Working in partnership with Mark Thompson, the Foundation was involved in creating a new exhibition at the Monreagh Ulster-Scots Heritage Centre in County Donegal. The centre is located in the former manse of Monreagh Presbyterian Church and tells the story of the story of the Ulster-Scots community in east Donegal – a district also known as the Laggan – over the centuries. There is a strong focus on the history of Presbyterianism in the region, and the links that exist between east Donegal and the wider world.

The new exhibition occupies three rooms in the manse. In one of them the focus is on the arrival of Scottish families in the seventeenth century and the origins of Presbyterianism in the region. Upstairs, the exhibition explores the local way of life over the centuries, highlighting the importance of the linen industry and flax production. Donegal was once the leading producer of flax in Ireland and east Donegal had the highest concentration of flax mills on the island. Attention is also drawn to the place of distilling in the local economy, oatmeal production, and the development of towns and villages in East Donegal.

Monreagh Heritage Centre 2 reduced

In another upstairs room the focus is very much on the impact that individuals and families have made on the wider world. Attention is drawn to the pioneering ministry of Rev. Francis Makemie, the ‘Father of the Presbyterian Church in the United States’. The contribution of individuals from East Donegal to the Patriot cause in the War of Independence is highlighted. Important figures include General Richard Montgomery, who was killed at the Battle of Quebec in 1775, and Gustavus Conyngham, the most successful captain in the Continental Navy. This room also highlights the Donegal ancestry of President James Buchanan and explores the Donegal contribution to the development of Nashville, Tennessee.

An interesting feature on the landing is a reproduction of the famous petition that was carried to Samuel Shute, the Governor of Massachusetts and New Hampshire in 1718. The petition was signed by over 300 ‘inhabitants of the North of Ireland’ who were anxious to ‘... assure his Excellency of our sincere and hearty inclination to transport ourselves to that very excellent and renowned plantation’. The man delegated to carry the petition to Governor Shute was Rev. William Boyd, the minister of Macosquin Presbyterian Church, County Londonderry. In 1719, Boyd returned to Ireland and six years later was installed as minister of Monreagh Presbyterian Church. The petition he carried to America remained there and is in the custody of the New Hampshire Historical Society.

  • Monreagh Heritage Centre 1
  • Monreagh Heritage Centre 2