We also wish to preserve our past and bring our history to today’s audience. We want to help people, both in Maghera and far beyond the parish, to learn a little about the town and its people and history. Archaeological evidence shows that man has lived here for over six thousand years. This is evidenced by the many Neolithic and Mesolithic sites dotted around the parish of Maghera and beyond. The settlement that is now the town of Maghera has existed for over 1500 of those years. It began as a monastic site associated with Saint Lurach. Thereafter a church was built here, which was subsequently attacked by Vikings. The church & town were burned in the 12th century and afterwards, Maghera became the seat of the Bishopric of Derry with a cathedral church. In summary, it has been burned at least twice, abandoned in time of war and experienced destruction in the troubles. We are a town & parish of not just of historical places but also of historical people. Some of these people have made an impact on the world stage, including:
- Charles Thompson who was born at Gorteade outside the village of Upperlands. He was the secretary of the Continental congress and was the second signatory (under John Hancock) on the Declaration of Independence in July 1776. He also oversaw the designing of the seal of the United States.
- Robert Hawthorn was born in Maghera, who won the Victoria Cross at Dehli in India.
- John Lytle was born at Tullyheron was twice elected Mayor of Belfast.
- Sir James Murray was born at Dreenan. He invented Milk of Magnesia.
- William Shiels was born at Crew. He emigrated to Australia as a child and became 16th Premier of Victoria.
- Henry Cooke was born at Grillagh near Upperlands. He was a famous Presbyterian minister and was very influential in every walk of life.
- Adam Clarke was born at Moybeg near Tobermore. As a child, he lived for a few years on Church Street, Maghera. He was a famous Methodist preacher.
- Walter ‘Watty’ Graham was born at the Curragh. Walter was a leader of the 1798 United Irishmen rebellion.
Of course, there were many other notable people. So why don’t you come on a wee journey of exploration with us, the Maghera Historical Society? After all, YOU too are part of our history… and our future!