BOVEVAGH, a parish

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 557 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 years, 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 gravelly 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. George's 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. There 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 Fruits, and is situated on the west bank of the 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, is situated on the east bank of the river: the glebe comprises 79 acres of fertile land.

In the R. C. 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. 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 rector, 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 Drumneesy 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. Near the old church is an artificial cave, 82 yards in length, with several galleries branching from it in different directions. About a mile northeast 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.

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