A hundred years and 18 townlands in one book

The growing of flax had been an important crop in the area from late 1700s to early 1950s. Colm demonstrated; Òscutching flaxÊ to linen fibreÓ, courtesy of Ulster Scots Heritage & Education Centre, Monreagh, Carrigans.

The growing of flax had been an important crop in the area from late 1700s to early 1950s.

THE richness and variety of life over the last century in a number of townlands around Rathmullan has been captured in a beautiful new book.

‘Oughterlin to Lough Swilly’ contains 200 pages of history and photographs covering half of Killygarvan Parish and has been very well received since its recent launch.


Published by a group of local historians, it took two years and “three lifetimes” to research and deals with the story, culture and traditions of the people of these 18 townlands, within their own special and unique landscape.

The authors, Hugh Doherty, Arthur Lynch and Áine Ní Dhuibhne grew up in the area, north of Rathmullan, and share a long-time interest in its history.

Speaking to the Donegal New this week, Mr Doherty said they have had inquiries from all over the world since its launch, and has not ruled out a follow-up. A native of Oughterlin, he now lives in ‘The Lagan’ but has never lost his love of the area where he grew up.

“The book covers part of the history of 18 townlands between Rathmullan and Kerrykeel. It’s a beautiful area within a horseshoe of mountains, leading down to the shore of the Swilly,” he said.

“We (the authors) are from three different townlands, but each have a lot of historical knowledge of our own patch.”

The book’s eight chapters cover farming and fishing, folklore and customs, schools, churches, houses and shops as well as emigration.

It also tells the story of the many local families who took part in the Land Commission project of the late 1950s which saw local families avail of the opportunity to purchase a farm of ‘good land’ in the Lagan Valley.


Like any good history book, it includes a murder – the violent death of a local priest at the hands of the Red Coats in the 1700s.

Over the past two years, the authors held reminiscing evenings in local schools and interviewed older people in their own homes as a way of gathering old stories.

“The local people have been very generous with their time, information and photographs,” Mr Doherty said.
“The book deals a lot with the first half of the last century, from the early 1900s up until the late 1960s. We also capture the big changes in the parish in the early 50s, such as the introduction of the Ferguson tractor and rural electrification.”

You can also read about the music and traditions of the area, its maritime history, poitín making, flax growing and long forgotten place names.

Priced at just €15, ‘Oughterlin to Lough Swilly’ can be purchased online from and is also available in local stores including: Carbery’s XL Supermarket, Rathmullan Post Office and the White Harte Bar, Rathmullan; Kernon’s Spar,
McFadden’s and Whoriskey’s Eurospar, Ramelton; Eason, Letterkenny Shopping Centre and Universal Books, Church Lane Letterkenny; Lagg shop, McBride’s and McMahon’s in Milford and Blaney’s in Kerrykeel.


New Book



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