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Maghera Town Centre.jpg
Maghera Town Centre
Maghera is located in Northern Ireland
Location within Northern Ireland
Population4,220 (2011 Census)
CountryNorthern Ireland
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townMAGHERA
Postcode districtBT46
Dialling code028
PoliceNorthern Ireland
FireNorthern Ireland
AmbulanceNorthern Ireland
UK Parliament
NI Assembly
List of places
Northern Ireland
County Londonderry
54°50′38″N 6°40′23″W / 54.844°N 6.673°W / 54.844; -6.673Coordinates: 54°50′38″N 6°40′23″W / 54.844°N 6.673°W / 54.844; -6.673
Galwilly Bridge Over The Milltown Burn Located Outside Maghera In Glen Housing Estate.

Maghera (pronounced /ˌmɑːhəˈrɑː/ MAH-hə-RAH, from Irish: Machaire Rátha, meaning 'plain of the ringfort') is a small town at the foot of the Glenshane Pass in County Londonderry, Northern Ireland. Its population was 4,220 in the 2011 Census,[2] increasing from 3,711 in the 2001 Census.[3] It is situated within Mid-Ulster District, as well as the civil parish of Maghera, which it was named after, and the former barony of Loughinsholin.


The town dates back at least to the 6th century to the monastery founded by Saint Lurach whose family were possibly evangelised by Saint Patrick. The Annals of Ulster say that the seat of the Cenél nEoghain was at Ráth Luraig in Maghera. Standing upon the site of the monastery, the present day ruins of St. Lurach's Church date back to the 10th century. They include, over a doorway, a relief of the crucifixion, possibly the oldest in Ireland.[4] The crucification lintel is reproduced in the contemporary Catholic church, St Mary's.

The old church and town were burned in the 12th century. Afterwards, Maghera became the seat of the Bishopric of Cenel Eogain with a cathedral church.[5] In 1246 its bishop, Germanus O'Carolan, pleading the remoteness of Maghera, obtained sanction from Pope Innocent IV to have the see transferred to Derry.[6]

As a result of the Plantation of Ulster and of the Rebellion of 1641 which drove out many of the first English families, Maghera and district attracted Scottish settlers. They came into conflict not only with the dispossessed Irish, but as tenants and as Presbyterians also with the land-owning, Church of Ireland, Ascendancy. A result was large-scale emigration to the American colonies (Charles Thomson, recording himself as from Maghera, signed the Declaration of Independence)[7] and, in the 1790s, the organising of the United Irishmen.

Despairing of reform, and determined to make common cause with their Catholic neighbours, on 7 June 1798 the United Irishmen mustered upwards of 5,000 men in Maghera. But the poorly armed host broke up the following morning on news of the rebel defeat at Antrim and the approach of government troops. A Presbyterian church elder, Watty Graham, was executed for his part, and his head was paraded through the town. His minister, John Glendy, was forced into American exile.[8][9]

On 12 July 1830, Orange Order and Ribbonmen clashed over demonstrations the Orange Order held in Maghera and Castledawson. Several Catholic homes were burnt by Protestants in the aftermath.[10] Some repair of sectarian relations was achieved by an active tenant right movement, but with tenant purchase of land facilitated by the Land Acts by the end of the century the national question prevailed. Politically the town has remained split between nationalists, now in the majority, and unionists.

The Great Famine of the 1840s and the years that followed, resulted in a since unrecovered loss of population in the surrounding rural districts. In 2003 the Ancient Order of Hibernians erected a headstone to make the "Famine Plot" were local victims were buried.[11]

In the early 20th century, the town itself was relatively prosperous. With its own railway station, an embroidery factory, a busy weekly market and close proximity to Clark's linen mill in Upperlands, it was one of two major towns within Magherafelt Rural District. The town also benefited from post-war advances in education, housing and transport. Separate primary and secondary schools were built for Catholics and Protestants in the 1960s; new housing estates were constructed and motor cars forced a widening of many of the town's narrow streets[12]

Maghera suffered violence during the Troubles. Over the three decade from the end of the 1960s a total of 14 people were killed in or near the village Maghera, half of them members of the security forces and a further two as a result of family membership of the Ulster Defence Regiment. The Provisional Irish Republican Army were responsible for ten of the deaths. Two, including a Sinn Féin councillor, were killed by loyalist paramilitaries.[13]

From what was possibly a low of 879 in 1910[14] Maghera population has risen in the course of a century to a census figure in 2011 of 4,220. Reflecting European Union employment in local food processing, 213 residents in 2011 did not have English as a first language.[15]


The town is part of the Mid-Ulster District Council. It is located within the Carntogher district electoral area (DLE) which contains the areas Lower Glenshane, Swatragh, Tamlaght O'Crilly, Valley and Maghera.[16] In the 2015 district elections, Carntogher DLE elected three Sinn Féin, one SDLP and one DUP representatives to the council.

Places of interest[edit]

The old St Lurach's Church
  • Old St Lurachs Church- Church ruins on site of monastery founded by St Lurach.
  • Maghera Leisure Centre- The towns main place for fitness
  • Maghera Library- The towns library
  • Walsh's Hotel- The hotel in the centre of the town that offers tourist information and food.


In St Patrick's Roman Catholic church, there is a headstone remembering the large number of people who died in the parish during the Famine. In the local Church of Ireland parish of St. Lurach's there is a memorial dedicated to the memory of the local men and women who died in both world wars. The Presbyterian church has a brass plaque in memory of those who served during the First World War.[citation needed]

St. Mary's RC Church, Maghera
Maghera Church of Ireland


Maghera railway station opened on 18 December 1880, shut for passenger traffic on 28 August 1950 and shut altogether on 1 October 1959.[17]


The Biggest Major Rivers Near Maghera are the Moyola River , Clady River , Grillagh River and Knockoneil River.

Milltown Burn

In the town itself there is the Milltown Burn sometimes known as the Fallagloon or Sheskin Burn on up is a small river or burn that starts on the top of Glenshane Mountain and flows eastwards merging with the Altavaddyvacky Burn in Fallylea its second largest tributary flowing onwards into Glen and Maghera passing Glen Chapel the old Milltown Mill and through Cunningham's Industrial Estate before merging with the Black Burn the largest tributary. Onwards The small river is well locally known as the Mullagh River because of the townland in which it flows. The Milltown now approaches the Mullagh Bridge and then under the Original Mullagh Bridge now retained as a picnic area and park onwards for a few miles through open floodplain dipping under the A6 Culvert and then under the old Widow Steeles Bridge before joining the Moyola River.. The burn being urban in Maghera flowing through quite a few housing estates and an industrial estate is quite polluted and dirty with sewer, storm runoff flowing straight into the burn and fly tipping. The Main Bridges which span the burn overall are

Sheskin Bridge, A6 Ranaghan Culvert, Ranaghan Bridge , Fallagloon Bridge , Upper Fallylea Bridge , Fallylea Bridge, Galwilly Bridge , Milltown Bridge , New Bridge , Mullagh Bridge , Old Mullagh Bridge , A6 Ballynahone Culvert And Widow Steeles Bridge.

Black Burn is a small stream which starts in Lisnmamuck a townlands a few miles southwest of Maghera. The lower stretches of this burn are very prone to flooding around Black Bridge on the Craigadick Road it joins the Milltown after emerging from a large culvert which the A6 passes over.

Largantogher Burn

The Largantogher named after the townland it mainly flows through is a minor burn a very small stream which mostly flows under Maghera in storm drains it emerges briefly in places but is mostly flows and mainly seen in the Largantogher Plantin (Largantogher Walkway) it winds its way through the wooded area a small tributary stream flowing from an old storm drain which can be seen from the path below Meeting House before opening up into fields flowing for about half a mile before flowing into its last culvert then into the Milltown Burn via a Penstock Gate.

Notable people[edit]





There are three primary schools and one secondary school in Maghera.

Primary schools[edit]

  • St Mary's Primary School, Glenview
  • Maghera Controlled Primary School
  • St Patrick's Primary School, Glen

Secondary school[edit]


  • The local Gaelic football club is Watty Graham's Gaelic Athletic Club.
  • The local football team is Maghera Strollers F.C.
  • The nearest golf driving range is at Tobermore.
  • The local leisure centre is Maghera Leisure Centre, on the Coleraine Road.
  • The local Cycling Club is Carn Wheelers
  • The local Cricket Club is Maghera Cricket Club.


  1. ^ The Online Scots Dictionary Retrieved 20 August 2012.
  2. ^ "Census 2011 Usually Resident Population: KS101NI – Table view". Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA). p. 6. Retrieved 30 July 2019.
  3. ^ "Census 2001 Usually Resident Population: KS01 (Settlements) – Table view". Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA). p. 5. Retrieved 30 July 2019.
  4. ^ "St. Lurach's Church – Mid Ulster District Council". Mid Ulster Council. Retrieved 20 October 2021.
  5. ^ "Home – Maghera Historical Society". Retrieved 20 October 2021.
  6. ^ "Diocese of Derry, Northern Ireland". GCatholic. Retrieved 20 October 2021.
  7. ^ Macafee, William (2009). "Researching Derry and Londonderry Ancestors: Historical Background" (PDF).{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. ^ Morrison, A. K. (1907). "John Glendy, of Maghera, Co. Derry, Presbyterian Minister and Patriot, 1798". Ulster Journal of Archaeology. 13 (3): (101–105) 103. ISSN 0082-7355.
  9. ^ Courtney, Roger (2013). Dissenting Voices: Rediscovering the Irish Progressive Presbyterian Tradition. Belfast: Ulster Historical Foundation. pp. 90, 108–109. ISBN 9781909556065.
  10. ^ "Parades and Marches – Chronology 2: Historical Dates and Events". Conflict Archive on the Internet. Retrieved 28 January 2010.
  11. ^ "Maghera Parish | Parish History". Retrieved 20 October 2021.
  12. ^ Bryson, A. (2007). 'Whatever You Say, Say Nothing': Researching Memory & Identity in Mid-Ulster 1945–1969’. Oral History, 35(2), (45–56), 46.
  13. ^ "CAIN: Sutton Index of Deaths". Retrieved 20 October 2021.
  14. ^ "Ulster Towns Directory, 1910: Maghera, County Derry". Retrieved 20 October 2021.
  15. ^ Agency, Northern Ireland Statistics and Research. "statistics". Retrieved 20 October 2021.
  16. ^ "Mid-Ulster District Council". Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  17. ^ "Maghera station" (PDF). Railscot – Irish Railways. Retrieved 28 September 2011.

External links[edit]