Since the autumn of 2019, our Research Director, Dr William Roulston, has been the historical consultant on Mahon's Way, the popular Ulster Television series presented by the acclaimed Joe Mahon. Each episode looks at the people and stories of a district in Ulster. With superb visuals, including mesmerising drone footage of our wonderful scenery, and an engaging presenter with the ability to paint pictures with words, the series has proved a huge success, with audience figures generally surpassing those on other channels.

William himself appeared in the episodes on Ardstraw, Loughash and Greyabbey. At Ardstraw, he met Joe in the old graveyard just outside this County Tyrone village on the banks of the River Derg. This burial ground is very unusual in being split by a public road, with Protestants buried on one side and Catholics on the other. In the medieval period there was once a cathedral on this site, a predecessor to the cathedral in Derry, which was on the route to the famous pilgrimage site of Lough Derg.

Mahons Way screenshot

Loughash in the parish of Donagheady, County Tyrone, was once the setting for an agricultural school that enjoyed a reputation across Ireland for the quality of its teaching. The school was established by John Pitt Kennedy in the 1830s and continued to operate until c. 1870. Kennedy himself is a fascinating character, thoroughly unworldly and motivated by a desire to see an improvement in the lives of his fellow human beings.

The village of Greyabbey by the shores of Strangford Lough in County Down was the location of a major Cistercian abbey in the Middle Ages, the ruins of which are among the most striking of any of the former monasteries in Ulster. Here William talked to Joe about the life of William Montgomery who was buried at Greyabbey in 1707 and who, a short time before his death, wrote a tract on burial rights, something about which he felt very strongly.