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Hidden mystery and intrigue of village

This week Jakki Black looks at the history of Derriaghy

DERRIAGHY is now a very developed area of what was once rural land with only mere shadows of the old countryside remaining, along with a scattering of old oak trees. retaining the secrets from a time long since past, that might have held such mystery and intrigue as that of any Thomas Hardy novel.

The name Derriaghy reflects the nature of the then surrounding country, for the two Irish words which make up the name of Derriaghy means 'the valley of the oak trees.'

Derriaghy ChurchOne of the most beautiful buildings that still remains intact is Christ Church, the Parish Church of Derriaghy which was built in 1871 and consecrated in 1872 and is a listed building noted for its outstanding architectural beauty. The church has a unique tall slender spire which is bedecked with a superb Virginia creeper possibly as old as the church itself, which in the autumn months creates such a glorious effusion of colour proving to be a favourite subject for artist photographer and nature lover alike.

One of the many Interesting items concerning the graveyard of Christ Church is the fact vouched for by at least one Parishioner, that a green rose grew there. Unfortunately so many people took slips from the plant that it died some years ago, with the strange thing being that any slips which struck only produced red roses.

Derriaghy churchyard was also the scene of what proves to be a very strange story. It is a well authenticated story having been at the time 'common talk' among the people of Lisburn..

I was told this story many years ago by my grandmother, Martha McAfee, who had lived most of her adult life in Derriaghy and who has since passed away, The story goes that the rector, the Reverend Phillip Johnson one night in the autumn of 1808 startled his wife by waking and shouting that he had dreamt the church was on fire. He went asleep again but was to wake once again with the same nightmare of the church being on fire, His wife comforted him once again and calmed him back to sleep, but on the third time of waking with the same dream he got up and dressed in a panic before flinging himself onto his horse and galloping to Derriaghy

School House As he came to the nest of the hill above the Church he saw, with horror a figure in white waiting.

To his amazement this turned out to be a young girl in a sort of wedding dress and to his further surprise she seemed to be expecting him.

The young girl was very glad to see the rector as she was obviously very frightened, She had been expecting to get married that night and her fiancée had told her to go to the top of the hill and wait for the rector. The young girls fear had come about by the strange and disturbing behaviour of her beloved who had always up to that night shown himself to be kind and loving,

The rector was told the name of the man the young girl was expecting to marry, a well-known Lisburn citizen as together they went down the hill to the church,

In the darkness the rector and the young girl heard strange sounds accompanied by a faint gleam of light By the dim light of a lantern there digging in a shallow grave was the young woman's fiancé

It would seem that the man had indeed intended to murder the young woman and not marry her. When confronted by the rector he dropped his spade and made over the wall leaving Lisburn soon after to flee to New York where he later died.

St Patrick's DerriaghyDerriaghy is also home to one of the oldest Roman Catholic chapels in the area. It was built at an early period on a farm belonging to a family named Hamil, with much previous history being attached to it. The present Roman Catholic parish of Derriaghy is served by four churches: St Patrick's, Barnfield Road; St Colman's Lambeg, St Anne's Dunmurry and the temporary church of St, Luke, Twinbrook Estate. It is hoped that restoration work well take place to St. Patrick's, Derriaghy in the near future and so restore this quaint old chapel for the benefit of its parishioners and the many people who come to visit this old picturesque chapel and a scene of a time gone by.

Freemasonry has been firmly established in Derriaghy for about two hundred years. A number of Freemasons started to meet informally in the Milltown Inn, and so in 1782 decided to apply for a warrant from a regular lodge and were then allocated a warrant numbered 602. The Masonic hall was also a meeting place for the home - guard during the second world war.

John Wesley the founder of Methodism in 1756 stayed in Derriaghy House, where he had a great friend called, Gayer. At the time this house was a place of quiet refreshment for Wesley when he visited Ireland, the house is now occupied by Mr Wesley Withers and his family. In their garden there still stands a yew tree under which John Wesley preached a sermon entitled 'the venerable yew', to a large congregation who came from all around the surrounding countryside to hear him preach.

Like in many country villages the community would not be complete without a local pub 'The Travellers Rest' is a of Ireland's oldest licensed houses, dating back nearly 300 years.

The inn has suffered a lot of bomb damage due The Troubles however, there was a brief description published about 1936 which mentions the spacious old-fashioned kitchen with a high ceiling of old varnished wood with windows clasped in walls a foot thick. Some of the older residents of Derriaghy have varying memories of the village as it used to be. Councillor Cecil Calvert was born and reared in the village and still has a lot of memories of the way things used to be. "I remember Derriaghy a very rural and homely place as a boy I remember there were pillars quite close to where I lived and we used to collect money and put it into the hollow pillars for safety, the pillars are still there and I am sure so is the money as we never did get out," he said.

"We played a lot of football in the summer and in the winter we would go sliding down fields of snow on an old bit of tin, or cycle down the many hills we had surrounding us and often without any working brakes, it makes the hairs stand on the back of my neck to think of it now.'

"The first ever Ulster Star that was ever published had the headlines about a friend of mine whose body was found in the railway lines of Derriaghy rail track his name was Eddie McClarnon and he was in his twenty's at the time and it was just a real shock for all the community at the time, it is things like that, you never forget.

Derriaghy also had Connections with the world renowned singer and character Joseph Lock he had a small pig farm on the Barnfield Road and was often heard singing at the top of his voice as he drove an old cart up and down the road while attending to his pigs, one of his favourite renditions on these journeys reportedly being 'I'll take you home again Kathleen'.

The village of Derriaghy may have changed from the point of view of being much more built up and housing.

Ulster Star