HISTORY OF EGLINTON

The village of Eglinton originally known as Muff (Irish meaning a plain or level district) was  founded in 1619 by the Grocersí Company of London. As part of the Plantation of Ulster James I, had granted a large area (15900 acres) part of Faughanvale parish to the Grocers in 1609.The  Grocers did not farm it themselves but leased this area to Edward Rone of Essex in 1615 with the stipulation that he built a bawn and 12 houses by 1619.The yearly rent being £116-13s-4d. Unfortunately Rone died in  1618 but his brother-in-law Robert Harrington took over and by 1619  a castle and bawn and 8 houses were erected in the townland of Muff (now Eglinton) and by 1622 the stipulated building was completed

Then in 1626 the church was built and it has ever since been the parish church of Faughanvale. Its ruins are in the graveyard of present parish church which was built in 1821.

The castle (really a castellated house and bawn with 4 flanker towers) was besieged in 1641during the English Civil War by the insurgents under Colonel McDonnell and gallantly defended by the garrison during the winter of that year. It was relieved  the following summer by  troops from Derry but it afterwards fell into the hands of the parliamentarians by whom it was dismantled. During the Siege of Derry the castle was briefly occupied by troops of King James while they were foraging for supplies. The ruins were standing and occupied  until 1823 when the present Rectory was built on the site. The only remains of the castle today being the cellars under the rectory.

The Presbyterian congregation of Faughanvale has been in existence from 1730 although prior to 1730 it formed part of Glendermott Congregation in Londonderry. Their church at Tullanee just East of the village dates from 1894(the original church of 1730 stood in the adjacent burial ground)

As there were several other places called Muff, especially one in Donegal  nearby ,this caused confusion so the residents decided to change its name. Therefore on August 19th.1858 the village of Muff became Eglinton in honour of  the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland ,the 13th Earl of Eglinton  who was visiting Templemoyle Agricultural School at that time. Templemoyle school  was opened in 1826 to teach new agricultural methods and closed in 1865.It is now a nursing home. There was also a litery school in  nearby Foyle Park House built in 1813 by last tenant Farmer David Babington

Thomas Gallagher (1840-1927), the millerís son of Templemoyle was the founder of the famous tobacco firm of Gallaghers. His relatives lived in The Glen House in the centre of the village  until the 1950ís.

One of the oldest buildings today is the Erasmus Smith schoolhouse erected in 1812 beside the old national school of 1886 both now  private residences .The Grocers did not resume active management of the estate until 1823 when they rebuilt the  village. Among the buildings erected by the company in 1823-5 were the Rectory, a Courthouse or Market house-  an unusually well designed building by Nicholson which included a dispensary (the wall plaques outside the courthouse (bank today) are the Grocers and David Babingtons coat of arms) a Manor house for the Grocers agent and the Glen house. All of which are still to be seen today. They also built a  row of cottages for widows known as Cottage Row today and tradesmen's houses along the main street. The millers house opposite the Happy Landing public house became the old R.I.C.barracks until the present police station was built. The Grocers sold the village in 1874 to Mr.James Davidson  from Brechin Scotland and his descendants still reside in the manor house today

During the second world war Eglinton was home to many airforce and navy personnel and the remains of their living quarters can still be seen .The airfield was a major base for patrolling the North Atlantic searching for U-boats and guarding convoys.Several planes crashed and there are several pilots and crew buried in both the parish and presbyterian graveyards.

During the last decade Eglinton has experienced phenomenal growth due to the large numbers of new private houses. In fact it can now really be called a commuter town for the city of Londonderry instead of the farming village it once was.

 

 

With thanks to DRH for this information!