Lewis’ Topographical Dictionary, Ireland

Lewis’ Topographical Dictionary Ireland comprises of several counties, cities, boroughs, parish and villages – with historical and statistical descriptions – of Ireland.

  • Place
  • County
    Derry, Londonderry
  • Parish
  • Content
    BOVEVAGH, a parish, in the barony of KENAUGHT , county of LONDONDERRY, and province of ULSTER 2 miles (N.) from Dungiven; containing 5552 inhabitants.

    At this place, anciently called 'Boith Medhbha,', a monastery was founded in 551 by St. Columb, of which Aidan, nephew of St. Patrick, was the first abbot. This establishment was situated on the western bank of the river Roe, and continued to flourish for some but was plundered and destroyed by the Danes, and was never afterwards rebuilt.

    The parish is intersected by two roads, one on each side of the river, leading from Dungiven to Newtownlimavady ; and, according to the Ordnance survey, comprises 18,596 statute acres. The land is generally fertile, but the soil is very variable, passing through all the gradations from light sand to stiff clay and marl: on the banks of the river it is gravely and remarkably productive. The system of agriculture is greatly improved; there is scarcely any mountain or waste land, and the bogs are mostly worked out and reclaimed. The geological features of the parish are highly interesting : the strata are laid open to view in the river and the several streams; the most valuable of those hitherto worked is the freestone, which is found in several parts, and of which the principal quarry is at Ballyhargan. From this quarry was procured the stone used in building the palace of Ballyscullion, the magnificent - portico of which was removed to St. Georges church at Belfast ; the stone found here is easily worked, but hardens by exposure to the air, and is of very good colour. Indications of manganese are also observable, and the beautiful pebbles called Dungiven crystals are frequently found. The weaving of linen cloth is carried on in many of the farm-houses and cottages.

    Here are several seats, the principal of which are Streth House, the residence of Mrs. Edwards, Ballyhargan of W. Osborne, Esq. ; Ardenariff, of W. Douglas, Esq.; and Camnish House, of the Rev. Mr. Kidd.

    The living is a rectory, in the diocese of Derry and in the patronage of the Bishop; the tithes amount to £580. The church is a large and handsome edifice, in the later English style, with a lofty square tower crowned with pinnacles ; it was erected in 1823; by aid of a gift of £300 from the late Board of First rots, an is situated on the west bank of the river Roe, about a quarter of a mile from the site of the old church, which had fallen to decay some years previously. The glebe house, a large and well-built residence in situate on the east bank of the river : the glebe comprises 79 acres of fertile land.

    Inthe Roman Catholic divisions this parish forms part of the union or district of Banagher, and contains two chapels, one at Derrylane, where service is performed every alternate Sunday, and the other at Ballymoney.v (Note: in the description of Drumachose, Lewis states that part of the R.C. parish of Bovevagh belongs to the Newtownlimavady or Drumachose union, whilst in this description of Bovevagh, he makes no mention of any such union)

    There is a place of worship at Camnish for Presbyterians in connection with the Synod of Ulster, of the second class.

    The male and female parochial school at Burnfoot is aided by an annual donation from the rectory and was endowed with half an acre of land by Mr. Edwards ; the school house, a good building of stone, was erected at an expense of £110, of which £50 was granted from the lord-lieutenant's fund, and the remainder raised by subscription. At Dramneesy is a male and female school, aided by the rector, who also contributes to the support of an infants' school at Bovevagh. In these schools are about 260 children ; and there are six private schools in which are about 280 children, and five Sunday schools.v Near the old church is an artificial cave 85 yards in length, with several galleries branching from it in different directions. About a mile north east of the church is an upright stone, near which, according to tradition, a battle was fought, but which may probably be part of a cromlech, as there are other stones and vestiges of a druidical circle near the spot.