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Dungiven Parish & Village, Co. Londonderry, Northern Ireland: Lewis' Topographical Dictionary of Ireland 1837

Transcribed, Compiled and Submitted by
Len Swindley, Melbourne, Australia


DUNGIVEN, a market and post-town, and a parish, in the. barony of Kenaught, county of Derry, and province of Ulster, 16 miles (east-south-east) from Londonderry, and 138¼ (north-north-west) from Dublin; containing 3,565 inhabitants, of which number, 1,162 are in the town. This place was a seat of the O’Cahans, and was called Dun-y-even, or Doon-yeven; and here, on the summit of a rock, on the eastern bank of the Roe, Domnach O’Cahan, or O’Cathan, founded, in 1100, an abbey for Augustinian canons, which, being shortly afterwards polluted by a cruel massacre, lay for a long time in ruins, but was restored with much solemnity by the Archbishop of Armagh, and flourished till the dissolution, after which the lands were granted to the Irish Society, and are now in the possession of the Skinners’ Company. It is situated on the road between Londonderry and Dublin, and on the banks of the river Roe; and comprises, according to the Ordnance survey, 30,367½ statute acres, one-third of which is mountain, everywhere affording excellent pasturage. The land around the town is fertile and well cultivated; even the mountain Benbradagh, 1,530 feet above the level of the sea, is chiefly under tillage; and Carntogher, Moneyneiney, Cam, and other mountains, all very high, afford turbary and sufficient pasturage for vast herds of cattle: grouse and other game abound in the higher parts. The town is in a vale, near the junction of the Owen-reagh and the Owen-beg, which descend in nearly parallel lines from Glenfin and Cairnaban, with the Roe, here crossed by a handsome bridge of freestone: it consists of one long street, intersected by two shorter; some of the houses are well built, but the greater number are low and only thatched. Formerly there were four extensive bleach-greens; they are now unemployed, and the manufacture is limited to a small quantity woven by the inhabitants in their own houses. A large market is held every Tuesday; the market-house is extensive, and there are stores for grain, &c.; considerable fairs are held on the second Tuesday in each month, except May and October, when they take place on the 25th. A court for the manor of Pellipar is held in the court-house at Dungiven, every third Thursday, for the recovery of debts under £405.; its jurisdiction extends into the parishes of Dungiven, Banagher, Ballynascreen, and Upper and Lower Cumber. Petty sessions are likewise held monthly in the court-house. Here is a constabulary police station; adjoining the market-house is the barrack store. The gentlemen’s residences are Pellipar House, that of R. Ogilby, Esq.; the Cottage, of R. Leslie Ogilby, Esq.; and Roe Lodge, of M. King, Esq. The living is a vicarage, in the diocese of Derry, and in the patronage of the impropriator, Robert Ogilby, Esq., lessee of the manor of Pellipar under the Skinners’ Company, to whom the entire tithes, amounting to £480. 14. 8., are payable; it is usually held in connection with Banagher. The glebe townland of Tirmeal comprises 654a. 2r. 17p., of which 89 are mountain and bog. The church is a commodious cruciform edifice of hewn freestone, built in 1817 (on the site of a former one erected in 1711), at a cost of £1460, of which £1200 was a loan from the late Board of First Fruits. In the R. C. divisions this parish is the head of a union or district, comprising Dungiven and parts of Banagher and Bovevagh; the chapel is a large building in the town. At Scriggan is a Presbyterian meeting-house, in connection with the Synod of Ulster; and one is in course of erection at Dungiven, in connection with the Seceding Synod. The male and female parochial schools are situated on the glebe of Tirmeal, and are aided by the vicar, who also contributes principally to the support of a school at Gortnacross; a school at Ballymacallion is endowed with an acre of land by the Marquess of Waterford; and in the town are a school built and supported by R. Ogilby, Esq., and a female work school supported by the vicar and his lady. In these schools about 190 boys and 90 girls are taught; and there are five private schools, in which are about 200 boys and 80 girls, and four Sunday schools. An excellent dispensary is supported in the usual manner. The interesting remains of the abbey church occupy a remarkably picturesque situation, on a rock 200 feet in perpendicular height above the river Roe; they consist of the side walls of the nave and chancel, which are nearly entire, with the gable of the latter, in which, within a circular arch resting on corbels and cylindrical pillars, are two narrow lancet-shaped windows, with a niche on each side and a square-headed window above. The nave is separated from the chancel by a lofty circular arch, and has on the north side a low doorway of corresponding style; it was lighted by a window ornamented with tracery, in good preservation. Under a beautifully ornamented arch in the chancel is an altar tomb, bearing a recumbent effigy of an armed warrior, said to be one of the O’Cahans; the stones in front are ornamented with figures of armed knights, sculptured in relief, in niches. The remains of the abbey have from time to time been removed, and the capitals, pillars, mullions, &c., may be seen in the churchyard, forming boundaries round the graves or head-stones. Adjoining the town are extensive ruins of a castle and bawn; built in 1618, by the Skinners’ Company. A lofty stone stands near the old church, set up as the record of an ecclesiastical assembly held here in 590, at which St. Columbkill was present. Near the river Roe is Tubber-Phadrig, or St. Patrick’s fountain; and a single stone, in the bed of the river, exists, around which the people assemble on certain days. There are many raths or forts in different parts of the parish: celts of stone and bronze, spear-heads, and Roman coins and other antiquities have been discovered, and are in the possession of R. L. Ogilby and M. Ross, Esqrs.

Further Dungiven Parish records can be viewed here:

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