very welcome Christmas gift for friends and relations at home and abroad. With its wide range of articles, all based on Maghera and its surroundings, there is sure to be something to interest everyone. Articles range from a nostalgic look at shops and shopping in Maghera in the ’50s and ’60s to a description of the meticulous restoration of the Station Master’s House. Going back further, the archaeological work carried out on Tirnony Dolmen is explained together with some fascinating information on the building methods and rituals carried on by our ancestors 6,000 years ago. Closer to the present, local people who gave a great deal to the town are fondly remembered. Old buildings, such as Victoria House, although long gone are brought to life again in these pages. The surprising and  exotic adventures of two local men who fought slavery far away in Sierra Leone are uncovered and, in an amazing piece of research, the location of fox-hunt described in an ancient manuscript, has been found to be based in this area.

With all this and more, we have managed to keep the price of the magazine at £5 – which everyone who has seen our previous issues will have to say – is amazing value.

The Maghera Times will be available to buy from Monday 28th December in the Heritage and Cultural Centre at 17 Coleraine Road, from our website http://www.maghera-heritage.org.uk/ and from local shops.

The launch of the magazine takes place in the Heritage Centre on the 1st December after the MHS Annual General Meeting and all are welcome to attend.

 

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MHS Heritage & Cultural Centre Publishers

PUBLISHING

Maghera Historical Society and Heritage & Cultural Centre have published two books so far and two issues of their bi-annual magazine ‘Maghera Times’, with the third issue due out in November. We welcome any suggestions or submissions for future publications. If you are an author, poet or historian with interesting stories or information relating to Maghera or the surrounding area we would love to hear from you to discuss the possibility of publishing your work.

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From the Beagh To Maghera: Growing up on a Family Farm in the ’50s. By James Armour

FROM THE BEAGH TO MAGHERA: Growing up on a family Farm in the ’50s

By: James Armour

Editor: Maeve O’Neill

Publisher: Maghera Historical Society, Maghera, ©2015.

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From the Beagh to Maghera is a first-hand account of growing up on a family farm outside Maghera in the 1940s and ‘50s. Set in the moment when the tractor replaced the horse and mechanisation changed farming in Ireland forever, it poignantly captures, with a warm heart the joys and struggles of farming life in a close-knit rural community as seen through the eyes of a child who grew up in that period. This book is firmly rooted in a particular time and a particular place. It is a heartfelt glimpse into an era that is lost forever and that still tugs on our heartstrings.

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The author explains how his great-great-grandfather came to farm at the Beagh in 1866. Since then four generations of the Armour family have continued the tradition. From the Spring ploughing, harrowing and sowing to the Autumn threshing, the age-old customs and practices of farming are recorded in detail as they were passed down over time. The farm itself is brought to life, the fields named and the farmyard and homestead illustrated. From 1949 until 1986 the author’s mother, Maggie Armour, kept a diary of events on the farm. These descriptions of everyday life and the warmth and closeness of the community add another dimension to the book.

The home was at the heart of the farm and the litany of weekly tasks, all carried out without electricity or running water are also remembered as are Soirees and Guest Teas in the local school, visiting with neighbours and life in the town.

 

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Maghera Times – June/July 2016

MAGHERA TIMES   Volume 1 No. 2   June/July 2016

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Articles featured in the magazine include:

Glenshane Pass – Past and Present, by Kevin Daly.

Dramatic Glenshane Pass has a long and chequered past going back hundreds of years to when it was a simple track over the mountains. Kevin Daly explores the legends, facts and people involved in its history.

Who We Are, by Mary Delargy.

Mary Delargy from the Linen Hall Library in Belfast gives us the background and origins of local surnames common in Maghera and its surrounding area.

Elemental Photography: Maghera and the Surrounding Countryside, by Martin McKenna

In this article Martin McKenna describes his passionate interest in observing and studying the night sky and also in recording extreme weather events.  Here he gives us stunning photographs of the skies over Maghera with explanations of the dramatic phenomena illustrated.

Maghera to the Falkland Islands, by John Burns.

In the 1960s Burns & Co. Estate Agents were appointed by the Falkland Island Trading Co. Ltd. to offer employment to Maghera men on the other side of the world. John Burns includes in his article the original prospectus prepared at the time describing the terms and conditions offered.

Niall of the Exotic Ancestors and the Innumerable Descendants, by Ita Marquess

Professor Dan Bradley, from Maghera, through his work on genome analysis has thrown new light on our early Irish ancestors and their origins. In this interesting and well-researched description of his findings Ita Marquess links us with our distant past.

Nottingham Forrest, by Benny Daly

Ever since he watched Nottingham Forest win the FA cup in 1959, Maghera man Benny Daly has been a loyal supporter of the club – even receiving the great Brian Clough’s personal badge as a gift when Forest visited Northern Ireland.

Grillagh Water House, by Maeve O’Neill

Patrick Bradley has designed and built this spectacular award-winning house just outside Maghera. The house was featured in the Chanel 4 programme Grand Designs with Kevin McCloud.

 Gatherin’ Spuds, by Kenneth Murray

In the 1950s farming was much more labour intensive. Kenneth describes how school children were employed on local farms during ‘the potato gathering holidays’ in October every year, remembering the work involved and the pride in earning real money.

Thomas Witherow 1824- 90; The Maghera Connection, by Peter Etherson

Professor Thomas Witherow was a highly respected minister to the Presbyterian Congregation in Maghera who went on to become a renowned author, a professor at Magee College and a senator of the Royal University of Ireland. Peter Etherson focuses on his early years and his links with Maghera.

The Plight of Farmers 2016, by Charlie Convery

The practice of farming is undergoing enormous changes at the moment with many young farmers trying to hold down a job while still keeping the family farm going. Charlie Convery compares this situation with the way farms were run in the recent past.

Cúpla Focail, by Séan O’Neill

Séan O’Neill looks at the influence Irish words have had on the language we use every day. He examines too, the connections between the Irish language and the emergence of American slang dating back to the late 19thand early 20th century. These links being due to the number of people who emigrated from here to the U.S.A. during that time

Maghera and the United Irishmen, Part II, by Joseph McCoy

Following on his article in issue 1 of Maghera Times, Joseph McCoy examines the aftermath of the 1798 rebellion in Maghera. He tells us what became of the principal people involved in the events of that troubled year and the legacy it left in the town.

The Market Yard: A Lost Way of Life, by Brendan Convery

With: Jackie Jones, Teresa Logue and Mary McKenna.

Inspired by an old photograph showing residents of the Market Yard over 60 years ago, Brendan Convery has pieced together memories and stories of this close-knit community.

The Beginnings of the Market Yard, by Brendan Convery and Maeve O’Neill

Using information from the Public Records Office Northern Ireland, Griffith’s Valuation and the early Census Returns a picture was put together of the beginnings of the Market Yard and the early residents of, what was then known as, ‘Wilson’s Square’.

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Maghera Times Nov/Dec 2015

MAGHERA TIMES   Volume 1 No.1    Nov./Dec. 2015

Articles featured in the magazine include:

When the Classics Ruled Tirgarvil, by Peter Etherson.

This is the story of the brilliant hedge school teacher and classical scholar, John McCloskey (1788-1876). From humble beginnings McCloskey went on to establish his own school in Tirgarvil which became renowned throughout the province for its excellence with many of its pupils becoming household names.

The 1914 War Records of Michael Convery, by Brendan Convery.

Local man Michael Convery served in the Great War. The article is based on Brendan Convery’s research into his grandfather’s experiences.

 

Language Decline and Rebirth in Maghera/Carntogher, by Niall Ó’Catháin

Carntogher is one of the few areas in the country which has reversed the decline of the Irish language. Here Niall Ó’ Catháin describes the vision behind the project.

Halycon Days, by Heather Wisener.

Here, in a warm and nostalgic article, Heather describes her happy memories of growing up in Maghera in the 1950s.

A Brief History of the Presbyterian Congregation of Maghera 1655-1865, by Denver Boyd

Denver Boyd has traced the history of the early Presbyterian Congregation in Maghera which includes such noted figures as Professor Thomas Witherow and the Rev. John Glendy.

 

Maghera Times Nov 2015

To the Ends of the Earth, By John Marquess

John Marquess left Maghera as a young man to join the Royal Navy. This article chronicles his adventures as he travelled to the far-flung reaches of the globe.

Fair Faa Ye!  By Deirdre Speers Whyte

The Ulster-Scots tradition is re-claiming its pride and identity. Deirdre Speers Whyte explains the background to the culture and gives us some useful Ulster-Scots words for those days when ‘when you feel crabbit and the world has gone agley.’

 The Walled Garden, by Maeve O’Neill

Maghera has benefitted hugely from the restoration of the spectacular Walled Garden in the grounds of the Old Rectory. Maeve O’Neill gives the background of the project in a beautifully illustrated article.

Maghera: Now and Then, by Pat Rafferty

Local deltiologist (collector of old postcards) Pat Rafferty contrasts views of Maghera in the past with what the town looks like today.

Maghera and the United Irishmen, by Joseph McCoy

1798 was a troubled year in Ireland. Joseph McCoy examines the background to the rebellion locally and places it in a wider context.

The magazine also includes some humorous verse by George Shiels, information on the Historical Society and its events over the year, a note on the library and Maghera’s famous author Eve Bunting, and an advertising feature on local businesses describing their foundation and history in the town.

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Maghera Times by the MHS Heritage & Cultural Centre

Maghera Times’, published by the MHS Heritage & Cultural Centre, is a magazine focusing on the life and times of the people who live in Maghera and the surrounding districts. The idea behind the magazine is to include articles, stories, memories and pictures of Maghera past and present in a way that is interesting, informative and enjoyable to read. Our belief is that everyone has a story to tell and that it is just as important to chronicle the social history of an era as it is to record the major happenings of our times. As a matter of fact, for a local society such as ours, it is the everyday culture, customs and traditions that we need to capture and preserve. The wider picture is well documented through the media and by academic historians.

The magazine is well-presented, illustrated in colour throughout and sure to contain something of interest to anybody either living in the area or who may have connections with Maghera.

We welcome contributions for future editions – articles, notes, reviews, memoirs and information on people, places and events relating to Maghera and its surroundings. We cannot commit to publishing every article received for consideration, but do get in touch and discuss your ideas. Email: editormagheratimes@gmail.com

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Maghera Chapter & Verse. By George Shiels MBE

Publisher: Maghera Historical Society/Heritage & Cultural Centre, Maghera 2016

web-image-ch-v-001George Shiels is a poet and storyteller based in the Crew just outside Maghera. His work is based on local memories, tales and happenings and is a link back to the bardic tradition which once flourished in Ulster. George’s book grew out of a particular culture and a particular place and could not have been written anywhere else. It is strongly rooted in the traditions of the area.

George himself credits the Historical Society with encouraging him to prepare and gather the material for the book and explains the inspiration behind it.

“I hadn’t a serious notion of writing a book until I until I submitted a couple of pieces to the Maghera Historical Society’s magazine, Maghera Times, last year. Of course I had often bemoaned the fact that there was no permanent record of the stories that had given me pleasure and enjoyment over many years, and had lifted me when I was down occasionally. 

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The stories were jibbing through my head, but had to be written down, and so the serious work began. I was surprised and enthused at the latitude and scope that the written medium gave me in comparison with ‘telling’ the stories. The explanations and inflexions that presented overjoyed me. I am hoping that the enjoyment my reminiscences gave to me might be smittal and perhaps reach pandemic proportions!. . . .”

Finally, treasure your memories, and by all means write them down, for memories are what sustain us when we ponder during a quiet moment on a long winter’s night. Imagine how dreadful it would be if our memory was erased, like the hard drive on a computer. That is exactly what is increasingly happening as we live longer than our ancestors. Nowadays, more and more of our elderly citizens are contracting Alzheimer’s disease. I have therefore nominated the Alzheimer’s Society NI to benefit from the sale of this book.’