Drumahoe - A Very Brief Historical Account - by Tony Crowe

From earliest recorded times Drumahoe, surrounded by the valleys of the famous Faughan River, has been a place where paths have crossed on the way to the river and Lough of the Foyle and the ancient sites at Enagh Lough, Grianan and on the island of Derry.

Willie Bratton's wonderful lyrics about the Faughan capture the scene - 


" 'Tis but 3 miles from Derry to the Bridge at Drumahoe'
Twas there I spent some happy hours, I'll have you all to know
Where lambs do sport, fair maids do court and small fish gently glide
In the bloom of spring small birds do sing all along the Faughanside"

The bridge at Drumahoe is still there but it is very difficult to recognise Willie Bratton's happy scene with the ever intrusive demands of the expanding city and attempts to absorb Drumahoe -'Drumahoe' - in Gaelic 'the ridge of the cave' or 'the ridge of the crop', which does make some sense as the valley created by the Faughan does make a hollow, cup-shaped ridge as it winds its way into the valley of the Faughan and made 7 churches there.  The nearest church to Drumahoe was probably at Clooney but there is some evidence of early churches at Ardmore, Enagh and Rossnagalliagh.

In the early 17th century the 286 acres of Drumahoe were settled by the Goldsmith's division of the London Companies, who were pledged to develop the land and all its natural resources.  There was some initial unease with the Plantation, as exemplified by the burning of Thomas Skipton's home at Ballyshaskey (now the Beechhill) during the 1641 Rebellion.  The Poll Tax Returns of 1659 indicate that a fairly strong Protestant population existed in Glendermott Parishes - of which Drumahoe is still a part - (Native Irish: 267, Scots and English: 334)

During the Siege of Derry of 1688-89 Captain Thomas Ash of Currynerin (now Ashbrook) served with distinction in defence of the town and kept an important diary of the daily action.  The Rev. James Gordon of Glendermott Presbyterian Church greatly encouraged the young apprentices when they resolved to close the gates of Londonderry and he later took active part in the Siege.  There is no record of any Siege related activity in the Drumahoe area but it is certain that the cattle and crops were seized by both sides and armies passed through the area to participate.  Colonels Mitchelbourne and Murray, two leaders of the defence, are buried at the old churchyard in the Glendermott Valley, where Apprentice Boys annually pay tribute to their memory.

It is believed that during the Penal Times of the 18th Century, Roman Catholics conducted services in the woods at Ardmore and at the Fincairn Glen, where they were protected by some local Protestants.

The Rev. Corkey, reared at Glendermott Manse during the late Victorian Era, provides a fine insight into life in Drumahoe in a more sedate age.  "When we visited the gurgling burn that ran through the Glen, or wandered in the woods by the peaceful Faughan that flows through Drumahoe, we not only learned much about the different kinds of fish and their habits, but we discovered also how to distinguish the various types of trees and become acquainted with the wildlife that abounded in this country area....

I can recall watching the fires that were lighted on the hillsides of the Glendermott Valley on the first day of May (a survival from Pagan Days) - in the winter we enjoyed sleighing and skating.  On Church Brae when the snows lasted large crowds came from the Waterside to enjoy sleighing.  On rare occasions - in 1895 particularly - the frost was so keen that the River Faughan was frozen over and I skated all that winter on the thick ice covering the river, from the weir at Glendermott to the mill at Upper Drumahoe.  There was good smooth ice through which I could see the salmon swimming in the water beneath...." a forgotten, idyllic age!

An interest aside to the Rev. Corkey's reflections:-

He attended the Faughan Bridge School at the Bridge, where integrated education was the norm before it became popular elsewhere.  Incidentally this school was the 'alma mater' of renowned men such as Thomas Gallagher, the tobacco manufacturer and Senator Baird of President Roosevelt's famous Cabinet.  The school was later used as the Scott Goligher Memorial Hall and was demolished recently.

The Drumahoe area was particularly renowned for its mills, utilising the natural resource of the river.  In the early 20th century over a dozen mills prospered in the area - the most famous being Clarke's at Drumahoe House and at one stage the mill provided electricity for the Drumahoe area.  These corn and flax mills are long gone and, for a time, were replaced by new industries like Desmond's shirt factories and others.  They hale also gone and have left an unsightly scar on the landscape!

Some reclamation has taken place and a new drainage system has dried up old burns and lowered the level of the Faughan, while new housing has brought considerable pressure on existing facilities and the threat to the village atmosphere continues to grow steadily.

Along The Faughan Side

A stream like crystal it flows down
It's plain for to be seen
It's there you'll find the Irish oak
Trimmed with the ivy green
Where shamrock, rose and thistle grow
The lily too beside
And they flourish all together, boys
Along the Faughan side

If you could see this lovely place
All in the summertime
Each bush and tree there looms so gay
Each meadow in its prime
Where the blackbird and the golden thrush
Sing there the livelong day
But now I have a notion of
Going to Amerikay



It's just three miles from Derry
To the bridge at Drumahoe
It's there I've spent some happy days
I'll have you all to know
Where lambs do sport
Fair maids do court
And small fish gently glide
And there's blooming corn on a bright May morn
Along the Faughan side

Oh the leaving of this lovely place
It grieves my heart full sore
But the leaving of my own true love
It grieves me ten times more
But if ever I return again
It's her I'll make my bride
And I'll roll her in my arms,
me boys
Along the Faughan side 

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