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16 January 2014

Development of Doagh Ancestry and Townlands Group



The Doagh Ancestry and Townlands Project was initiated to provide a platform on which to accommodate clear and easy access to the Doagh area’s social, genealogical and environmental history.

As with other rural communities there has been a significant resurgence of interest in local history and heritage, more especially concerning the key individuals who played such an important role in the development of the area over past centuries and indeed more recent times.

The implementation of the project was discussed at a public meeting in Newtownabbey Borough Council’s headquarters in Mossley Mill and later at a meeting of the group now known as Doagh Village Partnership. This group evolved from representatives of local community groups, churches, education, local government elected representatives and the local business community. Its main purpose was to drive forward the local vision identified in the Doagh Village Masterplan, published in 2011. A steering group of local historians was then formed to develop the Doagh Ancestry and Townlands initiative.

Through the offices of Newtownabbey Borough Council a successful application was made to the Local Action Group, GROW South Antrim, for Rural Development Programme funding. A grant of 75% of the costs required to set up the Doagh Ancestry and Townlands initiative was awarded. Newtownabbey Borough Council contributed the remaining 25% and the local community provided the considerable voluntary input and expertise necessary to identify the various elements involved in the process as well as to develop the programme at the crucial early stages and into its planned future development. Historian Dr William Roulston of the Ulster Historical Foundation was appointed to co-ordinate and inform the development of the website content, production of the planned booklet and exhibition materials and the relevant sites for the placing of townland markers.

The initial project was based on a similar, successful model launched in the Bready area of County Tyrone and has proved to be ideally suited for use as an interactive resource which will be freely available to members of the Doagh community and indeed to any other interested individuals or students of local history.

It is hoped that the project will continue to expand and will provide a means of recording for posterity the many stories, memories, documents and photographs still available but in imminent danger of being lost forever with the passing of generations.

Another complementary project has therefore been launched to expand the work already begun. This will begin to research and collate the more recent memories and artefacts of people living in Doagh, Toome and Whitehead. This initiative, named the Three Villages Living Memories Project, is designed to encourage people from these three communities to build up an interactive resource, design and manage a website and produce a booklet which will outline the recent histories of all three of these villages in South Antrim. It will also compare and detail the similarities or otherwise of issues facing people living here over the past century or so. Funding for this initiative was also awarded by GROW South Antrim through the Rural Development Programme, supplemented by contributions from Newtownabbey, Antrim and Carrickfergus councils. One of the major objectives of the project will also be to enhance each village’s understanding of the other two participating communities.

By developing these initiatives it is hoped that the sharing and publication of accurate historical information and cherished memories of local community members, or those who have moved away from the area, will preserve for future generations a knowledge and understanding of their own heritage.  It will also hopefully reinforce a real feeling of identity and belonging to a community which has played such a significant role in the evolution of a local society.


Bob Adams

Chair, Doagh Ancestry and Townlands Group



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