Drimbolg church, or meeting house as it is commonly referred to, was built in 1837. It is situated a few hundred yards from the village of Tamlaght.
In tracing the origins of this historic congregation, one has to go back as far as 1644. In that year, many people in the North of Ireland subscribed to the Solemn League and Covenant. They came to be known as Covenanters, and in the years thereafter, despite scorn and criticism, continued to recognise the vows and obligations that they had signed up to. The Scottish Covenanters would often send ministers over, to give cheer and support to their Irish brethren. In 1681, the societies in Scotland organised correspondence with sister societies in the North of Ireland. This helped maintain a close friendship, that exists to this day, between the Covenanters in both nations.
In 1763, the societies in County Londonderry and County Antrim were divided into three congregrations. In August 1763, the Reverend Matthew Lynn was ordained as pastor of one of them. In March 1764, Lynn preached in Ballynahone at James Johnston’s, and at Moyola River near Magherafelt. Not long after, the Reverend Daniel McClelland was ordained at Laymore, near Cullybackey. These two ministers were in charge of several small societies across the two counties. Around 1768, the Societies of Magherafelt and Ballymacilcurr, near Culnady, were formed. In 1770, the Society of Killyberry, near Bellaghy, was set up. The societies in this district were enhanced by the efforts of Reverend James McKinney, the Reverend William Gibson and the Reverend William Gamble. Around 1788, the Societies of Ballymacpeake, Kilrea and Moyagoney were established. The manse of Drimbolg church was in Moyagoney. The Moyagoney society met in the house of one of it’s members, Boyd Elliot. In April 1798, on the third Wednesday of the month, the Reverend Joseph Orr was ordained in the open air at Caw Wood, near Garvagh. He was given the responsibility of looking after Ballylaggan, Maghera and Drummond (near Limavady). In 1809, Reverend Orr was moderator at the first session of the Maghera Society. The session met at Drumlamph and was attended by John Glasgow, John Houston, Samuel McKeown, John McCaw, John Caskey and Thomas Dunn. The following year, 1810, saw William McKeown and Andrew Dunlop admitted as elders of the Secession church. But the Covenanters, in the area, still didn’t have a church of their own. In the Maghera area, they would worship in Knockloughrim, at the Secession church. In the Tamlaght area, locals would meet in barns, dwelling houses, and sometimes in fields.
In 1813, a small field was purchased from Mr Rowe. It was 44 perches in size and due to it’s physical confirguration was called Drimbolg. ‘Drimbolg’ means a bulge on a hill. By 1816, they had constructed, on the land, a church with a thatched roof. It was opened for public worship that same year. On alternate Sundays, between 1816 and 1820, the Reverend Orr would preach in Drimbolg and Knockloughrim. But due to a large increase in congregration numbers in the Drimbolg area, Knockloughrim ended up with only one service each month. On the 9th August 1824, the Reverend Orr held his final session in his own house in Drumlamph. He died in July 1825, at 64 years of age, after having preached for some 34 years. He was buried in Bellaghy and was survived by his wife.
The church did not have a new minister for two years. Then in June 1827, the Reverend James Smyth M.A. of Corndougan (Ballylaggan) was ordained and given the responsibility of overseeing Drimbolg and Knockloughrim. He held his first session meeting on the 19th July 1827. In attendence were elders John Caskey (the session clerk), James Fulton, John Glasgow, Robert Adams, Alexander Adams, Samuel McKeown and James Armstrong. The new minister, helped by the Reverend William J. Stanley and the Reverend Simon Cameron, oversaw his first communion in June 1828.
After a few years in Drimbolg, the Reverend Smyth and his congregration decided to build a larger church – or meeting-house as they called it. After much planning and hard work (not to mention the significant financial, as well as emotional investment), the new church building held it’s first service on Sunday 6th August 1837. The construction had cost 559 pounds, 6 shillings and 8½d. The church members had contributed 112 pounds, 5 shillings and 0d. The remainder was collected by the Reverend Smyth. At it’s opening service, the preachers were the Reverend Robert Gibson of New York and the Reverend James Dick of Kellswater.
Ireland, The Night of the Big Wind
In his diaries, the Reverend Smyth notes that a violent hurricane came in from the west, late in the evening of Sunday 6th January 1839. The class three hurricane, which originated in the North Atlantic, with winds of up to 115 miles per hour, continued to blow across the early hours til the late morning of the 7th. It became known as the ‘night of the big wind’. Ireland had seen nothing like it in 300 years. Hundreds of people on the island lost their lives, tens of thousands were left homeless, and 42 ships lost. Close to 25% of the houses in Dublin were damaged or destroyed; and the newspapers reported similar carnage in Belfast.
In Drimbolg, the new church was only 17 months old. But the hurricane in the early hours of that terrifying January evening, blew away almost a quarter of the roof, timbers and slates. The Reverend Smyth notes that it took 41 pounds, 15 shillings and 0d to repair the damage.
From Tragedy, Comes a Wonderful Act of Kindness
In January 1853, the Reverend Smyth lost his eldest daughter, Margaret Jane. She was 23 years old and died at home, i.e. Lake View cottage. In April 1855, the pastor’s wife passed on. Jane was only 43 years old. Her teenage children (mainly girls) had lost their big sister and now their mother, in the space of two years. It must have been devastating for the family.
In a wonderful act of human kindness, some four months later, the local community came together to show their support, to a man they clearly held in very high regard. One newspaper at the time published the following report.
The Reverend Smyth was in his 73rd year, when he passed away in 1873. He had served Drimbolg for 45 years and was buried in the churchyard.
Drimbolg Church Marriages 1864 to 1925
| 29th March 1864, Robert Taylor (27), bachelor of Drumnaccon Parish of Tamlaght O’Crilly, married Sarah Sloan (26) of Moynock, Parish of Kilrea. Fathers were Samuel Taylor and John Sloan (deceased), both farmers. Witnesses: John McFarlane and Samuel Preston.|
|15th November 1864, James McKeown (20) bachelor (merchant) of Lislea, Kilrea, married Nannie Patterson (18) spinster of Lislea, Kilrea. Fathers: James McKeown (farmer) and Frederick Patterson (merchant). Witnesses: Hugh C Patterson and William John Thompson|
|30th November 1864, Samuel Dickey (28) bachelor (farmer) of Drumlamph married Rachel Fulton (22) spinster of Drumlamph. Fathers: Samuel Dickey Farmer James Fulton Farmer. Witnesses: Henry Pedlow & James A. Smyth|
|21st December 1864, Kennedy Burnside (26) bachelor (farmer) of Killyberry married Jane Speers (26) spinster of Ballynocher. Fathers: William Burnside and Robert Speers (farmer). Witnesses: William Stewart & Robert Leslie|
|4th, January 1865, Torrens Boyd (25) bachelor (student) of Lismoyle married Mary Simms (30) spinster of Drumlane. Fathers: Michael Boyd (farmer) and William Simms Senior (farmer). Witnesses: James A. Smyth & John MacNurwn?|
|10th February 1865, Robert Michael (24) bachelor (f) farmer from Boveedy married Nancy Ann Paul, spinster, from Boveedy. Fathers: James Paul (farmer) & Archibald Michael (farmer). Witnesses: J. C. Balderston? & Nancy Johnston.|
|4th August 1868, James Simms (25) bachelor (farmer) of Drumlane, married Jane Warwick (25), spinster of Boveedy. Fathers: William Simms (farmer) & Robert Warwick (farmer). Witnesses: Samuel Gimore & Robert Proudfoot.|
|10th May 1871, Joseph Frazer Hurst (27) bachelor Minister of Ballymoney Reformed Presbyterian Church married Sarah Smyth (25) spinster of Innisrush.|
Fathers: Thomas Frazer (merchant) and James Smyth (Minister of Drimbolg Church). Witnesses: Maria Smyth & Hugh Frazer Hurst.
|13th March 1873, Thomas Taylor bachelor of Drumnacannon married Mary Jane Armstrong of Drumlane. Fathers: Thomas Armstrong (farmer) and Samuel Taylor(farmer). Witnesses: Martha Jane Sufferon & Robert Kelsey. |
Note 1 – ‘Kelsey’ was written on the church document, but obviously it should be ‘Kelso’
Note 2 – there was a correction afterwards. Mary Jane Armstrong was a widow, and her maiden name was later recorded (Wilson) on the updated document (see below).
|18th September 1873, John Boyd (31) bachelor of Lismoyle married Mary Ann Boyd (30) spinster of Lismoyle. Fathers: John Boyd (farmer) & Michael Boyd (farmer). Witnesses: Mary Jane Boyd & Charles Scott.|
9th December 1873, John Adams (25) bachelor (farmer) of Drumagarner married Matilda Smyth, spinster, of Drumack in Rasharkin. Fathers: blank. Witnesses: Margaretta C. McCaughey & Andrew Adams.
|11th December 1874, Charles Scott (21) bachelor (farmer) of Lismoyle married Nannie Armstrong (22) spinster of Drumard. Fathers: Charles Scott (farmer) & William Armstrong (farmer). Witnesses: Sarah J. Armstrong & William Starret.|
|28th December 1875, Alexander Cromie bachelor of Tamniarn in Dungiven married Eliza Jane Patterson, spinster, of Killygullib in Tamlaght. Fathers: James Cromie (farmer) & John Patterson (farmer). Witnesses: S.H. Patterson & Samuel Cromie.|
|30th December 1875, Samuel Brown Warwick, bachelor (farmer) of Boveedy in Tamlaght married Henrietta Warwick, spinster, of Boveedy in Tamlaght. Fathers: Hugh Warwick (farmer) & Robert Warwick (farmer). Witnesses: Annie M. Warwick & Alexander Graham.|
|13th March 1876, Robert G. Warwick, bachelor (farmer) of Boveedy in Tamlaght O’Crilly, married Annie Maria Warwick, spinster of Boveedy in Tamlaght O’Crilly. Fathers: Robert Warwick (farmer) & Hugh Warwick (farmer). Witnesses: Maggie Lapsly & Alexander Graham.|
|7th July 1876, William James Armstrong (25) bachelor (farmer) Drumard in Tamlaght married Margaret Armstrong (20) spinster of Lislea in Kilrea. Fathers: William Armstrong (farmer) & Henry Armstrong (farmer). Witnesses: Archibald Agnew & Mary Ellen Armstrong.|
|4th January 1882, Thomas Armstrong, bachelor, farmer, of Drumard, Tamlaght, married Maria Georgina Beare, spinster, of Ternageragh. Fathers: William Armstrong (farmer) & John Beare (farmer). Witnesses: Robert G. Armstrong & Maggie Beare.|
|4th August 1882, Robert Sloan, bachelor, farmer, of Moyknock, Kilrea, married Margaret Campbell, spinster of Moyknock, Kilrea. Fathers: William Sloan (farmer) & Alexander Campbell (farmer). Witnesses: Johnston Shaw & Rachel Campbell.|
|12th December 1882, James Peden, bachelor, farmer, Mayoghill, married Mary Jane Boyd, spinster, of Lismoyle. Fathers: Hugh Peden (farmer) & Robert Boyd (farmer). Witnesses: Hugh Peden & Mary E. Moody.|
|24th December 1885, David Maxwell (26), bachelor (farmer) of Ternageeragh, married Martha Young Stewart (19), spinster of Killymuck. Fathers: John Maxwell (farmer) & John Stewart (farmer). Witnesses: John Smyth & Annie Marie Stewart.|
|8th April 1886 – Samuel Lytle, bachelor (farmer), of Drumlane, married Hannah Mayberry, spinster, of Drumlane. Fathers: William Lytle & William Mayberry. Witnesses: Thomas A. Lytle & Margaret A. Mayberry|
|5th August 1886, Archibald Agnew, bachelor (farmer) of Drumard, Tamlaght, married Mary Ellen Armstrong, spinster, of Drumard, Tamlaght. Fathers: Robert Agnew (farmer) & William Armstrong (farmer). Witnesses: Robert Simms & Mary Mayberry|
|30th November 1886, Joseph Reid, widower (farmer), of Drumlane, Tamlaght, married Mary Jane Lamont Workman, widow, of Drumoolish, Tamlaght. Fathers: Samuel Reid (farmer) & Hugh Lamont (farmer). Witnesses: Smyth Kelso & John Collins.|
|29th December 1886, Thomas A. Lytle (25) bachelor (merchant) of Maghera, married Margaret A. Mayberry (21) spinster of Drumlane. Fathers: William Lytle (farmer) & William Mayberry (farmer). Witnesses: David Wray & Agnes Boyd|
|9th September 1887, Thomas Gibson, bachelor, farmer, of Muletra, Desertoghill, married Mary Ann Gibson, spinster, Drumoolish, Tamlaght. Fathers: James Gibson (farmer) & James Gibson (farmer). Witnesses: William Know & Sarah Gibson.|
|13th September 1887, Robert Camac Stuart, bachelor, law clerk, of Landhead, Ballymoney, married Janie Nevin Moore, spinster, of Ballyboyland, Ballymoney. Fathers: Thomas Stuart (farmer) & Thomas Moore (farmer). Witnesses: Thomas Stuart & Annie Moore.|
|20th October 1887, Robert Millar, bachelor, farmer, Moynock, Kilrea, married Margaret Adams, spinster, of Ballynease, Bellaghy. Fathers: Robert Millar (farmer) & William Adams (farmer). Witnesses: William Johnston Adams & Nancy Millar|
|6th June 1889, Joseph Stewart (21), bachelor, labourer, of Finvoy, married Matilda Martin (21), spinster, of Drumoolish, Tamlaght. Fathers: Joseph Stewart (labourer) & James Martin (shoe maker). Witnesses: William Clark & Maria Martin.|
|15th May 1889, Robert Anderson (27), bachelor, grocer, High Street, Antrim, married Sarah Gibson (24), spinster, of Drumoolish, Tamlaght. Fathers: Alexander Anderson (shop keeper) & James Gibson (farmer). Witnesses: J. C. Stewart & Helen Huston|
|7th October 1892, Robert Simpson (30), bachelor, farmer, Rasharkin (went to Tamlaght church), married Sara Jane Sloane (25), spinster, of Drumlane, Tamlaght. Fathers: James Simpson (farmer) & John Sloane (farmer). Witnesses: Robert McElfatrick & Margaret A. Sloan|
|20th July 1893, Robert William Bolton, bachelor, farmer, of Moneysallin, married Mary Mayberry, spinster, of Drumlane. Fathers: Sloan Bolton (farmer & tax collector) & William Mayberry (farmer). Witnesses: Samuel John Bolton & Nannie Scott|
|24th October 1899, Thomas Kernahan, bachelor, teacher, of Drumard, Tamlaght, married Sarah Hurst Workman, spinster, Drumoolish, Tamlaght. Fathers: William Kernahan (retired teacher) & James Workman (farmer). Witnesses: Henry Kernaahan & Janie Craig|
|2nd July 1901, James Simms, bachelor, of Drumard, married Nancy Matilda Mayberry, spinster, of Drumlane. Fathers: William Simms (farmer) & William Mayberry (farmer). Witnesses: Thomas Mayberry & Mary S. Wilson|
|1st October 1902, Alexander Jamison, bachelor, school teacher, of Drumoolish, Tamlaght, married Annie Workman, spinster, of Drumoolish, Tamlaght. Fathers: Robert Jamison (roper) & James Workman (farmer). Witnesses: James Gibson & Martha J. Robertson|
|24th February 1904, Thomas James McCotter, bachelor, farmer, of Lislea, Kilrea, married Mary Adams, spinster, of Tyanee, Tamlaght. Fathers: Richard McCotter (farmer) & Robert Adams (farmer). Witnesses: James Burell Mackeown & Tillie Adams|
|4th June 1907, Thomas Henry Irwin, bachelor, farmer, Moneygran, Kilrea, married Nany Anne Armstrong, spinster, of Lislea, Kilrea. Fathers: Samuel Irwin (farmer) & James Armstrong (farmer). Witnesses: John M. R. Irwin & Mary E. Wilson|
|1st January 1908, John Kinney, bachelor, farmer, of Gortade, Maghera, married Sarah Ellen Sloan (19), spinster, of Drumard, Tamlaght. Fathers: Thomas Kinney (farmer) & William Sloan (farmer). Witnesses: Robert Logan & Lizzie Sloan|
|8th June 1909, Frederick Burnett, bachelor, farmer, of Ballynagarve, Artrea, married Jane Warwick, spinster, Boveedy, Tamlaght. Fathers: Alexander Burnett (farmer) & Samuel Brown Warwick (farmer). Witnesses: David Frederick Mann & Henrietta Margaretta Warwick|
|5th February 1914, William Montgomery, bachelor, farmer, Crossmakeever, Aghadowey, married Elizabeth McKay Sloan, spinster, of Drumard, Tamlaght. Fathers: William Montgomery (farmer) & William Sloan (farmer). Witnesses: Smith Montgomery & Mary McCahon|
|21st December 1915, James Kyle Houston, bachelor, of Culnady, Maghera, married Mary McCahon, spinster, Moyagoney, Tamlaght. Fathers: William J. Houston (farmer) & William McCahon (farmer). Witnesses: John Houston & Anne McCahon|
|22nd February 1916, Thomas McParland, bachelor, farmer, Killygullib, married Nancy Scott, spinster, Lismoyle. Fathers: John McFarland (farmer) & Hugh Scott (farmer). Witnesses: Simon J. Gibson & Mary J. McShane|
|17th August 1916, Alexander Tannahill, bachelor, a draper, of Coleraine, married Nancy Jane McCahon, (20), spinster, a milliner, of Moyagoney, Tamlaght. Fathers: Alexander Tannahill (draper) & William McCahon (farmer). Witnesses: William John Campbell & Emma Tannahill|
|28th March 1918, Thomas McNeill, bachelor, farmer, Carndougan, of Macosquin, married Henrietta Lynd, widow, of Knockaduff, Aghadowey. Fathers: Joseph McNeill (builder) & Samuel Pollock (farmer). Witnesses: Robert Anderson & Sarah Pollock|
|3rd July 1919, Hugh Henry Dickson, bachelor, farmer, of Lower Coagh, Coagh, married Minnie Warwick, spinster, of Boveedy, Kilrea. Fathers: James Dickson (farmer) & Samuel B. Warwick (farmer). Witnesses: Mr Bell & Henrietta Warwick|
|7th December 1920, Stanley B. Cochran, bachelor, furniture dealer, of Ballymoney, married Margaret Ann Sloan, spinster, of Moyknock, Kilrea. Fathers: George A. Cochran (furniture business dealer) & Robert Sloan (farmer). Witnesses: William J. Douglas & Hester C. Duggan.|
|11th August 1921, John A. Crockett, bachelor, of Drumnacanon, married Margaret McAleese Stewart (19), spinster, of Drumard. Fathers: Geeorge Crockett (farmer) & William Stewart (farmer) deceased. Witnesses: R. A. Crockett & Bradley.|
|25th September 1923, John Blair, bachelor, engineer, of Larne Harbour, married Elizabeth Ena McCahon, spinster, milliner, of Moyageney, Kilrea. Fathers: John Blair (harbour master) & William McCahon (farmer). Witnesses: James C. Cooper & May Moore.|
|23rd March 1924, John Millar, bachelor, farmer, of Moyknock, married Annie Sloan, spinster, of Drumard. Fathers: John Millar (farmer) & William Sloan (farmer). Witnesses: Robert Millar & Letitia Sloan.|
|6th August 1925, Robert William Stewart, bachelor, medical doctor, of Leek, Staffordshire, married Clara Lytle, spinster, medical doctor, Drumlane. Fathers: John Stewart (teacher) & Samuel Lytle (farmer). Witnesses: Kelso Watson & Tillie Lytle|
Drimbolg Church Gravestones
A word of thanks for the superb (and inspirational) work of Denver Boyd.