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A Walk Through Dreenan.

By William Convery
 

Taking a walk through the townland of Dreenan today may seem very different on the outside to time gone past, the pace of life seems to have sped up over the last few years with the advance of technology and transport, but underneath still beats the heart of a country community alive as much today as it ever has been. The following  short passage is a collection of information and personal interviews that I have collected, many of which were from actual residents or people with strong connections to Dreenan. I hope it will give you more insight to the people who have contributed so much to this townland over the last two hundred years.
From time to time as new information finds its way to me the story expands, so do  come back from time to time for an updated version.
 

Lowertown.

If you started in Lowertown, in the East of the townland and following the Mayogall Road (main Maghera to Portglenone) their you would find  the "Dreenan Bridge", the first port of call in the townland of Dreenan from the modern day "Greenlough Parish" in the old parish of "Tamlaght O'Crilly". In the early part of the 19th century the bridge had one arch, 13 feet in span, the parapets were 4 feet high and the road way was 20 feet wide and was in relatively poor condition. The bridge recently under went an complete rebuild (c1829) and very recently again in my lifetime in 2004
 

Travelling  west to Gulladuff, the first lane on the right, a place where in the past there were quite a few homesteads whereas, now there are only three.
The first on the left was previously owned by Francis Henry and then later by his brother in law Patrick Mulholland (stone mason) and his wife Maggie Henry, , further along the lane and on both sides at a time there would have lived a few Henry families, the birth place and the homestead of Fr. Harry Henry, brother of Philomena (a later teacher at Dreenan school), these houses would have been in the hands of the Henry's for many years.
Further along and down a short entry on the left was the homes of the Higgins brothers Morty (Murty) and James and then later their sons both called Patrick. They were both gone by 1881, the wallsteads are long since gone but even today the field is still known as "Higgins Green". this is the same Higgins family one of which was shot dead near the "Cuttin" in 1846 along with another lad by the name on McWilliams as they return from a funeral mass at Mayogall chapel.

Next on the lane lived Hugh and Alice Convery nee Mulholland and his brother Felix. Hugh had at least four daughters but only one son John, who later married “Banker Pat Converys” daughter.  Further along there had been a few O'Neill families living here from the early 18oo's to about 196o. All of who are now either moved on or passed away, O'Neill families such as Andrew, Felix, big John and John and Peggie Convery O'Neill and it is here we find the homestead of Canon William O'Neill (brother to my great grandmother Jane) also from the same area Fr. Felix O’Neill who were most likely related.
 

Gallagher's Shop.

At the next lane on the right you would have found John Gallagher's shop where I remember making the occasional journey down the old back lane from my home, to buy sweets. Before John it was owned by John McKeown, originally believed to have been from the Desertmartin area then moved to Greenlough in Tamlaght O’Crilly parish where he owned the public house opposite the chapel in the above townland. (he also was married to my great grandmothers sister Bridget O’Neill)  
On the left is where John, Thaddeus and Henry Mulholland l
ived, then later (Big) Paddy and Rose Mulholland. There was also a John Maddigan living here.
At the end of the lane there is the home of the O'Neill's, James Senior and James Junior with Daniel O'Neill living close by, later and at a later date Mick Pat O'Neill.

Other families to live in this area were Diamond, Birt, Keenan

Further up the Mayogall Road at the crossroads in a prime location at which there was a petrol station and shop in the 197o's-8o's. Before this there was a house stood close to this spot that was owned by Annie McNally
 

Bankers Hill.

Turning Right into Eden on the left is Annaghyorgan hill or also locally known a "The Round Hill" (sourced from Martin Hemmings), and on the right is what is locally known as the "Bankers Hill" the Eden Road separates the two hills. The first house along this road is the home the late James (Jimmy) Darragh, this bungalow was previously owned by Begley up until the 197o's when it was only a labourers cottage. And before that by a Mary Farley, and her mother Katherine (Kate) Mullan. In the field behind this is a well as marked on old maps. This may be the well as remembered by Felix Convery as "Kerrigan's Well"
On down the hill on the left was the home of Jack and Matilda (McKenna) Convery. It was locally known as "The White House".
On the right on Bankers Hill was the home of a few families of which I’m only sure of two, Pat Convery (Banker) and his wife Nancy and Patrick Convery (Mealman) and his wife Jane O’Neill, the latter of these being my great grandparents. They lived on the hill until the mid 1800’s when they were evicted from their house by Banker Pat Convery who was a local landlord to most of lower Dreenan at the time.
They moved across the road to Annaghyorgan hill where they lived and raised their family. In 1906 Their son Felix (my grandfather) took over the running of the farm on Annaghorgan. After the sudden death of Felix's first wife Anne Regan and with three small children he married Susan Morgan, he continued farming until the early 1920’s, before moving back after the death of the Bankers widow Nancy Convery.
 

At a time there was five family's living on the hill, the "Banker" and "Meal man" were two of them, the family's were believed to be closely related.


A little way further down the Eden Road there is a lane on the left, which led to three houses, only one still stands and it belonged to John (Roe) O'Neill, the other two houses one lived in by Patrick Lagan and later Patrick Mullan and lastly Pat Begley. The other house on this lane was first lived in by William Smith and several years later it may have changed to John Doole.


Back at the road in the building we call the "Barn", there lived for a time Ned Mulhollond where the name I have known for years as "Neds Garden" came from, and before Ned the house was lived in by a man from the south of Ireland, who he was is unclear. Ned came originally from Ballymacpeake, at a shop beside the McErlanes of Ballymacpeake. Opposite this lived John Downey he married Kathleen Birns from Donegal, they lived there with her brothers Paddy and Charley. Then it was lived in by my uncle J.P. Convery when ho was married, before later moving to Portglenone, after that Willie O'Neill a blacksmith from Inisrush, and his wife Mary were the last, Mary was very fond of dogs, keeping up to fifteen about the house at one time.
 

Next and last along the Eden road before you cross the bridge into the townland of Eden is the home of the late Richard and Dixey Mulholland. Richard's father Tommy and grandfather Richey (Eden) lived here from about the mid 192o's Before them this was lived in by the O'Neill family, Daniel and John who I believe left to run a shop in Bellaghy when the farm was sold to the Mulholland's. This was the homestead of the Rev Mark O'Neill (Waterside, Derry) was born here but died at the young age of 3o and buried in the new graveyard in Mayogall
 

Jane's Height.

From the Crossroads heading up towards Gulladuff there is a brow in the road. I always knew it as "Jane's Height". A lane leads of to the right and the first house along it was believed to be rented between 1860 and 1893 by Arthur McAtamney, believed to have helped build Ballymacpeake school. In 1894 it changed to Ellen McAtamney, and Jane McAtamney the last to live here. The lane would have continued to the Whitehouse and on to the Eden Road passing on the way the ruins of an as yet unknown home site among the trees of Annaghyorgan hill.
 

Causin Hill.

Back on the leading road to Gulladuff we find the two cottages along the road side, it is at this point that I would like to thank Mary O'Neill Kebea who lived in the first of the cottages before emigrating to America where she now lives and who contributed greatly to the following. The Tohills came to that cottage around 1916  and I believe a family of Rankin lived there just before that. It was after this when Mary's parents got married in 1931 that the O'Neill's came to live there.
 

The next cottage was also O'Neill, no relation.  I believe that the present owner of the house is a grandson of Pearce and Bridget Jane O'Neill, who lived there up through the 1940's. Their daughter Susan Cassidy came to live there and take care of her. 
 

Going on from there, you enter the "Cuttin", this is where the road was cut into Causin Hill. It is at here there is a lane on either side of the road, On the right is the lane leading into the White Hill, the first along this lane on the left  is the Dooles,  and the opposite  in a field now owned by Riddles was the site of Dreenan orange hall, long since now gone, Further along the lane is where Willie Downey's used to live,  next there was a house belonging to John O'Neill the cobbler, and his brother Arthur O'Neill's. The lane on the opposite side of the road goes to Hamill's Hill. Willie Hamill used to live up there in a house along side Dan Hamill.  I believe Willie passed on in the 1960's.  He lived with a niece, Teresa, who later married Bobby Finn. 
As kids Mary remembers how they climbed the plum trees there, and there were quite a few, and Dan chased them off. Dan  married Jeannie Henry. They had quite a large family.

Another family that lived further along the lane up until the 1940's, they were Johnny and Sarah Marlin.  They had a nice whitewashed house with a thatched roof, and kept it very well.  I think the house no longer exists.  It faced the moss and was on a little hill.
 

Going up the Dreenan Road on the left was McNally's house, Opposite was a lane into George Riddle's farm. Previous to George the farm was owned by his grand father John Downing and later Georges uncle Spencer Downing.
 

A little further was a house owned by Jamie McCann on the right.  He lived alone, was related to Mary's family (O'Neill's) in some way,   The lane beside McCann led to the site of Dreenan police station. Also Hessie Downings place (niece of my Great Grandmother Jane O'Neill) she lived there with her niece Molly McMullan. Molly's mother, Bessie,  was in Chicago and stayed there until she died.
 

There was a very small house near and owned by  Hessie.  John Burke lived there in the 1950's. 
 

Dreenan school.

There was  wall stead's on the opposite side of the county road from McCann's, but as of yet I do not know who had lived there.  Further up the road on the right is the late Tom and Mary Ann Rankin, and later Felix Rankin's and Paddy Haveron's houses.  On the left was Dreenan School, founded in 1845 and closed in 1972.

The Dinnen's house is just above where the school was on the left,.  Michael and later John lived here, Johns daughter Miss Dinnen was head mistress of the school before miss Boyle. Ange Convery, a niece of miss Dinnen was the last to live in the house with her brother John Convery.
 

John Lagan lived a little farther up on the right next to the Island lane, later to be replaced by Hartford Downing.  There used to be houses on the left opposite Lagans that belonged to Stafford Downing.
 

The Island.

The road to the Island is next to Miller's house, many families lived along this dead end road including, Maddigans (Madden), Stafford Downing, O'Kane, Britten, to mention a few and Diamond in more resent years. It is also the site of an ancient Fort in Dreenan, there was another fort about 600 yards away but any trace of it is long since gone.
Close by is the site of an ancient Yew tree, which is said to be "many hundred's of years old", where during the Penal times mass was celebrated, and was the site of a execution of the priest at the hands of the "Red Coats" as they were then known.
 

Back on the main road and continuing to Gulladuff the next road on the left, leads you to Carnaman, there was O'Kane, Downing, McCloy and McPeake living along this road, And recently a few new houses have been added.
 

Continuing on the main leading road to Gulladuff, and on the west side of the bridge you would have found the home of Hazletts's then McCloy's and last on the right was Costello and Darragh and possibly later there was Diamond.
The last house in Dreenan then and still today is the "Cottage" at "Kathleen's Corner".

Curdian
Dreenan extends in a narrow strip to the North splitting the townlands of Drummuck and Eden, and taking in the areas of Annaghclay Wood, Carrickmuckan (Carrick) and Curdian.

The principle households in the area were Morgan, McGill, Riggs, McErlane, McCloy and McAtamney most of which still remain today

More to follow soon.

 

This is an on going project so if you have any information you might want to share with me for this page, or any details I have left out please Contact Me

 

 

Other local reading

Oul Mayogall by  Jim Moore

Where the Lark Still Sings by John Hughes

Dreenan School Reunion by James Grant and others.
 

dreenan.com copyright 2003


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