Northern Ireland

Limavady celebrates 400th anniversary of royal charter

Image caption The river Roe flows through Limavady, which celebrates its 400th anniversary in 2013.

The town of Limavady is celebrating the 400th anniversary of the grant of its royal charter.

The charter was granted on 31 March, 1613 in Dublin during the Plantation of Ulster.

It meant the town became a corporate borough and was given the right to select two members of parliament.

The anniversary will be marked by sporting events, a world record attempt, and the return of the treasure known as the Broighter hoard.

The council are highlighting the town's links with the song, the Londonderry Air, or Danny Boy.

They hope to collect 400 signatures of visitors from outside the borough, all named either Danny, Danielle, Daniel, or Dan.

On presentation of their passport, the visitors will have a photograph taken, sign a visitors' book and receive a certificate of visiting Limavady, the home of Danny Boy.

There will also be a mass performance of the song over the summer.

Aaron Callan, the secretary of the Roe Valley Historical Society, said the town had much to celebrate.

"It has a great history attached to it, so many great people.

"There is Jane Ross who noted down a melody being played by Blind Jimmy McCurry on market day. It was the Londonderry Air that became Danny Boy.

"William Massey became the prime minister of New Zealand.

"There are so many other stories that could be told. There is a rich history. It's a vibrant place."

The town's name, Limavady, comes from the Irish phrase meaning "the leap of the dog", Mr Callan said.

"The Irish wolfhound is supposed to have leapt into the river, either carrying a message or chasing a stag - whatever story you listen to!"


The start of the celebrations was marked with the launch of the Limavady 400 timeline at the Roe Valley arts and cultural centre on Thursday, 28 March.

The timeline provides an insight into some of the major historical events of the town's past 400 years.

The events include, in 1807, the death of the renowned blind harpist Dennis O'Hampsey, known as the last of the Irish bards. He is buried at St Aidan's Church, Magilligan.

In 1896, JE Ritter built a hydro-electric power station to light his house at Roe Park.

There are more recent events too. In 1987 The first hot-air balloon to cross the Atlantic touched down outside Limavady, setting a new record for Richard Branson and Per Lindstrand.

The anniversary will also be marked by the temporary return of a collection of gold artefacts known as the Broighter hoard, which was found by Tom Nicholl on farmland near Limavady in the 19th century.

The treasures include a golden boat, torc and bowl and are currently held by the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin.

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