THE EARLY YEARS

Probably originally comprising a collection of a few fairly miserable one-room mud cottages along the river bank, Castlederg was first mentioned in history at the end of the 15th century when the Annals of the Four Masters talked of a castle along the banks of the river. Nothing particularly grand, but masonry was mentioned and a thatched roof.(a castle with a thatched roof!).

This first appearance in history was on the occasion of its capture by Hugh O'Neill.Thirty years later we find it appearing again when it was taken from him by the neighbouring Donegal chieftain, Hugh O'Donnell. For the next century the arguments between the two families as to its ownership were punctuated by several quite bloody battles.

At the beginning of the 1600's (with the death of the Protestant Queen Elizabeth and the running out of steam of the two feuding families), the Gaelic and Catholic inhabitants of the hovels on the banks of the Derg must have felt that they were due some amelioration of their miserable existence. It was not to be. Elizabeth's successor, James the First, although the son of the Catholic Mary, Queen of Scots, decided that if he replaced the inhabitants of Ulster with some of his own people it could help him in several ways.
(i) he could get rid of some undesirable people of his own.
(ii) these same people could defend this territory against the rebellious natives.
(iii) he could make some money. (Although his rent of one penny per acre was quite cheap).

Thus began the Plantation of Ulster. And the man chosen to carry out the scheme was an English lawyer,Sir John Davies.

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