Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Celebration in Northern Ireland

Derry, NH Town Historian Richard Holmes
photo by Adam Swift/ Union Leader news correspondent

Londonderry and Derry, New Hampshire residents are celebrating with their sister cities in Northern Ireland.  Derry, NI has been declared the first United Kingdom City of Culture, which coincides with its 400th anniversary. 

On July 10, 2013 Derry, NH town historian Richard Holmes will be giving a presentation at the celebration which discusses the connections between the two towns in New Hampshire and Northern Ireland.  He will also attend a reception with the Lord Mayor in the Guild Hall.  Betsy McKinney, former president of the Londonderry Historical Society, will be joining him on the trip, along with other New Hampshire residents.

According to Rick Holmes, Londonderry, New Hampshire is “the first town in the New World to be founded by Scotch-Irish immigrants”.  In 1719 sixteen families left Northern Ireland with the Reverend James MacGregor, and eventually arrived in “Nutfield”, which is now East Derry Village.  Most of those first settlers are buried in Forest Hill Cemetery.   You can read a list of the names of the original Nutfield Proprietors HERE.

In 1613 the Honorable Irish Society built the walls around Londonderry as defense for their early settlers from England and Scotland.  This Royal Charter established the city and its walls.  The walls were constructed between 1614 and 1619, and are considered the most complete, surviving walled city in Europe.  These walls successfully defended the city, including the 1689 siege which was witnessed by Reverend MacGregor and some of his flock.  These skirmishes and other violence led to their decision to leave Northern Ireland for a new settlement in New England.

For more information:

“Historian invites people to join him Abroad”,  Derry News, Derry, New Hampshire,  by Julie Huss, February 13, 2013

“Derry Historian to Help Northern Ireland Celebrate”, Union Leader,  Andover, Massachusetts, by Adams Swift, February 14, 2013

Derry-Londonderry 400th Anniversary website

Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

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