Category Archives: Built Heritage

Joe Mahon launches new Lough Neagh series on UTV

Joe Mahon launches new Lough Neagh series on UTV

A new series taking UTV presenter Joe Mahon on a unique tour of Lough Neagh has been launched to an invited audience with Antrim & Newtownabbey Borough Council ahead of its first episode, which will be screened on UTV at 8pm on Monday 17 September.

The eight part series takes Joe onto and around the largest freshwater lake in the UK and Ireland where viewers will see him fishing for eel in the dead of night, canoeing and learning hunting skills on the shores of the lough, digging with archaeologists, visiting the oldest thatched roofed pub in Ireland and learning the traditional craft of boat building.

Joe said of the new series: “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed exploring Lough Neagh for this new UTV programme. It was a hugely enjoyable learning experience and the beauty about learning something new is the idea that you can then share it with the viewers. I hope that everyone will not only enjoy the series, but also learn a little bit more about the Lough.”

Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Councillor Paul Michael, commented: “Lough Neagh is the heart of Northern Ireland and on behalf of all the Councils involved in Lough Neagh Partnership, we thank Joe Mahon, Westway Films and UTV for showcasing the history and heritage of our Lough. We are extremely proud of the connection with the Lough and on Tuesday of this week, we officially cut the sod for the new Lough Neagh Gateway Centre, which is due to open at the end of Summer 2019. In the meantime, we all look forward to welcoming more visitors, that Joe’s new series will attract, to our stunning Lough Neagh.”

Gerry Darby of Lough Neagh Partnership said: “This is the first locally produced television series dedicated to exposing the culture and heritage of Lough Neagh and its surrounds. It has been a pleasure for the team at Lough Neagh Partnership to be able to work hand in hand with Joe on this series to showcase the authenticity of this area. We believe he has really captured the essence of everyday life in the heart of mid Ulster to enthral UTV viewers with this unique insight into the place that we are so proud of.

Terry Brennan, UTV’s Head of News and Programmes said, “In the 20 plus years that Joe has been bringing programmes to our homes, he has enthralled and delighted the viewers with his unique style, outstanding locations, amazing characters, and delightful stories, and with Lough Neagh, that trend will continue. We are absolutely thrilled at UTV that Joe has uncovered yet more amazing stories about Northern Ireland’s rich cultural heritage.”

Lough Neagh, sponsored by Connollys of Moy, starts Monday 17 September at 8pm on UTV.

 

 

Lough Neagh Community Heritage Training

Lough Neagh Community Heritage Training

Are you interested in your place and it’s past?

Would you like to know how to research, record and archive your local history? Lough Neagh Landscape partnership is offering you heritage training and advice.

Venue 1: Lock Keepers Cottage in Toome – Mon 1st Oct, 8th Oct, 15th Oct & 29th Oct

Venue 2: Community Hall Aghagallon – Tuesday 6th Nov, 13th Nov, 20th Nov & 4th Dec

Time 7.30pm – 9.30pm

Training is FREE but places are limited, so book early! Please contact Chris McCarney volunteer officer on 077 8824 9517.

Book on Facebook at: Facebook.com/LoughNeaghLP

Overhead and Underfoot: Legacies of World War II around Lough Neagh

Overhead and Underfoot: Legacies of World War II around Lough Neagh

Overhead and Underfoot Conference: 16th -17th October 2018
The Old Courthouse, Market Square, Antrim

 Registration and tea and coffee 9.30am

Welcome – Mayor Councillor Paul Michael, Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council

10.00am-10.05am

Session one 10.10am-11.30am

SETTING THE HISTORICAL SCENE 

Paul Clark ( Television Presenter ) – The power of the WWII story

Richard Doherty ( Military Historian and author ) – Setting the scene of WWII in the Lough Neagh Area

Alan Freeburn ( Education Officer NI War Memorial ) – Dark Histories around the Lough

Aidan Fee ( Stewartstown and District Local History Society ) – Evacuees around the lough

Questions and comments

 Tea break 11.30am-11.45am

 

Session two 11.45am-1pm

WORKING WITH THE LEGACIES

Jonny Mc Nee ( Aviation Historian ) – Inspiring stories  of  WWII community projects

Ernie Cromie  ( Ulster Aviation Society and author ) – The story of military aviation in NI during WWII

John McCann ( Historian and Author ) Passing Through

Rebecca Milligan ( PhD researcher  QUB  ) – Hauntology and mapping WWII stories

 

Questions and comments

Lunch 1pm-2pm

 

 

Session three 2 pm-3.15 pm

COLLECTING, RECORDING AND DISSEMINATING

 

Dr Jim O Neil ( Historian and Archaeologist ) – Surveying the  built heritage

Ian Henderson ( Consultant  in Tourism and Military Historian ) –  World War II legacy potential

Jenny Hasslett ( Manager NI War Memorial ) – Collecting and recording for communities

Ian Montgomery  ( Public Records Office of Northern Ireland ) – PRONI – A resource

Tea break 3.15pm-3.30pm

Session four 3.30pm-4.30pm

THE WAY FORWARD

How can Lough Neagh communities engage with, protect and publicise their World War II heritage?

  • small groups to discuss ideas
  • bring together to share ideas and make connections

 Closing remarks.

 

Wednesday 17th October: Overhead and Underfoot Bus Tour

Please note there is a limit of 50 spaces on this tour, these will be provided on a first come, first serve basis

 Visiting Toomebridge sites, Clontoe / Ardboe sites and Maze / Ulster Aviation Society

(Lunch provided)

Depart 10 am –  Carpark beside The Old Courthouse, Market Square,  Antrim – return 4.30

Facilitators

Emma Mc Bride (Historic Environment Division, Dept for Communities)

Pat  Grimes (Ardboe Gallery,  Historian and  Author)

 

Booking Link Below:

Overhead and Underfoot

Archaelogical Dig at Brocagh

Archaelogical Dig at Brocagh

Archaeologists have rediscovered a fort from four centuries ago which had disappeared beneath the surface of what used to be the shoreline of Lough Neagh.

Students from Queen’s University in Belfast have taken part in the dig at Brocagh in County Tyrone over the past month.

Evidence of a settlement going back thousands of years has also been found.

The dig was commissioned by the Lough Neagh Landscape Partnership.

It had support from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Mountjoy fort was built as the Tudor military campaign encroached on the territory of Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Ulster, towards the end of the Nine Years’ War. The site was strategically significant.

The work of royal cartographer, Richard Bartlett, had already provided key clues for the archaeologists.

“Bartlett in the early 1600s is going around mapping out what existed here, so we’ve a wonderful map of the period,” said Liam Campbell, built and cultural officer with the Partnership.

“Richard Bartlett’s map shows a fort here and we know that there are between 1000 and 1200 soldiers mustered here.

“And yet nothing remains on the surface of this place now.”

Lough Neagh, known as Lough Sydney in the early 17th century, used to lap the bottom of a cliff face just 100m or so from where the fort would have been.

But the lowering of water levels over the century has left the site almost four times as far from the water’s edge now.

“If you take all of Ulster, Lough Neagh is like the hub of a bicycle wheel and all went out from around it,” Mr Campbell said.

“So, this place might look peripheral, but it was really, really central.

“We’re on the historical lough shore – this was a major source of food and protein, so people are actually here hunting, gathering and fishing.

“So it’s no surprise these were centres of population and settlement for a very, very long time.”

The dig has confirmed that the history goes back far beyond the 17th century fort, evident in geo-physical surveys carried out before the work started.

Meosilithic period

The archaeologists explored between three and four metres down, finding not only evidence of the fort, but of a settlement going back thousands of years.

“We’ve excavated everything manually, and we have uncovered a considerable ditch running across our trench,” said Ruairí Ó Baoill, an archaeologist with Queen’s University Belfast.

“In that ditch is 16th century pottery, fragments of rotary querns for grinding corn, red brick, Gaelic Irish pottery, bits of [Victorian] clay pipe and we’re very happy,” he added.

“Everywhere we’ve dug we’ve found archaeology.

“Elsewhere in the trenches we’ve found material dating back thousands of years – 7500 years to the end of the period of the first hunter-gatherer settlers, the Mesolithic period, and we’ve found their flints.

“We’ve found 6000-year-old flints, projectile heads and knives from the time of the first farmers.

“They’re all living here, all in County Tyrone, all on the shores of Lough Neagh and all exploiting the lough.”

The finds have included the blade of an implement probably used to cut meat, which is still sharp 7500 years after it was carved.

The entire site has been meticulously recorded and will be written up, so while the trenches have been filled in, the discoveries and the archaeology will still be available.

“Because the landscape has changed so much, it’s got people really interested in their place,” Mr Campbell said.

“And part of the reason we did this was not just to do archaeology for the sake of it, but actually to get people reconnected to their past.”

Secret History of Aghagallon

Secret History of Aghagallon

The fieldwork for the archaeology dig at Aghagallon was completed last year.  Lough Neagh Partnership Ltd commissioned the Centre for Archaeology at Queens to explore the ancient enclosure at Derrynaseer as part of the HLF Landscape Scheme funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The enclosure at Derrynaseer, Aghagallon has long intrigued archaeologists. The enclosure is large, about 160m in diameter, and more or less circular, defined by an earthen bank which has become incorporated into the pattern of local fields.  At the initial community information night in Aghagallon, Dr Colm Murray, Director of the Centre for Archaeology Fieldwork explained that the size and location of the site meant it was important for the whole region but that the team were starting the excavation with three possible hypothesis including: –

  1. a ritual enclosure called a Henge established approx. 3,000BC during the Neolithic period or new stone age
  2. a medieval monastic site
  3. a medieval marketplace where craftspeople under the protection of the clan chief would demonstrate their skills and sell their wares to the local people.

 

“The local townland names also give us important clues” explained Dr Liam Campbell, Built Heritage Officer with the Lough Neagh Partnership, “The enclosure is in the townland of Derrynaseer, from the Irish means – oakwood of the craftsmen while Aghagallon is based on the Irish for – field of the standing stones.

 

Dr Colm Donnelly emphasised “The work of uncovering the past is like peeling an onion and rarely will we get a simple definitive answer but rather we will get bits of evidence that will raise a whole range of additional questions.”

Aghagallon Information

Over 40 local people of Aghagallon came to the community information meeting

The archaeology team moved into the church carpark on Monday 5 June and set up camp.  Over the four week period of the dig,   49 volunteers and 120 school children joined the Queen’s team to get down into the trenches and help uncover the secret past of this ancient site.  In total seven trenches were excavated at different locations across the site to uncover and explore “anomalies” found during and initial geophysical survey of the site.

 

Dr Liam Campbell said “In the excavated trenches, we found preserved seeds, fragments of wood and slag from metalworking, probably copper working.  In another trench, the presence of pits or post-holes along with charred hazel nut shells, and burnt bone.  A fragment of waste from glass working from the medieval period was found just above these features”.

 

In the trench near the hedge, the archaeologists were delighted to find an internal ditch filled with a charcoal rich soil, which contains some charred barley grains within it, some struck flint, and one possible fragment of Neolithic pottery.  Archaeologists have observed that a common feature of all henge monuments is the absence of an external ditch. They all have a bank, but unlike more or less every other type of field monument with a ditch and bank in Ireland or Britain, there is never an external ditch. Instead there is typically an internal ditch, sometimes deep, sometimes wide and shallow. The suggestion has been made by some archaeologists that this indicates that the intention of a henge is to keep forces of a spiritual nature contained within the henge, rather than keep forces of a material nature on the outside, such as, for instance, would be the case with a fort.

Trench 3 Aghagallon

Local volunteers busy in trench 3 at Aghagallon

At the final tour of the site, Cormac McSparron, Site Director explained that his team will have a lot of work to do to follow up on the fieldwork.   “We will send the samples we have gathered for radiocarbon dating.  This will give a specific time window when Neolithic ritual activities took place on the site and a similar time window for the craft working at the site.  We can say for certain that the site was used as a ritual site around 3,000BC the Neolithic period and the site was used around 1200AD as a medieval fair for crafts people: metal working, probably copper working, and some indications of glass working also.”  It is initially difficult to comprehend that the two activities took place thousands of years apart and the local people would have had very different perceptions of the site during these different periods in history.”

 

“This is an important and fascinating result” said Dr Liam Campbell and confirms the importance of linking oral and cultural history found in local stories, field names and townland names to archaeological investigation.  “We can now say with a level of confidence that the place name ‘Derrynaseer’ referred to the craft activities of copper and glass work on the site in the medieval period while the place name ‘Aghagallon’ referred to the standing stones refers to more ancient times.”  Dr Liam Campbell enthused “This finding gives us some proof of just how old at least some of our townland names are!”

 

In particular, the Centre for Archaeology Fieldwork were so generous with their time and expertise “We would like to thank the local community of Aghagallon for being such welcome hosts and all the volunteers for their help”. said Dr Liam Campbell, “We would particularly like to express our sincere thanks to the staff of St Patrick’s Parish, Aghagallon for allowing us to dig up their land and accommodate us for the duration of the dig.