Heritage & Culture
HERITAGE & CULTURE
Immerse yourself in our ancient heritage, our culture, and warm friendly people who always have a welcome for you. Here you will find the foundations of who we truly are.
Perched on a rocky outcrop at the furthest most reaches of the stunning “Isle of Doagh”, built c1540, on an older settlement site, the remaining square keep and round tower was part of a much larger castle complex. It has been the scene of Viking invasion and medieval Mediterranean trading and, is mentioned in the Annals (iconic chronological histories compiled by monks in Ireland). Carrickabraghy, known locally as “The Castles” was one of the last four remaining strongholds of the O’Dochartaigh Clan on the Inishowen Peninsula. It was from here that Sir Cahir “Rua” O’Doherty planned his ill-fated revolt at the beginning of the 17th century which inevitably led to the full Plantation of Ulster.
ST. COLUMBAS CHURCH @ STRAID
This historical church lays claim to the Catholic, Protestant and Dissenters of the parish. The people of Clonmany hold the church in great affection. Clonmany or “Cluain Maine” which means “Meadow of the Monks”, takes its name from an early church established by St. Maine, a follower of St. Patrick. The original monastic settlement was said to be built on an adjoining three-corned piece of land beside the Church.
The Established Church acquired the site in 1610 and the present structure was built there in 1772 with services conducted for over 300 years. The vaulted cemetery contains many hundreds of graves piled on top of each other, both Catholic and Protestant, side-by-side, with the earliest from medieval times. The earliest of the marked headstones appear to be from medieval times.
Lough Swilly played a major strategic role in the British plans for the protection of Ireland from Napoleonic times up to 1938. Major advances in coastal defence weaponry brought about fortifications in Dunree Fort in the 1890s and the construction of Leenan Fort which hosted the largest guns of that era. Post-Treaty, all but three British military outposts on Irish soil were handed over to the Irish Army – Spike Island in Co. Cork plus Leenan and Dunree forts in Inishowen, Co. Donegal. Negotiations between Irish leader, Eamon De Valera and the British Government led to a handover to the Irish in 1938. Leenan Fort remained functional until the mid-1960s when it was abandoned. Army personnel were transferred to Dunree Fort which remained operational until the 1980s.
Originally part of the Dresden Demesne, a beautiful mansion on lush pastures across the road, the estate was purchased by the Clarke family, wealthy landowners from Co. Armagh. Walter Clarke bequeathed land to his daughter, Elizabeth, on her marriage to Dublin barrister John O’Donnell and they built the present Glen House, a five-bay, two-storey house with a segmented fanlight.
About 1770, an English man called Charlton became Landlord of Urris. His local agent Neal Sean Doherty, became a rich man himself and bought the estate in the early 19th century setting up as Landlord at Glen House. The O’Doherty Landlords are buried in the nearby graveyard at Straid Church. During WW1, the Glen House was used as a British military training HQ named Glenfield Camp.
WW2 PLANE CRASH SITE
On the afternoon of Good Friday, 11 April 1941, during World War II, a Vickers Wellington bomber crashed into the Urris Hills after getting lost in thick fog. Six young Englishmen based at the airfield in Limavady perished after mistaking Lough Swilly for Lough Foyle.
The crash site (now marked with a cross and an emotive inscription) was located by two soliders from Leenan Fort. The bodies were taken to Leenankeel, Urris and laid out in a local forge. They were transferred to Dunree Fort prior to transport to England for burial.
GENEALOGY RESEARCH & HERITAGE TOURS
Many visitors to the area are keen to discover more about their Irish roots and the history of the area. Local company, Irish Ancestral Research Services, offers inspiring, tailor-made tours of Inishowen and a full family history research facility. Operated by a leading professional genealogist and social historian with over thirty years of experience, providing valuable local knowledge and specialising in the location of ancestral homes. Their entertaining tours are not to be missed!