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Bellaghy

(4/5 based on a few reviews for 1 attraction)
Things to do: museums
Bellaghy is a village in County Londonderry, Northern Ireland. It lies north west of Lough Neagh and about 5 miles north east of Magherafelt. In the middle of the village lies the junction of three main roads leading to Magherafelt, Portglenone and Toome. It had a population of 1,063 people in the 2001 Census.HistoryAlthough there were Gaelic settlements in the area beforehand, Bellaghy was one of the first planned towns in Ireland. The village dates back to the early 17th century when it was one of many towns built and settled under the authority of the Vintners Company of London as part of the Plantation of Ulster. In 1622, according to a manuscript of a Captain Thomas Ash, Bellaghy consisted of a church, a castle, a Corn Mill and twelve houses.During the Plantation, a fortified house with surrounding walls including two circular towers at opposite corners were built in the village. This is the best restored example to be found anywhere in Northern Ireland. Recent excavations have revealed that the fortified house was built on the site of a Gaelic ringfort. The house was attacked, but remained intact, in the 1641 rebellion when many of the other houses in the village were burnt to the ground. Locally it was always referred to as "The Castle" and lies on Castle Street. The refurbished house was opened to the public in 1996 as "Bellaghy Bawn" (though that name was not used in the locality previously) and features exhibitions on local natural history, the history of the Ulster Plantation and the poetry of Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney. Heaney lived in the Bellaghy area for most of his childhood and is buried in the graveyard of St Mary's Church.
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