Tamlaghtfinlagan  Churches Tamlaghtfinlagan old church, near Limavady
The old church
     Grid reference C652219



Tamlaght Finlagan means "The plague monument of St. Findluganus". Findluganus was a friend of St. Columba, who attended the famous Convention of Drumceatt in the year 574 AD. In 585 it was decided to build an abbey nearby and Findluganus was its first abbot. The abbey became a parish church at some later date. It is impossible to be precise, but the parish is mentioned in some papal paperwork in 1291. By 1622 the church was in ruins.

Walworth Old Church from the road

Walworth Old Church in Ballykelly (C622227) 

When the fishmongers took over the parish they decided to establish a new church. This was built on the Walworth estate in 1622, though parts of it are much older. The fishmongers simply enlarged an old chapel and added a chancel. Unfortunately those were interesting times and the place was burned down during the 1641 rising. Bureaucracy was as slow then as now and it wasn't rebuilt until 1664.
Mind you, they should have waited a few more years, because when the Irish army returned from the famous siege of Derry in 1689 the soldiers were in an understandably foul mood. When they passed through Ballykelly they promptly burned the church again.

This time round it took only three years to rebuild. This was because King William, who had fond memories of the unsuccessful siege, ordered its restoration in 1692. However, the congregation was never really happy with the place. It was too small and too far outside the town. A new chancel was added in 1719 by the Lieutenant General Frederick Hamilton but by 1795 a new church had been built about a mile down the road and the place fell into disrepair.

At the time of writing (2000) the old place is overgrown, standing raised above a splendid graveyard and the old archway gives it a rather noble air. Not many people come to visit the old church, but those who do, do not regret the journey.
The old archway
 
The new church
Tamlaght-Finlagan Parish Church (C633225
The handsome new church built in 1795 was funded by the Earl Bishop of Bristol and the Hon. John Beresford. The Bishop was very fond of building: Mussenden temple and Downhill Castle are two other examples of his endeavours.

The graveyard surrounding the new church is notable for the fact that it contains the grave of Blind James McCurry, who introduced Jane Ross to the charms of the tune "The Londonderry Air", known to him as "O'Cahan's lament."  
 


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