James McGregor plaque unveiling

James McGregor plaque unveiling report with photographs of the event

The Presbyterian Minister, Rev. James McGregor who could well be known as the ‘Moses of Scotch Irish’, and who in 1718 left these shores with his congregation, has been honoured with the unveiling of a Blue Plaque at the Church where he preached from 1701.

Aghadowey Presbyterian Church was founded in 1655, making it one of the oldest, and when the Rev. James McGregor, a veteran of the siege of Derry, became minister at the Church in 1701, he found a people who were oppressed and governed by the harsh laws which existed, and which would continue to exist for decades.  It was hardly surprising that Presbyterians were unsettled and were ready to look beyond the shores of Ireland for alternative places to live and worship.

So it was to Nutfield, New Hampshire where the Rev. McGregor led his pioneering flock, and in 1722 Nutfield was eventually renamed Londonderry, New Hampshire, USA.

The current minister of the Aghadowey Presbyterian Church, Rev. Robert Kane welcomed the large crowd gathered in the grounds of the Church and in particularly a very warm Irish welcome to historian and author, Rick Holmes and his wife Anne, who had travelled from Londonderry, New Hampshire for the occasion.  Special guests also included the U.S. Consul-General for Northern Ireland, Gregory S. Burton and the Mayor of Coleraine, Councillor George Duddy.

Master of Ceremonies, Chris Spurr, Chairman of the Ulster History Circle, welcomed everyone and endorsed Rev. Kane’s

warm welcome to Rick and Anne Holmes, and to the American Consul General in Northern Ireland.  Speeches were heard from CEO of the Ulster-Scots Agency, Ian Crozier who had sponsored the Blue Plaque, Mayor, Councillor George Duddy,

Wilson Burgess who read a specially written poem for the occasion and Rick Holmes.

Before unveiling the Blue Plaque together with Rev. Robert Kane, the US Consul-General, Gregory S. Burton, said that he was delighted to have been asked to the event. He thanked all involved and paid tribute those who had made the arduous journeys to settle in the lands of America.

After the unveiling; to the music of the Glenkeen band, guests adjourned  to the Church Halls, where there was an extensive exhibition on the Migration, organised by the Foyle Trust, and a cake iced with the Stars and Stripes /1718. This was cut by the US. Consul General, Gregory S. Burton, Rick Holmes and Rev. Robert Kane.   Before enjoying a scrumptious supper, the large audience listened intently to Rick Holmes speak about the formation of the Nutfield/Londonderry colony and the hardships faced by the pioneering peoples of Aghadowey.  The Ulster-Scots dancers also entertained, and a very memorable evening was enjoyed by everyone.

Double click on a photograph to enlarge it.

Photographs left to right:-

1. Replica of the ship in which Rev. McGregor left Ireland in 1718.
2. Guests and members of the  Aghadowey Presbyterian Church gather for the ceremony.
3. The United States Consul-General in Northern Ireland, Gregory S. Burton, and Rev.
     Robert Kane of Aghadowey Pres. Church unveil the Blue Plaque.
4. L.R. Ian Crozier, CEO. Ulster-Scots Agency; Rick Holmes, author and historian from
    Derry, New Hampshire, USA; Councillor George Duddy, Mayor of Coleraine; Gregory S.
    Burton, US. Consul-General Northern Ireland; Wilson Burgess,broadcaster and poet;

    Rev. Robert Kane, Aghadowey Presbyterian Church; Chris Spurr, Chairman Ulster History

5. Dr. William Roulston, Ulster Historical Foundation; Wilson Burgess and US. Consul-
    General NI. Gregory S. Burton.
6. Local Ulster-Scots dancers who performed in the post unveiling evening in the Church