Derry - A Model Plantation Village
Article & pictures by Joe
Simpson - Vancouver - Oct '05
Below is a photo of the Presbyterian church
in the historic Plantation village of Ballykelly, Co.
Derry, Northern Ireland where my father Rev. Tom Simpson
was the incumbent minister from 1949 to 1965. Built
in the 1830s, it was described in these words by the
famous English novelist William Makepeace Thackeray,
who passed through the village during his Irish tour
"....In Ballikelly, besides
numerous simple, stout, brick-built dwellings for
the peasantry, with their shining windows and trim
garden-plots, is a Presbyterian meeting-house, so
well-built, substantial, and handsome, so different
from the lean, pretentious, sham-Gothic ecclesiastical
edifices which have been erected in late years in
Ireland, that it can't fail to strike the tourist
who has made architecture his study or his pleasure.
The gentleman's seats in the district are numerous
and handsome; and the whole movement along the road
betokened cheerfulness and prosperous activity..."
The famous American novelist John Steinbeck once wrote
about visiting this same Ballykelly churchyard in the
later 1950s to search for his Northern Irish maternal
ancestors. Unfortunately we were away at the time, so
missed meeting the great man when he called at the Manse.
Ballykelly Presbyterian Church,
built 1827 (Richard Suter, architect)
Below is pictured "Church Hill",
one of the so-called "gentleman's seats" to
which William Makepeace Thackeray must have been referring,
for it stands across the road directly opposite Ballykelly
Presbyterian Church. Today it is a long-term care facility.
My Canadian wife, Penny, will forever remember our visit
as a newly-engaged couple to my mother's much-older
first cousin Marcus Fulton, who lived there back in
the later 1970s. We had called to see "Uncle"
Marcus, whom we had never met before, during our "family
tour". Penny had just arrived from Canada. The
front door opened wide, and a stocky, bald man peered
out with a benign grin on his face: "Ach! So this
would be the wee girl from 'Merikay!" he exclaimed.
Marcus (a lifelong merry bachelor) was well known for
hurtling along at breakneck speed in his open-topped
sports car over the then-empty mountain roads between
Derry and Belfast, so much so that eventually the police
often didn't even bother to go chasing after him. At
the time he was almost 80 years old! A true character
in the grand old style.
Note incidentally the lovely, tapering
spire of the Church of Ireland church in the background
of this picture below...doubtless one of those "lean,
pretentious, sham-Gothic ecclesiastical edifices"
so severely criticized by W. M. Thackeray! During World
War 2, a low-flying RAF bomber on a practice run clipped
one of the telephone lines behind the C. of I. Church,
and crashed with the loss of all crew. The wartime (Coastal
Command) RAF base was just a half mile or so behind
the church, and the "Boys in Blue" remained
in Ballykelly until the early 1970s. I remember well
the Shackelton 'planes that used to fly low over the
village on their take-off and landing approach in the
1950s and early 1960s, for that was the height of the
Cold War. Today it is an Army air base.
The Model Farm (known as "Church
designed by Richard Suter, architect of Ballykelly Presbuterian
It is now an extended care facility
Below is a 1950s photo of the 1830s-built
Ballykelly Presbyterian Manse where I grew up between
1952 and 1965. A place of abundant memories. The ivy
disappeared some time after this picture was taken,
and today the once-grey stonework is painted a light
cream colour. Currently the old house is unoccupied,
sadly, as there is presently no minister's family in
residence. I remember when the old place was refurbished
in the early 1960s, and I came across old Belfast News-Letters
from the early 1860s that lined the ceiling in the flagstone-floored
undeground basement below the main staircase - they
vividly reported recent American Civil War battles in
the Shenandoah Valley. I was about eleven years old
at the time, and the reading those old reports pasted
to the low basement ceiling by some long-dead occupant
of the manse as primitive insulation, first got me hooked
on historical studies, which much later I took as my
Cambridge undergraduate degree, in 1973.
Ballykelly Presbyterian Manse,
Co. Derry - built 1848-9
probably with Richard Suter involvement
Ballykelly was a "Plantation Village",
built up by the Fishmongers Guild in the early-mid 1600s.
King James I cannily insisted that the London Merchant
Guilds each "sponsor" settlers in Ireland,
as a (for the Crown) cheap means of pacifying the "troublous"
Irish. Here (below) is one of the original village house
plans from that era, showing the "bawn" or
defensive wall around the "big house". Ballykelly
was affected by a bloody rebellion by the "native
Irish" that broke out briefly against the English
and Scottish settlers in the early 1640s. These walls
were not just for fancy decoration!
part of a 17th century map of
Ballykelly village built by the London Fishmonger's
more information, see: "The History, Architecture,
and Planning of the Estates of the Fishmongers' Company
in Ulster" by James Stevens Curl (Ulster Architectural
Heritage Society, 1981)
Pictures contributed by Joe Simpson - Vancouver Island
Bellaghy - a Plantation village
Limavady - a Plantation town
article about RAF Ballykelly
Dona M. St. Clair - Aug '08
As I have read and re-read this information, it has left me
with another question. Ballymore ( James baird is listed in
the tite Applotment books, andalso a william Irwin. In the
1831 census James Baird is listed as living in ballymore.
In the ballykelly Presbyterian Register on Sept 4 1805-1806
a marriage to Elizabeth Irwin both of Ballymony. Can someone
explain to me the locations of Bellykelly, Ballymore, and
Ballymony? I made a mistake and in an earlier post listed
my GGG grandfather James baird as born in 1755,WRONG, it is
1775. I watch the website everyday, and would love to hear
froom anyone regarding this information.
Dona St. Clair - Aug '08
Christine Eileen brownfeild I would be most interested in
seeing if you could help me, with Irwin, and baird names.
Dona St. Clair - Aug '08
Thanks so very much too all of you who have shared your memories.
I believe that my GGG Grandfather James Baird born in 1755.
and his wife (married) Elizabeth Erwin,(Irwin) Sept 1805-06.
Children william(1807),James (1814)Robert Erwin(Irwin),Eleanor
(1810),Mary Ann (1820),John (1824),Martha (1826). All came
from here. Supposedly in 1833 Mom had died, and dad brought
the children to america, 8 Jun 1833 ship Benjamin Morgan.
but I have lost them in america. I loved hearing about neighbors
and freinds, and memories that they too may have shared. I
too hope with all my heart that if anyone can help me, they
will. photo_lady at hotmail.com
David Smyth - July '08
To Peter Smyth from David Smyth now living in South Africa
Hi Cus nice to hear from you you can E mail me on SmythDGateskomdotcodotza
Peter Smyth - July '08
If David Smyth (Now living in S. Africa) is still visiting
this site it would be nice to hear from you.
Your cousin Peter, one of your Uncle David's sons.
Bill Osborne, Numurkah, Victoria, Australia
- June '08
I was delighted to see David Osborne's comment and no doubt
he would be interested the photo of John and Margaret's headstone.
It was just the sort of response I was hoping for. My father's
name was William White Osborne and he was born in 1886. I
wonder if any other descendants have the White name. One of
my úncles was James and he had a son David so the names
carry on through the generations.
MOIRA LEDDY - June '08
Moira leddy,nee Oneill. What a great mental picture of memory
lane! I lived in the Fishmogers schoolhouse at Dunbrock where
my Father was Principal from 1947/1972. Ballykelly was our
nearest village and as a child , the centre of my universe.
A weekly shopping trip to Lexie Hearne's grocery was like
an excursion and as if yesterday I marvel at the method he
used to pack the cardboard box with precision. Then there
was Maurice Marshall the Blacksmith who was always good for
a foot-warming chat while some broken handle or latch was
repaired. Around the corner was Dr.kehone and his gentle wife
Dr Ursla and between them they did every medical proceedure
that today would require Specialist opinions. What happened
to lumbago, Sloans linament and the red flannel? Anyhow,across
the road to the newsagents where. Trevor Douglas, who kept
the"IrishTimes" for us and his able assistant Betty
always had a hearty story. Up the road a bit for a social
chat with Nurse Shannon who was a midwife with my mother in
the "Roe Valley" hospital and stories were swopped
of forcepts, Cesarean and awkward deliveries of every possible
method. I remember the REV.Simpson well as we joked about
his likeness to our new curate FR.Francis Murry. The faithful
Ford ten was cr!
anked up for the uphill journey to Dubrock and home. I remember
the Bryson family too and would remember Paddy,John and Kathleen
who have all gone to their rest as has Dympna lately, RIP.
I would love to hear from David Smyth as I believe his Father
Harry had his first book launch at 88 . Well done Harry, may
there be many more. I think your daughter Marie was in boarding
school with me in Coleraine but I was older ,she may not remember
me. I am 61 now. Saint Finloughs church was where I last signed
my maiden name ; That was 40 years ago next Easter. I rarely
go back as I have no family connections there; My brother
Brian is long established in Kent. Like all of you ,there
is nowhere like your first home.
Linda Sweeten (nee Campbell)- May '08
Good to read about the old days in Ballykelly. Can anybody
remember the Campbell twins? My Father Thomas Capbell was
sexton of Ballykelly church. Can remember playing in the graveyard
while he cut the grass on a summers night.
Can't wait to see my sistor in a few weeks time as I live
in England but always class Ballykelly as home.
Brian Robinson- May '08
If "Christine Eileen Brownfield - Nov '06" is still
looking at this site would she get in touch with me via e-mail
I would like to talk more about the Robinson & Tullyhoe
connection. I believe we may have a connection, as my family
grave is "back behind the church" with no names...
David Smyth - Mar '08
Reading the emails here have evoked some memories I have of
Ballykelly and the primary school.
I attended from 1962 to 1969 and remember some of my teachers
names Mrs Reevie (Primary 3 ) Mrs Smyton (primary 4 &
5)(primary 1 ,2 ,3 & 4 at the old primary school - primary
4 in the dining hall) Mrs Friel (primary 6) Mr Graham (primary
7 - primary 6 & 7 at the new school).
Some of the pupils in the class with me were Robert Thompson,
Robert Magee, Mervyn Connor, Sean Mackay, Maria Morgan, Bernadette
Mcgonigle, Martha McIvor (all locals) RAF Heather Fletcher,
George Davis, Robert Collington, Colin McCabe.
I also remember Douglas's grocery shop and the big bacon slicer
on the counter, a local girl called Patrica McGlinchy worked
Mickey Harkins pub and the All Cash Store on the cornor before
you went down to the RAF base.
A man call Jack McCorkile ran the petrol pumps in the village
and on the outskirts of the village, John Farren had a petrol
station and the petrol brand was Mex.
I remember Farrens also had a saw mill beside the river were
Bobby Farren now lives and the old Post Office opposite Bridge
House ran by William Mitchel, and his mother I think beside
the Post Office another teacher who taught at the primary
school lived her name was Mrs Hunter.
The headmaster was Mr Jim Ferguson, he built a house close
to the new primary school on the opposite side of the road
His wife also taught at the school, she was a very nice woman.
I also remember that there were 2 cafe's in the village ,
one was where Tommy's fish and chip shop is now and I remember
going in and playing a song on the juke box about 1970 (Black
night by Deep Purple) The other cafe was where the bookmaker
shop is now.
I left the area in 1983 and went to South Africa and I'm still
here but I go back every now and then to see my parents who
live near Ballykelly, they are Harry & Nellie Smyth.
I hope this bring back some memories to some people
Roy Duncan - Mar '08
I was sent out to retain the pew two rows from the front with
its red cushions. I had the exclusive full benefit of the
Fire and Brimstone: he grasped the rails as he reached the
climax of his sermon and they shook, scaring the daylights
out of me.
The headmaster at Ballykelly Public Elementary to give it
the correct title was Stanley Stewart Who could raise welts
on the hand with his bamboo cane but lovingly tutored me for
the first grammar school entrance exams in 1948.A great teacher
and a great man.He wouldnt like that last sentence: no verb!
During the war the village was an exciting place to live.There
was the RAF station on the doorstep and one could count the
planes out and fewer coming back. My uncle a Warrant Officer
went on a bender with my family and his Liberator was shot
down. He was incoconsolable and took to his bed for days.
Exciting for a boy but so many tragedies I can now recall
with sadness. The Americans had a camp at the Calmon (?) Wood
and there was the Naval Air Station At Eglinton. Typing thos
e names immediately gives rise to more memories so I had better
Lester Robert Moore - Dec '07
Just discovered your site. Being born in Ballykelly, my father
is James Moore, son of Johnny Moore "the baker"
farmer that owned land around all the fishmonger company's
land in and around Ballykelly.
I was educated in Ballykelly Primary School, where I was presented
the gold watch for being P7 head-boy and top sportsman of
the year. Both presented by the fishmongers company to me.
Iwas 11yrs old, unfortunately I lost my watch - the year was
1974..June..If possible could you forward any correspondence
to my email address: lester6733athotmaildotcodotuk
Judith McCarter(nee Lockhead) - Feb '07
Ballykelly - my home village from circa 1960! We lived on
Plantation Road. My mother, Ida Lockhead taught at both schools
- the old Ballykelly Primary School, and the new. I attended
both, and also received the gold watch inscribed by the Fishmongers
Society, which I still have. Mine was a fob watch, as those
were reserved for girls. I remember a visit from a highly
inebriated representative of the Worshipful Company!!
G McGill - February '08
My Grandparents James and Rebecca spent the last years of
their lives in a house belonging to Harry Irwin just off the
Old King's Lane. Before the present housing estate of that
name was built, they lived in a two room house adjoining a
family called Cruise. My late Aunt Annie worked as a cook
in Ballykelly Primamry school (now Glasvey) she later worked
as a housekeeper to the Late Major Patton and rented in a
house down a lane opposite the now Kings Lane Housing Estate.
I have fond memories of this wonderful villiage and it's people
who are warm and friendly. Gerald.
Kathleen - Feb '08
We lived in Dukes Lane from 1952/1953 until 1958. We had our
own little field with one caravan on it outside the guard
room. My mother was Doreen Milne and my father, Jock Milne
was in the RAF. Names such as the Roddins, the McBreens ,
Irene and ruby Douglas and Hutchinsons garage spring to mind.
I went to the primary school, and the Sundat School for a
while and then on to limavady kindergarten and prep. I loved
Ballykelly and still consider it as home. I visited there
this weekend and although much has changed there were certain
landmarks that remained the same. Can anyone remeber us.
David Osborne - Jan '08
Was very interested in Bill Osbornes submission since it seems
to tie in with my own interests. My great grandfather was
James Osborne son of John Osborne and Margaret White. James
married Mary Adams who was also born in Ballykelly. In 1880
they married and moved to Glasgow where many more Osbornes
were spawned. My father was named James White Osborne. Would
love to get in touch and exchange data.
Raymond Warke - Jan '08
Joe, I have just been reading through this web page after
my sister Sandra Connor (Sandra Warke) told me about it.
I remember some of the things that we got up to in the 50s
and early 60s. I have really enjoyed the artical and reading
the comments and seeing some of the names which bring back
fond memories of Ballykelly and the people. I remember your
father well and wish him and your family the very best.
Osborne, Numurkah, Victoria, Australia - Dec '07
In my comments in December 2006 I mentioned that the headstone
which we had erected in Ballykelly Presbyterian Churchyard
in memory of our great grandparents was in disrepair and we
would arrange to have it cleaned.
Since then we decided to replace it and this has now been
done by Limavady Memorials.
I am sending a photo which we received today. .
Daryl Heaney - May '07
Cracking good page
A. Curnick - May '07
We are so sad to be leaving Ballykelly after 2 1/2
very happy years here. The army base is due to close which
is why we have been here and our 4 children have loved Ballykelly
Primary - a model school. We are sad to move on but will cherish
all our memories of life here.
Ashley Lewis - Apr '07
That is stupid
William Young - Mar 07
My mother sarah young was in service at Ballykelly rectoryas
a maidfor rev crocure she often told me stories of her lifeworking
there she had a friend called lena hasson i think her family
ahad a tearoom in the village.
Tee - Mar '07
I am hoping to contact Pam Chetland and Adeline Vertue . I
have read their post and see that they are researching Dennison
families of Ireland . I really could use some help on finding
my Dennison relations The last dennison I have is a Hugh Dennison
that married Ann Galbraith in 1804 in Strabane Tyrone Ireland
. I was hoping to make some find of connection .
Meg Willis - Mar '07
My great grandfather was called Robert Simpson and he was
the station master at Broighter in the second half of the
1800s into early 1900s. His father William was also a station
master but I dont know where. Robert and family lived in Station
House and his 3rd wife, who was my grandmothers mother was
postmistress in Myroe I think. She was called Agnes Torrens.
I have just found out his first wife was called Nancy Miller
and they were married in Myroe Presbyterian Church in 1865.
Her father was James Miller of Carryclare. I dont know if
they had any family. She must have died as he remarried in
1871 in Ballykelly Presbyterian Church to Ann Jane Hutchison
whose father was a James Hutchison whose occupation was millwright.
They had three daughters I know of who all moved to Scotland.
His 3rd wife was daughter of James Torrens, a farmer of Back
or Carryclare. They had 7 children but only my Granny and
one of her sisters survived as all the others died of TB within
iod of 11 months or so. I wonder if there is anyone in Ballykelly
or Myroe who is from the Miller ,Hutchison, Simpson or Torrens
family. My mother was born in the lodge house of Ardnargle
where my grandfather William Fallace was working. I was there
last year on a flying visit and found the lodge house had
been demolished which was sad. Also visited Broighter Stop
where the old railway tracks are still visible. The Roe Valley
looked lovely. Maybe Ill hear back from someone on these family
names. From Meg Willis
Raymond Logue - Feb '07
I believe the window of St Finlough's chapel to have been
donated by the duaghter of Arthur Sampson to whose memory
the the substantial Sampson' tower was erected at Farlow near
Limavady.To Judith Nesbitt your grandparents used to live
in the end house in the same row where i was raised in Kingslane
was i that wavey haired boy?
Marion Peel (nee McFall) - Dec '06
Delightful to find such personal reminiscences along with
good factual information. It really helps to bring the place
alive. Does anyone remember the McFall family who were there
certainly in the early 1900's and up to post World War 2?
My parents honeymooned there with my father's relatives but
I was led to believe most of them either moved away or died.
I would be so grateful for any scrap of information.
Bill Osborne- Numurkah, Victoria, Australia -
I have recently found this site and found the article and
comments most interesting. It has encouraged me to submit
details of my family.
My great grandparents John and Margaret (nee White) Osborne
lived in the area for most of the nineteenth century. John
was a farm labourer who was hired out to different landowners
each year and apparently provided with a house. Addresses
included Broglasgow, Ballyspallen, Finlagen and Tartnakelly.
My grandfather,also John, migrated to Australia in 1865 and
never returned to Ireland. When I visited Ballykelly in 1967
I was the first of his descendants to do so. I spent an afternoon
in the Manse with the minister looking through the registers
and came up with details of their family as follows:- 1. Robert
- Born 1841 I (No further Information or contact) 2. Martha
- Born 1844 ( Married William Preston and moved to the Newry
area and finally to Belfast.Their grandson, Henry Preston,
migrated to Canada in 1954 and now lives in Newcastle, Ontario,
and his sister, Helen Cully, lives in Buffalo, New York. Several
members of our family have visited them.
3. John - My grandfather ( Could not find him in Ballykelly
records but his Australian marriagecertificate shows hís
birthplace as Church Hill) 4. Jane - Born 1847 ( Married Matthew
Crawford and migrated to Philadelphia USA. Last contact from
her family was in 1923) 5. James - Born 1848 ( No further
contact) 6. Eliza - Born ? ( Married William Kennedy 1875
and moved to Glasgow. We have a letter saying she had 11 children.
No further contact) 7. Joseph - Born ? (Married Margaret Duddy
1886 and migrated to USA. Following the death ofMargaret at
the birth of their second child he took the children back
to ireland to be brought up by his and Margaret’s parents.
We have had contact with his granddaughter Lily McAlister
and her family and they live in Portrush) 8. William - Born:
? ( No details other than the birth of a son Samuel in 1881)
In 1981 my sister Jean , cousin Gwen Shanks, with her husband
Reg., and I visited Rev. David Brown atthe Manse and arranged
the erection of a headstone on the grave of John and Margaret.
John had written to our grandfather in 1892 after Margaret’s
death and indicated that he hoped to erect a headstone butwas
unable to do so. Some family members have seen it and we find
that it is now covered in moss so have recently asked the
minister to arrange cleaning.
In submitting this comment I hope that any of the descendants
of John and Margaret who happen to see it find it interesting
Christine Eileen Brownfield - Nov '06
Delighted to find this site. Like most Americans, I am tracing
ancestry and I know at least a little bit about my grandfather
who came from this area. If anyone can shed additional light
on my data or can put me in contact with possible distant
relatives, I would be grateful. Here is what I know.
Grandfather's name was William Andrew Robinson, (born late
1890's) came from a large family whose farm was near a place
called "Carrickcue-tullimaine" I am now thinking
it might be Carrickhugh-tullymaine or tullyhoe. I do know
that the church the family attended was the Bally kelly Presbyterian
Church and have visited there and seen grave markers for "Robinson"
back behind the church (have photo) but no names. Nearest
big town was Limavady and have pictures of grandfather as
little boy taken by a Limavady photographer. You could see
Lough Foyle from their farm.
His mother's name was Anne Jane Baird and the Baird's and
the Robinson's may have been related somehow. Most of the
brothers and sisters all immigrated to America (Philadelphia,
PA Camden NJ area prior to the WWI outbreak, my Mother was
born in 1917, uncle in 1914 in Philly. I believe that Great
Grandmother Anne Jane Baird (who was much younger than her
husband (Possibly named Andrew) lived at least up to WWII
because supposedly she served tea to American soldiers who
wee stationed around the area in honor of her sons and daughters
who had immigrated to US. My grandfather died when I was only
7 so most of these stories I know through my Mom and Uncle
(both now deceased) and neither of them were really all that
interested in history so didn't question as thoroughly as
I probably would have. Please, anyone with information or
insight respond. I have some lovely old photos of farm, Ann
Jane Baird, some of the family etc. I would be happy to scan
and put on CD. Thank you! Christine in Raleigh, NC
Christine casey (nee Grant) - Aug '06
Hello there, I really enjoyed reading these posts. I grew
up in Ballykelly (from 1971), my dad Denis was the local pharmacist.
We lived in Glasvey House, the old primary school. It is now
being developed and houses have been built to the back and
the side but I understand the front has been retained much
as many will remember it.
Great place and the finest people. I hope anyone who is looking
for an ancestor & perhaps family has great success.
Marcus Fulton - Aug '06
Message for Judith Nesbitt
I do remember you! I was in Ballykelly at the beginning of
August with my dad for the first time in 28yrs, a lot has
changed but it brought back alot of happy memorries and I
took the walk we use to do past the church. Please get in
touch marcus dot fulton at ntlworld dot com.
Pam Chetland - Aug '06
Message for Adeline Virtue
Thank you for getting in touch, I have been researching my
family tree and I have discovered a forebear William Denniston,
and a possible forebear Joseph Denniston one gave his birthplace
as Dublin Ireland and the other was born in Ballyscullion.
It is possible that they were brothers William was born 1786
and Joseph 1789. I know that Joseph's parents were Thomas
Denniston and Sarah McNeil now you will have noticed that
there is a t in Dennison but whether this was down to the
way it was heard and written down I am not sure. I know that
it became Dennison in the next generation in fact my maiden
name was Dennison too. I would be delighted with any information
you could find for me about Dennisons in Ireland I tend to
think, from what I have read that the Dennisons originated
in the Dennistoun area of Scotland and probably moved to Ireland
during the plantations but I would love to find somebody who
knows a lot more about it than I do, perhaps your cousin is
just that person. If you think he can help please let me know
Best, Wishes Pam Chetland.
Judith Nesbitt - Aug '06
I remember a wavy haired young boy of about five
years old who walked from school with me down the back lane
past the big tree with the high exposed roots, on the opposite
side to the Presbyterian Church Hall. Marcus Fulton you probably
don't remember me but I also grew to know your Uncle Marcus.
I was obsessed by horses in particular and your Uncles house
was paradise for me even though I was badly bitten on the
back by a palomino stallion he had. I never blamed the pony.
His dogs seemed like giants when I was growing up and for
me it was a travesty when the hospital took over Churchill
House. Little did I know years ago as I stood in the barn
of this model farm, which should have been preserved on site,
that as an adult I would lie on a hospital bed in that very
spot. I no longer live in Ballykelly but have many memories.
I often wondered what on earth happened to the first person
I had called friend as you had left school by the second year
as I recall.
Nick & Jan Eary - Aug '06
Message for Joe Simpson, we have stummbled across
this article and hoped that you and Penny remembered us, Nick
& Jan from Tiptree, Essex, its been over 10 years since
we last saw you.
Good memory's of dog sitting your labradors. Be good to hear
Adeline Virtue - Aug '06
Message for Pam Chetland
My maiden name was Dennison from Co Fermanagh. My father came
from Co Leitrim and I have, within the past 3 years, made
contact with a distant cousin via the internet who lives in
Cork and he has a substantial amount of information on our
side of the Dennison family dating back to the 1700s. Should
you need any of this information I could pass it on to you.
Ann Parker nee Hunter
Hi, I came across your article when looking for information
on my Grandfather, Joseph Hunter. It is the most friendly
and informative site I have come across.
I was realy interested in the picture that was painted of
Ballykelly and although I doubt whether my family have any
connections there, I hope to visit on my trip in August.
Hi Joe, thank you very much for your reply. I am
researching my family tree ( Dennison ) and am desperately
trying to find out about Dennisons in Ireland. One connection
that we found gave birthplace as Dublin and the other as Ballyskillen
which I mistakenly thought was Ballykelly so thank you for
pointing me in the right direction. I will now go searching
in that area, Pam
Joe Simpson - July '06
Message for Pam Chetland - it could be, more likely,
that your ancestor hailed from Ballyscullion. Co. Londonderry
("Bellyskillen"?) and NOT Ballykelly - for info
about B'scullion see website http://www.from-ireland.net/lewis/ant/bscullionparish.htm.
The only other references to "Ballyskillen" that
Google brings up, are a motor repair business in Belfast under
that name, and a (UK) TV comedy sitcom from the 1980s featurung
a) fictional) village of that name!
Pam Chetland - July '06
I enjoyed this article very much, I found the site quite by
chance as I have discovered that I may have a forebear who
came from there, his name was Joseph Denniston, and he was
born around 1789 he served in the Royal Horse Artillery from
1808-1816 and was at Waterloo, on his army service record
his birthplace was Bellyskillen Derry which I am translating
as Ballykelly Having said all that what I am interested to
know is, does the name Denniston or Dennison still exist in
Ballykelly, I thought somebody visiting this site might know
and be able to help me, Kind Regards Pam Chetland.
John Good - June '06
I was in the USA Navy, and in 1960 was stationed for a few
weeks at RAF Ballykelly. The folks were sure nice. I had to
adjust to the food :). There was a Warrent Officer, I do not
recall his name, however, he was in charge of our accommodations
and he was not a very nice fellow as were the other RAF guys.
Joe Simpson - June '06
Message for John Meek - John, we must have attended Ballykelly
Primary School at the same time, I was born in 1952. Can you
remember Mr. Ferguson, the Headmaster, and his wife who taught
at the school? It's now empty, sadly, as the "new"
school on the other side of the village near the Manse has
been going for about 30 years. I still treasure my Certina
gold wrist watch presented by the Fishmongers Society (which
founded the Ballykelly Primary School as a "Lancasterian"
school with pupil-teachers, back in the 1800s) for being head
boy at the Primary School in 1963! John, can you recall the
Fishmongers' Chief Warden, Sir Gervase Tennyson D'Eyncourt,
coming from London to talk to us all in school assembly that
same year, and presenting gold watches to the head boy &
head girl? Marianne Patton, who was head girl that year (1963),
sadly died in a road accident in 1988, I heard about it just
before my wife and I emigrated to Canada that year.
John Meek - June '06
Hi, I lived in RAF Ballykelly 1960 to 63 fond memorys - dad
was in air force. I attented Ballykelly primary school met
the love of my life there only 10 at time. Hi to all.
John Mongrieff George Simpson (Spain) -
Well researched and a pleasure to read
What a surprise to pop up from a google search for a photograph
L'll Bro in Vigo, Spain
William Young - June '06
I found this site very interesting and would like to hear
from any who might have known my mother Sarah Young born in
Myroe in 1914 my grandfather Charlie was a well known orange
man. Mum died in January 2006 she often told me about her
young days growing up in myroe and surrounding area many thanks,
W T Young.
Joe Simpson - June 06
Message for Ian Hunter - I was delighted to see your message,
Ian, which I read out to my father in Newtownards, Co. Down
when I phoned him from Vancouver Island, B.C. today. He sends
you his very best wishes in return, and we talked for quite
a while about your family and other old Ballykelly connections.
Dad said you're welcome to call him (he's in the phone book)
as he'd love to hear from you. He says to let you know how
much he appreciates all the support your parents gave him
and my mother in those Ballykelly days. If you look at my
photo-essay about Tom Nicholl and Broighter Gold elsewhere
on this website, Ian, you'll see a 1965 group photo with your
late father, Bobby (R.G.) Hunter, in it. I'm sure that I remember
my father giving you a lift up to Belfast one day, probably
back to QUB for your medical studies, and dropping me off
at the Limavady GS on the way. That must have been about 1964,
when I was 12. Anyway, I'm back in NI for 3 weeks in Oct,
maybe we can connect up then? My email address here is email@example.com.
Best wishes, very good to hear from you.
Jackie Bryson - May '06
Jackie here, just got your message re brysons. I do know
quite a bit about the family tree in sistrakeel, and have
seen the graves but would love to know what they were like
and where they came from! Any information would be great thanks.
My email is jackie dot firstname.lastname@example.org. paddy's brother was
my grandfather John who went to donegal and bought a farm
there. he married Elizabeth McKeag from Termaquin.
Ian Hunter - May '06
Joe, Congratulations on your article on Ballykelly. You will
remember my elder sister Margaret Hunter (now Irwin) who taught
you at school. I too was sorry to learn of your mother's passing-
much respected lady about Ballykelly. One of my earliest memories
is of your father's first visit to my childhood home 'Rascahan'-
it was my birthday - I think that it was 1952. In any case,
he had a profound influence on my life- please send him my
regards. I have been interested in Genealogy for many years--
the Hunters settled initially at Clagan in 1700 (I have a
copy of the original deeds) and my branch moved to Tartnakelly
two. generations later. Six more generations saw me into the
world in 1944. The farm was sold out of the family about 1940.
My parents, R.G. and Laura Hunter also have passed on some
years ago but I still visit Ballykelly which has a special
place in my heart, despite the traffic! The Hunters spread
all over the world - to Colonial America, one was a General
in the Civil War, and to the goldfields of New Zealand. Those
who remained earned a living off the land through good times
and bad-- they worshiped, as Presbyterians, at Ballykelly
and lie buried there. There is a marked grave at the 'Garrison'
or old Walworth Church of my ancestors going back to 1720.
Enough, again. I was delighted with your article it was Edward
Gibbon the 18th Century philosopher who said "Fifty or
an hundred years may be allotted to an individual, but we
step forward beyond death with such hopes as religion and
philosophy will suggest; and we fill up the silent vacancy
that proceeds our birth by associating ourselves with the
authors of our existence." Genealogy in a nutshell! Maybe
I will hear from a few 'Hunters' Kind regards, Ian Hunter.
Joe Simpson - May '06
Responding to Sheila Cooper: yes, indeed, I can remember from
over 40 years ago the lovely RC Church of St. Finlough's on
the hill overlooking Ballykelly village and distant Mount
Binevenagh, for many a time as wains we used to go merrily
bicycling up past there, in the days when parents could let
their older children roam freely about the country roads for
the day without much reason to fear for their safety! There
are some lovely snapshots of the view from the church at http://www.harronstudios.com/10206/links.php
. From Dr. James Stevens Curl's 1981 book on the Fishmongers'
Company at Ballykelly (at pg. 59) I read that Father McGlade,
Parish Priest at Ballykelly, asked the Company for a lease
of the RC Chapel and burial ground - with ecumenical munificence
rare at that time, says Dr. Curl, the Company went one step
further, and decided to financially help the local Roman Catholic
community build a church there, after a Fishmonger's Company
deputation of inspectors from !
London had extensively toured the area in 1820. If I understand
Dr. Curl's text correctly, it appears that the Fishmongers
later built the "substantial" St. Finlough's RC
Church at Oghill, Ballykelly. Perhaps, Sheila, you could add
some further history of St. Finlough's to this webpage?
Joe Simpson - May '06
Reply for Debby from Joe Simpson - according to Dr. James
Stevens Curl's history the Londonderry Plantation (pub. 1986
- see my earlier posting below), the Fishmongers’ Company
Proportion in Co. Londonderry was remarkably long and thin,
extending southwards from Lough Foyle for some 12 miles into
the higher lands and lush valley of Drumcovit, near Banagher.
A Fishmongers' Company Deputation from London stayed for two
nights in 1820 at Drumcovit House, then occupied by a Mr.
Hunter, his wife and their ten musical children. They recorded
having an excellent dinner at Drumcovit, with the Hunters
and their close neighbours, the Stevensons, and being entertained
by the “very agreeable” young Misses Hunter on
pianoforte, accompanied by their brother on the flute. The
Deputation admired Drumcovit’s fine garden-front of
stone with brick dressings. Company re-roofed the house in
the early 1870s. Professor Curl (1986) – a most discerning
architectural critic - comments on “the graceful"
front of Drumcovit House that looks out across incomparably
lovely country to Banagher Parish Church”. Dr. Curl's
book states that adjacent Feeny itself was part of the Skinners’
Company's fragmented estates in the area. Debby, have you
looked yet at Drumcovit Houses's "B & B" website
? It looks lovely!
Regarding Jackie's query about the Bryson family.
They had a farm in Sistrakeel, a few hunderd yards from where
But the name was Paddy(Patrick) Bryson, maybe his father was
Paddy's wife was Dympna with sons Charlie, Noel, Patrick and
Seamus. They had one daughter Angela. I'm sure they must be
related to you in some way.
There is a large tombstone in St. Finlough's church with generations
of Brysons buried there. So if I can help with your queries
please respond back to this thread.
To Joe Simpson - loved the Ballykelly history. Funny how
you can see something everyday but really know very little
about it. Do you recall St. Finlough's - the little RC church
on a hill a little up country from Ballykelly.
Debby - May '06
Thanks to you for this article. I'm new to this genealogy
research. I stumbled upon this site while trying to research
an area called Drumcovitt, Feeny, Banagher (now called Drumcovitt
house). That 300 year old farm, I've traced my ancestors back
to. Actually several families, all related. i.e. Reillys/Rileys,
Marshalls, Jervis. The information said it was "created
by the" Fishmongers Co." Would you be able to give
me a little history. Was Feeny built by the FM, much like
Ballykelly? Did these early settlers move between settlements?
This would explain some of my family's early movement and
maybe why I can not locate some birth records. Debby, Love
Roberta Morley (nee Moore) - April '06
I have just returned from a week's holiday with my mother,
Greta Moore, in Ballykelly. So sorry to hear about your Mum,
Joe. I always put flowers on Dad's grave when I am home &
I also visited your Mother's grave while I was there. Mum
& my sister, Maudie also send their condolences.
It's lovely to see such interest in your web page, Joe.
Joe Simpson - April '06
Message from Joe Simpson for Cousin Marcus Fulton:
Marcus, if you would like to email me at EITHER otesaga at
shaw dot ca OR tjslaw at telus dot net I would be delighted
to make direct contact - my maternal grandfather Joseph Fulton
(d. 1949 aged in his 60s) of Thornhill Farm, Ballykelly -
a brother of Reverend Marcus Fulton, after whom I guess the
younger Marcus (his nephew) was named - is your paternal great-grandfather.
Our branch of the Fulton family all hailed from Dungiven,
Co. Derry. My mother's oldest brother George Fulton (d. 1974,
in his 60s) was your grandfather - my Uncle George - and I
last saw your Grandmother, my Auntie Margie, in 1978, the
same day we met Marcus. I remember your great-grandmother
Ogilvie ("M'Ogie") very well, lovely lady. I also
remember your father George when he was a wee lad of about
12 or 13. I last met your Uncle David Fulton in Essex, UK
about 20 years ago, and I know your father George was at my
mother's funeral last March. Your Uncle John and his wife
visited us in BC, Canada about 15 years ago. So we have many
connections - hope you will see this and email me!
Louise Mc Farland (nee robinson) - April
My mum and dad, Joyce and William Robinson, from Tullyhoe
(between Limavady and Ballykelly) often talk about your parents
- they were sad to hear about your mother passing away. The
Robinson family lived across the road from Lynch's farm. It
is nice to read a bit of local history - we tend to live so
much in the present now and forget about our roots!
William Cumming - April '06
My thanks to Roberta, Hilary & Joe for your remarks concerning
Sam Lyons! I wonder if you have any particular memories of
him and what he was like - any other memories of the family
you may have too.
My email address is cummingwj at hotmail.com if you wish
to get in touch with me directly.
Marcus Fulton - April '06
I stumbled upon this web page purely by accident, and great
joy it has given me. i am named after uncle Marcus!!! My father
is George Ogilvie Fulton and his father was George Fulton
who I believe to be uncle marcus's brother but i maybe mistaken,
my grandpa past away in 1974. I have very fond memories of
visiting uncle Marcus after school in 1975 and he taking me
out riding around the courtyard on one of his ponies and there
was always a wolf hound with us.
Suzanne Alder - March '06
I am very interested in genealogy and was thrilled to hear
about this web site. I am looking for infomration about my
ancestors. Especially James Turnbull who married Margaret
Dunn (she also may have been known as Jean) , and had children
Maria (who married Joseph Laughlin Gibson of Broighter), John,
James, Robert (who travelled to Australia) and William (who
married Elilzabeth Carter.)
Margaret Dunn was the daughter of Robert Dunn of Tartnakelly
If anyone could help me, I would greatly appreciate it.
Norman Thorpe ballykelly - March '06
very interesting and informitive writing history of raf ballykelly
Gari - March '06
Luck of the Irish! Eirjet takes Ryanair to Ballykelly
Nice to see that Ryanair now serving Ballykelly and the interest
in this lovely place is immense
Thanks for this webpage and info
Gari, Isle of Man
Suzanne Alder - March '06
It has been wonderful reading all this information about my
ancestors home town. I am looking for any information about
the Turnbull family who lived in Tartnakelly. I am also looking
for information about Robert Dunn (1764-1837). He married
Ann Strawbridge of Ballyspaleen (1771-1843). They had children
by the names of James, Thomas, Mary, Robert Margaret, Martha,
John, Jean and Catherine.
James Turnbull married Jean Dunn (or Margaret). If anyone
has any information about this family I would greatly appreciate
Jackie Bryson - March '06
my ancestors come from sistrakeel in ballykelly, they were
brysons, my grandfather being john bryson they owned a farm
in either sistrakeel or tartnakilly. does anyone know anything
of the brysons there.
Joe Simpson - March '06
A bibliographical footnote - in addition to the Ulster Architectural
Heritage Society (UAHS) 1981 book on 'Ballykelly and the Fishmongers'
by Dr. James Stevens Curl that I mentioned at the end of my
above Ballykelly photo-essay, currently priced at £8
plus postage/shipping - of which only about 15 - 20 copies
remain for sale at the UAHS - Dr. Curl is also the author
of a 1986 hefty tome on all of the various London Companies
once active in 'planting' Co. Derry, with a detailed chapter
on Ballykelly & the Fishmongers Company that updates and
in places corrects his earlier 1981 book. The 1981 Ballykelly
volume can still be obtained, subject of course to future
availability, by contacting UAHS, 66 Donegall Pass Belfast
, BT7 1BU, N. Ireland, UK or email email@example.com / website
www.uahs.co.uk / tel. 028 9055 0214 (ask for Joan). The more-expensive
(about £60!!) 1986 volume titled 'The Londonderry Plantation
1609-1914' is published by Phillimore & Co., Shopwyke
Hall, Chichester, Sussex (ISBN 0 85033 577 9) although it
may be possible to buy a copy from the Co. Down-based author,
Dr. Curl, by contacting him initially via UAHS. Cheers!
Joe Simpson - March '06
Thank you, Ivan Thompson, for sending your mother Tessie's
kind condolences for my mother's death last March 3, which
I have passed on to my father, who expresses his deep appreciation.
I visited Mum's grave at Ballykelly Presbyterian Church's
beautifully-kept village churchyard last week soon after I
flew over here from my Vancouver Island home. I am returning
to Canada in a few days (March 25) but right now I am still
in Co. Down, NI and I have just been reading out all these
Ballykelly online postings to my father, Rev. Tom Simpson
(82) whose eyesight no longer permits him to read for himself.
My father remembers your mother, and indeed I attended the
old Ballykelly Primary School (1956 - 1963) with a very nice
wee lad called Reggie Donaghy, who may be your uncle? Yes,
I was the 2nd-ever Head Boy there in 1962-3, and I still have
the gold watch awarded by the Fishmonger's Society, and my
head boy badge! My father is fascinated to hear all the familiar
Ballykelly names mentioned below by Ivan, Roberta, Hilary,
William and Teena. He clearly remembers Sammy Lyons, Tessie
Donaghy, "Foyleview Farm" (later owned by Mr. Barr?),
Maudie Moore and others from those days half a century ago.
In the past week we have been talking a lot about those days.
My father is comforted by the knowledge that he, too, when
the time comes will join Mum for eternity at Ballykelly and
be surrounded there by many dear old friends from their younger
days. He sends blessings to you all.
Ivan Thompson - Mar 06
My mother was a member of the congregation when your father
was minister[Tessie Thompson nee Donaghy]and remembers and
talks about him admirally.We were talking the other day and
was thinking that maybe you were a Headboy at Ballykelly Primary
School and this is what my mother remembers of yourself.Your
father was the minister who married my parents and christened
thier first child. P.S. My mother was saddened to hear of
the recent death of your mother.
Joe Simpson - March '06
Yes, indeed, Hilary - my mother's much older first cousin
Marcus Fulton of Church Hill owned Irish wolfhounds, as my
wife and I recall from our visit there in 1978. I remember
one, which had just produced a litter of pups, growling ferociously
at us when we went into the old stables with Marcus to look
at them. We backed out very, very carefully!
Hilary Sussum - Feb '06
What fun to read about Ballykelly! I was there last weekend.
I remember the Rev. Simpson though I was not a member of his
congregation. I grew up in the 'Bawn' though it was very different
from the map with a new house (approx 1750) where one of the
flankers used to be. I also knew Sam Lyons from Crindle and
I remember Mr Fulton of Church Hill - did he own Irish wolfhouds?
Joe Simpson - Jan '06
Message for Roberta Morley (nee Moore) - thanks Roberta for
your good wishes to my parents, Tom & Pat Simpson, which
i will pass on to them by phone this weekend. The extra info
that you gave below about the family smallholding in Tartnakelly
may help to trigger their memory, which at around 80 years
is not as clear as it once was. My mother's family, the Fultons,
farmed just up the road from the Ballykelly Manse, until about
For many years the hawthorn tree in the middle of a big field
alongside the farm lane was left intact by the ploughman,
so as not to disturb the resident fairies, my mother used
to tell us as children. Old country superstitions die hard,
but last time I looked a few years ago the 'fairy hawthorn"
was finally gone.
My mother remembers from her childhood in the 1930s that
her father would occasionally doze off while driving his horse
and trap of an evening home from the Limavady cattle market
(perhaps having lunched too well with his farmer chums?!!
) but the canny old horse would find its own way back, stopping
here and there along the farm lane to select choice morsels
of grass. A lot safer than falling asleep at the wheel of
a modern 4-wheeled vehicle! Best regards, Joe S. (Vancouver
Roberta Morley (nee Moore) - Jan '06
Regarding William Cumming's query about his wife's ancestor's
farm in Ballykelly. I was brought up on a small holding in
Tartnakelly and a Samuel Lyons had a farm in the next townland,
Loughermore. This same Samuel (Sammy) Lyons had a farm also
in Crindle, Myroe. The farm in Crindle overlooked the local
Crindle Cricket Club were Sammy Lyons and my father used to
play cricket for the local team. Perhaps Sammy was a son of
William Lyons. Unfortunately my father died over 8 years ago
as he would have known much more of the Lyons family history.
There is no-one living on the farm in Loughermore any longer
- it is now derelict, but I believe the farm in Crindle is
still in existence.
Message for Joe Simpson - glad to hear both your parents
are alive and well. Please send them my best wishes, also
those of my mother, Greta Moore and my sister, Maudie. Kind
regards, Roberta Morley, Stafford, England.
William Cumming - Jan '06
My wife's ancestors had a farm in Ballykelly. He was William
Lyons (born c1880). If I've understood correctly then the
farm was called something like 'Tarakelly'. After a while
he moved and bought a farm called Crindle at Myroe near Limavady.
I wonder if anyone can help me identify the farm in Ballykelly??
Kind regards, William
Teena - Dec '05
'Tis fabulous to find more on-line about Ballykelly. My ancestor,
Andrew DUNN inherited "Foyleview Farm" from his
Aunt- Margaret Robinson, upon the death of her husband William.
William Robinson took over the farm after the death of his
father, John Robinson (John Robinson burial 27 Apr 1830 of
near the Canal, Ballykelly). Margaret ROBINSON died 15th Aug
1888 aged 90, and she is buried with her nephew Andrew DUNN,
in the Ballykelly New Church Burying Ground. I have pictures
of the farm dated c1880, along with a picture of the railway
Thank you for providing just a wee bit more to whet the appetite.
Joe Simpson - Dec '05
Thanks so much for these comments, Roberta - I was 13 when
we left Ballykelly, and it has always felt like "home"
in my memory, even far away in Canada. When I was about 6
years old, around the year of 1958, I panicked one day in
class at the old Ballykelly Primary School because I thought
that a temporary teacher wouldn't let us go home at the normal
time. Apparently - and I have no clear memory of what happened
next - I suddenly stood up and announced to everyone in the
room that I had to go home to the Manse right away, as my
parents were taking my younger brother, sister & me away
to live in Canada, the very next day! Where I got that crazy
idea from I have no idea, but certainly not from our Mum &
Dad. You can imagine the speed with which that story went
around the Ballykelly village that same afternoon!! Anyway,
I will phone my parents (now in their late 70s/early 80s and
still chugging along in N'Ards) this wekend and let them know
about your kind message. I'm sure they will remember your
Mum, Greta Moore. Sincerely, Joe Simpson (BC, Canada).
Roberta Morley (nee Moore) - Dec '05
Delighted to read this article about Ballykelly. Rev. Tom
Simpson was our much-loved minister from 1949 - 1965 &
was sadly missed by all the congregation when he moved on
to pastures new.
I left Ballykelly in 1971 when I married an RAF man (surprise!
surprise!) but return 2 or 3 times per year to visit my mother,
Greta Moore, who still lives in the village.
I thoroughly enjoyed my trip "down memory lane"
when reading Joe's excellent article.