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Commemorating the 300th anniversary of the 1718 Bann Valley Migration

Commemorating the 300th anniversary of the 1718 Bann Valley Migration

Fri, May 18, 2018

300 years ago a Minister from Aghadowey led the first organised migration from Ulster to North America.

To mark this extraordinary moment of social history, a series of exhibitions, talks and tours will showcase its legacy both here and across the Atlantic Ocean.

The migration began in the summer of 1718 when Minister James McGregor left for the New England colonies along with a large part of his congregation. The Aghadowey people were joined by many others, including those from the Bann Valley and Ballymoney.

The Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Councillor Joan Baird OBE said: “The Bann Valley migration is a hugely important part of the area’s history with various factors including bad harvests and higher rents prompting this group to take such life-changing action. Our people created a huge legacy in North America and I am delighted to see this significant anniversary getting the prominence it deserves.”

The Chair of Council’s 1718 Working Group Councillor Michelle Knight-McQuillan said: “I would like to thank all the organisations who have worked with us to create such an interesting commemorative programme. These early migrants from our area contributed so much and this must be remembered. Significantly, events will also take place this year on the east coast of America, as the country remembers those who helped to build it so many year ago. We are particularly looking forward to sharing our events and heritage trail with descendants of these first settlers who want to learn more about their ancestral homes.”

The Causeway Coast and Glens Branch of the North of Ireland Family History Society will lend their expertise to the programme by providing genealogy advice to visiting descendants. It has also provided a freely accessible surnames and townlands database to help identify possible locations of their ancestors.

Other highlights include Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council’s Museum Services new exhibition Causeway 1718: Society In Transition which is on display until June 20th in Coleraine Town Hall before it moves to Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre from June 29th – August 25th.  On May 22nd, the Scotti Rooms will host an evening of music and poetry which includes the launch of the new 1718 heritage trail, part of the PEACE IV Understanding Our Area project. 

On May 26th, Aghadowey Rural Kinships is holding a living history tour and service in Agivey Old Church while next month, alongside the First Presbyterian Church Dunboe and Aghadowey Presbyterian Church there will be a series of church services and a varied programme of talks and tours. At the end of June, Ulster University will host a two-day Culture, Family and Space Conference which will explore the connections between Ulster and North America.

Full details about the programme are available in the brochure below or email cms@causewaycoastandglens.gov.uk to request a copy.

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Members of the 1718 Working Group pictured at the launch of the programme of events which will mark the 300th anniversary of the Bann Valley Migration, an extraordinary moment of social history.