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.
About two miles outside Ballykelly is Farlow Road. This runs from Clooney Roard towards Lough Foyle and passes this interesting tower. Largely obscured by trees, this is the Sampson Memorial Tower. It was constructed in 1860 and a plaque over the door explains that ;Arthur Sampson Esq.was for nearly forty years a Justice of the Peace and agent of the Fishmongers’ Company and that the tower was erected by public subscription. It is an odd memorial and may have been built more with the intention of appearing as a landmark from the Lough. There are reputely fine views back towards tle Lough from the top of its 18m high tower. Worth a visit.
Ballykelly is also home to the third WWII airfied we have encountered since leaving Derry. This was opened in 1941 as RAF Ballykelly and after the war became part of the Joint Anti Submarine School ( with HMS Sea Eagle based at Ebrington Barracks) and was the base for three squadrons of Shackleton Aircraft in the 1950′s. The school was closed at the end of the ‘60′s and transfered to the Army (who renamed it Shackleton Barracks) in 1971. It remained in use as a military airfield until 2008.
This drawing shows the impressive cantelevered hangar constructed for maintenanace of the Shackletons and opened in 1966. Eight cantilevered steel frames, provide a clear uninterupted span of 39.2 m from the front of the doors to the main upright at the rear. Anchor legs extend 7m behind the building to counter this weight and are secured to piles driven into the ground with huge cruciform dead weights on their tops. Smaller examples were built at RAF Brize Norton,Oxon.(1968) and RAF St. Magwan,(1968) but this is the most impressive example in the UK..
Between the two, the Fishmongers Company built a row of three cut stone houses and a row of eight cottages. They also built a dispensary for the village near the school. This view shows these buildings as they were at the end of the nineteenth century. Today, the road level has been raised to the height of the footpath and the sloping grass verge replaced by a parking layby. The stone houses remain but the cottages have all had significant dormers added. Not just as pretty, but still with a strong character.
This is another. Opposite the model farm is Ballykelly Presbyterian Church. Constructed in 1826, costs were fully met by the Fismongers Company, who persuaded the Presbyterians to move into the village from their previous rural location at Tullyhoe. The building is elegant and well proportioned and sits above Clooney Road looking accross to the model farm.
In the field next to to Ballykelly Church is this elegant building. Now a private hospital with modern buildings to the rear, it was built as a model farm by the Fismonger’s Company in 1823 with wings to each side opeing to the farmyard behind and maintaining a formal facade to the road. Like in the nearby village of Eglinton the lease for the ‘proportion’ in which this village is situated reverted to the London company of the Fishmongers on the death of King George III in 1820. They also set about a vigorus campaign to improve and beautify their village in the mid nineteenth century. This was one result.
Tamlaght Finlagan Parish Church is situated beside Clooney Road at the northern end of Ballykelly Village. It was finished in 1795 and replaced the former chuch at the end of the Plantation settlement. It was funded by the Earl Bishop- Fredrick Agustus Hervey, and by the local undertaker of the Fishmongers Company lands in the area -John Beresford. The architect is thought to have been Michael Shanahan. He was a Cork architect who had entered the service of the Bishop when he had been Bishop of Cork and who had accompained him on his second ‘Grand Tour’ of the Continent recording classical architecture between 1770 and 1772. The building is a deliberate set piece, set back and parallel to the road with crisp detailing and an elegant form
On to the village of Ballykelly. This is also an Ulster Plantation settlement. This was created as the principal settlement of the Fishmongers Company’s ‘proportion’. The original 1610 settlement was closer to Lough Foyle than the present main street of the village (which is part of Clooney Road) and located perpendicular. It stretched south on either side of the river from this church which is now beyond the edge of the village. Most Church of Ireland Churches in the Plantation reused the medieval church building but this was a new construction. It was destroyed two times in the wars of the seventeenth century and abandoned in 1795 when a new church was built closer to the present village. This building has always been known as ‘the Garrison Church’ and was dedicated to St Peter. Its main architectural feature is its curved chancel arch which is thought to date from the time of its earliest construction.
Carrickhugh Flour Mill sits below Clooney Road with fine views accross Lough Foyle. Today it is a big empty shed used for farm machinery but at one time it was a thriving mill located at the base of a stream to get water power. However, the Ordnance Survey Memoirs of 1830-35 explained that ‘As the supply of water is not good in dry weather, the deficiency has been remedied by a steam engine of 12 horse-power which commenced working a few days since.’ This explains the chimney. The mill continued in operation for various uses until after the Second World War, (when it was used for corn grinding). It was converted to farm use after 1948. Today it is an important and visible reminder of the many former mills in this area, which were once a significant source of employment.
Marks of Time
Sketches of buildings in the North West of Ireland and further afield with a little information about their history.