In his visit
to the Leckpatrick Graveyard, Paul Moore spoke
Roulston of the
Ulster Historical Foundation, Hamilton Thompson,
Joan Donnell & Johnny Dooher.
Leckpatrick graveyard is situated 1
mile from Artigarvan and 3 miles NE of Strabane.
This visit rather unusually begins not in the graveyard
but in a house…. Although often pronounced “Hollyhill” its
real name is Holyhill because there is a Holy hill
in its grounds. Hamilton Thompson tells us that the
first known person to have inhabited the house was
Sir John Hamilton in 1600 and it’s believed
that the house has been occupied ever since.
The Sinclairs lived here for 300 years and then
the property changed hands to the Major General Sir
Alan Adair. The Adairs lived here until it was
sold once again, this time to Margaret Knowe in
Roulston notes that the Sinclair
link to the graveyard we are about to visit. There
are quite a number of monuments and memorials to
the Sinclairs there. They were a leading Gentry family
in this Parish.
Curiously this house was very nearly burnt
to the ground. When King James’s troops
were fleeing after the siege of Derry, they
at Holyhill. They were about to burn it down
when a command was given by the commander of
the troops, who was on the Donegal banks of
the Foyle, for the house to be left untouched.
House at Leckpatrick
messenger who brought this order had to swim
Foyle to bring it and it was delivered just
in time for the house to be spared.
thought to be because the Reverend John
wife was a Hamilton, as was the Commanding
officer of the Jacobite troops. It is assumed
that there was some family connection. Whether
real or perceived that connection saved the
house at Holyhill from destruction.
In the library is one of the earliest known maps
of the area, by William Starratt, dated 1736. William
Roulston explains that Starratt was probably the
best known mapmaker in Ulster around that era. He
would have carried out cartography for many of the
great landlords in all counties. His maps show a
different aspect to the topography of the land that
we expect to see reflected today. This particular
map was made for the Sinclairs and what they
specifically needed to
it was which areas of their estate was arable, pasture,
prone to flooding etc. This was commonly why landlords
commissioned maps in the first place.
Before you even get to the graveyard, the
first commemorative stone can be found
embedded into the side of the Artigarvan bridge.
stone, hidden from view on the side of
It would be very easy to
miss this rather hidden piece of history.
The stone bears the name of Robert Algio and has the
date 16th May
Also carved into this stone is a crucifixion
scene which is probably a reference to the
What is known is that Robert Algio was a
Scottish settler who came to this area from
in the 17th Century. He was a land steward
to the landlord
Hamilton Family. He was also a Scottish Roman
Although the plantation was intended
to be a Protestant
settlement in Ulster, there were numerous
Scottish Catholics who came into this area
patronage of the Catholic Hamiltons. Some
of these are
recorded on the headstones in the graveyard.
stone of Patrick" William Roulston explains,
"and there’s a tradition
that Saint Patrick himself founded the first church
here. It can’t be verified but certainly there’s
been a church here from a very early period, probably
before the end of the first millennium A.D.” Some
time ago a farmer accidentally unearthed some stones
in nearby fields which display Celtic symbolic carvings."
In the mediaeval period there was a parish church
here which had a visit from the Archbishop of Armagh
in 1397. By the start of the 17th century the church
on this site was in ruins. It fell to the recently
settled community to repair and rebuild it. From
then until the early 19th century the church was
used by the Church or Ireland, although the graveyard
was used by all denominations. A brand new church
was built about a quarter of a mile south of here