Dungiven Priory, accessed down a lane from the village and across a new bridge over the bypass. This place was the site of an early monastery. As with many ancient foundations it became an Augustinian Abbey following the. 12th century church reforms. The chancel was added in the 13th century and has a very fine gothic memorial inside and the remains of rib vaulting - an unusual feature in a small rural church. Traces of earlier Romanesque blind arcading remain at high level in the main body of the church. Tower house, now gone, added to the west end probably in the fifteenth century. This is likely to have been accommodation associated with the abbey and was associated with the O'Cahans at the end of the sixteenth century. In the Ulster Plantation of the early seventeenth century the site was taken over by Sir Edward Doddington who built a Manor House attached to the tower house. The drawing above shows this house, the abbey and tower and formal gardens to the west adjacent to the river at around that time. Today the tower and house are gone apart from foundations.
Heritage re-presented. Suddenly more visible due to the new Dungiven bypass, is a standing stone at the top of a field as the road rises to the Belfast side of the village. its a good symbol of the long history of this place amid the new infrastructure. According to the records, this stone stands on top of a small mound which was described as a 'tumulus' and a 'barrow' in the Ordnance Survey memoirs of the 1830's. Two depressions have been noted in the side of the mound and a small flint instrument was found in one of these. Tradition holds that the stone was erected to mark an ecclesiastical assembly that was held here in 590 AD, at which St Columbikille was present. The stone was also used as the end point in a procession at Beltaine (May Eve) up to the mid nineteenth century. The Turus (pilgrimage) started at St Patrick's Well behind the current Bleach Green housing development, then went to a stone in the river before moving to the former Dungiven Priory and then finishing here.
Camus High Cross near Coleraine. Overlooking the River Bann . 'Thrown down' in 1760 & the top broken off. 'long desecrated as a gate post' until following public subscription and action of the local council, it was replaced on its stone base in 1905 & moved from W to E end of the graveyard. The ornament on the sandstone pillar is weathered but on E face there panels are considered to be: the Adoration of the Magi, the Baptism of Christ, the Marriage Feast of Cana and possibly the Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes. On the W face the scenes are the Fall of Man, possibly Cain & Abel (with a third figure), Noah's Ark and the Sacrifice of Isaac. An ancient bullaun stone is also located in the graveyard (a hollowed stone, possibly a holy water stoop)
The site overlooks historic ford and island which was a stronghold of the McQuillans and O’Cahans during the 16th century. A wooden castle was reported there in 1544.
Took a walk in the Ness Woods today. Visited the atmospheric waterfall. Called Shane's Leap after a 1770's highwayman who jumped across it managing to escape capture. I once did a sketch - November 1988- long time ago now.
Pellipar House at the upper end of the Roe Valley near Dungiven. Constructed from the early eighteenth century onwards the two stone wings are thought to have been added in the early nineteenth century when the lease from the Skinners Company was renewed by the Ogiby family. The Ogliby’s were prosperous linen merchants in the Dungiven area . More work was carried out in the 1860s and after a fire in the 1880′s. In 1907 alterations to the roof gave the building its great French Château appearance which makes it such an unusual building for this area and greatly adds to its interest. Quite a building.
Back to Limavady. This is the Kings Fort above Drumsurn overlooking the Roe Valley. Also called Dun Concubaire and associated with the O'Connor’s of Glen Given. It is thought to date to the Iron Age. The Ordnance Survey Memoirs of the 1830′s record that ‘there stands on the interior part a stone on which there is the full print of a hand and forefingers’. This is not there today but it is still an amazing place with a commanding view of the surrounding valley.
Above St Aidan’s and just below Binevenagh is this fascinating hillfort. Craigbolie Castle, also known as Dun Crutheni, is a D shaped fort commanding expansive views over Magilligan. The boundary wall is made of stone though time has covered it in vegetation. Near the centre is a circular raised area thought likely to indicate the site of a former structure. The Cruthin were the dominant power in this area at the start of recorded history (the 5th century), and have been linked by some to the Picts in Scotland (though this link has been dismissed by others). An asteroid was named after them in 1986 - ‘3753 Cruithne’. The form of the fort has been noted to resemble fortifications on the west coast of Scotland so there may have been some link across the water. Today it is a powerful reminder of a time long past.
St Aidan’s Church Magilligan, is located further along the Duncrun Road. Like most medieval churches a comandiing position was selected and it has fine views of Lough Foyle below. The structure dates from the early medieval period and is said to have been founded by St Patrick. The single lancet window is thought to date to the 13th century. A mortuary house in front of the gable has been traditionally understood to be the grave of St.Aidan, the patron of the church. St Aidan was St Columba’s biographer and also Abbot of Iona - the monastery founded by Columba off the west coast of Scotland. The ruin is of the medieval parish church, repaired in 1622 & in use until the C18th when the Earl Bishop gave it to the Roman Catholic congregation on the completion of the new Church of Ireland. A pre-emancipation Catholic Church is constructed nearby.
On the upper sider of Clooney Road, best reached via the Tully Road from Ballykelly is Tamlaght Finlagan Old Church. This sits on a small rise beside the Bessbrook River and is the location of the ancient church of the Ballykelly area. Here was a monastery reputedly founded by St Findluganus following the convention of Drumcatt in 574 AD. It is recorded as having had a round tower, ruinous in the mid nineteenth century. A rectangular projection to the church at the north east end has curved masonry inside and may be the base of this structure. The monastry had become a parish church by 1291 and was abandonded in 1622. This was because the Fishmongers Company moved the parish church to their settlement of Ballykelly (see 535) following the Ulster Plantation. The drawing shows the extensive and atmosperic graveyard, with many graves marked by simple stones and the west gable of the building. A timeless place well worth the visit.
Faughanvale Old Chuch is sited above the road near the village of Greysteel. Hidden from view near a bend in a steep road it is in a very picuresque location with fine views over Lough Foyle. Reputedly the site of a 7th century monastery associated with St Canice..
Marks of Time
Sketches of buildings in the North West of Ireland and further afield with a little information about their history.