Location and physical features.
The townland of Derryhale has an area of approximately 830 acres and is
about two miles in length and just over one mile across at its widest
point. It belongs to the ancient parish of Kilmore, in the Barony of
O’Neilland West. It is the largest of the townlands within the parish. It
is bordered by Drumnasoo and Ballinteggart to the north; Artabracka and
Lisavague to the east; Laurelvale and Ballybreagh to the south and south
west and Mulladry to the west. The landscape is in the form of a shallow
valley, bordered through part of its length by the low hills of Artabracka
and Lisavague on the east and the low hills or cliff of Derryhale to the
west. On this hill, known locally as Rountree’s Hill, was the site of
Sacheverell’s Bawn destroyed in or around 1641 during the Rebellion vide
The Derryhale Bog, or marsh, lies in the townlands of Derryhale and
Lisavogue. The approximate size of the wetland area is 60 acres. The bog
lies to the east of the Derryhale road and is crossed by a small river,
the Glenoran which acts as a natural boundary between the townlands. The
bog, from which turf was cut for winter fuel, is still the property of
over twenty individual land owners, each having a small area with access
by cart tracks. The bog is now largely overgrown and is subject to major
flooding due to blockage of natural waterways. Mr. Stanley Alexander, now
in his eighties, remembers the Moss, as it is called locally, being a low
lying meadow which was cut in mid summer for meadow hay. The local fox
population has increased at the expense of other wildlife including the
Irish hare, which used to be common a few decades ago. It is reported
that, when the bog was used for cutting turf, stumps of Oak and Fir were
frequently found, supporting the view that the area was densely wooded in
Local folklore and myth.
A Bronze Age hoard, consisting of a number of bronze artefacts including
sunflower pinsº, was reported to have been found in a bog in Derryhale in
or about 1830. It is probable that the find was within this wetland area.
The artefacts are currently housed in the Natural History Museum in
Dublin. Although some of the artefacts have been identified as Bronze Age;
the antiquity of others is less sure and has been linked with Early
Local folklore asserts that two feuding families in Derryhale, fearful of
being robbed, buried gold coins and other valuables in an unknown location
in the bog. Knowledge of the exact location has however died with the
In the 1841 census it has been recorded that Derryhale had a total
population of 628 inhabitants, adults and children, who lived in 105
dwellings. Some few years later the ravages of the Irish Potato Famine,
especially between the years of 1845 and 1847, had reduced the population
by death and emigration. In 1851 the number of inhabitants had fallen to
367; twenty years later this figure had reduced still further to just over
Derivation of the name.
Current spelling of the name has been a transition in several stages, from
the Gaelic Doire h aill, commencing with the earliest form Derrichele in
1610, when it was granted by James I during the plantation period to
Francis Sacheverell. In the mid 17th. Century the spelling was Derryhiell
and in 1660 documents relating to taxation used the spelling Derryhill;
the penultimate version was Derryhaile. Derry is an oak wood or cluster of
oak trees and Doire h aill can be translated as (oak) wood on the cliff or
Derryhale still has isolated small groups of oak trees bordering roads and
not of significant density of planting. The more wooded landscape
remembered by some of the oldest inhabitants has long since disappeared
due to natural wastage or the activities of man. There is a small housing
development adjoining the Armagh to Portadown road which has been named
The Oaks and indeed is adjacent to probably the most densely wooded area
During the Irish Plantation, in 1610 James I granted lands which included
Derryhale and Mulladry to Francis Sacheverell. He fulfilled his obligation
to the monarch by building a bawn at a site on the steep wooded hill that
later became known as Rountree’s Hill. Sacheverell died shortly before the
Civil War broke out. He was the father of six children; four sons and two
daughters. His eldest son, also called Francis, inherited much of the
property and was living in Mulladry Castle. When war commenced, the young
Francis together with his wife and only daughter Anne were held prisoners
in the castle. Some months later the castle was burned by the local Irish.
The family escaped and fled to Monaghan where apparently they were
recaptured. Later they were freed when the rebellion was put down. Francis
Sacheverell died soon after in 1649.
Anne Sacheverell, his only child, married into another Plantation family
about five years after the death of her father. Her husband, Major Edward
Richardson, built a large house in Leggacorry; later to become Richhill.
The building of this house or castle, as it was later to be described, was
apparently completed in 1664 or 65. Major Richardson died in or about
1688. He left two sons. William, the elder, inherited the estate but never
married. Title to the estate passed to his younger brother John when
William died in 1727. John Richardson did marry and when he died in 1744
was survived by two sons and two daughters. Only one son William and one
daughter Mary have significant relevance to the history of Derryhale.
William Richardson (1709 – 1758) left three daughters and one son, also
named William after his father. William the son married twice. On the
death of his first wife who bore him no children, William remarried. That
union produced three daughters: Elizabeth; Isabella and Louisa. William
Richardson died in 1822; his three daughters inherited their father’s
estate in equal parts. Of these three daughters, only Louisa married. Her
husband was Edmond Bacon.
The three sisters were apparently renowned for their interest in the
community, their tenants and were generous in many ways. This generosity
has been recorded in the form of an illuminated address from the tenants
to Mrs. Louisa Bacon; the date of this address is 14th. April 1879.
The Richardson estate was subdivided on the death of the sisters. In 1859
Elizabeth died and bequeathed her share to the Acheson family of
Clancairney, now Markethill, who became the Earls of Gosford. By
deduction, the recipient would have been the 3rd. Earl (1806 – 1864). The
Richardson and the Acheson families had connections by marriage; Mary who
was the youngest daughter of John Richardson vide supra had married Arthur
Acheson, later to become 1st. Viscount Gosford, in 1740.
Isabella died in 1860. During her lifetime she had been active in caring
for her tenants. According to Mrs. Bacon, she had contributed with her
sisters to building local school houses and in addition had been
principally responsible for financing the building of St. Saviours, known
also as the Dobbin church. The foundation stone was laid on 7th. June 1856
and the church consecrated on 9th. April 1858.
Louisa, the only married sister died childless in 1881. Of the three
sisters, she is known to have been the most active in relation to
Derryhale. On her death, her portion of the Richardson estate was divided
between the 4th. Earl of Gosford (1841 – 1922), who already had title to
the share which had belonged to her sister Elizabeth Richardson, and which
had been inherited from his father. The other legatee was her cousin Henry
Richardson of Rossfad in Fermanagh. Lord Gosford inherited the minor share
but this included the Richardson house and surrounding grounds, Richhill
castle, and the village. Henry Richardson’s legacy was two thirds of the
estate; approximately 5,500 acres¹
Mary Richardson, William’s younger sister, married Sir Archibald Atkinson²
(1717 – 1790) of Clancairney in 1740. Sir Archibald was created Baron
Gosford in 1776 and in 1785 became Viscount. Their son, who was the 2nd.
Viscount and 1st. Earl of Gosford (1742 – 1807) died a year after his
ennoblement. His son, the 2nd. Earl (1776 – 1849) had an estate comprising
approximately 8,000 acres. This, he sought to enlarge in 1820’s by
purchasing additional land from the Richardson family of Richardson’s
Hill; later shortened to Richhill. The Richardson’s estate included the
townland of Derryhale.
Prior to 1831, schooling in Ireland had varied greatly both in the
curricula taught and the teaching ability and quality of the teachers.
Schools varied greatly. There were Royal Schools created by Royal Charter,
Diocesan schools, Parish and Charter schools and schools established by
Education Societies, many of which were church based. Following a Royal
Commission in 1828 the National School Primary Education System was
inaugurated in 1831. Responsibility for administering this system fell to
the National Board of Education.
The Board allocated grants to build, furnish and maintain such schools.
The size of the grant was not intended, and did not fully finance the
education process. Local external support had been anticipated in the
planning provision and was indeed a necessity. The original intent of the
National School System had been to provide primary education for all
children, and to do this on a non denominational basis.
The Centenary Year Book of St. Saviour’s Church¹ refers to an Educational
Report of 1826 in which mention is made of a school in Derryhale
established in 1823 prior to the National School system. The records state
that the school was held in a single roomed thatched cottage and that the
teacher was John Girvan, a Presbyterian. Apparently emphasis was placed on
the denomination of the pupils and the school roll has been recorded as
“23 Established Church scholars; 28 Presbyterians, 8 Roman Catholics and 2
other pupils described as other denominations”.
In 1834, Mrs. Louisa Bacon (neé Richardson) sponsored construction of a
two storey stone school house in Derryhale on a site adjacent to the
present Primary school, which would be built in 1958 to replace the old
school. The original school appears on an ordinance survey map dated 1834.
Several of the older inhabitants of Derryhale were educated in Mrs.
Bacon’s school which had two classrooms, one on each floor. The one on the
upper floor was subdivided into a classroom and a smaller room, in which
apparently the head teacher lived as there was no separate accommodation.
When the new Primary school was built, stone from the old building was
used in the construction of the new single storey building. The photograph
dated 1946, is of a group of pupils which includes some of the older local
residents, standing in front of the old school building.
In addition to building the old school, Louisa Bacon left an annual
stipend of £4 to the teacher of the school. Subsequently, it appears that
after amalgamation of other schools in the area to which Mrs. Bacon and
her sisters had donated a stipend, the Education authorities had
consolidated the monies to give a total annual income of £61. 2s. 3d. Five
elevenths of this gift was distributed; two elevenths to the Principal
teacher and three elevenths to the school Governors for upkeep and
Mrs. Louisa Bacon.
Mrs. Bacon had a reputation for great consideration of her tenants and was
a generous benefactor. Toward the end of her life, following a serious
illness, her Tenants had prepared an illuminated address which they had
delivered to her. The address, of which I have seen a copy, is headed by
two views of the Richhill Castle and interposed between them is a Coat of
Arms. It is not clear if the Coat of Arms is that of the Richardson or the
Bacon family. The content of the address fully confirms Louisa Bacon’s
reputation for kindness and generosity. During the Famine years she
provided the amenity of a soup kitchen for her tenants.
The scroll text commences Address to Mrs. Bacon from her Tenantry upon the
Richhill Estate. It is signed in classical format We are, Madam, Your
obedient servants, and in brackets Signed on behalf of the Tenantry. The
signatures which followed are:
John Walker Redmond (Chairman); James Best and John Jackson* (Treasurers)
F. J. Best (Secretary). * This name is difficult to read due to the style
of the script.
The content of the letter is in summary: an expression of relief and
pleasure, by the Tenants, for Mrs. Bacon’s recovery from a serious
illness. The text refers in glowing terms to her benevolence and support
to her Tenantry in various ways. The address concludes with
acknowledgement of – the good deeds of your family – and an expression of
hope that – you may long be spared to be our considerate and indulgent
Mrs. Bacon’s reply, also contained on the same scroll, is warm and shows
appreciation of the content of her Tenants address. In her reply she
attributes the building of various schools on the estate to her two
sisters, Elizabeth and Isabella, who, at the time of writing of the reply,
had died. She was self deprecating of her own contributions saying that
The schools on the Estate were built by my two sisters and I have only had
to look after them --. She concluded her reply by signing Your obliged and
attached Landlady Louisa Bacon.
Louisa Bacon, as landlady, was responsible for visiting her tenants and
collecting rents. When visiting Derryhale she remained overnight and
stayed in the Dower house which had been built for the widow (dowager),
possibly Louisa Bacon’s mother, on the death of her husband. The date on
which the Dower house was built is unknown. The Dower house was
constructed from stone similar to the school building. It is a two storey
building in the front of which are two bay windows. The roof is slate with
ornate carved gable ends. The two chimneys have tall chimney pots in the
Victorian style. Behind the Dower house is a farm dwelling which is
connected to the former by a passage way.
The property now belongs to the Stanley family who have lived there since
the present owner’s father purchased the property, on 26th. October 1927,
from the Wright family. They had purchased the house and land from Thomas
Morrison. It is of interest to note that this farm was part of the
original Estate belonging to Col. J. M. Richardson.
The current owner has the original land survey, carried out by Samuel
Greer Esq., which is dated 8th. March 1890. This document is entitled Map
of Farm in the Townland of Derryhale: the property of Mr. Thomas Morrison.
The land was subject to the Irish Land Act 1903. This legislation required
the owner of the land to make twice yearly payments to Credit the Land
Purchase Account of the Government of Northern Ireland. The amount of
these payments or Ground Rents, due by the owners of the property, has
been recorded in the Title Deeds. The twice yearly payment of £17. 6s. 6d.
is required until the total payment of
£533. 0s. 0d. has been made, after which the land becomes freehold. The
final payment credited to Mr. Stanley’s father, under the Irish Land Act,
is dated 30Th. December 1941. It is of further interest to record that the
Title Deeds of the property record that the house, which includes Louisa
Bacon’s Dower house, is named Derryhale House.
Another historic building is known as Boyd’s cottage. This cottage is on
the Mullalelish road about one third of a mile from the Dower house. It is
said to have been built in the early 1830’s and is a listed building.
Traditional building techniques are evident from the mud and straw walls
encased by stone and roofed with thatch. In the original cottage there is
a single living room heated in the past by an open turf fire over which a
traditional Irish crook would have supported cooking utensils and the
obligatory smoke blackened kettle. This open fire and crook have been
replaced at some stage, in the relatively recent past, by an open fire
surrounded by a grate. At this time, cooking would have been moved into a
new kitchen, which is not part of the original thatched cottage. Access to
the new kitchen, which has been fitted with an electric stove, is from the
original scullery. Off the old cottage living room there are two bedrooms,
the larger master bedroom facing to the East, and a very small second
bedroom facing West, with access from the old scullery. This smaller
bedroom would presumably have been for the older children.
When the old cottage was built, there was no piped water. Rain, provided
water for washing and was collected from roof drainage into barrels.
Drinking water had to be carried from a well, the site of which is
unknown. The toilet would have been outside the house, probably in the
form of a simple dry collection pit although the precise location is again
not obvious. The original cottage still stands but has been extended at
both ends. To the North there is an additional bedroom while to the South,
there is what appears to be an outhouse for storage or housing stock. The
newer part of the dwelling is roofed with slate. The cottage was inhabited
by Thomas Boyd and his wife and only became vacant on the death of Mrs.
Boyd in 1990’s.
The Derryhale Post Office is shown in a farm map, dated 8th. March 1890,
drawn by Samuel Greer Esq. Surveyor of Tandragee vide supra. This map
shows the farm, the property of Mr. Thomas Morrison which is now owned by
Mr. & Mrs. Herbert Stanley and the lands adjacent to Morrison’s farm.
These were owned by a Mrs. Rountree; James Wright Esq. ( not related to
the Wright Family mentioned above); Mrs. Cox; Thomas Black and Thomas
Preston. It is recorded that the business of the post office was conducted
by one Charles Rountree. Subsequently the Rountrees sold their property to
the Henderson family, descendents of which are the current owners. The
Post Office was part of the Henderson’s house with direct access between
house and post office. The post box has been built into the wall where the
post office stood and remains in use to this day. I am told that the post
office, which was in fact a sub-post office, had title to a franking stamp
embossed with the words Derryhale Post Office. Unfortunately, the
whereabouts of the stamp is unknown.
In the more recent past the Armagh Council was responsible for introducing
council cottages. These are known as Taylor cottages after George Taylor
who was the design architect. Lord Kilclooney who, as John Taylor Esq. MP
was Member for Strangford, is George Taylor’s son. There are two groups of
Taylor cottages, one close to the Dower house built in the early 1950’s
and the second group, which stand approximately half way between the first
group and the main Armagh road. The cottages were built as semi-detached
bungalows with a living room, kitchen, bathroom and two bedrooms. When
planning commenced prior to building, I have been told that the number of
prospective buyers far exceeded the number of houses. I have also been
told that the waiting list was not restricted to the number of houses
which had been planned! What’s new in planning?
Farming Crops and Rotations : history and deduction.
The potato is of course one of the staple crops of Ireland and the history
of the Famine is part of the junior school curriculum. Traditionally the
Irish were reared on spuds and buttermilk. Which suggests that cows would
have been kept to supply the household with milk, butter and buttermilk.
Chickens for meat and eggs would again have been a common sight as they
picked and scratched about the yard and midden. Most farms would also have
kept the gentleman who pays the rent; the free ranging pig which was fed
with scraps from the house and any other edible material which it could
dig up with its snout. Pigs were kept for sale but also for home killing
and bacon preservation by dry salt curing. In the past a common sight in
any farmhouse would have been the cured bacon hanging from the kitchen
rafters or lying in salt in a wooden vat.
Heavy horses were bred for farm work and broken to harness in their second
year. Much farm work was undertaken using a pair of horses; usually a
steady old horse paired with a younger one. On heavy or hilly land three
horses may have been used for operations such as ploughing and in later
days cutting grain with a binder, when the heavier binder replaced
reapers. Single horses were harnessed to farm carts and used as farm
transport, although the heavier drays used for road transport would have
required additional power of two or more horses. Neighbouring, loaning of
a horse to make up a pair or a three, would have been common practice.
In addition to potatoes, turnips for winter animal (and human) feeding
would have been one of the earliest root crops. Other root crops for
animal feeding such as marrow stem kale were probably introduced in or
around the 1930’s.. The crop rotation practised is most likely to have
included potatoes, root crops, corn (oats) and then a return to grassland.
It is again interesting to note that in addition to oats, wheat was also
grown. Wheat straw was in demand to thatch houses and for roof repairs.
Armagh has been one of the centres for apple production and in Derryhale
there are some orchards of upwards of 100 years old. The climate seems to
suit the production of cooking apples in which the variety Brambly reins
Land fertility would have been maintained by the use of farmyard manure
carted out to the land by horse and cart. The manure would have been
placed in small piles about 6 to 8 yards apart from which it would have
been spread by hand scaling using a dung fork. The sweetness of the soil
would have been preserved by spreading quick lime which was produced in
kilns by slow burning a mixture of turf with an equal quantity of
limestone. There is no indigenous limestone in Derryhale. In a cutting
from the Portadown Times dated Friday 9th. May 1930, the correspondent
“Asmodeus” has referred to the lime kiln at Henderson’s corner and said
that, when in use, it had been kept going “full blast” with limestone
carted from Annaghugh and other places. The quick lime was usually carted
to the field, on which it was to be spread, and left in large piles to
slake with the rain. Many of the kilns have been destroyed and the stone,
from which they were built, used for other building purposes. Some of the
older maps show sites of these kilns. There is one such site marked on the
Morrison Farm map referred to above, lying between the Primary School and
the Dower house. The actual kiln no longer exists.
There are several families currently living or recently having lived in
Derryhale, whose names are associated with the history of Derryhale. These
included in alphabetical order: Alexander; Cox; Graham; Henderson;
Loughead; Rountree; Stanley and Wright.
There are very few if any families, who came from England or Scotland at
Plantation, who have remained in Derryhale. The possible exception to this
statement is the family of Charles Stanley. According to Richard Burns³,
Charles Stanley and his brother William were both officers in the English
army. At the end of hostilities, Charles is said to have settled in
Derryhale and purchased 100 acres of land. His brother returned to
England. Charles is said to have lived on in Derryhale to the very great
age of 104 years. Although the first name Charles is common in the lineage
of several modern Stanley families, there appears to be no direct
genealogical connection with the English officer. It is of course possible
that family connections have been lost with the passage of 200 years.
The flight of the Tiger Moth.
Not the Flight of the Earls, but an early aviation event of which a record
was printed in the Portadown Times of 8th. February 1991. Apparently the
aircraft, said to have been a Tiger Moth, flown by a member of the Royal
Flying Corps, attempted a forced landing in one of the low lying meadows
near Henderson’s corner in the summer of 1918. The Service pilot is said
to have been on a flight to a military base near Omagh, but had lost his
way. His aircraft had become low in fuel. According to the report, he had
attempted the landing in what appeared to be a large level field.
Unfortunately, the long summer grass had hidden a land drain which crossed
the field in the path of the landing aircraft causing damage to the
aeroplane. There is no record of the fate of the pilot who presumably was
not seriously injured. The grounded aircraft was guarded for several days
by the military. It was the focus of attention of local people for miles
around and would probably have been the first opportunity for many people
to see an aeroplane at close quarters.
© John E. Galway 12 February 2003.
º Mallory J.P. & McNeill T.E. : The Archaeology of Ulster. Published by
Queens, Institute of Irish Studies (1991).
¹ St. Saviour’s Church Portadown: Centenary year Book 1858 – 1958.
² The Gosford Papers (D/1606 & D/2259) Public Record Office of Northern
I am indebted to the following friends and colleagues who provided
sources of historical information including newspaper cuttings, old maps
and photographs and folklore from previous years. Without this guidance
and constructive criticism life would have been intolerable.
Stanley Alexander Esq.
Mrs. Betty Cassells, former Principal teacher in Derryhale Primary school.
Members of the Henderson family.
Mr. & Mrs. Desmond Hobson.
James Lyttle Esq.
Mrs. Joan McMenemy, current Principal teacher in Derryhale Primary school.
Mrs. Stephanie Sloan, Secretary in Derryhale Primary school.
James Smart Esq., former Principal teacher in Derryhale Primary school.
Mr. & Mrs. Bert Stanley.
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