The 17th of February is the feast day of St. Lurach, patron saint of Maghera. To mark the occasion Denver Boyd and Joseph McCoy gave a joint talk in the Heritage and Cultural Centre on the life of St. Lurach and the origins of the town itself – which grew up around the monastery founded by the saint.
Arthur Houston visited the Heritage and Cultural Centre on the 16th February 2017 to deliver a scholarly and educational talk on the historic Old Bleach Linen Company based in Randalstown. Arthur has researched the subject in great depth and his enthusiasm was evident in the work that went into the preparation for this very interesting lecture. We are very grateful for the time and effort put in and all who attended the talk
have come away with a greater understanding and appreciation of the subject based on the range and depth of the information presented by Arthur.
Peter Etherson, our firm but fair Quizmaster presided over a quiz in Walsh’s Hotel on Thursday 26th January at 8.00pm . All the questions were prepared by Peter and the feedback was that, while the standard was suitably challenging, the topics and range of the questions were very well-judged. It is intended to run a Quiz Night every month to act as a fund-raiser for the Society as well as being an enjoyable social evening for everybody attending.
Congratulations to the winners: Ann Brennan, Carol and Matt Collier, Clare, Frank and Veronica McKendry.
On 19th January 2017 David Morrow gave a beautifully illustrated lecture here in the Heritage and Cultural Centre on the subject of the flora and fauna to be found in the area of Upperlands. He drew on his deep knowledge of the subject to deliver an interesting and enjoyable talk and open our eyes to the subtleties of the natural world around us. We will all glean a great deal more from our country walks having been inspired by David to look out for the details and delights of our local habitats. No doubt many of us will now be looking forward to visiting the walks and pathways around Upperlands too, as described so well by David.
WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE
Denver Boyd, Chair of the Maghera Historical Society, presented a most enjoyable and informative talk on the subject of genealogy and researching family history on the 11th January in the Heritage and Cultural Centre . Denver’s interest in the subject stretches back over thirty years from when he first began to study the background of his own family. What started out as a hobby has grown into a full-blown obsession. Listening to Denver speak it was easy to understand the fascination of the subject – gathering information on our forebears involves a great deal of detective work and inspiration. Studying historical documents, even those of the recent past, is not a straightforward process more akin to untangling a convoluted web than following a clear trail.
Denver’s knowledge and enthusiasm brought a sense of adventure and discovery to the exploration of family roots. Building on the success of the evening the MHS will host a series of workshops where Denver will be available to advise and guide anybody interested in tracing their personal and family history. The workshops will be held in the Heritage and Cultural Centre over the next four Wednesdays. All are welcome, so if you are interested in finding out more about who you are and where you come from we look forward to seeing you.
DATES OF WORKSHOPS:
All workshops take place from 7 – 9pm in the Heritage and Cultural Centre: Admission £5
Wednesday 18th January
Wednesday 25th January
Wednesday 1st February
Wednesday 8th February
On 24th November 2016 in the Heritage & Cultural Centre Hilary Richardson, who has been involved in Guiding for over fifty years, shared her experiences with us. Hilary spoke about the opportunities guiding afforded her for travel in Europe, India and South America. This interesting, informative and well-illustrated talk showed us the value of the guiding movement as well as giving us an insight into other cultures and ways of life.
Hilary, a retired schoolteacher, is a member of Ballinascreen Historical Society
The Maghera Historical Society held its first annual Christmas Dinner and Dance in Walsh’s Hotel on the 25th November. This was a very enjoyable evening, very well-attended and hopefully the first of many such events. Music was by Kenny Archer and all the organization was carried out by Annette and Pat Rafferty to whom we are all very grateful. Walsh’s Hotel was an atmospheric venue and thanks are also due to all the staff who help make the night such a success
Kenny Shiels gave a very personal and insightful talk in the Heritage and Cultural Centre on the 15th December which looked beneath the surface of his long and successful career in the world of football. The event was very well attended and all there really enjoyed the evening. Our thanks to Kenny for such a thoughtful overview of his life and times. While the focus of the evening was obviously the ‘beautiful game’ Kenny’s approach and his professional presentation made his story accessible and interesting to everyone.
At the recent Annual General Meeting of the Maghera Historical Society on the 1st December 2016, Denver Boyd was elevated from his position as Vice-chair to Chair of the Society. At the same meeting James Armour stood down from his position as Honorary secretary of the Maghera Historical Society and stated that he would not be putting his name forward for re-election as he wished to pursue the organisation and running of the newly-formed Maghera Heritage and Cultural Centre Ltd. as a separate, but closely allied, organisation. Denver follows in the footsteps of Joseph McCoy who stepped down after two years in the Chair in order, as Joseph put it ‘that a fresh pair of eyes and a new perspective be brought to the position’. All at the Heritage and Cultural Centre would like to thank Joseph for his dedication and hard work over his term of office and also for being the initial inspiration behind the MHS. We wish Denver well in his new role and know that the Maghera Historical Society will continue to flourish and grow under his guidance and leadership.
Two years ago, the Maghera Historical Society was put on a formal footing at a public meeting called by James Armour. At that time a constitution was adopted – with one of the main aims being: To provide a suitable centre in Maghera where information, records, publications, photographs, memorabilia, folk memories and artefacts, connected with the history of the town and the surrounding districts can be collected, preserved, displayed and consulted in a venue that is open to the public. This centre is also to be used to run a programme of events relating to the culture and heritage of the area and to engage and work with the local community in an open and inclusive way, involving people from all backgrounds and cultures to celebrate and promote the present-day culture and the past heritage of Maghera.
With the opening of the Heritage and Cultural Centre premises in the town in October 2015 these aims came to fruition and in the past year the Centre has lived up to the ideals set out above with almost forty events of all descriptions taking place, each of which re-enforced the culture and heritage of the area in an open, inclusive and welcoming way.
To deal with the amount of work generated by the Maghera Heritage and Cultural Centre Ltd. and to strengthen and clarify its identity, it has been decided that it will be managed separately from the Historical Society. As the name suggests the Maghera Historical Society will focus on the history of Maghera and its surroundings, exploring, researching and preserving its distinguished past.
The Maghera Heritage and Cultural Centre Ltd. will be concerned with the heritage of the town going back as far as living memory, and Maghera’s present-day culture. These themes will be reflected in the output of the Centre which will consist of the gathering of oral-histories, the preservation of all that is best in the built fabric of the area, exhibitions, workshops and events featuring aspects of life in the town and the publication of a bi-annual magazine and other material relating to the locality.
Both the Maghera Historical Society and the Maghera Heritage and Cultural Centre Ltd. although two separate entities, will ensure that all their work is carried out in an open, inclusive way which fosters cross-community social interaction, and pride in the town.
So we wish Denver Boyd and James Armour, together with their committee members and helpers, every success in their endeavours over the coming months and years as both organisations, hopefully bring increased benefits to the local community and improve the quality of life in Maghera and the surrounding districts in a very concrete and meaningful way.
Our magazine ‘Maghera Times’ was launched at the meeting by the editor Maeve O’Neill who thanked all the contributors for their support.
After a welcome break for refreshments the evening was finished off with a rousing session of traditional music organised by Pat Rafferty.
The Haunted Halloween History Dander was a great success and was well attended. Joseph McCoy led the party around the eerie sites of old Maghera and enthralled the crowd with spine-chilling tales such as the thirteen-step courthouse and the ghostly prison cart which can still be seen on a winter’s night.
The group went on to hear about the spooky doings at the Fair Hill and Main Street and listened to tales of the uncanny based on Victoria House. Then they moved on to the Old Rectory and the ancient church of St Lurach’s – both steeped in mystery, story and legend.
Finally a visit to the old Station Master’s House ended an evening spent with the ghosts of Maghera’s past.